Internet Access and Prepaid SIM Card in Flores Island in the Azores and Madeira Islands – UZO SIM Card

(July to October 2017) The first island we arrived at in the Azores, is Flores Island. It took us 14 days of sailing from Bermuda. The only SIM Card available in Flores Island was an “UZO” SIM Card. It was sold at the local post office. (CTT)

In bigger Azorean islands, there are other kinds of SIM Cards such as MEO and Vodafone. Most cruisers seem to use the “MEO SIM Card”.

Free WiFi is widely available in the center of each town and most of the marinas in the Azores and also in the Madeira Islands, run by the government. The Free WiFI speed is good and very reliable in the central area in town. However, I prefer to use the internet at my own desk without being disturbed. Besides, being at sea for 14 days, I had matters to take care of at my desk online.

Post Office, Sao Jorge Island, Azores, Portugal

Arriving at the next bigger island, I thought about buying a new SIM Card from MEO but I didn’t. I continuously used the UZO SIM Card by adding more money and calling the customer service to renew the data plan.

***My Experiences with Prepaid UZO SIM Card***

  • Initial Purchase Price: 15 Euros – Cash Only. It gave me a SIM Card (Portugal Phone Number) and 15 Euro balance amount on the phone number.
  • Price of Internet Data Plan Options: 1GB Data Plan (7.99 Euros), 200MB for Month Data Plan (2.99 Euros), 60MB Data for 24 Hours Plan (1.99 Euros) – I started with the 1GB data plan and kept renewing it.
  • Call Price: About 10 Cents/Minute
  • Text Message Price: About 10 Cents/Message
  • APN (Access Point Name) Setup for Data Plan: Name–>TMN Internet (*Make sure entering the upper and lower case correctly and a space in between.) APN–>internet (all lower case)
  • Balance Check Code: *#123# (This is to check the current monetary balance left on the phone number.) *#123*99# (This is to check the data balance. it sometimes worked and other times not.)
  • Data speed was good on most of the islands.
  • It is important to keep the PIN number (provided with the SIM Card) because it requires you to enter it each time after turning the phone on again after it was completely turned off.
  • All instructions (Brochure, Phone Menu, or Simplistic UZO Website) are only in Portuguese. It was a little difficult to setup or renew the data plan. Since I did not understand the Portuguese instructions, I had to call a client service number directly at 707-960-000 or 808-960-000 and ask for an English speaking person. It worked out good but it also cost about 10 cents/minute for setup and renewal. Sometimes I was on hold for a while which cost by minute. Despite the cost, I figured it is a sure way to renew.
  • For recharging the amount, I went to the Post Office on the Azorean islands and recharged more money (Accept Cash Only). On a bigger island, the waiting line is long in the post office. Make sure to get a waiting ticket to get served, from a Kiosk inside of the Post office.
  • After my data was all consumed, one time, it automatically renewed to a more costly data as you go plan until it used all of the money balance left on the phone number. The other time, I had to call to renew. Again, not understanding Portuguese, it is difficult to figure out the reasons but the best way was to call the customer service (requesting an English speaking person) or just accept the minor issues.
  • I was surprised this SIM Card continuously worked even in the Canary Islands until the balance ran out. Later, I found out, starting July 2017, all data plans work in the European Countries without costing any extra.
  • In the Canary Islands, I could have renewed this UZO SIM Card but I decided to buy a new Spanish SIM Card because (1) UZO SIM Card is not English language friendly and (2) I can understand Spanish more than Portuguese Language.
Posted in Atlantic Islands, Internet Abroad, Sailings

Sailing from Madeira to the Canaries: Listening to Audio Books

Very Well Organized Cemetery on La Graciosa Island, the Canaries, Spain

(October 5 – 7, 2017) It took us two days (one day sailing and one day motoring) from Madeira Island to La Graciosa Island in the Canary Islands. Motoring is noisy and the diesel fumes are smelly. A Bright moon appeared sometimes which helped the nightly watches. A small bird traveled with us on the boat. John found two dragon flies and also got bitten by a black/yellow striped fly. Where were they from at sea? He also found a flying fish on the deck. (After arriving at a new place, I grilled the flying fish and gave it to Swat, one of the cats. She ate the de-boned fish very fast.)

After two days leaving Madeira Island, approaching to the Canary Islands, Spain

Prior to this trip, I downloaded many audio books from the Broward County Library in Fort Lauderdale, Florida where I have my home. When the sea is not smooth, I don’t read e-books because reading e-books makes me seasick. Listening to audio books via a blue tooth headset, has been working great for me.

During this trip, I enjoyed listening to “What I know for Sure” by Oprah Winfrey and “Seriously… I am kidding” by Ellen DeGeneres. I also started listening to “The Book of Joy” (Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu Interview) and “Aging Well” by Mark E. Williams. At the same time, when the sea is calm, I read “MONEY, Master the Game” by Tony Robbins. All interesting books. I like self-help books and learn to improve myself. I will never stop learning.

Super Clear Water like in the Bahamas, La Graciosa Island, the Canaries, Spain

Northern African Type Houses on the Island, La Graciosa Island, the Canaries, Spain

Main Town in La Graciosa Island, the Canaries, Spain

Hiking Trail, La Graciosa Island, the Canaries, Spain

Peaceful Playa Francesa Anchorage with Beautiful Water and Beach, La Graciosa Island, the Canaries, Spain

La Graciosa Island, the Canaries, Spain

Island Tour Information, La Graciosa Island, the Canaries, Spain

Posted in Atlantic Islands, Sailings

Madeira Island, New York City in European’s Caribbean

Tourist Bus in Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal

(September 23 – October 5, 2017) Portugal has a massive ocean fishing territory because it also owns the Azores and Madeira Islands. Madeira is a small island in the Atlantic Ocean, closer to Morocco in Africa than to mainland Portugal.

Until I visited Madeira Island which relies heavily on tourism; I didn’t know much about this island. It was a surprise to see yellow or red double decker tour buses, cable cars (from harbor to top), jeep tours, bike tours, walking tours, boat tours, and all the other organized tour operations. When we visited Funchal, the capital city of Madeira; there was a cruise ship ‘Queen Elizabeth’ in the harbor. Most tourists on this island, are from Europe. A tour guide told us Madeira is the Caribbean for Europeans. There is a lot to do and see here. We felt the main city, Funchal is like being in New York City though.

Queen Elizabeth Cruise Ship, Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal

We took a Madeira Wine Tour. Drinking Madeira wine for me is like having dessert in liquid form. Madeira wine is similar to Port Wine. We were told some grapes are imported from Spain. The different amounts of sugar and alcohol makes different kinds of Madeira wine: Dry, Medium Dry, Medium Sweet, and Sweet. After drinking a glass of either dry or sweet Madeira Wine, I look at everyone sweetly. Definitely, with this new acquired attitude, I would be better at work if I ever dis-retire.

Four Types of Madeira Wine, Blandy’s Madeira Wine Tour, Madeira Island, Portugal

Old Typewriter Displayed in the Blandy’s Winery Museum, Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal

Gondola Cable Car from the Harbor to the Church, Funchal (Capital City of Madeira Island), Portugal

Sled Ride from the Cable Car Top Location, Madeira Island, Portugal

Tuk Tuk Ride Price Display, Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal

City Hall Plaza, Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal

Outdoor Exercise Gym by the Harbor in Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal

Quinta de Lorde Marina in Madeira Island, Portugal; we stayed here and enjoyed hiking the trail not far from the marina. It takes 90 minutes bus ride (one way) to Funchal, main city in Madeira Island.

Ilhas Desertas (Deserted Island) Near Madeira Island; we had a permission to visit this island but found no secure space to anchor.

Sandy Rock Coast, Porto Santo Island, Madeira Island Group, Portugal

Dragon Looking Like Rock Formation on Porto Santo Island, Madeira Island Group, Portugal

Green Golf Course on Porto Santo Island, Madeira Island Group, Portugal

Columbus Museum in Porto Santo Island, Madeira Island Group, Portugal

Porto Santo Marina and Mooring Field, Porto Santo Island, Madeira Island Group, Portugal; There was no space for our size of the boat in the marina so we took a mooring ball which looks very well maintained.

Rock Formation and Fossil on Porto Santo Island, Madeira Island Group, Portugal

We took a geological tour (highly recommending, 25 Euros/Person) in Porto Santo Island, Madeira Island Group, Portugal.

Posted in Atlantic Islands, Sailings

Azores 100: Sailing in the Azores

Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning when I wake up, I am reborn. — Mahatma Gandhi (October 2, 1869 – January 30, 1948)

Santa Maria Island, Azores, Portugal

(July 15 to September 20, 2017): A German cruiser once told us that “The Azores go by 100; the daily high temperature is around 25 Celsius (77 Fahrenheit), the daily low is 25 Celsius, the water temp is 25 Celsius, for 25 hours a day.” It is not exact but it really has some truth in it.

We stayed in the Azores for two months and could have stayed longer but our time is running out (90 Days Visa Permission in the European Union). After having been in the Azores, I tried to pick the best island. If I must pick one, it is Flores Island. John gave me a corporate office kind answer; each island is different and offers unique things he likes about so he likes all.

Carrying the memories from the Azores, I have something to smile more about if I am ever again stuck in a traffic jam in a hectic place.

Cooking Food Underground at Volcanic Site, Sao Miguel Island, Azores, Portugal

***Memories from Nine Azorean Islands

Flores Island: Less Traveled Remote Island, Nice Hiking Trails, when we were there, the blooming Hydrangea flowers were all over. Some sceneries reminded us of the movie ‘The Hobbit’.

Corvo Island: Hiking in the caldera on the top was like being in deep meditation, even though the cow poop was all over in the caldera.

Faial Island (Nick Name ‘Blue Island’): We painted the “Bunny Logo” on the wall which is a kind of a tradition for cruisers. The volcanic site and museum is a must place to visit.

Sao Jorge Island: The marina is in the middle of nature. Zig-zag up and down hill driving on the island was challenging but worth it. Sao Jorge has cheese factory tour, and the factory was bigger than I imagined. I really need to stop eating too much Sao Jorge cheese as snack (my new addiction).

Santa Maria Island, Azores, Portugal

Pico Island: The stone wall vineyards are very impressive. While hiking to the lava tunnel museum, seeing a versatile vegetation on the side of the road, was fun.

Graciosa Island: Crazy me! I had a goal to visit all nine Azorean islands. We didn’t sail to Graciosa Island so I took a ferry (Cost 64 Euros for Roundtrip Ferry) from Sao Jorge to visit this island. Brought three locally grown melons (well-recommended) with me. Wanted to buy more melons but I didn’t want to walk with too many of heavy melons with me.

Hospital, Terceira Island, Azores, Portugal

Terceira Island: A bit touristic. Sand-less natural pools/beaches are awesome. (Not messy) Medical facility is super. John visited a doctor’s office to check his skin from his head to toes. (Private Dermatologist Consultation Fee: 70 Euros) John also wanted to remove a black dot near his eye. Doctor did a small surgery in a hospital. (Cost: About 60 Euros) We later met some other US cruisers who visited a hospital in the Azores. It cost them only three to five Euros to see a doctor in the hospital.

One of the Hot Spring Pools, Sao Miguel Island, Azores, Portugal

Sao Miguel Island (Nick Name ‘Green Island’): Very touristic. The biggest island and capital city of the Azores. Arriving here, we immediately saw a Burger King and had “Double Whopper”, right after clearing the Customs and Immigrations.

Hot spring bath near the volcanic site, was relaxing. (Entrance Fee: 4 Euros/person) We saw some cooking food (underground) at the volcanic site but didn’t try the food. The church bell rings like crazy on this island. We could not figure it out why it rings loud and fast before it tells the actual time. My assumption is due to the hectic city life, that people in the capital city, are too busy to count the time correctly so it warns crazy fast and loud prior to ringing the actual time?

Vila Do Porto Marina, Santa Maria Island, Azores, Portugal

Santa Maria Island (Nick Name ‘Yellow Island’): All local people we met in Santa Maria spoke good English. English seems to be the universal communication language in the Azores, everyone speaks a bit of it. Ocean views from the island kept whispering for me to try SCUBA diving but sadly the water looked cold for an ex-Floridian.

We had a cruiser’s BBQ party at the marina before we left the Azores and shared our stories with each other.

Natural Pool, Terceira Island, Azores, Portugal

Lava Stone by Natural Pool

Beach Next to Angra Marina, Terceira Island, Azores, Portugal

Ashtray Holding Stand for Beach Goers

BBQ Grill at Picnic Area, Sao Miguel Island, Azores, Portugal

Sao Miguel Island, Azores, Portugal

Sao Miguel Island, Azores, Portugal

Sao Miguel Island, Azores, Portugal

Outdoor Gym, Terceira Island, Azores, Portugal

Gold Painted Bottles and Other Garbage, Terceira Island, Azores, Portugal

Sao Miguel Island, Azores, Portugal

Town Gate, Sao Miguel Island, Azores, Portugal

Main City of Terceira Island: Angra Do Heroismo, Azores, Portugal

Santa Maria Island, Azores, Portugal

Terceira Island, Azores, Portugal

Santa Maria Island, Azores, Portugal

Santa Maria Island, Azores, Portugal

Santa Maria Island, Azores, Portugal

Santa Maria Island, Azores, Portugal

Sao Miguel Island, Azores, Portugal

Santa Maria Island, Azores, Portugal

Ponta Delgada Marina, Sao Miguel Island, Azores, Portugal

S/V Bad Bunny (Green Sail Cover) at Angra Marina, Terceira Island, Azores, Portugal

At Terceira Island, Azores, Portugal

Posted in Atlantic Islands, Medical Service Experiences, Sailings

Velas Marina in Sao Jorge Island in the Azores

Bad Bunny (Front Boat) at Velas Marina, Sao Jorge, Azores, Portugal

*** (September 10, 2017) From the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, I have been monitoring Hurricane Irma. I am somewhat relieved that Irma didn’t directly go over South East Florida but extremely sad that it destroyed many islands in the Caribbean completely and more on the West Coast of Florida. My thoughts go out to the people who lost their lifetime accomplishments. I am praying for their swift recovery and hoping for the better without them losing their dreams.

Rock Cliff, Sao Jorge Island, Azores, Portugal

(August 11 – 30, 2017) As the Azorean islands are volcanic, there are hardly any anchorages. Finding one, it is unsure of good holding nor protection for visiting cruisers like us. We have been staying in the marinas in the Azores. The marina cost in the Azorean Islands, is reasonable and affordable. It was about US$20/night (about 16 Euros/night for 47 Foot = 14.24 Meter Boat) including tax, disposal fee, water, and electricity. Knowing some marinas in the USA that charge about US$15/night just for the electricity, staying in the marinas in the Azores, is a deal for us.

Lula: Underwater Research Submarine trying to get under her mother boat. This submarine goes down 1000 meters (about 3300 feet) under water.

Among the marinas in the Azores, I liked the Velas Marina the best (Sao Jorge Island in the Azores). It is located right by a cliff where lots of birds (Cory’s Shearwater) keep their nests. These birds come out at night and make a strange sound like that of children teasing other kids. At first, we wondered where the mysterious talking sound was coming from. As the days go by, I got used to the sound and felt happy and amazed by it. For me, staying in the Velas marina is almost like staying in a cabin in the middle of a national park.

Rebikoff: Marine Research Boat with Submarine Lula, Sao Jorge Island, Azores, Portugal

Velas Marina is small and not really built for big boats. It is also the first stop for most of the Azorean charter boat renters, as it is closely located to the main rental island (Faial). We took a cautious approach to get in and out of the marina; however, we watched some charter boats slightly hit other boats while losing control either because of poor seamanship or simply being over powered by wind speed and direction. It looked like some renters are not used to driving a charter boat on the first day in a marina with narrow access. Disputes between a boat owner and a charter boat renter may get complicated. However, we were told that there will be security cameras when the Velas Port is completed.

The memories we had in Velas Marina will be treasured for a long time; the sound of birds, watching fish in the aquarium clear water in the marina, very friendly and funny Harbor Master (Jose), and also two cute college student interns at that time we stayed. Velas Marina is the most beautiful marina I have ever visited.

Public Ramp for Local Boaters: A remote device controls the movement. Sao Jorge Island, Azores, Portugal

Lamborghini Tractor; John was surprised of finding a Lamborghini Tractor on Sao Jorge Island, Azores, Portugal

Local People Riding Horse on Sunday Gathering, Sao Jorge Island, Azores, Portugal

Horse with Hydrangea Flower, Sao Jorge Island, Azores, Portugal

Old and New Stone Houses, Sao Jorge Island, Azores, Portugal

Arabic Style Church Building, Sao Jorge, Azores, Portugal

Fig Fruits; we bought 2 kilograms of green fig fruits from a house on the street (4 Euros per Kilogram). They were soft, sweet, and just ready to eat.

Yellow Fennel Flowers (Bottom) by the Shore, Sao Jorge, Azores, Portugal

Pastures for Cows, Sao Jorge Island, Azores, Portugal; There are more cows (about 25,000) than people on this island. We took a Sao Jorge Cheese Factory tour. They told us their cheese (Sao Jorge Cheese) is available some places in the USA.

Small Island View from South of Sao Jorge Island, Azores, Portugal

Posted in Atlantic Islands, Sailings