WORLD BYWAYS: Peter’s Bar is the Place in Faial
FAIAL, Azores (AP) _ The boat having engine trouble? Need a place to wait out the doldrums? Someone to talk to? Money? New batteries?
In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean?
Then the place to go is the Peter Sport Cafe, or just plain Peter’s Bar, as it is known among the international yachting fraternity.
A stone’s throw from the marina at the island’s port of Horta, Peter’s Bar meets just about every need of the mid-Atlantic sailor.
″Mecca,″ solo sailor Anne Cathrine Miller of Scotland calls it. ″I’d say it’s one of the most famous spots in the sailing world.″
It’s not just a place to get a drink. It is also a dry goods store, sail shop, travel agency, grocery store and bank, which is open around the clock.
The dark wood-paneled walls of the bar are plastered with ensigns of yachts from around the world.
″To Peter, we couldn’t have made it without you,″ says the inscription on one of the ensigns. ″Peter, a friend in need,″ says another.
The ensigns bear witness among the razors, biscuits, tunafish cans, flashbulbs and bottles of Madeira wine to the efforts of Jose Azevedo - Peter to the sailing world - to keep his customers afloat and shipshape.
Azevedo, a soft-spoken man of 62 who worked as a youth for the British navy when it had a supply base in Horta during World War II, brushes aside the plaudits.
″I started working for my father when I was 9. Now I start at 8 in the morning and work until midnight - Sundays as well.″
Azevedo got the name Peter from a British naval officer who said he reminded him of his son.
The port of Horta is the scene each year of the British Azab (Azores and back) sailing race. The Dutch also hold a similar race to the Portuguese island, 740 miles west of Lisbon, the mainland capital.
Business on a recent day included dealing with overseas telephone calls from newspapers and radio stations trying to get in touch with Ms. Miller, who had just made port after being reported missing during a Bermuda-to-Scotland solo voyage.
It also included a discussion of a long list of provisions, spare parts and repairs the 26-year-old Scotswoman needed to continue her voyage and serving coffee to a handful of drowzy customers at the bar’s marble-topped tables.
Azevedo said he discourages heavy drinking in his place.
″When I see people have had enough, I just tell them I can’t serve them anymore.″
But Ms. Miller differs.
″We all come out of here on our knees the first night after making port,″ she said.
Another solo sailor, Dutchman Henk Bezemer, an occasional university lecturer in urban studies, brushes aside his drooping mustache to take a sip of coffee and says the bar is home to loners like him.
″You’re traveling around, and you come into Horta, and Peter sees you and says, ‘Come in, come in.’ It’s just like home to us.″