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Show MapMadeira - October 2003

 

The passage from La Bayona to Porto Santo took us seven days and winds were very light. However, the weather was sunny and warm, so who's in a rush anyway? In fact, on the fifth day, we were totally becalmed in 4000m deep ocean, 200 miles from land so we went for a swim - now that's what I call a big swimming pool! The water was just the right temperature to cool us off and looking down (trying to see the bottom?) all you could see was the most beautiful bright purply-blue, stretching to infinity. Luckily no sharks found us because, as someone pointed out to us "oceanic sharks are always hungry"!

 

Nudey swimming in 4000 metres!

On one day we passed through thousands of translucent jelly-fish, each with its own wee sail sticking above the water - sure beats swimming! They're called By-the-wind-sailors (Velella velella) and this was the first time we'd seen them.

We also got visits from dolphins, playing as usual, surfing on our bow-wave. Mostly though, it was a relaxing passage, with plenty of reading getting done. At night we spent hours identifying different stars and constellations. We were also able to bake bread.

 

End of another day.

After 7 days, we spotted the island of Porto Santo, the second largest island in the Madeira archipelago.

Landfall - Porto Santo.

 

We had chosen to go there rather than the main island of Madeira, because the Madeiran anchorages are expensive and always overcrowded. Porto Santo is where Madeirans go for the weekend and is a lovely wee place.

Christopher Columbus had a house here which is still standing and used as the local museum.

Porto Santo.

 

It was here that we got most use of our folding bikes. It was a mile from the harbour to the town centre, so we cycled there most days. Even with 14 inch wheels, it was quicker and easier than walking and the baskets on the back carried enough shopping to keep us fed.

14 inches is bigger than you think!

We didn't miss out the main island of Madeira, though. We left the boat in Porto Santo and took the ferry across to Funchal, the main town on Madeira. Then by chance we found a great wee guest house where we stayed in (comparative) luxury for two nights - shower, running water, flushing toilet, balcony with great view, satellite TV,a big comfy bed and a huge breakfast out on the terrace - things that house-dwellers take for granted but are now luxuries for us. And all for about £16 per person per night - great! (Stay there if you go to Funchal - find them at www.pensaoresvilateresinha.com)

Our balcony, with view over Funchal.

Vila Teresinha.

Funchal is quite touristy but that's understandable because it's a pretty town and the island is very lush. We didn't have time to take in the rest of the island, which looks great for walking, but we managed the usual tourist haunts, including Madeira-wine tasting (free!), a ride up the mountain on the cable car and a ride down on a toboggan - the toboggans have been operating for over a hundred years, providing unusual transport for lazy tourists, like us.

 

Overlooking Funchal.

 

Mush!

Tasting Madeira.

But there were other things to enjoy, like the big fresh produce market - including some fruits that we'd never even seen before, like philodendro (bit like a pine-cone on the outside, but sweet inside - grown from your bog standard loungeroom cheese plant!) and different flavours of passion fruit (thought there was only one!). Also, the fishmarket was full of scabbard fish, one of the ugliest and most vicious-looking fish in the sea, but very tasty cooked with banana, Madeira-style.

Funchal Market.

 

 

The public gardens in Funchal were full of specimen plants and trees from all over the world (well, the warm parts at least) - Sue turned into a botanist again.

The superbly-named Sausage Tree, from Africa.

A Funchal Garden.

We returned to Porto Santo after our "holiday" on Madeira and set to work on a few maintenance jobs. Tom fixed the Aries self-steering gear which had started sticking and gave the deck a coat of paint. Sue made a new sprayhood and did a load of washing the old-fashioned way (in a big bucket).

New sprayhood in the making.

 

But we also found time to see more of the island, including climbing the extinct volcano called Pico do Castello. The view from the top was worth the sweaty climb. Imagine our surprise to find that instead of a caldera as you'd expect at the top of a volcano, there was a garden, with paved areas designed to collect water and run it into underground tanks - clever!

 

 

View from Pico do Castello.

 

We finally left Porto Santo for the Canary Islands on 7th November. Before we went, we did what every sailing boat does and painted our "sign" on the harbour wall. It's bad luck not to!

Porto Santo was a very sociable place with sailing boats from all over Europe and beyond, mostly heading south either to cross the Atlantic or to go into the Med. We met a lot of interesting people and hope to meet some of them again in some other harbour...

Leaving our mark.

 

 



Contact us:  tomandsue@mcnaughtan.net