Sunday, 19 October 2014

Lisbon to Madeira

Lisbon to Madeira
23rd September to 3 October

Steve and Annie arrived at the marina at midnight with their luggage soaked from the thunderstorm while it was being unloaded from the plane. It was the last day of the two weeks of thunderstorms we had suffered but now the weather would no longer be a constraint on when we left for Madeira.
Steve arrived full of enthusiasm and in UK work mode. He would have left the next morning to sail to Madeira if we had not slowed him down. My plan was to make sure that we were all ready for the journey and had allowed three days preparation for so that everyone was comfortable with the journey ahead - 500 miles over 4 days out into the Atlantic.

We agreed the menus for 6 days (to allow for contingency) and spent the first afternoon shopping. It needed all four of us to carry the shopping back onto the boat. It was even more difficult to find places to put all the shopping and meant rearranging half the boat to make space that would be accessible on passage. A well-deserved beer and some tapas in the marina restaurant that evening which turned out to be the best meal we had in Portugal.

I had scheduled the Wednesday for finishing off jobs on the boat, the most important of which was to get the water maker in full service so we could use it on passage. We had to put in some diverter valves into two of the pipes (inlet and outlet), run some cleaning chemicals through it and then sample the water. It did not go well! 

Firstly, we put one of the diverter valves in the wrong pipe. I say we because it makes me feel better but it meant that we did not have enough pipe to correct the problem and so we sent Catherine and Annie into Lisbon to find some replacement pipe – an hour to get there, an hour to find the shop and an hour to get back just to get 2m of pipe.

Then we cleaned the water maker with the special chemical and it made no difference to the smell of the water – it had a distinct diesel smell although was crystal clear. And finally we found a leak in the water maker high pressure system which would mean taking the whole unit out of the boat. Not something to be done before we set sail on Friday.

We did some other jobs which did go well but was over shadowed by the water maker so it was not a good day and the meal in the evening did not help either. The restaurant was an old railway car which looked fabulous. When we asked the waiter for any recommendations to eat, he suggested the cold meat and cheese. That should have told us something (like the chef could not cook) but we went ahead and ordered from the menu. The food was more interesting than edible and we should have gone with the waiter’s recommendation – not much you can do to cold meat and cheese!

The shake down sail on Thursday ensured that we were comfortable with the boat and try some man over board manoeuvres before we sailed to Cascais for the night.
Steve and Annie in relaxed mode
On Friday morning (26th), Catherine and I took the boat out of Cascais while Steve and Annie slept in until they were due on watch. We sailed in a good wind for the first 6 hours before it died almost completely and we were on engine once again. In fact we motored for the next 24 hours with some gentle waves and light winds which was a good introduction to ocean sailing for Catherine, Steve and Annie. 

Next afternoon, the wind picked up and we were under sail once more. We had to put in two reefs overnight as the wind steadied at Force 6 overnight with the wind on the quarter but now we also had a further set of waves on the beam which were steep and made the boat rock uncomfortably – it was like sleeping in a washing machine. The crew looked wrecked after the last night shift and both Steve and Annie fell asleep in the Saloon after finishing their watch. Waves died down the next morning and we were back to pleasant sailing conditions until the Sunday morning when once again we forced to motor due to light winds.

Skipper ready for action
Everyone more relaxed on the Sunday as we had got through one bad night unscathed and the boat came through it without any drama. In fact the boat seemed to relish the bad weather and it was only the crew who were shaken, if not a little stirred by the motion. 

On Monday morning, Catherine asked why we were not stopping at Porto Santo on the way as it had a good write up in the Pilot Guide. It made a lot of sense to stop there since we would arrive at 8pm and in the light rather than at 1am in the dark into Madeira. What a good decision. We arrived at 7:30 and by 8pm we had ordered the taxi after having a gin and tonic on the boat. 

The restaurant we eat in was excellent, the fish was the best we had eaten for a long time and we sitting out in tee shirt and shorts. We even found a nice bar for drinks afterwards and we made up for the last 4 days of not drinking at all.

Up late the next morning as we were all tired and had headaches which we put down to dehydration (rather than the late night drinking). Sorted out Steve and Annie’s flight back from Tenerife which we decided would be the best island to head for and we walked around the town in the afternoon. Back to the same restaurant in the evening and a different bar for late night drinks.

No taxis around when we left so walked back to the marina. Steve attracted a couple of dogs who followed us on the way back with such enthusiasm they were not going to be given the slip. Steve tried to lose them by running down to the beach down a long ramp, wait and then run back while they were not looking. The dogs did not follow Steve up the ramp and we thought we had lost them until they came up the steps just in front of us so we carried on. They ended up sitting on the pontoon staring at Steve’s cabin with great expectation that he was going to come out and play but they we gone by morning.

On the Wednesday morning we sailed to Madeira in force 5/6 and boat sailed beautifully despite the steep waves from behind. It was a really enjoyable sail and we arrived at Quinta do Lorde marina at 4:30pm. Nice marina but understaffed and it took an hour and half to complete the check-in. Holiday village attached to the marina is a ghost town – looks nice but no-one is there. We checked out all the restaurants but it felt like an imposition to be the only people in the restaurant for the night so we eat on board. 

North Side of Madeira
The next day we hired a car at great expense for a tour of the island. North side of Madeira is dramatic, rugged and very beautiful. Also much colder and wetter than the south, particularly as you get into the clouds which hang over the island. Still, it was a bit like a warm summer’s day with autumn mist hanging over ground so although it was wet it was still tee shirt and shorts weather.

Our final day we spent in Funchal which is the capital. One day was not really enough to see everything we wanted to but we visited the market and the old part of the capital as well as many of the other tourist attractions. One day more would have been nice and two days too much.

Off to Tenerife the next day so we had a relatively early night and we were all relaxed about the 300 miles journey south.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on making the long sail. What foody delights did you have on the crossing? did anyone catch any fish to supplement it?!