November 2012

Monday 5th

Porto Santo

As noted at the end of the October entry we arrived here on Saturday evening and spent that night at a mooring buoy in the harbour.  Sunday was spent borrowing diesel, walking into town to buy more and then bleeding the engine before moving into the marina proper on Sunday afternoon.

Overnight Sunday there was extremely heavy rain with flash flooding and land slips along the coastal road.  This morning it continued in much the same vain with wind in the harbour gusting to 50 Kts!  As we are parked beam on it made for some interesting moments as we had to stop things sliding off the saloon table, not what you expect in a marina!  By late afternoon things had calmed down and we walked into town to do some grocery shopping and have dinner.  As we were eating we saw coverage of flooding in Madeira where the same weather system had caused houses to be washed away – apparently what we experienced is not normal!

Here is an example of something bad happening to a yacht out of the water…

Thursday 8th

Quinto do Lorde Marina, Madeira

The crossing from Porto Santo to here is only 30 Nm and we did it in about five hours.  Sounds good? Not when you get 30-40 Kt winds that weren’t forecast and you are carrying too much sail!  Never mind, Emma Louise is an extremely strong boat and she took it all in her stride, even if the crew were less than happy.  This is a view of Porto Santo from the south west, receding into the distance…..Quinto do Lorde is a purpose built marina development with holiday homes attached to it.  Normally these places are to be avoided by cruisers but this one has an excellent reputation and we quickly found out why.  The marina staff are extremely professional and helpful and we were met outside the entrance by their RIB and piloted in to our berth.

We were tied up by 1700 and quickly learnt that the marina bar had a happy hour starting at 1730. There were at least 20 other cruising sailors in there, including more Brits than we had encountered in one place since leaving Falmouth.

Our plan is to be here until a) our mail arrives and b) the weather is ok to leave for the Canaries.  Mail might be Friday, more likely Monday and the weather is ok at the moment!  We also want to see something of Madeira whilst we can.

Sunday 11th

Quinto do Lorde Marina, Madeira

Some of the people who live on their boats keep a pet.  A dog is the usual choice but cats are also seen. I can’t see how a dog that needs regular exercise would be happy on a long ocean passage.  Maybe a Labrador that enjoys swimming would be ok but an Irish Terrier?This one belongs to Cain and April of Spirit of Argo.  For our friend Simon Cooper’s benefit we checked whether he might be related to his Irish Terrier, Trevor.  Apparently not as this dog came from a breeder in Essex and Simon’s from Lincoln.  In common with Trevor this one is not fond of water so doesn’t get his exercise by swimming.

Yesterday, Saturday 10th, we caught the bus into Funchal.  Madeira’s roads are a triumph of hairpin bend engineering and the bus drivers seem to thrive on throwing their vehicles around these bends on whichever side of the road the racing line happens to be.  You get used to it after a while and its probably more nerve racking for the tourists in their hire cars meeting a bus coming in the opposite direction.

Funchal is absolutely lovely with broad streets, mature trees providing shades and old colonial style buildings…

We spent some time just wandering around taking in the atmosphere of the place.  Also on the itinerary were:

A Madeira wine tasting session at Blandy’s (well you have to).

Beer produced at a local brew pub, the Brewhouse – this is the best beer we have had since leaving the UK, cloudy and something like a wheat beer but Pilsner tasting.

A visit to the cinema to see Skyfall – fantastic!

A meal of caldeirada (fish stew) in a restaurant in the old town.  Absolutely delicious and served in a pot with enough for four people.

At night you can see the houses built up into the hills behind the town….All in all a thoroughly good day out and much enjoyed by both of us.

Assuming the weather forecast is still ok we plan to leave here tomorrow morning and head down to Tenerife.  Hopefully it will only be two nights at sea but who knows?

Sunday 25th

San Miguel Marina, Tenerife

Sorry about not updating this blog sooner.  My excuse is that we have been very busy getting ready to cross the Atlantic.  The cruise from Madeira to Santa Cruz de Tenerife went exactly to plan with good sailing for 24 hours and then motoring for the next 24.  We arrived mid afternoon on Wednesday 14th. The six days there were spent fixing a list of small snags on the boat such as broken sail slides and replacing yet more plugs in the teak deck.  Carrefour got 500 Euros worth of our grocery business as we stored in preparation for a three (maybe four) week ocean crossing.  Our daughter Rachel is coming with us so we have catered for three people.

One of the trickier problems a cruiser has to deal with is getting gas bottles exchanged or refilled.  We use Calor, which appears to be unique to the UK,  and it isn’t possible to exchange cylinders overseas. In some places you can get them refilled but this proved impossible in Tenerife.  The solution was to buy a Spanish cylinder and regulator – more money!

After six nights in the marina at Santa Cruz we moved south by 20 miles and spent a couple of nights at anchor in the Bahia de Abona (Abona bay).  For the first time since buying this boat we actually went swimming from her!  Whilst the water wasn’t exactly tepid it was certainly comfortable after the first few minutes.

The second night at anchor was rather disturbed due to a swell running into the bay.  We were quite glad to get back into a marina on Thursday!  The last couple of days have been spent getting fresh provisions, doing an engine service and generally making sure we are well prepared for at least three weeks at sea.  Rachel arrived last night and we are currently waiting for a weather front to go through and the wind to veer from the south west to the north west later this afternoon, then we’ll be off, next stop English Harbour, Antigua!

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