En route from Porto Santo to La Palma

Friday August 25 I sailed from Porto Santo in direction of La Palma, Canary Islands. However, no wind what so ever, so I motored to Madeira instead and anchored in the Baia da Abra. One of the most beautiful unspoiled bays of Madeira on the north east part. Good way to start sailing again after 7 days Porto Santo. Pleasurable days but also stressful with repairs. Here in the baia I dived in 23 degrees seawater of marvelous cooling.

Next day I sailed one hour to the marina Quinta do Lorde. A marina part of a resort. Not really my thing, but the marina is very good and the anchor place a bit lively with waves. Being here also gave my the opportunity the spent an afternoon in Funchal, the capital of Madeira and next day to walk around the

Baia da Abra. A spectacular walk with great views. Of course, also the necessary exercise of four hours walk in 28 degrees sun. Nevertheless, a great walk.

 

 

 

However, I spent enough time in the madeira archipel, time to move on. The wind for La Palma, 280 miles, promised to be a bit low, so considerable motoring was foreseen. However, I motored only 5 hours out for the two days sailing. Not bad at all. Eventhough, sailing with a light winds feels a bit boring. During the day I spent most of the time inside the boat. Outside the sun was burning and it was not possible to stay in the sun for a few minutes. Inside the boat, with hatches open for a cool breeze it was doable. 27 degrees! My mind went around the sensibility of my planned adventure and I longed for home.

However, the nights where more interesting and much better to cope with. Of course it is much cooler. But also the routine is more explicit. I have to sleep but I also have to keep watch for other ships and changes in the weather. Same as during the day, but at night sleep comes more easely. So part of the night I sleep away in a rhythm of 30 minutes sleep, alarm, 30 minutes, alarm and this 24 hours a day! But also the night is very beautiful to see. The stars at sea look brighter than you ever can see in our industrialized world with all the lights. I could see the milky way. Somethings some clouds and moonlight would light the sky as in a fairytale. The sunset and sunrise are beautiful. Second best parts of the day.

Then, every time a miracle, land shows up at the horizon. La Palma at last. One of the most western islands of the Canaries and a good place for departure to Mindelo, Cape Verde. La Palma is not that touristic as is Gran Canaria or Tenerife. But I had my share of tourism, so good enough for me. It does feel very tropical, not just the temperature. La Palma looks a bit pale for sea, but behind the apartment buildings are the little old streets not too much tourist. I really enjoyed it.
However, little time is left for nice trips, I have to prepare for the biggest trip so far. 850 miles to Mindelo with the great reward being Vanessa, who will come to visit me there. But first I have to check and clean the boat, do clever shopping to last me at least those 8 days, and very important, do the paper work of clearing out of the European Community. Next stop will be Africa! 
   

Porto Santo

Monday August 14, I left the nice marina of Oeiras and set course to Porto Santo, a small island just 30miles NE of Madeira main island. This leg is 480 miles, about 92 hours sail in SW direction. Four days give and take. This was my first leg offshore into the Atlantic ocean. And after the great time with Vanessa it was a bit hard change to be back on my own, wondering why am I doing this while I can have a good time with my wife?

Well, also I want to experience this trip, somethings less though. Nevertheless, I sailed. Now with the Portuguese trade wind from NE between 15 and 25 knots, the direction I have to go.  Good thing? Not if you do not put your front sail the other side of the main. Which meant putting up the spinnaker pole of 5,5 meters on a rolling sailboat. I practice with Casper and that really helped. Taking it easy just like Casper said, 30 minutes later the front sail was set to stay there for four days and giving the boat great speed. My sail went therefore very well. I set my anchor Thursday evening just before dusk. Good going/

During the sail I had water under the floor in the kitchen. Sweet water! Luckily. One of the three water tanks is leaking and since all three are connected, I lose my water. Not much but every roll a bit adding up to 10 liters a day. Not good. I moved the boat into the marina so I could inspect the tank, but it is built under the floor, making impossible to inspect our repair. This was a real setback for me and I really did not had a clue first how to fix it, since also the water pump is using the water from the leaking tank.

However, a kind and knowledgeable sailor Martin from Porto Santo said not to worry We could make a system which allows us the open and close each tank and have the pump using the system we will make. Sure enough, next day 9 in the morning we went shopping with his car. At the hardware store we found blank faces shaking no. We don’t have that here. “But we have, said Martin very friendly, we use it all the time for our houses”. More blank faces and Martin and I joined into the inventory. Sure enough, all the things we needed appeared. Patience, friendliness and being a well seen citizen from Port Santo makes enormous differences. Actually, I found many very friendly people going out of their way to assist.

So finally, after two days of working I have my water system improved. It looks very nice, and I should have done this at home, but that list was long already. Of course, I have to do with two tanks now, about 240 liter, but I can close one and monitor the consumption much better. The leaking tank I will try to repair later, but that involves quite a lot disassembling and time.

Luckily, I also took time to tour the island, not longer than 40km. I hired a quad (first time in my live) and drove around the island and visited nice spots. I also climbed a mountain, Pico das Urzes. 450 meters! Not too high but with a nice view. The anchorage also looked like coming from the tropics with green emerald color sea. Fantastic. And the water is 23 degrees Celsius. Much better than the 18 along the Spanish and Portuguese coast.

Everywhere you go you will find other yachties. People sailing back and forth from the carrieb or Europe. So I met a nice couple from New Zealand, two guys from Scotland and a Norwegian sailing with an American girl. We spent time together and also admired the folklore of Porto Santo. I looks like every night something is going on. It is also still tourist season.

Lisbon

Lisbon

First of all I enjoyed the visit of my wife in Lisbon. It was really great seeing each other again after some many weeks. I really feel grateful to my wife supporting me in living my dream. And great to be together again and enjoy each other company in a climate lately dramatically different than the climate in Holland.

I do not aspire to write a travel guide on Lisbon but my own experiences where a bit mixed. Much had to do with the time we visit Lisbon. To many tourist we being part of them. You see much of this in Amsterdam, Barcelona and many other cities, carrying to many tourists to be able to enjoy the city. Nevertheless, Alfama proved to be too busy for me to enjoy. We left Castelo de São Jorge for the huge line up and went along the nice little streets, cobblestones, old fashion trams and everything overcrowded with tourist. I found it difficult to find a restaurant not serving the typical tourist food. Of course, everything is in the eye of the beholder.

Belem, however is what it is. A harbor front many years closed off from the city and the last years successfully opened up by the administration of Lisbon with great monuments, museum and the occasionally old tower of Belem, parks and more. I started to like Lisbon. We visited the cultural museum of Lisbon and enjoyed very different modern art, sometimes quite provoking.

We also went through the old area of Bairro Alto. We both really enjoyed the old city and its very nice people who are ever so helpful. Close to this part, which we accidentally came through later in the day on our return from our visit to Sintra, it was pleasantly busy and we eat at a large commercial location with several food stands and long tables you eat next to, in this case tourists.  You can find this concept also in Amsterdam (Food hallen).

Already mentioned, we visited Sintra. I had no idea what to expect, apart from many other tourists, but is looks like a fairytale mountain with palaces and a real castle of the Moors. The latter being build 500AC, the palaces where build the last 150 years by millionaires with much fantasy and romantic aptitude. I liked the real thing the most, the castle, but Quinta da Regaleira, impossible for my the pronounce right, is most popular. Vanessa really liked it. The village of Sintra also has many small and larger palaces and nice houses. The village is very touristic!

 

Of course we also enjoyed life on board. Relaxing in the very nice marina of Oeiras (pronounce something like “queiras”). The marina is not big for Dutch standards but very snug and very friendly managed by the marina crew, who really go al the way the make your visit enjoyable. The marina is integrated within a public swimming pool, open for marina visitors, and a quay with several restaurants and nautical shops. Not really an elaborate chandlery boat some boat stuff, and other watersports such as diving, surfing and swimming. Al and al makes a lively whole and a very pleasant atmosphere. Vanessa cooked a real good dorade.  It tasted delicious.

Of course, the journey goes on. Tomorrow I sail my first more or less large ocean crossing to Madeira! About 450 miles and four days (24 hours), give and take. This will be the first leg towards Cape Verde, via Canary Islands.

En route to Lisbon

From Porto two Dutch sailing boats Summerwind and Senja sailed south in day trips towards Lisbon. From Porto we did day trips via Avero, Figueiras da Foz, Nazare, Berlenga, Cascais and finally Oeiros, from where I will visit Lisbon with my wife Vanessa.

The weather was calm, much we motored and when possible we sailed. Casper, on board of the Summerwind fished and caught mackerel which he smoked to much delight of his girlfriend Floor. The only fish I caught was 10 cm long. I definitely have to practice more.

In Avero we anchored in a somewhat overcrowded anchorage in an area partly enclosed by a dam from the fast flowing river. Next morning we left in heavy fog while, to make things exiting, a large freighter entered the harbor invisible but very much present with a load horn warning all small vessels to make way. Well, we survived.

Next day we arrived in Figueiras da Foz where we moored in the marina. The distance was short so we had an opportunity to visit the town, which looked promising but did not deliver much excitement. The building where exotic but no live in the form of shops, restaurants or more important, terraces where to be found, save for some at the beach, which looked like a military terrain.

Anyway, we are just passing through and ended up in Nazare, the only harbor which claims you can enter the harbor in all weather conditions. You have to know that the Portuguese Atlantic coast is pruned to be dangerous due the swell. Swell are long waves which originates somewhere far on the ocean. On sea, not much trouble, you just be lifted one, two or more meters. However, when the sea gets shallow near the coast, this swell of two to three meters can change into a breaking sea of five or more meters, easily making a small sail boat capsize, which on occasion happens. Nazare claims not to have this problem. Well, in 2013 the highest wave ever in history was measured here, 30 meters high! The concrete dam was washed away. Not a place to be. However, we made it without much problem, but the effects of swell was clearly felt, more than in the other harbors.

From Nazare we sailed a good sail to Berlenga. Berlenga surpassed our expectations. Hence all the pictures in this blog. A beautiful island with grottos you can bring your dingy in, spectacular underwater live and a great nature reserve. We anchored in the somewhat rolly anchorage where we spend the night. Next day it was raining, and we were tired of being rolled along. We left for Cascais, to spend the night in the anchorage, and arrived finally in Oeiros, were Vanessa will join me and from where we will visit Lisbon.