Whether you are looking for warm winter sailing, or the refreshing free, deep blue Atlantic Ocean in summer, Madeira has a lot to offer the cruising yachtsman.
Sailing cruise in the Portuguese islands of Madeira
In 2010, says Chris Beeson, it was extremely difficult to find a charter company in Madeira that would offer bareboat charter. Therefore, they gladly accepted help from Marina's COO. Quinta do Lorde and the British representative Ocean cruising club in Madeira. Chris and Emma rented a Beneteau Oceanis 323 charter yacht called Paralelo 32, which they helped find at the Quinta do Lorde marina, located at the foot of a cliff on the south side of the peninsula. Ponta de San Lorenzo in the east of the island ...
Quinta do Lorde Marina
After supplying food for a charter in a supermarket near town Machico, we left the marina and headed southwest along the southern coast, past the same Machico. The city was home to a 15th century chapel, the oldest on the island, and one of Madeira's two white beaches. Then we passed the international airport ... The wind became changeable, and then completely disappeared near Ponta do garajau, the southern tip of the island, home to a smaller version of the statue of Christ that dominates Rio de Janeiro. The winds that blow this mountainous island are gusty and unreliable, but the refuge is never too far away.
Ponta do garajau
Two miles west of the cape is Funchal, visible from the sea as a sprawling city, making its way up the slopes in the form of terraces that rise directly from the Atlantic. The city's harbor is packed with cargo and cruise ships. There is a 210-berth yacht marina near the oldest part of the city, but it is always filled with local boats. Being so close to the heart of such a beautiful, historic city has its advantages, but the commercial activities and waterfront restaurants and bars mean it is a very noisy and not particularly relaxing place to spend the night. So we visited him later by car.
Moving on under the engine we passed Funchalto get to one of the three mooring routes in Faja dos Padres, a small strip of agricultural land at the foot of Cabo Giran, the seventh highest cliff above the sea in Europe, which rises to 589 meters. South side, protected by a rock and easily accessible from the sea. Agriculture has been carried out here since the 15th century and the climate allows many tropical fruits to be grown. We dived into crisp clear water and then headed back to the boat to catch the sunset.
At sunset, the rock was glowing red, and this seductive scene delayed us so much that while we lowered the dinghy and got to the embankment, the restaurant closed, so that evening we enjoyed dinner on the yacht. The next day we went west towards Ilyash-Desertash.
We stopped for a while near Camara de Lobos, a picturesque fishing village four miles west of Funchal, which lured here several times Sir Winston Churchill and his easel. Rocky outcrops on either side of the harbor entrance protect it from everything but southerly winds. It would have been a great place to drop anchor if it weren't for the dozens of moored fishing boats crowding the harbor. The embankment is often used by fishermen unloading their catch, so we went further.
South of Ponta do garajau we emerged from the island's hiding place and enjoyed the glorious welcome of the ocean expanding to its limit, under the warm wind and clear blue skies. This is what we came for! The 18 mile crossing flew by quickly and soon we arrived at Ilyash-Desertash - literally, deserted islands. To visit this marine reserve you need to obtain permission from the Department of National Parks in Funchal, and in the marina Quinta do Lorde, where we rented a boat, we were kindly helped to get it.
This archipelago of three islands is home to the monk seal, one of 10 rapidly disappearing species in the world, and the critically endangered Madeira petrel. Fishing is also prohibited here.
The islands' only anchorage is at the bottom of a rocky spit, flooded at high tide, in Chao da doca on the west side of the main island Ilyash-Desertash... There was a large French catamaran at anchor and the family sailed around it, but we went elsewhere. The site, which is owned by the permanent caretaker of the island and is used for emergencies, but since we only stayed until the morning, we were allowed to use the mooring. Generally, this anchorage is good for clear weather use only, although the ridge on the main island, towering more than 400 meters above the anchorage, develops its own microclimate - quite humid and choppy at times. Snorkeling impresses with many types of fearless fish, caves and vaults. Emma, an experienced diver, said that it is no worse than the popular diving spots in the world.
The next day, early in the morning, we went to Porto Santo - 40 miles upwind. We walked 6 knots all day, wondering if we should interrupt our journey to Quinta do Lorde or near Baia de Abrawhen a genoa halyard exploded on the mast and resolved the issue. We started the engine and moved towards the marina.
In the afternoon, while our breakdowns were being repaired, we visited an old whaling port a mile west of the marina. Quinta do Lordewhere we enjoyed the local culinary delights. The biggest hits were seafood saucers grilled in their shells, parrotfish and the island's signature fish dish, the black saber fish, a medium-sized deep sea fish. Having finished the feast with Pastel de Nata - the famous puff pastry with custard, we returned to the marina.
The next morning we decided to go to Porto Santo, 32 miles upwind. A decent breeze was blowing, but the long Atlantic wave refracting around Porto Santo was about to make the day long. It looked like a seven-hour sailing under sail, and when Emma got sick, we had to give up this venture. But Porto Santo acquired a mythical status in our minds, so we decided to abandon the staysail and engine. Its volcanic topography, unmistakably 20 miles away, beckoned us ahead. It wasn’t very fun, but we worked hard towards our goal and were very happy to have done so. Marina in Porto Santo for 165 yachts, well protected from the north, also has a large breakwater. This is usually the first port of entry to the Atlantic, so you'll see ocean-going ships of all sizes here.
Porto Santo, or Sacred Port, Is a very special place where Madeira people arrive by ferry to relax. This is largely due to the golden beach that stretches six miles along the southern coast of the island, but it is also the only inhabited island for nearly 300 miles.
On an island of 5,000 people, you have a kind of relaxed and low-key feeling, and this is most evident in Vila Baleira, which is considered the main city of this island. It is officially a city, but walking through the small cobbled square surrounded by restaurants and cafes, overlooking the 15th century town hall and church, you would never have guessed. Columbus lived in Vila Baleira for a while, and, of course, he walked around everything here, and lived both in the Canary Islands and the Azores, but his house here is now a museum.
Our way back to the island Madeira was a magnificent 7-8 knot walk along the seemingly endless Atlantic waters. Five glorious hours later we arrived safely at our marina Quinta do Lorde.
On our last day, we rented a car to explore the island. The power of engineering and construction skill that emerged on this island is remarkable. This is thanks to the tens of kilometers of tunnels that intersect with bridges, but we chose the old coastal road, a single lane highway that clings to the cliffs and coastline on the north side of the island, offering stunning vistas around every blind bend. The entire northern side of the island is coastline, so the only sensible way to enjoy it is by road.
Progress ended abruptly in Ponta Delgada, halfway along the north coast, where parked cars and pedestrians crowded along the roadway. Cut off from the rest of the world as they are in the Atlantic, the locals need no excuse to party and we stumbled upon one of the biggest - Festa do senhor bom jesus... The city was decorated with thousands of paper flowers made by locals, and judging by the number of pilgrims, we would have the best night of our life - if we could park a few miles outside the city.
We headed to Porto Moniz, to the north-western corner of the island, before turning inland, climbing upwards, and still upwards, above the clouds and onto the Madeira mountain range, surrounded by breathtaking views. We stopped at Serra de Agua to drink a local drink Poncha - a mixture of honey, lemon and white cane rum before continuing on to the labyrinth that is Funchal. Lacking a GPS navigator, we decided to drive down instead, in order, in theory, to reach the coast after a while. When we arrived at Funchalwe saw a cobbled street Avenida arriaga in the midst of the Madeira Wine Festival - a celebration celebrating the grape harvest and the huge variety of wines produced on the island - which also showcases the island's culture, traditions and folklore. This event marked the perfect end to our yachting trip to the Portuguese islands of Madeira, almost lost in the Atlantic.
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So why Madeira?
Aside from the clichés of blue paint, fortified wine and wet biscuit, there is a lot to be found here for boaters and adventurers alike. First, the deep, dark, bright blue waters of the Atlantic, which provide extraordinary freedom under sail. Secondly, you will not meet crowds of tourists on the way. Besides, the climate is delightfully stable, it varies from 18 ° C in late winter to 25 ° C in summer, reliable winds from the northeast, and spectacular scenery inland. It depends on which side of the island you plan your trip on, because the prevailing northeast trade winds regularly blow on the north side of the island and heavy rains make this part of the island spectacularly green. South side generally dry, and at its heart lies the Port of Funchal, where you will find impressive historic architecture.
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