Made it to Madeira

What a wonderful island! Madeira is such a varied and beautiful place, it has so much to offer and to explore.
We arrived in Baia de Abra an anchorage on the south of the east peninsula of Madeira, the evening I wrote the last post (13th Sept). The bay is one of only a few anchorages the island has to offer, what a dramatic place. It is a rocky and exposed spine of volcanic rock which trails out from the green and verdant rest of the island . The rock is a spectrum of colourful volcanic reds, ochers, oranges, yellows, whites and blues and the sparse low lying plants are rarely interrupted by what looks like oasis’ of palm trees which have grown up beside infrequent buildings. We anchored in the deep blue water close below one of the big striped cliffs. We immediately jumped in for a swim, in the still surprisingly warm water. We took the snorkels face masks and swam amongst the massive boulders sand and schools of fish. Extremely beautiful below the cliffs. We went ashore for a walk before dark. The rocks and cliffs over the col on the north side of the peninsula looked so rich and dark in the light that they could have been deep velvet. The reds, greens, blacks and blues of the striped cliffs and sea below looked like they could have been painted in a nordic illustrated children’s book.

The following morning it was very gusty close in under the cliff, as we upped anchor and sailed out well reefed we realised that it wasn’t just gusty there but right across the bay. We has about 25 knots of NE wind but a completely flat sea, so very comfy and fast sail towards Funchal, the Capital of Madeira. The wind died off of the headland before Funchal and we had a relaxed approach to the harbour. We anchored off, and went ashore to explore.
Funchal is a very attractive place. The streets are paved with white and black stones like in Lisbon, the City of 1100 people! sweeps steeply up the hill side, the streets are planted with beautiful narly leafy green trees , there are lots of cafes and bars, people are very friendly.
The following day (15th) was Toms last day before his flight back to Bristol. He had been in touch with another Marine Scientist contact, through Gonzalo (who we had met in Lisbon). Filepe texted us that morning and invited us to come on the wooden 1960’s sailing tour boat which he worked on as a Marine Biologist, they were leaving at 10.30. The boat is called Ventura, its a really beautiful double ended ketch, we were delighted to be invited. We did see a pod of dolphins and were able to ask about our sighting we had had on our crossing from Lisbon ; dolphins, turtles and sun fish. We headed west along the coast, and then back in to Funchal for lunch time. The crew Filipe and Rita were so generous and welcoming. It was really nice too to go out in someone else’s boat for a change. It was a real treat.
After the trip, and after lunch we took a bus up behind Funchal to the church of ‘Monte’ about 500m and walked back down an old track through the woods. This was the first introduction to how steep Madeira is! sore calf muscles the next day. Really interesting to see the terracing and land use, and the forest and city on the very steep hill. Found a tiny bar on way back down, and then back to the boat for dinner.
On the 16th Tom left in the morning to catch his flight. It was very nice having him aboard as a member of the crew, and it was great exploring our landfalls together – Lisbon, Porto Santo and Madeira!
That same day Dan’s Brother: Nick, his girlfriend Maddy and friends John and Jenny arrived on the 7pm flight to join us for a week on Madeira… A fabulous week… More to come on that…

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