With no one signed up for our Trade winds ocean passage between Vilamoura and Lanzarote we decided to set off south a little earlier than planned to give us more time to explore Madeira on the way past. The open 60’s in the TJV race last week all reported light winds between Europe and Africa, not so us, we raced along at 7 and 8 knots, making landfall on Madeira in just over 3 days.
With the wind in the south east we decided to sail past Porto Santo, Madeira’s little sister, 25nm to the north east, and take the opportunity of exploring the north coast of Madeira whilst in the lee of the southerly winds. This northern coastline is exceptionally high and green, with many waterfalls. There are numerous small colourful villages, perched on the edge of the steep cliffs accessed by a maze of winding mountain roads.
We spent the first night at anchor off the tiny village of Porto da Cruz, one of the islands oldest settlements. We sailed further along the coastline and spent our second night at anchor under a water fall in the Baia de Seixal, where nearly every building has a garden bursting with vines. It was a Sunday morning and with the weather completely still we could hear the church service from the boat.
We continued around the island to Funchal. We were so enchanted with this capital city, its narrow pebbled streets and colourful market that we spent 2 more days exploring here before continuing along the coast. You can take the cable car up to the mountain village of Monte high above the bay and look out over the ocean before making a visit to one of the many gardens.
We spent another night at anchor in the incredibly remote but beautiful Baia de Abra at the eastern end of the island and we are now just making our final preparations before departure south to Lanzarote and our winter season.
This colourful spectacular island fits well within our ethos of sailing to interesting places that are not on the usual tourist track, and we are looking forward to coming back here with Velvet Lady in March 2008.
See our Madeira page for further information on visiting this emerald island of the Atlantic