Madeira: Porto Santo, Ilhas Desertas, Funchal, Levadas and wine…

On arrival at Porto Santo, after a proper ‘run ashore’ to discover the delights of its nightlife, the crew hired scooters and discovered the island.  Dry in comparison with Madeira itself (20 NM to the SW), it has a long sandy beach (unlike Madeira) and a dry but quite interesting interior.  A few decades back NATO came and built a long runway and other infrastructure, but the island has its own charm and the people at the marina were helpful and polite.  We ran on the beach, shopped, ate well and swam. Before we left we bought paint and, with a bit of artistic input from Tiger, created our own wall mural in the tradition of passing sailors.  We have enough paint left for Horta in the Azores, the other famous place where such harbour wall artistry is encouraged.


Tiger and Tom on scooters, trying (and perhaps succeeding) in looking cool


Our mural on the visitors’ pontoon, Porto Santo

After a couple of days we headed down to Madeira – an uneventful passage in light winds again, although we did managed to catch a seagull in our fishing line, although it escaped unhurt. We were ushered into the main port-cum-marina in Funchal, and given a temporary berth right at the far end of it, amongst the tourists and ideally placed to explore the city. After another ‘run ashore’ Tiger left for the airport, the rest of the family flew in, we hired a car and then had a more traditional holiday, involving walking along the levadas (water ducts which follow contours around the hills), sightseeing and generally relaxing.  It’s a wonderful island, with hugely varying geography and micro-climates, fascinating geology, great food and relaxed people.  We enjoyed ourselves hugely.  We also sailed one day to the Ilhas Desertas – 20 NM to the ENE – a marine reserve with one very controlled anchorage for which you need a permit.  We had a boisterous reach in the Portuguese trade winds but on arrival found it a delightful spot to spend a couple of hours.  We didn’t see any Mediterranean Monk Seals (an endangered species – the islands shelter a small remaining colony) but did pump up the dinghy, visit the wardens and go for a short stroll and swim in waters teeming with fish.

Madeira was delightful, and we walked, ate and drank Madeira wine aplenty. We spent a further seven days in a marina adjacent to the main port ably looked after by Rafael Costa, before heading up to Qunita do Lorda, a little marina resort in the east of the island, where Spellbinder resides, awaiting her future passage south. Below are a few pictures of our time in this wonderful island, to which I look forward to returning shortly.


Beautiful sub-tropical gardens above Funchal


A typical Levada walk


Anchorage below the cliffs in Ilhas Desertas


Climbing up near Madeira’s highest peak, which we reached as part of a quite physical 6 hour trek – despite the easy paths!


Clouds rolling in over vertiginous valleys


Plenty for the student of geography…


Street art in downtown Funchal


Swimming by remote waterfalls


Rafael, who looked after us well in Funchal


Quinta Do Lorde, Spellbinder’s current berth

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