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Porto Santo, Madeira, Ilhas Selvagens

Date: 5-25/5/2005
(all pictures are clickable)

Once the boat repaired, I enjoyed sailing again ! I had to wait 6 months...

Algarve (south Portugal)

I first sailed with a friend along the coast of the Algarve.
Encounter in Portimao Like my new haircut ?

I even got thrown out of the "harbour" of Olhao in a very aggressive and rude manner ! Reason ? The harbour is "full". Judge by yourself... For your information: this place was build with money of the European Community (your and my money...). This was the worst example of Portuguese hospitality.

Beginning of May, friends of mine joined us for a trip from Portimao to Porto Santo, Madeira and the Canaries.
Click for details...

Porto Santo

The first part of our journey took us from Baleira (Sagres) to Porto Santo and was about 450 nautical miles. It started not good: we ripped the (old) symmetrical spinnaker... We also could only sail the first day and had to motor the remaining 2 as the wind was gone....
Swimming turtles in the middle of the ocean Of course, dolphins No comment Porto Santo in sight !

We went into the little marina of Porto Santo. A recommended place as it is not expensive, the water is crystal clear and the people very friendly !

The island itself is in general "dry" (not so much vegetation) but I liked it a lot. There are nice spots (long beach and nice views from the hills) and it is a quiet place. One can easily explore the island with a scooter, as we did.
Yes, Nereus is down there ! Looking southwards Looking across the island A remaining windmill


The next island, Madeira, is about 20 nautical miles (37km) southwest of Porto Santo. We were on anchor in front of Funchal for a week, as there was no space for us in the marina. The small marina is always full and passing ships are often 3-4 alongside each other, even in the low season as was our case. The water was relatively clean here, but I read it was a lot worse a couple of years ago. The marina staff were very helpfull, even for us who were not paying any fee !

This is a very beautiful island ! It is green (water everywhere) and wild. Its capital, Funchal, looks like a "normal" city. It has some nice areas though (it was originally built in the 15th century !). As soon as you leave this town, you discover splendid views. My friend described it as "like the Alpes or Switserland, but greener and more beautiful" ! You could not believe you are on an island, which is only 57km long and 22km wide. The original settlers (with the help of slaves) and their descendants, carved an irrigation system in the rocks, as it is a volcanic island, called "levadas". Today, these levadas are 2200km long !

The highest peak of the island is at 1861m. The vegetation changes throughout the island. All the places look different. We were charmed ! It is also an ideal place for walks throughout the valleys and the peaks. We stayed only one week, which is the strict minimum to discover the island. We traveled by car and by foot.

Views from Pico Ruivo (1861m)

Cabo Girao: highest seacliff of Europe, second highest seacliff of the world. 580m high...
View from the sea View from above

Along levadas (irrigation system)

But Madeira is also flora (and fauna)
Dragon tree

Some restored ancient houses of Santana Ancient abandonned "vodka" plant

The Monte Palace Tropical Garden

"I'll never drink again" - I didn't say that !

I even found a funny traffic sign...

Ilhas Selvagens - Selvagem Grande

Our next destination was Selvagem Grande (Big Wild) which is 160nm (296km) away from Cabo Girao. We got an authorization to visit these islands as they are part of the natural parks of Portugal (bird sanctuaries). We reached it in less then 24h with a lot of wind but also an agitated sea... These islands are under control of wardens and are habited only by birds (up to 30.000 couples in the summer for the big island). Selvagem Grande is about 2.5km2 and Selvagem Pequena (Small Wild one) less than 0.25km2 ! Needless to say that are just points on the ocean maps. Besides, they are surrounded by rocks (there are several wrecks).

Selvagem Grande On the top
Nesting birds...
Some flora Selvagem Pequena (part of...)

We met there the crews of 2 boats of Funchal/Madeira. They invited us to an "espatada" and we had a hell of an evening (we stayed one more night...). A big "thank you" to the owners and crew of "Fare Niente" and "Logosevé" !

Our next destination was La Palma, the most north-westward island of the Canary Islands. We reached it (132nm, approx. 244km) on engine on a windless journey...