Passage to Porto Santo

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Europe » Portugal » Madeira » Porto Santo
August 29th 2010
Published: January 26th 2011EDIT THIS ENTRY

Last minute checks before departure revealed a shattered pulley wheel on the boom vang. Luckily we managed to cannibalise and fit a spare. We’ve bought five diesel cans here from a Chinese market, doubling our fuel capacity to 200L. Not being able to find them elsewhere, we just hope they sustain the journey. The passage to Porto Santo which sits 20 miles off Madeira would be 480 miles, and our first significant passage double handed. We finally got away at 11.30. The passage began with light winds, but once we cleared Capes Razo and Roca to the north of us the wind strengthened to a NW 4 – 5, and a brisk sail. We kept a beam reach for the whole passage, although lighter winds on the second day allowed us to set the asymmetric, which we kept up for a day and a half.

All in all it was a great passage. We worked a three hour watch system, choosing to helm rather than use the self steering for the full three and a half day passage. Dolphins joined us a couple of times which is always a real treat, and then with 29 miles to go we had our first sight of the island. It’s dry volcanic peaks rise to around 500 metres. Passing around the leeward side of the island we got our first sight of the long sandy beach and harbour, all very reminiscent to me of the Ascension Island of my youth.

There were a dozen boats or so in the little marina, most of whom appeared to be heading the same way as us. We checked in with the marina, then with customs, which was one guy in a rather lonely little office. We may have been his only customer all day, but he still sat there very formally insisting that we explain ourselves in Portuguese! After stuttering “Barco” and “Puerto” our grasp of the language dried up, at which point the official burst into laughter. I was only kidding he said in perfect English. Welcome, have a seat!

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