Lagos to Madeira
Lagos to Madeira
During my winter in Lagos I started to plan the return to the USA the following spring.  I wrote an article on my planning and the actual voyage and submitted it to Ocean Navigator for publication.  A condensed version of the article was eventually published in the Ocean Navigator Newletter a year or so later.  Here is a link to the original article as submitted to Ocean Navigator.
On May 6, 2007 Bob Calt and I departed the Marina de Lagos enroute to the Portuguese Island of Madeira as our first stop on the voyage back to the Chesapeake Bay.

We had delayed our departure by nearly a week waiting for the Atlantic high pressure ridge to settle into a favorable position over the Azores Island chain. Now we could expect strong northerly winds to push us to the SW toward the island of Madeira.

Click on picture to view at full resolutionAlthough we expected to be able to re-provision in Madeira we attempted to stock Sarah with as many food and supplies as practical before departure.  As usual this meant that most lockers on Sarah were filled to overflowing.
Click on picture to view at full resolutionHeavy items, particularly bottled water and sodas were stored in the shower stall.
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Photo by Bob Calt
Before departing the Marina we had to wait until the lift bridge was opened.
Click on picture to view at full resolutionThen we passed south of the Ponta da Piedade rock formations outside of the Lagos and headed for Cabo Sao Vicente.
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Chart by NOAA
Once we cleared Cabo Sao Vicente we picked up a strong breeze out of the NNW, which drove us quickly toward Madeira.  We initially steered Sarah with the Monitor Windvance, but after 24 hours I discovered that the control lines were chafing badly.  I didn't want to attempt to replace the contol lines underway in fairly large seas so we steered the remainder of the way to Madeira under autopilot.

The NOAA Atlantic Surface Analysis for May 6 at 00z (12 hours before our departure) shows the well established high pressure over the Azores with strong northerly winds off the coast of Portugal, extending nearly all the way to Madeira.

NOAA Surface Analysis 
Chart by NOAA
For the first 36 hours of the passage we sailed west and north of the rhumb line course to Madeira to keep the NNE winds on our starboard quarter.  Grandually the winds veered more easterly so that we could jybe to the south and eventually re-cross the rhumb line.
Bermuda - DepartOn the third day the breeze died and we picked up what we thought was a stowaway - this small swallow.  It must have hitched a ride on another vessel and left trying to find land.  It found Sarah instead and landed exhausted on the foredeck.

At first the bird ignored us, probably trying to find out what sort of an island it had discovered and where the food was.

After a few hours it flew into the cabin.  It was so exhausted and hungry it no longer feared our touching it.

Bermuda - Depart
Photo by Bob Calt
We tried to feed it some water and water soaked bread crumbs, but it didn't seem to think that was food.  Swallows are insect eaters and there aren't too many insects 200 nm off shore.  While perched on my finger the swallow repeatedly tried to get some sleep by tucking its head back under its wing.
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Photo by Bob Calt
That evening we could see the swallow flying back and forth in front of Sarah's bow light as we motored toward Madeira.

The next morning, off Madeira, I found the dead swallow on the foredeck.  It must have died of starvation.  I dropped the body overboard and assumed we had seen the last of stowaway swallows.

Later that day when we berthed Sarah in Calheta I discovered the body of a second swallow under my laundry bag.  So there was a pair of them and they both died.  Those deaths took a little off the enjoyment of our landfall on Madeira

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Photo by Bob Calt
We made our landfall on Madeira well before dawn.  At night the lights of the island were clearly visible, but as we got closer and the Sun began to rise, the island became obscured by a thick fog.  Later that morning the fog lifted into a heavy haze and we could make out details on the island as we motored down the south coast toward the marina in Calheta.  The photo on the right shows some of the urban area near the principal city of Funchal.
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Photo by Bob Calt
Even with the haze we could see that Madeira is a very rugged, mountainous island.  The island consists of a series of mountain ridges (the locals call them Lombos - Portuguese for loin or rib) that run cross-wise (N-S) along the island.  We would later experience the massive engineering project that has produced a major highway system on the island consisting of tunnels through the Lombos and bridges to span the valleys in-between.

 

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Photo by Bob Calt
We spent the entire morning motoring along the south coast of Madeira heading for Calheta in calm seas.
Here is a link to the log of the voyage from Lagos to Madeira in a MS Excel Workbook
While on Madeira I surveyed the yacht harbors on the island.
Porto de Recreio da Calheta
Click on picture to view at full resolutionI had surveyed the available marinas in Madeira before we departed Lagos.  There are four marinas on the main island of Madeira and one on the smaller island of Porto Santo.  Since we wanted to spend a good deal of time touring the island of Madeira and didn't want to be tied to ferry schedules, I limited my survey to those on Madeira.  I sent emails to all four, but received responses from only two - Porto de Recreio da Calheta and Marina de Lugar do Baixo.  Lugar do Baixo responded that the marina was closed and recommended I go to Calheta.  Calheta responded that they would have plenty of space for Sarah - so Calheta it was.

The Porto Recreio da Calheta is located very near the western end of the island, about 40 km from the principal city and port of Funchal.  This makes the location ideal for our departure to the west, but I was not sure how convenient the marina would be for re-provisioning for the 2600 nm trip to Bermuda.

When we arrived Sarah was berthed on the floating docks.  The marina is located in a very picturesque location at the base of a sheer cliff.

While we were a long way from any decent-sized town, there is a Pingo Doce supermercado right next to the marina.  This supermarket was nearly the size of the Pingo where I principally shopped while in Lagos, so there would be no problems re-stocking the boat.

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Photo by Bob Calt
While we were in Calheta Bob hiked to the top of the cliff and took this picture of Sarah.
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Photo by Bob Calt
Next to the marina is a large upscale resort hotel and a man-made public beach.  There are few natural sand beaches on Madeira - most are just rocks.  The good beaches are on Porto Santo, a long ferry ride away.  So these man-made beaches are very popular with the locals and tourists.
Marina Quinta do Lorde
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For most of the days we were on Madeira I rented a car.  I spent one of those days visiting the other three marinas on the island.  This is a view of the Marina Quinta do Lorde on the eastern end of the island near the city and port of Canical.  All of the marinas are on the south side of the island to get some protection from the prevailing northerly winds.  Still, all of the marinas (including Calheta) are subject to a strong surge.  Reportedly Quinta do Lorde suffers the least from the surge.

 

Click on picture to view at full resolutionLike all of the marinas I've visited in Portugal, Quinta do Lorde has a large office building - most of which is empty.

Click on picture to view at full resolutionLike Calheta, Quinta do Lorde is a long way from any town.  Unlike Calheta, there is no local supermarket or other facility for re-provisioning near this marina.  A rental car would definitely be necessary to go shopping.  There is one restaurant nearby.
Click on picture to view at full resolutionAt this time of year (May) the marina was less than 1/2 full.  I suspect it is never full as it is a very remote location.
Marina Lugar de Baixo
Click on picture to view at full resolutionI stopped at the Lugar de Baixo knowing it was closed.  This time the large administrative building contained only a cleaning crew, none of whom spoke English nor could they understand my Portuguese (few do).

My guess is the marina is closed because of excessive surge in the marina basin and/or silting.  There was evidence of the later cause in the presence of a dredger off shore of the marina.

Click on picture to view at full resolutionThere is also evidence of surge in several pilings that have been bent over and the complete removal of the floating docks.
Click on picture to view at full resolutionIt is unclear that this marina will re-open in the near future.  It is hard to believe that this investment of hundreds of thousands of Euros will just be abandoned.
Marina do Funchal
Click on picture to view at full resolutionFor a long time the Funchal Marina was the only facility for yachts on the entire island.  It had a reputation for being dirty with lots of surge and always full.  They have cleaned up the marina a good deal,  and I saw no evidence of surge on this calm day.  However it is clear that the marina is still very full.
Click on picture to view at full resolutionI could see a few open berths on this visit, however May is not the busy season for visiting yachts on Madeira.  In the fall I suspect berths in Funchal would be very difficult to come by.
Click on picture to view at full resolutionFunchal does have a working boatyard - something Calheta and Quinta do not have.  So if you need major repairs while on Madeira, Funchal is probably the only option.
Jardim Botanico da Madeira
Click on picture to view at full resolutioOne of the major attractions on Madeira is the Botanical Gardens.
Click on picture to view at full resolutioThe picture on the left and below are of the sculpture garden in the Botanical Gardens
 
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Photo by Bob Calt
The Botantical Gargens feature a wide variety of plants, trees and flowers, both native to the island and from elsewhere in the word.
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Photo by Bob Calt
Click on picture to view at full resolutio
Photo by Bob Calt
The gardens also include an aviary.  A number of Peacocks including the tree-perched one in the photo on the left roam freely throughout the gardens.
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Photo by Bob Calt
On the left is another picture of the rugged coastline of Madeira.  This is the north coast.
The Highway System of Madeira
Our travels around the island were facilitated by the amazing highway system that has been created on Madeira.  The large number of mountain ridges that cross the island made the building of roads difficult and expensive.  Initially these roads followed the outline of those ridges and the valleys between.  Portugal joined the EU in the 1980s and that membership appears to have provided the financing and technology to modernize those roads.  Instead of going around the ridges, Portugal dug through them and built massive bridges over the valleys.  With the old roads it reportedly took nearly 4 hours to drive from Calheta to Funchal.  With the new highways Bob and I were able complete that trip in less than 25 minutes.
Below is a 7 minute video clip I took while driving between Funchal and Calheta..