Yacht Fathom - Setting off from England in May 2016 on a single-handed voyage somewhere a bit warmer

Madeira – Part 1

Well I did catch a fish on the way from Porto Santo! The lure Jean gave me worked as he promised so thanks Jean. The Dorado was big enough to provide me with breakfast, lunch and dinner for a couple days too.

On arrival at Madeira I anchored Fathom in Baia de Abra on the eastern end of the island. A very nice location and by taking the dinghy ashore to the beach, gave access to an excellent walk along Ponta de São Lourenço peninsular with fantastic views back to the anchorage. Two other yachts in the bay when I arrived were ‘Harry Z’ and French yacht ‘Courement’. On the second night in the bay a pleasant evening was spent on ‘Courement’ having some dinner and excellent French wine with Aurélie and Olivier.

Looking down on Baia de Abra from Ponta de São Lourenço – Fathom is the left most boat

I had not filled up with water since Sines so after a couple of days on the hook the water tanks were getting low and I decided to enter the marina a mile or so down the coast called Quinta do Lorde. The idea was to stop one night and then head down to the anchorage at Machico or Funchal and explore the island from there. But after giving it some thought I didn’t feel comfortable leaving the boat at anchor when heading off round the island for hours at a time. The marina at Funchal told me the only space they had was rafted on the visitor pontoon up to 8 boats deep which I also wasn’t happy with. So decided to stay at Quinta do Lorde for a few days despite it being quite isolated on the east of the Island. Luckily my cruising association membership gives me 30% off the marina fees.

The best way of exploring Madeira is by car so I have hired the cheapest I could find – a Fiat Panda. This has a ridiculously small engine which does not cope well with the steep and windy roads and I seem to spend most the time in 1st gear. Yesterday I drove to the west of the island and walked a trail which descends from 500m elevation down a crazy steep cliff face to a small fishing village. It was so steep my legs hurt walking downhill. I think i’m out of shape but I made it back up again somehow. On the way back to the marina a quick visit was paid to the Cabo Girão skywalk which is a glass platform suspended from the highest cape in Europe, 580m, and gives some impressive views.

One of the main attractions on Madeira is walking the Levadas.  These are mini canals used for irrigation and carry water from the wet mountainous areas on the north of the island to the flatter and dryer southern areas. Some of these date back to the 16th century and in total cover a distance of 2,500km. The walking trails incorporate the maintenance tracks alongside the Levadas. Today I walked a trail called ‘Levada do Caldeirao Verde’ which is a total distance of 13km and which I chose because it is mainly flat. My legs are still recovering from yesterday. The route includes walking through 4 tunnels and ends with a small lagoon and waterfall.

Over the weekend I intend to hike a route which includes the three highest peaks on the island at around 1800m elevation. My body feels like it has been sat down on a boat for four months so it is great to be giving the legs a decent workout.

Posted on 23 Sep in: Madeira Islands (One Comment)

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