Gibraltar to Porto Santo/Madeira
The day after our arrival saw the return of Noel back on the scene after flying in to Malaga and getting a bus on to Gibraltar. A few days of the usual wandering about trying to find parts and the purchase of a couple of new batteries, a 'Navtex' weather forecast receiver amongst other things, and the fitting of a new gearbox coupling brought from England with Noel, which then required several mornings' work making and fitting shims to align the engine properly with the prop shaft.
We decided to spend the next day climbing the Gibraltar rock, and enjoyed the views from the top of the harbour that we were in.
Having reached the top after a few hours of climbing we enjoyed watching the famous monkeys …
and walked along the ridge, with the cloud billowing over the top from the Mediterranean side of the rock.
Since it was Jay's birthday, ice creams (the larger the better) were in order.
A few days later Jay left to fly back to England for a couple of weeks, planning to meet us back at Faro at the same time as Jo to continue on to Madeira. Having carried on with the boat maintenance jobs for a couple of days, we decided to leave the marina and go to anchor outside, a much cheaper option - unfortunately in the meantime the marina staff had decided that our boat was longer than we had said (there are several ways to state the length of a boat) and had doubled the price without telling us to £20 a day. A large argument ensued, but to no avail since we had already paid by mistake so there was nothing to do but express our dissatisfaction with their underhand tactics as we left.
Maurice had decided to pop out for a week to sail with us round to Faro, so after he flew in the next day, we left Gibraltar the day after and had a good sail around back to Tarifa, with the 'Levanter' wind blowing the right way this time. Maurice took to the helm quickly, as good as any single-handed sailor!
We went to anchor off the leeward side of Tarifa as we had done last time, although the wind was blowing off shore, the waves were travelling down the coast and driving onshore, so we went back around and into the small harbour and tied up alongside. By the morning the wind was very strong, gusting through the relatively protected harbour, so we gingerly nosed out of the harbour into a blast of wind and high waves - this time though the waves and the wind were both going our way so with just a double-reefed mainsail we managed a speedy 9.5 knots !
We made such good progress that we decided to carry on around Cape Trafalgar and up to Cadiz that day - rounding Cape Trafalgar was very different zooming along with the wind and sea, rather than beating against it as we had done last time. By the time we reached Cadiz it was about 10pm and we finally arrived in the fairly industrial looking port as recommended by our pilot book, and tied up alongside a disused looking rusty boat. Half way through cooking a belated supper we heard a shout, and a maritime police boat was alongside, with its occupant telling us that we could not moor there since the area was private, and that we had to go five miles across the bay to Porto Sherry where there was a marina. We finally arrived there at 11:30 and stayed the night, leaving the next morning onwards again to the mouth of the Guadalquivir river. Lacking any favourable wind, we motored along all day, our path crossed by some scary looking destroyers.
We anchored a couple of miles up the river mouth, leaving plenty of time for a small wander in the reserve, again missing a sighting of the illusive feral camels, although we did get shooed off by a very important ranger in a jeep waving his finger at us, and we saw some fisherman waiting for the ferry across to the town on the other side of the river.
The bay near the river mouth has a wreck of a huge boat, torn in half, as a stark reminder of the dangers to shipping.
We rounded the evening off with a barbie in the dark on deck.
The next day we had wind on the nose again so we motored all the way to Santo Antonio, at the mouth of the Gaudiana river (at the Spain / Portugal border), and anchored off the beach. We went ashore and wandered around the pleasant little town, having a very good seafood meal at a restaurant. The next morning we returned to town and spent some time on the beach and had a swim, while Noel did some maintenance.
After re-shimming the engine for the fourth time and finally getting the alignment right, we left mid afternoon for the Faro river, arriving at the river mouth at about 7:30 in the dark. We thought it looked a bit bumpy but as we tried to go through the river entrance we were assautled by a vast torrent of current coming out and making all sorts of weird eddies and standing waves up to siz foot tall. At one point it took us and swept us along sideways despite full lock on the rudder, but judicious application of full blast from the trusty Perkins main engine sorted us out and got us through. We then carried on a bit up the river and anchored outside the channel, feeling sorry for the much smaller sailing boat that came in behind us and got stuck in the entrance being thrown about for about 10 minutes, lacking the engine power to make much progress.
The next morning we carried on up the river and anchored near the town, spotting our 'twin' boat (well, hull shape at least) on the way.
Since Maurice was to leave from Faro airport that evening, we went into town and checked out the bus times, pausing for lunch in the town and a small walk to the older part of town.
Having said farewell to Maurice that evening, we weighed anchor the next morning and made our way around to Villamoura, where we had previously been able to get gas. Our four gas propane cylinders that we keep on deck for the cooker and the boiler were almost spent, and various problems with different cylinder owners and fittings in each country mean that rather than just swapping cylinders, we have to have our own cylinders sent away to be refilled for us, which cannot be done in many places. After a smooth run down the river and out to sea, we arrived at Villamoura that afternoon and moored up alongside a pontoon in the large marina. The next couple of days were spent finshing off a load of jobs and getting the boat ready for the next part of the voyage, these included amongst other things the sanding and varnishing of the rubbing strake that was fitted in a bit of a hurry just before we left, and finally getting around to installing the Navtex weather receiver bought in Gibraltar.
The 6th October saw Jay arrive bringing Ian, and Jo arriving later on in the evening. Unfortunately departure the next morning was delayed until the afternoon after some repairs to the top of the main mast were carried out, a problem only noticed the day before, but when we got out to sea we had a good run back to Sagres, arriving just after dark and anchoring off the beach.
During the night the sea and wind got up considerably and so at first light we went around the headland into Baleira, a protected anchorage where we were'nt going to be swept onto the shore, and waited the day out until the next morning until the weather was a little better. Meanwhile, there was some time to try being battered by the 8-foot waves every ten seconds on the beach.
The next morning we headed out into the still strong but much less dangerous wind and sea off towards Porto Santo, allowing us to sail well for the first day or two, but the wind gradually died, leaving us motoring for a day, but picked up again on the fourth day and we sailed up to Porto Santo on the morning of the 13th.
We stayed in the harbour at anchor in Porto Santo for a couple of days, giving us time to go for a walk around the island, spend some time on the beach and go out for a meal on both nights as a treat.
On Friday 15th we upped the hook and went across to Madeira, covering the 30 miles mostly under engine since despite a good try, the sails would not fill in the light breeze. We anchored right at the North end of the island in a little bay, with wonderful rock formations to look at.
We had a lovely home-made coffee and walnut cake as a treat, expertly made by Noel and Jo which went down a treat after a brisk swim to the shore and back.
The next day we left just after lunchtime to go round to a marina in Funchal, the capital of Madeira, leaving just enough time to go for a walk on the bare rocky hills surrounding the anchorage.
Funchal was only a few hours sail away so we arrived well before nightfall at the harbour, which is a fairly large commercial port with a small and very well filled marina. Having been shooed away by someone in the marina after hovering for a while in the entrance looking in vain for a suitable space, we went outside the marina to anchor and went into town to sample some of the local flavours.
The next day we went off to do a 'Lavada' walk in the hills (a lavada is a water channel cut into the side of the hills to collect and transport rainwater to the towns). Despite a few wrong turns at the start which led to over an hours' walking in the wrong direction (the 15-year old guide book that we had was no longer the most accurate) we walked most of the day following the lavada paths and taking in the wonderful scenery.
As the day wore on the weather deteriorated and we returned back to the boat in torrential rain. The wind got up and with the Navtex warning a force 8 and the boat rolling around in the anchorage which was not too well protected we went over and tied up alongside the wall in the commercial port, assisting some tired Germans who had just arrived after a nasty voyage from Porto Santo by letting them tie up alongside us. In the morning we were predictably moved on by the port authority who gave us the option of paying 400 euros to stay there another day, which we politely declined, and we re-anchored where we had been before. The weather was still pretty ugly and each time we went ashore we were drenched by the rain, and we had a bumpy night with the boat rolling around all over the place.
The next evening Jo's brother Chris was arriving as a surprise to sail with us to the Canaries, so Jo was very pleased to see him, and since no-one could be bothered to cook another bar meal ensued. Due to leave the next morning, the wind was still blowing hard and the waves looked huge, so we sensibly decided to wait until conditions were more pleasant to leave for the Canaries. We discovered that the Lister generator had managed to flood itself with sea water so Rob had the enjoyable task of several hours oily work clearing out the sump and the engine and replacing the oil, but all was OK afterwards. Merryn made a 'tingle' (a copper patch) to cover a rotten part of planking which was letting in water and Noel, Chris and Jo fixed it on the side. Meanwhile the hapless Germans, who had been forced out into the less protected end of the anchorage by the port authority moaning that there was not enough room for the big cargo boats to get past everyone, had been dragging their anchor and picked up a mooring buoy, but in the meantime had got another mooring buoy rope stuck around their propellor, and so were pretty much stuck where they were until the weather improved.
The weather had abated a bit by the evening and so we prepared that night to leave at first light the next morning by putting a couple of reefs in the sails. 6:30am saw us all about and we weighed anchor for Santa Cruz de Tenerife at about 7.
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