Log #37c Lisbon to Madeira

November 13, 2005 in Log Series 30-39, Logs by Series, Series 37 Portugal, The Logs

Puerto Mogan, Gran Canaria

Nov. 13, 2005

Hi Folks,

We are in a rolly anchorage off Puerto Morgan here on the south coast of Gran Canaria. There is no room at any of the marinas around as they are all occupied by the ARC and the NARC yachts which plan to leave the third week of November for the Caribbean (NARC means Not on the ARC) and by then we will probably be on our way to the Cape Verdes. Because of the touristy and crowded atmosphere here in the Canaries, we are not impressed. We like Madeira much better.

However, we did have an opportunity to spend two nights at Pasito Blanco where the marina had a Wi-Fi network and allowed us to access the internet from Veleda for a 24 hour period for only 5 Euros. Happiness is…

However, I am having problems with my four year old Dell Inspiron 2500 laptop, and I don’t know how long it is for this world. It has served us well, but lately has been developing some serious intermittent faults, which if they become permanent, may mean no communication or a new laptop. One recurring fault is that a series of keys (rtfgvb) no longer work, until I give the laptop a series of taps to dislodge any dirt blocking them. Then I have a break in the power cord which has resulted in power failures unless held at a particular angle. Twice in the past week the CPU has failed to respond until shut down and started up again. The lower menu bar no longer displays the power monitor or the volume monitor, and I have to access the control panel to see the appropriate displays. So, if there is a long period before we depart the Cape Verdes that you do not hear from us, it will probably be because the laptop has crashed. If so, I will have my address list saved on the memory wand and be able to send a short note explaining what has happened. I don’t think there are any bugs as we have a good Norton’s Antivirus system. I think it is just age and dust on the keyboard. Perhaps I should cover it with Saran Wrap? I hope I get around to backing up everything before it goes.

The weather here is warm and sunny, but the winds as they circle around the islands are not necessarily as predicted. The anchorage we are in is exposed to anything from SE to SW, and the swells from the predominant NE to NW winds create a confused and bumpy anchorage. The best anchorage we had over here was up in Port Naos, near Arrecife on Lanzarote. I suspect we will be heading for the Cape Verdes in about ten days, looking for a secure anchorage to luxuriate in for a few weeks before crossing the Atlantic to Antigua in the Caribbean. Initially we thought we would do that crossing early in the New Year, but now I suspect we will be tired of the poor anchorages in the Canaries and be off to the Cape Verdes earlier and be crossing the Atlantic by Christmas time or earlier. I will keep you posted.

All is well with us and Veleda. Judy is happy as we have the wind generator and the watermaker operational again. I could do without the wind generator, but getting it operational was one of Judy’s pet projects.

For those of you getting pictures, I hope to attach three of the sites in Lisbon {The Maritime Museum Royal Barge, Padrao dos Descbrimentos the huge limestone Discoveries Monument headed by Henry the Navigator, and the Torre de Belem (Tower of Belem)}. For those of you not getting the pictures, you can see them on www.searoom.com.

All the best,



Log #37c Lisbon to Madeira

Puerto de Morro Jable, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands

Nov. 8, 2005

We were at anchor in Cascais on the coast a few miles down river from Lisbon for six days, and had very heavy winds for three of those. Our anchor held well, and we were well clear of other boats and those inconsiderate fishermen who went through the anchorage at full throttle. Finding a place ashore to leave Sprite was a problem, as the unused fuel pontoon at the marina was blocked off from shore access, and all the marina pontoons needed a gate key to exit or enter. A few boats at anchor used the reception pontoon, but always feared detection, as we did the first time ashore. This marina is also a major walk to get into the town. Places ashore for boats at anchor to leave their dinghies was a problem, as most of the shoreline was occupied by the marina, tidal beaches, rocks or sea walls with no ladders, or private sailing clubs unwelcoming to dinghies from boats at anchor.

We used the fisherman’s pier that had steps down, allowing access at any state of the three metre tide, but used a stern anchor to hold Sprite off the wall, and tied it up away from the steps area. An ongoing concern was that the pier was not a solid wall, but a roadway on concrete pilings with openings beneath the structure. A fear was that Sprite might be caught underneath on a rising tide and submerged at high tide if the stern anchor did not keep it out from the pier. Fortunately that did not happen, but was always a niggling apprehension I had about leaving it there for a day into Lisbon. However, this was a very convenient location in the old town, close to a shopping mall, large grocery store, the bus and train stations, tourist office, and local restaurants. We have a wire line that we lock to a post or cleat ashore when we leave it. A couple of times when we returned, Sprite was outside the lines of other fishermen’s dinghies, and we had an interesting time getting it alongside the steps (by clambering over the other dinghies or in one case asking a local fisherman coming ashore to row me over to Sprite 20 feet away. Another niggling fear I have is that I might not have the key to unlock it. Neurotic!

We took a couple of train trips into downtown Lisbon (a half hour ride for only 1.80 Euros) and wandered through the town and took a local bus up to Castelo de San Jorge, a well preserved castle overlooking the city, giving a grand panorama of the city, the river, bridges, dockyards and waterfront. Of course I had to take the wall walk around the entire fortification. There were no furnishings in the few rooms and maze of empty courtyards, but in one of the bastions there was an interesting camera obscura, a panoramic projection from a turret-top mirror that could be rotated through 360 degrees. The group of us huddled around a 3 metre wide concave table inside the bastion while a guide aimed the mirror above and described the area of Lisbon revealed. She then slowly rotated the mirror, describing the areas of Lisbon being projected on the table. It was an interesting system and an informative visual tour of Lisbon.

Before going to the Castelo we went up a tower that overlooked the lower town, some of the plazas, and the remnants of a 16th century pre-earthquake (1755) monastery. However, the cost, wait and view were not worth it, as the panorama from the Castelo was far better.

Lisbon has a history dating back 3000 years to the Phoenicians who first settled and traded from here. Then came the Greeks, the Carthaginians, the Romans, the Arabs, and the Moors, until the city was recaptured by the Crusaders in 1147. Lisbon’s glory days were in the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal’s age of exploration, using maritime navigation technology encouraged by Henry the Navigator and the like of Vasco de Gama who helped Portugal develop colonies around the world, especially in India, and Brazil. Belem, the seaport area of Lisbon, was the world’s most prosperous trading centre until much of Lisbon was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake, killing over 13,000. It was occupied by Napoleon’s troops from 1807 until relieved by a British-Portuguese force in 1811. It was downhill for Lisbon from then, through Portugal’s turbulent republican movement of the early 1900’s (Portugal had 45 changes of government from 1908 to 1924) until the 1980’swhen Portugal joined the then European Community, and Lisbon has since enjoyed a cultural renewal.

Sept. 26, while still at anchor in Cascais, we were joined by Doug Caldwell, a friend of ours from Toronto who sailed with us from Crete to Italy last year. As he was more interested in doing passage making with us than in sightseeing, we only toured Lisbon for one more day before departing for Madeira. So on Sept. 27 all three of us went into Belem to enjoy this area which was the launch pad for Portugal’s Age of Discoveries. We started with the Torre de Belem (Tower of Belem), originally a fortress built in 1517 to guard the entrance to Lisbon’s harbours, and now a UNESCO World Heritage site. The shoreline has since receded, and this dramatic hexagonal chess piece, now accessible by land, is the most photographed monument to represent Lisbon’s past maritime dominance.

A couple of hundred metres upstream we toured the Padrao dos Descbrimentos, a huge limestone Discoveries Monument opened in 1960 on the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator. This nautical innovator, born in Porto (remember the statue of him above Ribeira?) in 1394, died in 1460, but was responsible for much of the exploration carried out by the Portuguese in the 15th century. These included the discoveries of Madeira in 1419, Azores in 1427, Cape Verdes in 1451, lands beyond Cape Bojador on the west African coast by Gil Eanes [remember the hospital ship we toured in Viana de Castelo named after him] in 1434 (at that time the cape was thought to be the end of the world), the opening up of Sierra Leone and the Ivory Coast, paving the way for the further discoveries of Vasco de Gama and Ferdinand Magellan. This monument is shaped like the prow of a caravel, with statues of Prince Henry in the bow with Vasco de Gama, Magellan, and 30 other Portuguese maritime luminaries from the 15th century gathered behind him looking out to sea.

An underpass led us across the highway through a wide expanse of park over to the grandiose Mosteiro dos Jeronimos (Monastery of St Jerome) built between 1502 and 1592, now another UNESCO World Heritage site. The monks of the order of St. Jerome were to give comfort and guidance to sailors. The extravagant monastery was built by Manuel I to honour Vasco de Gama’s discovery of a sea route to India, and to serve as a pantheon for the king and his descendants. Vasco de Gama is interred in the church chancel. The monastery itself was taken over by the state in the early 1800’s and by the mid to late 1800’s part of the western wing became the National Museum of Archeology (which we did not visit) and the remainder became the Maritime Museum dedicated to Portuguese maritime history. This is, without a doubt, the best marine museum we have visited so far in the 7 years of our odyssey.

The entrance hall, a large arched chamber, contains life-size statues of Prince Henry the Navigator as well as other 15th and 16th century navigators, including Vasco de Gama and Magellan, who began what the museum called the Atlantic Adventure and the Age of Discoveries. Other themes carried out in the chambers and halls of this former quadrangled monastery include the Discoveries Hall, which not only focused on Portugal’s primacy in the Atlantic voyages, but also the progress in shipbuilding and astronomic navigation. Other halls showed excellent displays of coastal and deep sea fishing, ship building, merchant and military ships, and developments in the 18th, 19th , and 20th centuries. The last display area was the Barge Pavilion, with the ornate barges and galliots, all in excellent condition, built for the Portuguese royal family. It also contained a few sailing yachts, and the Santa Cruz, the original seaplane to be the first to cross the southern Atlantic by air to Brazil. We could have spent a whole day, but three hours had to suffice as the museum was closing for the day. It left us with a pleasant impression of having shared the maritime adventures of Portugal.

On our way back to the commuter train, we stopped at Pasteis de Belem, a large bar/restaurant/tea room, for tea and their delicious Belem cream tarts (pasteis de Belem, a traditional favourite), and bought a dozen to take back to Veleda. Mmmmm!

We planned to leave next day for the 500 mile voyage into the Atlantic to Madeira. The weather forecast was good, expecting force 3 to 4 northerly winds and moderate seas. We had watered up, had a full fuel tank and full jerry cans, and set off in brisk afternoon winds at about 1500. It was a northerly force 4 (about 12 knots) as we set off with full main and genoa heading southwest, a good broad reach. However, within an hour the winds picked up steadily until blowing force 8 (35 knots) when we double reefed the main and genoa. The winds kept up, periodically gusting to 45 and 50 and even pegging our wind speed indicator (it stops at 60 knots). We didn’t need this, as it was more than just the higher afternoon winds, and so we headed back to Cascais to anchor in the howling winds, three hours after our departure. We were thankful that the holding at Cascais was good, as the winds still rampaged through the anchorage as they had done several nights while we were there.

Next day the winds had settled down, and so we set off again, at 0915 to avoid the midday and afternoon winds which we thought would be a local land based phenomenon; we expected by the time they built up we would be well offshore, hopefully into the more consistent trade winds at sea. Motoring in light force 2 breezes, keeping the double reef we had put in the main yesterday, we made our way out into the open ocean, this time going all the way to Madeira for an exhilarating fast passage in heavy seas and force 4 and 5 trade winds to be described in my next log.