Log #37e The Madeira Islands

November 28, 2005 in Log Series 30-39, Logs by Series, Series 37 Portugal, The Logs

Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands

Nov. 28, 2005


Hi Folks,


I am starting this introductory letter before finishing the Log #37e which I will be posting below. Today, Monday Nov. 28th is for here, a cool (20˚C or 68˚F) grey drizzly day, with the wind swinging around to the south. The predominant pattern in the Canaries and this part of the Atlantic is for winds from the north. We hoped to have left Tenerife for La Gomera today, or yesterday, as we have been here in the marina for 10 days so far. However there are weather reports of a late season tropical storm designated Delta, with storm winds expected from the SW, and the only marina on La Gomera is open to, what else, the SW. So we will stay here until it has passed in a few days.


On our Navtex weather receiver, the report for today is that tropical storm Delta is currently located at 27˚N, 32˚W, and moving NE, then to east, and expected tomorrow noon (Tuesday the 29th) at 29˚N 22˚W and at 29˚N, 16˚W by midnight (on the 29th) with a low of 990 millibars, with winds variable from force 7 to 10. At present (1100 am on the 28th) our barometer reads 1008 millibars, but the wind is out of the south. Our location here in Santa Cruz de Tenerife marina is 28˚ 29’N, 16˚ 15’W, and so we expect the storm to be over us tomorrow with winds from force 7 to force 10 (force 7 winds are 28 to 33 knots, force 10 winds are from 48 to 55 knots). Hopefully we will be secure here, and I will probably not send this until the storm has passed and we are ready to leave for La Gomera on Wed. the 30th.


A Few Interesting Web Sites


–          We have consulted a few good weather sites on the internet. The best for us now and in the Atlantic are https://www.fnmoc.navy.mil/PUBLIC/, and http://www.weatheronline.co.uk.

–          For the Med we used Doug Decker’s (a friend we wintered with in Ostia just outside Rome last winter) site http://www.deckersailing.com/ which has links to several other useful sites.

–          Although, not for weather, another site recommended to us is Google Earth, a free download program which allows you while on the internet to focus in on any place on earth to get a satellite close up view.  By using the Latitude and Longitude co-ordinates you can identify the spot in the marina or anchorage where Veleda was located.

–          The www.searoom.com website is handled by Tony Cook a friend of ours in Toronto, and has links to all our logs, as well as other sailing sites. For those of you not on my pictures address list, you can view the pictures I have sent on the site. In addition all my logs since leaving Toronto in 1998 are still there, so you can see some of our adventures going down the Mississippi across the Atlantic, through the rivers and canals of France and our voyages in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. On it as well, you can arrange to purchase the first CD Judy and I made, on 90 plus Cruising Tips, and the Russian Black Sea Fleet Review, and Paul and Cheryl Shard’s DVDs about their cruising travels as featured on TV Ontario.


In the meantime I will get back to the log below about the dramatic mountainous terrain of Madeira.


Hi Again, It is now 1500 still on the 28th, and the barometer has dropped to 1000 millibars since this morning and the wind is up to 20 knots from the SSW. We have just retied several of our lines and are concerned about the stern line provided by the marina, holding our stern off in a Med mooring fashion. We have heard that the chains attached may not be the most reliable and have run a line across to the opposite pontoon 75 metres across, upwind to give us added security.


As I may be able to go over town to send this shortly, you will have to wait until after the storm to see how it went. We should be OK, but if lines start to part, or mooring chains give way, things could get interesting.


I’ll let you know with my next log.


All the best,




Log #37e The Madeira Islands

Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands

Nov. 27, 2005


We were approached by a marina launch from Porto Santa Marina about 1030 on Oct. 3, after having arrived that morning at 0430 (33˚ 03.55”N, 016˚ 19.19 W), politely asking us to check in at the marina offices for customs, immigration and port police. No problem, after we finished breakfast.


We dinghied into the breakwater protected harbour and went over to the marina office to find out where we checked in, as we were now back in Portugese territory. The office was able to take care of most of the entry formalities, but we still needed to go over to the port police and the harbourmaster’s office. There was no charge for any of the entry formalities. However, we were asked for our insurance documents and they accepted our out of date insurance policy numbers with Pantaenius as we did not have the current policy with us. No problems with the port police; or the harbour master’s office, except that they wanted a photocopy of our SSR number for the boat’s tonnage. Being under 10 tons, there was no charge; for boats anchoring outside the actual harbour but in the surrounding harbour precincts, and over 10 tons, there would have been a charge, which ironically would be more than if the same boats anchored inside the harbour breakwater controlled by the marina. So, for larger boats, it would be as economical if not more so to anchor inside the harbour walls than outside as we did. (See the previous log with the picture of Veleda anchored outside the harbour walls.)


There was another boater at the marina office who mentioned a bus tour around the island, and the marina staff called a taxi for us to catch the twice daily island tour that afternoon. It was a worthwhile tour of the whole island, going past the NATO and commercial airstrip, along the nine miles of golden sand beaches, and up to the relatively low mountain tops (only 516 metres) to get a grand vista of the island as revealed in my last log photos of the sandy beach and Veleda outside the harbour walls. Tranquility would be the motto of Porto Santo, this undiscovered holiday island in the Madeira archipelago: the long beaches, the contrasting greenery of the isolated golf course, the few uninhabited nearby islands, the gentle slopes of the hills, the crashing seas on the north coast cliffs, the local restaurants and a few resorts catering to tourists – a nice escape to this small island (11 km long and 6 km wide).


However, we wanted to get over to Madeira to rendezvous with Judy’s dad, and so we left two days later for the 32 mile trip to Quinta do Lorde Marina on Madeira. The forecast for that day indicated winds changing to south force 4 to 5, which would have us heading into it. So, we set off at 0345 to make the crossing before the stronger southerly wind set in, arriving six hours later at the marina’s pontoons (32˚ 44.50’N, 016˚ 42.71’W) equipped with finger docks, as well as water and electricity.


The marina had good docks, but not much seems to have developed there in the past four years since out pilot reported the completion of the docks but not much else. However we were able to check in as it is now an official port of entry. The marina staff were friendly and most helpful. We received a 10 % discount as members of the CA and the SSCA, giving us a moderate daily rate of 14.00 Euros for the two weeks there. The marina office is still up the steep hill in the former hotel complex. A few buildings for the planned resort village have been started, with the attendant noise and dust created (not to mention the favourite radio stations enjoyed by the construction workers). There is a modern fuel dock and pump out on the entry mole. The shower and washroom facilities leave much to be desired. They are located in a couple of old, rusty, and not the cleanest of porta cabins with cranky shower heads (one of the two fell off in my hand when I tried to adjust it), no hooks and no mirror in the men’s and only a small round hand mirror on the wall in the women’s. The toilets were footpads. When completed it should be a good full service marina and resort, albeit remote on the majestic, treeless, undulating hills of the eastern peninsula, with the black and ochre lava cliff brooding over the complex. We were told that the new toilet and shower facilities were anticipated for the end of November.


Madeira, the largest of these volcanic islands, after which the archipelago is named, is 57 km long, has a maximum width of 22 km, and a population of about 260,000. The eastern end is sparsely vegetated with scars of vermilion red and obsidian black lava on this outer peninsula. The volcanic mountains reaching to 1620 metres are verdant green with low shrubs on the south, the drier side, pine forests near the upper spine of the island, and rich vegetation including vineyards for the famous Madeira wines on the northern slopes. The island is interlaced with steep gorges between the mountains providing fantastic vistas up or down them as well as many magnificent cliffs giving sheer drops hundreds of feet into the angry crashing seas, including Cabo Girao, the second highest sea cliff in the world.


We rented a car for the two weeks there, and put over 1500 km on it in that time, driving all over the island. The roads are in good shape, although going through the mountain gorges they can be steep, narrow and windy as they snake around the bends and cliff faces with hundreds of feet of sheer cliffs above and below (See attached picture). Along the north and south coasts are good four lane throughways plunging across the valleys and through the mountains on modern bridges and tunnels.


To get over to the resort where Henry, Judy’s father, was staying below Canico it was only 17 km straight line but 24 km by road, going through 10 tunnels and six bridges. The tunnels went for a total of 6 km through the mountains, the longest of which was 2.4 km.


We enjoyed wandering through the mountains, sometimes taking a wrong turn but which would lead to another interesting road off the beaten itineries. The first day found us motoring in part by accident on a secondary road above the hills behind the main highway (when we were trying to find the gorge road through the island) and we stopped for lunch at a small local restaurant in Campanario. Fantastic! We sat on chairs still wet from the morning rain, overlooking from a patio above a verdant chasm. There were locals with beer and metre long skewers of meat hanging from hooks at their wooden outdoor tables. There was a big wood fire burning on which these skewers were roasting. We didn’t know what they were, but they looked good and we all said we would have some too (the main if not the only dish served here). It wasn’t beer the locals were drinking, but carafes of a local rose wine. OK, we would have a carafe of that too. Mmmmm! The meat was by far the best, most tender and tasty steak we have had in the past several years in the Med and Europe! We really lucked in. We later learned that this skewer of top grade beef is called espetada. For the rest of the two weeks we often had this dish, at several restaurants, using this small local location as our standard, It was equaled by one but never exceeded. The recipe is as follows:


-on a long skewer impale large chunks of top grade steak, separated by strips of fat or bacon and bay (laurel) leaves

– roast on a wood fire, on top or beside the fire, rotating very occasionally until all sides are cooked

– hang on a hook suspended above the table so the juices can seep down the skewer with a saucer underneath to catch the drippings.

– Slide down each morsel with a fork onto plate and enjoy

– The meal could be accompanied with mojo sauces (salt, pepper and butter if desired) and small potatoes boiled in their jackets.


This was by far our favourite meal on Madeira! I have included a couple of pictures of us at another restaurant enjoying espetada.


More about this enchanting island and our voyage down the 275 miles to the Canaries in my next log.