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Porto Santo
-- 30th August to 4th September 2011 --
Landing and exploring a tiny piece of land, incredible bit of gravel in the middle of the Atlantic.
As usual, those of you who never have enough of rocks, cactus and blue water can find more pictures on our page "Pictures".

32 miles
2629 miles since the start
30th August – 3rd September: landing in Porto Santo

Porto Santo seen from the East

Indeed, there IS enough space for the little Saltimbanque
At the end of a very long night spent watching anxiously the Promised Land grow slowly - very slowly – we get into the harbour in the morning. As a good student we want to abide by the rules and call the harbour master on the VHF – only to hear that yes of curse there is space in the marina, and yes we can pick up any buoy we like, really no problem, but thanks for calling. As-a-matter-of-fact the harbour is far less busy than on our Imray guide’s photos. We must be a bit early in the season still… no sooner the buoy fastened and the tender pumped up that we get the boat’s documents checked by the police and kidnapped by the marina office. Those Portuguese formalities, really! For a yacht smaller than 10 m a berth costs 20 euros and a buoy 13 euros. In theory anchoring in front of the beach comes at a (high!) price of 5.80 euros, but in practice they don’t come and ask for anything if you don’t actively check in by the harbour office.
We have only just set a foot ashore when a man wearing a Porto Santo Harbour shirt is calling for us – in a quasi-perfect French. This is Miguel, the former owner of the harbour, who is now working on his own boat, getting it ready to sail deep to the South. He saw our boat coming in and asks excitedly for his brand and name. The reason for his curiosity lies with his neighbor on the dockyard: Roberto, the snow-haired Uruguyan sailed alone through the South on an aluminum 31 feet. He thought our boat was the little brother of his own, whose mysterious origin gets lost into some yard in French Guyana. And here we are, between Roberto comparing the size of the hull and the shape of the rudder in Spaguese, with Miguel talking back in Portunish. Somehow nothing gets lost in translation and we are delighted to hear this weird mix that at least makes some kind of sense to us. We feel like at the beginning of a long holiday in a new land, full of options opening in front of us and the promise of so many new things waiting to be discovered. We are already liking it here!
This first impression is confirmed by the next steps outside of the harbour: however dry the summits of the islands, lush gardens display all kinds of cactus, palm trees, aloes and colorful bougainvillea’s. almost every plant is unknown to us! And so is the food, as we quickly adapt the menu onboard to local specialties: bladefish with sweet potatoes, “cristophines” au gratin...
This cactus tree grow has a bush until the day when it throws to the sky one single flower – and dies

Saltimbanque at the anchor – seen from the water
The whole Southern coast of the island is one 6km long beach of golden sand and turquoise water (22°). Anchoring there is easy and it does not roll too much. You can see the anchor nicely laid 7m deeper – so transparent is the water. You can disembark either at the marina or on the beach itself, paying attention to the waves. And when it gets too hot, splash, in the water from the boat! Here one gets closer to the dream of far-away isolated islands with palm trees, this dream attracting so many sailors to the West, always further beyond the horizon.
The island is of volcanic origin. Picks (300 to 500 m high) towering above it are covered either with dry, wind-beaten rocks or with small pines forests. Our beloved walking shoes on we climb from behind the harbour, straight up to Portela, then around the picks (Castelo, Facho, Juliana) and back along the small pocket-size airport. From up there the view is breath-taking... must be... because actually it rains, drizzles, showers (when the fog is not there). Dry land you said? Well well, at least we’re not too hot walking. The sky is always changing on this island, no single day without a bit of rain: the best shower comes towards the end of the afternoon chasing the tourists away from the beach, thus preparing a perfect landscape for us to enjoy the last rays of light and sunset from our floating balcony 0:o)
Yet we are not that selfish and share happily those moments with our little friends from the harbour. “Aumadatroi”, whom we left in Lisbon, arrived a couple of hours earlier than us. A few drinks later, he sets the sails again towards the Big Island Madeira - incidentally just passing by "Ster-Vraz", our other friend from Lisbon who had a rough crossing against the wind. Other setting (anchored in front of the beach), same ritual (drinks and talks). We meet Eric and Sandrine on “Traou Mad”. Stories of sailors and voyages shared around a glass or two. A fourth boat from Brittany comes to the anchorage as well, closing the circle around the only English boat. The Brit, who was there before everyone, has to surrender n front of the French mafia and takes the anchor up.
Champagne: to celebrate our crossing from Lisbon with the crew of « Aumadatroi »

Traou Mad, Saltimbanque and the English – the careful circling maneuvre is watched from the deck of Ster-Vraz
Saltimbanque follows suit on the next morning – only to sail a couple of miles to the West and drop the anchor at the bottom of another interesting walk. Unique views on the red and dark rocky cliffs falling into the water on the Northern Coast. In the distance a vague foggy shape is to be seen on the horizon, some high place catching the clouds: this is Madeira, the bigger island. Attracted by this new unknown, we leave Porto Santo the following morning – almost nostalgic already of this welcoming little piece of land.

The Northern Coast
4th September: Porto Santo – Madeira (Quinta do Lorde marina) (30 miles)
We leave the beach in the early and cooler hours of the morning. This day is supposed to be good, the wind announced 3 to 4 from the back. Yet just after passing the island’s end: “but what is this cloud in the sky? And why is it humid under it?.. where did you put the rain-jackets away? Argh, they are under the shorts and sunglasses!”

Goodbye Porto Santo
Just as it was done on purpose, someone up there decided to change the menu of our unique sailing day in the archipelago to an all-inclusive menu, presenting us with a little bit of everything that was in store: increasing wind from the back, wind gusts with showers, then showers without wind, a short moment of wind from the side (just enough to get the asymmetrical spinnaker out of its bag), before veering to the front – with some nice spicy gusts again as we reached the Maderian shore.

Hungry from all this, we hope that the two lines we set in this morning (one shorter and one longer, both proudly showing a mouth-watering plastic octopus) can bring the water (and the iron!) to the mouth of some bonito of a small tuna maybe. Crrrrr crrrrrrrrrrrrrrr does the reel: good sign ! « it’s pulling strong » does Laure: other good sign ! But ... flapflapflap splash does the sea-petrel. Yummy yummy. And so, without a word of gratitude, our lunch disappears in the beak of one of those beautiful high seas birds gliding motionless just above the sea, barely touching the surface with a tip of their wings. That we would rather fancy roasted, today. Well, we will go for a canned tuna then. Less risky.
And thus we get to the end of a rainy afternoon, passing the south-east end of Madeira. Superb, chaotic, volcanic rocks falling into the water in arches and sophisticated colorful motives. At the foot of one of those hills cut sharp as by a knife, the marina Quinta do Lorde is located. Our Imray guide has some photos dating back to 2005, where there is nothing but a few half deserted pontoons. Today a whole little neighborhood is being built. The houses like a pasteboard movie-set remind us of a semi-finished Disneyland attraction park. The new-old church is topped by weather vane shaped as the logo of “Quinta do Lorde – Resort Marina – 5 stars”. Joanna the harbour master (here comes the feminist moment: yippee!) and her crew are friendly and helpful, they offer all ,the services they can to make one forget the isolation – and the tariffs, high as the owner’s ambitions for the future: 26 euros for less than 10m. Glops. We shall stay there a few days, just the time to find our way on this big mountain of an island... but this is another story!
Quinta do Lorde : here there was nothing 5 years ago
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Your messages:

la mamou - 13/09/2011 20:10:42
si vous passez par gran canaria , puerto de mogan , c'est vraiment trop adorablement joli !! ;-))

Kariine - 11/09/2011 22:12:39
On sent bien la pression, làààààààà !
On viendrait bien vous rejoindre si on pouvait, avant que vous ne soyez devenues trop fortes au lever de coude ;o)

SuDad - 10/09/2011 19:11:27
Avant d'aller chercher un p'tit rab' de câââilloux (Cabrel doit vous envier), de cactus et d'eau bleue à la rubrique photos, il nous faut vous féliciter pour cette ration-là déjà. Excellent reportage. Mais à multiplier les tentations ainsi, on ne saurait plus quelle destination choisir. Le mieux c'est de continuer à en rêver. Avec vous.

Sylvain - 09/09/2011 22:16:37
Ouaaaaaaah ma soeur elle est devenue black ! :D
Sympa les photos et j'aime bcp celles avec la peluche Shaddock.
Amusez vous bien.
Bisous de Vancouver

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