Ola from Madeira

Susie and Adam (both think they are skipper)
Wed 13 Oct 2010 22:58
9 boats set off from Porto Santo for Madeira yesterday - that was most of the Marina.  We had a good sail across - we set off first but were beaten home by James who is a 73 year old solo sailor - obviously experience won on the day there as he sneaked in close to the island as we went around the corner of Madeira whilst we got swept off to the south by a current that appeared from nowhere. . .  well. ..  that was our excuse anyway and we're sticking to it. 
We are in a Marina called Quinta Do Lorde - we are crammed in - when we say crammed we mean it, the boat got into the berth but no idea if we will get out.  However - the three Marina staff  (Carlos, Orlando and Bruna to you)  assisted us in and may well have to assist us out . . . . .there is not a boat length behind us to reverse so it will be interesting and I think it is going to fill up more.  In the marina they have a rib that we suspect they use for pushing boats to assist them out although the reception lady did deny that this was a regular practice, we don't believe it.
Today we went on the white knuckle bus to Funchal, the main city in Madeira - the island is so mountainous that the roads are all hairpin bends on cliffs - don't look down , the bus drivers go really fast up and down some of the steepest roads we have ever seen.  The Madeirans must practice extreme gardening as lots of the hillsides are covered with little terraces and vegetables in them - when I say hillsides though, it isn't like you could take a stroll down them - mountaineering gear would be required.
Here's the view from Funchal Fort to the mountains behind
Funchal was good, we got off the bus and were hit first by the heat - Porto Santo is really dry and the air is dry, but here I think there are usually clouds shrouding the mountain tops and much more rain so it is much more humid - but that means it is very green which is quite a change from where we have been for the past week - the city is full of tropical plants and trees - lots of which seem to come from South America according to the little signs on them.  We wandered all over the city and around the parks and investigated the wine lodge for some Madeira wine.  Great ice cream was also found - sadly we have a tally now of the best ice-cream on the trip to date, it's between Madeira and Cascais right now, we may have to sample some more here in order to make our minds up.
Flowers in the parks and around the streets and a chubby lizard
Adam modeling a particularly large cactus
Susie on the guidebook: The marina was really good when we arrived - they gave us the free guide book of the area and I managed to entertain myself for some time reading the info - it's probably just me that finds the wording amusing so here are some tasters of the delights we have to yet see here. . .
The opening line on Sao-Vincent Caves and Volcanism Centre (which does in fact sound really interesting) - "The caves offer a very well organised visit that lasts 30 minutes"  - I am glad to hear it is well organised and but hope that I will be entertained and amazed. . . preferably for more than 30 minutes
On Monte Palace Tropical Gardens - "The Koi Carps achieve a coloured and unique vision"  ?
On Machicho - " Machico still faintly glows a seaside town, of old time summers of hand painted postcards of its bay, with the precise colours of an early morning"
The excitement of extra-tropical storm 'Otto' has not materialised - from the forecasts it seems to have gone elsewhere, however - apparently thunderstorms here tomorrow though so we're planning on a walk along the cliffs to the end of the island so that if we get soaked it's not far back to the boat.