Lagos to Porto Santo
Saturday 22nd October – Porto Santo, Madeiran Islands
The last entry was made over a week ago in Lagos in the Algarve. We are now some 500NM SW in Port Santo – the most northerly island in the Madeiran Archipelago and some 30NM NE of Madeira (or, more pedantically, Madeira Grande).
In Lagos, our berth in the Sopromar boatyard - rafted outside one other boat on a pontoon leading to a busy working boatyard – could not realistically be considered for inclusion in a glossy brochure advertising the glamour of sailing in the Algarve. But, that was just fine. It was a workmanlike yard, staffed by people who were extremely helpful, knew what they were doing and did it very well. So, the upshot is that by midday on Tuesday 18th October, the spares had arrived and we’d witnessed their fitting. All of that was a treat to watch. You don’t have to be a technical genius to recognise when real care is being taken and no shortcuts or assumptions are being made. The yard had also taken on and completed a couple of other ad hoc jobs, with the results of which we were delighted. So; top marks to them. Whilst in Lagos, we took a look at the marina and even ate there a couple of times. We wouldn’t have objected to being berthed there but definitely didn’t miss not being so. What did jar a bit was a little too much there in the way of blackboards advertising “All-day traditional English breakfast, two egg’s, tom’s, baked bean’s, mushroom’s, hash brown’s, black pudding . . .” You get the picture. They weren’t all like that, though. The Upperdeck café bar, for instance, provided free wifi, had charming staff and did excellent sandwiches, coffee and red wine.
Retired Hoist outside Boatyard
What of the rest of Lagos? It’s built around a quaint enough old quarter which includes a slave market (No, no; despite all temptations, I’m absolutely not going there – Ed) and a number of other interesting bits and pieces. But, its good beach and general location appear to have resulted in some development which might, in the absence of such commercial pressure, have been better considered. Then we need to discuss the railway station – not 300 yards from the Sopromar boatyard entrance. In fact, there are two – 200 yards apart. One is a disused but utterly charming building with a partially tiled exterior and lovely proportions. The other is a state-of-the art modern construction. Flat roofs, glass by the acre, steel, concrete. Nothing wrong with that if you like that sort of thing. But, given that the train service appears to be along a single line railway, with passing only at stations, you might be excused for thinking that the original station might just have had all the capacity needed – not to mention seriously more charm than that which replaced it. One the other hand, failing to build a new station might have resulted in an underspend on the EU budget – which would have been a crime against nature. So, that’s all right then.
Notwithstanding that, the restaurants in the main tourist area are not bad given the genre. Moreover, there are some very high class restaurants indeed. We established that pretty straightforwardly when David and Lindsey Taylor flew in on Friday 15th and we dined at such a place with them and a couple of their friends, who own a villa in the local area and have the inside track on this stuff. It was great to see David and Lindsey again – in a completely different context. We hope that they can be tempted away by thoughts of grass skirts and all that jazz to a few weeks in somewhere hellish in the South Pacific.
Chris and Penny Copeland arrived as planned on Monday together with a number of boaty bits and pieces they had kindly brought out from the UK for us. The journey had been hassle free although the driver of the Hoppa bus who drove them from the airport hadn’t the first idea where the railway station was - that being the obvious landmark which we’d suggested the Copelands ask him to use as their drop-off point. Perhaps the problem was that the poor chap was confused – there now being so many railway stations in Lagos.
Work on Mr Perkins completed, we departed at 1520 on Tuesday 18th bound for Madeira. A telephone call to Funchal had established that the harbour was full (often is at this time of year) and so we decided to head for Porto Santo – an island 30NM NE of Madeira and the most northerly in the archipelago. Total distance from Lagos by sea; a little over 450NM. As ever, the wind was too light to begin with and so we motored. As dusk drew on, we tried our luck with the fishing line. Before long the reel was screaming and a fish of some sort or another (this gives you an indication of the current level of fish recognition skills aboard Arnamentia – our Eye-spy book of fish is already looking pretty well thumbed) was reeled in. However, once alongside, it made one last frantic bid for freedom and got away. About ten minutes later, the same thing happened. Half the problem was that neither fish had been big enough to use a gaff on to get it aboard. The other half of the problem was the current utter incompetence of Dutton when equipped with a fishing rod and dealing with an uncooperative fish. However, perseverance paid off and about 10 minutes later we hooked a very decent 7lb Mahi Mahi. Chris deployed the gaff and brought it aboard. Now, I know that purists would say that fish ought to be gaffed in the area of the head. It’s a pretty big area, is clear of all the internal organs and thrashes about less than some other fishy bits. It takes rare skill to gaff it about 3 inches from the tail – which is a pretty small area and thrashes about impressively. But, Chris is not parachute trained for nothing. Our Mahi Mahi was now lying in the cockpit and making it clear that it was not entirely happy with the situation. However, a tot or two of Captain Morgan’s finest rum sprayed into its gills altered its perspective and convinced it that it was actually having a lurverly time. We subsequently had an equally lurverly time filleting it and doing justice to its culinary potential.
7lb Mahi Mahi
By 2000 on Tuesday evening the wind had filled in to Force 5 from the NW and it subsequently veered gently to NE. We broad reached under it at around 7.5 knots until mid afternoon on Thursday 20th, by which time we’d got 300NM under our belts. It then, rather boringly, veered to dead astern and, as time went on, dropped away. Mr Perkins was awoken from his slumbers and helped out as required to get us into Porto Santo harbour by 0830 on Friday morning.
Harbour View - Note Colourful Yacht Murals Behind Line of Cars
Porto Santo is where Madeirans come for their holidays. The south coast is one huge golden sand beach whereas Madeira Grande has few beaches and these are generally black volcanic material. The little town of Vila Baleira is something over a mile away from the harbour and is very largely unspoilt. We did some stocking up there and would have stayed longer but for the fact that a change in the weather is predicted for Sunday. That would leave us locked in until at least Monday so we’re off at noon today (Saturday 22nd October) bound for Lanzarote. Catch up with you then.