Blue Sky's Voyage
George & Michael
Mon 13 Nov 2006 13:24
Hello Friends
We had an enjoyable crossing from mainland Portugal to Madeira - a little over 500 miles (nautical) and a little under 4 days. The wind did more or less what said it would and we just motored for a short while to clear the shipping lanes and then sailed the rest with a NW breeze veering to the NE.
There were great dolphins off Cabo Sao Vicente - they must have been used to the tourist RIBs and performed spectacularly - jumping right out of the water and slapping the surface with their tails. They stayed with us for miles, but sadly we had no sardines with which to reward them.
The passage was the longest to date but not tiring at all with 4 watches. We made landfall in Madeira as hoped around the middle of the day. We didn't manage any really good photos as it was rather hazy but we passed Porto Santo on starboard side and saw the Ilhas Desertas over to the south as Madeira appeared with it's cloudy covering.
We arrived at Quinta do Lorde marina in the eastern end of Madeira. This is the first phase of a marina / hotel / resort but only the marina bit is built yet and that, just the marina not the shower blocks etc. As every charter holiday maker knows, half built means that they are still building the other bit, so as you can already guess, the trouble is the noise of construction work and in particular the concrete breakers starting at 0800 and continuing until 2100 at night. Anyway....
We rented a car and took a drive on Friday, here's a pic of us on the N side of the island ...
to be fair, the roads are rather demanding so the driver/blog author didn't get to see much other than the road. The north side is unbelievable - precipitous terracing / bright flowers everywhere / surprisingly short locals - about 4 foot 6 on average / surprisingly populated in view of the terrain ! 
We took an outing through the grottoes at Sao Vicente - a guided tour through lava tubes with lava like runny cake mixture dripping from the roof - but long since set and cold.
The main roads here, especially in the south, have been subject to a continuing serious upgrade (EU €billions..?) and now have long tunnels under the island - some of which are 2-way where overtaking is allowed - seriously. But we thought that was dangerous until we returned on the 4 lane motorway past Funchal in the evening rush hour....... Grand Theft Auto (Death Race 2000 for the over 30's) is really boring by comparison.
We took a look at Funchal on Saturday and went up in the cable car. We explored further west, and found a completed new marina at Calheta so moved there on Sunday to escape the construction noise at Quinta do Lorde. The marina is not quite so well protected so there is a bit of surge but there is also a full set of restaurants, bars and shops so it feels slightly less cut off from the world.
At the moment the weather forecast looks good for a run down to La Palma on Thursday, arriving Saturday, so fingers crossed for another good passage.
Best Wishes
George and Michael
PS. We had the best Navtex message yet, someone once said, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore.