On to Madeira
W. Eric Faber
Fri 16 Aug 2013 10:22
> Position: Funchal in Madeira - arrived Wednesday August 14th at 19.30.
> It is only 46 miles from Porto Santo to Madeira, a 7-hour sail, but I experienced much variation in wind strength over that relatively short stretch. I had been dithering whether to go or not, because the wind had been forecast to strengthen considerably over the next few days. The dithering was exacerbated by the violent winds that heap up on the windward side of Porto Santo and then suddenly storm down on the other side into the harbour/marina (with only four foreign boats in it) causing a nasty chop and heeling over every boat. It might have been tolerable elsewhere in the marina, but Luna Quest was moored on the outside pontoon bearing the brunt of the katabatic winds. The winds should have been pure and clean from across the ocean, but a small cement factory across the harbour emitted a stinking and sooty smoke that was shot horizontally into Luna Quest and polluting my lungs.
> My dithering dispelled, the marina launch was engaged to pull me off the pontoon where the wind had held me glued since arrival on Saturday last week. The five fenders that were in between Luna Quest and the pontoon had been at bursting point, but now freed, showed the ravages of the stress. At last freed from her shackles, Luna Quest headed out of the harbour giving me some space to stow the mooring ropes and fenders and hoist the sails. It was 11.30hrs, far too late to commence a day's sail. In making things sail ready, I found that whatever I touched, my hands were blackened from the soot that had settled on every inch of the rigging and boat fittings. I cursed the local authority planners and the factory, but got under way in 15 knots of wind (Force 4), whereas in the marina the katabatic winds had been over 28 knots (Force 7). Soon after I had passed the island, the wind fell away, leaving Luna Quest to wallow in the swell. I would not make Madeira without a bit of engine power. I was late as it was. Under power, I took the opportunity to wipe clean as much within my grip as I could, rinsing my cloth frequently. After about half an hour the wind returned with 20 knots, then fell back before returning with 25 knots and building to 28 knots. It sent Luna Quest flying at 8.5 knots across a moderate sea. Quite a thrilling sail. Madeira soon hove into view, but a sea mist took the view away and kept it away for another 15 minutes. At least I was on the right course for Madeira. The wind was due East and would be blowing with full force into the east-facing harbour of Funchal. How would I be able to cope with a building sea in the harbour that had nowhere to go? Luna Quest came flying round the second headland when the wind suddenly fell away to zero. What was going on? I took the opportunity to take in all sail and prepare for a nasty chop in the harbour, but instead of finding the wind blowing from the East into the harbour, it began breezing from the West! Madeira looked lovely and welcoming with Funchal built into the gentle mountain slopes with much greenery in between the red roofs. Yes, this looked a clean and pleasant place; I shall stay here for a while.