Porto Santo, Madeira archipelago

S/V Goldcrest
David & Lindsay Inwood
Wed 22 Aug 2018 13:15

33:03.707N 16:18.926W Weds 22nd Aug 2018. 506nm 3d7h15mins


Skipper and crew both decided that some sailing passages are like childbirth, in that some of the experience at the time can be pretty unpleasant but the rewards make you forget very quickly what you went through.  Our 3 night sail to Porto Santo wasn’t much fun at times and Lindsay suffered from a queasy tummy for most of the first 2 days, which didn’t help.  Our first 24 hours or so was fast however (168nm in 24hrs sailing), in 15-20kt winds and heeled but not too unbearably, but in fairly lumpy seas.  After that, the winds teased us with total unreliability, promising good sailing speed and direction only to die or veer and leave us very frustrated.  As a result, we motored for about one third of the passage and couldn’t quite believe it when, on the final night, conditions finally settled down and we sailed for the rest of the way in steady, friendly winds over flattish seas.  This part of the ocean was pretty empty but we did have a brief conversation by VHF with a French yacht going in the opposite direction, no doubt feeling a bit lonely out there too!


So we are now berthed in the marina on Porto Santo but intending to move soon to a buoy or to anchor in the large harbour, as charges are too high to berth for long.  It’s an attractive outlook with steep brown hills backing the port, but it’s also very breezy and strong gusts sweep across us regularly.  The almost constant winds do have the advantage of keeping temperatures more acceptable, so we are not complaining.  A strong side gust did make berthing quite a challenge, causing the 1st attempt to be abandoned at speed.  Skipper was weary from the passage – not a moment he enjoyed as he put it. 

The view east from Porto Santo marina:

Just the other side of the marina wall is the 4 mile long beach which makes this island such a draw for holidaymakers and the sea temperature is a blissful 26C,  warm enough at last for Lindsay!!  From the marina it is a mile’s walk along the beach or a straight road to the town, so we have dug our bikes out from the depths of a cupboard to make shopping easier.  On our first visit to the town, we couldn’t believe the contrast with the island we have just left.  Porto Santo is smaller than Santa Maria and the resident population no larger, but it is so much busier and more sophisticated than its Azorean equivalent.  We enjoyed being able to buy a much better range of fresh fruit and vegetables in the very well stocked supermarkets here after 2 months in the Azores.  This place is sometimes referred to as Europe’s only desert island because it is hot and dry with palm trees and turquoise waters.  It is not though, a deserted island and very popular with tourists.  It also has some great walking opportunities so we intend to stay a while and explore before moving on to its much bigger sister, Madeira.