Land Ahoy!

Island Wanderer
Peter and Avril Brookes
Tue 18 Oct 2011 19:05
By Sunday, we were all getting used to Atlantic Ocean sailing. The years of preparation and training, the hours spent learning lights and signals for yacht master exams and experience gained battling with the elements all came together as we faced the challenge of the ocean.
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It was great to carry on getting to know Mandy and Doug better and as the journey progressed more of their talents became apparent. In addition to being thoroughly competent sailors, Doug showed how he can sleep for England as well as being a superb cook and Mandy showed an enviable talent for whale watching!
Twice in the  day Mandy spotted the water jets from  whales blowing and we slowed the boat to investigate further. Much to our delight we were treated to the extraordinary sight of sperm whales lazily rolling in the seas, slowly making way as we watched from the deck. On each occasion, when we got too close for their comfort they lifted their huge tails, and with one massive flip, dived down beneath the surface, never to emerge within sight again. They were probably longer than the boat, but even from a reasonably close viewing point the photo’s we took were not all that successful. It was definitely the highlight of the day and we hope that we some have more opportunities to whale watch in the near future.
The whales were not the only wildlife we saw. On Saturday we came across several small turtles, swimming purposely to some unknown destination.
We were also joined by several migratory birds who came to hitch a lift for a while. The first remains unidentified at present, but we think the second was a willow warbler. This little chap was decidedly friendly and spent a couple of hours investigating the boat, including the inside, much to the amusement of us all!
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On Monday morning we spotted land in the distance, nearly three days and three nights after leaving Portugal on Friday. The sea state had developed a considerable swell by then and we had became accustomed to living on a constantly moving platform. We arrived at Porto Santo in time for lunch, and anchored in the harbour as there was no suitable berth in the marina.
We spent today exploring the island, taking a taxi half way to the summit of one of the island’s peaks before completing the climb on foot. We enjoyed some great views of the island from the top and had lunch in the Stick Cafe, where Doug was delighted to find a mega sandwich. This was made of beefsteak sautéed in garlic, ham, cheese, egg and salad  all wrapped in regional bread and was purchased for the princely sum of 2.3 euros!
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Porto Santo is a small, fairly arid island, with a great views and a 9km sandy beach. We have enjoyed our brief stay and aim to head south to Madeira tomorrow.