Madeira Crossing- the final episode

Serenity of Swanwick
Phil and Sarah Tadd
Sun 11 Oct 2015 11:03
The forecasts we had been looking at since before we set off had predicted the wind would turn South Westerly (so blowing directly against us) from Friday onwards, as an area of low pressure tracked past to the North West of us, so we were expecting the change when it came.  What was unexpected was the way it kept increasing.  As the afternoon progressed on Friday we put in a second reef in the main, and then swapped our furling Genoa for the smaller Working Jib.  The Working Jib is a sail Phil had made for us specifically for sailing to windward and it works well.  However life began to get more uncomfortable, even with the third reef in the main, so we made the decision that it would be best to slow right down and wait the weather out while still making some progress to windward by putting up our Storm Jib.  This is a little scrap of bright orange sail and with it up we carried on at about 2 knots for 3 hours until just before dark when the wind veered and decreased and we could begin to increase sail again.

The wind was still from the South West, so we couldn’t sail directly to our destination, but began to make progress.  Over the course of Saturday the wind gradually veered until we were almost pointing at Porto Santo, and during the night we raised the lighthouse on the end of the island, and then began to see the lights on Porto Santo and Madeira Grande, the two inhabited Islands in the group. Porto Santo was still to windward  and just after daylight Phil, who was on watch, decided to tack to lay our destination.  At the same time the wind increased again and it started to rain so he dropped two reefs in again and we covered the final eight miles in short order.  The pictures show Porto Santo from the sea.

We were moored in Porto Santo by 0930.  Its a  tiny little harbour on a tiny island (only 11km long).  Unlike Madeira Grande, which is very wet due to the height of the mountains, Porto Santo is arid, but has the most amazing beach which extends almost the full length of its south coast.  The island website describes it as one long beach with a bit of island attached. We intend to explore today and tomorrow, before moving on to Madeira Grande later in the week.

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