Madeira and farewell to Goose

Fri 22 Sep 2006 14:41
Colin, restored to normal, and the 3rd sunset since Lagos
We (well, Angus really) had a nail biting end to our 530nm trip to Madeira.  We had set a latest arrival time of 1000 for Goose to step ashore and stand a chance of making his flight from Funchal to the UK.  This had not looked hard to do at the outset as we were making 8.5 knots under sail and flying along with gusto.  As the wind dropped during the trip we also started to notice an unpredicted 0.5 to 1.0 knot of current against us which was reducing our speed over the ground, at times, to under 6.5 knots (unheard of for our speedy vessel).  As the hours ticked off slowly, Goose could be found pressing buttons on the nav system thoughtfully when he thought no-one was looking. Each time, after James had kindly pointed out what he was doing wrong, the ETA would flash up dangerously close to his deadline and occasionally, if we were in a slow patch, well past it.  The engine revs were nudged up.  Cruel jokes were made about setting him ashore in various uninhabited locations to find alternative transport arrangements but the truth of it was, it was going to be tight.  The skipper was quietly confident, the others were less quietly winding Goose up and Goose himself resorted to a large cigar on the last night, resigning himself to the outcome.
As dawn broke we were passing Porto Santo and could see the glow of lights on Madeira.  As breakfast was served things were looking pretty good, with an ETA of 0930 and the crew were able to share a joke as opposed to exchange them!
Early Monday morning - Goose is able to manage a smile
 As we arrived in the marina at 0930 and were told to leave as there were no berths the tension rose very slightly.  After much circling and fussing of large tourist boats at the fuel dock we were eventually allowed alongside and a very relieved Goose stepped out, lively style, to find his taxi.  He did make his plane.....which is good; but he has left us and will be sorely missed.  He has done more than anyone, so far, to help me turn the ARC 2006 dream into a reality and I am deeply grateful to him. Thanks Goose.
Stepping ashore within 2 minutes of the 1000 deadline after 530 nm and 3 days at sea!
We all suffered the, now familiar, sadness at losing a member of the crew en route. I am really pleased that this will be the last time this year (barring unmentionable disasters!) that the crew splits up before arrival at our final destination.  We were asked to leave the marina AGAIN to allow boats to leave and get fuel etc.  If we had just crossed the Atlantic to arrive at this well renowned port I would have been even more pissed off.  As it was, the marina chappie was very charmiing and surprisingly calm when we finally tied up for the last time and we sort of forgave him the shortcomings of his marina.  Madeira generally did not leave a good impression.  I may be maligning the place (for which I apologise to those who love it) but I will not be returning in a hurry.  We asked for a good restaurant recommendation at the marina and were directed a promising looking place in the old town.  Waiters hovering with aprons and towels over their arms. But their English was a little too slippery and the menus gave the game away early on.  But nothing had fully prepared us for the truly awful food.  Being too tired to walk anywhere, we then went up in a rather incongruous cable car hoping to find great views and something to see at the top. 
What are we doing in here?!
The views were OK but the only recreation at the top was a very strange botanical garden, clearly sponsored by EU money to host contempory Zimbabwean sculpture exhibitions and the like.  Distinctly unimpressed, and pretty exhausted to boot, we returned to the port, bought a few stores in the marina shop and bid farewell to the place.  Next stop, the Canaries....a mere 280 nm to go!
Now we are three, again....