Update #4 - November '99

Atlantic Islands

(Porto Santo, Madeira, Graciosa, Lanzarote, Fuertaventura, Gran Canaria & Tenerife)

Distance run to date : 2,705 nm

(3,113 Statute miles ; 5,000 km)

The passage from Gibraltar to the Madeiras was our first serious, off the Continental Shelf experience. It took five days, during which time we coped with two fronts and began to learn a great deal more about meteorology. The sight of the starkly impressive volcanic island of Porto Santo on the horizon just after dawn on Tues 29th Sept was a most welcome sight. It was a dramatic landfall with a huge welcome from Miguel the port captain when we got in.

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The starkly arid scenery of Porto Santo, some 40nm east of Madeira

We spent a wonderful time exploring our first exotic non-European destination by mountain bike and hire car. It is a truly charming place with historic connections to Columbus (he married the governor's daughter). These windmills looked well cared for but unlikely to be still gainfully employed we thought.

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Classical Portugese windmills high on the hillside

There was a superb, long and largely empty beach but one needed to beware the surf. One skipper broke an arm when bowled over, not an ideal start to an Atlantic crossing.

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Porto Santo has one of the best beaches we have ever seen

By early October we were in one of our special places. We had traveled often to Madeira by air for winter breaks where we walked our legs off on the levadas and in the mountains. It was great to be there in Funchal harbour ourselves having imagined sailing there for many years.

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Re-living some of our magic memories of lavada walking in Madeira

One cannot mention the magical island Madeira without thinking of the superb vegitation and flowers so here is one of our favourites.

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A magnificent Strelitzia

From Funchal it is a two day passage to the Canary Islands. We had a fast sail and arrived at dawn off the coast of one of the smallest ones, Graciosa just to the north of Lanzarote. It was a beautiful anchorage with splendid backdrop and the seas were already feeling warmer with species of fish that were totally unknown to us.

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Amoenitas with a backdrop unlike any other she had seen at Graciosa

From here we made our way across to Tenerife via Puerto Calero on Lanzarote, Gran Tarajal on Fuertaventura where Di's Mum Kitty joined us and Puerto Mogan on Gran Canaria. They were pleasant days but almost all the harbours were filling with boats preparing to cross the Atlantic. Some ports had been totally booked up by commercial organisations running rallies for cruisers which we thought was somewhat against the spirit of the freedom of the oceans.

Santa Cruise de Tenerife was our final departure point for the crossing and somewhat wet it was too in mid-November. Jim Gill, a long time sailing friend came to join us and we did all the equipment, rig checks whilst spending what seemed like days stocking up for a passage of around 3 weeks.

Where to next:-

Our landfall in the Caribbean will be St Lucia where Liz, Jim's wife will join us in time for Christmas and Millennium New Year cruising the Grenadines.

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