Lisbon, Portugal; Madiera; Ponta Delgada, Azores
Leg 7-2007, Update 1
October 25, 2007, 0600 hrs, 36.32 N, 24.12 W, Log: 114,080 miles
Motoring at at 6.8 kts into 3 kt follow winds, rolly seas
Baro: 1019.7, Cabin Temp:74F, cockpit 71F
Azores Islands Ahead, but where’s the wind???
Our extra week off between legs 6 & 7 was a treat and we enjoyed
bike rides up the coast on a new bike lane, morning runs along the
cliff tops, getting to know cruisers from England and Canada, and
time maintaining MT. At 20 euros per night (off season started Oct.
1st) Marina Cascais is one of the best values in Europe, and we
watched a steady stream of new cruisers enjoying the facilities
either on route to the Med or as a prep stop for their first long
offshore passages to the Canary Islands. Many had signed up for
the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) and were headed to Las Palmas
for the start in November.
Our Leg 7 crew arrived Saturday, October 13 and after docking
practice in the afternoon we chose to anchor off the beach that
Sunday morning we completed safety orientation and prepared to
get underway for the 480 mile passage to Madeira, when I noticed
on the instrument panel there was no output from the 24 volt alternator.
This instantly became a class project. Engine room doors came off
and we were pleased to discover a broken stator wire at the crimp
fitting where it secures to the alternator. Unfortunately, replacing
the crimp terminal did not solve the problem, so Dave helped me
on the two hour process of replacing the alternator with our new
spare as I thought the alternator might have shorted out when the
stator wire broke.
The shiny new Balmar alternator still didn’t charge, so I
racked my brain for anything else that could be the problem. Then
I remembered I had removed the engine instrument panel to replace
light bulbs so I took the back of the panel off and sure enough,
one terminal had fallen off its spade fitting. Problem solved!
We raised anchor and hoisted sail and peacefully sailed away from
the coast of Portugal breathing a sigh of relief. The weatherfax
charts from England showed that we would cross a small trough on
our first night. Little did we know we would encounter six hours
of the most intense and scary lightning display we have ever seen.
Normally pockets of convective activity are easily avoided at sea
as you an generally figure out the direction the activity is moving
and go the opposite direction. This time it was everywhere. We ended
up using the radar to head in the direction of least convective
activity, but still we saw many hundred lightning strikes to the
surface, as well as bolt lightning between clouds, something we’ve
rarely seen. Were we ever glad to finally leave that behind just
What smooth sailing the rest of the passage provided! With constant
broad reaching or running conditions, winds never under 12 knots
or over 20, we sailed along nicely.
Due to our late and slow start from Cascais our landfall at Porto
Santo, the small island just before Madeira, was in the dark, something
we usually try to avoid. In 2001, in daylight, we had found entrance
to the only breakwater harbor easy, and since now conditions were
ideal in the lee of the island, we crept in carefully, and dropped
anchor at 2345. The following morning we tied to the check-in dock
long enough to clear in and happily get an assigned marina slip.
I expected to find the small marina packed but in fact there was
ample space since ten yachts had chosen to anchor off the beach.
Porto Santo Beach
View of town, wharf and beach
Porto Santo is a small, dry island with gorgeous beaches, mountains,
and a bustling little town. Everyone tried out our DaHon Helios
folding bikes with Kim and Dave deciding to get some for their new
Hylas 49. Amanda and I enjoyed an early morning cycle to the end
of beach and our crew hopped on a bus to circumnavigate the island.
Next afternoon we went sailing for reefing and LifeSling practice
before anchoring off the beach for a swim to practice untangling
a line from the prop and to have a quiet night at anchor. But it
was so rolly that by 0500 we gave up on sleep, hoisted anchor and
set sail on a gorgeous reach to Madeira.
Bev and Mel get ready to drop the main
We had to investigate the just-opened Quinta do Lorde (www.quintadolorde.pt)
marina on the far eastern tip of Madeira and sure weren’t
disappointed! We were amazed at how the marina basin had been hewn
out of rock and nestled neatly behind the very substantial breakwater.
Attractive three-storied condos, meeting rooms, restaurant, shops,
lighthouse and marina facilities are integrated stunningly against
the rocky cliff landscape surrounding the berthage area. A model
displays the future planned development utilizing the adjacent red
rocky hillside above several beaches which is all situated beside
to the National Park of Madeira complete with boardwalks and hiking
Quinta do Lorde Marina, Madeira
Our crew got a great deal on a rental van for the day and took
off to explore the island while Amanda and I took care of chores
and enjoyed a glorious sunny afternoon of snorkeling at the beach.
Myriads of fearless tropical fish swooshed in and out among the
lava rocks and cliffs and we felt like we had been instantly transported
back to the Pacific.
Sunday we again practiced Lifesling overboard rescue plus reefing
as we enjoyed a rip-roaring downwind sail to Funchal, the capital
of Madeira. When we last visited in 2001, there was a week wait
to raft up five deep to the outer breakwater, so this time we planned
on anchoring out in the rolly and very busy outer harbor. Now seeing
only two boats (instead of 30 last time!) anchored out, we nosed
into the tiny harbor and rafted third boat out to see if there was
any possibility of a space in the harbor. Perhaps it was Mel’s
fluent Portuguese, or maybe his infectious smile, but the harbor
attendant decided to try shoehorning us, stern first into a 40’
slip. We actually managed to fit but were glad it wasn’t windy!
Approaching Funchal, Madeira
Funchal inner harbour and marina
Funchal is a vibrant and busy city! That afternoon we all explored
in different directions meeting for a great meal together at a restaurant
situated at the edge of the marina before listening to fado (traditional
Portugese love songs) singers whose music carried to the boat in
the late evening.
With so much to see, we decided on a Monday afternoon departure
for the Azores. Amanda and I took the gondola to the top of the
mountain and enjoyed the spectacular view and cooler temperatures
as we explored the Palace Real Tropical Botanical Gardens and watched
tourists careening down the mountain roads in traditional Madeiran
wicker toboggans, steered by clever guys hanging onto the back trying
to avoid cars and curbs. We made a quick trip to the bustling and
colorful municipal market plus a grocery run before clearing out
and setting sail.
Flower view of Maderia
John watching the toboggan shenanigans
Faster, faster cries Amanda
Gondola view of Funchal Marina
We had fast reaching conditions as we sailed the length of the
island of Madeira but by sunset the winds dropped to five knots
and that is the average we’ve seen for the past 450 miles!
In the calm seas we’ve seen many turtles sunning themselves
while sleeping on the surface, been joined by dolphins at the bow
and nearly everyone has enjoyed afternoon swims in the surprisingly
Bev and Robin in mid Atlantic romance
Darcy takes navigation seriously
This calm period provided us with an excellent time to practice
celestial navigation and to test a new Fiorrino drogue loaned to
us by Zack Smith. Still, this is the longest period of calm winds
and motoring we can remember since crossing the Atlantic in 2001,
and with an unpleasant rolling swell and banging main we’re
now all eagerly awaiting the landfall in a few hours so we can shut
off the engine.
Kim and Bev rig the Fiorrintino drogue
Drouge in action
Leg 8 crew – Mel, Robin, Bev, Darcy, Kim & Dave
Mel Masllorens, 66
Mel lives in Buenos Aires has been boating, sailing and fishing
his entire life, never stops smiling, and runs Latin American operations
for a German paper plant manufacturer. He loves to entertain and
is sending Amanda many of his favorite recipes. With a love of sailing
and experiencing life he’s already is talking about joining
us for the Tahiti-Raro leg in ’09.
Robin Collins, 62
I am an attorney in the paid service of the government and sailing
and umpiring baseball are my second jobs. This expedition has been
exactly what it was advertised as and is just what I was looking
for. Ocean sailing is first, the most wonderful and liberating experience.
Second, it has satisfied my desire to experience sleep deprivation
up close! Zzzzzz
Bev Collins, 56
I’m an interior designer, landscape designer and real estate
broker now from Seattle. My professional focus right now is to build
a real estate investment portfolio that will fund our vagabond days
still to come. I’ve found this expedition to be a wonderful
tool for showing me what I need to learn to make our world cruising
days delightful. I can do this!
Darcy Williams, 36
I am a systems analyst enjoying a sabbatical from the law firm where
I’ve worked seven years. I live in Portland, OR with my partner
Laura and sail a vintage 1969 Columbia 22. I’ve been sailing
ten years and often crew on racing boats. I also enjoy paddling
and racing Polynesian outrigger canoes and own a 20’ one-person
Kim Pytel, 51
I live in Dillon, Colorado with my husband Dave. I started a salon
three years ago and have worked really hard getting it going. In
our spare time we sail our Catalina 22 on Lake Dillon and also enjoy
riding our Harleys. Our new Hylas 49 just left Taiwan on a ship
this week, bound for commissioning in Fort Everglades, FL, and we
joined this expedition to expand our knowledge of sailing before
our own cruising starts.
Dave Pytel, 51
I’m a partner in an international manufacturing consulting
firm based in Colorado. I have always enjoyed sailing on Lake Dillon
but wanted to gain more experience before the next phase in our
lives of cruising on our new boat. I enlisted Amanda’s help
on our short list of boat names. She came up with Lipstick Cowboy
and even a song? Oh Boy.
October 27, 2007, 0600 hrs, 37.44 N, 25.39 W, Log: 114,179 miles
Moored at Ponta Delgada Marina, San Miguel Island, Azores Islands
Baro: 1021.6, Cabin Temp:74F, cockpit 71F
Santa Maria provided a delightful respite to our windless days.
As we approached, a large onshore swell made it very choppy and
the deserted outer commercial harbor was extremely rolly. As we
slowly motored around Kim spied a smaller inner basin with a lot
of construction activity. It turned out a new marina at Vila do
Porto is under construction with only the piles in place. With calm
waters and no one ready to yell no at us we dropped a bow anchor
in the new marina basin. David and I cleared us in then took a long
line to one of the large steel piles before winching MT back so
she was out of the fairway for the fishing boats. This provided
a calm mooring and everyone was then free to take off exploring.
Dave, Kim and Darcy found a great pizza joint (they even brought
a pizza back!) recently started by an Azorean guy who had just moved
back from Boston. Bev and Robin checked out the small yacht club
and Amanda and I went for a long walk exploring the town and countryside.
With only 5,500 people, Santa Maria is one of the smallest of the
Azores, but it has a reputation of being one of the friendliest
of the islands.
We left early Friday morning, hoping to find some wind, or at least
catch a fish on the 55 mile passage to Ponta Delgada, but we struck
out on both accounts although the passage did provide an excellent
time for Amanda to teach braid splicing and for us to wrap up teaching.
Vila do Porto, Santa Maria Island
Ponta Delgada on San Miguel Island (population 125,000) is the
largest city in the Azores and has a thriving economy and a very
industrious harbor. We had read that a new marina was under construction
(that seems to be the story nearly everywhere in Portugal and Spain
these days!) and sure enough, there was a swarm of construction
going on adjacent to the current marina. The new extension will
add 430 berths to the current 160.
We tied to the check-in dock long enough to clear in and fuel,
then were assigned a berth nearby. Dave did the research and came
up with an excellent seafood restaurant just celebrating 30 years
in business for our farewell dinner.
All too soon Leg 7 was over, crew were packing and cleaning and
on their way to explore San Miguel before heading home.