22nd September 2021
Porto Santo Hbr, Porto Santo – Funchal, Madeira via Enseada de Abra & Camara de Lobos, Madeira
Protection is something we seek everywhere we go. Protection from the wind, protection from the swell, protection from the unforeseen and even protection from the seasons*. While we were in Porto Santo we had protection in the extreme, but protection doesn’t enrich the soul.
We left the idyllic protection of Porto Santo and headed for the dramatic hills, plunging cliffs and exposed anchorages of Madeira. We approached what was billed as a wild, empty and deserted bay but what we found was a bay full of local boats, dressed overall and playing music at volume setting 11. They were coveting the Virgin Mary who they hoped would give them protection from the ills of the world, we just wanted protection from the weather.
The flotilla disappeared and so did the protection that we hoped for. Winds howled down the cliffs buffeting us from all directions, threatening to upset our anchor and set us adrift. The swell then rolled in making things not just uncomfortable, but untenable. With Quickstep Too forming an advance party and Cerulean behind we had our very own flotilla to rival the local ones, we set off in search of one thing. Protection.
Taking in anchorage after anchorage we finally found what we were looking for in the throbbing town of Funchal. With man-made sea defences just behind us, the sea wall in front and cliffs on every other side we had protection, be it scant, subject to swell and open to the vagaries of sea breezes. But it was the best of a bad bunch.
With Ruffian safe offshore Iain had an important chore to complete onshore. He had to cover the length of the island by bus, pick-up the pactor modem that had been delivered from Germany and then not miss the last bus home, all without the cleaver resourceful Fiona (or google) by his side.
Completing the first part of the mission the bus snaked up impossibly steep hills and over gorges that plunged down as far as the eye could see. Every part of the infrastructure seemed to ooze pain as nowhere was flat and nothing was straight. When they build on Madeira, they just really want to build.
Jumping off at the far end of the island Iain had 8 minutes to get to the package, prove his identity, pick it up and get back up the hill for the returning bus. Setting off at a trot the package made its way into his bag with minutes to spare and he started his romp back up to the bus stop. Confident in his timing and with a good view of the road, he slowed his pace and congratulated himself on such great timing.
It was during this congratulation that he realised that his view of the road was only good and not great. The bus emerged from a dip, flew by in a cloud of dust and left him with a long wait and hoping that the last bus was still on its way.
With everything coming together Iain and dusk approaching Iain found himself back on Ruffian and plugged in the pactor modem. Like something from the matrix commands whizzed along the computer screen, the modem clicked and whirred and finally he was left with a red light, waiting for connection. The modem, after all this time, was initialized**.
Although we had some protection, the protection we had was scant and if the weather turned there was no protective berth available in marinas, no protection on the north coast and no protection from where we’d come. We made a cunning plan; to get the protection we wanted we’d simply sail 300 miles south.
* Or more specifically the cold and rain of winter.
** This is the first major step in allowing us to get email and weather over the SSB, negating the expensive use of the sat phone.
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