Voyage Day 4
A blob of land on the horizon to report for the blog: Madeira, according to the Navigator. On the starboard side were the ‘Islas Uninhabidas’; three slab sided islands that apparently are uninhabited.
As we drew closer to our destination, there was a strong north easterly with winds gusting 30-40kts straight into the harbour. On the wise advice of the Funchal (Portuguese for fennel did you know?) pilot and the nautical instinct of our skipper, the decision was made not to enter the port, dashing the marauding hopes of the voyage crew to set foot on the island. Lost in the wind, a voyage crew matelot screamed “poulet”, I think referring to the Portuguese national bird; the cock. So we about braced and headed east back to the Islas Uninhabidas for sheltered anchorage and hatch plan B, with Madeira lit behind up like a giant cruise liner.
Written under orders of the AP Watchleader dated 13/01/2016
Voyage Day 5 10/01
Providence for le matelot; she was turfed out of her forward berth at 01.30 so that the permanent crew could raise the anchor. So glad I brought my earplugs! The Nellie made her way back west, this time across the calm inky black sea back to Funchal, and berthed without incident at 05.30.
With breakfast and ablutions over, the voyage crew stepped foot/ wheelchairs on the dockside and were given the day off to explore Madeira’s capital. Some opting to wander aimlessly around the streets, and parks, take the cable car up the Monte, ride down the steep streets on sledges, and or just sample the cuisine and liquids of this verdant, flowered isle.
Voyage Day 6
Coach trip around the island, with our trusty guide and experienced driver who had the ability to bend his bus around the mountain hairpins. Highlights; views from the top of the 500m cliff (highest in ‘Europe’ you know!), a fishmongers only selling Espada’s – a long black ugly eel like creature that bottom feeds in the depth of the Atlantic (and which many had eaten this succulent fish the day before). A rotating restaurant that we stopped at for lunch. The stark contrast from the warmer, sunnier south to the dramatic, sparsely populated scenery in the north of the Island. The guide said that we would experience Four Seasons In One Day on this trip. We did, except for snowy season. We were however, encouraged to hear from homesick/ recovering seasick crew who had called Blighty that day, that the UK was forecast the white stuff, so that counted, and these crew were no longer homesick.
The evening was spent going out again and sampling the cuisine and Madeiran culture. We found that the locals were very friendly and we potentially felt blessed and welcomed with stubbly kisses to our heads and cheeks by them, along with ankles being stroked. This is maybe a new cultural discovery as no entries have been found in the guidebooks that the cruise liners give out to their passengers. You have been warned now.
Voyage Day 7
Assisted climbs. An overwhelming feeling of togetherness; working together to get our shipmates up the mast and them achieving great feats where these opportunities back in every day normal life is not the norm.
The wind picked up so it was time to leave Madeira and take a 090 heading overnight and back to the ships routine of watches, happy hour, and square hearty meals aboard.
Voyage Day 8
Superstitious, who us sailors? NO!! So far (14.30), nothing untoward has happened, no storms or sea monsters. Heading 180, direct for Gran Canaria.
After breakfast, a sail handling talk and then theory put into practice with bracing, hauling yards and sheets. Yippee we’re sailing again!
Day 9 – 14/01
Aft Starboard watch.
Yesterday afternoon, there was a fire drill for the permanent crew which involved a lot of sea water being pumped up from the sea. Voyage crew consequently had some rare leisure time!
AS-watch was on the bridge from 8 pm to midnight. The sky cloudy, obscuring the moon and stars and making for a dark and uneventful watch. Saturday morning there was a “happy hour” when we cleaned windows and heads, washed down everything and scrubbed the decks. We all felt very happy when it was done. Then there was a ropes and knots tutorial by Ben the boatswain’s mate on deck. He showed 3 different knots and explained their uses and gave examples of how useful the knots could be at sea and also on land.
Whilst on bridge, watch leader Philip, noted a vessel to the portside. He explained in some detail how to judge the relative distance and direction of travel. Furthermore he demonstrated and instructed us novices in the use of the azimuth ring compass, to assist in judging the speed and direction of the vessel. Finally he gave a rudimentary introduction to sailing rules at sea when vessels cross paths. We learned a lot during our 4 hour watch. For light relief, the ships bell was polished by Mike, with Brasso until it shone.
Avril & Dawn