Due to all the delays we experienced in Portugal we made the decision to skip the southern part of Portugal and Spain, including Seville (which was on my bucket list) and instead of heading to Gibraltar and leaving Wolfhound there for a few months while we return to NZ so Steven can get on with some work!! We decided to get a head start on the Atlantic crossing while we had favourable winds and head to the Canary Islands which is a great jumping off point for the trade wind route across the Atlantic. We duly said our farewells to Cascais and set sail for Gran Canary, where we have booked a berth in a marina there for 4.5 months. After about 24 hours of sailing with the wind we realised we were on a direct route to the Portuguese island of Madeira so decided to call in here for a few days and then sail the next 270 miles south east to The Canary's. We arrived here at 3.30 am after about 4 days of wonderful sailing, blue skies and a good breeze.
What a delightful place this is! We are anchored off the capital, Funchal which is elegant, clean and the parks and streets are massed with flowering trees and shrubs. The water temperature is 24 degrees and the island is lush and semi tropical. The islands in the group are volcanic so the soil is rich and fertile with steep mountains right down to the waters edge. Finding a place to anchor was a challenge as it is really deep right up to the beach.
A side story.... About 24 hours out of Cascais we spotted the sails of a sailing vessel on the horizon ahead of us. On interrogating the AIS the vessel was described as a sailing cargo vessel. I thought there must be some mistake with the data but about an hour later the ship AVONTUUR contacted us by radio. They are a sailing, schooner rigged, cargo ship (44 metres). On the way to the Caribbean to collect a cargo of rum and coffee for the European market!!! Check out their web site www.timbercoast.com. Such a wonderful and romantic idea as well as sending a strong environmental message. I for one would definitely buy a bottle of rum which they had transported under sail across the Atlantic ocean. The captains name is Cornelius (how gorgeous is that). Anyway back to the story........After some hours we were definitely beginning to creep up on them. Then we gybed over and they gybed in the opposite direction and we lost contact with them for about 36 hours then they came back onto our screen (behind us!!!!) and eventually after a further day or so they were within about 8 miles of our stern. We beat them into Funchal by a few hours but our speeds are pretty similar and they are also sailing to Gran Canary so we are going to leave together on Monday and have a bit of a race. The wind is going to be light for the first day of the trip so it may be a bit tedious to start with but with any luck the wind will fill in on Tuesday and we can have a bit of fun.
Anyway I am going on a bus tour around the eastern side of the island tomorrow and will report back with photos when we reach the Canary Islands.