Sunday, 29 April 2012

Peaceful Porto Santo

The path up Pico do Castelo
Perfect picnic spot
Moledo - a nice level walk around the largest hill
White poppy

After the tourist hordes of Madeira, its quiet little sister island Porto Santo is balm for the soul. It is definitely the off season here, with only a few visiting yachts and most of the holiday homes shuttered up. The island is much drier than Madeira but also has some fine pine forest. Nobody had mentioned to us what a good hiking place Porto Santo is, so we were in for a pleasant surprise when we climbed a couple of its volcanic hills yesterday. There is abundant bird life in the hills - plenty of Canaries (!) and other as yet unidentified song birds, a glimpse of a golden oriole and some quite large birds of prey.

View towards the harbour
Flame-like plants
Climbing the highest hill on the island 
The view from Pico do Facho to the east
From Machico we took along a young Portuguese couple, Sara and Sergio, whom we'd met on Nacho's boat, first for the quick hop to Quinta do Lorde and then on to Porto Santo. It was the first time we had accepted boat hitchhikers and we had a nice time together, though the cockpit feels a bit crowded with four people, especially if two of them don't have sailing experience! It also reminded us how much there is to learn in terms of seamanship before you can safely take a boat out on the ocean.

Quinta do Lorde was a strange place, a very sheltered harbour surrounded by an entirely new-built town, still under construction, complete with church and lighthouse - and yet unoccupied. We very much enjoyed the luxurious hot showers (the marina even has its own heraldry on the shower curtains), but it's really targeted at the luxury market and isn't a spot we would would choose (or could afford) to linger.

The ghost town of Quinta do Lorde
The forecast for our 30-odd mile passage to Porto Santo had been Force 3 winds from the northwest. In fact, we experienced everything from Force 3 to Force 6, with one rain squall, reefs taken in and out and a few headsail changes - good experience for Sara and Sergio - but all in all a good sail with two dolphin visits. In Porto Santo we were happy to be reunited with the Roede Orms, though unfortunately this is our last common port as they are bound for the Med and we want to continue to Santa Maria and then back to Sao Miguel. The wind is blowing straight from the Azores at the moment so it looks like we will get a chance to do a lot more hiking on Porto Santo.

Cross country back to the beach
Towards Capela de Nossa Senhora de Graca
Welcome find in the rucksack: a bottle of Madeira wine


ant or kay said...

Howdy. Great photos of the island. Nice one of Dr B slugging some wine too!

Ricky Hanson said...

Porto Santo is so Beautiful, Ricky Hanson, can't wait to visit again soon. Your photos are amazing, and inspire me to get back even faster.