Porto Santo by Lochlann

Passage Rio Guadiana, Portugal to Porto Santo, Madeira November 014

After leaving the Rio Guadiana we sailed straight out to sea. We were going through the shipping lanes so we saw lots of tankers and large ships. I had the 7pm till 9pm watch so I ate supper as I looked out for ships.  There is nothing really to say about that crossing except that it took six days out of sight of land.

Our faithful self steering gear

When we finally reached Porto Santo we were all eager to get back onto dry land. As it loomed into view the mountains that rose up from it looked too big to fit on such a small stretch of land.  The island is the rim of a huge submerged volcano and when we put the anchor down we were directly above the crater.  The rock that makes up the island is igneous (volcanic) and you can see the formations of pillow lava when you look at the huge cliffs.  Out at sea in a small boat, if you look over the side you see an amazing deep blue instead of the dull green and greys of water close to land, and the visibility due to lack of pollution is phenomenal! When you near the shore in most places, the water gradually loses that amazing blue, but not here. The Madeira Islands rise rapidly out of sea, the ocean gets deep very rapidly, so the visibility stays amazingly clear, and that sea-blue is still visible very close to land.  Porto Santo is part of a volcanic hotspot and has amazing rock formations.  The mountains are really beautiful and they have deep gullies and channels flowing through them.
Porto Santo desalination plant

After we had anchored, Fin and I were amazed that mum jumped in the sea for a swim (she will never go swimming when she deems it ‘cold’), we got our snorkeling stuff and jumped in after her.  The water was wonderfully warm, and when I looked underneath I could see all the way to the bottom as clear as a pane of polished glass.  When you dived, though it seemed so close, it was a real effort to hold your breath all the way to the bottom.  The only problem was that there was nothing to see except sand and the anchor!  We got out, had lunch and then rowed ashore.
Walking up the volcano

When I set foot on land again after six days at sea, my knees went weak and jellylike - it felt really weird and strange.  The rocks that made up the breakwater around the harbour were made of concrete that had been shaped into stars that interlocked with each other (nicknamed by us, the knick-knacks).  They made brilliant rock running terrain. We strolled into the small town of Vila Baleira trying to ignore the slight persistent ache in our ankles.  We arrived and found a square. A sign read ‘WIFI ZONE’. We received emails and then walked back to Island Swift.
Feeding the Lizards

Back on the boat Fin and I went snorkeling round the Knick-Knacks.  We saw a sea urchin with spines seven inches long, and a blue and gold-coloured fish.  It was amazing how many colours can be crammed onto one small organism.  Dad went running most of the day and when he got back he was talking about a walking route that went along the coast, through a cave and ending on a beautiful beach.  The next day we went on this walk and it proved just as spectacular as he had said.  There was a massive block of sandstone perched precariously by the path, you could see it was about to fall into the sea. We went through the tunnel that went right through the headland and came to the beautiful beach that dad had told us about. We had a lovely swim and snorkel, even though the waves made the visibility bad.  After eating the remainder of the previous night’s supper for lunch, we hobbled back to the boat.

Over the next few days we did a moderate amount of home-ed and had some fairly ‘routine’ days.  Then dad took us on another long walk.  We followed the road that zigzagged up a mountain until we reached a path.  Then we followed the path that zigzagged up to the top where there was a large cactus garden.  There was a large domed building there so we ran up the side and pulled ourselves up.  It was an amazing view.  You could see Madeira and the Islas Desertas in the distance.  As we ate our sandwiches a lizard crawled over the edge of the wall and attacked the pile of apple peel. Slowly more and more came, and Fin and I held out bits of our sandwiches.  The lizards, who are usually very timid creatures, started to climb on our hands and tore off chunks of bread. I had a bit of peanut butter on my hand and a small lizard decided that I must be edible.  It bit me on the thumb and tried to drag me over the edge of the wall - a futile attempt as it rapidly found out.  As we were watching the lizards on the wall, Fin let out a yell and slapped the back of his neck.  A lizard had climbed up his back and was nibbling his neck!
Goodbye Porto Santo, we are off to Madeira

We slowly made our way down the mountain to the boat and had a really good supper made by our champion cook (guess who) mum!
After several pleasant days in Porto Santo, we decided it was time for a change so sailed off for Madeira!


  1. My appetite wetted even more! Role on the next instalment. Best wishes from the armchair explorer. Piersxx

  2. My appetite wetted even more! Role on the next instalment. Best wishes from the armchair explorer. Piersxx

  3. Hi Piers, Thank you for your nice comment :) I've just posted up some more blogs. My fault. Lochlann has been writing but I have not been posting! Hope all is well with you and the family. Looking forward to sailing in company one day. Love JoJo