Ilhas do Porto Santa
I left off the last post as we were approaching the island of Porto Santo. We made good time through the night and as you may have read in the Skippers blog (see link on right of the page), whilst I slept we made such good progress that he slowed us down so that we arrived in daylight.
During the voyage we had become increasingly alarmed at a current leakage to the hull. Left unattended it will result in a thinning of the aluminium hull and eventually a hole can develop.... not something we really want! We had spent a lot of time trying to work out what was causing it, with several hours spent crawling around the engine and with my head down the bilges looking for a stray wire. The strange thing was that when we heeled hard over to starboard in a swell, the leak detector reported that it stopped, resuming once we heeled back to port. Having failed to find the cause we decided that we would do an exaughstive search once in harbour.
Preparing to enter the harbour at Porto Santo I was at the helm and Paul was getting fenders and mooring lines out when he discovered the cause of the big electrical leak... One of the large decal lockers in the stern was sloshing with about 6 cm of water... And this was covering a couple of wires and connectors leading to the shortwave radio transmitter which is housed in the locker. The water was halfway up the white board on the right behind which is the earthing cable for the radio to the hull, the coaxial cable for the arial and the power supply from the batteries. After pumping out the water we set too to rinse all the connection with fres water and dry them thoroughly before reconnecting and resealing them. We have not yet tried to transmit on this radio!
Porto do Santo is a relatively new harbour with high harbour walls protecting it from all but southerly gales and swell. The port authorities were very helpful and welcoming. It cost about €5 for 24hrs to anchor in the harbour rather than €48 moored in the marina. To our surprise William (our brother back in Britain), had spotted our old sailing companion Tormalind tied up in the marina using a web site that tracks boats using AIS (Automatic Identification System). You too can find us using this link Tin Tin on AIS when we are within about 50 miles of most coasts. The system relys on shore based ground stations to relay the position, speed and course information we transmit.
This is the first port that we felt was halfway to being tropical in vegetation as well as climate. After checking in with the port authorities we had a coffee and Portuguese custard tart before getting a lift in a taxi to town (all payment refused!) in taxi number 10.
After a wander round the small town which had a definite 'end of season' feel to it, we found a café that was open and had toasted sarnies and chips... We had really wanted to visit the Christopher Colombus museum but guess which day of the week it was closed? In dire need of some cardio exercise (which you don't get doing this kind of sailing!) I decided to take a brisk walk back to the harbour and explore a track we had noticed around the base of the cliffs to the north of the harbour. Here I found a karting track and a seemingly abandoned five a side football STADIUM ... Yes, stadium with a view out to sea. Beyond the stadium a signed warned that you proceeded along the track entirely at you own risk... well that was a challenge... so on I went along an increasingly more eroded track which looked absolutely fine until you noticed the rather large rocks the had fallen from the unstable looking cliffs into which the track had been bulldozed. Quite why anyone thought they could build a track along the bottom of such an unstable cliff is beyond me, and eventually they came to a place where no amount of money could have found a way through and the track petered out at a sheer cliff face.
The geology of the island appears to be a mix of volcanic, sedimentary and alluvial, seemingly jumbled together. I found a 5cm thick layer of seashells beneath what looked like sandstone and above that, volcanic intrusions.
I ran back to the harbour and Paul came to fetch me in Snowy the tender. he had been shopping in town and had bought paint and brushes so that we could add our names to the harbour wall as hundreds of other boats have done over the last 15 years or so. This is an old tradition dating back a long time. I remember seeing the faded names of British naval vessels painted on the small islands in Muscat harbour.
Outlined in felt tip, we then painted the letters in red on a white background.
Having done as much of the painting as we could we settled down in the fading light to an night at anchor for the first time on the voyage. Next morning we would be heading to the main island of the Madeira archipelago.