5 and a half days of pure Atlantic- feeling (like Columbus) and happily reaching Porto Santo/ Madeira

September 16- September 22, 2019; 2174 nm and 184 days after departure from La Rochelle
Tanja Marina Bay

Leaving Morocco was as easy as arriving. El Capitano did the check out for the marina a day ahead; all the payment was done, only immigration and customs needed to be finished. Again we were very lucky, after maybe half an hour we were allowed to leave the country again. And then off to Madeira archipelago, yeaaaaahh.
It was 1:30 pm Monday September 16th when we left Tangier. The weather was not as nice as the days before, we even had some fog, but we thought it would disappear as soon as we were further out. Still in the bay of Tangier we needed to re-calibrate our electronic compass. That worked out to be pretty easy. Just a couple of turns with the boat, pushing some buttons and whoosh the compass was re-calibrated. That done we went off to our course to Porto Santo, only 600nm to go 😂.
Fortunately after 2 hours the fog disappeared and we could enjoy the mainland vanishing into thin air. And after that- nothing but water and sky.

the fog which was still close to shore

Amazing how fast the days (and nights) passed by. We kind of didn’t do much (though you always have to check and look, you might miss dolphins or other creatures) and still the time goes by. The weather was very calm and the wind not very strong. It was fortunately a very smooth ride. We would probably have picked another wind/weather situation, but as Luis was supposed to come to visit us in Madeira in two weeks time we had to go for this rather slow window.
We saw some dolphins but this time they weren’t in such a playing and posing mood. They just passed us, waved hello, jumped out of the water and were gone again. We had again a little bird visiting us.

the tiny bird, in the middle of the pic on top of the red rope, a bit hard to see

I baked 2 breads, Norbert repaired the cockpit table which was suddenly broken, we read a couple of books,we saw some bigger ships at the horizon and we could even play “rummikub” as it was such a calm trip.

(the title picture shows the sunset Sept. 17th) sunset Sept. 18th
sunset Sept. 19th


sunset Sept. 20th
sunset Sept. 21st

The days were unexciting with always amazing sunsets. 😊 The night shifts weren’t as exhausting as we expected. It is quite amazing to see all the stars and the milky way when there are no lights disturbing the view. Though the moon was very bright, but before it rose the sky was stunning. I also loved the shooting stars. I had the feeling every time I looked at the starry sky a shooting star was showing of. Somehow we managed a 4 hour shift (instead of a 3 hour shift), which was nice for the one who was not in charge to have a longer rest. As I could finally read while moving (without getting sick) I enjoyed reading some books and just watching the Atlantic or playing with our wind vane named “Oscar”. Actually, once set correctly Oscar runs great. He just doesn’t like it when there’s not much wind, then he needs some attention.

Screenshot 2019-09-29 at 18.02.07
Oscar hard working

The great benefit of our HAM radio is, that El Capitano is able to get an updated weather forecast even in the middle of the ocean.
It sounds like the early days of the internet with the chirping modem connections. A Pactor modem connects via the HAM radio digitally with a radio station in Europe or the USA depending on time of day (Sun) and downloads a previously requested grib file, containing wind/wave data for the sector we are crossing.
This helped us to adapt our route to the (we thought) best possible way to reach our destination. Friday night we knew there was a low pressure coming and as soon as the cold front went through the wind would change from west to north. So we needed to tack our way for the next roughly 15 hours targeting the best position for the final leg towards Porto Santo Island with then northerly winds. From there the ride was not as comfortable as it was before. (Tacking means being always in a sloping position.)

our bed while tacking
you never get a right pic to show how aslope the boat moves

Even though we were quite fast, we of course could not make up much nm closer to Madeira. We were actually waiting for the low pressure to come so that we could use the northern wind to blow us to Porto Santo. Saturday at 4 pm the wind finally had changed and we could set our course directly to our destination. Yuchuuu

Norbert repairing the cockpit table

That was about the same time as we got for a short time in contact with our friends from Saviour. They started their trip to Madeira already on Sunday from Gibraltar. We only could manage to communicate our positions and it turned out that we were only 16 nm apart. Yet we were not able to see each other on AIS nor with our eyes. We tried a couple of times to get in contact again but it was always almost impossible to understand. It would have been fun to talk a bit…

A big ship close by, still 6 nm away
and our main sail

However our further trip was perfect again, we were almost flying. As we expected our arrival in the early morning of Sunday September 22nd, we adapted our shifts a little. Which meant I started a bit earlier as usual so that Norbert could also get some sleep before we arrived. At 1:30 in the morning I could see the beacon of Porto Santo for the first time. That was incredibly exciting! And only half an hour later we had mobile access again. That was fun! I caught up with some friends in the US as they were awake and send as well more Whatsapp messages to family and co. This night went by even faster than the others 😉 and within a blink we were close to Porto Santo.

Porto Santo in sight 😁, that was a pic from our friends when they arrived Sunday 2pm. It was still dark when we arrived

At 5:30 am El Capitano was awake, perfectly in time to get Altimate ready to anchor in the bay of Porto Santo next to the little marina. YES! We made it. 🙃

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