|Posted by yachtmoonlight on November 2, 2009 at 12:17 PM|
We’ve had a relatively quiet week, still in Madeira and waiting for the wind to change so we can move on to The Canary Islands.
The big news from the week is that we will have an additional crew member for the Atlantic Crossing! John’s daughter Becky is flying out to The Canaries in a couple of week’s time and will join us for the big hop and Christmas and New Year in the Caribbean. So, it looks like at least one of the additional Santa hats will come in useful after all!
Last Sunday, Monday and Tuesday were very quiet days. We were both exhausted from our few days in Funchal and John wasn’t feeling too well with a saw throat and headaches, so we took it easy and relaxed on the boat.
I caught the free marina mini-bus to a supermarket in a nearby town with Ron and Colin on Monday, taking advantage of the free lift to stock up on heavy things like water, beer and wine while Ron and Colin shopped like a couple of old women (“Should we get some apples Ron?”, “Oooh, I don’t know Colin, would you like some apples?”, “I quite like apples, Ron”, “Ok Colin, let’s get some apples”, “Ok Ron, how many do you think we should get?”, “Oooh I don’t know Colin, how many do you think you would eat?”), so I left them to it and looked for them an hour and 20 minutes later to tell them they’d better make their minds up about the apples and get some other stuff because the bus would be back to collect us in 10 minutes.
Back at the marina, I went for a shower in the afternoon, only for the lights (which I now know are on a timer) to go out half way through my shower. There are no windows in the shower block, so I was descended into total darkness, which was really quite unnerving. Not being able to see a thing, I felt around for my towel (unsuccessfully) and ventured out of the shower, hoping the sensor for the lights would pick me up and let there be light. I jumped around manically, waving my arms in the air and dancing around, but it appears that putting a sensor in the shower area hadn’t occurred to the numpty who designed the facilities. The only one sensor was around the corner in a separate changing area and is pointed at the door, only picking up people when they walk through it. Corners aren’t the easiest thing to negotiate in complete darkness and I was a little disorientated from jumping around, so after wandering around aimlessly for a while (completely naked, dripping wet and covered in shampoo) I bumped into a wall and followed it round with my hands until I found my way round the corner, tripping on a wooden bench and my shoes along the way. From here, I could just about make out a small strip of light under the door to the outside world and headed for it, the sensor finally picking me up as I was nearing the door. With light restored, I dashed back to the shower only to find the water (which takes forever to heat up) had gone cold again.
After another quiet day on Tuesday, we invited Will and Tamsin (who had arrived in the marina on their boat that day) round for drinks in the evening.
John went down below to fix the drinks and Tamsin told me that Will was a ‘Rock Star’. Tamsin then went on to ask if I had heard of “O Star”. Feeling very ignorant of current rock bands (and wishing Becky was already here to cover up my stupidity), I said no and asked if they were any good. Unbeknown to me, Ostar is a single-handed sailing race from Plymouth to America and a ‘Rock Star’ is a nickname for very successful racing sailors. Tamsin explained this and as I felt a complete berk, she told us (much to Will’s embarrassment as he seemed very modest) that he had won this year’s Ostar race. I thought it was lovely how proud she was, and I would be as well as it was a fantastic achievement.
We were joined a little later by Ron and Colin and we had a very pleasant evening.
John was feeling a little better on Wednesday, so we had a walk along the road as I had spotted a car park next to the road that always seemed to have a lot of cars in it and wondered why as there didn’t seem to be anything nearby.
At the car park, we found a pathway that runs down the hill to a very small beach, which is quite unusual for Madeira as it is very rocky and there aren’t many beaches to speak of. There were a few people on the beach and swimming in the sea, which was quite choppy, causing large waves to crash up onto the beach. We walked down to the sea for a paddle and were disappointed to find quite a lot of rubbish on the beach, some obviously washed up by the surf, but a lot of it left by sunbathers and swimmers. You’d think with very few beaches they would be looked after a little better.
(The small beach)
A small café next to the beach beckoned us over with a large sign advertising ice-creams. As we munched our ice-creams and watched a chap swim out to sea and surf back in on his tummy several time while a group of women repeatedly walked a few paces towards the sea and then ran away screaming when the water ran over their toes, a gust of wind swept down the hill towards the sea and hit John’s chocolate covered ice-cream full on, bending the stick slightly and removing every piece of chocolate from it, much to John’s dismay, and mine for the rest of the afternoon as I kept finding melted blobs of chocolate on my shorts, t-shirt and in my hair.
After a slow (and very steep) climb back up the hill, I was ready to head back to the marina, but John decided he wanted to walk up another hill to a small and very uninteresting building at the top. It was very hot, and I don’t think even a free ginger biscuit stand would have made me want to trudge up another steep hill, but off we went and after much puffing and panting in the heat, we made it. Not only was the building (which seemed to be a small chapel) no more interesting when we got there, but it was also covered in small millipedes, which made it rather creepy. The views across the island and down the marina were very nice though and the good news was it was downhill all the way back to the marina!
(View of the marina from the top of the hill)
We hired a car to tour the island with Ron and Colin on Thursday and Ron was designated the driver (on account of the fact it was his idea and having lived abroad a lot, he was the most experienced at driving on the wrong side of the road).
The first stop was a petrol station, and the boys insisted (against my advice) on filling the car up, even though it was the size of a bean with a sewing machine for an engine and Madeira isn’t very big…..
Having not driven for a while, Ron was quite cautious at first, but as the day progressed, he turned more and more into a racing driver, even adding screeching brake effects around some of the highest and hairiest corners, with very high and very steep drops next to the road. Although some of the roads were incredibly scary, I felt much safer with Ron driving than I had on the local buses as I know Ron quite well now and am comfortable that he is reasonably sane (unlike the local bus drivers).
(One of the many stunning mountain views)
It was a lovely day, but got quite cool up in the mountains, where at times we were in the clouds. The views were stunning and we had a fabulous day winding around the country roads, up and down the mountains with the help of Colin’s unique navigation style (saying every now and then that he thinks he might know where the road we passed five minutes ago was, but he’s not entirely sure).
("Anyone know which way up this thing should be?"
At the top of the mountains we enjoyed the views and the animals, cattle grazing freely and a hawk hovering level with the car (but over a very high drop) in the mist of the mountain cloud.
(A lone cow enjoying a drink from one of the levadas high up in the mountains)
At the bottom of the mountains we drove through small towns and admired the natural swimming pools, which were in effect giant rock pools.
(Rocks with one of the natural 'swimming pools' in the middle)
A tiring few hours and not a lot of petrol later, we headed back for the marina just as it was getting dark and headed straight for the bar for drinks and dinner. We were all exhausted, especially Ron who had spent most of the day driving.
(Us with Colin and Ron at one of the viewing areas in the mountains)
We had planned to leave on Saturday morning, but as the wind forecast was not favourable, we decided to stay a few more days. This meant we needed some more fresh groceries, so John headed off for the supermarket bus at the usual time only to find it had left 15 minutes early, which was really quite annoying.
The bus runs again in the afternoon and we both decided to go in the afternoon and successfully caught the 2pm bus, only to be told when it dropped us off 15 minutes later that it wouldn’t be back to pick us up until 5.30pm! The bus usually returns after an hour and a half, and waiting over three hours wasn’t something we wanted to do as it is a very small supermarket in a small town and there just isn’t three hours worth of stuff to do (other than discuss whether or not to buy apples and if so, how many), so we got a taxi back to the marina and asked the marina manager to pay for it, which she did and to be fair, she was very nice about it.
Shopping beckoned me on Saturday, so I headed off to Funchal for the day on my own. Shopping with John can be quite traumatic. He’s alright at the beginning of the day but at some point, with no advance warning whatsoever, he has a tantrum, stamps his feet and cries. Occasionally he’ll also fall over, bang his hands and feet on the floor and then go all floppy when I try and pick him up. I find it much easier to leave him at home doing boy things like playing with hammers and screwdrivers and mud.
As I was waiting for the bus, a group of French people from a boat in the marina pulled up in their hire car and offered me a lift into Funchal, which was extremely kind of them as not only would it save me quite a lot of time (as the bus goes around all the villages on the way) but it was also out of their way as they were heading for the north of the island.
After a fun, but hot and tiring day’s shopping looking for things that I could suggest Santa might want to get for a certain third crew-member’s Christmas stocking (and a Christmas stocking), I headed back to the marina on the bus, enjoying listening to cheesy early 1990’s pop music on my ipod on the way.
Today has been another pretty uneventful, peaceful day.
John went round to the bar with Ron and Colin to watch the Grand Prix while I spent the time shouting at my PC in one of the marina offices where I could get a good wifi signal but having downloaded a Windows and an iTunes update I found everything was running very slowly or not at all.
This wasn’t helped by a three teenage girls who were competing in a sailing regatta in the marina, who sat on some chairs next to me and proceeded to eat their lunch like pigs. I’m not exaggerating, I’ve never seen anything quite like it, it was truly staggering. While one girl forced an unidentifiable large piece of fruit into her mouth with much slurping and juice flying in all directions, one was having several attempts at burping as loud as she could while the third somehow managed to eat a sandwich and chew bubble gum at the same time.
In fear of being splattered with fruit segments, bubble gum and burps, I gave up and drowned my sorrows back on the boat with a cup of tea and some of the ginger biscuits Colin had brought from England for me, which made me feel much better!
We spent the rest of the day preparing for our departure, which all being well will be on Tuesday and we should hopefully arrive in Santa Cruz on La Palma on Thursday, winds permitting :o)