THEARCHIPELAGO OF MADEIRA
After a year on the Continent I was longing to go further South. I set sails unsure of where the trip would end in the times of pandemics.
The open ocean gave me the answer.
August - November 2020
In the early morning I weighed the anchor in Culatra, but a fishing gear was entangled in the chain. I couldn’t have left without the help of a neighbor that had heard I was in trouble and had come over with his dinghy. I thanked him and hoisted the mainsail. Under motor I left the protection of the Ria, saying goodbye to friends on their boat. Passing the Barra Nova went smoothly. With low wind, I took a more Southerly course to find wind, and avoid the many fishing nets and buoys in the bay. On my way I saw the first dolphins. The wind picked up as the day passed, and the seas got choppier. I resisted for a while but in the afternoon got seasick with a terrible headache. I focused on the navigation so the TSS of São Vicente crossed before the night. It took a lot of efforts but I succeeded, the last radio contact happened as the sun was setting. I guess that I sounded so hopeless when I asked which were the intentions of the last one, that he immediately answered he would pass me behind. I was experiencing something new, having very dark thoughts. It worried me. In that state I started my night. The conditions didn’t improve but at least I could sleep.
The next day I was in the same strange state of mind as the day before, thinking that it didn’t matter if I died in that trip. It felt strange. Yet I was calm. I took the time to let the thought be and observe it as an external observer. By doing so I realized it could be taken as the utter expression of joy: I didn’t want to die, I knew that, I hadn’t fought for my life when I had breast cancer for nothing. It was the opposite, I felt so fulfilled with my actual life that I could consider dying without regrets. It was a paradox, I know, but it freed me of this anxiety. I could focus better on the navigation and the sailing to avoid an accident. In the early morning of the third day, I took a second reef while the wind wasn’t that strong, but the waves were still short and banging on the sides. Giulia reacted directly, she heeled less, what made it more comfortable to live in the boat. I could take a good rest and slowly completely recover my positive mood.
Slowly looking back at the bright side of life !
In the late afternoon of the third day the ocean flattened. Giulia was then gliding smoothly on the indigo water. I took the time to hoist the Code S. From hard sailing we switched to champagne sailing with a good 3-4 beaufort on following seas. I was amazed at how quickly my mood changed. I was now enjoying it so much that I didn’t want to arrive, spending hours admiring the bow as it plunged into the blue and the water flushed on Giulia’s beam. I took my paintbrushes to catch these magical instants. The wind diminished even more, still pushing Giulia at a good speed though.
At dawn of the 4thday I saw the lights of the lighthouse of Ilheu de Cima in the horizon, straight in front of Giulia’s bow. The wind was even weaker so I came a little upwind to keep some speed. I had to gybe twice. I loved Giulia’s slow pace because I had plenty of time to contemplate Porto Santo’s impressive scenery.
Live a moment of pure bliss!
and the arrival in Porto Santo!
I dropped the anchor outside the marina, and hoisted the Q flag as required. The employees were very helpful. A day later I was tested and could go ashore.
A month later, after exploring this island with beautiful people, I set sail to Madeira with a friend that needed to be at the airport the day after. We hoisted the mainsail still at the mooring and motored outside the walls. There we unfurled the genua. Friends left with us and sailed on their boat for a while. It was a nice departure with a lot of pictures from Giulia under sail as a result. The first miles were slow, with the island blocking the wind. We even motored to pass the Ilheu da Baixo. A good breeze came back once in the channel between Porto Santo and Madeira. We could easily manage the waves, and had a very pleasant down-wind sail. Madeira welcomed us with pouring rain. It was a lot of fun to tack upwind in the rain though to Quinta do Lorde. My friend was amazed at how close-hauled Giulia sailed, and me proud of my pretty little boat. We were fast and arrived 7 hours later, a good average for the 35M, partly upwind.
Madeira in front!
Pictures : Alain
Pictures : Thierry