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Monday, May 30, 2016

Sailing Las Palmas to Madeira 26 to 28 May 2016

The Grib Files had been indicating for some time that there would be a 3 day favourable weather window starting Thursday for sailing to Madeira.
So, after a hectic two days of preparation converting Dutch Link from houseboat to sailing boat (including getting our Satellite emailing system via the Red Box to work) we left our mooring in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria at 0910 hrs Thursday 26 May and motored out of the marina.

The sea was unusually calm with, as forecast, hardly any wind.

After clearing La Isletta, we were met by the 2 to 3 meter long period ocean swells coming down from the NW, as we set course to the NW , 338 deg, to our waypoint 5 miles west of Ilha da Fora, the most SWerly island of the Portuguese Selvagem group, 115 NMiles away. However, as there was hardly any wind, the surface was glassy smooth and Dutch Link  just glided over them

This very relaxing state of affairs lasted throughout our first night at sea - very pleasant start to the trip for a crew that has not been to sea since our return from Rabat in Morocco 6 months ago last November.

 At 0635hrs, we reached our waypoint and, with the higher parts of the Selvagems visible in the breaking dawn, we altered course to 348 deg to head for Funchal on Madeira, 165 NMiles away.

Around 0800 hrs the next morning, Friday 27 May, the wind started to increase and by 0840 we were charging along at 6+ kts on a beam reach with full rig in a SW4 under an almost cloudless sky - perfect!

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Just before dark, the wind was starting to gust above 20kts. We downloaded a new Grib File using the Red Box and saw that the wind was likely to stay in this range. 

So we put a reef in the mainsail just to be sure. The wind remained in the 4 to 5 Bft range all night and became more northerly causing us tohave to sail hard on the wind - changed the autopilot setting to \vane from track to keep us sailing efficiently. By 0430hrs, the loom of the lights of the Funchal are was very clear even though the coast of Madeira was still a good 35 NMiles away.

By daybreak on the 28th May, the coast of Madeira was clearly visible under a blue sky.

Around 1000 hrs we tried to call Funchal Marina on the Iridium phone but without success. We then called Quinta do Lorde Marina on the east side of the island and they confirmed that they had a berth for us, so we freed off and headed for there marina

As we approached the marina we called them up and a Rib came out to pilot us into our berth

Happily moored in the very pleasant marina.
Washing the salt off 

 Total distance 293.3 NMiles in 51 hours Average speed 5.75 knts
Motored 24.5 hrs, sailed 26.5 hrs

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