an41 Madeira to Canary Islands 65
an42 Madeira to Lesser Antilles 67
an43 Madeira to Azores 67
an44 Madeira to Northern Europe 68
an45 Madeira to Portugal 68
an46 Madeira to Gibraltar 69
With the exception of Tangiers, which is conveniently located on the south side of the Strait of Gibraltar, most boats avoid calling at Moroccan ports, although those on the Atlantic coast could make convenient stops for boats sailing to the Canaries or West Africa. There are several reasons for this reluctance, the main ones being the complicated formalities, bad pollution in the larger ports, and frequent theft from visiting yachts. Facilities for sailing boats are also lacking, although the few yacht clubs are generally welcoming.
Tangiers, being used to receiving large numbers of visiting boats and thus having relatively easier formalities, is often overcrowded. South of Cape
Until not so long ago the only yachts that used to visit Madeira were cruising boats on their way to the Canaries or Caribbean, and occasionally a few racing boats from mainland Portugal. The situation has changed as more boats spend the winter in the Canaries and use Madeira as a convenient stopover on their return voyage to the Mediterranean. The most frequented route, however, remains that to the Canaries, which is at its busiest in October when hundreds of boats make their way south as part of the annual migration to the Caribbean. At this time Madeira is crowded with boats and the marina at Funchal can barely cope with the amount of visitors. Funchal is best avoided at such times and a stop in neighbouring Porto Santo should be considered.
The prevailing summer winds are northeasterly, but because of the height of Madeira, the wind funnels around and can blow from the SW on the southern coast when it is NE offshore. The smaller island of Porto Santo is also high but it does not block the NE wind which accelerates down the mountain blowing in gusts in its lee. In winter the winds are more variable and come from all directions. The North Atlantic fronts that move across the ocean from west to east occasionally take a more southerly track and affect the island, but their effect is less strong than in the Azores. Dust haze, which reduces visibility, can occur when easterly winds blow from the African continent.
A small number of boats choose to start their Atlantic crossing in Madeira rather than take the traditional route via the Canaries. Such a decision makes sense in late winter or spring when the NE trade winds reach further north and the route from Madeira to the Caribbean bypasses the Canaries altogether. Madeira is also a good starting point if one's West Indian destination is one of the more northern islands, such as Antigua or Virgins. The transatlantic route depends very much on access to weather information to be able to know how long one should sail on a SW course before turning west.
Northbound passages from Madeira are seldom easy on account of the prevailing northerly winds. Most boats bound for a port in NW Europe may prefer to make a detour to the Azores and stop in one of the easternmost islands, such as Santa Maria or Sao Miguel. If bound for mainland Portugal one has little choice and if the winds are
from the NE, as is most likely in summer, one must be prepared to beat all the way. The same applies to boats heading for Gibraltar and the Mediterranean with the added complication that the NE winds experienced offshore often turn into easterlies as one approaches the Strait of
Gibraltar. If time permits one should wait in Madeira for a spell of SW winds, which normally occur when a depression passes to the north of the island. Such conditions will ensure a fast passage all the way into the Mediterranean.
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