AN Routes from Portugal

an21 Portugal to Gibraltar 49

an22 Portugal to Canary Islands 50

an23 Portugal to Madeira 51

an24 Portugal to Azores 52

an25 Portugal to Northern Europe 53

AN20 Routes from Portugal

Until recently most sailors associated Portugal with where many North European sailors left their boats the Algarve coast and the marina at Vilamoura, either before venturing further east into the

Mediterranean or across the Atlantic. The west coast of Portugal has only recently started attracting cruising boats in any numbers, but things are rapidly changing as sailors discover the many attractions of this small country whose history has always been associated with the sea. The capital Lisbon is a delightful city to explore, although docking facilities for visitors continue to be disappointingly inadequate.

The most significant feature of this area are the Portuguese trades, which blow steadily down the coast during summer months. The prevailing summer winds are northerly. Such winds are common from April to September and in June and July can reach as far as Madeira. The NW shores of the peninsula experience more variable winds, although there is also a northerly component in summer. The prevailing winds make it essential to start a summer cruise as far north as possible. Similarly, during the summer months it is normally easier to sail from mainland Portugal to its outlying islands than vice versa. In fine summer weather there are land and sea breezes along the coast although the northerly trades do modify the sea breezes to some extent. There is also more sea fog in summer near the coast associated with calm or light winds. There is often a remarkable change in weather after Cape St Vincent has been passed. The one potential trouble spot for boats sailing east is the Strait of Gibraltar and the tactics for negotiating it are outlined in route AN16. Sailing from the mainland to Madeira is rarely dif ficult with the Portuguese trades ensuring fast passages. Occasionally, however, with the passage of a depression, the winds can come from the southwest, when it is better to wait for a change. The same applies to the passage to the Canaries, which also benefits from fair winds most of the time. Passages to the Azores are usually a mixture of good winds for the first half and variable conditions as one approaches the archipelago.

Because mainland Portugal is often the starting point for a cruise in the Azores, a few useful tips are given in route AN24. A cruise in the Azores does not lend itself to a logical sequence and therefore its starting point should be dictated by the subsequent destination. For those heading west across the Atlantic and who have the time to spend at least two weeks in the Azores, the logical landfall, and start of an Azorean cruise, should be either the small island of Santa Maria or the capital Ponta Delgada, on neighbouring Sao Miguel island. Boats planning to return to Portugal or the Mediterranean, as well as those intending to sail later to Madeira and the Canaries, should consider making their first landfall as far north as Graciosa and start their cruise there by calling successively at Sao Jorge, Faial, Pico, and Terceira on their way to Sao Miguel a,nd Santa Maria. Boats bound for Northern Europe may find better conditions for their subsequent voyage to the English Channel by sailing the obverse route to the one described and take their leave from the Azores in Graciosa.

AN21 Portugal to Gibraltar

Best time: Tropical storms: Charts:


Cruising guides: Waypoints:

April to October US: 51150, 51160

Yacht Scene, Atlantic Spain and Portugal.





AN211 off Lisbon 38'37'N. 9C20'W

AN212 Vincent NW 37°00' N. 9°08' W AN213 Hoyo 36"04' N, 6*20' W AN214 Tarifa 35°5E \

AN215 Gibraltar 35 CS'N 5 22 W

36 09'N. 5 27 ".V


Along the western coast of Portugal northerly winds can be expected, especially in summer, when the Portuguese trades are the prevailing winds. On leaving Lisbon, or any port further up the coast, Cape Espichel is passed at a safe distance and a course is set for WP AN212, 7 miles off Cape St Vincent. The course is then altered for WP AN213 off Hoyo Bank at the SW extremity of the shallows off Cape Trafalgar. A hazard to be borne in mind along this route are tuna nets, which can stretch for several miles off the Spanish coast and may lay across the above route. The next waypoint to make for is WP AN214, two miles south of Tarifa Island and inshore of the westgoing shipping lane. A course parallel to the Spanish coast leads into the

This is usually a pleasant passage, especially in summer when the Portuguese trades blow consistently and the southbound passage is further aided by the favourable current. Boats leaving from Lisbon (AN22A) can set a course for Gran Canaria as soon as they are safely out of the Tagus estuary through the South Channel. From WP AN221 a course is set for WP AN223 north of La Isleta light in the approaches to Las Palmas. If leaving from Vilamoura (AN22B) the course should stay well off the African coast as steadier winds will be encountered further offshore. From WP AN222 one mile SW of the marina entrance, a course can then be set for the same WP AN223, north of La Isleta. This keeps clear of all dangers, including El Roque rock off Punta El Nido. The con

Bay of Gibraltar. The reporting dock for customs and two of the marinas are easiest found by making for WP AN215 off the North Mole.

After Cape St Vincent has been passed, the winds become variable and the northerlies/are usually lost. Closer to the Strait of Gibraltar, the winds change again and usually blow either in or out of the Strait. The current is favourable on this route as there is a constant flow of water from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. The easterly Levanter wind produces a steep sea when blowing against the contrary current, which can make conditions difficult for a small boat when the wind is strong. Additional directions for transiting the Strait are given in route AN16.

spicuous shape of La Isleta makes a perfect landfall. 2.5 miles further south is the entrance to Las Palmas harbour, which in 1994 was undergoing extensive enlargement works. The eastern breakwater was being extended southwards and this is only shown on the latest charts.

From June to September the Portuguese trades usually provide excellent sailing conditions along this route. In May and October the winds are less constant, although their direction continues to be predominantly northerly. November has a higher incidence of winds from other directions, but winds from the northern quarter are still in the majority. The passage to the Canaries should not be left for too late in the season, as strong SW winds with rough seas are often encountered by

AN22 Portugal to Canary Islands

Best timii: Troi'ical storms: Charts:


Cruising citides: Waypojnts:

May to October fipifi^^ US: 143

Canary Islands Cruising Guide, Atlantic Islands.


Intermediate Landfall


Distance (M)

AN221 off Lisbon 38'37'N, 9°20'W

AN223 Isleta 28'09'N, 15'23'W

Las Palma 700 28'07.5'N, 15'25.5'W

llouli* -W22B

AN222 off Vilamoura 37301'N, 8J08'W

AN223 Isleta

Las Palmas


boats sailing this route after the end of October. Anyone intending to see more of the Canaries should plan on stopping first in Lanzarote, which is the logical island from which to start a cruise in the Canary Islands. See AN1S fox further details.

AN23 Portugal to Madeira

Best time: Tropical storms: Charts;

Cruising guides: IVumiw:


May to October BA:4104

Atlantic Islands, Madeira Cruising Guide.





AN231 off Lisfaon AN233 Santo S

38"3m, 9'20'W 32'50'N, 16'15'W AN234 Garajau 32'38'N, 16'50'W

AN232 off Vilamoura AN233 Santo S

37'01'N, 8e08'W AN234 Garajau

Knute AN23H

AN231 ofl Lisbon AN235 Santo N 33'10'N, l6°l5fW AN236 Cima NE 33°04'N, 16C15'W

AN232 off Vilamoura AN235 Santo N AN236 Cima NE

Funchal 519


Porto Santo

Porto Santo

Throughout the year the predominant winds on this route are from the northerly quarter, but best sailing conditions are usually experienced between June and August when NE winds prevail. Although these Portuguese trades normally reach as far as Madeira, the likelihood of contrary winds increases with the approach of winter. During the summer, winds along this route are mostly favourable when the Portuguese trade winds blow off the Iberian Peninsula and African coast. Also favourable is the Portugal Current which sets in a SSW direction. The weather in the vicinity of Madeira is influenced by the position of the Azores high, light winds and calms occurring when this high moves south of its normal position.

Leaving from either Lisbon (WP AN231) or Vilamoura (WP AN232) boats bound for Funchal can set a direct, course (route AN23A) for WP AN233, south of Porto Santo Island. From there the course is altered for WP AN234, south of Ponta do Garajau, on the south coast of Madeira, and thence to Funchal.

As Porto Santo is on the direct route to Madeira and the marina in Funchal, the capital of Madeira, is often very crowded, a stop in Porto Santo is recommended. If a stop in Porto Santo is intended, the initial course (route AN23B) should be set for WP AN235, NE of Porto Santo. From there make for WP AN236, one mile NE of Ilheu de Cima. There are a number of dangers along Porto Santo's east coast and these are avoided by keeping well off the coast and only altering course for the port after Ilheu de Cima, the small islet off the SE extremity of the island, has been left to starboard.

AN24 Portugal to Azores

Best time:

Ji/'d io"

Tropicai. storms:





I'll hi-,:



Cruising guides:

Azores Cruising Guide, Atlantic Islands.






Destination Distance (M)

lidiifr \N24\

AN241 off Lisbon

AN243 Ver Cira


38'33'N, 27'QO'W

38'32'N. 28'37.5'W

AN242 off Vilamoura

AN245 Sagres

37'01'N, 8S08'W

in öP'K.&Vw

AN243 Terceira


Koute AN2411

AN241 off Lisbon

AN244 GÎÏ-:

Ponta Delgada


oT N. 2nv

37'44'N. 25*39.5'W

AN242 off Vilar

AN245 Ssciru?

ÄN2-U ,Ci

Ponta Delç


This route between continental Portugal and its offlying archipelago has the benefit of the Portuguese trades during summer months when northerly winds predominate. If the passage is made in May, strong northerly winds may be encountered for the first days, being replaced by light winds or calms if a ridge of high pressure extending from the Azores high is crossed. The winds on the other side of the ridge normally blow from a SW direction. At the beginning and end of summer the frequency of gales is higher, as are SW winds.

On leaving the mainland with a fair northerly wind, boats using the Azores as a stopover on a transatlantic passage and planning to call at Horta (AN24A) rather than Ponta Delgada (AN24B) should sail a course which passes north of Sao Miguel. Such a course is recommended because of the difficulty of leaving Ponta Delgada should the winds change later to SW.

From WP AN241 off the South Channel in the approaches to Lisbon, a direct course leads to WP AN243, SE of the island of Terceira. Depending on weather conditions, from that point Horta can be reached by sailing either north or south of the island of Pico. In strong SW winds it is better to stay north of Pico and, if the weather deteriorates, one can seek shelter at Velas (38 °40.5'N, 2812'W), the main port on Sao Jorge. Terceira itself has a good harbour at Angra do Heroismo (38 °39'N, 27°13'W), although it is open to the south and should be avoided in strong winds from that direction. In strong SW winds, the channel between Pico and Faial, in the approaches to Horta, can be affected by violent gusts. These, and the north setting current, should be taken into account if attempting to enter Horta under such conditions.

The direct route to Ponta Delgada (AN24B) leads to WP AN244, 3 miles south of Ponta da Garga, on the south coast of the island of Sao Miguel. Boats coming from ports south of Lisbon may prefer to make their first Azorean landfall at Sao Miguel. There is a good new marina at Ponta Delgada, the capital of the Azores, which has the best facilities in the archipelago. Another good starting point for a cruise among the islands is the island of Santa Maria, at the southeastern extremity of the archipelago, from where the other islands can be reached in logical succession. The alternative is to start cruising the Azores from one of the furthest islands, such as Graciosa, and, after visiting islands in the central group, take one's leave from the Azores in Santa Maria. The two westernmost islands of Flores and Corvo are usually visited by boats arriving from the west and their inclusion in a cruise starting from the east is more difficult and less practical.

Some boats sailing from mainland Portugal to the Azores take their leave from Vilamoura, on the Algarve coast. From WP AN242, one mile SW of

AN25 Portugal to Northern Europe

The prevailing northerly winds of summer, which ensure excellent sailing conditions for southbound passages, make the task of reaching northern destinations very difficult throughout the summer months. The easiest solution is to sail up the coast in easy stages by taking advantage of favourable breezes which may blow close inshore. Having reached Northern Portugal, one can wait for favourable conditions to cross the Bay of Biscay.

The other alternative is to take an offshore tack and try to make as much northing as possible until more favourable winds are met. North of latitude 45°N westerly winds become increasingly predominant, but towards the end of summer the frequency of SW gales also increases, so it is better to plan this passage for the first half of summer. The time to avoid, if at all possible, is the period leading up to the autumn equinox as gales which occur around this time can produce hazardous conditions in the Bay of Biscay.

the marina entrance, a course should be set for WP AN245, 5 miles S of Cape Sagres. From there the course is altered for one of the landfall points mentioned above.

Boats leaving from Lisbon should take the Northern Channel so as to reach the open sea at WP AN252, off Cabo Raso. The course then leads west of the Berlenga Islands through WP AN253 and on to WP AN254, some 25 miles NW of Cape Finisterre. From that point a direct course can be set for WP AN256 off Lizard Point in the approaches to.Falmouth, a most convenient port of entry into the United Kingdom.

Contrary winds, especially during summer, may force one to break the initial section of this passage into shorter stages. In such a case a good departure point from Northern Portugal is the small port of Viana do Castelo. When leaving from there one should wait for favourable conditions to cross the bar across the entrance. Having reached the open sea, from WP AN255 a course can then be set for AN254 and, provided conditions continue to be right, across the Bay of Biscay into the English Channel.

Best time:

April to May

Tropical storms:



BA: 4103

US: 103


BA: 22, 27


Cruising guides:

Cruis,r.q Association Handbook, Shell Pilot to the English Channel vols. 1 &

2, Adlard Coles Pilot Pack 3.





Destination Distance (M)


AN251 N. Cha-ne

38'41.5'N, 9'12'W

33 .!C--S1. S 20"W

AN252 Raso


AN253 Berlenga

39C30'N, 9e40'W

AN254 Viiiano

AN256 Lizard

FalniCLÎ' 745

43'10'N, 9'40'W

49 55N 5 " ó'Vv

50'09.5'N, 5'04'W ,


AN255 Lima

41*41 % 8'55'W

41'42'N, 8'55'W

AN254 Villano

AN256 Lizard

Falrr-outh 555

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