Friday, February 25, 2011
N 32º 38.8
W 16º 54.5
Bon Dia, Madeira
Having completed a full refit alongside and with the generous help and support of the Portuguese fishermen in Setubal, Sesimbra and Sines (with much thanks to the initially difficult and eventually very helpful harbour masters of these small fishing ports) we are now anchored in the beautiful and historically maritime-rich bay of Funchal, Madeira. We raised Porto Santo, the island just east of Madeira, 430 miles southwest of Portugal in four and a half days with a steady north easterly on the stern; also managed to bring aboard and chomp a big tuna for dinner on the third night out. Crew were very happy to feast on three or four rations of fresh tuna steaks and sashimi.
The great navigators of Portugal's illustrious and questionable age of discovery including Henry the Navigator's explorers, Vasco Da Gama, Bartholomew Dias, as well as Christopher Columbus made stops here in Funchal to victual and make repairs. The mountains reaching high above the city and up to 1800 m in elevation are lush with sub-tropical laurisilva forest (named a unesco world heritage site in 1999) and abundant with fruits and vegetables. We don't mind the daily coming and going of monster cruise ships next to us and the swarms they shove off onto shore, the locals are friendly and the dark haired fair skinned ones lovely. Thanks, life! We're now finishing the final touches on the rigging, provisioning of fresh fruits and vegetables, water, tobacco, and chocolate, and awaiting one last sturdy crew member to arrive; then the final word, 'Hello, would love to stay but really must be going- we're Caribbean bound.' We reluctantly said goodbye to all good 'Chinas' (friends) in Alvor including guests aboard Bruno, the "Charlie Chaplin of the seas" from Sines and Stano from Czech, but they're keeping in touch and already new chinas are being made. We'll raise the good power and get back to our true reality of life at open sea with big blue horizons at 360º very soon.
Three days after arrival in Porto Santo there was a small arm wrestle between Cpt. Clive and the Porto de Abrigo marina owner for surprise outstanding over the weekend marina fees for anchoring in an unmarked pay zone anchorage. Even with a barter of a "No Fixed Address" book and apparent half-discount still they got us in the end with taxes and so on to reach full price. The busy men are full of tricks but we're pretty sharp too. We motored up wind forty-five miles to Funchal where crew are taking final shore leaves, sending letters home, and going on walkabout. We're expecting a new camera for the documentary film we're making to arrive as well as a mother's sending of long stowed-away sea safety harness to arrive in the quick post. Bless the mothers with the patience of the world, without them their wandering sons and daughters would be adrift.
Crew members were asked where and why and how they came upon meeting with Clive and the Nuthin Wong. Alex of Australia, carpenter and builder aboard who was traveling in Spain said, "I've got an adventurous spirit and this is right up my alley, the sea is my friend. Boats, learning how to sail, get out of the comfort zone, self-growth, it was blowing the right direction. I think we've got a pretty good team together and we've all got skills and knowledge that is suitable. I think we've got a boat packed full of character." Sian of England, purser and cook aboard said, "I found it on sailing networks, from there I went to the blog, read the philosophy, felt that I could get along with people who have a similar view on life- detachment from consumerism and the rat race appeals to me a lot. I purchased Clive's "No Fixed Address" and read it along the way hitchhiking to Barcelona and Lisbon. I felt really at home when I arrived, it just feels natural. I think that I'm good at organizing/ locating things and I like looking after people." She said," I want to cross the equator, and travel in South America, I'd like to do woofing and volunteering- not the tourist things, become fluent in Spanish. It's good to be moving, getting experience with sails and procedures, watch scenarios, I like the boat and crew and the wildlife. The dolphins really move something in me, I'd like to see whales. I'm looking forward to the challenge of being in bad weather and the good weather." Sylvie of Walloon, Belgium, camera and technical person aboard said,"I'm looking forward to return to South America and didn't want to take a plane, I've got to get to know the sea. The Wong is a friend of a friend. It's my first time aboard a boat- a new world, trying to make my marks and feel more accustomed, learning all the time. Mostly, learning how to live in a simple way. With the camera I'm happy to have a new project."
Chris from Canada, first mate and interpreter aboard grew up on his godfather's Chris Craft boats in Lake Huron, Ontario from the age of six days, and first sailed on the Atlantic ocean aboard the Nuthin Wong nine years ago from Halifax to St John's, Newfoundland, and again from the south of France to Barcelona. With a fine letter of recommendation from Cpt. Clive and his Canadian Marine Transport seaman's logbook signed and ship-stamped he found work on performance sail yachts as deckhand in the Mediterranean and Caribbean Seas. He went back to the land to study and try out a busy life because he thought he didn't want to sail rich men's boats but instead had to acquire his own. That didn't come soon enough and for almost seven years the sea constantly called him back, so by chance he found work on a 70 ft Hinckley sloop this past summer in the Med. He kept in touch with Clive and he and the Wong have welcomed Chris aboard the Hood of the Blue sail training vessel as first mate. After this crossing he will have his miles and time at sea logged and plans to study for his captain's papers. He says he is where he belongs- home at sea with good people and a bountiful venture at hand.
Asked about this being his fifth large ocean crossing in the past twenty years and into his second circumnavigation aboard the good Wong, Captain Clive said, "I'm overjoyed to have opportunity to escape the charade of daily western existence and to accept the awakening force of reality where life takes on a different meaning of survival other than raising the paper to pay landlord at end of month." About the crew he has aboard now Clive said, "It's a special part of circumnavigation. Neptune has graced with each individual strong character, some experienced, some not but all come to with a will and I feel honoured to have good fortune of having such a good crew to cross Atlantic."
We're now preparing to sail to one of the western Canary islands three hundred miles south of Madeira and pick up the sixth crew member. Happy Days, travelers! Get in touch, read "No Fixed Address", keep in touch, and join for the next leg in the Caribbean. Paradise lives!