All posts by Jonathan

Captain, Master Mariner and presently command cruise ships. At sea for 40+ years. Employers include British & Commonwealth Shipping, Townsend Thoresen Ferries and Holland America Line. I enjoy golf and fly-fishing.

Mid Atlantic (and some Madeira thrown in).

I seem to be making a habit of encountering weather during the Atlantic crossing, this is no exception.  I write at my desk as we pitch in a 5 metre swell, with winds at 25 knots.  A deep depression to our north, which merged with a Tropical storm (Arlene) has made for some tough-going.  I had anticipated this, some 4 days ago; our intended track took us slap-bang through the centre of it and consequently altered course to the south-west, to pass ‘under’ it and miss the worst of the weather.  Heaven knows what it’s like 150 miles to our north, (where we would have been), even here, where I should be out of it, it is rougher than expected.  Forecasts are not infallible and this is one such case; someone out there under-estimated how far south the effects of the depression would travel.  The further west we travel and, all being well, we should see an improvement by tonight.  

I haven’t posted anything about Madeira, so here we go. It really is a beautiful island and has some quirky winds; approaching from the east, we experienced 45 knot winds before sailing into the lee of the island; gradually subsiding, it was flat calm for our docking.

An overview of Madeira and Funchal, on the south coast

The docking. We berth on the inside of the breakwater. A turn outside and backing in to avoid the swell being on the stern

It was dark of course, so the the time-lapse does not show the beauty of the island.

 

The terminal on the breakwater

A jaunt ashore, taking the Amsterdam’s shuttle-bus to the the city and thence a short walk to the hop-on, hop-off bus, although we didn’t hop off  🙂   It was a 1½-hour tour of the south side of the island along winding and steep roads, for there is hardly a flat space anywhere.

Hazel, Linda, Karen and Garry enjoy the fresh air

Taken as we departed, one has an idea of what Funchal looks like from the sea

To the east of the city, steep cliffs

Overlooking Funchal, an ancient fort, built to guard the then smaller port

Houses perched on the surrounding hills

Every available space is used to grow bananas.

Flowers everywhere, the climate lends itself to year-round blossom

The quaint fishing village of Camara de Lobos. Overlooking it is the highest headland in Europe at 590 metres, or 1,936 feet.

Back into town and the tree-lined avenues and the typical promenades, all in a black and white stone

In the centre, the oldest building in Funchal, the “Palacio Sao Lourenco

Finally, some lunch and my favourite, grilled sardines

We have another  4 days before Port Everglades, Florida beckons.  When the weather abates, we’ll be able to make directly for the Providence Channel in the Bahamas.  I’m unable to turn directly for it at the moment, for this would entail heading almost straight into this high swell.  A compromise is called for; as near as possible to the desired course, while keeping the swell at an angle (about 20°) on the bow.  She is a wonderful ship, great sea-keeping qualities and by taking this precaution it reduces the ‘banging’ considerably and keeps a good speed too.  4 weeks in Florida and then off to Europe, yup, more pesky refresher courses in Holland and of course, some time with my daughters and grandchildren! 🙂