Trouble in paradise (aka Porto Santo)

NOVEMBER 3rd, 2016

It's half three at night, and I'm outside in the cockpit watching the stars. We're at anchor in the marina at Porto Santo, but the waters are so unsettled it's impossible to sleep. I'm seasick from all the movement. Paloma is filled with odd noises, we can't make sense of. We wanted to sail to Madeira yesterday morning or night, and postponed first due to the wind and later miscellaneous engine and other troubles. The atmosphere aboard is rather uneasy tonight.

A week ago, we left mainland Europe. The feeling was amazing. I never quite got the feel for Lisbon, and it was continuously harder to breathe during the last few days there. The anxiety came crawling out of its dark corners. It reminded me it's almost November. It was easier to breathe again at sea. Sailing was so much fun! I remembered how much I hated life as a long distance sailor on the journey from Porto, and was amazed by the major difference. I felt only freedom and happiness. All I wanted to do was sail more, loved being underway. I wanted more wind and wished for more nautical miles till the next destination. The wind changed between excellent and not-existing, back and forth. The sky was lit with more stars than I've ever seen, and the phosphorescence lit up around the boat like a luminous glitter dust. It was so beautiful, all I was able to do was to sit in awe. I was truly happy, all the way through.

As we approached land again, the uneasiness came back. It disappeared as quickly as it came, once I realized an island far out at sea is vastly different to home. Porto Santo is a small and scarcely populated island, with just over 5000 inhabitants on 42 square kilometers. We feel like we've explored most of the island within two days.

First day here, all we did was blow up the dinghy and splash around in the marina. We didn't go further into the city than the marina cafe, where we had dinner with a Swedish and an English boat we got to know in Cascais. The next day we waked through the main city, and onwards along the nine kilometers long beach that runs all along the east side of the island. Later we rented a car, drove as high up as we could and walked up to the second tallest mountain on the island. From there we watched the sun set over Madeira. Today we've driven around the island, and we brought the Swedish couple of sy Xora with us. Paulina and Niklas are both so sweet, and we have a lot of fun with them. Niklas is truly adventurous, he didn't even blink when we suggested parking the car and climbing a few hundred meters down to swim in the breaking waves of the west side. It turned out to be such a fun climb, and it truly was amazing to swim in protected, natural pools, with the Atlantic waves breaking over us.

We are eager to get to Madeira, in order to get a few days to explore there as well. After the weekend, we need to set sails for the canaries, because Vilde has her flight home from there. As usual we've checked the weather, the wind and pressures, regularly. Both yesterday and today, Wednesday and Thursday, the forecast has predicted winds mostly at our nose. Yet not so bad it's not possible to sail. After a little back and forth, we decided to leave last night. As we were preparing the boat, we discovered concerning amounts of water in the keelson. In audition, we now have a small, new leak in the coolant system and a small, old leak in the oil system. Altogether a fairly dirty and complex situation in the engine room. We also discovered that the salt has eaten away at the rubber that relieves one of the feet of the engine. The metal looks ok, for now, but predictions are hard to make. We've long feared having to change the engine sometime during the trip, the one we have came with the boat when it was new in '86. However, she runs evenly and tirelessly. We've gotten to be quite comfortable with trial and error in the engine room, and we've learned most of what we know from this engine. It is with a heavy heart we realize we will have to get professional help to asses the course of action.

I am mostly worried about the water in the keelson. The optimist within hopes it stems from a leaky hose in the fresh water system, and that the water got in when we over filled the tank in Lisbon. It's hard to taste if water is salt or not when mixed with oil and coolant. The amount of salt in the engine room suggests salt water, but again the optimist hopes it came from waves breaking over us. The fittings all seem to be dry.

We are now waiting for the daylight to head for Madeira. We'll keep an eye on the most likely places for a leak during our sail, and try to make sense of it underway. The first harbor at Madeira is only a short day sail, and Funchal is eight to ten hours away. It's not an exaggeration to say we are anxious about tomorrow/today.