On Friday evening we set off to take a mile long walk along the beach of golden sand (this beaches stretches along the southern shore for 4 miles) to explore the town of Vila Baleira. Not sure what to expect from this island, we were pleasantly surprised to find a charming town of white buildings, red roofs and palm trees. As usual, we stopped off in a local bar for a quick beer. The bar was close to an attractive white church with its colourful blue paintings on the outside walls. It was obvious something was about to happen as the bells of the church called the locals to worship. The church obviously filled up quite quickly as the people poured in from all directions and soon there was standing room only outside in a courtyard brightly lit by candles. The church service was broadcast by loud speaker and it quite added something to the atmosphere. We decided to stop and have supper at this small friendly restaurant/bar (again the waiter spoke fantastic English with a perfect English accent - when quizzed about his skills he explained that although he was Portuguese he was born in London and spent his childhood there before his parents decide to return to their home country). We had fresh tuna and it was excellent! Whilst enjoying this the church emptied and the congregation poured out on to the streets in a long procession carrying candles and a statue of the Virgin Mary surrounded by flowers. The procession wandered off down the hill towards the shore. We asked the locals what was the celebration and they explained it was the annual candle procession for our Lady of Fatima.
On Saturday morning Nigel spotted a boat - 'Antares' which we had last seen at Bayona. Nigel engaged the owners, Olaf and Andrea, in conversation about their trip and they joined us for coffee onboard Persephone. Not unnaturally the conversation compared experiences along the way, and we found we had both done more motoring than we had expected. However Antares, a sparkling new Halberg Rassy 40 had clocked up more than 450 hours under engine since leaving Kiel in June and Olaf was keen to change the engine oil. Fortunately, we had the required sump oil pump they lacked and so they were able to deal with the oil change there and then. Antares is heading roughly the same way as us and had only that morning decided that they would in fact cross the Atlantic and carry on to Caribbean later on in the year. We made loose plans to perhaps anchor up in a bay in Madeira together over the next few days. Meanwhile the owner of the boat on the next pontoon (a catamaran) got chatting to us. This boat was being crewed by 3 gentleman, Colin, Phil and Tom, they had all decided to take a year away and were having a great time. Their boat had the very witty name of 'Sir Battical'. They told us that they were going to take a local bus trip around the island later on that afternoon and it came highly recommended. We therefore decided that we would also join them. It was a very pleasant trip (lasting about 2 hours) and we certainly got to see great sights from the top of the hills which we certainly wouldn't have managed on foot. A pleasant early evening was then spent chatting over beers and wine in a local bar (no surprises there!). Whilst in the bar we met up with 'lone sailor' Geoff - who had been sailing single handed from the UK in his boat 'Horizons'.
After a drink or two we all headed back to the marina to cook our respective suppers and made arrangements with Colin et al to meet up for a nightcap on board their (spacious) catamaran. It certainly is a different kettle of fish being on a catamaran and you can see why people are attracted to them because of the vast accommodation. They don't sail up wind as well as a mono hull but that is the compromise you make for the added 'comfort factor'. Colin, Phil and Tom then stepped on board Persephone to compare how 'the other half live'! All in all a very pleasant day and evening. Tomorrow we may make our move onwards to Madeira……… perhaps?