Picture the sandy beaches of the Balearics, the stunning landscape of Tahiti and the seaside villages of the Bay of Biscay. That is Madeira in a sentence. Discovering this amazing archipelago by sea gives you the opportunity to enjoy great sailing conditions, beautiful wildlife and world-class beaches.
Marina Do Funchal - Madeira
Located in the 32nd parallel – the same as Bermuda and Morocco – and 320 miles (520 km) west of Africa, Madeira is one of Europe's most remote locations. Deep in the Atlantic Ocean, this set of islands remained uninhabited until their accidental discovery in the 15th century. At that time, a Portuguese ship disabled in a storm ended up on the shores of Porto Santo. Settlers from mainland Portugal slowly started pouring in. Commercial crops like sugarcane were planted, making the archipelago an important player in the sugar trade before switching to vineyards producing the world-famous Madeira wine.
While remote and relatively unknown, Madeira offers easy flights from New York and most European capitals. The main island’s volcanic landscape brings with it adventure sports such as canyoning, rock climbing and scuba diving. Madeira’s northern forests are constantly soaked by the prevailing Trade Winds, creating a unique bio climate that is home to endemic plants and animals and is designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Funchal, the capital, is home to the island's main port and well-equipped marinas for you to provision before enjoying some amazing days at sea. When the sun goes down you can find a booming nightlife in the city center with fine restaurants and wine bars.
Madeira's famous Levadas
You get the picture – Madeira is an untapped destination to add to your list for your next vacation. For those of you on the corporate treadmill, taking some time off to unwind is proven to be beneficial for you and your career. At Sailing Virgins, we give you the opportunity to take a vacation and learn a new set of skills at the same time!
Beach Town of Ponto Do Sol, Madeira
Sailing in Madeira
Great year-round weather conditions and reliable east-to-west winds make Madeira a sailing mecca. It’s an excellent destination to get your sea legs going while exploring the adventurous landscapes and exquisite locations. Cruising around the island, you’ll encounter small, picturesque seaside villages to explore and taste local traditional cuisine and famous wines. A few miles east from Funchal is the historic whaling town of Caniçal, home to one of the few sandy beaches of Madeira. The north side has great surfing spots and cozy beach villages like Sao Vicente, surrounded by stunning black stone cliffs. Heading inland, you’ll find some jaw-dropping views and great hiking and sightseeing locations around its volcanic mountains, waterfalls and dense tropical forests.
Setting sail, a few miles off the island you are able to find ocean-like conditions that can go from a mild breeze to ideal winds that can get you sailing to 20+ knots. Heading 30 miles northeast lays the “golden” island of Porto Santo, famous for its pristine sandy beaches and natural pools where you can relax after a day of sailing. Tourists flock to the island to cover themselves from head to toe in their sands and soak up its nutrients and healing properties.
Heading a few miles southwest on a lovely broad reach, you will encounter the rocky Desert Islands (Ilhas Desertas). On these uninhabited groups of islands wildlife is booming, both at sea and in the skies, perfect to explore while anchored in one of their bays.
Your Instructors - Rubrio (AKA Clooney) and Vega
In our new Beginner and Intermediate sailing courses we’ll depart from Funchal on a racing monohull with a wide deck that is ideal for getting through the first sailing lessons comfortably. This course is oriented to young, dynamic people who like adventure vacations and learning new skills every day. Our local instructor Rubrio and his furry first mate Vega will take you through the basics of sailing; teaching in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere while putting the theory into practice right away. Rubrio is a lifelong sailor and sailing instructor who has raced professionally as well as worked for floating festivals The Yacht Week and The Bucketlust for several seasons. Watch our Q&A with Rubrio where he describes the course in further detail.
Island hopping is the best way to learn sailing skills while exploring different places every day
A normal day on the week-long course consists of waking up with some mindfulness and meditation and taking in the amazing surroundings and nature with a good cup of coffee. We’ll put up the sails and train for a couple of hours before stopping for a swim, then get some lunch and relax before heading out to sea again. At night we either cook onboard (provisioning, stowing, and cooking onboard are as important as sailing itself!) or else get into the dinghy and head to shore to experience the local cuisine and some drinks. Some days we’ll sail during the morning and drop the anchor for the rest of the day and head inland so we can discover the adventures that Madeira offer