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BlueMoment Harbour and Marina Guide

32O 42'.8N

CALHETA, MADEIRA

17O 10'.1W
Calheta marina, Madeira
Approach and Entrance

Approach straight in from half a mile offshore and you can't really go wrong. There is a fish farm NW of the marina about half a mile out from the cliffs, so you might want to be a little further offshore if approaching from West. The marina is under high clifs, and is usually in a windshadow - but you may experience gusty downdraughts in some conditions. It would be easy to enter the marina at night - the breakwater lights seem fairly bright and the marina area is well lit.

There is no obvious reception pontoon, but during daylight hours you will usually be spotted on the camera and someone will come down to direct you to a berth. We were not met so we just parked on a hammerhead and went up to the office.

Formalities

No hassles at all - one form, the marina take care of the police for you.

Facilities and Charges

The charges are quite high - similar to Quinta do Lorde at E18.63 for a ten metre boat including water and electricity - but still very reasonable by UK standards. We were charged at 8m, a saving of E1.80 a day, when I said we would be there for a week. Electronic keycards open both the pontoon gates and the showers. There is no deposit asked for the cards. The toilets and showers are clean and there is plenty of hot water for the showers.

A fair amount of surge gets into the marina at high water, but generally this is tolerable - and we were there in quite unsettled weather. I would recommend plenty of stretchy warps and snubbers though.

There are several bars and restaurants lining the marina promenade, with plenty of choice and resonable prices. Best restaurant by far is the AkiCalheta, the one nearest the hotel end. It is run by a South African couple, and offers the best combinaton of good simple cooking, good ingredients, value for money and service that we came across anywhere. Best bar is Mad Era - excellent staff, one of the more interesting theme bars you are likely to find on your travels and of course there are the Mad Dancers on a Saturday.

Two minutes away opposite the Calheta Beach hotel there is a well-stocked Pingo Doce supermarket.

There is a small chandlers on site, where you might find what you are looking for. he guy who run it is very friendly, speaks good English and also has a shop in Funchal, so if you don;t see what you are looking for itis worth asking. We had a problem with the VHF, and he organised a local expert to come and take a look.

It appears there is no Camping Gaz available anywhere nearer than Funchal, so if heading along the S. coast either wait until Funchal or drop in there on the way if heading West. If you do have to go into Funchal for gas (we went in the day we hired a car) then park in the marina, cross the Avenida Maritima and go down to the little street on the lower level. The chandlers at no.26 has Camping Gaz.

Communications

There are only two buses a day from Calheta Beach - the others run no nearer than 3km away at the top of very steep hills. The first one leaves from the hotel at 06.30, the other at 14.55 - so neither is very useful. The hotel can provide you with a bus timetable of sorts - ask at reception. Don't listen to anyone who tells you you can walk to the bus stops in Estrela or Arco de Calheta in 30 minutes - it is more like a strenuous hour. Of ocurse, it is much easier on the way back to the marina as it is all downhill, so there are more options for buses out of Funchal.

Car hire is available via the travel agents opposite the Pingo Doce supermarket. We paid E33 plus E11.75 insurance (not compulsory but perhaps advisable) for 24 hours hire of a one year old Peugot 205.

There is free wi-fi courtesy of Net Madeira, good bandwidth although it did go down occasionally. There are problems sending outgoing mail - we signed up with www.authsmtp.com and wished we had done so earlier, as we had similar problems in Marina Rubicon in Lanzarote.

Perhaps the most disappointing thing is that we had to find all this out for ourselves - the marina staff are very friendly, but they either could not tell us or misinformed us about buses, where to get gas and car hire, and there was no written information or welcome pack. You are better off asking the bar staff in Mad Era or the guy in the chandlery.

Places to See, Things to Do

Not so much locally, but a great place to just chill out. The marina is in Calheta beach resort, so there is a beach - imported golden Sahara sand, with a sheltered swimming area, nice but pretty crowded at weekends. If you walk up the main street in Calheta you will come to the Engenhos, an old sugar cane mill which is open as a museum for the eleven months of the year it is not crushing sugar cane. If you go right up the hill and turn left at the roundabout towards Estrela you will come to a big new arts centre which had a couple of exhibitions on when we were there. It is E5 to get in.

If you want a day in Funchal you can take the 6.30 bus then get a bus back in the afternoon and walk down from Estrela or Arco de Calheta like we did, or you can hire a car. Alternatively, ask in the bars or shops if anyone is going into Funchal - if they are someone is likely to offer you a lift.

June to August is the sport fishing season, and a lot of big boats base themselves here for the marlin hunting if you are into that. Even if you aren't the boats are impressive, and there's bound to be a lot of good craik in the bars. We would like to come back here in June/July.

Altogether a very friendly place.

For a detailed account of Fairwinds' time in Calheta see HERE