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UK Sailing, Sail Cruising
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BlueMoment Harbour and Marina Guide

33O 03'N


16O 20'W
Porto Santo harbour and marina
Passage Notes

Porto Santo is the nearest Atlantic island to mainland Portugal, 485nm from Cascais. It is normally a pleasant passage with favourable winds - although not always! It is worth visiting Porto Santo first because to return from Madeira is usually upwind. A passage-making crossroads, with yachts of allnationalities passing through.

There are no particular hazards on passage from the Portuguese coast, but watch out for the various seamounts on the chart and be prepared to encounter deep sea trawlers here or almost anywhere. If headed by strong Southwesterlies while on passage then an alternative destination might be one of the Canary Islands, possibly Graciosa off the N. end of Lanzarote. The reverse happened to us - we were on passage to Graciosa but the wind decided otherwise and we went to Porto Santo.


Very straightforward, but watch out for the four large metal buoys just in front of the entrance. We surfed madly shorewards in a 4m swell, but had no difficulty turning into the harbour. You do however need to make a hard, positive turn in plenty of time if there is a big onshore swell running. If entering under sail there is plenty of room to round up and drop the sails once inside. Call up on VHF channel 9 or go alongside the spur wall which protects the marina until allocated a berth.


You need to visit the customs first (the building on the right as you enter the port area) with your passports, ships papers and insurance, then go over to the marina office and give them all the same details again.

Facilities and Charges

No security on the pontoons, but it is a small island and frankly we never bothered locking the boat. There is water and electricity on the pontoons at no extra charge. Showers are also included, with average facilities. No washing machine, but the marina office can arrange to have laundry collected and delivered if required. Diesel is available by hose. Lift-out/yard facilities. We paid 15 euros a night for a pontoon berth. You can also anchor inthe harbour (well clear of the ferry berth). This is charged at half the cost of a pontoon berth. Anchoring off the beach used to be free, but we believe this is now charged for as well.

The only other facility on site is a bar/restaurant, which stops serving meals at six o'clock (but you really need to be there by half past five). The bar is open much later.

It is a bit over a mile to walk downtown to the shops, but if you time it right you can get a bus back with your shopping at half past five most evenings (timed for the Funchal ferry leaving). There is a good Pingo Doce supermarket on the main road.


Madeira has free wi-fi with various hotspots in cafes or just sitting on the grass downtown.

There is a daily ferry to Funchal on the main island of Madeira.

Things to Do

This is a sunny, laid back island with a wonderful beach. Make time to take an open top bus tour of the island, or do a little gentle walking.

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