Praia Formosa. Bowbelle. Desertas islands “protected”

The tunnel at Doca de Cavacas, linking Praia Formosa to the Centromar area remains closed with conflicting reports as to when it will re-open. The Diario last week said it was scheduled for before the summer, including the repair of the pathway from the Regency Yacht Bar (whose staff, incidentally have little faith in this deadline). For those familiar with the “beach” at Praia Formosa (I remember staying in the old Madeira Palacio overlooking it in 1990) there has been a gradual increase in the amount of black sand in evidence – presumably as a direct result of the reduction in dredging for gravel. The storms of 2010 will also have deposited a good amount of finer sediment. The beach suffered a major rearrangement in the storms of last December since when the tunnel has been closed.

Apparently the partially man-made spur at the westerly end of the beach interferes with the wave-flow along the beach and there is talk of this being modified (this links the beach to the rocky outcrop where youngsters “tombstone” in summer).


Whilst researching the practice of dredging off the coast of Madeira I found a lot of references to the gravel dredging boat “Bowbelle”, which once operated on London’s river Thames. This is the notorious boat that collided with the Marchioness pleasure boat in 1989.  She was renamed the “Bom Rei” before being transferred to Madeira a few years after the accident which cost 51 lives, and used as an aggregate transport vessel. On 25 March, 1996, the 80m ship was caught fully laden in rough weather just off the coast near Ponto do Sol. There are rumours that her portside crane cable got snagged on the seabed. An artists impression of the wreck is below courtesy of Madeira Divepoint.

click to enlarge

Ilhas Desertas “Protected”


The Council of Europe reported this week that “The Group of Specialists on the European Diploma of Protected Areas held its annual meeting in Strasbourg on 24 March and considered the reports from independent experts on the application for the award of the Diploma submitted for the Desertas Islands Nature Reserve (Portugal)”. The application was accepted subject to ratification by EU Ministers. Presently, there are 70 protected areas in Europe, in 26 different countries.

The photo above is one of those exclusive to the blog – a selection of these will be posted to our new Instagram site in future – link opposite.

9 Responses to Praia Formosa. Bowbelle. Desertas islands “protected”

  1. mauricereed Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 14:01 #

    I believe this ‘protection’ for the Desertas also applies to the Salvagens which means that they’ll stay Portuguese and prevent any Spanish claim to them.

  2. philD Friday, March 28, 2014 at 09:03 #

    That will be an old photo of the beach – I think there is another cafe at the end of the beach now?

  3. Madeira Friday, March 28, 2014 at 15:04 #

    Lovely article with beautiful pictures.
    Yes philD , it is another cafe at the end of the beach now.


  4. mauricereed Saturday, March 29, 2014 at 10:58 #

    I wasn’t aware of the fact that the Bowbelle ended up in Madeira. So I guess her sinking is a fitting end for this ill-fated vessel.

    At least she’ll end up creating a reef for wild life.

  5. abc Saturday, March 29, 2014 at 17:19 #

    I love this beautiful & inspiring painting of the wreck…very interesting post that I learned a lot from it!!!
    best regards 🙂

  6. ellen Saturday, March 29, 2014 at 22:28 #

    Time change this weekend

  7. Admin Monday, March 31, 2014 at 15:04 #

    Monday 31.3.14 14.00 – Quick update on conditions at the airport:

    ANAM (the airport authority) have announced that nine aircraft were diverted today from Madeira Airport to other airports due to the strong winds that are being experienced in Santa Cruz.

    Seven of these charter flights were sent to Porto Santo, with two more to the Canaries. The affected flights were from the UK, Denmark and Finland.

    According to the weather station at Madeira Airport, the current atmospheric conditions will remain until tomorrow morning with an average wind speed of 50 kilometers / hours, with recorded gusts of 80 kilometers / hours.

  8. Vic Monday, March 31, 2014 at 23:04 #

    just looked at airport site ( 11pm) and i count 23 diversions

  9. Admin Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at 08:59 #

    The airport still looks to be suffering a little this morning with further cancellations. A few flights have landed and one taken off. Anybody travelling should check with the Airport website – link on “Useful Links” tab at the top of the page.

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