Archive | Madeira & General News

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Extreme Sailing. São João. Aerial firefighting.

Extreme Sailing Series

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After what their website describes as a “successful debut in 2016….on the beautiful Madeira Islands”, the Extreme Sailing Series is ready to return for the third round of the 2017 season. The fleet of seven super-fast GC32 catamarans, including wildcard Team Extreme skippered by Portugal’s Olympic sailor Mariana Lobato, will race off the coast of Funchal, from 29 June – 2 July. The event schedule is here.  A couple of the teams were already in evidence practicing in the bay yesterday.

Scorceress

imageAlso visiting Funchal for a short stay is the “maxi yacht” Sorceress. The sleek 29 metres carbon-hulled vessel was only launched earlier this year in S. Africa, amid much publicity in the yachting world, and will not make her racing debut until September of this year in the Rolex Cup in Sardinia. Eight people can be accommodated in the owner’s cabins forward and three en-suite guest cabins amidship. There are two crew cabins.

São João

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The day of Saint John (24th) sees a weekend of celebrations both on the island and on the mainland. Locally the biggest festival is in Vila Baleira on Porto Santo (pictured), where it marks the start of the summer season. Other events are held in Ribeira Brava, where there is parish named after São João, Porto Moniz, Gaula and Caniço de Baixo. Festivities in Funchal this weekend coincide with the closing firework display of the Atlantic Festival, which by all accounts has been a great success.
The biggest festival on the mainland is the famous Festa de São João do Porto held last night in the city of Porto, where thousands of people come each year to the city centre and more traditional neighbourhoods to pay tribute to Saint John the Baptist, “in a party that mixes sacred and profane traditions” to quote Wikipedia.

imageThe traditional launching of Chinese lanterns in Porto as part of the celebrations has been prohibited this year in after the tragic forest fires that have so badly affected the Pedrógão Grande region in the middle of the country. Transgression can be punished by a fine varying between €140 and €60,000, and the Porto PSP has warned that it will carry out surveillance during the festivities.

Aerial means of firefighting to be investigated further

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The Diario reported during the week that the regional government had confirmed receipt of the report on the feasibility of using aerial means in firefighting on the island.  Apparently the report, commissioned by Central Government as detailed in a previous post is on balance in favour of this option. According to Regional Secretariat for Inclusion and Social Affairs, the report “indicates that the use of air resources in forest areas and urban areas in Madeira is possible, taking into account the specific characteristics of the territory”, and the same body has committed to “immediately create a mission structure that, within 60 days, will present a proposal for the implementation of these means of firefighting, where costs, resources and actions to be undertaken will be clearly identified“. The outcome of the further investigations will be debated by the regional government.

Just been alerted to a a notice on the easyJet website, posted yesterday:

23/06/2017: easyJet has been advised of security strike action in Portugal on 24 and 25 June which will likely impact queue times for all passengers going through security at Portuguese airports.We are advising passengers to allow extra time to get through security, ensuring they arrive at the departure gate on time. Passengers can check their hand bags in free of charge to ensure faster security checks.easyJet will operate its full flying programme to and from Portugal on 24 and 25 June. The industrial action should not affect arriving passengers.We recommend that all passengers travelling to and from Portugal on these dates check our Flight Tracker on easyjet.com for live updates.Although this is outside of our control, we would like to apologise for the inconvenience.

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Machico fire. Roaming charges dropped. New App.

Fire above Machico

Fire above MachicoIn a chilling reminder of the fires on the island last year, and at the same time as the fires on the mainland and the awful casualties there, a fire was reported yesterday above Machico, at the eastern end of the island. The fire was is in what the Machico Municipal Fire Brigade described as an “off-road and difficult to reach” area in Ribeira Tem-Te-Não-Caias in the parish of Porto da Cruz.
According to the Journal (JM) the fire was under control but not extinguished later, after six firefighters, supported by two vehicles, attended. They were assisted by the Forest Police. The Judiciary Police have arrested a suspect, who is believed to started the fire through negligence. The Diario today reports a second fire in the vicinity yesterday, in Achada do Porto Cruz, which had been extinguished by mid-evening. The newspaper comments on the fires on the mainland: “the country is experiencing an unprecedented tragedy”.

Single digital market

Roaming fees in the EU abolishedLast week finally saw the end of expensive mobile phone bills whilst travelling in Europe. This came after EU regulators agreed in 2015 to force operators to offer the same service to phone users. However, the Telegraph urges caution, pointing out that many UK users may still be hit by unexpected bills, with the four main operators providing different levels of geographic coverage and “fair use” policies meaning those using high amounts of data may be charged extra.
Mobile phone calls and text messages can now be sent as they would back in the UK, with no extra charges. If texts and calls are included in your pay monthly or “pay as you go” plan, it’s exactly the same charge for doing so elsewhere in Europe as doing it back home.  However, data usage is not as straightforward, as explained on the youreurope website . Data is ostensibly the same as back in the UK – mobile phone owners can browse the web, use WhatsApp and stream YouTube within their allowances or at the same price as their “pay as you go” contract, although their signal quality will depend on the local network and some operators have been accused of throttling networks abroad.
However, mobile phone companies are allowed to impose “fair use” policies which means that monthly data allowances are not quite the same as when using mobile internet in the UK. Each of the big UK operators have different allowances, although they must inform you when you reach your limit. The youreurope website also warns against using a UK mobile contract if you reside permanently elsewhere in Europe.

New App for Madeira and Porto Santo

New App logoA new Ocorrências Madeira v2 App has been launched, available on Android and iOS (although I was only offered the old version on the App Store for an iPad or an iPhone). Already popular on Facebook, the App allows users to record any “occurrence” (accident, radar, event) which is shown on a map, with category, photo, description and proximity alert. Weather, fuel prices and the like are also available.

New 737 Max launched

Boeing 737Boeing officially launched the latest in its 737 range at the Paris Air Show this week. As reported in a previous post, Boeing says the new 737 will have the lowest operating costs of any single-aisle plane ever produced. The US company has had about 3,700 orders for the 737 Max family, which ranges from the 172-seat Max 7 to the 220-seat Max 9. The Max 10 is 66 inches longer than the Max 9 at 143ft 8in (43.8m), but its slightly bigger passenger capacity (230 passengers) means its range is 300 nautical miles less than the 3,515 of the Max 8 and 9.

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Praia Formosa. Blue flags. Jardim dos Sabores.

Praia Formosa

Praia Formosa

Today’s Diario reports that Câmara do Funchal will spend €80,000 on improved pedestrian access to the beach at Praia Formosa.

Blue flags

Blue flag above Ponta GordaMeanwhile, as the summer season begins, blue flags have been hoisted above Praia Formosa, the main Lido, and the Ponta Gorda bathing complex – the latter saw an event to mark the occasion yesterday, including a workshop on “healthy eating at the beach”! All nicely coinciding with the start of the ridiculously long school holidays here.

  • Jardim dos Sabores

Jardim PanorâmicoThe14th to 18th of this month sees a joint initiative between Frente Mar Funchal, the São Martinho Parish Council and the Câmara Municipal do Funchal, at the Jardim Panorâmico, which hosts the 4th “Jardim dos Sabores” gastronomic festival. Visitors “can taste gastronomic experiences to the sound of ambient music and much animation” according to the publicity material. The gardens, which look in better shape nowadays compared to a few years ago, can be found below the Estrada Monumental, half-way between the Lido and Ajuda, accessed either from either the top at the end of the one-way system or directly from the seafront walkway. Hours are midday to midnight.
16.6.17: Correction to above – the event seems to be taking place not in the Jardim Panorâmico as promoted by the Tourist Authority, but on the seafront between there and the “new” Lido, in front of the Porto Mare – directly on the seafront promenade.
Frente Mar Funchal is the organisation that has traditionally administered the lidos and other public spaces in Funchal, but also seems to have recently moved into managing car-parking. It seems to be doing well on the back of local authority contracts.

Porto Santo campsite to reopen?

Porto Santo campsite

The political organisation CDU/Madeira is calling for urgent action to be taken to reopen the campsite on Porto Santo. They are requesting that the Regional Parliament  implements immediate measures to reverse the degradation of the facility. Not a bad place for a campsite when you think about it – at Fontinha, just a minute from one of the best sandy beaches in Europe!

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