Birdwatching: Funchal, Selvagens and Desertas Islands
We start this unique voyage from Madeira's capital city of Funchal, a city perched on an ancient volcanic slope, shadowed by a natural park which was nominated a UNESCO Word Heritage site in 1999.
We sail some 160 nautical miles south to the Selvagens Islands, constituted by 2 main islands, Selvagem Grande and Selvagem Pequena and surrounded by a few rugged islets. The steep cliffs on these barrens islands host important seabird colonies, including Cory's Shearwater and White-faced Storm Petrel and in smaller numbers of Little Shearwater, Bulwer's Petrel and Band-rumped Storm Petrel. Berthelot's Pipit also occurs. The archipelago's proximity to the African coast also attracts migranting sea and land birds in season.
Although access to the archipelago's Natural Reserve is restricted, under the careful guidance of our expert ornithologist, and with special permission from the Madeira Natural Parks authority we spend a number of days visiting the islands on foot accessed by the Santa Maria Manuela's two ribs.
Our return journey to Funchal takes us past the arid Ilhas Desertas, with their steep cliffs and scrubland. Desertas host important populations of breeding seabirds like Cory's Shearwater, Little Shearwater, Bulwer's Petrel, Band-rumped Strom Petrel and Yellow-legged Seagull, and also the Bugio endemism, Desertas Petrel Pterodroma deserta. Resident species also include Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Barn Owl, Island Canary, and the Madeiran and regional endemisms Berthelot's Pipit and Plain Swift. Another local highlight is the possibility of spotting Mediterranean Monk Seal.
Visit the remote and rugged Selvagen Islands
Spot the undisturbed seabird colonies of the Selvagen and Desertas Islands
Explore Funchal and nearby UNESCO Word Heritage natural park;
Take the helm, trim the sails and help to navigate;
"Whilst our captain and crew will always use their best efforts to keep to the schedule, you safety is their primary concern and all itineraries are subject to weather and sea-state conditions"
Christened in 1937, and after many decades as a Portuguese cod fishing vessel in Newfoundland the renovated Santa Maria Manuela today is amongst the more comfortable tall ships on the water. All are welcomed aboard as members of the sailing crew and given every opportunity get personally involved in the sailing of the ship. No previous sailing experience is required to enjoy a voyage aboard the Santa Maria Manuela, just a spirit of adventure.
The ship follows a varied schedule including sail training programs, tall ships races, adventure sailing holidays, diving expeditions golf tours and island and coastline hops with the opportunity to enjoy the local food and culture. We also offer team development programs in partnership with a professional corporate training company.
The ship's facilities include kayaks, stand up paddle boards, fishing equipment and two 14 man power boats, adding to the fun at anchor. Cabins are basic but comfortable, each with a private ensuite shower and toilet. Wifi is available through the ships satellite system.
The Salon Terra Nova seats 42 for meals with bench sofas also offering enough comfort to relax or to be used for company meetings. Bars on deck and below help to create a relaxed atmosphere.
Food is a key part of the Santa Maria Manuela experience, with the ship's cook providing a variety of traditional Portuguese cuisine and other international dishes.
The ship is available for individual or group holidays, whole vessel charter, business meetings, events and product launches, and as a location for films.