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Island Hopping around Madeira and the Desertas Islands

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Embark Disembark Vessel DurationVoyage No
Tue 18-04-2023, 10:00Funchal, Madeira Sat 22-04-2023, 10:00Funchal, Madeira Santa Maria Manuela 4 NightsSM180423

Relax and recharge on this idyllic 4-night cruise, exploring the stunning islands of the Madeira and Desertas groups. A fantastic mix of deepwater sailing, with beautifully secluded anchorages overnight, swimming to white sandy beaches, wildlife spotting and time to explore vibrant harbour towns like Funchal.
Santa Maria Manuela will depart the beautiful island of Funchal for the stunning anchorage and golden sands of Porto Santo, and on her return will sail through the natural sanctuary of the Ilhas Desertas.

  • Voyage
  • Vessel


  • Visit the remote and rugged Selvagen Islands & Ilhas Desertas, home to a colony of Mediterranean monk seals, also known as sea wolves – the rarest seal in the world 
  • Spot the undisturbed seabird colonies
  • Anchor off the 9km long sandy beach of Porto Santo
  • Explore Funchal and nearby UNESCO Word Heritage natural park
  • Take the helm, trim the sails and help to navigate

Santa Maria Manuela

Vessel type / Rig Gaff Schooner
Guest Berths 50
Beam 33ft
Draft 18ft
Deck Length 173ft
Overall Length 225ft
Tonnage 992 tons
Year Built 1937
More about the Vessel

Voyage Description


Enjoying a relaxed sailing experience, no need to have any sailing experience.

On this voyage, you can join in the sailing activities as much or as little as you like.

Spotting incredible wildlife, such as the Mediterranean Monk Seal or ‘Sea Wolf’, the rarest seal in the world.

4 days of varied adventure.
Santa Maria Manuela - sailing to best wildlife spots - Dry Salvages Islands
Santa Maria Manuela – sailing to best wildlife spots


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 World Heritage site in 1999. An interesting island for flora and fauna.


The Selvagens Islands 

From Funchal Santa Maria Manuela may sail some 160 nautical miles south to the Selvagens Islands. There are two main islands, Selvagem Grande and Selvagem Pequena and these are surrounded by many 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 migrating sea and land birds in season.

Porto Santo

Santa Maria Manuela will also drop anchor off Porto Santo, with it’s famous 9km white sandy beach and crystal clear waters, so you can have a swim and enjoy a piece of perfect isolation.

Portuguese ship

Ihas Desertas

Our return journey to Funchal may take us past the arid Dry Salvages (lhas Desertas), with their steep cliffs and scrubland. The Dry Salvages 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 endemism Berthelot’s Pipit and Plain Swift.

Another local highlight is the possibility of spotting a Mediterranean Monk Seal.

The Dry Salvages

On a sailing voyage we never use the word itinerary, as skippers will always be aiming for the best sailing and shore landings for the forecast and most idyllic or sheltered anchors and ports. 


Heading south from Madeira the weather will get warmer but you could still be subject to a southerly passing low-pressure system which could bring strong winds and rain.

It is still spring and one of the benefits of awkward weather is that migratory birds could be in very large numbers if held up in the Dry Salvages.


Whether you are an experienced sailor or a complete beginner, the professional crew will train you to be guest crew from the moment you arrive, with the intention that everybody works together to sail the ship. The common thread to all Classic Sailing holidays is ‘Hands on’ participation on ships that use ropes, blocks and tackles and ‘people power’ to set sail.


We cater for a wide range of ages and physical abilities and how much you are expected to do varies a bit between vessels. See the vessel tab above which explains all about the ‘sailing style’ and what to expect in terms of hands on participation. There is a lot of information about day to day life, the ships facilities and accommodation on the vessel pages.

stowing sails on the bowsprit is a long way up on Santa Maria Manuela
stowing sails on the bowsprit is a long way up on Santa Maria Manuela


Every customer sailing with us will need to fill in basic medical questions on their booking application. If you are not sure if your current level of fitness and agility are up to a voyage, then please ring the Classic Sailing Office on 01326 53 1234 and we can chat through your concerns and possibly find options that might suit you better.


  • Skipper & professional crew
  • Personal Safety Equipment
  • Sailing Instruction
  • Rib trips to land on the islands
  • Onboard ornitholigist
  • All meals, snacks and refreshments
  • Port and landing fees
  • Linen and duvets
  • Third Party liability insurance


  • Travel to Joining Port
  • Travel from end port
  • Alcoholic Drinks
  • Swimming Towels
  • Waterproofs

Start & End Port

Funchal, Madeira

If Funchal is your leaving port then arriving into Funchal by sea, offers stunning views of the city perched on an ancient volcanic slope. Shadowing the city are impressive mountains covered in laurel bushes and banana trees, a natural park which was nominated a UNESCO Word Heritage site in 1999, Laurissilva of Madeira.

If you are flying in to join your ship then you may get a birds eye view of this volcanic jewel in the Atlantic Ocean, unless the trade wind mists are swirling on the summits.

Kit List

Below is a recommended travel packing list for a sailing voyage.

See bottom of page for Diving Holiday Kit List


  • Sailing Instruction 
  • Safety Equipment (Life jackets and harnesses)
  • All meals to include cooked breakfast, lunch, dinner and refreshments throughout the day.
  • Bed linen, duvet, towels for cabin (but please bring your own beach towel)

What is Not Included

  • Waterproof jacket and trousers
  • Travel to and from the start and end port
  • Optional trips or tours taken ashore unless otherwise stated
  • Alcoholic Beverages , but you can purchase drinks from the bar (you can set up a tab and pay at the end). 

What to Bring

For any destination north of Cape Verde warm and waterproof clothing is very important, as it can get cold during sailing, especially at night, even in the summer. A waterproof and windproof jacket is recommended to help keep warm and dry. Waterproof rubber soled boots or shoes are also recommended to keep your feet dry and warm. It is a good idea to bring two pairs of shoes in case one gets wet as salt water soaked shoes take a while to dry.

Madeira, Portugal and the Azores in summer can get pretty hot and it is easy to get sunburn at sea as the air is clear. The Cape Verde are in a tropical climate so a good sun screen is essential.

Please remember that space on board is limited and pack accordingly. Pack comfortable and practical clothing for all weather circumstances, the key is layers!! It is recommended to pack in a soft bag that can be easily stored away as there is no room on board for suitcases. Electricity on board is European 2 pin sockets, please be sure to bring any adaptors you may need. 

Passports, Visas and Insurance

If you voyage is sailing in foreign waters, you will require a full passport that is valid for at least 6 months after the end of the voyage. You will be responsible for obtaining any necessary visas.

We have Third Party Liability Insurance and recommend all those sailing with us to take out relevant travel insurance to cover their voyage. 

Medical Conditions and Special Diets

Please inform us in advance of any medical conditions you have and medication which you might need to bring with you. If you have any special dietary requirements it is essential you inform us prior to your voyage. We will make every effort to cater for all diets with prior notice.

Personal Items

This is a list of the items we recommend you bring with you.

  • Warm hat and sun hat
  • gloves - either sailing gloves or gardening type gloves
  • Wet weather clothing – water proof and windproof jacket
  • Clothing – enough clothing for all weather circumstances (think layers!!)
  • Trainers or deck shoes
  • shorts and t shirts
  • nightwear (ear plugs ?)
  • Toiletries
  • Towels
  • swimwear (googles are useful)
  • Sun cream
  • Sunglasses
  • Sea sickness medication
  • Personal medication
  • Book
  • Small torch (head torches are good!)
  • Camera
  • Log book (if you have one)
  • Valid passport (voyages outside the UK)
  • Travel insurance


  • Musical instruments 
  • games or cards
  • book/kindle

You can buy Santa Maria Manuela caps on board.

Diving Holidays on Santa Maria Manuela - Kit List

Please note the ship will only be carrying scuba diving equipment on the specialist diving voyages. 

On a diving voyage - Bottles and weights are included in the voyage price.

If you need diving equipment other than bottles and weights it is €150 extra

Nitrox costs €5 euros a dive

Classic Sailing will expand on this kit list shortly.



Santa Maria Manuela is a new vessel to the Classic Sailing fleet. We first became aware of her at the Tall Ships Race Fleet visit in Torbay in 2016. She has new owners who are incredibly proud of the ships history and are developing many new roles for the ship with a major niche in adventure holidays and oceanographic expeditions that benefit the world's oceans.

First Hand Knowledge

Classic Sailing co-founder Adam Purser has recently sailed on board a dive expedition in Cape Verde. He spent quite a bit of time getting to know the ship, its style of operations and the characters in the crew. You can speak to him in Classic Sailing UK Office on 0044 (0)1872 580022

New friends on Adam's voyage
New friends on Adam's voyage

Customer Feedback

Here are a few customer comments from previous trips. We hope to have many more soon.

Terrific crew & ship and a lovely passage to the Azores. Crew & Guests very good and patient with someone who only spoke English. It would be difficult to find a better one. This is a terrifically well run vessel, or was on this trip. Excellent accommodation, well serviced by a professional crew. All very friendly, helpful and willing to give information throughout. Many opportunities to get involved in most aspects of the ships operation & involvement in the vessel's past history.The Island was beautiful and rather unexpected. Best wishes & Good Luck for the future.Very many thanks"
Keith H. 28-04-18

We had a terrific and adventurous time on board during the Sachsen Sail 2018 in the Bay of Biscay. Thank you to all Santa Maria Manuela crew members and maritime greetings from Leipzig, Germany. " Mario L. 25-09-18

Un voilier merveilleux avec un équipage très sympathique .Merci pour tout" Marie-francoise A. 05-09-18


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