September 19, 2011
Whilst at Gibraltar Hayley and Luke visited us – flying in to Malaga (a day early) and we spent a great week doing the tourist thing. We went up the rock to see the monkeys and the seige tunnel and across to St Michaels caves to see the stalagtites. We also sailed to Gibraltar to collect my new Hydrovane and the next day went to look for dolphins in the bay. It got a little windy (40 knts) and Hayley was sick – well she is pregnant so maybe it was just morning sickness, but we did see one dolphin.
I have fitted a new Navtex (Furuno NX300) and the Hydrovane (with big thanks going to Bob and Eric who helped massively – oh and John who made some suggestions when he wasn’t napping). The riggers also have come and adjusted my rig, so we are now ready to close this blog and start our next blog: Gibraltar to Barbados.
Jan and Mike also visited the boat and we had a pleasant afternoon (I havn’t seen Janet since school days – and she has not changed much!!!) We also met a delightful couple Peter and Ulanda on Funny girl. They were very hospitable and should be credited with the rather fuzzy head I had the next day. They amazed us with their on board washing machine!!!
September 18, 2011
The smart money said leave at low water Gibraltar for best currents. However, as that meant 0400hrs we decided not to play it smart. We left at 0920hrs for the 40 mile trip. The wind was a steady 20 knts and we were soon galloping along. We averaged 7.5 knts over all and SOG was often in access of 10 knts with 3 knts of current in our favour. We were dubious rounding Tarifa because it has in excess of 30knts of wind 300 days a year. However we must have passed on one of the other 65 days because it was no more than 25 knts today. We went wing to wing (poled out jib) and flew down the traffic separation zone line (This is where all the big tankers play). We decided it was time to get rid of the pole as a tanker looked mighty close on our track. As we rounded the corner towards Gibraltar it was necessary to put a reef in the main sail as we were surfing down the waves. “It will calm down once we get in to the lee of the land Mandy” – I assured her. Although no sign of any lee respite anywhere. Then dolphins appeared to escort us to the end of our final leg (very befitting – not sure who arranged them but it was great anyway) We tried Queensway Marina but they had no room suggesting we try Ocean Village. They also had no room, so we arrived at La Linea just the Spanish side of the run way. Does that mean technically we still have not made it to Gibraltar. We can see the rock so clearly from here but it is 500 meters the other side of the runway before we need to fly their flag.
September 17, 2011
We slipped at 0800hrs and motor sailed out of the harbour dodging the odd tanker and cruise liner. We stuck to the shallows as we were motoring and ended up spending the day dodging small fishing boats. I decided to trail the lure and we spent a couple of hours bobbing along under just sail (alas to no avail – fish were not biting.) We passed the famous Capo Trafalgar Light house – luckily it was calm and no big crashing waves to be found as in most pictures. I wonder if Nelson had a windless day before the big battle???? Barbate is the last stop before our destination: Gibraltar.
September 16, 2011
We sailed into Cadiz only to find all of the spaces in the marina reserved for a regatta. So we hopped across the bay to Puerto Sherry which is a much nicer marina (albeit isolated from any town). We decided to have a meal out and sat watching the sun go down over the bay in a very nice restaurant.
September 15, 2011
We left Lagos heading for Cadiz (this was perhaps a little too ambitious as the wind was on our nose and would turn out to be more than 200 nautical miles). We stopped for a couple of hours at Villamora under anchor to have a quick swim in the warmest waters so far on the trip and have our evening meal. The wind started to get up so we slipped anchor again and set out as the sun was setting. There were lots of small fishing boats and we had to weave our way through them. After a couple of hours a Portuguese navy vessel started to follow us and then hailed us – asking to board and check our papers. They checked all our papers, my flares, my life raft and anything else that took their fancy. Finally wishing us a safe trip they left.
The wind was steady and with all the fishing boats milling around I decided to deploy the hand line with feathers for mackerel with all of the weights to hopefully counter act the speed. The wind got up and we had to put all 3 reefs in the main but kept a full genoa. The boat leapt along at over 7 and a half knots SOG (High end of 8 knts through the water – not bad considering it was to windward)
I then remembered the fishing line and we pulled in the remnants of hooks (no weights and at least 3 hooks gone as well). We sailed throughout the night and covered some 95 miles by daylight. However the strong winds died and we then motored for the next 4 hours. When the winds came back we were back to racing along at 8.5 knts but if we continued to go to Cadiz we would not get there until the early hours of the morning. So we changed plans and landed at Chipiona. We were glad we had as the facilities are great and the price no longer is Algarve rip off.
September 14, 2011
Wind died so we anchored off Vilamoura for 2 hours – had a swim and an evening meal before pulling up the hook and setting out again.
September 12, 2011
After a restless night we got up at 7 am and left by 0740hrs. There were a couple of boats a head of us and we motored for the first hour whilst having breakfast. By the time we had finished and set up our spinnaker we had caught them up.
We popped the spinnaker and had a great sail for about 4 hours until as we got to a headland the accelerating wind made us drop it. Mermaid went a little further offshore and managed to keep his spinnaker up and pulled away from us.
However, all day we were able to relay messages warning when wind was picking up which was very useful
As we rounded the major headland we had about 25 knts of wind and screamed along getting up to 9.7knts. We reached Lagos as it was getting dark (in planning we thought we would arrive after midnight)
Soon alongside and nice hot showers whilst recovering from a hard (but enjoyable days sailing – at least we are round the corner now and should make our rendevous with Hayley)
September 11, 2011
We sailed from Sesimra and had an uneventful day with the winds picking up in the afternoon. We did see trillions of dolphins swimming in slow motion. It was really weird as they normally dart along. I guess they were having some kind of convention. We tried to catch another fish but I guess they were not falling for that old trick again.
Sines was a very small marina and we managed to come alongside with the help of Pakker (Skipper of Mermaid) we first met him in Figuero da Foz. I gave him a copy of Admiralty Total Tide on a memory stick and he shared some grappa with me on board his lovely boat.
The wind was strong all night and the boat creeked alot giving us a restless night.
September 10, 2011
We left the very expensive marina at Cascais and spent a night on the hook in the bay. To say it was as rocky as the horror show does not do it justice. Mandy always hears every creak of the boat at the best of times but I too was kept awake, first from the thud of a night club and then the ever increasing rock and roll of the boat.
Little wind was forecast, but having seen how impressed Mandy was with our current place I conceded that we would move on as soon as we deflated and packed away the dinghy. (We had used it to chug back to the marina the previous day to enjoy the facilities – everyone in the bay seemed to be doing it)
The wind got up and was on the nose which meant apparent wind actually allowed us to turn the engine off. However, as we got to the first headland it soon died after passing it. We had our sights set on Sines but after a scan of the almanac settled for the Marina de Sesimbra. The boat speed had dropped and the water temperature had risen. It was time to deploy a lure. However, when the boat speed dropped to 1 knot it was time to put the engine on. I asked Mandy to wind in the lure and I noticed a fish of mammoth proportions fighting on the end of the line. (OK – the fish was quite small and pulled in easily, but where is the drama in that) We had caught a mackerel – a fish that was not going to bite back and should be tasty to boot.
Once alongside Mandy gutted it and wrapped it in foil. We baked it and ate it as a starter. It might not have been huge, but it was tasty none-the-less and best of all……free!!!!
September 07, 2011
We slipped at about 1330hrs for the twelve hour trip to Cascais figuring the wind seems to be better in the afternoon and there would be less need to motor. We were not wrong, 10 minutes after slipping the motor was off and did not come back on until we were entering Cascais.
The wind was from behind after we hit the 09 degrees and 30 minute longditude that Michael had assured me would give us a better southward current. So we rigged the pole and went wing to wing (see pic)
Later that night the wind got up to about 25 knots apparent (as we reached top speeds of 9.9 knts – so true wind would have been nearer 35 knts – not quite as forecast) We clung on to the seat of our pants – first getting rid of the genoa and then luffing up in to wind to depower the main so we could start reefing her. The main is always tied to the front of the boat to ensure we do not get an accidental gybe (the boom crashing across as the wind gets the wrong side of our main sail) so we could not reef conventionally – the boat was over powered and “Otto” could not cope and I was wrestling with the helm and not about to send Mandy forward in the dark to release it.
However, by turning across the wind until the main was flapping had the effect of depowering which in turn meant we could lower it to put the reef in. All reefing can be done sfrom the safety of the cockpit.
It was an exciting finish to the night and when we finally came alongside in the marina (I did not even bother to tempt Mandy in to anchoring after our excitement) it was blowing old boots. The staff were very helpful and took a line which helped a lot. However, once we had booked in we had to move to another berth which meant more excitemenmt in the strong winds.
Next morning we had to move again and were shocked by finding out we have picked the most expensive marina in western europe (still we have had 3 berths for our money and a welcome gift of a bottle of wine)