Clive and Alex came out to join me for the next section of Windependent’s journey down the Portugese coast; Porto to Lisbon. As neither were sailors I planned three one day passages with overnight stops in Figueira da Foz and Sao Martinho do Porto; the latter I figured would be an interesting stay as we would be anchored in a picturesque bay and would be able to take the sea boat ashore for a meal in a restaurant recommended to us. Well it was both interesting and educational, of which more later.
Both my friends had come away for a sailing holiday and so I felt a little bad about turning them out of their beds at just before 6 am so we could get under way; we had a 60 mile / 10 hour passage ahead of us. The day was disappointing from a sailing point of view with virtually no wind and progressively more overcast skies. Fleeces and windproofs replaced the sun-cream. We did get a hint of a north westerly breeze in the afternoon but not enough to get us to Figueira.
And so we motored again and I set my new crew to learning some new skills which we’d need when tying up on arrival. Firstly some basic knots. We started off with the ‘Left Handed Stokers Dhobi Hitch’. This complex knot can be tied by absolutely anyone as soon as they pick up a piece of rope. It is never tied the same way twice, if pulled really tight it requires a knife to release it and has a multitude of uses in the ‘close enough’ category.
In very short time we were onto more useful Bowlines, Round Turn and Two Half Hitches, Clove Hitches and Figure of 8 Knots, which they mastered brilliantly, and so by lunch time they were onto Rolling Hitches and Carrick Bends! Both are now planning work related applications for their return home!
After lunch I showed them how to catch hold of a cleat on a pontoon. In most yachts you can step gracefully from deck onto the pontoon as the skipper places the pontoon at your feet and tie up that way. Our deck is about 1.5 meters above most pontoons and so we have to throw a loop of rope to catch said mooring point. Again, in the training environment, they mastered the skill perfectly. Their first real test would arrive soon!
By 3 we were within 20 miles of our destination and had made reasonable time and so I decided to sail for a while. We hauled the Cruising Chute up on deck and soon had it hoisted and managed to keep it flying for an hour; with it and the Main we were managing 3 or 4 knots through the water in a 6 or 7 knot wind; a fair pace, but not when you needed to make 6 knots!
With the with the winds so light I took the opportunity of practicing a couple of gybes with the Chute flying, this time all the lines were in the right place and the sail bag was not caught up in the Tack Line. And so having played with my new sail we dropped it and resumed our journey getting into Figueira da Foz at 6.
This was the guys’ first ever arrival and all their practice with ropes throughout the day paid off, our arrival looked planned and even polished! Having booked in with the Harbour Master and armed with a recommendation for dinner we moved onto our assigned berth for the night, shut everything down and went ashore and had dinner in the ‘Sporting’ restaurant. The three of us ate handsomely and had two bottles of Vinho Verde for a mere 43 Euros.