Cynthia left us at 8.30 on Monday the 12th and we set off at 9.30. The wind was from the south west and with no spare time to tack out from the coast to get sea room to get passed Cap St Vincente we motor sailed as close to the wind as we could. With 20 knot winds forcecast we set off with one reef in the Main Sail and a full Genoa were making 3 knots under sails alone and so used the engines to add the extra 3 knots we needed.
As we sailed south we began to encounter rain showers, missing some, and properly encountering others. The showers were dense enough to show up on the radar and reduce visibility to less than 100 metres as they came across us. The wind also increased a couple of knots in the showers, hence the precautionary reef in the Main Sail.
By mid-afternoon we had mostly clear skies, no rain and diminishing wind. As the wind dropped I decided to take the reef out of the main sail, only to find the block at the head of the Main Sail had become entangled in the cordage which attaches the head of the sail to the mast runner, called a ‘car’, and this was not running properly; basically I couldn’t raise or lower the main sail. The only solution was to clamber a 6 feet up the mast, loop a line around the next car, clamber down and use my 13 stone to drag the car down as far as it would go, clamber up, loop the line round the next car, clamber down, drag the next car down, clamber up …. You get the picture. All this with the boat pitching and wallowing around in the 3 metre high remains of the swell left over from Joachim. I am composing my email to the yacht dealer………
We had lunch of spaghetti Bolognese, which Valeria knocked up in these conditions and with the main sail down, and no time to figure out the problem, we motored.
We reached Cabo St Vincente by sun set and rounded St Vincente and Punta Sagres in the late evening under clearing skies. As we turned west the stars were out and I saw the Milky Way for the first time in ages. By this time we’d been under way for over 12 hours with another 8 or 9 to go. Valeria and I took it in turns to grab an hour or so sleep at a time, me more successfully than Valeria because I can generally just switch off. As the night wore on we got rained on by passing showers again and the swell and wind began to die right down. We passed hundreds of sleeping sea gulls in the water and with the stars out it was a delightful way to spend a ‘Night Duty’, apart from the engine noise!
Once we passed Punta de Sagres the aim was to set a speed which would get us to the entrance to Faro, the light house at Sta Maria by sunrise, 7.30 on the 13th, and so as we sailed east I began slowing the engines down, once an hour checking our ETA and adjusting the engines accordingly. We were bumbling along at 4 ½ knots for the last couple of hours and arrived dead on time, crossing the Barra Nova at 7.40 with the new daylight lighting our way. The Barra Nova was a shallow bank preceeded by a deeper pool and as we approached we encountered some impressive tidal rips and overfalls and had to fight a tide of up to 5 knots at times as we entered. Once into the river the tide eased off to 2 knots and it took us just over an hour to reach our mooring buoy. Michael, the owner of the mooring met us and guided us in. Once secure we formally introduced ourselves to Michael and Eva, then Valeria tried to get a few hours sleep while I put the tender in the water and did some tidying up. At about 1 pm I took Valeria ashore in the tender and she caught a cab to the airport to meet up with Cynthia.
I returned to the boat and rearranged our mooring and found one of our deck cleats had worked loose. The biggest socket spanner I had was too small to fit the securing bolt, so I hoped into Windy and went see my new friend Michael. He leant me some big boy’s sockets and I fixed the problem, returning them and was offered a beer, well, what could I say?
As we sat and chatted a yacht arrived in the mooring and promptly ran aground on one of the mud banks Michael had guided us through earlier. He and I jumped into our tenders and whizzed off to assist the unfortunate yachtsman; between the three of us we got him afloat and headed towards the deeper water. Then back to Michael’s boat for tea and medals and then ashore of a beer and introductions at the yacht club.