Finally off again! We spent an extra day in Faro waiting for some ‘drop nosed clevis pins’ for my bow sprit to be delivered but predictably they never came and so we decided to leave Faro on the evening tide on the 29th and make an overnight passage to Rota.
We said our farewells to Michael and Iva, our hosts and some-time boat keepers and slipped our mooring at 5.45 pm.
As we travelled down the Canal de Faro night fell and it was completely dark as we passed Cabo Santa Maria lighthouse, this time with the tide behind us. It was a clear and virtually cloudless, starry night and the forecast was good, so, when the radar decided not to work I decided to continue on our way. As there was little wind we motored and I took the first 3 hour watch up till midnight. I had Orion for company for most of the watch and then at about 11 the moon rose lighting our way. Mauro took the second watch till 3 in the morning and then John was on deck for the 3 to 6 watch when I surfaced again as we approached Rota.
With Valeria unable to leave the UK due to out building project, but our need to move Windependent into the Med, I returned to Faro with Mauro and John Margesson on the 26th January. Coincidentally, Michael and Iva were returning on the same flight and the photo of the Faro moorings is curtosy of Iva; Windependent isin the centre of the shot.
We arrived back on board in the afternoon and went shopping, had dinner ashore and then an early night,n the 26th and immediately went shopping. I had emptied the fridge when I left, but left it on; now I know the solar panels alone won’t support the fridge, so we’ll need to run the generator on longer passages. Good to know. We had dinner ashore then an early night.
This morning I went to finish our shopping, bottled water and toilet paper while John and Mauro visited the old town. I also borrowed Michael’s water cans and we took on 180 litres of fresh water; can’t run the water maker here as the water is not clean enough. So now all we are waiting for is three small pins I need to complete the modification to the bowsprit. Even though they were ordered last week, they won’t be here till tomorrow ….. So our departure may be delayed ……
The moorings outside Faro are all privately owned and as this is a nature reserve and the home of specially protected seahorses anchoring is prohibited. The river bed is soft mud and grass and wouldn’t be any good anyway. The area is completely flat and you can watch the sunrise and the sunset, to the accompaniment of jets landing at the airport. Other than that the moorings are quiet and secluded, idyllic.
The biggest ‘problem’ is the floating weed and grass in the water clogging the intake filters on sea water cooled equipment such as the engines and the generator. Not sure how the toilets will hold up because they take in sea water to flush. So one of my jobs was to close all the un necessary sea cocks and to pull the echo sounder / log head and replaced it with a blank. As this is underwater it was a rather damp process, but necessary so as to prevent it getting all clogged again. My jokes about a fish getting stuck in it on the way to Sao Martinho do Porto weren’t far from the truth.
I also rearranged our mooring lines, and started doing the laundry. I had run the watermaker for 4 hours on the passage down and made almost a full tank, I used just over half of it on the washing. With the washing in progress I went over to Michael’s boat and assisted him repairing the lines on his mooring. A diver had been engaged to clear the ground tackle which had become entangled in an abandoned fishing anchor and chain. With each turn of the tide the mooring lines had become progressively more wrapped around the old fishing anchor, shortening the mooring line significantly. The diver unwrapped the mooring chains from the fishing anchor and as watched from deck the diver’s bubbles got progressively further from us as he untangled possibly 20 meters of fouled ground tackle! We recovered the offending obstruction which was a 15 kilo lump of rusted, tangle chain and small anchor. Michael and I then pulled up the now freed swivel which joins the mooring rope, called a Riser, to the ground tackle up to the surface, replaced the old, badly worn riser with a new one and then lowered it back down to the sea bed. So with the big boy’s salty seamanship task completed I went back to my laundry!
With a new load in a then took Windy out for a spin to take some photos. I went over to the nearest sand bank, parked Windy and went for a short walk, very refreshing.
I returned, finished the washing and drying and then went to visit a neighbouring yachtsman who lives aboard his boat. We spent an hour swapping stories over a beer.
I then went over to Michael and Iva for a glass of wine at sunset before we went ashore for dinner to a Brazilian restaurant. The journey back was entertaining as it was pitch black; but Iva and Michael knew the route through the shallows like the back of their hands.
And so to bed, looking forward to an early start in the morning to bring Windy back up on board and close down the generator sea cocks before leaving and returning home.
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.
Sunday morning, the 11th, started wet and mild. We left Alcantara at 7.30 and stopped off at Doca de Belem for fuel. This is a standard fuel station for road vehicles, but which backs onto the marina fuel berth. We left there at 8.30 and then things started to go awry.
Firstly the wind, as usual was just exactly, teasingly, in the wrong position for us to sail south and not strong enough to make the hard work of tacking worth the while; so we motored again; arrggghhhh.
Leaving the Rio Teijo the sea was ‘confused’; I counted 3, possibly four swell and wave patterns which gave an unremittingly, irregular and uncomfortable motion and one by one our guests succumbed to sea sickness. By lunch time we had passed Cabo Espiche and decided to head for Sines rather than continue to Faro as Rafael, Filipa and Cynthia were all very poorly.
We got into Sines at just after 6 pm and Filipa and Rafael went ashore to a hotel before returning home; Cynthia stayed for the night but arranged her travel from Sines to Faro and a hotel overnight to await our arrival; she and Valeria were to catch the same afternoon flight home on Tuesday.
We took the obligatory crew photo before Rafael and Filipa left. Compare this photo with the one taken 24 hours earlier.
I was really gutted that our guests couldn’t make the whole trip with us. They had started the day eager for the challenge but at least they know now that sailing may not be their thing. Open invitations to come and stay with us when we are tied up in a Marina for a week or so somewhere; St Tropez sounded favourite!
Valeria and Cynthia made dinner and I sat down and re worked the courses from Sines to Faro, planning to arrive at sunrise on Tuesday; I didn’t fancy navigating the nature reserve at night. Unfortunately we would be arriving on a falling tide and battling it to get into the mooring but hopefully we’d be there by 9 or 10, giving Valeria time to get ashore, meet up with Cynthia and then catch their plane home. We needed to leave Sines by mid morning on Monday and would be doing another overnight passage.