Barracuda's Blog

The adventures of Kate and Graham and our OVNI 395.

21 October 2017 | About 90 miles west of Morocco
20 October 2017 | 130 miles NW of Casablanca
19 October 2017 | Off Vilamoura, Portugal
17 October 2017 | Ria Formosa, Faro, Portugal
15 October 2017 | Rio Formosa, Faro, Portugal
14 October 2017 | Faro, Portugal
12 October 2017 | Vilamoura
11 October 2017 | Vilamoura
06 October 2017 | Vilamoura, Algarve, Portugal
05 October 2017 | Lagos, Portugal
03 October 2017 | Lagos, Portugal
02 October 2017 | Lagos(h) Marina, Portugal
01 October 2017 | Lagos Marina, Portugal
30 September 2017 | Sines
28 September 2017 | Sines, Portugal
26 September 2017 | Tagus Yacht Centre, Portugal
24 September 2017 | Seixal, Portugal
22 September 2017 | SIntra, Portugal
20 September 2017 | Lisbon, Portugal
19 September 2017 | Oeiras, Portugal

Finding our sea legs and stretching Barracuda's

21 October 2017 | About 90 miles west of Morocco
Barracuda and crew are now settling down into this passage. The wind finally came back yesterday so we tried the ParaSailor for a while. There was only just enough wind to fly it and with the large ocean swell running under us it became a bit unstable so discretion prevailed, and the ParaSailor came down to be replaced with a goose wing / wing on wing / donkey’s ears (whatever you call it) set up. Knowing the wind was due to increase later and to give us some operational wiggle room overnight we put 2 reefs in the main and one in the genoa. We can roll the genoa in and out so this gives us a lot of range in the amount of sail we have out for minimal effort to change, which is good at night and if crew are tired. We then engaged good old Mr Windy P, the wind driven self steering gear, and have been running without changing a thing for over 12 hours, with Barracuda sailing herself down wind controlled by the wind. It has been good to practice different sail configurations for the Atlantic crossing which is basically a long downwind leg interrupted by line squalls. Tried fishing again yesterday but once again the difference between fishing and catching was clearly explained to us. A fine non-fishy supper of chicken risotto was prepared last night by Bibi just before sunset. Starting to settle into our watch keeping rota. We are doing 3 hours on - 3 hours off between sun set and sun rise, with a girls' watch and a boys’ watch at this stage. A really balmy night last night, with just a couple of tankers to avoid; sea temperature is 24 degrees and water is very blue. On day one you never sleep very well and by end of day 2 you sleep like a log as the body adapts. At the time of this blog, 264 miles behind us and about 300 to go.

The day fishing turned to catching

20 October 2017 | 130 miles NW of Casablanca
Underway bound for the Canary Islands. An eventful first day of passage. 138 miles behind us - 415 ahead of us. Crew settling in and finding their sea legs. Caught our first fish but had to catch and release as we could not identify it. Note to self - must buy fish identification chart. Great dolphin show just before sunset to welcome Steve and Bibi onboard. And then the joy of seeing our first flying fish. Wind dropped over night so have been motoring for a while but wind is due to come back later today.

Heading South - and then there were four

19 October 2017 | Off Vilamoura, Portugal
A quick post here as we head for the Canaries. We now have Steve and Bibi on board. Great to have them back on Barracuda. We had a couple of nights in Vilamoura to complete a little work on the boat and provision before heading off. Blog posts for the next few days will be text only with pictures to follow. Last night's social included Sundowners with Stuart and Tom from Wickerbush and a trip to the Tai Tai.

Spinning around in the Ria

17 October 2017 | Ria Formosa, Faro, Portugal
The anchorage we have chosen here off Faro turns out to be really odd. We were told about some of this before we came, but it is amazing to experience it first-hand. As the water drains off the Rio Formosa into the estuary it channels across the marshes down streams and creeks towards the main drag, which in turn drains into the sea through narrow coastal entrances. This causes eddies and swirls and cross-currents all over the place, and we left our first anchorage because Barracuda hated having the wind, the tide and the cross-tide all pushing her in different directions. There were six boats in the second anchorage and most of the time we would all be pointing in difference directions and rotating in different ways., including full 360 degree spins at times. Add 20 kt winds to that and it’s quite unsettling. However, the wind does still drop in the evenings, so it was a calm night. We had visitors from a neighbouring Belgian yacht, bringing wine, so after a social evening we had a store-cupboard supper of Thai curried eggs and so to bed.

This morning saw the first rain we’ve had for a month – just for five minutes, but it means it’s time to go south. Bibi arrives today and husband Steve, who is currently storm-bound in Belfast, will follow tomorrow, fingers crossed. Then we will pick our window for jumping off towards the Canaries.

Loving the Rio Formosa

15 October 2017 | Rio Formosa, Faro, Portugal
Yesterday we fulfilled one of our main objectives of coming to Faro – to meet up with Tim and Oonagh. G was best man at their wedding and is godfather to their son, Rupert. Oonagh is Duncan’s (G’s son) godmother. G and Tim lived very close to each other in Hammersmith many years ago and used to slip out for a nightly pint on the odd occasion. As mentioned in yesterday’s blog, T&O hosted G&K on our first holiday together in Gibraltar while we were doing sailing courses and exams. So lots of catching up to do on many fronts.

Faro old town has been a lovely surprise. For some reason we were not really tuned into what to expect – it is a lovely and traditional place to visit. We dinghied into the 'marina' this morning: the entrance is under the railway line, which has just a metre clearance at high water. We had to duck.

We are also loving being anchored out in the Rio Formosa, especially when the tide goes out and the mud/sand banks appear. Lots of wetland birds to twitch at, but quite strange and swirly tides so that every boat is facing in a different direction a lot of the time.

We had an afternoon without agenda today so we enjoyed a few hours of rearranging the boat, cutting and binding new mooring lines and fender lines and Kate made her first soft shackle
from dyneema – G very impressed.

On the Road Again – Briefly

14 October 2017 | Faro, Portugal
The blog has been a bit sporadic recently as we have actually been very busy in Vilamoura, visiting the Algarve. Mum W came down from Scotland for a visit - it was lovely to see her. She has had many years of visiting the Algarve so was very happy to be back, as well as taking a break from the dreich Scottish autumn weather. We were also very happy to avail ourselves of her hotel pool and surroundings for some lovely chill time. She flew home yesterday and so now we are on our own - but not for long. After dropping her at the airport we nipped up to Lagos in the hire car to pick up the eight big spare fuel cans we had ordered from the marina chandlery there, and to spend a happy hour in the specialist fishing shop. A trip that takes all day in the boat is covered in an hour in the car.

We left Vilamoura this morning for a short motor down the coast to Faro. To reach the anchorage at Faro you need to come up through the winding narrow channel of the Ria Formosa – it’s a bit like Chichester Harbour with lots of hidden, shifting sandbanks and strong tides. Ah, the joys of shallow draft freedom. We are currently anchored off Faro town waiting to see just how easy it will be to get ashore in the dinghy.

We have come here to meet Tim and Oonagh – friends from G’s London days and also our hosts when we visited Gibraltar on our first holiday together in 2004, which does not really seem all that long ago.

We also plan to pick up Steve and Bibi here when they fly in to Faro next week to join us for the trip to the Canaries and then the ARC itself. We are currently watching the weather carefully as we try to pick a suitable window for the 550-mile crossing to the Canaries. It is being made a bit complicated by the long distance weather effects of Hurricane Ophelia.

Totting up the Teabags

12 October 2017 | Vilamoura
Not much to report from Vilamoura, apart from the arrival of the entire Macdonalds community for their AGM at the Tivoli yesterday – the marina was throbbing into the early hours to the sounds of the ‘80s from the 19th Hole Bar and Grill. Is This the Way to Amarillo? Nope, not according to my GPS. And if they say they will walk 500 miles, why don’t they? No match though for our new Caframo cabin fans, which do a great job of both cooling and noise-reducing.

We've had a couple of day-trips, including going into the hills to Lule and Estoi. The picture is from the old palace at Estoi - now a hotel, which encourages visitors into the old palace and gardens. I liked the expression on the fish's face.

The spreadsheet has been working out our boat statistics to date, so here they are:

Days away: 73
Days sailing: 25
Distance covered: 1,508 miles
Hours under engine: 129.6
Fuel usage: 325 litres
Top recorded windspeed: 36.6 kts
Top boat speed: 9 kts
Teabags consumed: 375 (420 budgeted so yay!)

We are now planning a small weekend jaunt along the coast, and are also looking forward to the arrival of Steve and Bibi next week. Then, as soon as the weather looks promising, we will be heading over to the Canary Islands – a tad over 500 miles, with a budget of 84 teabags.

Food, glorious food (1)

11 October 2017 | Vilamoura
As we are staying put here in Vilamoura for a few days, this log is about food rather than travel.

Things we have really enjoyed here in Portugal have included the cakes. In particular, the famous Pastel de Nata – Portuguese custard tarts – which at their finest are mouthfuls of creamy, crispy heaven, and at the worst – well - just aren’t. There’s also a muffin-sized cheese cake thing called Queijadas, found in Lisbon and never seen since. And the almond pillows – well, the list goes on and on.

Then there is bacalhao, the dried salted cod. I asked what the Portuguese word for fresh cod was and was answered with bemusement – no such thing; why would you eat it if it’s not salted? And apparently it all comes from Norway now, as the Atlantic is nearly fished out. Our first experience of it here was bacalhao con nata, which is basically salt cod flaked into a béchamel sauce – absolutely delicious, a sort of Portuguese fish pie without the potato. There’s also a dish (bacalhao a bras) made of flaked bacalhao, fried onions and fried matchstick potatoes which is fabulous but rich (nb the words ‘fried’) and constitutes a week’s calorie allowance. I also had grilled bacalhao steak the other night – good, but still salty enough to need an awful lot of wine to wash it down. I’m toying with the idea of bringing dried salt cod on the crossing, as it could add useful variety and should keep a fair while; a Portuguese neighbour has given me instruction on preparing it, but says it needs to be double and triple wrapped as it smells… Anyone have any experience of this?

Talking of salty things: tremocos are lupini beans, cooked and then preserved in salt water. They taste a bit like salty boiled peanuts, and you have to pop off the tough outer skin before eating. Completely addictive as a snack with beer. I experimented making these once in Abu Dhabi, but these are so much better. A bowl of those followed by a dish of cod, and you wake up gasping for water.

Talking of salt AND water brings me to the watermaker – Graham’s de-salination plant, installed under our bunk. In theory it will make turn 20 litres of salt water into fresh per hour; in practice, it’s a fair bit less, but still a major part of our planning for the crossing as we’d like to be replacing our daily intake regularly. It does have a slightly saline taste, but Muscat has accustomed us to that, and a squeeze of lemon makes all the difference as well as fighting off scurvy among the crew. We hope to have its post-installation service done in the Algarve, to sort out a few small glitches.

To be continued.

Anchored in the Algarve

06 October 2017 | Vilamoura, Algarve, Portugal
We left Lagos on Thursday on a journey so short we didn't even bother removing the warps and fenders - just two miles up the coast to the little inlet that is Alvor. The channel to the village is quite shallow and winding - so perfect for Barracuda - and very popular with local boats or passage-makers as a lunchtime anchorage. As the afternoon progressed and the tide fell, the main pool got empty and quiet. G had a swim, and as usual K dipped in a toe and declined. There was another OVNI 395 in the anchorage, owned by a Norwegian couple we'd met in Lagos. They paddled over in their dinghy with a bottle of wine which we shared sitting under the stars as the full moon rose sharing voyage plans and stories; it is so nice to be able to sit out of doors in shorts and t-shirts at night again. Sorry, Argyll!

We are heading now for Vilamoura for various reasons - family and technical. There wasn't enough water to leave Alvor until noon, but it's only 30 miles down the coast so no real hardship to have a lie-in and another swim in lovely warm water. BTW the water temperature has really increased since we came round the corner at Cape St Vincent. Not a breath of wind, so motored to Vilamoura along the coast. The coastline is either long lovely beaches big sandstone cliff with caves - interspersed with towns, villas and apartments. Generally, the Algarve wind doesn't get up until mid- to late afternoon - just in time to make boat parking interesting. Oh well. Maybe we'll catch a fish? (Ed - no we didn't)

We plan to stay in Vilamoura for about a week, so our blogs will be largely shore-based for the next week.

View from the top

05 October 2017 | Lagos, Portugal
Still hanging out in Lagos, but we will leave soon to head for Vilamoura.

It is a lovely thing when you sail into somewhere completely new and in fact you know loads of people. There is plenty of social interaction with many of the peeps we have met on our way south and new acquaintances made all the time.

Most of the 'crossers' are starting to think about their crossing plans and when to move - some to the Azores or Madeira, some to the Canaries or Cape Verde for their jumping off point. We have a big new Swedish boat alongside who are also doing the ARC. They leave here tomorrow but we will meet them again in the Canaries. It is about 5-6 days from Lagos to the Canary Islands. Steve and Bibi now have their arrival on Barracuda planned and we are expecting to cross towards the end of October.

Yesterday was spent mostly on boat chores. First a trip up to the top of the mast to check things out - thanks to Jack from Iroquois for winching support. Then the marine toilet needed a good overhaul - oh the glamour of it. The maintenance needs of the boat increase when you live aboard full time.

Rounded out the afternoon with a swim (or in Kate's case a read on the lounger) at the marina pool (a bit cold if I may say) which we get into for free as we are doing the ARC.

Then a walk into to old Lagos for dinner - interesting and lively - watched a couple of young musicians perform a mini concert in the square after dinner - they had a pretty good audience.
Vessel Name: Barracuda
Vessel Make/Model: OVNI 395
Hailing Port: Argyll
Crew: Graham and Kate
About: Learning as we go....
Extra: Look to this day for it is life...
Barracuda's Photos - Main
81 Photos
Created 30 April 2016
60 Photos
Created 16 September 2015
a pre-retirement holiday
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some shots from our lovely trip around the Aegean with Ailie
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2 great weeks with Steve and Bibi Rainey.
11 Photos
Created 18 July 2014
A long weekend with Catherine and David.
4 Photos
Created 18 July 2014
4 Photos
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14 Photos
Created 18 July 2014
Barracuda, K & G head south to a new home.
14 Photos
Created 18 July 2014
Barracuda does the Western Isles of Scotland.
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Created 18 July 2014
Kate and Graham Chillin'
7 Photos
Created 18 July 2014