The forecast was the usual N F4-6 sea state moderate possibly rough in the south but as that seems the norm there seemed no reason to delay so Thursday it was for our final leg to the Algarve.
Wednesday evening and while walking round the marina staring at boats i was engaged in conversation by a wizened old fella from Wales who asked where were on passage to. By coincidence he was headed the same way and offered some advice that was to come in very useful, he told me that whatever the strength of the wind put in one more reef before rounding Cape St Vincent, advice noted.
Thursday morning at 4am, dark and windy but if we want to make Portimao by sunset (87 miles) we must go. As we left the marina and into the main harbour it was like daylight with the massive floodlights illuminating all the oil tankers unloading the liquid gold. Out into the open sea and one target on the AIS appeared to be moving and we quickly established that the green starboard light that was going to cross our bows was a 600ft cargo ship bound for Montreal, once he was clear we established our course and unfurled the genoa but with now only 10kts from astern we had to keep the engine running to assist the 5kts per hour required to reach Portimao before sunset.
After six hours the wind freshened and we were able to turn off Mr Volvo and still maintain our speed, eventually up to 6kts all the way to Cape St Vincent but with a 2m short sea we were unable to utilise the main sail and had to rely on Genoa alone. About 10 miles north of the Cape we had an unexpected escort by what we think were probably bottle nose dolphins, they were all around the boat performing a gymnastic display for a grateful audience.
As we rounded Cape St Vincent I recalled the old fellas words and at that time the wind dropped and the sea calmed down, I had half a mind at this point to head up the boat and raise the main for a bit more speed but we decided to give it ten minutes and boy are we glad we did. From 10kts almost instantly the wind was up to 27kts and it was as much as we could do to furl in some of the genoa and on our new course east along the south coast of Portugal with only half genoa we were away at 7 kts withe wind just behind the beam.
This was a stunning sail all the way to Lagos and until we were an hour from Portimao when we were stopped and boarded by the Portuguese Navy for a boat inspection, after spending an age checking boat and paperwork they decided we did not have the requisite numbers of flares on board as per Portuguese law and we would be reported and met by maritime police, a great end to the day.
The police officer we met was very pleasant and told us what additional flares we needed and explained that if we bought them on Friday and took them to the police station they would take photograph of them (I kid you not) and tell the Navy we now have them, this we did and hopefully if their motive is safety and not revenue generation we will escape the fine.
A grey day with drizzle and little wind. We slipped at 7am and catching an unexpected breeze on the starboard bow we set off close hauled making 5kts but it did not last and the majority of the passage was motor sailing. As we turned east on the final leg the wind piped up to 15kts and we enjoyed a pleasant sail with just the genoa but still making 5kts+
Cascais is the most expensive marina we have encountered so far but the facilities are excellent and at least the Wi-Fi works, we are just going to sit and enjoy the bottle of free wine the marina hand out to visitors.
We are now in Peniche with a day off today for good behaviour. We have had a good weeks sailing from Bayona to Vianna de Costello to Lexioes (Porto), where we got turned over by Portugese customs who came aboard and asked if they could bring a sniffer dog on board to check for drugs and explosives, the dog did not want to co-operate and had to be physically dragged onto the boat and to top it all he was in amulet and we had a boat covered in dog hair !!
And then on Friday to Figuera Da Foz.
And what an amazing Friday it was, are you sitting comfortably and then I will begin.
Once upon a time there we three girls Kaye, Sue and Pat who were at school together and when Kaye met Prince Charming Pat was a bridesmaid, Sue has been a good friend and kept contact with both Kaye and Pat but sadly Kaye and Pat had not seen each other in fifteen years.
Sue happened to mention to Pat that we were sailing to Portugal and by coincidence Pat and Stuart were also sailing on route to Gibraltar so it was a surprise yesterday to receive a text from Pat saying they were in Portugal and where were we?
So what chance that we are both heading for the same marina planning to be there within an hour of each other.
So a surprising reunion in a foreign port, a good evening was had and to Sue a big thank you.
Saturday morning saw us up and away for the 30 mile trip to Nazare. After a lot of motoring due to light winds the forecast looked optimistic but after an hour when the wind dropped to 3 kts the air was blue. On the basis that sunset was at about 9pm I was prepared to sail slowly but I wanted to sail. After trying every sail combination on the boat except for the confiscated cruising chute I begrudgingly turned to Mr Volvo.
After motoring for about 15 minutes I detected a slight breeze from the starboard quarter and we decided to give sailing another go so with first just the genoa the wind slowly built and boat speed increased to a point when we hoisted the main as well and we trundled along without the rolling and pitching from the Atlantic swell. Now with the wind just behind the beam with full main and genoa Ruby was off at 7.5kts and Nazare beckoned. Over the next three hours we bounded along and a change of destination, Peniche was a further 20 miles along the coast but when you get the "beast into full stride" and after an eternity of motoring we were not going to stop.
Arriving at Peniche at 6-30pm and a great days sailing to conclude a good week, just hope Kaye remembered to buy a lottery ticket.
After a short hop from Corme we had a night in Camarinas to prepare to round Finistere.
A grey day dawned that caused us to think hard about whether to go or not. The forecast was NE F5 - 6 , sea state moderate. We decided to poke our nose out and have a look. We got out of the marina and the conditions were not that bad so we pushed on. The wind increased to 20kts and was from 20 degrees each side of the stern and with NE wind and NW swell we decided the engine was the most comfortable option. As we approached Cap Finistere the sea heaped up and on the southerly horizon I could just make out another yacht coming towards us with full main and genoa which did nothing for my self esteem.
Within fifteen minutes it was as if somebody turned off the fan, the wind dropped to 12ks, veered onto the beam and the sea flattened. We then enjoyed a well earned beam reach to the Ria.
It is now easy to understand the fearsome reputation that is Cap Finistere.
Portosin is a welcome refuge , a sheltered harbour with helpful people to greet you. The town is a bit of a strange place, a fishing village that once had small town houses of traditional Spanish style. It seems to have undergone a transformation with what looks to be developers possibly buying the individual plots and sticking up 80s style apartment blocks so you have a small family house dwarfed by concrete blocks each side and most of the blocks closed up possibly indicating they are holiday homes.
Today it is raining with grey skies and a fresh wind so a day in the marina before hopefully pushing on to Pedras Negras tomorrow.
La Coruna is a lovely city but after an extra four days due to high winds we were pleased to be pushing on. Next leg was to Corme and on a forecast of 5 - 6 we elected to start early, so did a good few other boats and we had a great sail to our overnight anchorage. The pilot book boasts good shelter from NE winds, we must have been in different Corme, the NE wind funnelled through at 15 - 20 kts and when we awoke on Saturday it was already gusting to 20kts.
We decided to carry on towards Finistere but with a fairly rough sea and less than perfect forecast we diverted to Camarinas to give us a shorter passage on Sunday to round the Cape and the marina at Portosin.
Our plan was to anchor overnight at Cedeira and then push on to La Coruna at a leisurely pace on Sunday however a look at the local forecast for Sunday was now giving Thunderstorms in the afternoon and rough seas in thundersqualls so we decided to start as soon as daylight appeared.
A clear sky with little wind meant we again had to use the motor but as the breeze picked up a little we were able to sail for brief periods.
We got into La Coruna at lunch time with clear skies and blazing hot sun, within the hour the clouds had built and we could hear the thunder and that was it, rain thunder and lightening that continued until this morning.
The forecast for the next few days is suggesting stronger winds so we may well stay put and wait for a suitable forecast to round Finistere.