12 April 2013 | Baiona
Peniche to ????
We woke in Peniche to the deep bass Boooom of the swell crashing onto the harbour walls. Overnight, the swell had grown larger and was perhaps 3-4 metres high. Long rollers, seemingly inocuous until the reach the shallow water where they build into fearsome breakers.
The original plan was to depart Peniche bright and early heading for Figueira da Foz.
Our German neighbours who have been following us up the coast for a few days beat us to it leaving ahead of us which was good as we could see the harbour exit was OK.
Once again we had a decent sail with the wind at 15 ish right behind us. Time Bandit sails well dead downwind, goosewinged and we made good time.
However, all through the day I had been thinking about the ever increasing swell and how it would affect the entry to Figuiera. The dominant wind on the Portuguese coast is northerly. Consequently, the Atlantic coast marinas and harbours in Portugal are open to the west and south. When there's a big swell, the harbours become "no-go" zones. Three years ago a British yacht was rolled in the surf trying to enter when conditions weren't right. Two died so our attention was held for our entry.
As we approached the harbour, the comers were building in height as they rushed shorewards, trailing a head of spume as the hit shallower water.
The German boat headed on in but we were a bit doubtful. In fact, very doubtful. The cones saying whether the entry was safe or not weren't visible as we made our approach so we called the harbour master who said "Harbour closed. Too dangerous".
Our concerns confirmed, we turned around and headed out for a night at sea.
Five minutes later as I glanced back I saw a parachute flare descending in the harbour area. There was no traffic on the radio so we called in a Mayday, somewhat concerned it was the German boat in trouble. We haven't seen or heard anything so hope they're ok. Sharpens the mind though.
A long wet, windy and wild night ensued. We had F6 -F8 all night, mostly accompanied by monsoon strength rain. The good news was we just battered along doing minimum 8knots, steady around 9 and hitting 10 at times. All GPS over the ground speed so genuinely fast. As opposed to our over reading boat speed log.
9am saw us tucked up in Baiona, Spain,now poised for a last hop up the coast or our dash across Biscay to somewhere on Southern Ireland.
Whose idea was this?