Revised: 28 March 2012
"Spearhead" News - the cruise's first stage
|From - to logs 9/10/06 - 28/5/07|
|The Channel and Biscay|
|Solent - mid Channel||Fright-in-the-night||Ushant - Camariñas|
|Camariñas - Bayona||Bayona - Cascais||Cascais - Lagos|
|Lagos - Albufeira - Faro||at Faro||Faro - Vilamoura|
|Vilamoura - La Graciosa||La Graciosa - Puerto Calero||Puerto Calero - Marina Rubicon|
|Marina Rubicon - Corralejo||Corralejo - Puerto del Castillo||Puerto del Castillo - Gran Tarajal|
|Gran Tarajal - Morro Jablé|
|Morro Jablé - Las Palmas||at Las Palmas||and back to Lanzarote|
|Heading back north|
|La Graciosa again||Caleta del Sebo - Porto Santo||Porto Santo - Faro again|
The start 9th-10th October 2006 - Data
A fright in the night 11th October 2006
Ushant - Camariñas 12th - 15th October 2006
Bayona - Cascais 26th - 28th October 2006 - Data|
The next leg started while the Spanish National Match-racing Championship was in progress and although there was a reasonable, if shifty, breeze in the bay, there proved to be insufficient to progress in the open Atlantic. After 6 hours I had to choose between going back in or motoring until we came to a reasonable breeze and I chose the latter. We found the wind after about 5 hours, by which time we were off Portugal. We had taken a course for Cabo Carvoeiro (Peniche) and just kept going down this, while the wind miraculously put us on a broad reach. After 2 nights we were approaching Peniche (and just past Nazaré) with the breeze increasing to the point where I was considering shortening sail, but it then failed almost completely and we finally ended, as we had started, motoring in for about 4 hours to finish at Cascais. Altogether a rather disgraceful performance, but it did get us in just before midnight.
Cascais - Lagos 1st - 3rd November 2006 - Data
At Cascais the problem with the weather was the reverse, that the forecasters could only see one window of wind, 3 or 4 days away, and it was on the nose.
So I gave up on the original intention of making Lanzarote before 9th November and sought a flight home from Faro instead. It turned out that the only one to Scotland was on 8th
November (at the agreeable price of €77) to Glasgow, so I seized on that. Since it was by then 1st November, we had to keep moving and we (& the F37) set forth with replenished tanks
on a flat sea. After Cabo Espichel, lo and behold, some wind did appear - right on the nose of course, and we enjoyed an 84 -mile beat to Cabo Sao Vicente. I was very glad of the
Hydrovane, which allowed me to dodge most of the showers. And the reach in to Lagos passed pleasantly rapidly. Although I do tend to get sick in the early stages of longer passages,
I'm glad to report that (so far!) this hasn't happened on Spearhead - so perhaps the motion is better or slower, or something. But then I have to cook and, on this leg, it became quite
a problem as the cooker kept hitting the bump stops - probably I should reef down a bit first.|
Lagos - Faro 5th - 6th November 2006 - Data
In Lagos much of the time was taken up with asking round about costs and locations for parking while I went home. The person with the most authoritative answers proved to be a Belgian and he put me onto Faro itself - I had previously thought Olhao the likeliest spot. I went there at 2 minutes' notice by bus to check up, but arrived too late (it being a Saturday afternoon) to glean much except where the yard was, and the combination of the gate lock! On the Sunday the weather was perfect with a moderate southerly breeze and I left for Albufeira, while the F37 was just going to clear itself from the EU at Portimao.
By the time I arrived at my destination, the wind had backed and freshened and the "big" light and port pierhead
lights were nowhere to be seen, and the wind was blowing straight into what was probably, but not certainly, the entrance, so things were a bit fraught..... However I persisted,
doublechecked and motored in cautiously and the red light came on once I was inside! Then it was too rough at the reception pontoon (and no light in the office anyway), so I found myself
a berth inside behind a promontory and went to seek food. There were only two let restaurants/bars in the whole boarded-up development and the food wasn't brilliant despite me being the
only customer. Then there was the security gate to get round, and in the morning 90 minutes of torrential thunderstorm and when I waded in full oilies to the office they charged me €18 for
the pleasure, so you will gather that it is unlikely ever to be my favourite place.|
Albufeira that was! To compound matters, the wind was still blowing straight in the entrance at Force 5 and I had just 4 hours to catch HW at the entrance to Faro some 20 miles away, so we motored the whole way, delivery trip style and quite the hardest work the Yanmar has been called upon to do so far. At the entrance a big wave caught us and the autopilot (we have both) broke its teak mounting block, but inside all was calm and orderly and we followed the buoys up to the town, where I tried to find a spot to anchor beside some moorings, only to go aground, softly, twice. So I borrowed a mooring and 'phoned the boatyard and all went well thenceforth.
We were fitted into quite a busy schedule with the boatlift at high tide on Tuesday
and I had sufficient time for a wipe-down below and check on the sterngear that evening, before flying home on Wednesday morning (8th November). Within their tidal constraints the yard
(Nave Pegos or Bruce's Boatyard) seem very efficient, adaptable and polyglot - and they have ambitions for expansion with a dredger they are doing up beside the boatlift. Apart from the
minimum of paperwork they positively do not keep keys, so security should be good. We'll see when I get back - provisionally scheduled for about 10th January. There must be about 50
cruisers in the yard, some live-aboard, but since it is based on a derelict industrial site, facilities tend to be simple to primitive, albeit in working order.|
At Faro 10th - 30th January 2007
I returned to Spearhead as scheduled on 10th January and found all in good order and the weather quite clement. In my luggage I brought a "boat" laptop computer with WiFi and will be taking it with us in the hope that I will be able to maintain this website as I go, and a lot more easily than on my last trip this way aboard Spring Run, when it all had to be done through internet cafés or libraries. Since then I've also got a digital camera, and hope to be in a position to use it when something interesting arises. I was intending to touch up the bits of keel where rust is coming through, then sail for the Canaries, but first set about rebedding the main windows in hope of curing minor but annoying leaks, particularly in the traditional position over my bunk! I had hardly started on this when I found that the Perspex sheet had cracked right across, so a complete replacement was now necessary. Honestly, sir, I'd hardly touched it and certainly didn't hear anything splitting! This seemed to be a reasonable, if unforeseen, opportunity to replace it with the "proper", dark-smoked sheet as fitted originally by Butlers to these boats so, as soon as I had it off, I sought out the local supplier with the pieces tucked underneath me arm. To cut a long story short, daily promises of "4 o'clock tomorrow" slid back to "4 o'clock Friday" and then it transpired that it would very probably take at least a month (they only make it big enough in Germany) but I could have it in clear at 10 o'clock tomorrow. No prizes are offered for guessing which offer I took - but it had taken from the 11th to the 20th before I got the replacement finally in my hands.
Meanwhile of course I had to cover up the holes to keep the weather out, and otherwise prepare the cabin side to take it, then get on with the other jobs, such as
rubbing down the keel, undercoating, filling, rubbing down again, more undercoating and finally antifouling to match the rest of the hull. Then there's been some re-stowing, electrical
improvement, and the opposite side window to make to match the new one.... Former acquaintances of the boat will note that the rich purple windows are now a thing of the past, because
the surrounds to the actual cut-outs inside the Perspex are now all black, so that from a small distance, hopefully, it all looks like the dark glass originally intended. As of Friday, 26th
January, we were booked for relaunching this morning, but another boat (launched only yesterday) somehow in this marshy and muddy lagoon managed to hit a rock and returned to the
boatlift with a displaced keel and corresponding severe leak, so we can't be done now till Monday. The weather, meanwhile, although remaining mostly bright, has taken a turn for the
cooler, with decidedly chilly starlit nights - almost freezing. I'd rather be out on the warmer water than perched in the yard any longer.|
A little pictorial treatise on storks, which I rather like - nice, tidy, serious birds - and it seems they rather like us humans!
|Once launched and straightened out, present intentions are to head for the Canaries again; we may go to Las Palmas first and "do" the western islands first before returning to Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, where I'm to meet Norwegian friends in late March. Then back towards Gibraltar and the Mediterranean. Come April or May, I guess I'll have to go home for a month to sort out house and garden, but at this stage I doubt if I'll be launching Spring Run for the summer. See how we go - I might not like the Med! I gather it gets rather crowded in the high season anyway.|
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Faro - Vilamoura 30th January 2007 - Data|
Spearhead was re-launched on Monday, 29th January in pleasant conditions and led out to the moorings off the town by Bruce in his launch, followed by the rockbanger (now repaired) and then we came third. Due to my not having enough folding cash money, it was necessary to stay there, row ashore and get some more from a hole-in-the-wall, then return to the yard to pay Bruce, but he had disappeared in search of something for his new super boatlift. So I returned aboard and spent the rest of the day and 2 hours the following morning sewing a padding line to the luff of the genoa by hand. Having completed that, the genoa was set up on its foil on the forestay, and then we waited for Bruce, expected at high tide about lunchtime. But he didn't appear so it became necessary to go in search of him before the tide fell too far... We just made it back to the yard and back out to the moorings with Spearhead's keel ploughing the occasional furrow in the unseen mud below the surface, then I stuck the dinghy on the foredeck, hoisted the main, and continued motoring down the river to the sea, the sea at last!
There, having dodged the worst of the overfalls outside the entrance, we set full sail and headed west for Vilamoura. This was because that is where the nearest Yanmar agent is, and the
new engine was rapidly approaching 50 hours' running time when, to maintain its guarantee, it has to be checked-over and serviced. Also, having failed to get the WiFi in the laptop to work
in Faro, I wanted to try somewhere a bit more with-it. Returning to the sail here, all did not go very well because, with about nine miles to go, the weather played up with a front of thundery
showers and a veering wind, which did something extraordinary and managed to catch the Hydrovane off-guard for the first time ever, then I went to the heads and got (slightly) seasick, and
finally the GPS, although it was receiving lots of satellite signals, began to fail to calculate the resulting fixes.
I decided that this voyage should be terminated before anything worse went wrong and we motored-in for another hour, finally arriving in the dark at 8.48 pm, so we spent the night on the
reception pontoon. Today, Wednesday, the engineering part has been successfully completed and the WiFi problem is beginning to be cracked (although I still can't send eMails), and
perhaps tomorrow the GPS situation will be in hand too. At least, tonight, we are plugged into luxurious mains electricity and can indulge in lots of lights and computer charging aboard! The
nearest point of Lanzarote is now only 541 nautical miles away on a bearing of 211° - perhaps we'll get there yet.
It's just 5 years almost to the day since I was here last aboard Spring Run and I wrote it up in that log
at the time.
Since then Caleta has doubled in size again (but lost the bank at least temporarily) but does now boast a proper Internet café. The Land-Rover population has doubled. The rest of the island
seems totally unchanged and still very attractive. The mooring dues, due to the lack of laid-on amenities like electricity and water, must be the cheapest around (it's less than €4 per day for us)
and, if I didn't have other things in mind, the temptation to stay long-term like Peter is immense. However, I must make a move fairly soon........
Puerto Calero - Marina Rubicon 25th February 2007 - Data
Morro Jablé - Las Palmas, Gran Canaria 6/7th March 2007 - Data
Las Palmas is a very pleasant city, if one overlooks the eight-lane urban motorway that runs right along the waterside and the docks on the seaward side, where they load containers 168 hours per week onto an everchanging selection of ships. The marina is well sheltered but it's a long walk round to the new Reception office in all this heat! Fortunately the Bar is only a third of that distance. The town, too, is remarkably strung out from the old part (Triana) with the Cathedral and other ancient buildings in the south to the "New Town" area, where all the big stores are, on the isthmus of La Isleta to the north, a distance of about 2½ miles. Wheels would be a definite help. There's steep hills at the back in the south and a variety of skyscrapers and gardens. On the other side of the isthmus is the beach of Las Canteras, which is heavily used daily and remarkable for the Barra reef which runs parallel to it about a cable offshore. It is just nicely covered at high tide and of course takes all the swell off.
I took the direct bus to Maspalomas Lighthouse on Friday 9th and "did" the dunes in near gale conditions. It was strange to find that the sand was comfortable to walk on in bare feet in the
open but, once in shelter from the colonising bushes further inland, it got too hot from not being drifted about. The following Wednesday I set off aboard the same bus, with the intention of
getting further round the island, but found on arrival at the "Faro" terminus that the connection was not good and the return likely to be even worse. So I went back to the dunes and had my
camera pinched by a sneak thief while I was dumping some rubbish, to cut a long and rather boring story to the basics. I have reported the theft to the Policia Nacional here in Las Palmas but
doubt very much if they will do anything about it... except add it to the statistics to show how necessary the Police are! So I have today (20th) bought another, similar camera - a cruise without
picture back-up is not to be contemplated - and at least it was not quite as painful financially as it would have been at home, being much the same price in € as its predecessor had been in £.
So normal service is resumed, and I'm trying to get caught up with inserting pictures where available into the text above - some are already in and I hope you noticed!|
Next voyage, probably starting in the next 3-4 days, will be back to Lanzarote to meet old friends Ulf and Björg from Norway.
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Back to Marina Rubicon, Lanzarote 24/25th March 2007 - Data|
This was a fine piece of opportunism and weather forecasting and it arrived at just the right time! I spotted that the wind should be backing to something west of north for two or three days, beginning on Friday night, so arranged clearance from Las Palmas on Saturday. There was a slight party aboard Steel Dreamin' on the Friday evening, at which yours truly consumed a fair quantity of Castillo de Liria (Rioja) followed by some Malvasia semi-dulce (Lanzarote), and consequently had a sore head to remember it by the following morning. Taking it gently and going when ready meant that we cast off at 1203. We motored up the harbour a bit to try to calibrate the log, which has been grossly under-reading throughout the voyage so far and which I had at last got the proper settings for during our sojourn here, then set sail - as it was blowing quite a brisk Force 4, I had put the working jib back on the roller, but managed to carry the full main with it. Our course was 062° for 95.2 nautical miles and I was pleased to find that we could sail well above that and at more than 5½ knots, because normally this is expected to be a beat against a Force 5 wind and the Canaries current, and so might well last for a good two days. Las Palmas soon began to fade into quite a strong haze and by 1700 Gran Canaria was no longer distinguishable. Probably because I had little to do except think about it, I had already been sea-sick by then, so this turned into a Cream Crackers and water crossing. There was quite a succession of ships about, but they all respected my Sea-Me responder, and only one was actually on a collision course when first spotted and he turned to starboard when something like 2 miles away. Sad to say there were no dolphins or whales to be seen this time. In due course it got dark, and the wind veered and eased somewhat, so it wasn't so easy to hold the course, which slowed us slightly. There were a fair number of clouds about to make star spotting just a bit difficult, but at least it didn't rain! By dawn we were slightly below our course but plugging not too badly up the west side of Fuerteventura and the sun rose actually over El Cotillo, the only bit of this coast that I can recognise. We then had to tack once each way to get round the shoals of Punta Toston (which run an unusually long way out with big breakers on them), and then we were able to ease off a bit, with Playa Blanca well in sight, and head for "home". We were actually dropping sail in the entrance to the marina at 1203, which made the total trip exactly 23 hours after allowing for the vernal overnight resetting of clocks. Getting into a berth took a while because there was a regatta going on inside the marina - of radio-controlled model yachts, each with a full suit of jib, staysail, main and topsail set, with a bowsprit and going like the proverbial clappers, so I didn't feel like mixing it! Notwithstanding this, I did get in eventually and am booked in for a fortnight, have regained my bike, etc.
Today (Tuesday, 27th March) I met up with Ulf and Björg and we went for a very short sail. Not only are they old friends in the sense of long-standing... and neither of them had ever been in any form of sailing boat before, but it was blowing briskly (and none too warmly) out of the north, so we contented ourselves with a reach under working jib only to anchor off our favourite beach at Papagayo, where we partook of the lunch they had brought and in due course retrieved the anchor and sailed back under working jib only without needing to tack, and so into the marina - grand total: about 4 miles. And what did they bring to wash down the luncheon? Castillo de Liria! I'm still delirious.....
April 9th 2007 - Easter Monday
I've been much enjoying a beach fortnight here but the time has come to move on and I did expect to leave for La Graciosa tomorrow w.p. The port side window pane that came with the boat developed the start of a crack across some time ago, which was worrying, and then overnight last Thursday/Friday two more splits appeared in different places, which is worse! Have decided to head back to Faro (Algarve) again for the replacement, having now got the contact there, and then see what transpires. Am taping the Perspex to minimise the drips. Meanwhile, here's a few pics taken today around Marina Rubicon..........
Have just spent a frustrating afternoon trying to get the rear brake cable for my mountain bike replaced after the nipple pulled out at the handlebar end. It looks like my move to Caleta del Sebo will have to be postponed by a further 24 hours. Pity, because the wind is forecast to be just right for the job tomorrow, Tuesday.
Marina Rubicon to Caleta del Sebo Wednesday, 11th April 2007 - Data|
Got away at last, bike safely parked, at 1046. Set the genoa alone to take us down to Punta Papagayo then, coming more onto the wind, hoisted nearly the full main - it was blowing about Force 4 from the NW. We were able to carry this tack comfortably up past Arrecife and Costa Teguise but at the next headland, Cabo Ancona, the wind veered a bit to head us, as forecast, and despite best efforts we had to allow ourselves to be chiselled away from the coast bit by bit thereafter. Just stuck with the long port tack until we were nearer Roque del Este than the mainland, then put in a couple of short hitches to arrive at our turning point, Punta Fariones, whence it was an easy reach to Caleta. Took the main down first, then the genoa as we arrived at the breakwater-head and so had only a few minutes of engine work while I selected a berth and manoeuvred into it. While I was still trying to find something to attach the mid-ships rope to, the guardian appeared and demanded to know the name of the boat - I pointed out that it was written on either bow, she flashed her torch and wrote it down, then disappeared into the darkness - it was by then 2246, so the trip had taken exactly 12 hours.
17th April 2007
Since then I have found a fourth crack in the port perspex..... Little items are being maintained, like the cooker burners (they were beginning to make soot) and table top (revarnishing) and I have also acquired a larger solar panel as a souvenir of the place. Details of this lengthy process are withheld pro tempore! On Friday 13th, to celebrate Mother's centenary, I climbed one of the more remarkable volcanoes on the island, Montaña Mojón, and took some pics there as well as elsewhere. A selection will be appended, when I've the time and electricity to process them.
18th April 2007
Window crack score now up to five! Latest appeared while I was away in the Internet "café" - I'm almost afraid to go there again to send this. Was hoping to sail for Faro tomorrow, but the forecast has changed back to northerlies.
Caleta del Sebo to Porto Santo 11-15th May 2007 - Data|
Nick & Kathy had left for Madeira on Tuesday, 8th and I had been all psyched up and stored up to leave for Faro that day too. However, the weather did something totally unpredicted a few minutes before departure time - it switched from easterly, sunny, warm and dusty, to N or NE, cloudy, cool and Force 5 again! Since my course was 030°, this certainly didn't suit me although those aboard Fairwinds, heading NW, decided after further checks to live with it, and went anyway. For me, it was back to waiting again, and seeing much of the forecast spell of easterly wind dissipated. One thing I had learned on Tuesday, however, was that, when taking off the genoa (in harbour) in a hurry, do not cast off the halliard before unfurling the sail.... I did this without thinking and in a very few seconds had the most monstrous wrap at the top of the forestay, positively Jurassic! There was nothing for it but to use my new tackle to hoist myself up to the masthead where, fortunately, it proved possible to unwind it without needing to undo anything, while Nick stood by with a safety line just in case. The idea had been to set up the working jib again, but as it was that was delayed until the Friday. Meantime, it was found that the genoa was needing more stitching replaced, so the time wasn't entirely lost. And hearing the wind that night, rising to a howl instead of dropping, made me glad to still be tucked up safely in harbour (poor Fairwinds!).
By Friday I was coming around to the opinion that Caleta del Sebo is in its own particular wind Acceleration Zone, and perhaps there was some easily found Moderation once out of the Estrecho. So, despite far from ideal forecast conditions, I went anyway. As usual, it seemed to take most of the day to actually get under way, motor on and warps off at 1710. Without even getting out of the Estrecho, the wind went all coy and it took all night to get off the local chart at a point north of Alegranza. At least it was a gentle start to break me in after a month of landlocked decadence! Saturday wasn't much better from the point of view of progress - in the whole day we only managed to reduce the distance to go by a paltry 36 miles, despite sailing 71.7 through the water. On Sunday, we began to get the occasional splash on deck and actually saw two ships - the SeaMe had been indicating copious radar action ever since we cleared the land, without anything appearing within visual range; perhaps the radars on the Peñas del Chache, the highest point of Lanzarote, were responsible, but now even they would be getting out of range. The second ship appeared just as I was thinking of changing tack to starboard, so I postponed it a little, then tacked to pass close astern. However, he obviously was watching very warily, because he promptly altered course to port, thus passing astern of me. I apologised per VHF for thus putting him about, but didn't get my closer look! The wind was now beginning to steady itself up and propel us properly but we were still able to gather up some solar power in the afternoon. By 2200 a precautionary reef of the main seemed a good idea and at midnight we had knocked exactly 100 miles off the total distance-to-go of 541 miles - in nearly 2½ days. The ride now began to get really bumpy (we were over the eastern end of the Dacia Seamount, where soundings change from more that 3000m to 128 in a matter of yards) and great trouble was experienced in getting some of the contents of a large pan of oxtail soup (Rabo de Buey) transferred to their proper resting place. Further rolls went into the main, leaving the jib still full, as that rig seems to work particularly well, going both higher and faster, then I made no apologies for quitting the cockpit and taking off the oilies for a while. In all the bouncing, I managed to switch off the instruments at 0547 with the back of my head, which caused some more interesting navigational measurements to discover how many miles had been lost from the trip mileometer. By noon on Monday, the miles to go had reduced to 421.
Now, the boat was standing up to the demands of the voyage well (still only 6 cracks in the port window and no significant leaks) but at this rate of progress we were going to run out of batteries for the GPS's and probably food too long before the Portuguese coast appeared, so I thought about it over lunch. Madeira was now off our lee bow, with the entrance to Porto Santo harbour "only" 145 miles, say, a day and a half, so Plan B (or is it Diversion 1?) was put into operation at 1300, when sheets were freed and course eased back to 298°. Speed instantly rose by nearly 3 knots! At 1400, while closing the hatch from inside, I nearly broke some ribs, falling against the galley grab pillar (I'm still sore now) but we were having a real Ride-the-Tiger reach! After 5 hours we had already covered 32.3 miles (nautical ones, mind); it was perishing on deck and I hid inside again. The Yanmar was used to charge the batteries but, thanks to maintenance done in Marina Rubicon, without engaging gear - it might have slowed us down! By midnight we had nearly halved the distance to our new destination and, again, I spent most of the time cowering inside. Old hands will understand when I say it was blowing Force 6 from exactly on the beam, but this night had some extra tricks. One was to catch the side of the hull with a falling wave, still of solid water, with a crafty bang, so that from inside it sounded and felt very much as though we had just hit something solid. A particular one at 0522 sounded so realistic that I shot into the cockpit as I was, expecting to see a pallet-load of something semi-submersible spinning away astern. Not a trace (and no leaks nor any mark on the boat now that I can make a good inspection) and a good towelling down was the predictable result! Sufficient to say that at 1300, we were taking off sail in the lee of the lighthouse island just outside PS harbour having edged our way some extra miles to windward of the direct route, as all sagacious racing helmsmen tend to do on a reach, and at quarter past we were secured on a pontoon. There I was caught and welcomed by Heinz from the good ship Dschinifor and, as if that wasn't enough, offered a mug of soup and a cheese roll. Wow!
I haven't had a good look yet to see what changes have been wrought on the island, but I have discovered that free WiFi is available under the palm trees in the town square and the new arts theatre/cinema nearby, so I must haste thither and upload this.
Weatherwise, winds continue to blow from the wrong direction until about next Tuesday, 22nd, so I have booked in for the week.
Porto Santo to Faro 23-28th May 2007 - Data|
Tuesday, 22nd came and did not look at all nice - definitely more like Argyll than Madeira. A Dutch couple in an Elan 333 set off in the morning to go to Lisbon, and re-appeared about 1600 :- they could not get the boat to sail in the discombobulated breezes and had never been able to stop the engine, also they were very wet! I spent the day dodging the rainy spells whilst taking the computer into Vila Baleeira to get the latest weather gen and some eMails away.
Wednesday was a different day altogether - clear enough to see both Madeira and the Ilhas Desertas - sunny and warm, so we had to go. The winds weren't too bad, although still from the wrong direction initially, they were forecast to come round more to the northwest and even west later in the week. So we paid our dues, retrieved our documentation and pushed off at 1600 precisely, setting full sail (the genoa this time on the furler instead of the working jib) inside the harbour. Then it was onto the wind for as long as it took.... Here are a couple of shots taken on the way out.
Once round the end of the island(s), we stuck to starboard tack to get northing - towards the anticipated windshift - and kept going thus all night (Porto Santo disappeared about 2320) without
having to adjust anything except my position in the cockpit. |
By 0800 the wind was swithering a bit and at 1040 I called for 2 hours of battery charging, in gear. Within a few seconds, dolphins started appearing from all directions
and I thought I was going to get a record escort and popped below to make a log entry and get the camera. Lo and behold, the sensitive creatures took umbrage at having their audience "walk
out" and disappeared even faster than they had arrived! Clearly, one must show proper respect in such circumstances. Towards the end of the charging period, I spotted some piece of ochreous
debris floating in the water ahead, and we went right over it, courtesy of the Europilot. I couldn't make out what it was at all - about a foot long, sort of triangular lumps, on or very close to the
surface, rather like some mis-shapen piece of spray-on plastic foam. When the propeller hit it, it went "Crunch" and several little pieces were left bobbing in our wake.
Notwithstanding this tragic revelation, I was beginning to feel better now, albeit somewhat battered and bruised, and when I accidentally broke the mounting block for the Europilot (again), I set
to with long screws and glue at the ready and returned it to serviceable condition, then had a minor feast. The wind easing, I next had a shave (I think that's a first on passage!) and later we had
another battery-charging session. Just as well, because Friday night proved quite tricky and I was fully engaged keeping the boat moving - in any direction. The plot on the GPS shows us on
every course on the compass at some point. Although there was a waxing moon, it was mostly a murky and damp night and very difficult to see where the next puff was, let alone which way
it was going. Windvanes are not a lot of help in these conditions. Shortly after midnight, while it was raining lightly, I observed to the north what looked like a lenticular lump of fog, sitting on the
surface with its curved upper edge defined with a couple of grey lines. Like fog, I couldn't see through it but when I tacked towards it, it retreated before me. It came to me that this must be a
"moonbow" but, if so and it works like a rainbow, why couldn't one see through the middle part of the arc? Some confirmation of my diagnosis was provided when the rain passed off and the
moonbow disappeared from left to right. Somehow it reminded me of the Cheshire Cat - but upside down!
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