Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Cascais to Madeira...(Porto Santo)

Porto Santo landfall

...was tough going for the second half of the first day and the first of the second. It all started benignly enough in the sun in Cascais bay on Saturday morning in a gentle westerly breeze. The forecast did include strong winds F6-7 for a spell later in the day with 4 Meter waves but Portuguese meters seem pretty big to me, or perhaps they don't count the swell the waves are on and when the swell came from more than one direction, a F6/7 in the Atlantic felt a different proposition to one at home. Our first reef went in at 1330 with Angus beginning to struggle on abeam reach. The second an hour later. Two hours later reef number three after one of the blocks in Angus's system shattered under the strain. During this period I had been progressively tightening up the cross bolts on Angus's deck mount to stop him kicking up in the ever growing seas. Around the same time one of the eye splices I had made unravelled and I had to tie another bit of line in place that restricted Angus's movement. One of his outriggers was also wearing down which messed up the angles of the tiller lines and reduced his movement still further. Over the next couple of hours I tried a couple of temporary fixes and ended up tying a bit of rubber in place to stop the outrigger moving so much. Tony went down with a bad attack of sea sickness during this period aggravated by an existing tummy issue and so I stood two watches back to back. Come 0800 on Sunday it was still blowing a stinker and Tony still out of commission after he gamely struggled to operate. We therefore hove too for 4 hours to try and get some rest. I had still not adjusted to the rhythm of the sea and so sleep was impossible but the rest did help.

Up to this point AS had been storming along a 7 + knots. I had never experienced her sailing at that speed sustained hour after hour and was secretly keen to better our estimated 5 days for the 500 mile passage. I really should have hove too earlier to give Tony a break earlier (from the fairly vigorous motion of the boat).

Anyway by midday Sunday the conditions began to moderate and with Tony feeling a bit better we got underway again. At 1530 we shook out a reef. After a couple of hours we were a little under canvassed but still making 5 knots so kept our reefs in to give us an easier ride.

0700 on Monday saw us at the same Latitude as Cape Trafalgar - 36°08' and so we liberated Trevor the Duck to mark the historic sea battle. By 1100 we conditions had eased further and so shake out the remaining two reefs and due to a wind shift to pole out the Genoa. I did this on my own to get the practise in. It took me an hour!

By midday we had covered 247 miles over the ground towards Madeira.

The rest of the trip was pretty much plain sailing with slight wind shifts requiring the Genoa to be successively set normally then to be poled out. By this time we were both able to sleep when off watch which was a blessed relief. I had even mm managed to make a Shepherds Pie which lasted two dinners and on Tuesday Tony woke hungry for the first time in the morning and cooked scrambled eggs for breakfast which we then chased around the still heaving cabin for fun.

At 0035 on Wednesday I sighted lights on Porto Santo and as the dawn broke the Island emerged from the still gloomy dawn. It seemed a much more significant landfall than the others despite this being a passage two days shorter than our crossing of Biscay.

The Pilot book warns yachtsmen that the ferry from Madeira arrives daily at 1030 and that yachts should keep clear at time. Guess what time we were approaching the harbour?

At 1100 we had avoided the ferry and were moored up in the marina. 4 days to the minute from weighing Anchor in Cascais bay!