The Jetstream Chronicles - The Finale

andromeda of plymouth
Susan and Andrew Wilson
Tue 19 Jul 2016 12:54

The Jetstream Chronicles – The Final Instalment – time to make a cup of what you’s a little on the long side.


The final trip from San Miguel back to Lagos was thought to likely to be around 6 days given the change in the weather forecast we saw on the Saturday morning before leaving. It turned out to be a little bit longer in the end, and a story in itself. Of that, more later.


On this 896 mile trip we saw:

  • Multiple pods of dolphins of three different species – at least one pod every day, on some days we saw several, some hunting, some coming to visit Jetstream, some during the day, some at night – they are out there alright; we managed to see two pods on the way into Lagos while the dolphin boats were in the wrong place. Smirk.......
  • Pods of whales on three occasions – not entirely sure which ones but probably mostly Fin Whales, but all spouted gloriously, two of which were within 30 metres of Jetstream – and these are big beasties! Amazing, awesome, and we felt privileged to have seen these magnificent creatures.
  • Shearwaters every day – wonderful and very beautiful sea birds
  • 2 Terns – they have a loud, harsh cry that seems at odds to they’re graceful and delicate appearance.
  • 10’s of Cargo ships – after all, where do those bits and pieces come from – there were hundreds on the AIS, but we couldn’t “see” them all
  • Yellow Fin Tuna – of which more later
  • 2 Portuguese Man of War – not sure where the rest went though.
  • 2 Aircraft – one on its way to the Azores, the other onwards west
  • 2 Yachts – one heading towards the US/Canada, the other heading East, then lots once we had past the cape
  • 3 meteorites
  • Quite a few fishing boats – some with AIS, many without, large and small
  • 2 amazing clear and starry many stars and galaxies....stunning


We left Ponta Delgarda after fueling up and spent a few hours outside the harbour sorting out the cruising chute, a large, light wind sail, that would (or so we thought) be very useful given the forecast weather of lighter winds between the Azores and mainland Portugal. It was a bit of a task – for reasons not entirely clear it had been rolled up with two conflicting rolls. The top was rolled one way, the bottom another – tricky you might say when there is only one line around which it rolls, and only one roller to roll it at the base. But there it was. Two hours later and multiple hoists and drops, we finally got it sorted and off eastwards we sailed.


We knew that we would have to motor sail at some stage on the trip we had to cross the Azores High, a highly influential weather system that moves around this part of the Atlantic during the summer. It produces very light winds under its influence, and very strong winds at the edges, and thus the Portuguese Trade winds that blow from the north down the coast of mainland Portugal and beloved of those sailors heading south, and cursed by those sailors heading north. So we had to motor sail once we had passed the end of San Miguel.


We set off as it happens on Phill’s birthday and once well on the way rang him up whilst we still had phone coverage to have a sing....and we were still sailing, much to our surprise as we were clear of the end of San Miguel. Dolphins came to say hello as we started our evening routines the first of course being our meal......after all the cooking and preparing in the week we were able to start tucking into the results and on this first evening it was a dish Andrew had made – Singapore noodles and was lovely and set us all up for our night watches.   It was a gorgeous first night on our trip, the stars came out along with a lovely crescent moon and the wind kept us moving in the right direction at a reasonable pace. The sky slowly clouded over and the wind became a bit fickle and by 10am we were motoring.


We settled into ship board life, sailing when we could and motoring when the wind was in completely the wrong direction or none existent, you really don’t imagine being out in the Atlantic Ocean and there being no wind, or waves for that matter, the sea on occasions was like a sheet of glass. Beautiful to look at but we had places to go.  The days were filled with snoozing to recover from the 4 hour night watches we were doing and then there were the meals to eat and games to play if we weren’t getting wet from hissing waves. We told jokes, wondered who had won the football (we were rooting for Portugal of course) and debated calling up a passing ship to ask but decided again it in the end. We had some beautiful sunrises and sunsets and surprise visits from dolphins and a most wonderfully some whales – only 30 meters away or so....and big......


We passed the half way point and slowly approached the waypoint where we could bear off directly for Cabot St. Vincente. By now the sea had got a bit lumpy and we were being thrown about quite a bit and life was taking on a distinct angle.  Cooking more of a challenge but as we had prepared everything before had we took it all in our stride.  When we left San Miguel we had in our fridge and freezer:- Singapore noodles, chilli, irish stew, beef bourguignon, sausage casserole, and chorizo pasta.  All very delicious and different and much looked forward to. Inbetween times we had blt’s, wraps with all sorts of fillings, and as a treat chocolate. Life was very good on board.


And so we slowly approached Cabo St. Vincente with no wind to speak of – the fuel gauge was showing Empty, but there was confidence, misplaced as it turned out, that there was enough to get us round the cape and into the bay at Sagres to anchor, then wait for the stronger winds later in the day. After all, the last time it showed Empty we motored for several hours into Santa Maria. We called up another yacht to see if they had any spare fuel, but they said they were also running low. During the call, the engine died – we had run out of fuel 2 miles off the cape – not a good place to be – in winds of 5 kts and less, not enough for us to realistically or practically sail a 20 ton yacht. Oh. Ah. Hhmm. We were going nowhere, except where the tidal currents would take us – northwest. To the north of where we had just come from over the previous 6 days. And on, perhaps back to Ireland, or Scotland eventually.


But, while we were drifting, we were visited by a solitary dolphin that “squawked” or “spoke” to us – it was just like Flipper from the old TV series, a stream of squawks, what sounded like tweets and so on, nothing like we’d heard in many, many years – we were gobsmacked and stunned – then it disappeared. Amazing. Hadn’t heard that before, ever, except on TV.


So Paul made a general “help wanted” call on the VHF and was surprised when MRCC in Lisbon responded, as indeed were we all. After several conversations over an hour or so we were told that a “ship” will come and tow us to the nearest port where fuel could be obtained and by the way your AIS is not working. Ok, the last conversation was around 6:05am. A fast rib approached at 6:30am, and we were under tow in 10 minutes, to, it turned out Baleera, near Sagres. An amazing organisation (MRCC and ISN combined) and worthy of our respect and gratitude.


The tow took some 2 hours against light winds and a sea with swell from the east – not ideal, but the guys from ISN, the Portuguese equivalent of the RNLI, knew what they were doing, and took us into a “not yacht” friendly pier in Baleera, a fishing harbour, where, thanks to a local volunteer, Paul was driven off to a garage with 6 fuel cans to get diesel. Once the tanks were filled it took another hour to persuade the engine to start, before we could start the final 2.5 hour trip back to Lagos. So now you know why the trip took longer than planned. Simples!


And this is how the local newspaper (The Algarve Daily News) reported it........

Sagres lifeboat rescues British yachtsmen off Cape St Vincent

 Created: 17 July 2016


A British registered yacht was rescued early on Saturday morning off Cape St Vincent.

The Lagos maritime authorities said the yacht had four Britons on board but was adrift and unable to make headway.  

"The Captain of the Port and Commander of the Maritime Police in Lagos, in conjunction with the Lisbon Maritime Search and Rescue service, coordinated an early morning rescue on July 16th by assisting and towing the Jetstream with four Britons on board.

"The yacht was adrift and without engine power three miles northwest of Cape St. Vincent," read the statement from the National Maritime Authority.

An SOS was transmitted by the skipper at 04:00, admitting that the vessel was out of fuel and that due a lack of wind, the yacht was adrift so could he have some help?

"Immediately, the Sagres lifeboat was sent out to provide assistance and decided to tow the Jetstream to harbour at Baleeira, Sagres” where all disembarked safely at 09:15, according to the Maritime Authority.


We finally arrived back in Lagos around 5pm and after a quick celebration with a bottle of bubbly with Paul and Jackie, and a hello from Bev and Alan, we then collapsed into bed on Andromeda, and she’s fine by the way. And did we sleep. For a long, long time – we had been doing 2 hour watches for the last three days, so we were definitely light on sleep!


So our adventure on “Jetstream of Belfast” with Jackie and Paul has come to a close – it’s been a wonderful and fantastic adventure and indeed it has been a real pleasure to sail with them for the past 58 days – a big gamble on their part, but we are still talking and will be racing with them in September on Scarlet in the Bluewater Regatta. We have many memories to share. In total we sailed 2,398.1 nautical miles over a 2,184.2 GPS miles (point to point) far. And Madeira and the Azores retain their charm, their beauty and their attraction – do pay them a visit if you can; wonderful, wonderful places.


And now it’s time for our next big adventure – sailing from La Corunna back to the UK on “Fallen Angel” with Bill and Ally. Watch out for the next chronicles of a very interesting summer.


More in due course........

Paul, Jackie, Andrew & Susan

Lagos Marina, Lagos, Portugal


PS: Well done Portugal!!! And our thoughts are with France and it’s people, particularly those of Nice.


PPS: The cruising chute was not as effective as it should be – a bit of a pain to be sure........words will be spoken!!


PPPS: About those Yellow Fin Tuna – this was something we had never heard about nor seen in any blogs or books about cruising – we had a shoal of these Tuna swimming alongside the boat for some 30 minutes or so. They seemed to be very content and were easily matching our 5knots with a simple twitch of the tail. They’re colours were amazing and they were probably 1-1.5m in length. It’s possible they saw Jetstream has a temporary refuge from predators, maybe they just fancied a swift swim. Either way it was something very special and we think Jackie managed to film then – it will be posted in due course. Quite special.