Thursday 13th October – Lagos, Algarve
So, here we are alongside the boatyard in Lagos and here we stay until we are joined by Chris and
Penny Copeland on Monday for the trip to Madeira and the Canary Islands.
And, we are due to meet David and Linsey Taylor on Friday, who just
happen to be arriving for a few landlubberly days in Lagos then.
We left you last alongside in Oeiras on Friday having formed initial very
favourable impressions of the marina.
They were fully borne out by our subsequent experience there. We had a very decent day out in
Lisbon and would
willingly have spent more time there.
Some of it is really very impressive indeed. As an added bonus, it was Lisbon Fashion
Week. As many will know, Jon
considers himself quite a pundit on the matter of ladies’ fashions.
Answer to Blackpool Tower
Imposing Architecture around Main Square
The 50NM trip south to Sines started promisingly enough at about 1020 on
Sunday 9th October. We
had a good Force 5 from the NE (Mrs D says this was her first experience of the
fabled beam reach – she’s lying, of course!) and cracked along at 7.5 knots in
glorious sunshine for a couple of hours under full mainsail and yankee. But, the wind didn’t last and by
lunchtime Mr Perkins had been invited to step up to the mark and get us
there. Endlessly obliging, he did
so and we tied up at 1820.
We stayed in Sines on Monday.
Sines is fine and it works well as a marina but it’s a bit lacking in
zest. The loos and showers etc are
excellent and it is adjacent to an extremely good and well tended beach. The small town is a little distant, up
quite a steep hill past an imposing medieval fortress, but is both quaint and
interesting. It boasts a huge
modern (faux solid) marble library and arts centre. Difficult (or, perhaps, not) to know
from where that funding came . . . In addition, many streets are closed off as a
major ‘regeneration’ proceeds.
But, there is plenty of
attractive older stuff to charm and surprise the visitor – one slight surprise
being the local branch of the communist party – a dreary bar with one occupant
watching day time television. We
just hope that the ‘regeneration’ doesn’t produce the worst excesses of tourist
We met some interesting people there – you always do, if you have a mind
to, on the pontoons. That done, we
set off on the final leg of our trip down the Atlantic coast of
Spain and Portugal at 1000
on Tuesday 11th October.
We were bound for Lagos on the Algarve and were preceded in departure by
an hour or so by the 55 feet long HM Sail Training Yacht Dasher on her way down to the Canary
Islands with a crew of UK servicemen – presumably filling in scarce time between
less attractive engagements.
To begin with, the journey had a familiar feel: sun shining, wind too
half-hearted, Mr Perkins doing his stuff below decks and us heading south. But, at about 1730, as we rounded Cape
St Vincent to head east to Lagos, we turned more into the light NE
breeze. So, the sails felt enough
wind for us to make a reasonable fist of sailing. Much more to the point, we’d caught up
with Dasher and she’d just hoisted
sail. Now; we weren’t racing -
obviously - but . . .
Cape St Vincent
So, that was fun for about half an hour, during which we wished that we’d
been able to accommodate the full genoa foresail aboard in addition to the much
smaller but more versatile yankee foresail. What we’re intimating is that we think
we lost. But, obviously, we weren’t
racing, so nobody could lose and anyway we weren’t really trying at all. In
fact, we deliberately sailed slowly so that the young servicemen aboard Dasher could feel a sense of achievement
even if they were in a much bigger boat. We trust that our friends will know
this all to be absolutely true and that we are not being in any way defensive.
Much . . .Nicely done; Dasher, and
your largely completely novice crew.
Then the wind died.
Well, if not actually clinically dead, its perch-clinging capabilities
were in Monty Python Norwegian Blue territory. Mr Perkins was re-awoken. An hour later a
big red light and alarm came on at the engine control panel saying, in effect,
“Unless you close this engine down immediately it will metamorphose into a lump
of molten pig iron”. Investigation
revealed that the engine bilge was awash with engine coolant. Even the least technical will recognise
that this stuff is best placed to do its job when it’s actually inside the
engine. Removing the heat exchanger
cap (radiator cap to you car types) revealed no coolant left inside the engine
at all. Having had all the coolant
hoses replaced before we left, we checked to see if any of those had
failed. They hadn’t. So, it wasn’t a screwdriver and gaffer
tape job to be undertaken by Dutton at sea. We had 18 NM to do to Lagos (as the crow flies)
and it was now 1900 or so. The wind
was all over the place and rarely at more than 4 knots from any direction. But, there was little point in doing
anything other than getting to somewhere that could sort this out. So; Lagos it was. About 9 hours later – at 0345 on
Wednesday morning – we dropped anchor, under sail in thick fog and a very light
NW wind, off the beach and just outside the harbour mole at the entrance to
Lagos. We’d entertained thoughts about sailing
on, up to the marina reception pontoon but, given the 50m wide approach channel,
almost three quarters of a NM long and the faint breeze blowing straight down it
to seaward, it really didn’t make any sense. We dug out a bottle of Mr Matthew
Gloag’s amber infuriator and, following a brief consultation with that, retired
to bed for a few hours until, first, the ensign would have to go back up at 0800
and, second, we could ring the boatyard at 0830. Meanwhile, unbeknown to us, Dasher, having arrived at the marina
reception pontoon much earlier, had shooed everyone else along to make room for
us to sail onto it if that was what we were going to do. It was a kind thought and had it been
possible . . .
The Sopromar boatyard despatched a boat to see us very
shortly after we’d rung them and the two mechanics aboard rapidly diagnosed the
problem as being a dead coolant pump.
To get at this involves dismantling quite a lot of the stuff at the front
end of the engine (we’re back to Mk 13 Centurion tank days here). So, a RIB was despatched to tow us
in. It briefly crossed our minds
that a switch of ensigns might be appropriate for this evolution but felt, in
the end, that we’d done honourably enough, in the circumstances, in getting to
anchorage right at the harbour entrance, in the first place. The engineers did their stuff quickly
and the new pump and one or two other bits and pieces are due to arrive on
Monday 17th. They will
take a couple of hours to fit. So,
we should be good to sail to Madeira, as
planned, on Tuesday morning.
The boatyard held a party last night and we were invited. A very good barbeque, hog roast, beer
and wine. And, again, lots of
interesting people to meet and chat with.
So, all in all, whilst being in this boatyard wasn’t part of the plan,
it’s just fine.