Rockin'n'Rollin' Downwind Then Cuttin' up a Bit Rough

Jon & Carol Dutton
Fri 7 Oct 2011 18:12

38:40.56N 09:19.05W


Friday 7th October 2011 - Oeiras


The parting shot from the last entry was ‘There is an excellent enclosed market nearby and we’ll stock up there for the 100+NM trip tomorrow to Oeiras, just outside Lisbon.’


Well, it is true that there is an excellent enclosed market but this is of little consequence on the day the Portuguese celebrate the formation of their Republic.  Since they overthrew the fascist regime in April 1974, we reckon that to have a new constitution and so on in place by early October is pretty impressive compared with some more recent examples of such transitions.  But, as a result of that merry-making, our provisioning amounted to scavenging in the few corner shops open.  The marina manager at Figuera do Foz continued to be absent for most of the time his office was supposed to be manned (quite a lot of muttering on the pontoon about that – not least from Marcel – the Dutchman we’d met in Bayona and who had lent us the knife to cut away the rope around our prop).  We left at 0620 on Thursday morning with few regrets.        


Our trip to Oeiras started much as most of the others on our way down this coast – under engine.  The faithful Mr Perkins thumped away in his hot and dark hole below decks.  For about four hours the wind built gradually from the north without being strong enough to be useful.  However, it did result in a log entry by Carol which noted ‘roly poly, no jam’ at 1023.  But, by 1130 we had a very useful Force 5 from a few degrees east of due north.  It was just a little too far aft to make the foresail behave so we pointed up 15 degrees knowing that we’d have to gybe onto port tack anyway by about 1330 as we rounded Cabo Cavoeiro, about halfway through the trip.  This we duly did but it meant that the wind was even further aft by the time we had altered course around the cape.  So, we tested out our newly repaired carbon fibre spinnaker pole and poled the foresail out to windward.  It was still pretty rolly but we were making a perfectly respectable 7.5 to 8 knots and Mr Perkins was allowed to put his feet up for a bit.  Our next best mate – the autohelm – coped admirably.  Incidentally, Mrs D has decreed that the autohelm is to be addressed as Orville.  She’s generally in charge of names (which is how you end up with Arnamentia) but wiser (probably) counsels did insist that, whilst such christening (or, ‘naming of parts’ as ‘Staff Barnes’ at Sandhurst would have said) might be appropriate for callow youths like Orville, gentlemen of mature years, like Mr Perkins, were not to be burdened with trivial names like ‘enery the engine or Donald the donk.  He has dignity, y’know, and if you want to hurt his feelings, you fix him when he takes his revenge!




Spinnaker pole as good as new                Sun setting on Cabo Roca – 5 miles to Cabo Raso


By 1930 - sunset - we’d made excellent progress and, still with this northerly Force 5, needed to turn more or less due east, under Cabo Raso, and sail the 10 NM or so to Oeiras, on the northern bank of the Rio Tejo and about 8NM west of the centre of Lisbon.  Anticipating a brisk fine reach for this part of the journey, followed by a brief turn due north for the marina – where we could easily drop the mainsail and sort out the boat for coming alongside – we turned east and sheeted in the staysail to starboard.  We left the spinnaker pole where it was, intending to drop it once we’d settled down on the new course.  It was a bonzer plan but . . .  No sooner had we turned east but the wind backed to NW and started blowing at 35-40 knots true wind speed.  That’s a Force 8 gale, for non-sailors.  As a result, time and the remaining distance passed pretty quickly as we surfed along at 10 knots trying to make the mainsail work as inefficiently as possible.  Life at the helm was wonderful, if a little marred by one or two ‘What now, skipper?’ moments as we wove through tankers and looked for somewhere that Orville and Mr Perkins might have a fighting chance of holding the boat head to wind whilst we two humans brought the mainsail down.  Given the speed at which the marina was approaching, sooner was always going to be better than later.  And, then of course, there was the spinnaker pole still sticking out to port like some sort of derrick.  It was quite hard, wet work but we got it all done and motored into the marina a little after 2100. So, average speed throughout the journey a very decent 7 knots plus.


First impressions here are excellent.  It’s a beautiful marina, in a lovely setting and manned by charming and extremely helpful staff.  More of that anon, perhaps, but for now we’ve decided to stay until Sunday, chill and do admin today, visit Lisbon tomorrow (Saturday).