This was the second last leg and the last one for
John who would be leaving us in Sines. As the leg was only 50
miles, the start was scheduled for 11 o'clock and the boys were enjoying a
well deserved lie in when the news came that the start had been
brought forward to ten. Getting ready, Rob and haste are not normally
words that would appear in the same sentence and this was particularly the
case today as he also had to deal with his underwear which (unknown to me) he
had left soaking in the galley sink overnight.
Needless to say we were the last boat to the leave
the marina. In fact we had just got past the start line when the gun went
for the start of the race. By some fluke of luck this meant that we were
perfectly placed to edge back over the line and cross it just head of
Bouzouki. Of course "being ahead of Bouzouki" lasted all of 15 seconds
before they powered off into the distance.
It was quite a good day's sail. Sailing
closed hauled with the white sails up initially in 10 or so knots, then the wind
moved around behind us and the cruising chute was raised. Other boats
reported seeing all sorts of things, a pod of 50 dolphins, pilot whales and even
a submarine but none of them came near us. Unfortunately the wind began to
die and despite trying all sorts of combinations of sails up and using and not
using the spinnaker pole, with 5 miles to go we decided to motor.
We were in second place when we gave up sailing but
unfortunately the racing part of the Rally has turned out to be rather pointless
as the handicap system (based on boat information provided to the organisers at
the beginning) means that it is impossible for most of the boats to compete
effectively and the prizes will only ever go to the same three or four
boats. It would be better if the handicaps could be adjusted as the
Rally progresses to reflect actual performance and give an incentive for all
boats to continue racing.
Sines is an incredibly ugly place to arrive at with
an oil refinery and industrial complex on both sides. However, once you
are in the marina you can see none of this and with just the fort and town
perched on the hill it is a very pleasant sight.
With John taking a taxi back to Lisbon that evening
we opened a last bottle of Casa Garcia shortly after we arrived for a quick
farewell drink. However, it turned out that John had become rather popular
with other ralliers and we soon had the boat full of others wanting
to say goodbye with bottles of wine and nibbles, so we ended up
with another Bali Hai party (albeit somewhat smaller than the first).
By the time John finally left all the restaurants
in town had closed and so most of the revellers went back to their boats to make
dinner. Several stayed on Bali Hai and, using left over chorizo, eggs,
pasta and cheese Andrew and I concocted a Portuguese version of penne
carbonnara. To make enough pasta it had to be done on two boats and with
rally organiser Andrew taking on the role of "Galley
Control" coordinating the cooking of the pasta between us and Blonde
Moment via the VHF we ended up with a perfectly