21st June 2008 - Leg 6 Oerias to Sines

Bali Hai
Neal Stow
Sat 21 Jun 2008 23:01
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 timed meal.