23rd June 2008 - Leg 7 Sines to Lagos

Bali Hai
Neal Stow
Mon 23 Jun 2008 23:27
This was the final leg of the Rally and because it was a long one, 75 miles, an early start at 7:00 which was cool with virtually no wind.  So all the boats motored over the start line.
The motoring continued for the next 3-4 hours as the wind was fairly light.  However, it gave us a chance to enjoy the sausages that John had left as a farewell gift - supposedly real sausages they oozed a strange pink liquid while being cooked.  Andrew and I only risked one sausage sandwich each but Rob went for two, disguising the pink ooze with baked beans.  Will he live to regret it? - find out next week....
Bouzouki made an early tactical error by actually trying to sail  (Rod has not yet got the difference between racing and cruising) and as a result he was well behind when our sails did eventually go up.  Although, needless to say, this state of affairs did not last long.  The winds were around 15 knots and it was a good sail down to Cabo Sao Vincente with the cruising chute up.  Unfortunately the angle of sail was not good and whenever the swell caused the boat to swing too much, the chute would collapse and we lost speed.
By the time we reached the Cape (the western most corner of Portugal) the winds were up to 25 knots and the swell quite high.  We were just ahead of Bouzouki and could see Blue Beyond behind us but the rest of the fleet were out of sight.  We needed to bring down the chute, which was not easy in these conditions.  Rob and Andy were on the foredeck wrestling with the sail and I was controlling the lines and steering (with the occasional help from the autopilot).  In the middle of this Paul from Blonde Moment calls up for a chat.  We ignore him.  He calls again.  We ignore him.  Then we hear Rod's polite voice from Bouzouki "Blonde Moment, Bali Hai are rather busy at the moment" Paul then tries to engage Bouzouki, who are also getting their chute down, and is told "We are also quite busy."   I sometimes wish I could be as diplomatic as that.
Round the Cape the winds increased to 33 knots and later touched 40.  We zoomed along and at one point hit 12.4 knots surfing down a wave.  Bouzouki had overtaken us but still the only boat we could see behind Blue Beyond.  We turned the last corner with 1.5 miles to go to Lagos.  Unfortunately we could not make the line in one tack and so lost some time getting over the finish but were still pleased to cross the line in second place in this last race.
Getting into the marina was a bit chaotic as boats were first required to stop at a reception pontoon to check in and then wait for a lifting bridge to open.  There was little space on the pontoon, lots of boats arriving and things not made any better by a mad French yachtsman getting in the way.  It was still quite windy and for the first time we did not have any assistance from the marina or rally organisers with our docking, which was a bit worrying given that I was one crew short.  Fortunately a crew member from Bouzouki came to our rescue and took a line and all was well.
Then it was time for a beer to celebrate the end of the voyage from Gosport to Lagos.  Blue Beyond, who had all dressed as pirates, organised a pontoon party with jugs of sangria.  Cleaning the boat could wait until tomorrow.  Although, while the crew went to dinner with Blonde Moment, I did have to return to try and find the source of the water I had found swilling around under the floorboards.