Fast passage from Azores to Galicia

The adventures of Chili III
Peter & Belinda Vernon
Sun 28 Aug 2022 09:35
42:13.9N 08:44.5W

After a week we sadly had to say goodbye to the Azores to find somewhere safe to leave Chili III for the winter. We had hoped to sail back to Scotland (or somewhere in the UK) but the weather did not look good. However we did have a reasonable weather forecast for a passage to Galicia and having left the boat there before for the winter we decided this would be a good option. We had one more hurdle to overcome - Orcas had moved north along the Galician coast and were now 'interacting' with yachts especially around Finistere and A Coruna and both areas had red traffic light warnings. However the risk was lower further south, so we decided to head for Vigo, (which is a port of entry). After our recent rudder problems the last thing we needed was an Orca interaction which would have probably required another lift out.

We slipped Ponta Delgada on Thursday morning and had an engine on/engine off few hours due to the flakey winds south of the island. But it was calm and we twice sailed/motored through what can only be called a 'dolphin feast'. There were scores of dolphin charging about and jumping as they caught fish. They were obviously enjoying themselves and took time to come and play with the boat in between mouthfuls. Birds joined the feast, so it was quite a spectacle. 

Once we had cleared the island the wind became a steady N4-5 and we set out course for Vigo (next WP 792NM!) with a couple of reefs in both sails. The waves were generally about 2m so we bore away a bit for dinner and at night to make life a little more comfortable and adjusted sails as the wind speed changed. But other than that it was pretty steady for about 48hours and we made good progress averaging 6.6kn. During Saturday the wind decreased and we enjoyed some wonderful gentle sailing in sunshine with all our canvass up. However, at 10pm we had to give up and start the engine as we were down to a N2-3. 

Sunday saw no wind and mirror-like seas. We were about 400NM from land and no sign of any ships on the AIS anywhere - so we were probably the only humans for hundreds of miles. It was so peaceful that we decided to turn off the engine for a while we had lunch and listened to the silence. But we got a shock when it was time time to get going again - the engine wouldn't start...! Luckily it started using the spare battery, but it give us a bit a bit of a fright! 


The wind started to build steadily through Monday not making up its mind which direction to blow. At one point we sailed a course to keep both sails full, then poled out the genoa to sail dead downwind, then gybed until eventually we settled down with both sails deeply reefed on a port tack with the wind a strong NW5-6 and big seas. We were now approaching the coast just south of the shipping lanes in quite poor visibility so we were also busy keeping watch for the many tankers and cargo ships making their way up and down the coast. Amongst all this Peter had a big win, spotting an albatross - a first! 

By Tuesday morning things had quietened down considerably and we were relieved that the visibility had improved as we still did not have a functioning radar.  We spotted the familiar outline of the peak of Islas Cies at midday and by mid afternoon had moored up in the Marina Davila on the outskirts of Vigo. 

We had covered 858NM in 5 days and 4 hours - an average speed of 6.9kn which is a record for a long passage for us. But it included 45 hours of motoring.