Beyond the "end of Europe"

Sat 16 Sep 2006 12:18
Turning the left-hand bend to put into Lagos in southern Portugal after such a long trip South was a big moment. We were all pretty tired but the sun was out, the wind came up and we were really flying along the coast towards Lagos.
Cape St Vincent at the southern tip of Portugal
We entered Lagos harbour at 1145, 15 minutes ahead of scheduule and with plenty of time to make preparations for the next leg the following day.  The marina is even more dominated by the English than Cascais and we could feel the influence of the English invasion of the Algarve.  Quite a contrast with the Portugese and Spanish ports we have been in for the last week.  Nevertheless, we had work to do and provisions to buy and a burger and chips can look very attractive after 20 hours at sea.   We had our last meal as a threesome and set out to do the laundry and a few jobs for the boat before Colin's arrival.  Tiredness overcame all of us before we could make it to the supermarket so we were all on board when Colin arrived.  We immediately set to replacing the VHF arial that he had kindly brought over from the UK for me.  I went up Free Spirit's mast for the first time and, perhaps inevitably, found that the simple replacement job was a little more involved than I had thought.  We made a hurried trip back to the chandelry for various bits and pieces but darkness overtook the work and we resigned ourselves to completing the task in the morning.  Angus and James made the shopping run and we ate ashore before turning in for an early night. 
We changed our itinery to include a stop at Madeira in order to allow Angus to get home on Monday as promised.  None of us had looked properly at the distance to the Canaries from Lagos and we realised, when I did the passage plan that we had 650 nm still to go!  Madeira is only 488 nm and gives us an ETA of Monday morning for Goose to catch his flight.
We managed to fix the VHF by 1030 and left Lagos at 1145, just 24 hours after our arrival.  We were straight back into a wonderful trade wind on the beam, 18-25 knots with blue sky and Atlantic swell.  Free Spirit was making 8.5 knots consistently and up until midnight, when the wind swung round behind and dropped we were making fantastic progress.  Unfortunately, Colin had been jumped into the swell a little too quickly and, for the first time since we have been sailing together (32 years) he was seasick throughout the night.  This placed an unexpected burden on the rest of us to cover the watches and I was very relieved when 2 Sturgeron pills and the passage of only 12 hours or so put him back on his feet.  The cumulative effect of this trip is certainly beginning to tell on my reserves of energy.  However, we are making good progress, the sun is shining and we are expecting the trade wind to fill in again any time now.
Colin's arrival in Lagos
Sunset on our first night en route to Madeira
To those of you following our adventure, thank you for your interest.  If you would like to email us the ship's email is freespirit {CHANGE TO AT} mailasail {DOT} com.  We would love to hear from you.