Our long journey up the Iberian coast started well with a brisk sail past the attractive Algarve cliffs to Cap Sao Vicente in the SW corner. We were then expecting to head out into the Atlantic in northerly winds, but these turned out to be north-easterlies, meaning that heading “out” was more like heading backwards (slightly south-west rather than the expected north-west). So, a quick change of plan resulted in short tacks out and long tacks back again that took us well up the coast. The winds were light, but fortunately so was the south bound current, so we made reasonable progress: 160 miles by late afternoon on day 2.
Things then went a bit pear shaped. We were tacking towards the coast to avoid the Cabo Roca traffic separation scheme (where all the big ships are marshalled into streams) when we finally picked up the infamous south going current: at 3-4 knots this was enough to make both tacks impossible in the light winds (by which I mean we were going south not north!). The current seemed to be being squeezed by a sudden “shallowing”, where the ocean depth comes up from thousands of metres to the continental shelf at a hundred or so. As we switched the engine on to get us over the edge, so to speak, we were greeted by an alarming knocking noise from the hull. It went when the engine was up to speed, but came back again when the engine was switched off a couple of hours later. We diagnosed a pot or something wrapped around the prop shaft, so decided to anchor for the night at Cascais which would give us perfect shelter to dive down & investigate and it was only an hour or two away.
So we sailed on in brisk winds (at last) and found a lovely quiet spot to anchor in off Cascais beach. Needless to say, when I snorkelled down in the morning it was really cold (about 17C) and there was no sign of any pot or rope or anything! So we set off again, having sailed 185 miles since Lagos – only 270 to go to Finisterre, 950-ish to Lymington!
So far we were enjoying the passage, the night watches worked well, and we were pretty proud of the progress we were making in mostly light winds from a not ideal direction and seas that were choppier than expected for the winds.