Escape to Ilheus
For the last week we've been examining the morning GRIB files, synoptic chart and local weather forecast in great detail, hoping to see signs of an improvement. The stormy weather and southerly winds seemed never ending. Sitting in our pleasant anchorage we were cursing the forecasters, getting on with the 'to do' list, and even playing our first game of scrabble since December. At least the wind and rain had reduced the temperature and humidity. Visits ashore were limited by the strong tidal flows and winds, making rowing to and fro a major effort. From time to time we would see one of the other cruisers and have a good moan about our rotten luck. Surely southerly winds are not so common at this time of year? Has winter come early? A brief reference in the Admiralty Pilot suggests it might be the 'curse of Camamu'. Does this bit of coastline attract an unusual preponderance of southerly winds?
From time to time we would see a forecast break, with lighter winds appearing in a few days' time. Maybe we'd be able to go then and motorsail our way south. Then our hopes would be dashed when the forecast changed and the break disappeared or got put back a few days.
Finally, it looked like Saturday would be the day. A break was forecast, with stronger winds not re-appearing until Sunday night. We should be able to make it to the port of Ilheus by then, just 60 miles to the south. We set off in the morning, at low tide, avoiding the shallows - just (with the help of local boatmen gesticulating wildly). The forecast was for southeasterly or southwesterly winds, force 3/4. As soon as we were out to sea we were sailing to windward in a pleasant force 4. There was a bit of east in the wind and the seas were moderate close to the coast. It looked as if we'd have a slow trip but it could be much worse...
In the night the weather got nastier, the winds increasing to a steady force 5 with heavy rain and squalls, gusting to force 7 on occasions. It was enough just to reef the genoa as they didn't last long. By the morning the wind was in the south, force 5 to 6 and the seas were a bit rougher but we continued to make progress despite recurring squally periods. By the time we reached Ilheus early on Sunday afternoon we'd sailed 110 miles. Once inside the breakwater the seas calmed down and we're now anchored off the yacht club in excellent shelter from the southerly winds.
Approaching Ilheus (and then there were three red jerries - all will be revealed in a later blog)