The sail from Sines to Lagos was another interesting one in the variety of conditions we experienced along the way. We started out with no wind at all and had to motor for the first four hours. Then some light winds kicked in and we put up the twin headsails, switched off the engine and sailed downwind for a while. When the wind came around, we put up the cruising chute and stonked along at 8 knots, at one point hitting 9 as we surfed down a wave, and really put some miles behind us before the wind strengthened and the seas built and we decided it was time for the chute to come down.
Bob was off watch and I wasn't keen to take the helm in the building beam seas which kept knocking the boat sideways, so I went forward to snuff the chute (wearing my lifejacket and safely clipped on kids!). Trouble was, the wind kept filling the sail and I was no match for it, so Bob was called from below and together we fought the chute and eventually won, packing it safely away into its bag.
Messages from boats ahead of us in the fleet confirmed that the winds were building and that they were experiencing gusts of up to 40 knots off the headlands at Cabo Sao Vicente and Punto do Sagres, which we needed to round in order to make for Lagos. So we reefed in the main and yankee in readiness. We had gusts of 32 knots on occasion, but mainly they were 26-28 knots and the old girl took them confidently in her stride. For the first time in over 1000 miles, the autopilot decided that steering the boat was a little too much like hard work and was finding it hard to cope, so Bob took the helm and hand steered. After a while, Steve asked if he would like to have a rest, but he politely declined; apparently he was enjoying it too much!
It turned out to be a really fast passage and we arrived at Lagos two hours earlier than predicted. No ETA prize in this leg! Now safely tied alongside in Marina de Lagos. We are paid up here until Thursday as part of the Rally and then we need to decide what to do next. We have a tentative plan to possibly sail to Vilamoura, then Rota in the Bay of Cadiz, then Barbate before going through the Straits to Gibraltar. But it's only tentative and we have a few jobs to do on the boat before we leave here.
Lagos is very touristy, catering for English holidaymakers and the marina is full of English boats. It is not really our kind of place, so we will stay only as long as we need in order to get the boat sorted and to have a rest. The sailing hasn't been too arduous in the main, but coupled with a very active social life that involves invites for drinks on other boats the second the lines have been secured it has led to a feeling that we could happily do with a few days chilling out!
The final Rally Portugal dinner is this evening, so it's just as well we don't need to be up early tomorrow...