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Date: 07 Oct 2014 14:55:26
Title: Sines 37:57.04N 08:52.11W to Lagos 37:05.93N 08:39.94W Fireworks, fishing, grottos, dingy racing and uninvited guests.

Dear Family and Friends,

As I write this I am still shuddering and listening for noises but more of that later!

Our mail box has undergone a major rebuild as we are still experiencing significant problems, with the satellite phone not working with the boat wifi. Despite spending several hundred pounds on a system, we have had to rely on marina wifi rather than our own, it is all very frustrating and disappointing! We have been corresponding with the company concerned but as always they have failed to keep it simple and have not passed on instruction on process and procedure that if you don’t know something makes everything else impossible. Even they have now requested we bring the equipment back to the Uk when we return in November, so they can test it, poor Alan has been ready to throw the whole darned lot overboard many times. I now don’t have immediate access to past blogs so forgive me if I repeat myself.

Another equipment failure is our GPS plotter, vital for avoiding navigation hazards. These run on cards loaded with chart software, perhaps slightly out of touch these days when other yachties have it on their IPads, laptops and phones for their navigation charts but we have older plotters and a system we know. The problem seems to have been the card itself where one of the tiny pinout holes was blocked, it locates onto fine pins in the card reader. Two power pins were pushed together, shorted out, and blew the board up, expensive to repair. But not realising the problem, we tried the other card reader and caused the same problem in that too, OMG!!! Our brilliant friend and rallier, Harald has been very generous with his expertise and tried to mend it for us, (he is an electronics engineer), but has pronounced the problem beyond boat repair so it is coming back to the UK with us, in November. We have truely generous folk rallying with us, Anne and Jonathan have gone above and beyond helping us by installing a nav system on our laptop, the loan of equipment, taking a sail for repair along the coast and some much advice, Ed and Sue have loaned us more equipment and Yvette yet more advice on software, we will just have to throw a thank you party when we get to Madeira.

We are also complaining about our new rib that has the paint finish blistering, particularly under the inflatable tube joining seam. Today our wind instrument has also failed, I cant believe this. At this rate we will be cargo freight when we fly back, ….. new gearbox, wifi and chart plotter equipment  and a rib! All heavy!! Speaking to other yachtsmen and women, they all tend to speak about boat problems and now we sound the same, enough of the rant on with the voyage!

Weather is a major part of what or how we live when on passage so with no apologies for bringing up the weather again, the winds have been unusual this year, southerlies not northerlies. Going south, this of course means from the wrong direction for us, either the wind is too light or as we like to sail, a fair amount of sailing at 40 degrees to the wind and therefore a lot more miles. Sail or motor, wind or diesel, its always a compromise, most often concluded by failing light and the desire to be in harbour if we can. Going into unfamiliar harbours at night is not so much fun! So when I tell you that our sail from Sines to Cape Vincent was brilliant, good winds 12-15 knots you will understand the relief and pleasure of it all!

The coast from Sesimbre to Sines to Cape St Vincent and on to Lagos, often rocky cliffs, spectacular in places, and long stretches of low sandy bluffs and golden sand dunes stretching for miles. Four rally yachts anchored in a rocky bay just east of Cape Vincent, sheltered from most aspects apart from the South. Overnight the wind changed to the South, it was like trying to sleep in a bucket! Rising early we motor sailed to Lagos (Portugal folks not Africa), rounding the point with its spectacular cliffs, arches and grottos was awesome.

Lagos has a well organised marina and boat support services and the Ocean Cruising Club, a fantastic port officer in Terry O’Brien who has overseen the organisation of rally stops from Porto onwards and personally organised this rally pitstop. Since here he has been superb with organising restaurants, events and competitions. We have taken part in live firings of distress flares, always helpful to actually do this before you need to, with local police and film crew in attendance, we have been on another water trip just up the coast to the lagoon and town of Alvor, a coastal walk around the cliffs mentioned, had an excellent talk on fishing. This was quite funny because having caught nothing when throwing the line over the back, despite investing in more lures, (in fact we could have bought several fish suppers for the price), we were genuinely interested but after 3 hours with no supper, we were both in fish fatigue! We have some good advice so hopefully we will be more successful!  Yesterday our last rally day, we entered the local dingy race, we had such a laugh! No motors just anything you can paddle with. Alan did really well in the singles coming second to Yvette an amazing American rower. The doubles, well what can I say, it was my first time ever rowing!!! A delightful ten year old, Jenny, from yacht Bear, who competed brilliantly, came to give me lessons today!!! The doubles I should add were won by the marina manager and his wife, ex Olympic sailing team candidates, we didn’t stand a chance!

A few nights ago whilst up in the wee hours, I heard very strange noises. Now the fish do tend to nibble weed from the boat hull so it could have been this. However when we lifted the floor to get some tins from storage we found rodent dirts. This is bad news on several fronts, health wise and the damage potential to boat wiring as rodents will eat plastic, (is this why the windex stopped working)?  I spent 2 hours walking around Lagos, trying to find mouse traps and chocolate balls, perfect bait. Forget cheese! I set the traps before going to another rally boat for the evening, returning less than 3 hours later, we opened up the compartment to find we had caught a rat!!  Yuck yuck, really don’t like them. It was strange because I had been asking experienced long distance sailors for their tips on tropical pests like cockroaches, boric acid apparently for them, no one mentioned rats! We have set the traps again, hopefully it was just the one uninvited guest.

Well, we are off again to Vilamoura for more boat repairs, all our best wishes to you.

Lynne and Alan







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