Peter, a colleague from the Bridge club near our home in
during the morning of the 14th September. He had traveled from Javea,
overnight in a coach. Peter has sailed with us before, when we brought the boat
back from Israel
last year, when we finished the East Mediterranean Yacht rally.
Early that same evening Philip arrived. He had traveled
from Kingston, Surrey. We had met Philip in Guildford,
where we were attending the ARC seminar, in March. Philip had contacted us with
a view to joining our boat for the WARC.
Following introductions and a quick settling in period,
we all went ashore and ate a hearty meal at one of the new restaurants within
the marina complex.
We departed the marina and
Gibraltar, at on the 15th September as planned, way back early this
year, before the sailing season began.
It was still dark when we got up and the conditions were
not ideal for making passage west.
We had decided to leave at first light before the wind
increased in strength. The wind was westerly but to delay meant that the wind
would be much stronger on the morrow and would not be blowing from the east
It was hard work making our way through the straits and
although we had timed our departure to benefit from a favorable current, this
was not to be.
We had not been on passage for an hour before we spotted
dolphins off the port hull.
We punched our way through the sea for the first three
days, tacking to make any progress at all. It took all our energy to remain
upright and our bodies ached from the effort.
The northward tack was extremely uncomfortable and made
sleep impossible. The noise as the boat crashed from one wave to the next was
deafening. We all felt sea-sick at some point although one unfortunate amongst
us suffered for four days. Not that the seasickness impeded upon anything that
was required to be done.
On the first day out, I fell onto one of the winches on
the fly-bridge and bruised my chest and left breast.
The second day out there was a problem with the top of
the mainsail so we hove to. It was a blessed relief to do so.
While we bobbed about gently, we moved the fenders, from
the rail at the bow of the boat, to the stern where they would be less pounded
by the wind and waves. One of the fenders had become very daring and had
discarded its cover while we were on passage. This was later repaired and the
fender was re-clothed.
Twice we attempted to raise Dick to the top of the mast
but in the swell, it was just impossible. Although he was in a climbing harness,
with a safety line to clip on as he gained height, he was all over the place. We
brought him down, though he had hit his head while being thrown around, whilst
aloft. We stopped the bleeding and attached a plaster to the wound, abandoning
all hope of rectifying the problem with the mainsail, until the sea became
At fifteen minutes before on the second night, the steering stopped
working. We hove to again to investigate the problem. The bolt holding the port
rudder had sheered off and it was before we were on the move again. It was so
fortunate that there were a couple of chaps on board who were able to deal with
the problem otherwise we would probably have had to put out a Mayday alert.
It might have been possible to use the emergency steering
equipment but an enormous task to do so for well over a hundred miles from the
nearest port and the helmsman no clear view of his course or his instruments.
Not only that but he would be perched precariously on the port quarter.
It took half an hour on the morning of the third day
before the airlock was cleared and we were able to make water then, late
afternoon, the steering stopped working so once again we hove to. Having had to
make the repair the previous night, the fix took only an hour and a half.
Daylight helped of course.
We now checked the connection of the steering to the
rudder regularly, tightening the connection if it became loose.
Day four, the sea had become less lumpy and the wind
though still westerly, was beginning to have some north in it. The passage was
becoming less uncomfortable and the sun was shining.
Around 9.30 in the morning, a swallow flew around the
boat for about fifteen minutes then, later in the day, another flew past us,
struggling against the wind, obviously exhausted, poor thing.
The water-maker wouldn’t start initially because once
again, there seemed to be an airlock causing the problem. However, we did manage
to lower the mainsail and modify the block so that the main halyard no longer
twisted. This had been the cause of the problem.
Saturday was cloudy all day but we were now sailing on a
broad reach, or running, with the parasailor. The apparent wind registered
between 3knots and 7knots.
While adjusting the parasailor, from the winch in the
cockpit, I foolishly managed to get the fore-finger of my right hand, caught
between the rope and the winch. I couldn’t free it at first and called for help
but luckily, managed to get my finger out from between the line and the winch.
It was still attached to my hand and apart from being painful and scarey, was
About 19.30, I was doing a relief watch while the
watch-keeper went below for supper and was delighted to see a dolphin, some
500metres or more from the port hull, jump vertically from the water. Then,
having returned to the water, it jumped out in a more normal way before
On the midnight to 3am watch, the watch-keeper was
monitoring other shipping using the radar, AIS and MARPA. Suddenly there was a
downpour and although the
“rain-clutter” control was activated, there was no visibility for a twelve mile
stretch. Once the rain stopped it was possible to identify other vessels on the
radar. Those which had already been selected for monitoring had remained visible
throughout but it was a little surprising to suddenly see a new target, not a
long way from our boat.
Overnight, with a sudden wind change, we had taken down
the parasailor and used the mainsail and genoa. By mid morning on the sixth day,
we were able to again use the parasailor.
We dropped anchor at 5.50am on Monday,
21st September, having traveled 709 nautical miles from
Gibraltar. Had there been no need to tack, the distance
calculated by the chart plotter would have been 575.3 nautical miles.It took
us 142 hours to complete the journey to Porto Santo, the smaller of
the two main islands of Madeira, just 2 hours short of 6 days and one day
longer than the 5days we had expected.
Below: 3 men in a boat. Philip forward, Peter sitting and
Dick at the back
Coping with the washing when on passage.
The naughty re-clothed fender, reclining on the corner seat,