Vasco da Gama
Ian Strathcarron
Sat 28 Jun 2008 15:48
You can always expect the unexpected at sea.  Last night I was getting ready for a quiet sunset watch.  Ian and Tim checked the weather forecast and learned that northerly winds of about 25 knots were expected.  This was quite high as a comfortable speed is about 15 knots.  Ian said that he and Tim would be resting but on standby if I needed any help steering or watching.  Tim helped me pass 3 fishing  boats on our path, then the winds started getting really strong, the waves were huge and we were in another storm, the third in 9 days.  This was not what we had expected in June.  By 11 pm both Ian and Tim were on the deck in full bad weather regalia and the wind was gusting at 30 knots - almost gale force 8 on the Beaufort scale.  I went back to the cabin but could not sleep.  The banging and crashing, movement and noise made sleep impossible and I felt I should be on standby in case an emergency happened.  This lasted through the night, the main difference with the earlier storms being that it was not cold and raining and I had the hatch open and could see stars as we see-sawed up and down.  By 6 am Ian had had 3 hours sleep, and Tim about 1 hour earlier in the evening.  At 6 the run rose, Ian and I got up and Tim went to bed.  The waves were still huge but the average wind had dropped to 20 - 25 knots.  Everything looked better in daylight and it was actually a fine sunny day.  We had entered Portugese waters at about 1 am, but we were too far out to sea to see any land.
The good news is that we have made fantastic progress south and as I write we are half way to Lisbon, after which point we turn left and head for Cape St. Vincent and the Gulf of Cadiz.  During the last 15 hours we have been under sail with just the main sail with one reef to calm it down.
During the night our DuoGen generator was lost overboad.  This was a brand new piece of kit which gave us free electric power for the boat.  Ian looked very unhappy to have lost his beloved gadget.  When the waves subsided a bit he discovered that the bracket holding it to the boat had sheered in half  To try and cheer him up I said 'We'll ask Father Christmas to get you another one'.  'But Christmas is so far away' was his plaintive reply.
One of the best things about the trip so far is how well Vasco has coped with everything.  She ploughs her way through the storms with great panache and always feels safe and secure.  
We should be in Gib in 3 - 4 days, where we may stay for a week to carry our repairs.