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Date: 17 Jul 2014 19:01:00
Title: Leixoes to Cascais

38:46:8N 009:32:0W

38:42:03N 009:30:3W

38:40:00N 009:25:3W

38:41:65N 009:24:75W

We had to be in Lisbon at the latest by 19th July, so that Steve K and Jason could fly home and return to work. So we decided despite thick 'pea souper' fog we would set off. I would simply follow the track left on the chart plotter from yesterday back out to deep sea - or so I thought! At 1030 there was no sign of anything clearing, but we still decided to leave. I couldn't even see the end of the pontoon (I half thought if it is too bad we can always turn back). I have never been out in these conditions before, but I guess I may well encounter them somewhere, so let's have a go....The track was impossible to follow closely, even negotiating the marina gates was difficult. I couldn't see one side from the other. Visibilty was less than 20 metres and Jason had heard a fishing boat. In true Yachtmaster fashion we had Jason on the foredeck listening, Steve K, sitting midships looking and me on the wheel. Lifejackets on, but not clipped on in case a quick departure from a sinking boat was necessary. It does seem daft not to clip on, when if we fell overboard this would be the very time we may have difficulty finding someone. But we followed my training, RYA must know best.

We found the new pump action fog horn; thank you Denis a life saving gift! (Actually Hilary's fruit cake did its bit too, sustaining us when feeling seasick and that was all we could stomach). We were motoring so blasted the horn once every two minutes. I found the north up setting and delay on the chart plotter, too disorientating to follow a track, so worked on bearings on the compass which responded instantly and this worked for me.

I relearned quite quickly what my radar course had taught me, on how to put a bearing line to a blob to see if it moved along the line towards us. Also how to display the speed and bearing of an object and set up a guard ring. However, the most useful by far was being able to display AIS as an overlay on the radar screen. This enabled me to spot the military vessel, which appeared to be tracking us doing 25knots to our 5knots! We tried changing course and every-time so did it! Eventually it loomed over us out off the fog, the man on the foredeck waved, they turned and disappeared. Perhaps they realised we weren't a threat to national security.

The fog stayed with us off and on for twenty hours. The wind never came. We decided to keep two of us on watch at all times, on the basis that we stood a better chance of spotting other vessels - plus it gave us all more confidence to have another person there, just in-case. However, three hours sleep every six hours takes its toll. In Baiona we met a chap who worked at Falmouth Boatyard and had built his own mini transat. He had made the same journey as us cat napping for ten minutes very twenty minutes. He said he thought he was hallucinating by the end of the journey. Rather him than me.

As daylight came we rounded the Isla de Barlenga and made course for Cascais on the Lisbon approach. After thirty hours of motoring the wind came up just as we were in sight of our destination. Engine off and a sail in. A F6, we were surfing  into Cascais in the most exhilarating way, 8 knots through the water swerving through the field on lobster pots - why can't they at least keep a clear channel?

I booked in, they were happy with my English insurance documents. Ouch! it is expensive though, 35 Euros a night Plus 23% VAT. That will mount up fast. Still I'm going to be on my own, so it will be difficult to up anchor and move on in a storm. better to play safe. We tidied, showered and went in search of food, it was already 2200 and luckily one restaurant in the marina was serving, everywhere else was shut or shutting.

Lessons learned so far:
1. When setting out in fog, have a passage plan which contains bearings.
2. Don't be a slave to deadlines. I wouldn't have set out in similar conditions normally.

But I'm here non-the worse and a little wiser for the adventure.

So how do I entertain my self alone for two weeks? Any suggestions?


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