ARC Portugal Ca Canny - day 11

Yacht Ca Canny
Geoff Rogers
Thu 12 Jun 2014 09:26
So our real skipper, Geoff, decreed last night that I was to be skipper for the day for our journey out of Bayona and down to Povoa de Varzim. This was a decision the crew later came to regret.
We made an early start off the berth in order to get our racing line across the start line. I’d decided to keep to the Northern end of the line so that we could make a nice starboard tack which would take us completely out of the ria (and probably get in the way of everyone else). Unfortunately there was not enough wind to make such a dynamic start and so we rev’d engines instead. The starter horn sounded and we were all off to the sound of marine diesel engines straining at their mountings....well almost all of us, one or two brave souls attempted to sail off the start line – quite a challenge in 5-7 knot winds. Once out of the ria the winds were heading up to 8 knots or so and one or two gennakers appeared. Ours went up very smoothly but was soon doused as there wasn’t enough wind to keep it happy. Within the hour the wind had picked up and we unfurled the asymmetric.
With the wind coming directly from the North and us needing to progress South, that puts us on the worst point of sail for Ca Canny. At lot of the fleet have symmetric spinnakers which are just perfect for sailing directly with the wind, we only have a gennaker (or asymmetric or cruising ‘chute depending on your point of view). That meant that we were going to have to gybe (zig zag) down the coast – well that would have been the normal approach any way. With Captain Steve in charge things took a rather different course. My plan was to head out to sea for a bit to pick up some stronger winds and see where that took us. Well I found out the answer when my crew started grumbling about not really wanting to go to the Azores today and wouldn’t actually be nice to see some land during our cruise. Spain disappeared into the haze, along with all the other yachts. Mutiny was threatened and so “we” decided to gybe (skippering by consensus) and head back towards land. Just at that point the winds strengthened further and we had to douse the gennaker anyway. Land was spotted (and more dolphins) and we soon made good progress into Povoa de Varzim – the last boat to arrive. To be honest, it was such a beautiful day we were just enjoying ourselves out on the sea and trying a few trimming techniques (not all successful). Other boats were racing to the finish line in order to win a rally prize, but we preferred to be out enjoying the sailing.
The change in landscape is very noticable – the Rias of Spain were beautiful hilly/wooded inlets with small towns and villages. The Portuguese coast, so far, is fairly flat and built up. Quite a change to the rural life we were leading when we first made landfall on the Iberian peninsular. There is also a noticable change in the rally feeling – it’s all becoming more of a larger family now.
So another port and another reception; the Commodore of Povoa de Varzim marina did us proud last night providing great food and some fantastic entertainment – a guitar and harmonica duo who were really excellent. It’s more of a lazy start to the day today as we are not leaving until 12 – although there has been some confusion because of the change of time zones as we are now back on BST. Ian did his usual foraging trip – he is excellent at just disappearing at random times (obviously not whilst we are sailing) and coming back with useful information or provisions – and procured 8 freshly made rolls for EUR1.20.
Today is just a short hop (15-20 miles) down to Porto and will be my last time out on the water with Ca Canny.
As an aside, talk of asymmetric sails/gennaker/spinnaker etc. has generated a lot of discussion on board today. It’s clear that in the sailing world if you need a word for something then it’s a good idea to come up with 3 words instead, and then use those words for different things at different times. I’m sure there’s enormous potential for confusion. Even normal everyday words that are also in use for sailing terms have non-sensible meanings. For example, in the non-sailing world a “sheet” is a large piece of material so if you were going to use in the nautical world then clearly it would be a great world for a sail.......but oh no the sailing fraternity uses that to describe ropes attached to the sail. That’s just one example but you get the gist. Unfortunately the discussion degenerated into a conversation around whether you could have two pink asymmetric sails out the front of the boat and rename her HMS Busty .....we’ll leave it there I think.
This is likely to be my last Ca Canny blog – I hope you have enjoyed reading my deliberations, thanks for listening and, in the words of Douglas Adams, so long and thanks for all the fish.....