Around the Corner!

Fri 6 Aug 2021 18:01

37:06.55N 08:40.50W

Round The Corner of Europe

So we sailed from Figueira da Foz on a sparkling day with good wind behind us.  We had decided to try using the new twin headsail which we had practised with on our first day out of Suffolk Yacht harbour – but this time with some real wind (15 or so knots) behind us.  It was quite a lot of grunt to get it set up but it then worked really well for about 4 hours, until….

With a couple of squeaks and a loud bang, the halyard chafed through at the top of the mast, allowing the sail to gently float down into the water!

More grunt needed to hoik the thing back on deck, and downstairs into the saloon, before being able to check no ropes dangling in the water and thus to start the engine.

We had originally planned a long sail to Cascais, but at that point decided to head for Peniche which was close by, to rest up and sort out the damage.

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Peniche turned out to be a small fishing port with no real facilities for yacht repairs, but we were recommended a fellow sailor who was staying there long term and was known to be experienced in such things.

What a great guy! Benjamin is from France and a couple of days later had our halyard re-threaded in the mast and ready to go – and we still have all our arms and legs, his pricing was very reasonable….

Peniche itself was very pleasant, we were allowed to use the berth normally reserved for the custom’s boat, which saved a lot of the buffeting from fishing and tour boat wakes.

Once back on track we headed for Cascais, a large marina with supposedly good facilities. Very light winds, so motoring most of the way, some thick fog in the afternoon.  We stayed in Cascais a couple of days including a day trip to Lisbon by train – highlights – the traditional old trams, the castle and the beer museum…...

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However, we found Cascais rather impersonal, ‘a bit like Brighton marina’ was the verdict, so we moved on again for a short day-sail to Setubal.  Champagne sailing – perfect breeze and bright sunshine for the first part of the day until it all dropped away as we rounded Cabo Espichel to head East towards Setubal.

Setubal Marina (Doca de Recreo das Fontainhas) gave us a good welcome, awarded us a hammerhead pontoon (really easy to moor onto) and the staff were really friendly throughout our stay there. We shared the marina with the local car ferries, and next door to the general cargo docks, but had no real disturbance from either.  Enjoyed Setubal town - and some random sculpture -too…

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Recognising we could be falling behind our (loosely defined) ‘schedule’ the next passage was 20 hours or so to Lagos.  So we set sail just after midday, to arrive at Lagos in daylight (8am or so).  Having left the Setubal channel at about 1:30, we found a very confused wind – anywhere from on the nose to a dead run – for about 20 minutes, before it settled into an awesome beam reach with about 13 – 15 knots.  At times we were seeing over 8 knots speed over ground, and our ETA looked like 3am.  We hatched a plan to sail on to the next port if it was still dark at Lagos….  We put in a reef as the wind increased towards 20 knots, and then another at sunset and we switched into ‘night mode’ – still seeing a regular 6 knots of boat speed.

In night mode, we each stand solo watches, while the other sleeps.  Target ‘sleep time’ is 3 hours, but when stuff happens – like needing to gybe, or reef sails for example, the off-watch person needs to join in the fun, so sleep can be hard to come by…

Then the wind came round to a dead run, so the off-watch was called on deck and we rigged the gybe preventer, but the wind started deviating some 20 degrees either side, so we had either to continually gybe or drop the sails and motor.  We chose to motor, and then the wind dropped completely as we rounded Cape St Vincent in the dark (temporarily being further Southwest than any of Europe) and motored slowly towards Lagos. In the early morning the wind did pick up again, but we chose to take the easy option and continued to motor in the dark – there are lot of fishing pot buoys dotted around this coast, and a constant look-out is needed.  Distraction of setting sails could have led to a bad day.

Also, to be honest, after such an exciting sail earlier, we both needed the rest!!

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So having passed by some stunning coastline, we arrived in Lagos about 08:40, moored to the waiting pontoon until reception opened at 9am and thus to a nice berth in the large marina.  Both spent a large part of the rest of the day asleep….