Friday 21 September to Sunday 23 September 2018
Just after 3pm Teresa, my sister Jo and I slipped our lines at the Real Club Nautico de Vigo and headed down the ria towards the ocean. Our plan was to head about 10 miles offshore and then sail down the Portuguese coast for 150
|Cheer up Jo, its only 200 miles to go|
When we passed Cabo Silliero at the mouth of the Ria de Vigo we found no wind, but a lumpy swell coming off the ocean which made Offbeat plunge up and down like a demented rocking horse. We plodded on under motor with me saying ‘’I expect we’ll get the wind once we’re clear of the land. I’ll just get some sleep now so I’m fresh when we get offshore and it starts to get dark’’. It turns out that I missed a great wildlife display, with Jo and Teresa watching Dolphins jumping, Gannets diving and young Turtles flapping around in that vaguely helpless way they seem to have. When I woke at half past six, the swell had settled down, as it usually does once we are in deep water though the wind hadn’t shown up.
|Sunset over a calm ocean.|
As we turned south when night was falling we encountered one of the things that sailors hate most – the swell on the side of the boat making us roll first one way then another, without wind in the sails to resist it. And then we encountered something that sailors hate even more – thick fog. I had chosen a course that avoided the main shipping lanes 5 to 10 miles further offshore and the many fishing boats, nets and marker buoys closer inshore. We spent the night anxiously peering into the murk and at our AIS screen – an electronic collision device. We had to alter course a few times to avoid close encounters with cargo ships heading into Porto and Figuera on the Portuguese coast. Having my sister Jo with us on this trip was brilliant anyway, but having the extra pair of eyes and quick mind while ploughing on anxiously was a double blessing.
A light northerly wind turned up during the night, so we got the sails up but needed the motor to keep up anywhere near enough speed to get to Lisbon on the Sunday. At least having sails up steadied the rolling of the boat. It is also supposed to make the boat more visible to other vessels, but with visibility down to less than a quarter of a mile, I’m not sure it would be of much help.
One little highlight during the night was a visit from a couple of Dolphins, their bodies etched out in phosphorescence. If you haven’t come across phosphorescence at sea yet, its a really peculiar phenomenon. You know how some watch faces have numbers that glow in the dark? Well that’s phosphorescence and its a trick that tiny sea creatures evolved eons ago. They glow in the dark in response to disturbances such as movement in the water, looking like a thousand tiny suddenly sparkling in the water. And that movement includes Offbeat splashing through a wave and Dolphins swimming; its a really amazing thing to see. But impossible to photograph, so you’ll have to use your imagination!
Dawn broke damp and foggy and I started to make plans to head for Nazarre - a port on the Portuguese coast - rather than risk tackling passing the rocks of the Islas Berlingas in the fog. I was also starting to worry that we wouldn’t
It wasn’t until one in the afternoon that the wind picked up enough to sail at over 5 knots (roughly equivalent to 5 miles per hour for you landlubbers, a respectable speed for a sailing boat like Offbeat). By half past three the fog
The night remained clear and the wind pushed us quickly down the coast. In
|Twin Yankee jibs reefed (top)|
and fully set (bottom)
It still took us one and a half hours to motor through Lisbon and moor up at Doca de Alcantara, right in the centre of the city. And another couple of hours to tidy up the boat, do the paperwork for the marina and customs, get a taxi and then track down the apartment that Jo and Dave had rented, and celebrate her birthday with my mum. But the joys of Lisbon are for another blog entry.