The crossing has continued to progress, we have sailed around 1,515 nautical miles at this point, and estimate we have another 1,000 to go at least.
We continue heading north east close hauled with full canvas during the day and some reefs in the main and Genoa at night on starboard tack.
Currently we have 15 knots of wind, equating to 19 knots apparent wind, and doing 6.5 knots in moderate swell with chop. Saga, who are around 80 miles ahead of us, have flatter seas and less winds now. We are looking forward to reaching this lower wind portion of the journey.
We are not alone out here and have had a few chats with other boats over VHF, including a French sailing boat called “Mustang”.
Last night in the darkness the AIS alarm went off as a 1,000 ft container ship approached us from behind. After a quick check on VHF at 3am they adjusted course to pass behind us with around 1nm clearance.
If your curious what we get to see on a night watch, here you go.
No dolphin sightings since the early days of the crossing, but the number of Portuguese man o’ wars floating around is increasing dramatically (at least we think that’s what they are).
Sorry for the low quality slightly blurry picture, it’s hard to get a good one of them!
We have been experimenting with our comfort aboard, and setup a hammock in the cockpit that we use sometimes. It’s not free swinging, as you’d swing all over the place, but is a lovely place to sit on the starboard side to not need to have to wedge yourself into the seat.
For the 3 days we have been heaving to for half an hour each day over lunch to bring a bit more stability to our lives.
This provides a lovely opportunity for a quick little shower / rise, using the loo while not being thrown around, eating some lunch and doing the dishes.
When heaving to for 30 minutes, we travel at roughly 1 knot backward, which is around 0.5 miles, but you also loose the 2.5-3 miles that you would have travelled forward. So this 30 minutes break looses us only 3 miles a day.
Over the coming 5 days we will likely be tacking east while still making some progress north. All of the forecast now seem to agree on this. Though the approach is still yet to be decided upon with a small low pressure forecast to be somewhere, and the position of the Azores high still also up in the air.
Day 82-83: Sesimbra to Sines, well actually let’s carry on to Faro
A standard day sail or so we thought when we left Sesimbra, the sail started off fairly slow with less than 10knots of wind, a gorgeous day for sailing and relatively flat calm seas.
We made lots of Instagram stories of this adventure, so you can watch the complication below which includes spoilers, or come back to it at the end.
As the sea was so flat and we wanted to make good time we thought it would be a great opportunity to try hoisting the dinghy on a halyard to sit alongside the hull of the boat instead of being either dragged along behind (slowing us down a little) or deflating it, which is effort!
So I got in ‘Little Han’ whilst we sailed along and fashioned a bridle so we could hoist her up with relatively even pressure
And a little while later we had a nicely working hoist with fenders and support lines so it didn’t move around.
As we carried on through our sail we checked the weather (again) this usually occurs about 6 times a day especially when we don’t write down what the forecast actually said! But this time it was in response to a message received from Adam’s Mum with a link to an approaching storm, one which we knew would be hitting us within a couple of days.
According to Público, Hurricane Danielle changed its course and will hit Portugal on 11 and 12 September, bringing rain and strong wind. The hurricane proved to have an uncertain route and has now included Portugal in the route; however, its classification will change once it reaches Portugal.
So after discussing in detail if the anchorage we were approaching would give us appropriate protection, we did agree that it would be fine.. however, it would leave us trapped there for probably 3 days as leaving it soon after the storm passed over would have meant sailing through an unwelcome sea state (3-meter swell!.. no thanks!)
As we were sailing along pretty nicely now we looked at alternatives and getting to Faro sprang to mind, about 120 miles further than the 30 we expected to be sailing that day! The overall track was rather long and varied.
The afternoon wind picked up and we were cruising along on our fastest point of sail, a Beam Reach at 7-8knots, it was really the first time in at least a month we have had really fast sailing conditions, so thought may as well carry on as we should have good wind all night!
As night drew in so did the swell, it wasn’t too bad as the wind picked up a little more too which is actually a good thing when there’s swell as it stops the boat from rolling into the wind as much when you come down off a swell wave
My night watch started at about 2am and everything had been going smoothly, about half an hour in we were getting faster and faster, and I shone a light at the anemometer, it said 33knots, I thought that’s rather a lot to have no reefs in, but being still on a beam reach means the boat doesn’t heal as much as close hauled so it’s more comfortable in stronger winds, still I needed to choose to do something as the wind waves were picking up too the options were to reef the sails (had already taken the mizzen down earlier) which is hard work in the night, or turn down wind further, away from our destination but as we were going so fast a few extra miles didn’t make much difference
Adam had woken up by this point saying he felt the vibrations in the hull and asked if we were going faster!
We decided the best action would just be to turn down wind a little which makes it seem like there’s less wind as your going more in the same direction as it
At that point there was a crack and the sound of metal running over the fiberglass deck, I shone the torch outside trying to see what had broken, Adam got out of bed to help, luckily all it turned out to be was the jib forestay which is usually lashed down out of the way when not in use had worn through the lashing, but now was wildly swing around in the wind from the top of the mast, it hit the windscreen and got caught on the windscreen wiper.. just long enough to grab it so it couldn’t cause any more damage, this time I took something more substantial to hold it down, a couple of shackles will do the trick.
I donned my lifejacket and went out into what was turning into a bit of a stormy night to secure it to the deck whilst Adam shone a torch on me all the time!
So with that minor inconvenience sorted out he went back to bed and I carried on with my watch
5am came around and it was almost time for me to have a snooze but not before a wave hit us a bit differently to all the others and knocked the dinghy half out of its bridle, it was now half dragging in the water. We had to put a lasso of rope around the far back tip of the dinghy, turns out our Little Han is not so little when your trying to lean out over the side of the boat to throw a rope around its far side, so with some boat hooking and heaving it up higher it was finally back on and well supported.. time for a sleep 💤
As we rounded the southern corner of Portugal and got into the Lee of the land in the morning the wind subsided as did the swell and we quickly slowed down to a crawl, so time to change the sails again! It was cruising chute weather. (This also looked pretty cool due to the shadow cast by the mast)
We love using our cruising chute now it’s got a sock to be hoisted in, it means you can hoist it without it filling with wind so much less likely to damage the delicate light airs sail
By midday we had both snoozed enough to catch up on the sleep, we’d just missed out on!
The water looked so inviting and knowing it had to be at least be a little warmer than where we were previously I decided it would be a good idea to jump in whilst we sailed along!
We threw one our big fenders out the back on a long line to grab hold of and I threw myself in, the cool water was not as freezing as it was in Spain where I couldn’t even stand it even in a winter wetsuit so we jumped in and out a few times and as the boat was going slowly we could even have a swim next to the boat and not be left behind!
We even took some underwater pics and a video of the hull.. which we are due to clean now that the water is more barrable! Looks at all that gunge 😱
So with all the day’s excitement over we eventually made it to our anchorage not long after sunset and with a few hours of lovely calm sailing before getting there we had the boat all wrapped up in sail covers and tidied up before we anchored, even teeth cleaned so all we had to do was drop anchor, set an anchor drag alarm and get into a well-deserved bed