Published: October 7th 2009October 1st 2009
6 months on the boat!!
Celebration cake courtesy of Small Nest
Lisbon (Oeiras) - Sines - Sagres - Lagos - LATE BREAKING NEWS
We tied up in Oeiras Marina, smack bang next to a boat called Solitude, a very large and beautiful looking Hanse 54. Small Nest was a couple of boats away and, as usual, saw a few other boats we had shared marinas with since we struck Portugal, a few of them being British and Northern European Yachts heading south to make the Canary Islands for the start of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers which leaves from Las Palmas on the island of Grand Canarias for the 2800 mile crossing of the Atlantic to St Lucia in the Caribbean.
We had been talking to Willem and Haike about their arrangements of doing the A.R.C and making their way through the Panama and across the Pacific to Australia. Whilst this was something we, our family’ had always wanted to do, we hadn’t really made any firm plans of doing so. I guess when Willem and Haike suggested we should do the A.R.C and sail back to Australia at the same time as them, the seed was planted.
Debs and I discussed different plans, the main one staying in
the Med for a year and all of us flying home for Nik to start year 11 and Layni to start year 6 and then in 2011, I would come back to the boat for various lengths of time. The option of doing that as opposed to taking our boat home and staying together and being able to use our boat at home was far more appealing so we decided to propose the question to Nik, Layni and Luke.
The response was fast and furious, YES, all three wanted to take Sunboy back to Australia, all three had their own individual reasons for wanting to do so but I believe that all three considered this to be an adventure that they did not want to miss out on and would mean so much to them. We contacted Donna, Luke’s Mum to see how she felt about it and she had no objections to her son coming back with us across the oceans of the world to come home.
As the A.R.C had ‘closed its books’ in June this year we were not confident of getting a late scratching but Willem had already emailed the organisers and was advised
a waiting list had been set up. I rang the organisers and explained our plans and our current location which meant we were in a very good position to make it south for the start as opposed to other boats that might still be in U.K and or northern European waters. The kids on both boats are ecstatic as we are about the opportunity of sharing something incredible and going to and seeing places that very few people get to see from their own boat.
Anyway, the organisers said we stood a very good chance of making the starting line up as there had been a few withdrawals, all we could do was sit and wait. As we had made up our mind to head home anyway, we new that we were not reliant on doing the A.R.C but could leave around the same time anyway and still head across. That being the case it was time to start getting seriously organised.
We needed to upgrade equipment and our first item on the list was a new liferaft. The one we have has been sufficient for our current needs but did not meet the requirements of ocean crossings
Lukes description of food if it meets his approval
so we started trying to source a suitable liferaft which has been no easy task as most U.K suppliers saying they cant send them down to Portugal and or the Canary Islands. The suppliers in Portugal want an arm and a leg tossed in as well as the credit card and their prices are just stupid so we are trying to source one in the Canaries and that is looking far more promising.
We have ordered a satellite phone to allow contact with the outside world and for obvious emergency use reasons and have started to make some inquiries about increasing our sail wardrobe, looking for another headsail and maybe getting a gennaker. The after sales department at Hanse Germany had made arrangements for us to have our windows in the saloon replaced in Lagos which was great as we had been waiting for a very long time for that to happen. Evidently the sealant used in the original fitting of the saloon windows had been deemed to be faulty and the factory was taking pro active steps to ensure that all was well which we appreciated as we did not want any problems with windows on the way
home or anywhere for that matter.
Willem’s Dad and Mum came down for a week and they had a very special family time together. They were staying in a nearby hotel that had a pool so they very kindly took our gang up their some afternoons for a swim and muck about which our guys just loved.
The marina staff at Oeiras were just brilliant and could not do enough for us, even shuttling Debs and I off to the very large shopping centre on a couple of occasions to get some much needed supplies of things we had run out of and had not been able to buy on the way down.
Oeiras also has an IKEA nearby and that was a must visit on Deb’s list to get more storage units for the boat and some other bits of kit to make our boat more comfortable and more practical. Willem and Haike also planned on going there so they borrowed their parent’s hire car and we took off for the afternoon coming back with a truck load.
We also found out that we needed Yellow Fever vaccinations and relevant certificates to get through the
Panama Canal so some very frantic ringing around was done, again by the staff at the marina, to help us get that sorted. We spent some time in Lisbon itself, visiting the old parts of the town and later that afternoon we went to the Tropical Diseases Centre where we obtained our scripts for Yellow Fever and Typhoid vaccines and Debs and the girls had some Hep A injections. Fortunately for Luke, his vaccines, except yellow fever were all up to date.
We walked miles and miles around Lisbon and by the time we had had our visit to the clinic, it was time to take a break so we headed for the Hard Rock Café for an early dinner which was just great.
The next day we had to go to another clinic for our yellow fever and typhoid injections and that was sorted out pretty well and we all came away with the paper work we needed. I don’t know what we would have done had we not found out about these requirements in Lisbon as we were advised this was the only place in Portugal where we could get them. Probably we could get them
without too much hassle in the Canaries but it was just great to have that little job ticked off.
We left Oeiras and headed south for Sines, a distance of about 45 miles. Sines has a small marina and also an anchorage just off the marina that was meant to offer pretty reasonable protection.
The start of the trip was the usual, little or no wind and motor sailing and during the morning session, Nikki took Layni up to the helm for some practical lessons in seamanship. She did a really great job and had Layni taking control and steering a very true course in no time at all. The weather was beautiful and we shared a great lunch together in the cockpit with the auto pilot on in very calm seas indeed. Nikki and Luke prepare these brilliant lunch spreads of cold meats, cheese and salad and with fresh bread hot out of the oven they are just the best ever.
Bread making is the new challenge, trying out different recipes, hoping to be able to master the art by the time we start the trip across the Atlantic. The guys on Small Nest seem to
be doing very nicely thank you very much along with their new best toy - a yoghurt maker which they have been doing with great success.
The wind was giving some indications of starting to fill in and we were watching Small Nest and her bright red gennaker sailing along very comfortably in the light conditions. I think we all agree that in the light winds, a gennaker would be a very nice addition to our sail wardrobe but they are not cheap so we will have to wait for some stroke of luck to come our way somehow. We are waiting to hear back from a sail maker in Lagos with a quote for a new headsail so we will see how that goes first.
Our required wind speed came up and we started to make great boat speed on a broad reach which we kept up for about three hours and we entered into Sines Harbour about 7.30 that night being met by the local GNR which are like a combined Police and Customs Unit. Every place you pull into in Portugal you have to produce your ships papers, passports etc and these are all diligently
recorded and logged, keeping track of boat and crew at all times.
Sines is not a very big place but it does have the obligatory fort overlooking the harbour and a statue of Vasco de Gama stands proudly at the base. Whilst the pilotage book advised that we had to pay 7 euro a night to stay there, no one came out to take any fees which of course we were very happy with.
The water in the harbour was the warmest we had encountered so both lots of junior crew members took to the halyards and spent heaps of time swimming and having a ball. It also meant that I had a chance to get the scuba gear out and dive under the boat and check it all out.
All was ok except the anode on the prop was showing signs that it needed replacement which was not a surprise at all and the poor old hull was in desperate need of a good clean so out came the scrubbing brush and 6 months of growth was taken off the keep and rudder where it was the worst and them most of the hull was given
a once over. This was a job I used to do on B52 and Nina at home and I thought their hulls were big but @#^* how big was this one!! I was stuffed by the time I got most of it done.
We spent about three days in Sines, reprovisioning the boat for the trip further south and we also tried out luck in a local Chinese restaurant which turned out to be fantastic. We hadn’t had a ‘china’ for months and it was a real treat. It was just like when I was a kid and every once in a blue moon we would go all the way into Orange and we would go out for a Chinese meal and it was always incredibly looked forward to and always appreciated and enjoyed so much. One of the best things about doing what we are doing is learning all about life again and appreciating things we used to take so much for granted.
We had planned to leave Sines at 6.00am as we had a possible 12 hour trip ahead of us to make it to Lagos. We were up and ready but by 6.00am, the fog
was pretty heavy and the sun was still a long way from coming up so we agreed with Willem’s suggestion of another hour in the rack and try again for 7.00. The idea of trying to spot fishing pots and nets in the dark and fog was a definite no go.
Dawn started break about ten to seven and we up anchored and headed out. The mist had cleared a bit and there were about three other yachts heading out at the same time as us. We don’t mind letting other yachts get in front us as we can then simply follow in their wake, hoping they clear the pots along the way. A bit like walking through a mine field really!!
The morning sunrise was beautiful and Debs and I enjoyed our time in the cockpit together as the younger crew continued to sleep away blissfully. It looked like it was all starting to clear but about an hour down the track, the sea fog really rolled in and we moved over closer to Small Nest to make a bigger radar picture for any ships / boats in the area.
This lasted for an hour or so and then the day started to shine in earnest. Some dolphins started to head for the bow of Small Nest and all of her crew were soon up on their bow with the screams of delight from all the family resonating far across the ocean. They seemed to be getting all the attention with heaps of dolphins all around their boat.
It wasn’t long however and we had more than our fair share of dolphins riding shotgun on our bow. There were about 10 or 12 of them criss crossing the bow and they seemed to be having just as much fun as we were. The water was crystal clear and apart from the Dolphins at the Pet Porpoise Pool at home, I have never been so close to these beautiful animals. They stayed with both boats for ages and ages and it was one of the most majestic things I had seen since we had been on our boat. It made me feel incredibly humble to be out here with them.
We passed Cape Saint Vincent mid afternoon and as our replacement windows had not arrived at the boat yard, we decided to drop anchor in the bay near Sagres. The afternoon was warm as and it seemed that no sooner had the anchor set then all the kids were in the water, swimming and halyard swinging to their hearts contents while Willem and I sat back and had a few beers watching the sun set and then we had a few more beers because they were so bloody good.
The next morning we left about 10.30, the weather was pretty crappy, overcast and raining and as we only had about 12 miles to get to the boatyard, we put the bimini up and motor up. The rain cleared and we entered the Sopromar Boat Yard just after lunch, and not long after the Courier arrived with our brand new windows that were soon to be installed in our saloon.