Portugal – we can’t get away
15th to 19th October
After another day or two in the sunshine and warmth of Sines, with skipper and me, Henrietta, as obsessed with weather forecasts as ever (Wind and weather are of course an obsession of boats and sailors everywhere), we left for Madeira or Porto Santo, which is a smaller island nearby. Alas, it wasn’t in said forecasts – at least not for our patch of ocean – but after about 20 hours and going well, we were hit by strong winds, and then by even stronger winds, and then even more, until it was plain Force 9/10, with gusts 55 – 65 knots.
I was hove to with no sails up and skipper and crew hanging on. As seas grow bigger and bigger I am thrown around a bit but I maintain a fairly steady course, rudder on full lock, sideways to seas and staggering downwind, occasional waves crashing into cockpit. (M has only read about this sort of thing in books so, looking on the bright side, it is all valuable experience for him.) Although I am a strong and thoroughbred Swedish boat and have no harm to my body, after several hours, damage was apparent on some of my bits: – clew of mainsail ripped off, genoa UV strip partly torn, wind generator exploded (yes, we were lucky that shattering blades caused no damage), one solar panel backing plate destroyed, one dodger torn, one stanchion bent, bilges flooded, one bilge pump not working….M is not being over dramatic if he admits to sometimes wondering why on earth he enjoys sailing. (Short answer: when it’s like this, he doesn’t!)
Decision taken a few hours later in daylight, and once seas were more manageable, to sail roughly downwind about 120 miles to Cascais (near Lisbon) – i.e. closer to England than we were four days ago. Cascais has facilities, but as we approached the marina, M spots a tanker that seems anchored very close to shore. In fact, as we grew closer we see it is aground at marina entrance, with no less than seven tugs around (waiting for tide to rise and try towing it off). Later we discover this tanker, which was very big, had dragged its anchor in big waves and very high winds. Luckily not full of oil, and luckily not being swept onto Cascais beach or boat moorings, and luckily with double skin hull, disaster was averted. As local people are saying, it was a miracle. Anyway sailors, when you see a big ship in trouble, you know it really was very windy and rough. The worries of a tanker captain must be immense compared with those of a yacht skipper. click here for tanker story
Now, a day later, crew have had some sleep and proper food. A start has been made on repairs. The weather forecast obsession is back – with renewed rigour and vigour. Hope to be writing a happier blog next time!
Here are photos of some damage because some folk like to see such stuff.