BACK TO ALGARVE
After spending a nice time
in the Azores, I wanted to set our trip further,
but before I needed to check Giulia.
A friend would help me therefore in Faro.
16- 24 September 2019
The wind had been blowing from the East for a month. Many sailors were stuck waiting for the wind to veer and allow them to sail …east to the Continent. Me too.
I was glad I could experience the Festas de São Pedro. We could follow the procession on the water, on a friend’s boat.
I asked for good winds.
Fair winds came ten days later. I prepared Giulia for the passage, checked the riggings, cleaned the hull, bought food, filled the tanks. It was a 800M sail, and I was expecting to be 8 to 12 days at sea.
The departure was again emotional, as I had made many friends while waiting for the weather window. They were a little worried for me, and brought me all good foodies to accompany me. It felt good.
The weather forecast wasn’t the best one, but I didn’t want to take a chance as the chance of storm were augmenting with the days passing.
First I would have SE for four days. Then little wind in the High Pressure east of the Azores. The more favorable NW winds would come behind.
I decided to sail as close-hauled as I could towards the latitude of Lisbon. There the area with light winds would be smaller. Behind I would catch the NW that would bring Giulia and me to the coast.
Sailing South of Santa Maria was awesome, I had all time to admire the landscape until the lighthouse of Goncalo Velho. I set course as planned, sailing at 45 degrees to the wind for the days. It was a nice sail. The night of the third day conditions had changed. The high pressure had dissolved giving way to gusty S-SW winds and a bad sea beating the sides of Giulia. I had hoisted the Hi-Aspect in pouring rain as a security, and was tired. The resonating waves banging on the beam kept me awake all night though. It was the first time I really was worried for Giulia. The next morning the winds were more constant, from the SE now, and the ocean kinder to us. I abated to have a better angle to the waves and the wind. This allowed me to take a rest. My mood came back to positive.
I became very stressed when I downloaded the Grib files the morning of the 4th day. The weather was worsening further, with a big depression coming over us. Winds of 50 knots, waves of 4 meter were forecasted. I didn’t want to be therein. The wind veered to the West and I decided to sail due South-East, to the latitude of Cape São Vicente, where the wind would only be of 30 knots. I had to motor a few hours to keep good speed. The wind came back soon, from then the WSW allowing us to sail down wind, which was more comfortable. At the end of the day I reached the 37°N latitude and prepared Giulia and myself for a difficult night. The wind would shift in the cold front from the SW to the NW, in the middle of the night. I would have to gybe in these conditions. I was also worried I would be close to the Banco do Josephine – a seamount where the depth are 50 meters. Alltogether conditions to have strong and short waves. I couldn’t really fall asleep again, checking sails and Giulia, all the time. At 5:00 am, the wind veered in no time from the South West to the North West. It was difficult to maneuver in these conditions. I luffed to have a better angle to the waves, and finally fell asleep in the morning. When I woke up the conditions were easier and I could set all sails again. I was feeling very proud of me, and enjoying even more being at sea, in good conditions. I slept a lot during the day, and started my night early after gybing to go back to 37°N. But I couldn’t reset the windvane properly and switched to the autopilot. It took over without a problem.
The morning of the sixth day, the wind dropped more. I took the time to hoist the Code S. We were now sailing on flat waters, my heart bouncing even more with joy. The wind completely died in the evening. I wanted to wait for it to come back, but was almost hit by a boat. Switching the engine on seemed to be a better and safer alternative. In the evening of the 7th day, I switched the engine off, and set the Code S back under a glorious sunset.
I was approaching the coast, and the traffic line of São Vicente. When I saw that the traffic was consistently diminishing, I went on. I just needed to contact two cargos, that kindly passed me aft. I slept 15 minutes in between. The adrenaline helped me with that until the smell of the Gum rock-rose announced me I was approaching the cape, and I saw the lights of the lighthouse. The sun rose just south of the cape.
Once behind the head, the wind dropped. I was too tired to maneuver and keep a good watch. I preferred to switch the engine on for the last miles, and clean Giulia. I saw that the shackle of the halyard of the Code S had unscrewed with the vibrations. And thought to myself I had taken the best decision. In the late afternoon of the 8thday I moored in the marina of Portimão, feeling very proud of me.
When I switched my phone on I had a message of friends that had left a few hours later form Santa Maria. They were waiting for me in Alvor and asking where I was. They joined me in Portimão. It felt nice to be welcomed and to celebrate together our succeeded passages.