Our Journey North Begins.
That is, if we can finally untie our mooring lines from Port Velcro.
Sines (15th April, 89 Miles from Lagos)
The alarm clock sounded at 0330 and so commenced the first of our passages North. We had left the marina the previous night and moved to the waiting pontoon in order to leave Lagos at 0400. Neither of has had slept due to tension and over indulgences the previous day so the day ahead could have been a real ordeal but as it happened it was a fantastic first sail of the season.
The Passage to Sines. We motored out of Lagos in little or no wind; so much for the F4 easterlies of yesterdays forecast, the moon had long since set so our only light was from the two BBQ LED solar lanterns fixed in the cockpit which seemed perfect. The headland of Cabo St Vicente was 3 hours of motoring but on route our need to steer around at least 20 fishing boats caused time to fly by; I suppose watching the sun rise behind also helped.
Passing the Cape coincidently brought a really good easterly wind and it stayed with us until midday. During this time, as is the norm with Ruby Tuesday, we caught and passed a couple of cruising ketches. Its pleasing to say that the passage had no excitement so our possible lack of sea-legs was not a problem. We did see a huge Sun Fish, but we had zoomed over it so fast it did little to evade us.
We motored for the last few hours and arrived at Sines at about 1700 where the 24 hour staff showed us our berth and helped us tie up.
We checked in at the new office, looked at the weather on the staff computer and decided to take advantage of the last good day before 7 days of high winds, big seas and rain. Another early start then. We were charged 17 Euros for the night. WiFi is via a national group but we chose not to register with them. Sines has a good chandlery within the marina complex but, from our previous visit, it has little to offer as a town. Its also a bouncy location being only 50m from the huge and busy inner harbour. Ruby Tuesday also got covered in black soot spots, from the numerous big ships docking and unloading. Hell of a job to scrub them off.
Cascais (16th April, 57 Miles from Sines)
By 0700 we were heading NW, having already exited the marina, hoisted the main sail and crossed the harbour. We were expecting fresh winds from the NW by early afternoon so we aimed to head as far west as we could in order to be in a good position to tackle them in the final stage of the passage.
The Passage to Cascais. Until 1100 we motored NW in almost zero wind. Initially it was quite hazy, maybe 1 Mile visibility, but the sun soon won and we could then see the glassy smooth water. We saw another Sun Fish but, although it wasn't very big (about 1m long), we went back and photo'd it.
At 1100 a westerly wind appeared so off went the motor; peace at last. We chose to maintain our course out to sea as we were still expecting the fresh north-westerly's. And so at 1300 when they did arrive we simply turned North and headed direct to Cascais, arriving at 1530. We like it when a plan works.
Only one thing marred our smashing passage. About 5 Miles from Cascais a tanker came down the River Tagus from Lisboa. Passing No. 2 buoy it turned South directly towards us, placing us exactly head to head. Our radar repeater "Sea Me" was flashing merrily and visibility was near perfect, if they looked they could see us. So we held our course. At roughly 1 mile apart we could still see the windows of the bridge so they had no excuse; they could see us equally well. Then suddenly the ship turned to starboard out to sea just as we were about to turn. I think the arrogant crew realised, "Might is not always right."
Being in no hurry, now we were safe from the expected weather, we went to check in at the office. Core, talk about bureaucracy. The friendly marina staff speedily completed our registration and then printed the resultant document. It was 5 sheets all in different colours. We could keep the white, the marina kept the yellow, the pink, green and blue were stapled to copies of our passports and also handed to us. We were to take them to the three doors on the seaward side of reception. Inside the first door was a friendly lady who asked me to be seated, she then asked for the green copy. She was the customs officer and tapped away at here keyboard for a few minutes before saying every thing was OK and we could go see the Maritime Police next door. He asked for the blue copy and scanned it for, well, who knows what, then he said we could go. Into the swing now, we went to the final door and offered the pink document to the man. He turned out to be Immigration and he also checked the document before saying everything was fine and he hoped we enjoyed our stay.
What was that all about? It was the first time whilst travelling within the EU that we have ever seen more than the marina staff. Its good to see we are keeping people in work. That's one thing about Portugal; they will always employ two people where other countries will employ only one person. Naturally each person only gets half pay but they have jobs, they take home a wage and they are proud to do it.
The dubious sounding weather forecast from WindGuru said West(ish) winds between F7 & F10, seas up to 7m and loads of rain for the next 5 days. So when we woke on the 17th and found 2 inch of rain had fallen overnight we realised the days ahead would be seriously problematic. No walking, no cycling, sightseeing might need a wet suit, umbrellas would last minutes, groan!
On day one we dodged the rain showers, ignore the 49 knots in the marina, wandered around Cascais and did a bit of shopping. Actually it is a smashing place, very up market and cosmopolitan.