28 Sept 2014

[Cruise News] Marina Lanzarote, Arrecife

We've made it!  After nearly 5 days at sea, we arrived this morning safe and sound.  It was a benign passage with little wind (and therefore the associated calm-ish seas) and so we motor-sailed much of the way which is exactly what we had to do two years ago but I'd much rather that then high winds and big seas.  What little wind and swell there was was at last coming from a favourable direction so it was a pretty comfortable trip.  That said, we're both tired.  Doing longer passages "two up" is tough: Three hours on watch, three hours off, 24/7, plays havoc with your sleep patterns and I'm someone who likes her sleep!  It's amazing what a difference just having one extra person on board makes.
Paul's foot and neck are improving and he found using a feather pillow to sleep on better supported his neck from the rock and roll motion of the boat.  I think he didn't always feel great on the trip but he gets on with things and doesn't complain.  
The marina is the one the Atlantic Odyssey departs from and so Tumi is in the right place.  It's a new marina that isn't quite finished .... the official opening is mid-October and it will be very impressive when it's finished.  At the moment the facilities aren't open .... showers, fuel dock, shops etc ... but it's is relatively cheap for a marina so I can live with that!

We're flying home on Wednesday to see Paul's Mum and don't know whether or not we will be able to return out here for a couple of weeks exploring the Canaries or will need to stay at home up until the rally departure, so we may be off-line for a few weeks.

Hoping to hire a car tomorrow and explore Lanzarote.  One thing I can say: It's hot!  The boat fans have been deployed for the first time!

21 Sept 2014

[Cruise News] Cascais, near Lisbon

After days of relentless high winds from the south, we finally took the plunge and headed out from Fig Foz to motor-sail to Lisbon, into strong southerly winds of course but not as strong as they have been.  Whilst holed up in the marina over the last few days we've recorded wind speeds in excess of 45 knots ... heaven knows what it would have been like out at sea.
And now we're in Cascais and typically the wind has completely died and is forecast to stay like this for several days!  It does feel as though this trip has been an uphill struggle to date so things can (hopefully) only get better.
We were in Cascais two years ago and it's a lovely place.  It sits at the entrance of the Tagus, about 20 mins by train from Lisbon and is very popular with people from around the world and has a great feel to it.  We wandered through the old town last night soaking up the atmosphere. Whilst waiting for the wind to return we'll certainly visit Lisbon and it will also give Paul's neck a chance to recover - he tweaked it removing the rope from around the propeller when we left La Coruna and has been suffering from headaches on and off ever since.  As I say, things can only get better, including Paul's neck!
Sadly Paul's Mum is in hospital and the prognosis isn't good.  We need to continue to the Canaries but will probably head for Lanzarote, leave Tumi in the marina there and head back to the UK to say goodbye and support his Dad.  It's a shame we won't be able to explore the Canaries as had been the plan - maybe another time.

17 Sept 2014

[Cruise News] Figueira Da Foz, west coast of Portugal

Well the trip so far has proved to be somewhat frustrating, what with delays waiting for spare parts and now delays because of poor weather for sailing.  So we're currently holed up in a small marina in "Fig Foz" waiting for the strong southerly winds and large swell to die down and hopefully veer around to the north-west which is what they should be doing at this time of year! We're not the only yacht facing the same predicament weather-wise: There are five others in the same marina with us all feeling just as frustrated as us.  Not that Fig Foz isn't a pleasant place but we've done it now and are ready to move on.

The sail from La Coruna to here wasn't particularly enjoyable as we were beating into the wind and swell all the way, needing the engine on to make sufficient headway.  I'll be glad to be in better conditions on many levels, not least to remember why I enjoy the sailing life!

Yesterday we caught the local train to Coimbra, the Portugese equivalent of Oxford or Cambridge, being an old university town dating from hundreds of years ago.  The university sits on top of the hill that the old walled town was built on and climbing up the narrow cobbled streets on a daily basis must make for some of the fittest students in Europe.  We were both amazed that a return train journey of one and a quarter hours each way cost only Euro 5.30 ... why can't the UK manage similar?

Not sure what the plan is for today ... Fatima and Aveiro have been suggested but Paul's currently got his nose in a book so could be a day relaxing!

15 Sept 2014

[Captains Blog] Figuera da Foz

&*^%#@$ Fishermen!!! As we were leaving Coruna on Friday 12th (sailing superstition says you should never set out on a voyage on a Friday) we had just taken a photo of the Torre de Hercules (below). This lighthouse has been in operation since Roman times and we still use it today. Who said the Romans didn't do anything for us??? 

Anyway, we had just left Coruna when there was a thud from under the boat. We had been looking out for lobster pot buoys (not always easy to see at the best of times) and there weren't any ahead of us, but we had definitely picked something up. I stopped the propellor, put it into reverse, then back into forward, and there was definitely a judder. We had something around it. Then we saw the rope, trailing out behind us. We were less than a mile from the shore, it was going dark, and we couldn't use the engine. There was only one thing for it, I had to go under the boat to see what the issue was. I cut the line close to Tumi, put on my wetsuit, snorkel, facemask and flippers, and went off the stern. The propellor was completely fouled with a rope. It took me several dives under the boat armed with a Captain Curry knife to cut away and remove the tangle of (floating) rope. 

Once that was done, we were able to continue on our way. Thankfully it was still light enough for me to see what I was doing underwater, but I guess the adrenaline was flowing sufficiently not to notice the cold water too much. However, the episode did leave me feeling somewhat queasy afterwards, and it took me 24 hours to shake it off. The journey from there was a pig. We headed into strong southerly winds all the way, passed through a nasty thunderstorm during which a fork of lightening came down quite close to us into the sea, and just to make life even more uncomfortable, the swell was right on the nose as well. That is why we are now in Figuera da Foz, continuing on down to Lisbon was just going to be more of the same with stormy weather forecast for tonight and tomorrow. We are better holed up here for a few days to let the worst of the weather pass us by. It has been raining on and off all day, and the winds pick up significantly later. We are snugly tied up in a nice marina in a very pleasant town.

12 Sept 2014

[Cruise News] Readying for the off

I'm pleased to say that the spare part (and engineer) has arrived and so we don't need to wait the weekend in La Coruna.  We have a 3-day weather window so will head off this evening with a view to getting to Lisbon before the weather deteriorates - if it changes, we have lots of places we can call into on the coast of Portugal.  Unfortunately the winds are from the south but look set to stay that way for the foreseeable future so we've just got to accept that and continue.  Paul's foot is improving so he says he's good to go. 

11 Sept 2014

[Captains Blog] Still in la Coruna

I had an ouch moment a couple of days ago -- I was stepping over the coaming on my way to use the marina facilities and freshen up when my ankle turned over. There is a tendon that runs across the top of the foot that holds the foot flat on the floor and this tried to correct the situation by straightening the ankle up again. I felt a sharp pain in the bone on the outside of the foot (the one that the tendon had pulled against) and I knew I had a recurrence of an injury I sustained several years ago on the squash court. The tendon had snapped a bit of bone off the metatarsal. Not a lot can be done about it, but support the foot in an elastic bandage, apply liberal quantities of Lasonil to the area, and rest it for a few days.

It has enabled me to sort a few little jobs out including the bolts incident from the other day, but besides that, when we switched the engine on to leave on the 9th the extractor unit that removes the hot air from inside the engine compartment decided to whirr and rattle at an alarming pitch so we shut it down and called the broker. We had noticed that there had been a seepage of oil from the unit, which probably meant that the seal had gone, the unit had been running dry and the bearings had worn. Either way, a replacement is needed, has been approved by Jeanneau, and dispatched yesterday. We are waiting for the replacement to arrive and be fitted, hopefully tomorrow and not Monday. We want to get moving southwards quickly now. I will have had enough enforced rest by then and I am ready to continue down to Lisbon (Cascais).

10 Sept 2014

[Cruise News] La Coruna

Yes we're still here!  We've been watching the weather forecasts for the last day or two in readiness for heading south and guess where the winds are coming from?  Yes, the south, meaning we would have to tack our way down the coast of Portugal which is always frustrating.  We'd decided to coast-hop along a way yesterday but when we fired up the engine it soon became apparent we wouldn't be going anywhere.  The fan that extracts hot air from the engine compartment had started making noises was we neared La Coruna last week and it's few days of rest haven't resolved the problem.  Quite the reverse in fact and a replacement part is needed.  As this is a warranty issue we're now waiting for Jeanneau to send the unit to their local dealer here in Coruna and so hopefully it will be fitted in the next day or two and we can head south.
On Monday we got out our bikes and cycled the Paseo Maritimo (5km long promenade) which was very enjoyable in the sunshine.  We had planned on heading out again today but Paul turned his ankle yesterday afternoon and thinks he might have chipped a small bone in his foot.  A day of rest might be the more sensible option.

8 Sept 2014

[Captains Blog] La Coruna

It's nice to be back here in this lovely old city. The journey down was not without incident ... Phil noticed that there was a bolt on the foredeck and on further investigation we found that two bolts had removed themselves from their housing and the roller furling mechanism was only being held in place by a steel bracket that the furler was sitting in (just!). We managed to jiggle the unit sufficiently to line up the hole to be able to insert the bolt and at least hold it till we could get some replacements fitted. That was done today, and we are able to continue our journey. However, the winds have moved and we will be sailing southwards in southerly winds which is not ideal. We will check the Grib files in the morning and decided whether to stay a day or two more here before we set out again. Not being on a timetable is much better and we can feel a bit more relaxed about our departure date. 

7 Sept 2014

[Cruise News] La Coruna Marina, NW Spain

We finally arrived in Spain late on Friday night after a 3.5 day passage from Falmouth.  It was a very benign crossing with us having to motor-sail much of the way as winds were so light.  However, it did mean that it made for a very calm sea which knowing Biscay's reputation was quite a relief!  Saturday we explored the town and enjoyed a lovely (if somewhat late .... restaurants don't actually open until 9pm at night here) dinner in the square sitting under the stars .... very romantic, Paul, Phil and me!
This morning we walked along to the Torre De Hercules, the world's oldest working lighthouse which dates from Roman times and then saw Phil onto the bus for the airport at lunchtime just before the heavens opened.  Seems to be passing over now, fingers crossed.
We're hoping to head south in the next day or two and will head down to Lisbon, maybe stopping at Baiona but we'll see.  After that the route to the Canaries will depend on the wind direction .... hopefully via Madeira, if not via the Algarve, but getting warmer and sunnier as we head south.  Can't wait! 

4 Sept 2014

[Captains Blog] Biscay Bay

Most of the way across Biscay now with no wind. Last night I was on watch as we crossed the continental shelf. The depth gauge read 165 metres for a while, then gradually increased to 170, 175, 195, 225, 275, then nothing, we had glided calmly over an abyss where the sea floor dropped away 4000 metres in seconds. awesome.

2 Sept 2014

[Cruise News] Falmouth Marina, waiting to depart

We've had a frustrating start to our trip. We departed Plymouth on Sunday afternoon with Phil on board and decent winds (if slightly from the wrong direction for us) only to discover the wind instruments weren't giving us any direction indication, although we had got wind speed.  Paul tried to do a re-set and it did correct the problem for a short while but then we lost the data again.  Very annoying but it did explain something that had me wondering on Tuesday night when we returned to Plymouth.  On that occasion the wind direction was fixed in what I thought was the wrong direction and, given this hi-tech instrumentation also displays a direction of travel vector which indicated we would run aground on Plymouth Sound breakwater when patently we weren't going to do so, it proves the calculations going on were incorrect.  Shame I didn't flag it to Paul then as we could have had it fixed in Plymouth along with the other bits, all now completed I'm pleased to say.
On Sunday we sailed along to Fowey and took a mooring buoy overnight.  After a lovely cooked breakfast ashore yesterday morning we continued around to Falmouth to supposedly connect up with the RayMarine engineer but there was a breakdown in communication and he couldn't make it until this morning.  So we anchored in St Mawes, enjoyed a bottle of wine or two, and this morning motored to Falmouth marina and the waiting engineer.  He's now replacing the wind vane and running a new cable down the mast with the help of a rigger so hopefully we'll be away early afternoon.  It turns out the problem was water ingress at the top of the mast into the unit, apparently quite a common problem but very annoying all the same.  Boats !!!!!!!
The weather forecast for Biscay looks pretty calm and settled (hope these are not famous last words) so we are hoping for a relatively benign crossing but with enough wind to not necessitate us motoring for too long.  Hopefully the next update with be from Spain at the weekend! 

[Captains Blog] Fowey

A frustrating start to the day, having to stop off again to get some repairs done. The wind speed and direction indicator had decided to pack up. It turns out that there had been some water ingress at the masthead unit and something had gone Kaput. A new unit and lots of silicone grease later, we were back up and running, able to tell the wind speed and direction and we were finally off.

1 Sept 2014

[Captains Blog] Fowey

Before we left Fowey, I wanted to make sure that the paddle log would work after a bit of cleaning. I pulled out the unit, shoved the blank stopper in its place and cleaned up the wheel. If it doesn't turn with the water flowing over it, we don't get a log reading. However, when I tried to put it back, it wouldn't go. Water was coming into the boat a quite a rate, and I wasn't happy. I couldn't seat the unit properly, and so the water ingress wouldn't stop. I decided that we wouyld replace the blank, and set off to Falmouth and let the engineer have a look at it. We started out from Fowey heading westwards, hoping to find an engineer to look at the anenometer, but we got almost to Falmouth where we were expecting a Raymaribe engineer to be waiting for us, only to discover that there had been a cock-up on the communications front and he had gone off on another job. So we went into St Mawes and dropped the hook. While we were there, we sorted out the depth gauge and paddle log, finally getting it back into its docking station and water tight. Panic over.