After a somewhat bumpy night in the entrance to Vigo I set sail again. This time my plan was a ten hour sail to Porto in Portugal. It would be a downwind sail and to be honest, Away is not that happy about going dead down wind. Mainly because there is no whisker pole to extend the jib (the head sail, or the forward sail) out over the lifelines and since the jib tracks are located rather far in on deck it makes it a difficult sail. So I decided to go 140 degrees downwind rather than 180 degrees, having the wind coming in on my starboard side the first part of the sail.
It went really good, actually. The wind was about 14-15 knots and I was doing 6-7 knots of speed most of the time. I lay out a route and figured that I would have to gybe almost on the edge of the Atlantic plateau to get to Porto. This is probably one of my best experiences that I acquired during this sail – I shouldn’t have gybed just once. I should have stayed closer to shore, but in the moment it felt quite safe and sound. I did however alter my course not to get too far out in the Atlantic.
As I approached what I had calculated as my gybe point, I realized that the waves, about 2-3 meters high, was coming at me at an angle that made the boat swerve a lot with every wave, both making her lose speed but more importantly making the autopilot working overtime. I also noticed that my angle that I had anticipated for the gybe was a bit too sharp, so having the same but opposite wind angle going out into the Atlantic I would pass Porto with several nautical miles. The sail in to shore was about 6 hours, telling me that I also was going to have a longer sail than expected.
As I altered the course to go more perpendicular with the waves to mitigate the swerving, I also managed to get to shore before Porto, which was great. At this time, the wind had started to pick up and the swell was also picking up, so I was surfing down waves that was about 3-4 meters high. It could have been fun, It felt perfectly safe, but it was getting late and I was concerned that as I got closer to the shore the wind would drop and I would once more have to anchor in the dark. Something I have started to dislike.
Still A little more than an hour out, the sun went beyond the horizon, and in fifteen minutes or so everything changed. Thankfully the wind did die down a bit, up to this point I have had rather constant winds of 20-25 knots, and now they were back below 20 again. At the same time the waves also shrunk back to be 2-3 meters, and it all helped because it was getting hard to evaluate the trim of the sails. What I did see though was that the two top sail slides, that attaches the sail to the mast, had given up and all that held the top now was the halyard, or the rope that you hoist the sail with. It wasn’t more than a meter that was loose, but it has to get attention before I can move on once more.
Approaching shore I noticed that I actually was aiming for the wrong port, and I was actually above the port I was supposed to anchor in. But it was just fifteen minutes of motoring and then I was where I was supposed to be. It was really great to get behind the breakwater and away from the waves, anchoring was easy and there was four other boats already anchored, so I decided to be safe and anchored some distance from them. The river Duero, where the anchorage is located, isn’t very deep, but since the draft of Away is only 1.6m it was no issue. As soon as I had anchored and taken care of the sails I went to bed, the sail was more than 12 hours and I was beat.
Since there isn’t any waves in the anchorage to speak of it is really nice! Only a passing boat now and then pulls up some wake and gets the boat rocking a few times, but to be honest – I’ve had worse. A lot worse. So I got a really good nights sleep.
As I woke up the whole city was enveloped in a thick fog. I couldn’t see much of the shore anywhere and since I had run the autopilot quite heavily I needed to recharge the batteries again… But at noon it started to scatter and the batteries started to trickle charge.
I have noticed that after a longer sail I really need a day to just unwind and relax, this time it was no different. So the day passed by rather quickly (I didn’t get up that early either) and the next day I had but one thing on my mind – to make sure I had money to last the coming two weeks at least. It was Sunday, otherwise I would have started chasing down materials to repair the sail as well.
It was a sunny day and I started with inflating the dinghy again, that has been auto-deflating on the deck all the way from Ireland to here. I wonder if it could be a sellable feature? I searched the map for ATMs and luckily there was one just at the marina, next to the anchorage. Unfortunately, as I realized as I got there, it was out of notes. The nearest one was quite far away and up a steep hill, and it was reasonably warm this day. So I decided to go to the other side of the river instead, to check out the food stores at the same time. It wasn’t a long walk, really, but It seemed like it on the map. Funny thing was that a petrol station showed up as the nearest ATM, but as I got there there was no ATM to be seen. At least I got a bottle of water and an icecream. As I walked to the petrol station I passed a place that looked like it was a food store, so I went there instead to check it out. As I entered I was reminded by a guard to wear a face mask, and when I asked about an ATM they had one in the entrance. Lucky me! I withdrew what money I could and then went into the store. It was a reasonably large store and well stocked, but almost no customers. Maybe I was there at a weird time? I have most food I need in the boat, but I got some juice and some other stuff since I was already there. Back to the boat!
Today I went to the marina to ask them about the nearest chandlery, apparently they had a small one themselves, but it was mainly focused on consumables like filters and belts, but they pointed me to a different place one floor up, and they helped me getting the right pieces. I needed not just the sail slides, but also webbing and thread to attach them. They called a sail loft and they had the sail slides in stock. They would even sell me a needle even if they normally wouldn’t do that. So, tomorrow I will hopefully do my repairs on my sails and then I can continue down the coast.
By the way, I’m sorry I don’t have so much pictures in my posts at the moment, but is isn’t that easy to have an iPad with me and spontaneously snap a picture of something. I will try to remeber to take more photos and it will get better as I get a new phone.