Passing another milestone

Continuing the trip from Sines after a good nights sleep felt really good. It was a nice spot to anchor on, and to be honest a little surprising, but it was most welcome. The sail was quite uneventful until I reached the point where I no longer was sailing south, but east.

I had finally passed the southwest most corner of Portugal, and it was really nice. The wind was picking up as per usual in the evening and I was close to where I had three possible anchorages. The first was just at the tip as I rounded it, and as the sun was but a sliver over the horizon I decided to check it out. The coast here is also high rocks, but I wasn’t paying attention until the boat suddenly was hit by the strong winds, turning me once more straight at the shoreline at high speed. As I was relatively close to where I wanted to anchor I decided to drop the cloth and motor the last bit. Lesson now learned – stay far away from high coast lines! Check.

It took some time to get in, even without sails the boat wanted to turn some to where I didn’t want to go. But as soon as I got behind the cliffs the wind trying to turn the boat was replaced by strong winds coming down in puffs over the edge of the cliffs instead. The sea was calm, but now you could easily see the ripple patterns these puffs were making on the surface.

I was hoping that if I tucked in really far into the corner, I would be shielded from these winds, but as I approached I realized that, yes, it was calmer near the cliffs, but I would have to be too close to comfortably go to sleep there. Adding to the issue was that I had to drop about forty meters of chain since it was rather deep most of the way towards the cliffs. I did drop the anchor, and even at that amount of chain out, it was stretched straight in the winds. I wasn’t sure if there was enough distance between the boat and the cliffs, if the winds were to change direction either. The boat is almost fifteen meters and combined with the amount of chain out, I wasn’t certain it would clear the cliffs.

So I pulled up the anchor once more. This time aiming for the third spot I had in mind, which was just outside a small fishing village, which seemed to have a breakwater. But en route I was investigating the second anchorage at the southern beach of Sagres as well, since it was pitch black once again and I don’t like getting too close to things in the dark and the third anchorage seemed a tad small for my taste. It seemed as if the beach was a good choice, and on AIS I could see that there was at least one boat anchored at the furthest end of the beach, so I would more than likely have the rest of the beach to anchor at.

One routine that I have coming to an anchorage at night is to bring out my torch and sweep the area for any things on the water, there could be any number of things not showing up on charts or AIS, like bathing platforms, buoys and other stuff. As I got to the bow and my eyes had adjusted a bit to the light conditions, I could see an anchor light to port and as I turned on the torch I could verify that it was a boat there. I kept sweeping the light back and forth over the bay, and then I found one more boat, first by seeing some faint light from their cabin, that I then confirmed with the torch. It hadn’t turned on any lights at all, really dangerous since at night when it is pitch black it is really hard to see even a white sailboat. I also saw two small blinking lights at water level to starboard, and that was another two smaller sailing boats, also without anchor lights! I presume they thought those small blinking leds would be enough, but it was not easy to see them. Since I have a reasonably shallow draft of 1.6 meters I continued in between the other boats. It was still over five meters under the keel and I didn’t feel like competing with the other boats for the space. As I had just two meters left under the keel I felt it was time to drop the anchor. It was low tide, so according to my calculations I would be perfectly fine where I was dropping it. The night was uneventful, thankfully, and when I woke up in the morning I saw that I had positioned Away perfectly, so I was content with my effort the night before. The sea was flat, there was just a hint of wind in the bay, but I could see that there was wind further out.

I decided to sail off anchor, it is fun and always feels a little more accomplished to do so. But that story has to wait until next time.

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