Saturday, 6 February 2016

Rollercoaster to Lagos

30-Jan: Sines to Lagos

After a good night sleep, we left Sines harbor under a gentle breeze. The port was quieter than when we arrived. I could rely on Trovoada's auto-pilot to handle the boat to open waters while I stow  fenders and cables and hoist the sails.

Sailing within sight of land - Serra de GrĂ¢ndola on the horizon.
On sight of land, we sail south comfortably for a few hours. As two days before, we were sailing downwind. To avoid an accidental jibe, I head a few degrees westward than necessary. It allowed a good compromise between speed, comfort, and safety.

Pleasant sailing hours passed. The wind grew stronger and the waves higher. For most of the afternoon, the wind was blowing 12 to 16 knots with three-meter waves. At the sunset, everything went calm for some time. I even got another visit by a small group of dolphins that swum side by side with Trovoada. Before the night fell, I enjoyed another sunset at sea.

Sunset at sea
These were the last minutes of calm. As the extraordinary colors of the sunset gave place to the dark black sky, the wind and the waves grew steadily. When we were around 10 miles north of cape St. Vicent, the wind was blowing above 20 knots and four-meter waves shook Trovoada.

Although I have no images, for obvious reasons, negotiating the cape was a hard task. It was pitch black - the moonrise happened just a few hours later when I was arriving Lagos. I can not see much more than the lighthouse at a safe distance. And even this beacon disappears every time we were in the bottom of the wave.

Trimming the sails to fit the new course was daunting. A fishing boat approaching and crossing my planned route made this task even more difficult. Indeed, I had a bad time for a while. Beaten by the waves, I was struggling to follow the lighthouse beacon and to guess the course of the fishing boat based solely on the red and green lights that I saw.

Then, the plotter started to bip. This was good. I was arriving at the waypoint that marked the position where we had to definitively turn East. Sailing at six knots, it didn't take long to reach Ponta de Sagres. 

From that point on it was a walk in the park. A steady 16 knots "nortada" pushed us at more than six knots, sometimes above seven knots, until Ponta da Piedade.

After passing Ponta da Piedade was time to prepare the boat for docking. A half-hour later we were entering the deserted Marina de Lagos. It was almost 2 AM. I tied the Trovoada at the reception pontoon, took of the weather gear and went down to prepare something hot to eat. What a great day! 

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