It is now Wednesday.

The Canaries are 170 or so miles away and we have been at sea for 4.5 days, so I thought I should catch up with the blog and tell you a bit of what it’s like out here!

There is beginning to be a rhythm to the day. With only two of us, we tried to do 4 hour watches, so that we got enough rest, but the ‘on’ time was a bit long and we weren’t sleeping for the whole 4hours anyway……..We are now doing 3 hours on and 3 hours off and that seems to suit us better.
Fitting in time to cook, when you feel you should be sleeping, and then time to eat what’s been cooked, before retiring on a full stomach has proved more difficult than we envisaged. With the 3 hours there strangely seems to be more time at the right time of day for our stomachs…….something to stick with for The Big Crossing!

There is something very calming being on watch alone on this first taste of the Atlantic and although the waves roll up behind us they pass smoothly underneath us and we gently surf down the swell . The sea is a deep liquid blue, that reminds me of the colour of Daddy’s eyes, the crests of the waves hold a moment of transparency before they break and chase off past us.

We chose a good weather window for this passage and despite winds yesterday of force 5/6, the boat is sailing very well and we nearly caught up with Claude and Gaëlle before IK decided to remind us who was boss, and broke her auto helm! Up until then she had been behaving very well. It is strange to ……..

NEVER, NEVER tempt fate by making ‘everything’s going well’ comments!
The abrupt end to my sentence was because the wind suddenly got behind the sail, gusting a 22 knots causing the boom to swing over in an uncontrolled gibe. The main sheet clutch failed, letting out all the main sheet and the boom preventer, in trying to do its job, managed to break the forward top guard rail on the starboard side…..luckily not the one Seth fixed in Brighton!
The silly thing is that a boom brake is on our list of things to buy in the Canaries…..it’s now moved to the top of the list, closely followed by finding a good rigger to replace the guard rail!
Since the Autohelm went down at 0100 two nights ago, we have been getting used to steering with the Hydrovane. It makes less noise and uses no battery power, although it weaves a lot more than the Autohelm……Every problem a learning opportunity!!

We arrived here in Santa Cruz,Tenerife at 1600 on Thursday, having covered 500 miles under Hetty the Hydrovane’s helpful hand.
By Saturday evening we had mended the Autopilot, re strung the courtesy flag halyard to the spreaders, rigged the SSB cable (with spacers!) to the back stay and had the two forward top guardrails replaced by an expert!! Not a bad days work. Marcus keeps saying ‘cruising is just boat maintenance in exotic places’. After having been hauled up the mast and folded double in the aft rudder-stock locker, I tend to agree!

Today being Sunday, we did a couple of jobs this morning and then took the tram up to La Laguna, which is a UNESCO site and was the first capital of Tenerife, before Santa Cruz was developed.
Tash, Chris, Charlie and Freya are arriving for the half term break this evening and we are looking forward to seeing them. They will be our first visitors from home since we left Waterford in July.

I will update with photos a.s.a.p.

I don’t have strong enough wifi to upload photos at the moment, so will come back to these next couple of posts later to update.

I made my first loaf of bread in an improvised stove top oven made out of two heat spreaders, a saveran mould and a tin foil lid! It worked a treat. Sara gave me instructions that she uses in her proper Omnia oven. I’ve been scouring the Internet for one I can buy online, but will make do with my ‘Heath Robinson’ version for the time being.
After spending ten days here we eventually got the water maker maker mended! The old electric motor was running very hot, even with its new parts, so Sergio insisted on the company he’d taken it to giving us a new motor at a reduced price. In the end we spent €40 more than the price of refurbishing the old one. We think it’s a good deal, but only time will tell.

On Thursday we went shopping, ready for crossing to the Canaries. We split forces and Marcus went off on a hike to try to get a new cable for the SSB radio antenna, whilst I trawled the local Lidls for provisions. By the time I had packed my big rucksack, my day rucksack and loaded the trolley with wine and beer, I looked like an overloaded little grey donkey pulling a cart.
Marie and Loic were at the boatyard and helped me load the dinghy, before setting off back to meet Marcus. His trek proved to be a wild goose chase of at least 3 miles …… people forget how far things are when you don’t have a car!
When we got back to the boat it was time to say goodbye to Magnus and Sara who have been our neighbours for the past week. We are looking forward to meeting up with them again in the Canaries before too long.

We decided to stay another night at the quay and try to get the water maker back together and working. The harbour master, Fernando Gomez, has been really friendly and happy to help us. When he heard that Marcus had returned empty handed from his antenna hunt, he offered to drive him to the electronic store that was ‘bound to have it’…..so at 9.00 on Friday, he took Marcus in his car to get the cable. Definitely above and beyond the call do duty! Later he helped me winch Marcus up the back stays to refit the aerial cable. We gave him a quick tour of the boat.  Every job entails turning the boat upside down …… this time it was the water maker’s turn, so he didn’t see her in the best light, but he was delighted to have been invited and got some photos of himself aboard.

After rejoining the water maker motor to the hydraulic water pump, we had a nervous few minutes when the water wouldn’t come up to pressure and we thought we’d have to call the experts in the morning, the air in the system cleared through and we were making water again…..Hurrah!!

Up early Saturday and over to Belem marina to refuel. On the way across the estuary we spotted Loïc and Marie at anchor and went over to say goodbye to them……maybe a little early for being roused by a foghorn, but they threw some clothes on and we said our farewells. They have been great company and we will miss them.

Fuelled up and Hydrovane rudder fitted, we set off just after mid day for our longest passage to date.
Canaries here we come!!

Whilst in Cascais, we decided to take a trip by train into Lisbon for a day of sightseeing. We seem to have been tied to the boat, getting on top of all the jobs that constantly take priority. We got the train and luckily sat opposite a student who told us where to change trains in order to be able to get a ‘hop on hop off’ open top bus around the old town. We felt like real tourists with our ear plugs in listening to the guided tour and cameras snapping away…..quite a change from the daily boat maintenance schedule!

Bus top view of Lisbon

Bus top view of Lisbon

We hadn’t read up about Lisbon and were surprised to hear that it was totally demolished by an earthquake and tsunami at the end of the 18th century. The centre was rebuilt in a matter of years in an early conveyor belt way ….. all the stones were cut to the same size from the same quarry and the buildings built to the same dimensions on a grid layout. The more important buildings have a lot more individuality and are covered in tiles or have impressive frescos.

The Bull ring ..... in Portugal they don't kill the bulls, we were told?!

The Bull ring ….. in Portugal they don’t kill the bulls, we were told?!

Hopping off the bus we came across squares which are used for exhibitions or meeting and eating.

An exhibition square with loads of international cafes and the castle in the background.

An exhibition square with loads of international cafes and the castle in the background.

Very quirky-arty cafe

Very quirky-arty cafe

On the front of the bar in the same cafe.

On the front of the bar in the same cafe.

We stopped at one for lunch and with our lack of Portuguese, managed to order Marcus the large beer…..our sign language was clearly bigger than we realised!

This is called a Girafe! Not what he thought he'd asked for, but a man's gotta do..........

This is called a Girafe! Not what he thought he’d asked for, but a man’s gotta do……….

Aaaaaaagh!

Aaaaaaagh!

We managed to negotiate the trains back to Cascais, but sadly Marcus left his Tilly hat on the train and despite our best efforts with the lost property office to trace it, someone now has a well-travelled addition to their wardrobe!

SEIXAL

We spent another couple of days at anchor in Cascais, during which time our water maker’s electric motor decided to overheat to the point where smoke was filling the cabin! I’m sure Island Kea has ADHD and decides to misbehave to get our attention when we leave her alone!
We decided that mending it could wait until we got to Seixal and were safely tucked up in a river, sheltered from the imminent southerly gales that were forecast. The 15 mile trip round here, last Tuesday was completed in thick fog….thank goodness for AIS! ….We were able to track one of the massive cruise liners coming out of Lisbon, that passed within half a mile of us…..we could hear her fog horn, but close as we were, we couldn’t see her.

Luckily, as we came in under the suspension bridge, the fog cleared and we could see the buoyed channel and easily navigated the shallows up to Seixal.

IK Moored behind the barge with the sloping mast.

IK Moored behind the barge with the sloping mast.

We have been moored up next to a traditional barge for the last 6 days as the tail end of this tropical storm blows itself through. These are the first strong winds and rain we have had since June and has come as a bit of a shock, but at least it’s warm.

The fishing pontoon we're moored to ...... the weather isn't a;ways good!!

The fishing pontoon we’re moored to …… the weather isn’t always good!!

Marcus spent a day trying to separate our hot headed motor from the hydraulic pump, to no avail, so we took the whole thing off its hull mounting, loaded it into the dinghy and took it up the river to a local boatyard.

Once the electrician had been woken up, he met us at the quay and took the motor to his battered white van, that was fitted out as a workshop… He had all the gear and seemed to have some idea! The upshot is that the motor has to be rewound and is in the hands of another company and we are waiting for their quote…..everything takes time and money! Hopefully they won’t keep us waiting too long as we need to be making our way south as soon as weather permits.

Meanwhile we are enjoying life here attached to the land…. (well almost, once we’ve scrambled across the barge), with electricity and water and a small village at the end of the pontoon.

On Wednesday evening we had a meal with Loic and Marie aboard Maloiva, who were moored outside us, and then walked over to the village square and had a game on Boules until bedtime!

The village square that became our boules piste for the evening

The village square that became our boules piste for the evening

The harbour master and local people are very helpful and welcoming and the local fishermen, whose pontoon we are sharing, gave us three grey mullet from their catch. Marcus descaled, gutted and filleted them (the fish, not the fishermen!) on the pontoon and then they offered him a bucket full of small crabs that they said they ate with beer. We tried them for lunch….very tasty, but too fiddly by far for very little meat, so they were destined for the stock pot.

The bucket of crabs before crunching.

The bucket of crabs before crunching.

They wouldn’t accept any money, so we left a few beers on their boat by way of thanks.
Marcus cooked up the crabs, pulverised them with a wooden mallet, added wine and whiskey and boiled the stock. Once cooked he strained the juice and reduced it into a sauce. The mullet fillets were marinated in lemon, ginger and garlic. Mmmmmmm!!

Ingredients for our dinner, minus the Johnny Walker bottle.

Ingredients for our dinner, minus the Johnny Walker bottle.

Magnus, Sarah, Mike and Kate, (on Maimai and Right Turn) who are also tucked up here out of the wind,came aboard for dinner. Another very tasty meal at ‘Hayward’s the Floating Restaurant’.

We arrived in Santa Jacinta anchorage just before dark. It looked very inviting after a long day at sea.

Tropical Plam trees on our way into Santa Jacinta

Tropical Plam trees on our way into Santa Jacinta

Santa Jancinto is a Military base town, a bit like Lossimouth. There are a few shops, bars and cafes, a lot of small fishing boats and a ferry. We took the ferry across to the docks in the background and then a bus into Aveiro.

Our anchorage form the fishing quay Santa Jacinto

Our anchorage form the fishing quay Santa Jacinto

Aveiro bills itself as a second Venice. I’ve never been to Venice, but Marcus assures me it’s not a patch on the real thing! Still it makes for an attractive feature in the city.

Motorised 'gondolas' ..... Marcus humming 'just one cornetto!'

Motorised ‘gondolas’ ….. Marcus humming ‘just one cornetto!’

We spent a very pleasant day here and managed to find a shopping centre to try and get Marcus some more shorts……..seems that we are now into the winter season so no luck there.

Colourful frontages ...... reminds me of Ireland!

Colourful frontages …… reminds me of Ireland!

On our walk around the city we came across a fabric shop, which was almost Dickensian in its layout and the manner of its owner!….’After much discourse, I purchased some yardage of fine netting with which to fabricate a bed curtain against the irksome mosquitos that dine upon us in our sleep.’

Aveiro is famous for the sea salt it produces in these salt pans, just outside the city. The traditional way of keeping fish here is to salt it so the wealth of the City was built on salt production.

Salt pans just outside city

Salt pans just outside city

Today every supermarket has piles of salted fish, which you can smell long before you see it…. At first we thought it was Marcus’ shoes or someone with B.O.!!

We left Aveiro and motor sailed our way down to Cascais which is on the north side of the river that runs into Lisbon. We had the company of dolphins for a good 20 minutes….. a record!

I got tired of standing up for my watch, so I tried out our new chair. Perched on the cockpit seats, I can see over the coach roof with the chart plotter screen and the autohelm controls at hand…..Luxury!

On watch on the new deck chair......Luxury!

On watch on the new deck chair……Luxury!

The main problem on this coast is sneaky little lobster pots that suddenly appear and need to be dodged before we hit them and they wind themselves around the propeller.

We rounded the Cape, just before Cascais and the wind picked up to 38knots (that’s gale force 8 for the non sailors, or ‘blowing old boots’) Once we were in the lee of the land, everything calmed down.

Rounding the Cape before Cascais

Rounding the Cape before Cascais

Cascais is a delightful town which has a well sheltered anchorage when the wind is from the north. It has a very active fleet of small fishing boats that operate from a quay and pontoon just south of the very overpriced marina.
In the past fishing must have been the main industry, but today the town is an extension of Lisbon and is an up market seaside resort with a shopping centre.

Wavy patterned cobbles - ridge and furrow effect

Wavy patterned cobbles – ridge and furrow effect

We found that Right Turn and Maimai were already at anchor and within minutes of us dropping the anchor, Mike and Kate and Magnus and Sarah came over in their dinghies. It is a lovely feeling to be welcomed by friends. ‘Sundowners’ were arranged for later and we caught up with the news…….including a dramatic saga of near disaster for Magnus and Sarah…….. in the middle of the night, their anchor was tripped by a catamaran that was dragging its anchor in gale force winds. Their only course of action was to motor at full speed, backwards, out of the crowded anchorage, or risk being blown onto the harbour wall or another yacht. They finally managed to re anchor in the bay after three hours, during which time they couldn’t get their anchor up, they had no steering due to a line wrapped around their rudder and no engine because they had picked up an old fishing net on their prop. They were drifting steadily out to sea, until Magnus dived down and cut away the offending net and line. A salutary tale which made us all put a few more meters of chain out!

Very sheltered mooring in Cascais

Very sheltered mooring in Cascais when the wind isn’t blowing!

The weather and the water are noticeably warmer here, although I haven’t been swimming because there are loads of big jelly fish which I don’t fancy sharing the water with.

BIG Jelly fish. Taken just before it swallowed the dinghy whole!

BIG Jelly fish. Taken just before it swallowed the dinghy whole!

Delving into the less touristy streets of Cascais we bought some grouper from the local fish warehouse and invited everyone over for a meal…..cosy with 6 of us around the table! Margaret and Roger arrived in the anchorage soon after and we have had a very sociable week.