If pictures and text werenít enough (too much I hear you say??) we have also created a wee video of each leg to give a flavour of our travails. Its not that wee actually, infact its rather big at 8MB but in this broadband world that should be possible for some Ė so set 4 minutes aside and play it with the sound on, at least then youíll get a nice bit of music to accompany you on the way . . . .
Our arrival into Portugal was marked, Iím afraid, by a Superbouy tethered to the sewerage outfall by Leixios! Itís amazing how smell free the sea becomes, and how in comparison the stench of humanity harasses the nostril on approach to land.
We hadnít really anticipated coming to Porto (Leixios is the port serving the ancient town of Porto) but after a night sail we always look forward to harbours, especially ones with free showers! Because oh of course, the humanity on board can stench a little too.....
For a bit of stuff on Lista Lights (nee Glimt) former life go to the history section on the menubar but one thing that was clear from the start in our selection of craft was that maintenance would be part of our daily lives with her to keep the old girl afloat. I say selection, it was fairly impulsive, Lista Light is the ONLY boat we actually looked at which saved us rather a few trips to old boatyards. Anyway, at 73years old a bit of botox and a nip and tuck would never go amiss, and this would be our chosen spot. For a boat like Lista I donít really think of us ever owning her, she is too regal for that, but we are her current custodians and we must keep her right. Working on her raw frame and every plank is how we will get to understand her, respect her and hopefully earn her good favour to return us with a fair passage. And Dan needed a good nightís sleep so we decided to sort the squeaking main mast and boom with a complete overhaul back to bare wood and a new covering in Varnol - a product made from mainly pine resins and gum turps rather than the usual Varnishes on the market.
The first step which involved around 8 mandays divided by 4 loyal crew was to strip her back to see what the underlying wood was like, and then sand the hell out of it until a smooth sheen radiated from the wood....
This is hard work trust me. Not many folk would decide to tackle the spars in a rolly anchorage so what we needed was guts, determination, unfathomable reserves of perseverance, balls of steel (any man who has gripped the mast with his thighs aloft in the bosuns chair for 4 days whilst gently having his block and tackle rammed onto the spars will sympathise . . . women too, I fancy....) oh, and the odd sustenance break . . .
To get 4 people onto the mast at different heights to maximise productivity was a challenge, and eggs must be broken to make omelettes as they say.... We had a 20ft piece of driftwood lashed diagonally to the front, the gaff serves as perfectly manoeuvrable scaffolding, and then the bosunís chair.
Our Totem pole was receiving some proper love! And Kath was exorcising the demons of vertigo, and I believe even came to love living up in the chair!! Or so I tell myself.
For the first two days the work proceeded well into the night with Dan and Clare working beautifully like a well oiled tandem of sanders, varnol and the ever familiar chitterchatter of some on running squabble between themselves! These amiable falling outs have become our backdrop as Clare and Dan have spent more waking hours together than you could imagine . . . itís part of the tapestry of our Atlantic Portugal trip, and is as familiar and natural as Listaís creaks and groans itself. There is a wonderful friendship and old married couple in one, and now it is infused into every inch of the very mast which will sail us south....
When it all became too much, and the inner thigh was in no state to climb the mast for the umpteenth time Kat and I grabbed the bikes and headed off into Porto via the coast. It was fantastic to be off the boat for a while and we were visiting a new place for both of us. On the ride in I spotted a heron, then another, and then another, by the time Kat and I had finished up counting there were over 50 herons sitting, waiting, fighting, squabbling, flapping and skulking about, an incredible sight to see our very own Grey Herons in such numbers here too. I half expected to look up and see a cheviot sheep nibbling the verge, or a Devon Red cow chewing her cud so familiar and "English" I see these creatures as being.
And then they appeared along the roof tops too, most un-English behaviour!
Porto itself is a city set apart by its contours, hammering the bikes around the folds, ceramic coated building, avenues, back alleys and promenades was great fun, but didnít help us to blend in - there are not many bikes in this city! Internet and Sharon Fruit later we returned at full pace from the height of Porto clattering down the shiny cobbles to the river. Our very brief sojourn had taken us away about 5 miles, one city, a trillion cobbles and contours away, but further still for us in that we were allowed to forget the mast for a few glorious, groin relieving hours!
Oh, thought we should share this lovely sculpture, I think itís a giant lobster pot but felt a bit like an alien landing. If we become rich I want one....
There can be no talk of Porto and Leixios without mentioning Hannes, Jonathon and of course Milo. Hannes was the captain of a small and low boat heading to wherever the winds would carry them. To call them water gypsies doesnít do justice, nor translate well. But their craft carried murals, more decktop frippery than even us, more green tea/chai/etc etc than I have ever seen. And everything was for trade by Hannes! Some coconut for some black tea, some nutmeg for some varnish, I didnít ask what we would get for Kath (eeek, sorry Carole)! But the highlight of their ship was the ships cat, Milo the dog.... This is Milo...
Before he was overcome by the relative stability of Lista, something deep in his neocortex snapped into action, and upon being on this "dry land" he succumbed to his urge to relieve his most basic canine compulsion to verily soil the deck with not only pooh but a good dash of urine as well. Oh and some vomit for good measure, though that was Clareís fault for feeding him something nasty.
This is Milo looking happy after his work....
Anyway Ė back to the final job of more varnolling and a bit of fish spotting for aloft . . .
Clare caught a couple of the grey Mullet above, and spent several hours trying to kill the buggers - they have a skull reinforced with titanium, and scales to rival an armadillo. And the prize is a moderate amount of flesh fuelled almost entirely by human defecation. They were returned to the natural lifecycle the next day.
We departed Leixios with the main mast out of action and the forecast looking a little light, reduced sail and low wind not exactly being Lista Lights best suite! After sticking about 40 miles out to sea through an absolute pea soup fog we were then dropped altogether by the wind and left to spin around on the current and generally flop. Flop. Flop. Slop. Flop. The next three days were not noteworthy, making only 60 miles a day!
We arrived into Lisbon - straight into Doca Alcantara. Landfalls are inevitably marked by incident (or is it just that relatively it seems so . . ?!) and this was no different. It was a significant day for us as Nick and Holly, our pre-arranged crew whom we last saw as we set off from the Exe some months ago, joined with Hollyís mum and sister. It was a great lunch sharing stories and trying to start our new normality for the coming days, we were all full of excitement, and the sun beating down on us added to the feeling that this was a new chapter. To make things even better a really dear Portuguese colleague of mine from my previous work days with Accenture arrived with his wife, on his way to the airport for work on Monday morning.
Dan and Clare zipped off to de-grease in the showers and Portugalís most violent and stroppy ferry company chose that moment to appear in a few hundred tonnes of aggressive steel requesting his berth that we had inadvertently stolen, back. Oh dear. After much broken English on Ch.16 it appears the Mexican standoff had only one loser, and that the Portuguese Navy (him) wasnít it. Sadly, defeated, the British Navy (us) limped off to receive instruction from the Port authority that we must anchor stern-to in a match box. Without a bow line as it had rotten away. To non sailors let me please explain this is akin to parking a double decker bus in the bike stand of Paddington station, on Platform X, without spilling your coffee, or scratching the Claude Butler racing bike next to you. Oh, letís add for authenticity that the bus driver has "P" plates and you are getting the picture. Anyway the resulting celebration involved a monumental pishup, vague memories of dancers and too much rum are being banished from my memory, as well as being chased out of the womenís showers at 3am by a cross Portuguese official. Very odd and inexplicable.
Anyway - we too were cross about the previous dayís miscommunication and buoyed and brave with the remnants of last nightís rum we decided we had better face up to the situation and to do the honourable thing. So we ran away without paying. The following days were all slightly blurry, but we picked up our valuable cargo of Nick and Holly, visited Lisboa in the howling rain on our pedlos, and generally waited for some very stiff winds to blow through.
Lisbon is beautiful with her intricate cobbled streets and traditional architecture mounted aside the 25 Abril bridge, and inside of a large bordering park, I think itís my favourite city.
And we found a new chart!!! Our previous tea towel for the UK, and globe for the Atlantic was supplement by this pavement to conduct our more detailed pilotage. Iím sure the insurance people will be happy with that.
On our arrival to Cascais we were greeted by 6 Cornish Crabbers, like the herons above noted this was a scene much more reminiscent of home and our suspicions were confirmed when a couple of plucky brits skipped past the steel and plastic neighbours to give us a "tally-ho"! God knows how these folk got here but they pulled tentatively on the home heart strings, half expecting a Devon Cream Tea to arrive.
Provisioning in Cascais was hilarious and involved about 90kg of provisions being loaded onto two bikes and the trusty trailer, topped with a bucket on my head much to the amusement of the locals.
We left Cascais on an early morning, weaving our way through the other vessels that had sought refuge from the stiff winds and spent a few days with us worrying about their anchors too. Itís what sailorís do it seems. This square rigger was one of the collection
Nick and Holly have taken naturally to the sailing and it was perfect weather to pop up all the sails we could, without the main mast in full commission yet, so we left under two headsails, the mizzen and the newly named GOLLYWOBBLER!!! This sits between the masts and is strictly a quadrilateral sail flown high in light airs but we can embellish the definition somewhat for our sailing pleasure!!
Having Holly and Nick on board gave me a chance to dust down the induction process generally starting with Katís recycling regime (hail, hail!!), a whistle stop tour of the heads (bogs to non-sailors), and an introduction to what I most reverently term the
5 Pillars of Classic boat sailing.
1. Tom Cunliffe "Hand Reef and Steer" For those of us with limited to zero experience of things non Bermudan this is a must, frank and forgiving.... And he is also responsible for our introduction to the term Gollywobbler!
2. Hervey Garrett Smith-The Marlinspike Sailor. Old school rope work with no hold barred->
Ď..."By his ropes ye shall know the measure of the seaman" Frayed ropes ends are a curse and an abomination, but no more so than improperly made whippings for they indicate either ignorance or indifference. Ignorance is excusable and oft temporary, but indifference generally becomes a bad habit!í
3. Brion Toss "The Rigging Handbook" for full tutorage on rigging materials and methods which will keep us propelled in the right direction hour after hour, and of course a bit more....
"What with years-long voyages that used to b the rule in the olden days, sailors would find themselves with a lot of time on their hands, and lines in them". He introduces us to the art of what he terms "semi-useful frippery"!!
4. Jimmy Cornell "World Cruising Guide" tells one where the snakes and ladders of world routes are. Generally ignore all comment on social aspects of lands discovered but pay attention to which routes work best when. If, that is, we havenít buggered it up with climate change altering salinity, currents, and associated seasonal airstreams......
5. 'Bud'McKintosh "How to Build a Wooden Boat" On rare occasions it is best left to authors to speak of themselves . . . . . "I am opinionated, lazy, plodding, timid about trying anything new, and I have built about 500 deadweight tonnes of sailing yachts - largely with my own hands". What a man. Former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown was famously reputed to be able to kill a man with his bare hands (could Gordon?), but build 500 tonnes of boat? Only bud can do that.
With this primer we rounded cape espechal and Clare celebrated in the time honoured way . . .
Now, if you are a parent of Clare or relative or friend or have had any run ins with this gem before then please look away now, or have your worst fears about her slightly insane nature fully compounded. Clare and I had had some long running 'climbing the masts' challenges (without security lines of course) for the last few weeks. I thought I had pulled the top trump with a mizzen gaff walk on the approach to Lisbon. I didnít reckon on Clare. The picture of waves pounding the blow hole rounding cape Espechal give the reader an understanding of the sea state, not the worst but nor was it flat. Undeterred Clare picked her moment for a mast walk. She rounded up to the hounds (good 25ft) in no time at all but soon the motion of the boat had her swinging, laughing might I add, round and round like a rag doll. On the third revolution all our hearts sunk as she slipped and picked up pace rapidly obeying gravity at a hell of a rate - raced passed the spear like boat hook resting in the ratlines, and landed at deck level in the last ratline. Fear and sickness gripped us all as we rushed to her. Clare said "Iím alright, Iím alright" as she would. And then we stuck her on the deck to assess the damage. Our on board nurse, Dan, is an incredible facility. All vital signs looked good but one truly painfully bruised leg remained. Only her low weight and some good fortune saved us, well her. Competition closed for now - Clare wins.
We rested that night near a magical little nature reserve near Forte de arrabitta, with its 5 crypts, beautiful waters, and nunnery. I mean convent. The next day was spent pulling up pots to see their slightly unimpressed inhabitants, running up the hills to see the totally impressive but unimpressed convent (we were sent away despite being parched, not very Godly. Nick and Hol fared no better) and snorkelling in the clear waters. Dan looks like a pro - we idolised him as our new sea god, monster from the deep.....
We hauled anchor in the afternoon for a night sail with the intention of making Cabe Sao Vicente the next day. Twas be the day where one tat created by the salt water in Arrabitta was a tat too many. Bloody things. I cannot imagine how women deal with this on a daily basis but quite frankly itís ridiculous. And painful. But then they are built to have babies and I am not (thought the cold water was trying to prove otherwise (mangina pic not included). So we had a little clipping session...
I should like to draw attention to the ďdutch ratterĒ I managed to keep. But only for about 20 minutes before it appeared I may have to get divorced over the matter. Nevermind. Another year of growth lies ahead.
The evening was a slow one but certainly pleasant. We stared long at the sun dropping over the skyline in search of the green flash pirateís talk of . . . .
We played on the deck and in the galley. Cooking in large quantities has presented us with, well, large meals obviously. And also large amounts of leftovers. The creativity involved in fabricating a meal at sea is far outweighed by that required to make sensible use of these leftovers, quick to perish once out of their cans. I had to take this chance to share the secret of Danís special sauce...... an absolute stunner, especially if ones brother has kindly filled the bilge with 2kg cans of Tomato Puree!!
Danís Special Red Sauce
300g Tomato Puree
Lots of Oil
Dessertspoon dark brown sugar
Dessertspoon Worchester sauce
3 Dessertspoons whole grain mustard
Shot of Dark Soy Sauce
Good crack of pepper
Some other stuff is wholly permissible and encouraged. Try adding warms spices such nutmeg or cinnamon. Serve with cous cous, warm bread (we are beholden to kathís wizardry for this), salad or as a pesto style sauce. Dan hasnít divulged the rest so it remains an Antell family secret to get it as good as we did on the high seas off Portugal . . .
After a slow day we had to make a beeline for Arrifana, a surf break in the cliffs 15 miles to the north of our intended headland. We were tired and needed refuge. What we were delivered was a cove wrapped in devilsí teeth rocks, and despite decent cover from the North the Westerly swell rolled in and a slip in most directions would have been a very bad thing. Kath and I agreed an anchor watch was called for so people were scheduled through the night. Dan fished (looks a bit like Leaving Las Vegas . . ?), Clare recovered, drank coffee and smoked, and laughed, Nic and Holly read and chatted, Kat did squats and press-ups on the foredeck. I felt tired but easy. It was just another day on the lovely Lista Light. Lista swung merrily on her hook but didnít slip too much
A new day and a new challenge. We had pictorial evidence of the spinnaker named Brutus, in action under the guidance of the previous owners. We had not roused him ourselves until today. So we sought about thinking through how to fly the big man but on a boat with a bowsprit. Slightly confuddled we managed to bang him up and a few chafed lines later we worked out that both the topmast forestay and bowsprit halyard needed shifted if we werenít going to macerate more lines.
On big confession at this stage. Now Brutus did a good job but can you see his colourings? Something nostalgic about him? Brutus looks too akin to a 80ís hip weaving ski suite to have such a heroic title. We have renamed him Bruno, I hope folk donít mind. Sorry.
We hoiked the old fella down before rounding the cape - the sea and wind both picking up predictably around the headland. This was a significant day in any yachts trip south - it said so in our pilot book so it must be true. Admittedly though it was a relief to make this point, our last stop before a new continent. It felt significant.
Holly took the pleasure of guiding us round as we made the hurried sail changes
The anchorage behind the Cape was truly stunning, and with an increasing Northerly wind we reckoned on tucking in under the fort on the cliff top, slightly hoping it wouldnít topple.
So we got really close, too close.
We rested in the anchorage "Enseada de Belixe" and got on with daily life. With the new crew members new systems were devised for sharing the more mundane elements of running the ship. Two new concepts:
The first, MUM Day, means that each person is given a day to be Mum, buys all the food, makes all the food, wash up all the foody plates and generally tidy up, and look after sick crew. Mum is never sick herself you see. No complaining, just incredible energy and fortitude required, a la Ms Beeton. The rest of the days are totally free - good eh?! Itís worked well and everyone has really got into being mum.
The second concept is Misery Monday. Generally the calendar conspires to make mumday misery Monday too. Misery Monday involves nominated crew member seeing to the heads in a fundamental way, restowing stores, and scrubbing the decks.
Nick combines the two beautifully here in a Misery Mumday double header..
He rested well that night. Unfortunately the wind really picked up and by about 1am the night watch (Dan Clare) mildly intoxicated reported that we were swinging violently in the squalls and with only a very jagged cliff for company. I chose to not believe them. For about one minute- until my wishful thinking was banished by a cracking tug from the bow, then donned full wet weather gear with the others to deal with our predicament.
We had snagged both the stern anchor and bow anchor. Ug. We managed to power over both repeatedly but in the strict confines of our tight cove it didnít seem to work. Just at the point of giving up first the stern line freed up, and then a few more thrusts forward towards the cliff it was followed by the bow as she reared forwards. We about turned into a filthy wind with spray being lifted from the totally protected water right over our heads - must have been gusting 45kts as we ran at 4.5kts then 5.0kts on bare poles alone! Kat plugged in the waypoints, the others kept a rapidly sobering eye out for ships rounding Cape Sao Vicente, and I plunged her into another souper as the water filled my willies to the ankles in minutes! The report from the chart table came up that we should not be within 2 miles of the cliffs. I looked not across to them, but sort of more up ... oh well, we managed to get some good coverage from them into the bay so I think the pilotage notes may need amended for this bit. We dropped the hook into sand and got a solid tug as she halted the drift backwards. And we slept another halfsleep.
(Log Change, Kath back at the helm . . . . )
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