Azores to Lagos

25th June – 38*32’.25 N – 028*36’.85 W

It was great to be finally under way. We said our goodbyes to my Dad and Nita and pulled away from our berth. We raised the main in the harbour with one reef as it looked a little breezy out.

As soon as we had cleared the harbour it became a little rough with a wind against current situation. We set our genoa and made good progress for a little while under the acceleration zone of Faial but as soon as we were five miles out it dies and we had to resort to motoring, which we did not mind as the views were stunning of Pico and the surrounding islands.

We had noodles for dinner as there was quite a swell and our stomachs were trying to get used to being at sea again.

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26th June – 38*32’.11 N – 27*34.’72 W

 It was to be a day of motoring. The evening passed by beautifully and we passed close by the SE side of Sao Jorge. There were two yachts out, us being one of them. The scenery was so beautiful but very much an Azores sight, with lush green islands blanketed in white cloud amongst a deep blue sea.

We were aware that we would have to motor through the Azores high and we believed we had enough fuel to get us through this but things were about to change.

Around 22:00 the engine cut out. This was not right at all but I put it down to there being more silicon blocking the valve. I began the process of emptying the locker and dismantling the valve. Light was fading and there was a horrid swell running but we had to get the engine up and running before nightfall.

I found the blockage and cleared the valve and we started the engine. After a couple of minutes it cut out again. Again I took the valve apart but to my surprise there was nothing blocking it. It appeared that the tank had ran out. This did not seem right as our calculations had given us another twenty hours of motoring left on the main tank before we needed to add our spare. Now, not pointing any blame at Ollie who filled the main tank up in the Azores but it would have appeared that an air-lock would have occurred making him believe the tank was full when it was not hence our current predicament. I was now very thankful that I had purchased another spare can of twenty litres but this discrepancy would have an affect on us later down the line.

Anyway, we hastened to put sixty litres and once the engine was bled we were back in action.

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27th June – 38*29’.80 N – 025*08’.76 W

I awoke to us making slow progress. The wind was fickle and the swell wild. It was extremely uncomfortable for both of us. We were, however over the majority of our seasickness and were happy to have more pasta packets for lunch and dinner.

Quite early on I decided to run the engine. I have no choice and although we have a lot less fuel than expected we have to get out of these light winds as soon as possible.

We motored most of the day and as the day progressed the swell intensified. Sometimes I hate being at sea. Poor Troskala is being battered. We have identified several new leaks Occasionally we fall off a large wave and shock throughout the boat is immense and also makes it impossible to sleep. These conditions are unbearable.

As the day progressed the wind filled from the ENE and we were able to turn the engine off and set the genoa, which calmed Troskala slightly. We had another pasta dinner sprinkled with much swearing.

An amazing thing happened on my watch. I was there sitting comfortably trying not to get thrown out of the cockpit and reading Jack London’s Sea Wolf, when I looked to the right to see a huge light directly ahead of Troskala. I immediately thought it to be a large container ship, which was too close. It was the moon. I had read stories of people thinking that the moon was large ship and never quite believed that was possible until now. I have never seen the moon so close, it was an eerie experience but stunningly beautiful. It is times like this where I wish I had a high-end camera. 

28th June – 38*11’.25 N – 022*30’.43 W

It was a rough night for us. Troskala was being tossed around like a cork. Waves and spray were constantly coming over the deck and cockpit making life on watch pretty miserable. We are now both getting very tired. I meals consisted of tinned pasta and dried pasta dishes as this is all we can realistically cook at the moment.

The sunrise was beautiful but it soon clouded over and we were left with gusty conditions. A lot of sail changes ensued and the only great thing was that we were making storming progress, which made is both happier. We now have 670 miles to Cadiz and soon we will be able to celebrate only 1000 miles to Palma.

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As the day was pretty miserable and based on some fuel calculation I have made the decision to divert to Lagos. After the fuel sender issue we would be pushing it to reach Cadiz with the fuel remaining and know that as soon as I round Cabo De Sao Vicente I will experience light winds and will need to motor.

I changed our route in the system, which left us now with only 550 miles to Lagos. This was a nice surprise for Ollie when he awoke and a nice feeling that soon we would be back on land and able to quickly refuel before heading out to complete the last leg of our journey to Palma.

29th June – 37*47’.93 N – 20*16’.24 W

The wind was light at the beginning of the day. We had now taken out all of our reefs but our overall speed was slowing down. We had made great progress over the passed 24 hours with over 140 miles achieved.

The swell had decreased considerably, which made life around Troskala a lot easier. We had both struggled with basic tasks such as going to the toilet and trying to cook for the past four days so this was very much a welcome break. Following on from this I am sure you sailors will appreciate fully what I mean when I discuss the challenge of going to the toilet on a mono-hull that is healing 20 to 30 degrees. The whole process is a workout and you can guarantee that when you begin to work on the more demanding tasks of the process that is when a huge wave will decide to kick the boat over sending you headfirst onto the other side of the heads

So our mood was better for the calm conditions. Ollie spent some of the day fixing our AIS (automatic identification system), which after our days of battering decided to go down. Also our stereo had developed a loose connection so this was also attended too by Ollie.

I made us a wrap with hard boiled eggs, beetroot, ham and cheese, which went down very well and then spent my afternoon servicing our hobs on the cooker, which were becoming a little temperamental.

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Our mascot holding the Sat antenna.

By early afternoon the wind had died and we went back to the world of flogging sails. I could only put up with this for one hour before the genoa cam in and we motored. After two hours a ten-knot breeze came in and with the swell almost non-existent Troskala reached a respectable six knots.

We had fajitas for dinner – very nice.

30th June – 37*40’.78 N – 017*43.’53 W

We were making good progress in the morning. We had experienced and beautifully clear night with many stars and a huge moon. In the morning we were achieving over six knots, which pleased both of us greatly.

In the afternoon our lovely wind left us and we were forced to motor a while. With our limited fuel supply we had to be careful on how much fuel we could use at this point of our journey.

After calculating that we had 22 litres remaining we had to turn off the engine and drift with our torturous flogging sails. To make good of a bad situation we opened some wine and pate and had a lovely evening listening to some Saint Saen and Albinoni.

01st July – 37*25’.76 N – 015*09,’71 W

When one of the crew creates a new column on the ships log with the title ‘Happyness-Ometer’ you know there are problems. This was what I found on coming to commence my watch. The reason for this was the change in weather. We were expecting the wind to pick up to around 20-25 knots but we were not prepared for what we received over the next two days.

Spotted a container ship in the afternoon. Nice to know our AIS is back working.   We are making great progress but wind is picking up more. Registered 30 knots earlier.

Looking forward to hopefully seeing land tomorrow.

02nd July – 37*15.’06 N – 012*50.’11 W

It appeared that we had moved from one evil to another. Instead of flogging sails of a day ago we were battling 30-35 knots on the nose. We were managing it fairly well to start. It is a shame that the weather took a turn when we are both so shattered. Sleeping is becoming impossible with the large swell that is forming.   Again cooking and the basic of moving around became impossible and that fuelled with utter tiredness put both of us in a bad mood hence our new column in the log.   To add to the difficulty we lost our third reefing line our of the sail making it now impossible to reef the sail fully.

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As the day went on Troskala struggled more with the conditions. At 16:00 we were down to two reefs in the main and very little genoa. Troskala felt pressured. She would ride up the crest of a wave and then smash the port forward side into the trough with an almighty bang. I do not normally have to worry about her but at this point I was concerned about loosing our rig or damaging the hull, neither of which would have happened due to her great see capabilities and upgraded rig, but tiredness prevails and you are no longer thinking straight after 24 hours of being battered.

Bad day but progress is good.

 

 

 

03rd July – 37*02.’18 N – 010*18.’66 W

 The morning started as night had left us, with a large swell and howling winds. As the morning progressed the sun-shone and the wind decreased slightly. We were still making good progress under sail and by 10:00 we had shaken out all of the reefs and were now sailing under full sail.

The shipping in our area increased as we approached Cabo de Sao Vicente and the feeling of seeing land soon excited us. Our plan had changed slightly for this passage and we would be stopping at Lagos to re-fuel and spend a night preparing Troskala for the next leg.

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As the early afternoon approached we started to make sight of Portugal, which was very pleasing. With were eager to make landfall and have a shower. As the coast line got closer we could make out buildings and rock formations.

We approached the well-marked entrance of Lagos aroun 18:00. Carlotta had already managed to book us a space and the marina was expecting us. It was a great feeling motoring through the channel at Lagos and finally docking at the marina office. I went to the very impressive marina office and checked in making sure that showers and WIFI was a top priority.

Before we had to time to realise we were docked and I was washing down Troskala while Ollie went to source some cold beers. With Troskala clean we could take ourselves to the showers, which were very welcome. It is amazing what a difference a shower can make after nine days at sea.

You find yourself facing a difficult situation when you arrive in a harbour after days at sea and especially when you are on a tight schedule. Really we should have had dinner and gone to bed to prepare ourselves mentally for the journey ahead but we felt we needed to sample to fine beers of Lagos, eat Sardines and explore what seemed to be a nice town.

Many beers later we stumbled back to Troskala around 01:00 AM totally shattered, but we had had a fantastic night that worked well to relieve all the tensions from the previous rough days at sea.

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