Since our last letter, we have been sailing south at the Spanish and Portugal coast. We are closing in for our last stop before we will cross the Atlantic Ocean . ARC, the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, starts from Las Palmas , Gran Canary the 20. of November. Peder is leaving us and flying home to his kindergarten and to the Norwegian winter as we are lying in Puerto de Mogan. The crew for the long Atlantic crossing will soon get onboard.
We were in no hurry, when we left La Coruña , Spain . We sailed quite short distances, every day getting closer to the warm south. We visited Corme, Camarinas and Muros, all small fishing villages, enjoyable in different ways.
We thought it would be quiet and peaceful in the small villages at the Spanish west coast. We were wrong. It is not the fishing boats that make much noise. The Spanish people like celebrating. They do it with not so well tuned brass bands in the streets, and with a lot of rockets. Not one or five rockets, more like fifty or hundreds. Likely every hour. Every town has its own Saint to celebrate. On our way south we heard rockets every day. There were also a lot of rockets when we came to Portugal. But the Portuguese use rockets which is also great for the eye, not only for the ear...
Something scary happened one night at anchor in. One night we woke up of the sound of an oar banging in the hull. We never found out if it was a drunk fisherman or a thief with dirty thoughts. He disappeared when we lit the light, and after a round on deck we could not find anything missing.
After this happening, we have been more thoroughly with locking the boat when we are leaving. The dingy is mostly on deck together with the kayak at night, even though the security in Spanish and Portuguese marinas are much better than back home in Norway. Most of the Spanish and Portuguese marinas all have iron bars and ceycards to keep the bad guys away.
We purchased a lot of screws in La Coruña . Now they have mostly gotten in their right place. Although one of them took the way through the Captain's body. We were laying at anchor outside Muros. The Captain had a nice time mounting some fruit nets under deck. He has the habit of having the screws in the mouth before mounting them. As he was breathing in, two of them followed in… After some series of coughing, one of them came out. The other one was gone. We thought it would come out after a while, but for safety reasons we contacted some doctor friends. “Don't go to far ashore the first four days”, was the answer. Normally a screw like this will pass through the system with no problem, but we better be careful.
The Captain would like to be sure the screw got out. To believe it was out, would not be enough. We therefore had to use the one and only method for refinding screws like this.. The screw is now proven out of the body, and sent to “soon-doctor” Marius as evidence!
Isla del Faro, the Lighthouse Island , was a beautiful island. The first island that looked like one of the places in our dreams. We dropped the anchor. A beautiful sandy beach covered the east side of the island. Only the water-temperature didn't mach the dream, it was only 16º Celsius. The island is a nature reserve, so you are only allowed to trespass along the marked paths. It was a nice view from the top of the island, and it was a nice walk after some days at sea. When we were ashore for a walk, we discovered Empire dredging for the second time on the tour. First time was a windy night outside Corme. This time Empire dredged in the light winds outside Isla del Faro. We got back to Empire before the neighbours had to worry too much. The CQR-anchor we used, is now in trouble. The spare Bruce anchor copy, was immediately mounted at the end of the chain. The boat has not dredged since, not even at anchor outside Cascais, in more than 20 m/s.
In a SMS to Budda, the Captain threatened to put the CQR in a block of concrete, and give it as a mooring to the locals… Budda is the friend who originally gave the CQR as a present to the Captain. The Captain got second thoughts, and will try to adjust the anchor – then we will see…
Bjørnar and Peder embarked in Vigo. Vigo is lying close to Isla del Faro. Of course we had to take our new crew to the beautiful island. Nice weather and a beautiful beach were a good start of the tour. Here we also met Anne and Jørgen in “Vanvara”, a Hero 101. Bjørnar was surprised when Jørgen got onboard Empire to say hello. Before anyone else said anything, Jørgen said: “Hello, Bjørnar”! – Bjørnar and Jørgen had been working together many years ago…
Then we visited Bayona, Viano do Catello, Nazare and Cascais. Bjørnar left us in Cascais, and flew home. Cascais is a nice city, about 30 minutes (by train) north of Lissabon., and was our last stop before heading out in the Atlantic towards Porto Santo.
After a week in Cascais we were looking forward to get up the sails. This was the first time we had been in one place for a so long period. Time passed by, but when we are counting the days, we really don't know what we did all the time… I guess this is what it is like, to be on tour.
It was quiet windy the first day under way from Cascais, heading for Porto Santo. It was a lot more windy than predicted. We sat the third reef in the mainsail and the storm jib up front already few hours after leaving Cascais. With the wind coming in aft on the starboard side we had a great time onboard. Vanvara left Cascais a couple of hours before us, but returned to Cascais. Both Anne and Jørgen got really seasick. To go down in the boat to change channel on the VHF transmitter was impossible…
It was a bit rough for Peder too, but as soon as he had found his “sealegs”, he had a great time. He didn't seem to take any notice of, that the Mate and the Captain had to sleep during daytime, because they were working at night. He also found out that it is important to hold on to something, when the boat is at sea. To be attached to the boat with a line, Peder thought was fun. And if we forgot to attach the line to ourselves, he reminded us, for sure. Peder slept at the galley floor, because that is the most quiet place on board, but didn't seem to take any notice of that, either.
When we got closer to Porto Santo, we got a fish on the hook. The fishing line was out the hole day, and finally a beautiful Dorado got on the hook. Three days and five hours after we left Cascais, we sailed in to Porto Santo, a little beautiful island 30 nautical miles north of Madeira .
We are now having a lot of Norwegian boats around us. Some of them are going to join the ARC across the atlantic, some are just out sailing for a unknown period, with plans that are made to be changed. One day there were 10 Norwegian boats in the harbour at Porto Santo. A Swiss sailor said that it could not be many Norwegians left I Norway now. Wherever he dropped his anchor, he met several Norwegians. He asked us if the last Norwegian to leave Norway were told to put out the light when he was leaving…
As we were sailing towards Porto Santo, it was good to see the water temperature rising. Now it looks as it is stabilising at 23º-24º Celsius, which is a more comfortable bathing temperature than the 16º Celsius we tried to getting used to. Peder has become rather good in the water. He prefers to be bathing all the time. At most beaches the waves are so big that he has to be wearing the lifejacket all the time. It is easy to be flipped over. The lifejacked is to be worn every day anyway, as soon he is out of the cockpit. Peder has inherited his fathers climbing skills, and climbs easily on and of the boat on his own. Sometimes he worries people passing by. But that is before they have seen how good he is at it.
After 14 days at Porto Santo, it was again time to get up the sails. Sailing competition from Porto Santo, and Empire first into Quinta del Lorde, Madeira, was a good start of the day. Madeira surprised us with all its possibilities. Madeira is not a island for elderly people…We rented a car together with Anne and Jørgen, and lived a regular turistlife for three days. After driving all over Madira, Trollstigen and the roads back in Norway counts for nothing.
We went for a walk on one of the highest volcanoes, Pico do Areiro, 1818 meters above sealevel. Some places were rather steep, but according to Peder it only “looked a bit like frightening”. At the southern end of Madeira we drove a crazy hanging gondol. It was going almost directly strait down (and up). We also went for a sleigh raid down some of the VERY step asfalt roads in Funchal. Walking along some of the levadas, we also had to use our headlights. We followed a leveada through a 250 meter long small, wet and narrow tunnel. Madeira has lot of nice scenery but surprisingly there are no sandy beaches at the island.
It has been really enjoyable to have Peder onboard as the 2.nd Mate. Soon he has been onboard for two months. We have learned a lot, too, and we have probably been seing different on things, than if he had not been here. He is talking all the time, and there is always a question about something. He hears even the small sentences that was not meant for his ears, and he is sharp-eyed. He sees it when we miss it, even the smallest details. Peder has gotten several new uncles and aunts during his stay. He is jumping around form boat to boat, giving away hugs, and wondering where to give a hand. If he is visiting the boat next by, and they ask him if he has eaten breakfast, he answers no, even if that is not true… It will be strange when Peder leaves us in Porto Mogan, to travel back home.
We will get new crew onboard, ready for the Atlantic crossing. The ARC starts the 20. of November from Las Palmas , Gran Canary. Empire is starting in the “Racing Division”. Not because we are such good sailors, but because we are not going to use the engine for propulsion. It is allowed to use the engine for propulsion in the touring class, and that makes no regatta in the Captains mind. The crossing will take about 20 days, and that is quite a long time. We are looking forward to the Atlantic crossing, and I guess we are a bit exited, too.
Before the Atlantic crossing we are going to relax in Puerto de Mogan. Friends and family are coming to visit us, and the crew for the crossing are embarking…