While Jessica returned to the US to get some further testing on her Lymes disease and also see an orthopedic doctor about her knee, I was tasked with getting Cadence further south. Initially I thought I would do the passage solo. I have had a few overnight solo passages so far, and many long day hops solo, but not several days in a row. I want the challenge of doing a passage solo, as well as the time to be “out there” and all alone so I can figure out who I am. The coast of Portugal is littered with fish pots and fishing boats, many without AIS and don't come up on radar, soooo, I decided to take crew. I guess I will have to wait for another opportunity to figure out who the heck I am.
I signed up on a web sight called www.findacrew.net and within a few hours I had about 15 people interested to join me for the passage. I had strict orders from the admiral that I was not take female crew on the trip so I picked two studs from the mix, Paulo from Setubel Portugal, and Pierce from Dublin Ireland. Paulo is an adventure seeker who has done many passages on boats through find a crew and has some good sailing experience. Paulo is a successful industrial automation engineer that is in the fortunate position to work when he wants so he has plenty of time to sail. He has recently changed up his look so he appears to be either a homeless guy or just a peaceful hippy, either way he is cool guy.
Pierce, currently living in South Korea running a guest house with his girlfriend missed his calling as a stand up comic and became a computer programer. He had never made any blue water passages but is considering the live aboard lifestyle one day. He was a laugh a minute and always welcome back. Both were a pleasure to have on board for the trip. This experience of having a few strangers on board was great and I will look forward to doing it again.
We had some 500 miles to make to get Cadence down to the Algarve, destination Lagos. This will be our third time stopping in this little vacation meca for the northern european. We made our way off the continental shelf as quickly as possible on day 1 so we could avoid fish trips, enter calmer water, and find some bigger wind a little further off the coast. Our gribs were pretty accurate and within a 20 mile distance the winds were more than double than closer to shore. We had a nice northerly wind strong enough to let us run wing on wing for a good part of the trip. We did some experimenting with the asymetrical sail on the whisker pole and different sail configurations as I had willing participants who didn't mind multiple sail changes. I have been interested in figuring out if the asymetrical sail really has a place on board that makes it worth having. With our large 130% genoa we can sail well in light winds between 45 and 125 degrees, but further aft we need our whisker pole. Its all a matter of wind strength when the wind goes aft. Below 12 knots and its a struggle to make good boat speed, so we thought the asymetrical would be good for these situations. What I have found out is that this asymetrical sail really only has a small window of conditions that make it useful. In winds below 15 knots and between 120 and 160 degrees. Otherwise, we can make good speed with our conventional sail plan. I would love to hear from other wiser sailors as the secrets of this coveted sail. At the moment, I think it just takes up needed space.
As we were getting to pass Lisbon and would come a little closer to the coast and start to steer a more easterly course, Paulo made a recommendation to stop in the harbor of his town, Setubal. We changed direction slightly and pulled into the Rio Sado with a strong favorable current and at 3:30 am dropped anchor in a little spot known to our local Paulo. We would enjoy a couple of drinks in the cockpit before getting some shut eye. The next morning we woke up to a beautiful beach filled with locals swimming. We hitch hiked our way to shore on a dinghy as we didn't feel like going through the hassle of putting ours in the water. Off we went to have a nice lunch with Paulo’s childhood friend in a local restaurant specializing in cuttlefish. A few bottles of wine later we were in the fishing harbor asking anyone with a boat for a ride back to Cadence. Within a few minutes were were being shuttled out to Cadence and would put back to sea to finish the last 100 miles to Lagos.
Paulo Pierce and I would enjoy a night out in Lagos before both guys went in their own direction. Jessica returned and Cadence went back to normal. We decided to stay in Lagos for a few days and enjoy the town. We met some very nice people in the marina, one couple was an American man and French lady both living in Sweden and taking a few years aboard their Swedish flagged boat heading to the Med. They were both very involved in creating a video blog and had quickly built up a substantial following of Youtube subscribers. You can check them out on their Youtube channel, Ryan and Sophie Sailing. As my videos do not get nearly as many views, I thought I would take some tips from them on making videos and see if there was more interest. There will be one posted in the video section shortly with a new format. Let me know if you like it.
We decided to make our last stop in Europe a location we have missed twice on our way up and down the coast of the Algarve. This is the Guadiana river which runs the border between southern Portugal and Spain. We caught the tide to make it up some 20 miles or so up the river to anchor in between the Portugal town of Alcoutim and the Spanish town of ??. Check out the video section and new clip on this area. We had some trouble getting off the dock and then some very stressful moments taking us under the bridge that was listed too low for our rig.
There were a load of boats anchored up in the river. Some looked like they had been there for a decade or more and some transients like us. Both towns were pleasant but we failed to understand the major attraction of the place and after three days moved back down the river to Ayamonte Spain so we could catch our weather window to head off for Morocco on our way to the Canary Islands. Our plan is to stay in Morocco touring by land for a month or so and then make the hop to Lanzarote in the Canarys.