Raining in Lisbon

For gallery of images click here.

The fine yacht “Windrose” a 65 ft Andre Hoek design, built of alloy in Holland,  beckoned for a charter to sail down the coast of Portugal from Lisbon to Faro on the famous Algarve Coast. This for me was a great opportunity to take one of these fine yachts to sea.  Several of the Hoek 65s have been built,  and I believe we keep company with English sailing and sporting royalty!

It was raining when we arrived in Lisbon,  a not too long flight from London. The flight down on Easy Jet (now named Sleazy Jet) was the hardest part of the trip, and  was only noteworthy for my travelling mate Chef Gin sling being apprehended at the airport gate for a too large carry on which had to be loaded as cargo for another 60 pound sterling. Still not as bad as Vuelin’s 160 Euro for a case in excess of the pre purchase requirements. So the message to the traveller is to read the directions and follow them exactly. I was okay as they let you carry on a CPAP machine; we found the Easy Jet staff at Faro on our return to be more understanding. Chef flew back on the Portuguese airline PAT and had a good experience. But I jump ahead, as there are many adventures that lie ahead.

We were met at the Airport by our skipper, Cap’n Duarte,  and were whisked to the marina through the scenic parts of old Portugal. Portugal is an interesting country I knew very little about, and I will share my impressions as I go along. Cap’n had pre stocked the boat for us with some of the 15% commissioning charge (at the end of the voyage the un used balance of E 413 was refunded to us in cash by prior arrangement, all fair and square which I appreciated).  We were well looked after; and kindly had the use of the owners’ station wagon.  In the rain Duarte and I headed to a laundromat and did the washing and drying, so we had clean clothes for the trip. Across the street, we stopped at a cafe having a freshly squeezed Portuguese orange juice–just delicious. We also called on the pump man to collect a spare grey water pump, and met our new friend, Pedro, the co-owner of the yacht. These logistics rather chewed up the afternoon, and the rain was not really conducive for sightseeing, which will have to wait to the next visit.

Readers will understand I am aware of Internet security and conscious to respect the privacy of folks I meet on my voyages. So characters are mentioned by their nom d plume, or first names only, unless representing a company when I refer to their business activities.  I hope in this respect they will avoid the search engines. Duarte’s boss, Pedro and his lovely wife invited us to their house at Cascais for dinner the next night. This was to be a real treat, as fine fare had been prepared by his personal Chef and was accompanied by plenty of good cheer, and fine Portuguese wines and animated discourse in English, Portuguese, Spanish, and French.  The personal touch from the owners of the yacht was much appreciated.

The traffic in Lisbon is something else, I likened it to Moscow in a winter’s traffic jam. It took us about an hour to get back to the boat, but only then with a series of short cuts involving underground parking lots. Without such local knowledge I would still be sitting there I am sure.

Our yacht was tied up at the commercial marina part of Lisbon, but was accessible to the local market a couple of blocks, an easy walk, away. The next morning we shopped, and felt for the first time in Europe, the prices to be more reasonable, certainly better than the UK.. We stocked up on fruit, veges, bread, some chicken, and importantly wine. Good wines are available in super markets in Portugal at very affordable prices, so put that on your shopping list.

Impressions of Lisbon.  A city of some half million in the town area. It is a historic city with a hotch potch of old and new buildings. We were to see this pattern on the cruise, that many new buildings are simply built on top of older ones, so you might have for example a hotel ontop of a medieval fort. Portugal seems to be in a state of both repair and disrepair, with “a vente”–for sale–signs everywhere. Locals tell us the economy is getting back on its feet after the GFC, and when you ask about the crisis, the answer is “Which crisis?”. I had not realised, but Portugal had only become a democracy following a revolution in the 1970s. My stay in the town was brief as we were headed to sea the next morning, and of course it had to be raining. Worth a look is the fort overlooking the town, and the many cultural attractions. I suspect that as you scratch the surface a bit in Portugal it is not as contemporary as some of its colleagues in the EU, and in some areas was like going back 50 years. We found most of the people were happy and pleasant to deal with without the rat race of all the crazed sun seekers in the south of Spain. So put Portugal on your must do/see list–I did, and was not disappointed. The lower cost structure in Portugal is really pulling in the tourism, along with a sunny generally dry climate which creates an environment enjoyed by grapes and tourists alike.

Portuguese are the greatest navigators in history, you will recognise the names of Vasco de Gama, and Ferdinand Magellan who navigated their stout ships around the world well before the “great” naval powers.

In a light southerly wind we departed the next morning for Cascais. This area which is the olde money side of Lisbon is tres elegant.  Our owner lives in a lovely apartment on the cliffs enjoying a sweeping view out over the Atlantic Sea. We were honoured to be invited to a family dinner at his home, and enjoyed a sumptuous menu of  a deep-fried smoked meat, entree of ham, main of dried cod (Baccala), and dessert .  Across the table the conversation usually turns to finance, and I was interested to learn that the Portuguese  government had changed the rules to encourage foreign investment.  If you buy a property over E 500 K you are given automatic residency with no tax on un earned income. This measure understandably is bringing other Europeans especially the French eager to escape their climate and their socialist government’s harsh tax regimen.

The background to our story really goes back a number of years, but revolves around the contemporary revival of interest in classic yachts. Actually, it is though I have been in a time warp, and fast backwards, these were the yachts we sailed and coveted when I was in my twenties. There have been several yachts with the lovely name of “Windrose”, but the one that is most endearing to us was the “Windrose” of New Zealand. She was a 53 ft yawl designed by Phillip Rhodes. Interestingly, the closest design I can find is the famous “Carina” but “Windrose” had a centre board and shoal draft. We almost, and always regret not, came to own this yacht, but Dad who was never reckless with money eventually purchased “Beyond II” for  $22  K less as at that time “Windrose” sold for some $55,000 which was significant moolah in the early seventies. She was built in Kauri by the Salthouse brothers, and was owned by one of New Zealand’s wealthiest families. Dad always admired the yacht, with her laid teak decks, and bronze hardware. There was a small deck house, a very desirable feature, and I can recall, the wheel had spokes and faced forward in the traditional style. I can still hear Dad’s words, “you could go to the Kermadecs in her” as he had done in the “Golden Hind” before World War II. So there is the story of the unattainable dream yacht, but thinking has evolved, and now for me there are many attainable yachts. Rather than own now, the availability of excellent charter vessels does tip the balance for a busy professional, and we were not to be disappointed with the charter of our new “Windrose”.

Today’s “Windrose” is a Truly Classic Hoek 65, built by Holland Yachtbouw of Zaandam launched about 2000. This yacht is soundly constructed in alloy, and well finished out with teak decks, teak deckhouse with varnished teak trim topsides. Down below the teak and mahogany trim and cabinetry is finished in bright varnish. The floor boards are also bright, in light timber when looks very effective in contrast. I do not know what wood this is. I like the layout, with ample cockpit, then forward to deckhouse with seat to port, and nav station to starboard, then down to two quarter cabins. then to L shaped galley to starboard, and head/shower to port. Normally I am not keen on bathrooms and such so close to the food preparation and eating areas, but it was not a problem with three on board. In an open plan, it is forward to comfortable and spacious settee and dining table to starboard, with seats to port. Forward again the main stateroom, with fully enclosed head and shower and a double bunk, rather comfortable in port. At sea, sleeping options include the cockpit, deckhouse on the port side, quarter cabins, and main cabins. I think the dining table goes down to afford a triple bunk (well it is Europe!). When you think about it, most yachts these days will never go to sea and hardly venture from sheltered waters, which may explain many aspects of their design, construction, and lay out. But, not for our lady, she is a proper sea-going yacht. For Europe, few anchor out as we do, so the main accommodation is forward, as when berthed stern in at a marina, it is further from the comings and goings of the dock (particurlary if you have young crew aboard!). So, as an all round layout, I was impressed, and she packs a lot of usable comfort for her length. I am not sure our owner Pedro fully understands how magnificent an ocean going yacht he owns.

The deckhouse is a great feature, as shelter in bad weather, as a nav station adjacent to the cockpit, and in the case of rough weather a good place for off watch crew to hang out where they are still up in the light with ventilation. That on “Windrose” was just a nice size, and it was also possible to stretch out for a snooze on the port side. Another feature was the placement of the drinks fridge in the deckhouse, as our motto was “no thirst should go un conquered”. In moderately rough weather at the start of the trip we sat the Chef up there in fine style.

All layouts are a compromise. “Drumfire” a Hoek 78 Truly Classic is set up as an around the buoys racer so has minimal galley and limited space in the main cabin. She has a separate main cabin aft reached through a passage past the engine room. This layout features the Mediterranean style social cockpit, with a smaller working cockpit. Another of the 78s, “Bontekoning”, in contrast has one working cockpit, a useable deckhouse, a main cabin forward, with two quarter cabins, engine room on the starboard side, then main cabin with galley to port, then owners cabin forward, as well. There is even a small crew cabin in amongst the pumps and sail bags forward. So really, what you have, is what suits your purpose. For ocean trips the quarter cabins are best, in the part of the ship with less movement when underway. I guess if you are tired enough, you can sleep anywhere, but good sleep is essential for a healthy crew, and also lessens interpersonal tensions that are easily strained in a small space.

Our charter was organised through the help of Mr. Piet van der Weide of Hoek Brokerage. Now Piet and his secretary Katie are real helpful. With some charter experience now under my belt, just when you do go to charter review your contract carefully in the commercial sense and be careful of clauses that were overly inclusive or actually punitive. But the negotiation was friendly and constructive and I had signed the deal and paid the money a month or so back in Australia. If there is a dispute you had limited practical recourse from Australia in the judicial system of any Mediterranean country. We kept the costs more or less under control by anchoring out as much as possible.

There is one place I would not go back to, Vilamora, (we called it “Vilamorta”) or at least the marina there for several reasons:  with VAT it was some E160 a night, the lady was surly even to Captain Duarte, the pontoon was covered in seagull droppings, the power was patchy, and at low tide, only about half a meter of water under the keel. The one avoid of the whole trip, even our normally demure Captain went back to the office and gave them a piece of his mind!  After that experience those people would never again mess with someone from the Azores.  By contrast, the marina at Lagos was excellent; Captain Duarte had not been in there before; approach is via a channel and then under a drawbridge, which was fun, to navigate our vessel in such close quarters, still with plenty of fenders, spring lines, and a nimble for’d hand we had the ship safety in. Cost including Internet and unlimited water was some E67 a night and you couldn’t beat it. We went to have a look at “Kialoa II” the next morning, see below.

Many of the yachts in the Med area are available for charter, often with a skipper. Rate for a cook (or cooker as they say) was quoted at E 300 a day–for that rate I decided to cook, but was fortunate in having Chef along for the voyage. The boats here move around a bit, as there are lots of places for them to go. Say you want to charter Corsica, well discuss with your broker, and the boat will be got there, or you can be included in its programme when it is there.

Charter boat regulations (I have just done a review of these in connection with an Australian registered yacht named “Allegro”–but that will be the subject of another dissertation on the perils and pitfalls of buying yachts) here are not as strict as those in Australia. Our rules and regs are far to restrictive, and result in fewer big yachts being available to charter. Just look at the numbers of smaller multi hulls that tool around like a herd of sheep in the sheltered waters of the Whitsundays. Another loss to the Australian economy. There needs to be a basic set of standards, but it should be possible to create a charter facility so that well found yachts can be put to work and in the process create employment. Just a month or so of charter income would help defray the costs of boat ownership and perhaps help to invigorate our nearly defunct boat building industry. It is now February 2016 and I hear the charter survey regulations are about to change again in Australia.  Very few charter operators make enough money to be buying new boats every few years that are built to higher and higher standards not of safety but of bureaucracy.

To resume our voyage, our first day’s sail was a short one to Cascais Marina. Cap’n drilled me in boat procedures, reefing, tacking, so we got practice working as a team and pretty soon I felt like a seasoned hand. Cascais is a favoured weekend destination of the Lisbon yachting fraternity where in the prevailing northerly winds they can anchor off, or go to the marina. I rather got the impression that the area of Cascais which is tres elegant is noted for “old money”. Cascais is a famous place, and is now the home of the Volvo 60ft Round the World racers. I looked at one of these boats on the hard, it has a retro looking “Dreadnought” style of bow, short bow sprit, and a rapier-like keel. It looked so fast it was about to fly off the cradle. At the end of our marina was a big Wally–what sort of “Wally” you say (?) as there are always plenty of “Wallys” (Australian slang) around marinas. The Wally is a German Built uber-yacht. Smooth like a jet, it has zero varnish on the exterior and looks so avante guard it probably is capable of sailing itself without any crew aboard.

Once an early morning shop was completed, and the Chef inspected the latest in dockside fashion from Musto, we untied from Cascais, and headed in light westerly wind south to our next destination. We sailed all the way to Cabo Espichel, in variable winds, but the breeze eventually collapsed, and finally we started the motor and headed for Sessibra.  On the gallery you will see photographed the high cliffs with caves at the base. I was on the helm, and we were on the wind the whole day, doing short boards to sea, but mainly hugging the coast line. It was a glorious day, and the coast was high and rocky, with sandy beach at its base. All the way down there were buoys marking fishing set lines, or nets, another wall of death. We set anchor in a sandy bay near the marina, and enjoyed a comfortable night though with some rolly polly as the wind veered to the north overnight. The central part of town is old and historic, but the cliffs have multi layered hotels that look like tiers of shoe boxes no doubt to accommodate the hordes of tourist who come here for fun in the sun. All hands enjoyed a walk around; we stopped for a refreshment at a local cafe, enjoying a pastry (filo) with custard centre, a speciality of the region.

The Limpet Dinghy. A rather neat boat that will sail, row, and outboard. Made by Seashell Boats Unit 1D Restormel Industrial Estate, Liddicoat Road, Lostiwthiel Cornwall PL 22 OHG. info@seashellboats.co.uk . 07875364661 . Features an easy to handle lug sail rig and is 3 m LOA, weights 144 lbs. It is built of fire glass and has built in buoyancy. It has been measured out to fit right side up under the main boom and will complement the ships equipment.

Our next port of call was is the peninsula of Troyea, across from the city of Setubal each separated by the Rio du Sado. As you come down the coast, there is a narrow channel into Setubal. Be alert for ships marching in procession. We tacked away, dropped the main, then headed in under headsail alone as it was a flat run until we rounded the point on the starboard side where the passage divides into two. Stay to starboard, passing the Casino. There is a nice beach where we anchored for the night. It was a busy night, however, with the comings and goings of ships and especially as the only other yacht in the area dragged its anchor with the wind and the tide at around 0330; no harm done despite their intentions to raft alongside they drove off into the night. On the GPS plotter we tracked a figure eight, meaning that our radius did not alter with wind and tide. There are pine trees on shore, one view, and the other view is across the bay to the port and the docks where numerous ships are loading and un loading. You have to come to this land to appreciate the industrialisation of the coast line where everything seems to just be pitched in, without a concept of planning zones. There is much trade that comes in through Portugal’s ports for the rest of Europe. We passed a huge Cosco ship that was probably a car ferry. We plan a noon plus departure on the out going tide, which will give us we reckon a 2 knot boost.  So on the ebb tide, on this day we work our way further south wards, and will be helped by the wind we hope which has gone round to the north, its usual quarter. We started with southerly, and as I write this log, it has gradually worked its way around the compass.

Just off high tide, unfortunately as our luck would have it, we pushed into the incoming tide to return down the channel to sea. We ghosted along in the lightest zephyr until in frustration, and surrounded by sand banks,  the bag of chains got a shake and a rattle. The forecast was for the winds to go to the north, freshen then abate the following day. Over the next hour or so a line of wind gradually came across the sea from the ocean, and pretty soon we were away under full sail. By this time it was after noon and the predicted nor west wind had finally arrived. The GPS plotter calculated a distance of one 60 miles (glad someone uses terms I can understand–I ll come back to the English currency later) with an additional three miles to a bay with good holding and good shelter. The alternative was a lesser anchorage some 20 miles down the coast. This was to be our jump down to the Algarve Coast, our ultimate cruising destination. Our concern with the prospect of abating winds the next day was that we would have a long drifter and have to motor. So, a poll was taken, and a night passage to the Algarve it was.

Our initial course was 170 shifting to `188. The “Gods of the Wind” (as well as “Oceans and Tides” to give them their full measure of respect) again decided that our passage would not be plain vanilla. As the day went by, delightfully so, under full sail in the building swell of the Atlantic, the wind shifted more to the north, so we were flat off approaching our way point. I suppose I was on the helm for 12 hours or so, lovin’ every minute of it. We worked the sails to the best advantage, and won the speed competition, at 12.4 knots. She handled well but was lively on the helm when pressed. We hoisted the small staysail, the “la trinquetta” which helped with another half knot or so of extra push. A lovely sunset with soft orange jues was enjoyed by all, and the moon rose as a silver pearl over land in the east. Thus, to borrow a cliche we sailed by the silvery moon. “Our” lighthouse was sighted, one flash every 4 seconds, but in this area the sea was quite choppy, and after changing course to a flat run, dropping the headsails, we put a gybe preventer on the main, but it was a sloppy chop, and we did bang around a bit.  Still, we persevered despite the protestations and veiled threats from Chef Gin Sling, wedged in the dog house (in the cockpit, we had foul weather gear, life jackets, and were clipped on), after an hour or so of this racket we started the engine, rolled up and sheeted in the main boom, set the trinquetta as a steadying sail, and headed for the light. There was another hour or so to run, and by this time and wind had decided to drop, so we were left with a rollicking chop and no wind. I guess we took it as an insult to our manhood having to motor, but it takes about minimum 15 knots of wind to drive this heavy boat into a sea, and it was just 12 on the anemometer. We had enjoyed a great sail down the west coast of Portugal, but that is life, and cruising. ETA on the plotter was 0030, and we were pretty much on that for the Cape, so we punched along under motor and trinquetta for an hour os so, then to demonstrate their omnipotence, the Gods of Wind decided to give us a real blast just as we rounded the Cape. Just after midnight it really started to blow with 28 knots across the port beam. Hooray, a more dignified conclusion to our passage, we unrolled the genoa and took off like the proverbial bat out of hell (murciaglo de enfer) passing several bays, before fetching into a small harbour with about 25 knots straight off the land. Our first lay of the anchor took us too close to other yachts which we could just discern in the darkness and things became a bit tricky, manoeuvring in close quarters; but we prevailed and re set the cable in the middle of the bay, and on a scope of 4 (Captain’s choice) with a nudge to reverse, got the hook well set. A red was opened, Chef had the rice cooking, and I set to fry up the schiskabobs and made a green salad. All hands set to devour this repast with a vigour only seen after a vigourous night passage down the coast of Portugal . It was 0330 before we turned in after capping off the meal with Portuguese almond chocolate and a nip of Port.

There are two approaches to sailing bigger yachts, with crew or without crew. “Windrose” is well set up for the latter with in mast furling of the main, and both headsails on rollers. So, can be cruised with two. The difficulty is what to do in a tight spot, say anchoring at nighttime when things do not go according to plan. Then your margin of safety plummets, and you hope that skilful boat handing skills, and knowledge of how to work your boat, will see you through. You will need two people at least in these situations, just to answer basic questions as to where the chain is lying. Always be prepared for the un intended, and in fact expect it, chain can jam going out, or can not pack in properly when coming in. Probably it is best to stop short of hydraulics for the rollers themselves, and run them off winches with cord cable of adequate strength; these furling cords actually ran down the inside of the cap rail, a better system than having them run through light pulleys at the base of the stanchions. All moving sheets on “Windrose” come back to the cockpit, so no going forward to reef a great safety feature. You must admire this yacht, and the careful thought put in by its original owner and the designer Mr. Andre Hoek.

As much as I am not keen on in mast furling, its advantages were clearly seen on our yacht. Still, current thinking would probably be better to have in boom furling, and expect a better sail shape. “Windrose” runs hydraulics, which seem a necessary evil, especially to drive the genoa furler where speed is essential, otherwise it would be a long crank! Our main winches were single speed which seemed adequate, but two speed probably better. The Lewmars cranked well manually and had plenty of power.

Anchoring. Anchoring in the Med is not the same “life and death” experience that it can be in our part of the world so generally they use less of lighter tackle. At a yacht dragged back on us in the night and finally drove off to where we do not know. Anyway, the next morning as we hauled up, their modified Danforth was wrapped around our chain; with a bit of manoeuvring we got not only the anchor free, but about 6 ft of chain and a decent length of warp. Cap’n did the right thing and called the local marinas to see if anyone had reported it missing. Hopefully when they replace their ground tackle they will beef it up. Nice prize for the Cap’n’s new yacht and I furled it elegantly for him as a “prix du guerre”.

Friday morning finds us anchored at the inlet of Portimao. We motored this short leg of some ten miles as there was no wind quite a change from a few days ago when we came tearing down the coast. We had the previous night at the marina of Lagos, and a lovely meal ashore at a local restaurant with a scrumptious hearty salad, I had a plate of local sardines which had been baked; Cap’n had a steak with fries, and Chef a local sea bass. We were offered a small sole and I suspect this tiny fish was by catch from a desperate ocean harvest.

At Lagos, which by the way is not in Nigeria, you first navigate a canal up to the marina. At dead low we had at two points 0.5 m under the keel, with a bit to spare. We watered and generally spruced up the ship. Cap’n and I walked around to inspect the Kialoa II, a grand dame of ocean racing, whose career I had followed since a lad. She was built for Jim Kilroy,  a legend of ocean racing, designed by Sparkman and Stephens, and launched in 1966. Originally a sloop she was later fitted with a yawl rig and the main boom cut shorter. In her day, she won most of the significant ocean races, especially on the West coast and in the Pacific. Notes from the Internet indicate the current owner has completed a major re fit on a back to bare alloy basis, re done the electricals to 24 volts though most of the deck gear looks the original. The decks are painted, so no teak to maintain there.

Further, notes on marine parks; fishing and the expectation that fish will be there to be eaten is enshrined in the Mediterranean culture. From what I could see the fish available are getting smaller, the mesh gauge on the set nets is getting finer, the great schools of tuna and marlin have been hunted to oblivion. I suspect even the local cats have had to go back to hunting mice. In Sicily, we saw a fish market with a large yellow fin tuna, that was selling for some $10 E a kg; word was out that the fish was in and locals came to buy, but at prices well below world markets. Fortunately this magnificent fish was sold before it spoiled.

At Portimao  we had a good anchorage.  I put Chef in the tender and we toodled around, taking photos of an historic fort on the East side of the inlet, and approaching the marina to port . Later, we settled in to a fare of Che Lau with local prawns, rice, and mixed salad, accompanied by a white wine, and capped off with Port, a gift from the yacht’s owner. Some pretty massive fishing trawlers, probably purse seine came and went at all hours, so we rock and rolled a bit at anchor. I talked briefly with the owner of a Halberg Rassey 47 or 48 which looks a nice cruising boat; he had a friend with a new HR 64 but it sounds as though they are still ironing out the wrinkles.

This was the night of the opening match of the World Cup Soccer, with Brazil playing Croatia. It was won closely by Brazil, but the Ref’s call were I understand a bit suss, disallowing a goal by Croatia that saw Brazil eke a slim margin to win. Being Aussies we cheered the underdogs, but were in the minority as Portuguese-speaking people stick together when it comes to soccer. Captain by seemingly miraculous means procured an antennae(I though from a passing Martian UFO)  to boost our reception for the next night, so we had to suffer through the ordeal of Australia losing to Chile!

Just a few notes on gear. This boat has the switches for the water maker forward, but they really belong somewhere more accessible, as does the water makers that live in the fore peak.  At sea, this would be a difficult place to get to if it was rough. Batteries, there are two banks, one of 6 and the other of 4, but did not seem to uptake a charge, so perhaps the batteries need replacement, or the electronics not reading correctly. The gen set is Onan, and lives under the cockpit. Here also is a gas/water separator, which means the water is removed from the exhaust, and the gas goes out underwater so the hull is not stained by exhaust. Wires abound behind panels and some can be difficult to get to; I favour them in labelled tubes preferably in a fire resistant material. Yachts these days are packed with lots of electrical goodies and there is the potential for fire. So in my opinion they are best kept as separate as possible. Many of the electronic function on these yachts are señsor dependent so make sure you have plenty of sensors as spare, and a must have to keep things going is an electricians’ voltage meter.

One of the best features of the rig was the twin point of support for the running back stays, which come down to the aft winches in the cockpit and are accessible to the helmsman. To tack this yacht under genoa, it was necessary to furl in first, and for this the speed and power of the hydraulic winch was nearly essential. It would have been nice to take off the staysail stay so you could tack without furling in; however, we soon developed our routine and with power it was not an effort. The foot of the genoa was fairly high cut, so even on the wind la trinquetta tucked in nicely. Short handed I soon came to appreciate the power furling headsails and the in- mast furling of the main, and can appreciate how this has become so popular. It took a bit of practice to get the ratio of out haul to mast haul correct as over runs created jams. From what I have seen I think the best system for ultimate short handing is to have the main halyard come back to a power winch in the cockpit, and the in boom furling to do the same. That way no crew needs to leave the safety of the cockpit as they would have to do with some types of slab reefing.  Fast forward to 2016 following the Caribbean cruise, and I am now favouring Park Avenue type of boom with reefing lines to winches at the base of the mast where they can be operated by one crew. One thing is for sure, we always reef the main too late, and there is always a bit of pandemonium.

We anchored off a small fishing village inside an estuary. I was a bit off form in the gastric department, so Chef and Captain went ashore for dinner of local wines and fish. The following morning, as the evil spirits lessened their malevolent grip we went ashore again. I suspect there is a fair amount of government money coming into this place to help preserve for tourism a semblance of a historic lifestyle based on excessive netting of the sea. The houses were colourful shacks in painted cement, often with a lighthouse or Faro motif. It was hot and dry, as I do not think there is natural water on the island. Over the next bay was a collection of yachts, the flotsam and jetsam of the oceans, all washed up, or multi hulls left there by absent owners, I took some pictures of a tiny shack decorated in a marine motif. We motored west, picking up a nice breeze so it was all sails set for the last leg, and in a just rippled sea reeled off 4.5 its in 9 knots of wind.

Our last night was spent at Vilamora Marina, see my notes on marinas above. It was our jumping off point for Faro Airport the next morning, but that was its only redeeming feature…I called it “Vilamorta Marina”. Undeterred, we enjoyed our final sunset gin and tonics with the last of the ice, then settled into a prodigious meal dished up by Chef, an entree of Cammerones a la Plancha, followed by salad, bread, and pan fried steak all washed down with a fragrant Portuguese red wine .

By any measure this was a great cruise. To start with we had a great boat, the impressive Hoek TC 65 “Windrose”. Add to that good weather, great sailing, a fine crew of myself, Chef Gin Sling, and Captain Duarte; and special insights into the history, places, and people of this lovely country, Portugal. We are looking forward to sailing the magnificent “Windrose” with Cap’n Duarte in the future.  He is soon to establish his own charter business in Azores and all who know him wish him every success in his new venture. Fast-forward to February 2016 the “Windrose” is fresh from refit in the Netherlands, and heading back to Portugal in wintery seas with the ever capable Cap’n Duarte at the helm.

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