Our sail from Lagos to Canary Islands

Day 1 – November 9, 2020

After a week of some boatwork and exploring in Lagos it was time to depart to the Canary Islands. We left Lagos around lunchtime and started our way south, and on our way out we actually saw orcas again! We saw a lot of dolphins as well and a jumping tuna, but no luck with fishing that day, even though we tried all day.

It was a very calm day so we motored a bit at first, and after a while we set sail. It was not much wind, but we sailed until early morning when we gave up and started the engine since the wind died completely.

It was also the first time we tried the new drive unit for the autopilot, which worked really well!

Off on our five days sail to the Canary Islands!
Day 2 – November 10, 2020

After a calm night we woke up to sunny weather with a few clouds on the sky and amazingly blue water! The colour the water had was so beautiful.

The day was sunny with a bit too much rolling waves, we experimented a lot with different ways of setting the sails to avoid that they were “flapping” every time we rolled in a wave. We actually ended up setting the mizzen stay sail as a very small gennaker in the forestay to be able to get forward a bit without starting the engine. We have a spinnaker that we have never hoisted before and didn’t feel quite ready for it this day (it was still a lot of waves and some wind).

We tried fishing all day as well but with no luck.

Day 3 – November 11, 2020

Another calm night passed and we sailed around 3-3.5 knots. The wind died out even more and we decided it was calm enough to try and hoist the spinnaker. Almost at the same time as we hoisted the spinnaker in its sock, the little wind that was left died out completely and it was hard to fill the spinnaker. It was beautiful to see it up in the air and hopefully we get another opportunity to try it again.

After trying with the spinnaker for a while we decided it was time to start the engine (we sailed about 1-2 knots and wind was almost no existent). Just as we packed the spinnaker we heard of fishing reel spin and we got our first fish!! We pulled it in and saw that it was a 42 cm long skipjack tuna.

Day 4 – November 12, 2020

It was a calm and cloudy day and we went by engine most of the day. This day we tried our tuna we caught, we marinated it and fried the fillets (unfortunately a bit to long, not so used to cooking tuna) and served with a mango salad, rice and chilli mayo. Even though it was fried a bit too long it tasted really good!

Our first dish on our first fish we caught on the boat!

We had a lot of dolphins visiting us this day and they jumped a lot around the boat. One them made a really funny jump.

The rest day was very chill; we spent time in the cockpit, reading, talking and listening to music.

Chilling and reading inside the boat.
Day 5 – November 13, 2020

Our last night was very calm as well, and was pretty much similar to the days before.

A nice sunrise!
Day 6 – November 14, 2020

During the night we started spotting the lights from La Graciosa. We where able to set sail when morning came, which was really nice. The winds came from the southeast and in the air we could see brown/yellow strings, which we guessed was sand from the Sahara desert. Those winds are called Calima we learned from our Canary Islands cruising guide.

From that guide, and from previous reading/youtube videos etc, we have learned about the acceleration zones of the Canary Islands and how they behave when the wind blow as it normally do (from north/northeast). But this time it had a different behaviour and as we approached the channel between Lanzarote and La Graciosa the wind got stronger. As the wind was coming from southeast we thought that the big mountains at Lanzarote would shield us from the wind, but that it did not! Instead the wind kind of accelerated down the hills and was very strong. We got what little sail we had left up down quickly, started the engine and sailed slowly against the wind through the channel.

We reached the town Caleta de Sabo on La Graciosa and entered a marina berth without any big issues even due it were very windy inside the marina as well.

A week in Lagos!

After one night at anchor outside Lagos we entered the marina, with a quick stop at the fuel dock before (so we wouldn’t have to wait for that once we were ready to leave Lagos). The reception dock is right next to the fuel dock so we checked in at the same spot and after that they opened the bridge for us so we could enter the marina.

We have been used to quite empty marinas, but here in Lagos it was pretty full and a lot of activity on the docks, which was really fun.

It was sunny and nice weather when we arrived to Lagos so we enjoyed a beer in the sun.

One of the first things we did was to go to the boat shop in Lagos (incredible boat shop, they had so many things and what they didn’t have they ordered. Very service-minded) and order a new drive unit for the autopilot. The one we bought before our departure from Stockholm started sounding a bit weird some time before our arrival to Lagos and as time has gone by the worse it got. And on our night sail to Lagos it gave up completely. It was an electro-hydraulic linear actuator, which we bought second-hand. And if money were no problem we would have bought a similar, but new, drive unit. But buying a new electro-hydraulic linear actuator is very expensive so we settled with a wheel-mounted drive unit instead. Hopefully it will do the job. When the drive unit was ordered and we had bought some other stuff we needed we set out for a walk along the coast.

The pier along the marina entrance in Lagos.

The coast here is really stunning and it was an amazing walk. Will let the pictures below talk for themselves.

A pretty beach.

We stayed in Lagos for a week, we did some walks around town, met up with some acquaintances that lived in Lagos, hung out with sailboats Svala and Freyja and got a lot of work on the boat done. The main job was installting the new drive unit (which arrived to the store one day after we ordered it, amazingly fast!) and other minor jobs. There is always a lot fo small jobs for us to do and it is very easy to forget about them once they are done. Other than boatwork we also started preparing for our sail to the Canary islands. We washed a lot of clothes, bought some food, prepped some meals for the sail, cleaned the boat and made sure everything was in order.

Installing the new autopilot drive unit.

Long sailing legs along the Portuguese coast

After a couple of days in Porto we were finally able to leave, the entrance to the river opened and we were allowed to leave (if we would have left earlier we might have gotten a pretty big fine). We called on VHF to double check before we lifted the anchor and headed out on the sea.

We planned to sail overnight all the way to Cascais (outside Lisbon), stay there on anchor one night and then do another overnighter to Lagos. It was extremely calm, we managed to sail a bit before lunch but then we turned the engine on. The evening and night was very calm, very smooth sea so it was engine most of the way.

Beautiful sunset on the way south along Portugal with Svala in the background.
Picture of us caught by Svala, the moon in the background was really incredible that evening…
Followed by an amazing sunrise!

We arrived to Cascais a bit before the sun set and found ourselves a place to anchor. We ate dinner and had a calm night on the boat before we continued south.

This sail was also a very calm one and by morning when we approached Cabo de Sao Vicente (the cape at the southern part of Portugal) we finally got some wind and we could sail for a while, until…

…our genoa started flapping. We quickly realized that something in the genoa halyard might have snapped and we managed to furl it in before it came down completely. Luckily for us we had already planned to make a “morning/lunch stop” on anchor outside Sagres and when all this happened we where almost there.

So we dropped anchor outside Sagres and decided to climb up in the mast to see what went wrong. It was the shackle between the genoa and the halyard that had gotten loose, so it was a pretty easy fix. While we were up in the mast we also checked the stays and shrouds and other things to see that everything looked fine for our upcoming crossing to the Canary Islands.

Up in the mast to fix the genoa halyard and check everything else.

After we had fixed the genoa we had a nice, but cold swim in the ocean followed by a nice lunch before we set sail towards Lagos.

This summer and autumn it has been a lot of reports of “attacks” on sailboats made by orcas from Gibraltar to A Coruna. Usually there is almost no reports of that kind but this year a lot of sailboats have been in need of assistance due to mostly rudder damage made by these orcas. What we read is that the orcas might think the rudder is funny (as it moves, and they can move the boat with it) so the come and play with it. So it is not really an attack, but still you don’t want to be a part of their game.

Anyway, when we approached Lagos we saw a pod of orcas! At first we saw some fins some distance from the boat and first we thought it was dolphins (which we’ve seen ALOT, every day since France we have had dolphins around the boat, amazing!). But then we saw that they started hitting the surface with their tail fin (and since Petras sister is obsessed with orcas and knows a lot about them we know that this is something orcas do when hunting fish, they kind of paralyze the fish with the impact of their tail fin and then they can just pick them up) and we realized that it might be orcas. We took a closer look and saw that the fins were different compared to dolphins and their movement through the water was much slower than dolphins. And then we saw the white spot on one of them and we were absolutely certain that it was orcas. At first we got really nervous and we saw that the pod headed between us and another sailboat behind us after they were finished hunting fish. But that was it, they swam some distance behind us and headed in towards the shore and then they were gone. The scary moment was over and we were just really happy that we got to see these cool animals so close to us and we could continue to Lagos.

The first night we stayed on anchor outside the marina before we headed in, nice way to save some money. But the following day we headed in to the marina to start getting stuff done for the Canary crossing.

 

 

Drinking port wine in Porto

After our sail through the big waves and we arrived safely to Douro Marina we where notified that they would close the river entrance for a couple of days due to even bigger waves (a big storm on the north Atlantic that caused these waves) so we would have a couple of days in Porto.

On our first day it rained a lot so we just stayed in the boat and fixed some things. Have forgotten exactly what we did in our stay in Porto, but with an old boat we always have a to-do list which never is fully completed. Anyway, the first day was mainly boatwork.

The following day the sun was out and we set out to explore Porto, and the first stop was a port wine tasting (which we got for free via the marina) together with Sofie and Christopher from the sailboat Svala.

Port wine in the making.
More port wine in the making…
After a tour around the winery it was time for the tasting. The port wine was really good and we ended up buying a white port wine.

After the wine tasting we continued into Porto, a really beautiful town. We did some sightseeing and stopped at some places for beers.

En route to Porto.
Really cozy streets in the town.
A beautiful train station.
When the beer costs 1€ you have to stop…

The next day we where back to fixing thing, went to dinner with the crew on the sailboats Svala and Freyja, went to a supermarket to buy some food and then we decided to leave the marina and stay on anchor outside the last night (the entrance where still closed so we couldn’t leave because of the waves, not that we wanted to anyway). The reason was that there was so much movement in the marina. The current from the river made everything move a lot; one of our fairleads broke and every night it was hard to get a good sleep. The last night on anchor was so much nicer and we got a really good nights sleep before it was time to move south again.

Sailing through huge waves along coast of Portugal

When we where ready to start sailing from Viana do Castelo there where some really big waves that where about to hit Portugal, and we spent a lot of time researching before we decided that we would give it a go.

Here is two pages we found useful:

And from those pages we found this website:

https://www.marinha.pt/pt/servicos/informacao-maritima/Paginas/Estado-das-Barras.aspx

which shows green, yellow or red on each harbor to give indication if one should try to enter or leave. There is a comment in Portuguese but that could easily be copied and translated.

Anyway, when we decided to leave Viana do Castelo the waves where about 4 meters high with a period of 10-12 seconds coming from north-northwest. We where a bit nervous when we departed from the river, but everything went fine.

We started sailing along the coast and the height of the waves where definitely noticeable (almost no wind at the bottom and a lot of wind at the top) but while at sea there was no problem at all.

Later in the evening we had next nervous moment, entering the Douro river in towards Porto in the huge waves. A boat we where in company with (Freyja) called Douro marina and they said it would be safe to enter. The sun was just about to set when we started heading in towards the river and the waves got bigger. We could se them hit the pier and the beach next to the entrance. Even the big ships outside moved a lot in the waves.

We tried to enter in the middle of the entrance, not to close to the pier and not to close to the beach either, and we managed to enter safely. The pier is towards northwest and if the waves would have been any other direction it may not have been safe to enter. We entered in high tide which should also be safer than low tide.

Once it inside it calmed down a lot and we could slowly make our way into Douro Marina, which is pretty close to Porto.

Very beautiful sunset after we entered Douro river after sailing through huge waves along the coast of Portugal.