First, head east

22nd May 2012, Lagos to Culatra Island 47 nm

We at last felt sufficiently prepared to leave Lagos marina. The last days had been busy, solving problems with the toilet, cleaning and polishing the hull, and tidying stuff away. So on Monday afternoon, we paid our dues and left our berth in the marina, and re-fuelled. We then went alongside the waiting pontoon for the night, so that we could make our departure before the office opened in the morning

There had been some new arrivals during the night, so we had been disturbed, but managed to rouse to the alarm at 0630. We planned to arrive at Faro entrance just before high water. There was little wind as we motored down the channel to the open sea, but within an hour the first vespers filled in from the north east.

It was not long before we had 20 knots across the deck, and needed to reef. Despite the sunshine, it was incredibly chilly, from whichever direction it came. Unfortunately I had made a hash of attaching the blocks to the sail: the upper block was twisted, and not only that, was led around the lower one. We managed to reef in spite of this. After a couple of hours of good progress we had nearly reached Albufeira, when the wind died away, prompting us to get out the fishing tackle. A sea breeze then set in, that gradually veered to the west, giving us a broad reach giving way to a run, helped along also by an easterly tide that must have been running at about 2 knots. Our log was under reading, so presumably the impeller is harbouring some marine life.

We anchored off Culatra, and declared tomorrow a rest day, as we juiced half a dozen oranges to go with some gin.

23rd May 2012, Anchorage off Culatra

We were disturbed in the early hours by the wash from passing fishing boats, and it was light at 0600hrs. I got up dutifully to make the tea, and the generator just managed to boil the kettle before dying with an alarm signal.

We had a jobs list of issues to deal with, and had hoped to get ashore to Olihao, but it seemed sensible to tackle the generator. Mo had a ton of dry stores stacked in the locker above it, but when we had fought our way down to it, it was apparent that there was no cooling water flow. We spent the day investigating: the impeller, which was new last season, seemed ok. We worried that a previous impeller arm had drifted off into the heat exchanger, and was causing a blockage, and we flushed, and backflushed, using 'Bernard's pump' (left by Fuga's previous owner) on the electric drill. We changed the impeller just in case, and blew down every tube in sight. Eventually we concluded the blockage was outside the boat, on the raw water intake, as with the pipe off and the seacock open, no water came in! Yet you could blow bubbles out! It was too late to go swimming and sort this, so we tidied up a bit, and sought solace from the grape.

24th May 2012, Anchorage off Culatra

An unwelcome visitor to our sea water intake,
it had grown inside the grille

By no means is this any more a peaceful anchorage, with fishing boats around in the early hours. The EU has been investing, with a new small boat fishing harbour, and some impressive sheds have sprung up since last October.

I was up and raring to go swimming, but needed Mo to help me stretch my wetsuit over my belly. Once in the water I doubted whether I was fit enough, and could not easily locate the inlet strainer amongst the grunge on the hull. We rigged a rope underneath the boat from side to side, so I could get down and back up more easily. I painted a line with a scratch pad in the grunge covering the hull, to show me where to go. Using a hacksaw blade on a handle, I scraped the external strainer slots, and managed to poke it up the inlet hole. It did the trick! On testing the generator, a creature appeared in the on board strainer! I fitted a second hand torroid as the load indicator on the generator was playing up while I was at it: my previous bodged connections had lasted around 6 years!

After lunch, we got under way and went up the channel to Olihao, just finding sufficient space between the two local boat 'marina's. Mo couldn't find the carbonara sauce she wanted, nor beefburgers, but we bought some engine oil, wine and some fishing gear and other chandlery. We returned to the anchorage off Culatra for the night.

25th May Tavira 17 nm

We have a list of jobs that we need or would like to do before setting off for the Azores. The first of these was to complete the inspection of the rigging, commenced in Lagos. We rigged the bimini cover, now past its best and in need of a needle and thread to hold it together. Then we cleaned the log impeller, that was harbouring another creature along with some grunge.

After a quick lunch we set off for Tavira, motoring out against a fresh westerly wind to the Faro entrance. We made good progress for a couple of hours, dodging lobster pots and fish farms with just the jib out in warm sunshine. Quite suddenly, the wind died, and came up at first from the east, then backed north easterly, so we completed the journey under engine. That evening the wind freshened from the north and west, compelling us to re-anchor to keep ourselves in the best water.

26th May El Rompido 30nm

We left the anchorage on a falling tide, but found plenty of water on our way to the entrance and over the bar. Once clear of the river, we set our main with one reef, and a rolled jib. We were in no hurry, and there was no point in sailing hard pressed. Even so we were doing 5.5 to 6 knots much of the time in a cold northerly breeze. We had a long while until there would be sufficient water in the entrance to El Rompido. We waited lunch until we got there, and anchored in the approaches to the 'new entrance' at the end of the sand dunes. Unfortunately the wind backed to south of west, so that it became quite uncomfortable in the end, with the anchor snatching hard.

We were wondering about raising anchor to mill around for a while, when Wolfgang, we presumed, came by with his huge catamaran. I wondered why he was sailing so close, and hoped there would not be a gust at the wrong moment. He hailed to get on the vhf: he wondered whether we were trying to find the entrance, and assured us there would be 3m in the main entrance at that time. So we set off to the main entrance, and sure enough found 3.1m at around about half tide. We thought about entering the marina, but with tide running and the strong breeze decided against, and anchored just above.

27th May El Rompido marina

It continued to blow overnight, so after breakfast we decided against going straight into the marina, hoping for it to moderate. Around midday it seemed to drop, and we went in, helped by the marineiro who came to take our lines. We had lunch, and then set off for the shop. Unfortuantely we had been misinformed that it was open 'all day' Sunday: it in fact closed at 1430, so were unable to do our vital shopping. At first this seemed to put the kybosh on our departure in the morning, but we think we can get organised to do a rapid shop as soon as it opens at 0930? Tonight we are proposing to go out on the town.

28th May for about 8 days

If all goes well we will be on our way to Santa Maria, in the Azores. This was the first island settled by the Portugese in 1433.