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Leg 4, Update 1

Leg 4, 2017, Update 1
July 14, 2017, 0110 hrs, 46.15 N, 007.29 W, Log: 202,421 miles
Baro: 1022.2, Cabin Temp: 70 F (no heater, for several days!), Cockpit: 66 F, Sea Water: 65.0F
Broad reaching at 4.9 kts in 10 kt WNW winds, slight seas

Sailing Again!!!

Mylor Yacht Harbour

Amanda and I enjoyed our first summery weather between Legs 3 & 4, allowing us to catch up on waxing the topsides, touching up varnish and resealing the decks with Semco. It was a treat being tied up at Port Pendennis Marina, just in front of the National Maritime Museum and we enjoyed Falmouth for three days before accepting Nigel Calder’s offer of his mooring three miles away in much quieter Mylor Yacht Harbour. There we found idyllic country lanes, beaches and trails for our morning runs. After catching up on chores we rented a car and drove north along the rugged coast of Cornwall, spending a night at Wellington Hotel in Boscastle. It was a totally lucky find as everywhere else we tried was either full or had a two-night minimum. The hotel was built in 1550 and King Edward VII used it for one of his many trysts. We enjoyed hiking sections of the rugged Cornish coast trail and exploring several small seaside villages including Port Isaac where the BBC series Doc Martin was filmed.

We moved back to Port Pendennis Monday noon giving us time to complete provisioning and a few chores before our Leg 4 crew joined us Tuesday noon.

Iridium satphone repair: For a variety of reasons, our radar pole-mounted Iridium antenna has become more and more problematic, frequently dropping calls. As a temporary measure, I glued a small hockey puck-style antenna outside the nav station window and had since needing someone who could help me replace the antenna and check the cable for corrosion. Monday morning, I spotted Glen, a smart looking technician walking down the dock cradling a Raymarine MFD under each arm. I asked if he was an installer/repairman and he said he was and that he’d installed several Iridium antennas and could come back with a ladder in two hours. When Glen returned he discovered that the antenna was cracked and the outboard end of the cable compromised. In under two hours everything was back together and working perfectly. Turns out Glen works for Charity & Taylor, a company that specializes in communications and electronics for megayachts and oil rigs worldwide. If you need a hand with electronics repair or install in Falmouth, his mobile is 01326-653105 and his charge very reasonable.

Filling our propane tank which stowed in the anchor locker

I’d hoped to top up our propane tank before sailing to Spain where I knew the tank fittings would be different and refilling our tanks is illegal so fortunately Port Pendennis staff allowed me to borrow (not exchange) a 6 kg tank to gravity fill our tank without ever removing it from the locker.

A passing frontal system brought strong winds and rain on Tuesday so after lunch we sailed to the Helford River, anchoring in nearly the same spot we had 1.5 weeks earlier. We’d hoped to practice Lifesling overboard and reefing, but squally weather didn’t make that too attractive, so we completed our safety check-out and enjoyed an early night to bed.

Kelly lowers the British flag

By Wednesday morning the front had passed, sun was out and the harbor entrance provided a great location to practice hoisting and reefing sails, plus the always-important Lifesling Rescue procedure which all of our Leg 4 crew aced before we set sail across the English Channel and Bay of Biscay for La Coruna, Spain.

We had some nice sailing to start with, but a near-stationary ridge of high pressure kept wind speeds in the 5-7 kt range so we had to motorsail the first day and a bit. Yesterday afternoon, as forecasted, the winds stabilized so we’ve been able to maintain 4-5 kts under sail.

July 27, 2017, 1010 hrs, 38.41 N, 009.25 W, Log: 202,988 miles
Baro: 1015.5, Cabin Temp: 71 F (no heater, for several days!), Cockpit: 79 F, Sea Water: 63.7F
Marina de Cascais, Berth L-15, 15 miles from Lisbon

Wow, Leg 4 was a blur of great sailing (lighter winds in the morning, but generally 25-30 kts by afternoon) serious classes and amazing adventures ashore.

Here are some highlights:

Our Bay of Biscay crossing was excellent - we had to motor a little in the beginning but the winds then filled in enough for us to enjoy a good sail.

Landfall at La Coruna and the Tower of Hercules.

The impressive maritime traffic control tower beside the swanky new marina that also caters to campervans.

It was a treat to make landfall in La Coruna, Spain. The weather was warm and sunny and we all walked miles around the waterfront to the Tower of Hercules, the oldest lighthouse in the world, and then on to explore the old city with crew enjoying tapas at several venues. The harbormaster said there were fewer boats than pre-2008 GFC, but we shared a marina dock with yachts from all over Europe.

Corme: Very dense fog with visibility less than .1 nm for several hours enroute to Corme gave us our first chance to really have to rely on our new Raymarine Quantum radar. The resolution was excellent on all but sailboats lacking AIS and radar reflectors. Kelly and Amanda went for a swim and we all explored town looking for a place to eat but ran out of luck as being Sunday’s most tapas bars were closed.

Sandy gathers the preventer as we prepare to gybe

Upon completing the gybe John instructs what to do next

The sunny anchorage in Corme

Muros: A handsome new marina tempted us, but once the music of a visiting carnival cranked up, we were glad to enjoy the lights of town from the anchorage. Sandy, an archeology major, led the way to some ancient petroglyphs.

Lobster pot floats of all shapes and sizes line this coast

As a dredging vessel appears out of the fog it was great to see two lookout guys on the bow.

The attractive harbor and town of Muros

Combarro: In Combarro, as well as in several other towns we found an excellent new marina, just steps away from the historic old fishing village famous for Horreos, raised storage structures built of stone or wood, used for preserving corn, potatoes, fish or ham. We all enjoyed exploring the ancient streets and tiny shops and our crew had tapas at bar in the old town perched over the water. The next morning was drizzly and foggy so we waited until noon for the sun to appear to avoid snagging a lobster pot floats.

Combarro’s waterfront

Witches abound in Combarro’s souvenir shops

A charming Combarro street

Evening view of a couple of waterfront horreos

Baiona proved to be a magical stop. We enjoyed a special evening with our friend Leon Schultz, a Swedish-German guy who hosts RYA sail-training and different types of adventure sailing on Regina Laska, his HR 42 which is just seven hulls newer than Mahina Tiare.

Leon and Regina Laska

Leon asking for our take on a tapas restaurant

Leon did an amazing job of ordering many small seafood dishes. The total per person was just €14, including wine!

At first light, a sliver of moon began appearing over the hills in the east as a steady stream of small fishing vessels headed out to sea. The city slowly and quietly got up and it looked like the same fishermen who were on the pier across from the marina last night at 11 pm were still there. A cool sea breeze stirred the air and as the seagulls squawked as our crew set off to see if they can find their way to the enormous Virgin de la Roca statue on the ocean waterfront. Amanda and I weren’t far behind.

Amanda strikes a runner’s pose on Baiona’s waterfront.

John points out MT and Regina from the medieval walls the skirt the northern headland

We had hoped to share a harbor for a night with our seminar co-presenter, Nigel Calder and his family who were sailing north aboard Nada, their Malo 46, but as we were sailing south toward Viana do Castelo, we picked up their AIS signal and enjoyed sailing alongside.

Nada in full stride

MT rocketing along

Viana do Castelo: Portugal’s most northerly port has long been a favorite of ours. Last visit we witnessed a salting of the city streets and a parade of fishing boats being blessed at the start of their season.

This time out visit was equally spectacular, with a multi-ethnic folkloric dance festival in the town square that started at 10pm and went until the wee hours.

Approaching Vianna is not for the faint hearted and we again kept a sharp lookout for windsurfers and kite boards whilst wishing we’d been more proactive in reducing sail

A festive street 

MT berthed at the visitor’s dock in the river outside Vianna Marina

Duoro Marina
The harbormistress gave us a brochure and 15% discount coupon for the new Duoros Marina, located at the channel entrance to Porto. In previous visits we’ve moored in Lexios, a marina in a busy and slightly dirty commercial harbor a few miles north of Porto and taken a cab into town, but this time we’d planned to completely skip Lisbon, until we heard about Duoro Marina. More important than the new marina is the fact that new breakwaters have been built on either side of the channel entrance, plus the channel has been dredged to a minimum of 5 meters so that cruisers no longer have to worry about breakers across the river channel entrance and entering only at or near high water. We emailed ahead and were assured there was plenty of room for visiting yachts and when we called on the VHF just before arrival, the marina sent a dock attendant in an inflatable out to guide us to the slip and assist us in tying up. It just got better from there!

When checking in, Eugénia Machado, the charming receptionist informed us shore power, showers and free bread in the morning were all included! When Dave and I asked if she could recommend a company that could provide us with a one-day road tour of the famous Douro Valley vineyards, she contacted one of the marina berth holders and helped arrage for us to be picked up at 0830 the following morning.

The evening was charming. Crew took a little ferry across the river then a bus to the Lisbon waterfront, climbing up to an extensively lit-up cathedral overlooking town while Amanda and I enjoyed walking 3.5 km along the river boardwalk to town. Even though it was 10pm, we passed many families and couples out strolling, and once we reached the downtown, Port wine shops were open for sampling, sidewalk and rooftop restaurants were overflowing and ice cream and gellato shops all had ques of customers.

Two girls enjoying their evening on Porto’s south riverbank

We’ve often seen ads for Viking River Cruises when watching BBC programs and that evening we witnessed two seemingly new and very handsome Viking cruise ships loading provisions. We could glimpse through the curtains at the opulent shared spaces and tidy cabins. We’ve often thought that decades from now when we’re REALLY, REALLY old river cruise ships would be a fun way to explore parts of Europe.

Christiana and Luis

Saturday morning we had an early breakfast and were excited to meet Luiz Catalou and his lovely daughter Cristiana, our tour guides for the day. Luiz was a private banker by day but loved nothing more than showing guests around the country he is so proud of. He specializes in active adventures, offering hiking, sailing and kayaking adventures:

The Douro Valley was miles and miles of meticulously manicured mountain and hillside grape terraces with the river winding it’s way along the valley floor from small village to village. We sampled regular wine, port wine and enjoyed a visit to a olive oil operation ( that had been run by one family who’d lived next door for 280 years. We were all exhausted when we returned to MT, but the next morning Amanda organized going aloft for rig check before we were out exploring the fishing village located next to the marina.

Hilltop view of Pinhao

One of the many Douro wine companies

The statly entrace to Quinta da Foz

Enjoying the view and sunshine at D’origem olive museum

As we approached the final cape before Cascais, we headed in towards the coast so Leg 2 expedition member Helge, who lives near the marina, could take shots of Mahina Tiare.

We set sail at 1100 and with increasing and steady NW winds of 20-30 kts, it wasn’t long before we were down to two and then finally three reefs in the main. A highlight of Dave and my midnight until 0200 watch was having dolphins streaking past, under and around leaving streamers of bioluminesence as we charged along at close to 8 kts.

Originally we’d been trying to plan our departure so that we would cover the 190 miles and arrive in Cascais before dark, but with very fresh NW winds, we covered the distance in 24 hrs, once of our best runs in years, to arrive near 1100.

However, the wind kept increasing until we saw 43kts, calling for our third and deepest reef and giving our keen crew an excellent tast of heavy weather reefing and helming. We were all amazed out how well balanced the helm was, as even with the powerful winds, we could take our hands off the wheel for extended periods of time without MT going off course even a degree. What a joy to enjoy the sun and sailing and new friends.

Kelly tucking in the 3rd reef

“Thumbs Up” to a great expedtion - John, Sandy Dave and Kelly

Speaking of crew, here they are!

Kelly, 54
I’m an adventurous spirit and hospice nurse with a desire for new adventures and my sailing experience began as a youth on a pond in Kansas on a 12’ Snark. I now enjoy sailing our Island Packet 420 in California’s Channel Islands.

David, 52
I’m a high school science teacher, ex-cowboy, mountain biker, scuba diver and hiker originally from Utah but enjoying living near Malibu. One day soon Kelly and I hope to sail our IP 42 to Hawaii, the Pacific Northwest and back home to Ventura.
(While on this expedition, David learned that his school had just been rated 17th in the US for science and math scores. Way to go, Dave!)

Sandy, 61
I live in Middletown, RI where my family sails an F-27 trimaran. We mostly race her between Newport and NYC to the south and Martha’s Vineyard to the east. We’ve chartered boats around the world, mostly catamarans and this was the first time I’ve cruised aboard a ‘big’ monohull. As art director for Blue Water Sailing magazine, I’ve corresponded with John & Amanda for years so it was fantastic to experience it all in person - it was a magical two weeks!

MT approaching Cascais Marina

Helge and two of his three “little trolls” (his words) met us at the dock and took us around the marina to check in. Since then we’ve been enjoying every minute. We had a superb graduation dinner in the old part of town and Wednesday morning our crew headed to Lisbon, intent on seeing everything possible before their flights out.

Resources used on Leg 4, Falmouth, England to Lisbon, Portugal:

WWW.WINDY.COM - Government Met Office coastal weather reports and weatherfax charts. A VERY valuable website! - 3 hourly coastal graph forecasts for the UK, Ireland and much of Europe.
Cruising Guides: Imray Atlantic Spain and Portugal
Imray charts: Y58, C 10, 18, 19, 48, 49
Electronic Charts:
C-Map running on Rose Point Coastal Explorer
Navionics Silver running on both our lovely new Raymarine MFD’s (multi-function displays), one at the chart table, and for the first time, one in the cockpit under the hard dodger

General sailing conditions for the coasts of Spain and Portugal:
During summer months N or NW winds prevail, dropping off after dark and frequently gusting to 25-35 during the afternoons. Finding a marina berth is easy, and average cost for Mahina Tiare (14 meters length) is €45. Sailing N, from Gibraltar is a much more difficult story, and frequently knowledgeable skippers make time motorsailing north at night or whenever the winds are lighter. Between Baiona and Lisbon, one finds very few anchorages as the frequently-present W swell makes anchoring difficult to impossible.



Leg 4 Itinerary

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