|Storm Sail Practise|
|The Cork 1720 we towed out of the harbour|
|Bye Bye Ireland!|
From where we were it was 190 degrees to our next waypoint 540 odd miles away at the southern end of the shipping lanes off Finisterre. By 10:20 there was enough wind for us to hoist the main and Temptress large blue and white spinnaker, finally we were sailing downwind and heading south in the sunshine and a sparkling sea. At mid-day any acceleration caused by the hills and cliffs behind us was lost and Temptress resumed motoring though we knew we couldn’t motor all the way. Lunch was tasty chicken curry pies from the deli counter in Crosshaven’s Centra supermarket, highly recommended. And shortly after the genoa was unfurled and Temptress was sailing once more, setting the pattern for the entire passage. With the help of the bird book we identified British Shearwaters, lots of them swooping on wing tips along the face of the waves.
|Joe making tea|
|Day 1 sunset|
Watches started at 21:00 with a two on, four off pattern. Dolphins continued to join us from time to time all night, trails of phosphorescence marking their swoops and dives through the water. The wind which had topped about F4 in the later afternoon was gradually moving round to the North East and decreasing through the evening so that by half eleven the engine was on again with 439 nm to go to the waypoint and just over 100 nm run. With scarcely any cloud and no moon until almost dawn the stars were amazing. Unless you have been at sea or deep in the desert you rarely get a chance to see the Milky Way like this even readily identifiable constellations seem to be painted on a backdrop of stars.
Day two was mostly motoring in a glassy sea sloppy sea which made for a spectacular purple dawn to match the amazing red sunset we had witnessed the night before. Chicken and vegetable soup was the lunch special at the Bay Restaurant and much enjoyed by all with some soda bread. In the early afternoon the wind finally decided to return with a faint F3 from the North East. We tried sailing but soon gave up then ninety minutes later gave it another shot with just the genoa and bingo our luck was in, Temptress sails faster than she can motor and we were back to our planned passage speed of 6.5 knots and more.
A note of explanation about the Bay Restaurant – you can locate it in one of two ways; either sail down190 degrees from Cork Harbour or alternatively follow the trail of veggie peelings from the same location. It is open for breakfast, lunch and supper serving good hearty crew meals. The three chefs are all well practised in the gentle art of juggling pots and pans on a swaying cooker as the boat bounces off the wave tops and can behave like an octopus when it comes to serving up into several bowls sliding across the worktop. Sunday nights special was fish pie made with a huge piece of smoked hake purchased from Dunns fish counter in Carrickaline, it was topped with mashed potatoes and cheese.
|Chef at the Bay Restaurant|
Day three Monday dawned sunny and bright and late morning we heard our first Spanish broadcast on the VHF radio but couldn’t pick up the actual forecast they were announcing, we were 300 miles down the track with around 300 to go to Baiona. Around lunchtime the barometer started falling, we were moving out below the centre of the high pressure as it tracked more north and Temptress sailed south. We ran the water maker but the tanks could only take about one and a half hours worth of water, a scruffy bunch we’d not showered since leaving Cork! And it was now too rolly a ride to contemplate doing so. Supper was a beef stew pressure cooked by Kevin who bravely volunteered to attempt to fight with rolling veg and sliding pots and pans for an hour or so.
Susie thought she saw a whale spout in the distance soon after dawn and with the wind easing down from its overnight peak of F5 gusting 6 the sea became flatter. Mid-morning the mainsail was raised again, easy now the Skipper had spent the previous day sorting out the Lazy Jacks that had long languished at the mast (it was probably five years since we last had them in place). Lazy Jacks are long lengths of “string” that hang from high up on the mast and reach out like crows feet to points along either side of the boom to form a cradle into which the mainsail can quickly be dropped without the need for crew to be on deck folding it. Our latest mainsail is now used enough to squash down into a neat pile that can be swiftly tied in place. Kevin has got them sorted so we could drop the sail quickly if need be during the night as there would only be one of us on watch.
After lunch the wind died away to almost nothing so the engine was on once more and with the watermaker running the entire crew treated themselves to luxurious hot showers not worrying too much about being careful with water usage! Clean bodies, clean hair and clean teeth, Temptress was a much more pleasant place to be! Supper got delayed by our first sighting of Pilot Whales and yet more statistical discussions as we reached 500 nm since leaving Cork. All three of us sat in the cockpit watching the trip log flock through from 499 to 500. Little things! Susie completed her second novel and realised that the reason she felt a bit queasy was probably due to reading in the rolly conditions.
The Bay Restaurant served up its final evening meal of Moroccan Lamb, much enjoyed by all. More pilot whales including a baby only a few feet long and a sighting of two minke fortunately the latter were a few hundred metres away rounded off our evening. We were now well into the ITZ off Finisterre, then as the first watch Joe got settled into his spell fog descended. With Kevin up again (he’d taken the first watch) as well and the radar on Temptress motored cautiously south through the pea-souper. At 1 am Susie relieved Kevin. Not only were there fishing boats on the AIS there were also dots on the radar both inshore and out to sea of us, we guessed smaller fishing boats moving erratically as ever.
The fog cleared as suddenly as it had descended, the light of Finisterre flashing once every five seconds and the street lights of the towns and villages becoming clear. Another starry, almost moonless night. The glow of Vigo making the sky orange to the south east of us. Joe headed off to his bunk whilst Susie sat for another two hours watching the fishing boats but none came close. Shortly after 3am Temptress altered course for the entrance of the Canal De Sud, the channel through the rocks off Baiona, we’d reached the end of the ITZ and had motored or sailed 560 nautical miles so far. We reckoned we’d be tied in time for lunch on Wednesday.
After a bit of a kerfuffle with pickup lines a yacht club marinero helped us moor stern to the pontoon in the MRYC marina. It was just after noon so after a quick shower all three of us headed via the office (to register our presence, passport numbers, DOBs and boat registration details required), into town in search of lunch. A huge paella ensured we would not want to eat for the rest of the day!
|12 years on - Kevin, Susie & Joe at Virgen De Roca|
NB: We managed to cover 596 nautical miles over the ground on passage but some 30 miles more through the water - not very efficient use of the tides and currents!