Portugal to Canary Islands: Day 1

Day 1 (Thursday 1 September):

By the time we left anchorage, the wind had died down and was a perfect speed and direction for the day’s travels. We motored out of the harbour and past many fishing boats and buoys before soon turning the motor off for the day. The sails were soon set and we were broad reaching in 15-20 knots of wind and moving along swiftly towards our destination.

As we were approaching the edge of the continental shelf just after lunch, we spotted “loads” of dolphins, by the kids’ estimation. They were larger than the dolphins we had seen in the Bay of Biscay, but equally playful. Several played around in our bow wake for quite some time, keeping the kids well entertained and allowing them to easily forget about the schoolwork which was waiting for them below decks! The dolphins seemed to be taking advantage of the good fishing grounds to be found in the upwelling zone near the shelf break. On the shelf, the water temperature was at 19.4 degrees Celsius. After crossing the continental shelf, the water temperature increased to 21 degrees. (We would see it steadily increase – hitting above 28 on day 3!)

Later, the wind began filling in to about 20-25 knots from behind. The swell was quite large and it kept the boat steadily rolling. It remained so throughout the night. Early in the afternoon, a little bird was seen landing on our child netting. Roughly 30 miles offshore, this tiny bird, about the size of a sparrow, was quite out of place. He would certainly be best suited eating insects in someone’s back garden. (At the time, we didn’t realize it, but he was likely catching a ride to his holiday destination. He didn’t resurface until day 3… but he remained on board. I hope he brought his passport!)

Portugal to Canary Islands: Day 0

Day 0 (Wednesday, 31 August):

The night before we left Portugal, bound for the Canary Islands, we moved to an anchorage just outside of Cascais marina. While in Cascais, a north wind had picked up every afternoon from around 4pm until late evening. We were told by residents that this phenomenon was called “nortado” and that it happens most days. Our afternoon in the anchorage was no exception. In fact, it was an enhanced reality! The winds did kick in, and this time they kicked with force. Gusts reached at least 39 knots and we saw steady winds in the low 30s. It was a rolly, windy evening, but our anchor held fast.

More exciting, was the experience of those around us. Over our time in Cascais, we have been surrounded by SB20s (20 foot, high performance, racing sailboats) from around the world that are in port for the SB20 World Championships. These boats were just coming in from racing as the winds were picking up speed. As they arrived at the anchorage to dock or pick up a mooring for the night, the gusts were showing their strength. Boats were screaming past, capsizing, losing hold of their halyards, and generally putting on a show – all within 50 meters of us. One in particular, barely cleared our bow as he came past. While we were not concerned for ourselves in any way, his beautiful jib would not have faired well against our spare anchor that was at the ready to shish-kebob his sail!

The anchorage was windy enough that we discussed heading out and making headway towards the Canary Islands. However, as we knew from heading into the port, there were many fishing pots and buoys awaiting us, so we felt it best to depart in daytime. A morning departure assured us better visibility of all fishing boats and gear, as well as shipping traffic for the first 50 miles (10 hours of travel) away from the Portuguese coast.

Crinan Canal passage

In September 2015 we delivered Laridae (formerly named Happy Hippie) from James Watt Dock in Greenock (near Glasgow) to the Inverness Marina in Inverness.  We enjoyed a week of perfect weather (it’s rare to have seven consecutive days of settled weather!) and passaged through the Crinan and Caledonian Canals.

The Crinan Canal is 14 km long and was built between 1794 and 1801.  There are 15 locks and they are manually operated by the most friendly canal staff.  It was a beautiful passage.  Anneka and Dorian have done their best to create a short timelapse movie of our passage from Ardrishaig (on the south side) to Crinan (on the north side) and finally to Oban.