Yacht Fathom - Setting off from England in May 2016 on a single-handed voyage somewhere a bit warmer

Seixal & preparations for Madeira

It has been an eventful start to September. I arrived back at the anchorage in Cascais on Monday in tandem with Claude on his boat ‘Oui Oui’. We got talking to Pete & Sharon on s/y Meridian who were anchored nearby and they invited us for some drinks on Wednesday evening. After picking Claude up from his boat in the dinghy we went aboard Meridian and tie up. It was cool and the wind was blowing hard with gusts around 25 -30 knots so we were sat down in the cabin. Several hours later I went back on deck to pull the dinghy in but there was no dinghy… The wind was howling and I realised that the dinghy with outboard (and my favourite hat) must have drifted well out to sea and be long gone. The end of the breakwater and the marina were off dead downwind from the boat so I had little hope it had drifted there. Pete lent me his dinghy and I motored down to the marina to see if the dinghy had miraculously clipped the end of the breakwater and been pinned to the rocks. No sign. Claude offered to help look for it so we went back to Fathom, hoisted the anchor and motored out into the darkness and still howling wind. At this point it is about 1am. The next two hours are spent motoring downwind for a mile or two and then sweeping back while I am on the bow with a search light. No sign of the dinghy. At 03.30 I drop Claude back on his boat and put the anchor down again resigned to the dinghy being lost and the cost and inconvenience of finding replacements.

The next morning I take Fathom into the marina at Cascais in order I can get ashore and and speak to the local chandlers about replacements etc (insurance won’t replace). In the marina office I ask the girl behind the desk if a dinghy has been spotted in the harbour. She replies ‘actually yes follow me’.  And there right at the back of the marina is the dinghy!! No idea how, with that wind direction, it had found its way into the marina but what a bit of luck that was. Yesterday I was the happiest person in Portugal! From now on I will always tie up my own dinghy :).

Last week was spent anchored in Seixal and it was nice working on jobs on the boat and enjoying the very peaceful atmosphere there. Amazing how often I bump into familiar boats and in Seixal it was Pete on s/y Frantic who gave me some spreader boots that didn’t fit his boat but fitted Fathom perfectly. Seixal itself appears at first to be a very poor and run down town. The main street is currently being relaid so there is dust everywhere, many of the buildings are tired and some empty and boarded up. But looking past all that it has a very nice atmosphere and the local people are very friendly. It is more like the real Portugal as opposed to the artificial and touristy Cascais. While I was in Seixal there were only 5 other visiting yachts there and I didn’t run in to any other tourists ashore. Very refreshing.

Claude is now on his way back north to the UK. Yesterday I met a very interesting solo Belgian sailor called Jean Heylbroeck on his yacht ‘Chartist Lady’. Jean is famous in Belgium and Holland for his sailing exploits over the last 40 years and books about his adventures including solo circumnavigation in the 1980’s pre GPS era. After chatting over a cup of coffee Jean and I may sail in tandem to Porto Santo, Madeira in a few days time. Jean is now in his 70’s and we both thought it a nice idea to have another boat in close proximity for the passage. The weather forecast is not favourable for departing before Thursday as there is an area of very light winds on the approach to Madeira and the northerly winds here in Portugal are faltering for a short time. So a few more days to prepare but not long now. Expecting to leave Thursday or Friday next week and I will be posting many more updates when I am on the move again.

Posted on 02 Sep in: Portugal (No Comments)

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