A successful day’s sailing

A successful day's sailing Sunday dawned sunny and windy! The wind was not as strong as it appeared. Today's leg from Oeiras to Sines started at 10.00 a.m. for the 50+ nautical miles including Cabo Espichel where we might expect a wind acceleration zone. Some boats headed off to the west while others sailed inshore, both groups hoping for favourable winds. We steered a middle course, watching the west bound group disappear in the background. Sadly for us, the inshore group crept ahead of us, especially Idefix, a Belgian boat flying a bright pink spinnaker. Their advantage was to be short lived however because they all sailed into a wind hole close to the cliffs! The first 14 miles were very slow however the wind picked up in the afternoon and we sailed on, wing and wing (mainsail pulled out one side and secured out with a gybe preventer, genoa out to the other side.). Our course was rather too close to the wind from astern so John rigged the spinnaker pole to hold the genoa out. Our speed increased and we had a very good sail though we couldn't catch up with Idefix. We reached Sines ahead of a number of much larger boats, what a good feeling that was. No, we are not competitive, we just don't like being last. Monday morning we had a walking tour of Sines, birthplace of Vasco da Gama. Was he related to Henry VIII? All the statues of him look like the pictures of Henry VIII. The tour was followed by the rally prize giving in the old castle, with light refreshments especially white port with tonic and ice, very good. The leg to Sines was our most successful ever, coming second in our class. That is two podium finishes in two successive legs, don't expect a further improvement on the next leg! Tomorrow's winds are predicted to be very light, just what we don't want on the longest leg of the rally excluding Biscay. It's 75 miles and the start is a 'gate start' between 0600 and 0630 when the wind will probably be zero. At least it means we should be able to extricate Starblazer from another slightly challenging berth. We have spent this afternoon doing some boat jobs, primarily finding then fitting the bimini, a large sunshade over the cockpit. It took a bit of finding, I had stupidly put it in a locker under the forward berth which has subsequently been stacked with crates of stuff to be found a home! The aft straps holding the frame back interfered with the mainsheet and we would like to be able to sail with it up so John has moved the fixings, problem solved we hope. The other issue is with the way the sheets (ropes which control the sails to non sailors) go on the winches. We think we have a good lead for them but winching is going to be a bit of a challenge. Hopefully we'll get to try it out tomorrow, the wind should increase a bit during the day to give us a bit of a rest from the engine. Tonight we are treating ourselves to a restaurant meal, the cook is still a little unwilling to work. Just a quick brag, we have just looked at the results on the website and found that we actually came second in the whole fleet on corrected time, that can't be bad!!! Joyce

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