On the basis we thought you may be bored of reading our posts, we have someone else’s account of the Bay of Biscay for you to read. Duncan Sinclair was a great friend of our neighbours, Rod & Breeda on Pontoon 16 in Brighton, and we think his account makes for an entertaining read – mainly revolving around hunts for fuel, beer and cigarettes to be fair. Sadly, Duncan passed away earlier this year, but we think his account is worth a read. And it also makes us happy that we took a lot of fuel with us…
Tuesday 1st July 2014 (Day 1 – ish)
Andreas decided we should have an early start, so I was ready for 8am – no sign of Renée the Failed Fisherman.
Andreas and I go shopping to get the necessities for the trip, like wine, beer, cider, and – of course – pasta!
Still no sign of Renée the Failed Fisherman
Still no sign of Renée the Failed Fisherman
Phonecall from Renée the Failed Fisherman stating he is at the station in London
Andreas goes to McDonalds to get food for Renée, meets him, and Renée finally makes it on the boat
Wednesday 2nd July (Day 2)
Renée has bought a new rod, reel and fishing lures. He is trying to double his chances in the fishing stakes and is ready to take on all manner of large fish beyond 200lbs
Finally set sail, 24 hours late. Andreas and I sat down and looked at the course he had set, so we could sail down the Channel, south of the ‘Isle of Widget’ and stay at Portland Bill for the night. Also realised we only had 40 cigarettes for the trip..
Sailing in light winds, watching the sun rise over Sussex and Hampshire
6am – 1pm
I realise we are going backwards down the ‘Isle of Widget’. Engine switched on.
The best laid plans and all that… decided to reject Andreas’ carefully-made trip plan, and decide to head for Guernsey in the Channel Islands. Two main reasons: one, it’s my birthday tomorrow; two, Renée wants to be in France for Friday to watch the France-Germany World Cup game
Lose wind. Under power again.
I am sat down writing this diary. Funnily enough, Renée hasn’t caught any fish, even with two rods, so it’s risotto tonight.
Heading towards France, still under power. No cigarettes and a badly swollen left leg
Thursday 3rd July
I was born on the 3rd July at 03:30 in the morning. Today, on my anniversary, we were off the French coast in calm conditions and not much wind at that exact time!
Spent the next hour avoiding rocks, which is strange because they keep putting the rocks under big white lights. I do not understand the French!
Contacted Guernsey marina to organise a berth. Andreas and Renée spent the next hour trying to hit a very large green metal buoy. They failed miserably, and we finally made it to the marina!
My leg by now is twice the size as the normal one. Had it felt by an attractive Guernsey doctor. This cost me £75.00 for 15 minutes! I think prostitutes are cheaper!!
Now on drugs. Have cigarettes and am drinking wine! Result!
Don’t know where the other two are. Think they are devising plans to kill us by sailing into an Atlantic depression tomorrow.
Friday 4th July
Leaving Guernsey 06:30
We left Guernsey at 06:30 into a beautifully lit sunrise. Things got gradually worse from there.
Guernsey is obviously a floating island, and it followed us for approximately 8 hours. Renée reckoned he forgot to untie one of the lines on the pontoon!
The wind increased up to Force 6, which was comfortable. We then made the decision to travel further west than intended, as all the nearby marinas were category B/C (i.e. crap!) and difficult to get into! So we decided to skip Roscoff because it’s horibble, and sail to a marina in a place called L’Aber Wrac’h
Another overnight sail with the objective of arriving at 9am.
Well, the weather got progressively worse and started pouring with rain! The wind increased to Force 7, and I retired to bed with a painful leg.
It was pitch black and gusting 7-8. Renée and Andreas were outside spending the entire night tacking and changing sails. Meanwhile, inside the boat, everything decided to go flying! Including the cots, books, plates, litter trays, cups… in fact everything that wasn’t laid down! I wedged myself between the table and the side of the boat so I didn’t move, and was joined by Vili, Andreas’ cat, who decided to puke on my face and the cushion next to me! That was a first! Meanwhile, outside, Renée was trying to pee with full wet weather gear on in a storm! He failed miserably!
Andreas and Renée were really tired after having sailed most of the night and retired below to witness Vili devising a new plan of how not to fly by leaving a paw with claws out permanently stuck in any available woodwork.
I went outside on watch about 5am. The wind slowly decreased, but it rained all day. We arrived in L’Aber Wrac’h at 8pm. Outside the harbour it was bad visibility with lots of rocks and a rash of cardinal buoys. A difficult entrance, not enhanced by the Italian lads having a heated discussion on where to point the boat. Unfortunately, whilst doing this, they forgot about the wheel. I was up on the bow watching us not steer towards a bunch of rocks (the French love their rocks) and had to remind Renée and Andreas that it would be helpful if at least one of them manned the wheel!
We finally tied up at 9pm, all of us completely knackered! (34 hours sailed).
I decided to go and find some cigarettes even though I was meant to give up and was lead into a trap by Renée, who had outthought me and was already there with cigarettes and beer!
It was at this point that Renée and I planned the mutiny. We decided that because everything was wet and the forecast was bad for the next 24 hours, we weren’t going to sail anywhere for the next 24 hours.
The mutiny didn’t last long as Andreas agreed with us.
L’Aber Wrac’h is a nice little village and well worth a stay. So as per usual, we ate, and drank cider (local beverage), and Calvados brandy in the local hostelries.
Woke up at 8.30am to the sound of rain, in a saturated wet boat with Michelli trying to steal the dry side of my bed (Michelli being Andreas’ other cat). Also, Renée evidently did not like sleeping next to the dirty cat litter tray for some reason.
So it was breakfast in a little cafe. Many crepes. The woman that ran it offered to lend us her car to get to the local supermarche so we could get some more food and stuff! How nice is that! Renée turned down the offerin case we destroyed the car (Renée is obviously the Cultural Attache of Italy as he asked how the French got on in the World Cup, only to find out the Germans had won 1-0).
Back on the boat, everything is outside as it is sunny and we desperately want to dry out our clothes and everything that got wet when we discovered the boat leaks!!
Sunday afternoon we were introduced to Breton dancing with singers, flutes, violin and Breton pipes! This mainly consists of playing the same song relentlessly with minimal movement of the participating dancers who were aged generally between 70 and 80 years old!! After a meal in the village pub and a game of of table football, we were ready to leave in the morning for Brest .
Monday 7th July
We arrived at Brest marina at approx 9am after passing Cape Finistere. Relatively straight sail apart from one spall where we had to pull in a couple of reefs. Of course it rained again! Andreas was hungry and wanted to eat in a nice French restaurant. He was disappointed as Renée and I went on a mission to find cigarettes as we had run out again.
Renée located an Irish pub with absolutely no Irish people in. Which is a result really.
This was a result as we found out we could buy a packet of cigarettes with 3 pints of Guinness. 6 pints of Guinness and 40 cigarettes later, Andreas settled for a takeaway over the road, which we could eat in the pub. Renée and I had burgers and chips, Andreas ate something completely indescribable.
There was also live music with the non-smiling miserable Breton musician. He cheered up when his mates joined him, and Breton dancing ensued. Yes, the same song over and over again, endlessly, only with a younger set of dancers doing the same dance. Conclusion: Breton dancing is fucking boring.
We were talking to a young couple outside about our trip so far, and Renée described how he still hadn’t caught any fish, and the smell of the boat when we got to Abarak of cats’ puke, piss, shit, and unwashed human bodies!! The reply from this quiet, unassuming French girl was priceless: ‘At least your boat doesn’t smell of fish’!!! Two more pints of Guinness and a 10 year old malt Bushmills whiskey each, Renée and Andreas decided to join the Breton dancing people, returning to the boat at approx. 2am totally drunk.
Tuesday 8th July
The day the cats left the boat.
Andreas had to leave the boat with Yilli and Michelli at 5.30am to meet with his father in Paris so he could take the cats back to Turin by train.
I don’t think Andreas was sober when he left the boat, as there was lots of banging about and crashing noises. Vili left willingly with the expression of ‘get me the fuck off this boat, I am pissed off with sailing and want to return to normal life on dry land’… Unlike Michelli who has now adapted to life on the open seas, and realised his full potential of pirate cat.
Renée and I went and had breakfast, which was the usual two hour affair, with at least two cups of coffee and croissants.
We then strolled to the yacht chandlers, where a French moment ensued. I located a silicone gun, some silicone, and white spirit. On encountering the girl at the till, I enquired if I could have some clear silicone, as they only seemed to have black and white – only to be told that clear does not exist!! I stated it does, because I have used it in the UK!! The answer was ‘Non!! It does not exist’. Feeling frustrated, I felt like making a stand, but Renée – the international peacemaker – stepped in and said ‘could you settle for white, Duncan?’. Feeling forced into a corner, I conceded and backed down. French 1, Duncan 0.
We then returned to the boat and carried out running repairs. At 2pm Renée and I were bored and decided to hit Brest town centre. We nearly swerved into the maritime museum for some cultural history, but ended up in a bar instead.
After two large beers in Siam Rue (very quiet place), we visited a musee supermarche, picked up a few essentials, and found another bar.
Renée and I felt that we’d been neglected by our skipper, who was having lunch with his father and two cats in Paris, and we were feeling vulnerable and that the security on the boat was not good enough! So we returned to Thembi in order to cure that problem. We hoisted every flag we could lay our hands on and when we ran out, decided to hoist several items of Andreas’ clothing as well. Then we used every available rope to tie up the companionway, so no burglars could enter the boat.
After this strenuous effort, there was only one way forwards.
Yes, we found another bar adjacent to the station – the Hemingway Bar! Another beer later, we went to greet Andreas at the station. He was pleased to see us, and Renée had found another bar where we could eat, drink, and watch the Brazil-Germany game.
The game turned out to be a bit one-sided, as Germany were 5-0 up after 29 minutes. I was waiting for the Brazilian comeback in the second half.
7-1 the final score – disappointed in Brazil. Renee happy German supporter. We then found a rum bar, and indulged in 73% proof Jamaican rum. Cures all known pain and my swollen leg didn’t hurt. On the return to the boat, Renée and I hung back so that Andreas could appreciate how we had secured the boat. We managed this by hiding in the toilet block.
It took Andreas over an hour to break into the boat and remove the random flags and other artifacts that had been hoisted up the mast!!
He did it really patiently, while Renée and I observed from the quayside.
Back on the boat, we planned our trip for tomorrow, and decided to wake at 6am to continue our travels. Note: no Italian arguments today, it seems they missed each other.
Wednesday 9th July
Up, boat ready for leaving to our destination of Audierne.
Saw a beautiful tall ship called Wind Surf on our way out of port.
Change of destination: we are evidently traveling too fast (7-8kts best so far), so Audierne has been binned.
We hit a sizable swell of 2m+ and strong northerly winds behind us. A 100-mile trip day. 12 hour sail after three hours’ sleep. It was a day of reefing sails instead of tacking. A pleasant change. Berthed in a village called Loctudy, which is in an estuary. Modern marina with basic facilities, so you had to walk into the centre of the village to find bars, restaurants etc. As per usual, we had run out of cigarettes, so Renée decided to borrow one of the marina’s push bikes to run a mercy mission.
As my leg is still swollen, I decided to walk into town as I don’t think I could manage cycling.
About an hour later we all met up in a bar in Loctudy. Andreas had also borrowed a bicycle. We went inside as it was chilly, and decided to eat in a fish restaurant down the road. Problem: Renée’s bike had been stolen, even though we had only left it for 30 minutes!
Went back to the bar to watch Argentina v Holland, but I was shattered so had to go back to the boat at half-time to sleep.
Evidently, Argentina are in the final.
Thursday 10th July
French showers always seem to amaze me. They have this push button system, where a jet of what can only be described as tepid water comes out which lasts for about 5 seconds before you have to push the button again!!
Loctudy goes one better. You have to put a coin in a box (one issued per day!!), then push the button every 5 seconds. As we travel south, will this become more complicated?
Today’s mission is a bit of a mystery to me, as Andreas and Renée have decided our destination. However, I’m sure this will change half way through the voyage. Not leaving till 3pm, so I guess it’s going to entail night sailing.
Bass with mussels in pastis (only thing we could find to add). As per usual, half way through cooking, the gas ran out.
It is now 5pm and Renée, after being enthused by eating fish, is preparing his fishing rod for a battle with a large fish. With his success rate being 0% at the moment, I feel this maybe a futile activity as even the seagulls don’t bother to come close to Thembi anymore!
We arrived at Carnivel marina at approx 10pm. On our way in Renée had difficulties with the Harbor Master who stated he couldn’t speak English. No problem for Renée who then spoke to him in Italian to torment him further.
We found the bar, and after a quick pint headed back to Thembi for an early start. the main reason for this is because we could not use the marina facilities. As they were shut we refused to pay the marina fees, so we left just before the French woke up!
A few problems leaving the marina: 1) Removing Thembi from the pontoon. She was stuck there with the current! 2) Hitting a rock with the keel on the way out of the harbour.
Renée said we must go slower, which would give him more opportunity to catch a fish. So the next few hours were spent hauling in the jib to slow the boat down.
At exactly 11.20am, a momentous thing happened!
Renée the Failed Fisherman became Renée the Fisherman!
He caught an 8lb bass, which we managed to get on the boat! Renée wanted to neat the fish to death with a winch handle, but Andreas was not happy with this, shouting No! No! No! No!!
So we got a hammer instead.
Renée gave it his best with the hammer but did not kill the fish.
After a couple of precise blows by Duncan, the fish was dead!
I then proceeded to gut the fish with my sailing knife (it also has a bottle opener – a bargain for an extra £15)
It turns out that the fish was desperate, as it had not eaten – its stomach was empty and the fish had roe!
At this point, Andreas and I worked out that the fish was very expensive – with the outlay for rods and tackle, it worked out at £50 per pound!
The fish was then put in the cooler for tonight’s meal.
We sailed into Ile D’Arz to meet up with Renée and Andreas’ friend, Ricky. This was also interesting because we had to moor on a buoy for the first time.
After missing the first buoy by a country mile, Andreas’ aim got better and we managed to hook a buoy. Unfortunately it was the wrong buoy. So we headed for another one. After catching another one, Andreas was not happy with the depth, so he decided to anchor.
Seeing as this was another first, we tried once and ended up in the wrong place. Second attempt, and we managed to anchor for the night.
Unleashing the Zodiac dinghy, Andreas said it would take 7 minutes to inflate. 20 minutes later, it was nearly inflated. this confirmed my suspicions that the Italians have no concept of time whatsoever. Fortunately, the little 2-stroke engine started second time.
We then floated the Zodiac and attached the motor, and we were ready to hit land and search for Ricky.
You get very wet very quickly in a zodiac, even in calm conditions – especially with Andreas in charge (another toy!)
We searched for Ricky at the sailing school; no-one seemed to know him. 20 minutes laters said ‘Does anyone know anyone called Ricardo?’ This did the trick, as the French only knew him as Ricardo!
Having spotted a church spire, I reckoned that there would be a pub nearby, and a tobacconist, as we were thirsty and had run out of cigarettes, so we decided to have a few drinks at the bar and then return to Thembi for the night and eat the very expensive hungry dead bass.
Renée the fisherman retired to bed with a big smile on his face having removed the curse of Renée the Failed Fisherman. I expect to read about this in Le Monde newspaper tomorrow as this story has sped far and wide around France with the French waiting in anticipation.
Saturday 12th June
After saying goodbye to Ricard, Renée and Andreas took him back to the island in the zodiac.
They said they would be half an hour. Now on understanding of the Italian concept of time, I took this to be at least an hour or two. Being proved absolutely correct, this gave me time to clean the boat.
Renée returned complaining that Andreas had purposely used the zodiac to get him wet.
After removing about 20lbs of mud and seaweed, our journey continued. We had a short trip to the marina in La Turbelle. A completely forgettable place, except for the village idiot getting his small yacht stuck on the sandy beach. First time swimming in the sea for me. We arrived back to Thembi to find we were being rafted in by the French harbour boys who insisted we would be ok.
We rafted 3 deep by our choice for a quick escape in the morning, then strolled into Turbelle and found a bar showing the 3-4 place play off between Holland and Brazil. Holland won 3-0. Then to bed for an early start.
Sunday 13th July
I woke up and decided to open the hatch and have a cigarette at 5:45am after the 5am alarm. My head got wet. From this I concluded it was raining. Yet again!! Long sail to La Rochelle, approximately 100 miles.
Fair wind and 5-6 knot passage, but wet, grey and low visibility. About 25 miles away from La Rochelle now and it’s 8pm – looks like a late night mooring.
Yep. Correct again. 3am arrival in La Rochelle. After entering on the lee side of an island and passing under a bridge (under power as finding the route was difficult). Isle de Re!! Anyhow, usual stuff with the French port. No one could speak English – or more like didn’t want to. Parlais Espagnol? Non! Parlais Italiano? Non! So with no further discussion, stuck outside La Rochelle at low tide. This I am used to as sailing with Andreas, this is becoming a regular situation.
I think that Andreas being Italian (Mediterranean sea), isn’t used to big tides.
Nice firework display on the way in as it’s Bastille Day today in France.
Not going to mention that Germany won the World Cup as Renee is gloating.
Monday 14th July
Awoke at 10am to discover it’s also Bastille Day today in France. It’s a Bank Holiday (2 days of Bastille Day – only the French).
Today I fell in love with the receptionist at the Harbour Masters office – thinking of kidnapping her!
Renée and Andreas went to discover the town. I went to the beach. We shopped at an open market to buy food for the trip to La Coruna.
In the evening we strolled into the town centre which is a beautiful medieval village. Street entertainment, live bands, loads of stalls. It’s a lively and interesting place,albeit very expensive.
Seafood dinner and wine. Strolled back during another firework display.
Discovered Renée has bought a new pair of pants, to replace the single pair of pants he has worn for the first twelve days. The new ones should last him for the rest of the trip!
Tuesday 15th July. La Rochelle to La Coruña
After breakfast the boat was stocked with food for four days. We anticipated three, but hey, you know the Italians and time!!
Few tidal problems getting away from La Rochelle, but we arrived in open ocean in the Bay of Biscay at 5.15pm. Weather sunny, averaging 5kts. During the night, the wind changed direction often. Andreas had the 9-12 watch, Renee 12-3am, me 3-6am. Quiet day today.
Wednesday 16th July.
Woke up to the sails in butterfly (Italian) or goosewing (UK). It seems that it is going to be like this with a NE wind behind us. Average speed around 3kts.
Wind picked up a little during the day, I slept a lot. Woke up by shouts of dolphins. A pod of dolphins joined the boat and spent around 40 minutes playing around.
Wind dropped completely during the night and it is now 7am on 17th July. We are 150+ miles away from land, and I’m not missing it.
Andreas went for a swim with the dolphins at 8am.
This writing might be a bit erratic now, it’s 3.20pm and we are stuck in a Force 6 wind, forecast F7 later. The swell is picking up and Renée is at the helm. We are both cold turkey now, having not smoked a cigarette for over 12 hours.
Renée is demanding alcohol. No way, Renée. With the F7 imminent (i.e. later this evening), we have decided to alter course to Gijon on the Spanish coast. This will be forced upon us by the weather, and also the opportunity to drink alcohol and stock up on cigarettes.
The wind dropped to 4-5kts about 5pm, and Andreas decided to go for a swim again. This time tying himself to a rope. This is the Italian way of personal hygiene (i.e. going for a crap). He was joined by dolphins, who I think found Andreas’ actions amusing.
Then we had a moment when the mainsail broke away from the car. A metal link had broken. Luckily we were out of high winds, and we had to enter Gijon under power.
Gijon, 9.30pm, Thursday 17th July.
Arrived in port. Andreas and Renée went for a shower. I opted for beer and cigarettes.
Purchased a packet of Ducados (Spanish cigarettes). Haven’t smoked them for a few years. Then found a small pub in a square, which was playing The Ramones, so a couple of quiet beers.
Then down to the quayside where the locals were buying corked bottles of cider. The local tradition was to hold the bottle as far away from the glass as possible, then attempt to pour it in the glass.
This tradition ends with 50% of the cider ending up in the street. Complete madness. I prefer the Devon way of just drinking it straight from the bottle. Andreas and Renée attempted the long pour and Andreas’ aim was not very good, with 75% of the cider ending up on the road.
We then went for tapas: pulpo, gambas al ahillo, patatas bravas etc, more cider and only one glass to share between three of us. We asked for more, and after a long dialogue from the waitress, managed to obtain another glass. I do not know the reason for this, and cannot be bothered to find out.
And so back to the boat, where we are being attacked by biting flies. Renée and I are trying to kill as many as possible, but are losing the battle. Renée decides to spend the night being sick for some reason. It may have been the cider.
Gijon, Friday 18th July
A visit from the customs officer at the 4th attempt (missing Italians), and we were cleared to leave.
We got underway at 2pm and are trying to head down the coast as far as possible so we can get to La Coruña on Saturday with a bit of luck. Note: still only one starving suicidal fish caught so far. Viva Las Vega!!!
After a nice evening meal consisting of melon and ham, followed by cous cous and vegetables made by Andreas, which is a rare treat, washed down with a glass of pays d’oc muscat moelleux (a fine wine). The engine started stalling; we restarted it, but it kept stopping.
Renée asked Andreas how much fuel we had on board. The answer was ‘enough to cross the English Channel twice’. Andreas asked me if I had any knowledge of engines. Enough to know that we have run out of fuel again (those of you who joined us on our weekend to Fecamp will understand this). So we used the emergency jerry can to allow us to fuel Themby enough to sneak into the nearest harbour. This happened to be Vega, a tiny little fishing harbour. After tying up (or nearly tying up) to a fishing boat, Renée leapt like a salmon on to the fishing boat with no line and barefoot. Andreas successfully tied the stern of the boat up eventually. We then went ashore to talk to two Spanish who were amused at the antics of the two Italians on a sailing boat; the only yacht in the marina. We found out that they only fuel in the harbour is agricultural and they will not sell it to yachtsmen. So we retired to the nearest bar to contemplate the situation over a couple of beers.
After several suggestions of either siphoning fuel off the boat next to us or stealing fuel from a van, the only hope was to hitch a lift to the nearest petrol station (approx 8km). Renée could hear music, so we went on a mission to find the source. It wasn’t the local 18th century gothic church, but two live bands, a couple of fairground stalls, and a bar selling the cider that you throw 50% of on the ground. Although they do have a specialist puppet pump which you place in the bottle at selected bars.
Mini Glastonbury with no tents! After an hour of listening, enough! Back to Thembi. Awaking at 8am, Andreas and Renée met a guy at the local coffee bar who gave them a lift to the petrol station and back – result!
After coffee and croissant, we refuelled Thembi and are now hopefully on our way to La Coruña.
Saturday 19th July 11.30am
Renée spots a bird in distress in the water. It has been tangled in illegal fishing line and has a hook in its wing. We stopped the engine and Renée plunged into the water with a knife in between his teeth to free the bird (a bit like Tarzan, really!).
NB: We actually got the bird on board to free the line, which gave Andreas a chance to stab me with a knife! A trembling Renée then re-entered the water to free the line from the propeller. Renée now thinks he has earned blessings from the fish god, and expects to catch his second fish!
This did not happen!
We ended up in a fishing harbour in the early evening looking for fuel. This was after a heated discussion between Renée and Andreas. Renée thought he could smell wind (and it wasn’t me!), and I wanted to keep sailing. Andreas (and I come to that) decided that having a full fuel tank and some spare was more important!
So we literally tied up, got a lift from a guy that owned the boat next to us, fuelled up, and ‘disappeared into the night’.
The Force 4 forecast turns out to be 5-6 wind and torrential rain. So much for a balmy crossing. No-one slept much as it was impossible.
Arrived at La Coruña in the sunshine (typical) to be greeted by a display from the Spanish Air Force as we entered the port (it’s great being famous!) – we entered to cheers and clapping! Ok, so it wasn’t us the clapping was for, and came close to punching a Spanish guy in charge of a motorboat well exceeding the speed limit! Absolute arsehole.
Sunday 20th July
It’s now 8pm, and the Italians have gone looking for girls at the airport. Titsia and Emmi arrived at about 9pm, so we strolled into La Coruña town centre, stopped for a quick beer and tapas, then went for a meal. The rest of the day was spent relaxing and catching up on sleep.
Monday 21st July
Woke at 8am. This morning we organised the sail repair, went to a coffee bar for breakfast, and prepared Thembi for the ext leg to Viga.
After a pasta lunch, we left La Coruña at 5.15pm. Now we have a crew of 5. It’s choppy and blowing Force 4 – nice conditions to sail watching the sun set! I’m wondering when it’s going to rain this evening.
Renée is trying to show Emmi his newly formed muscles, acquired with his new name “winch boy”. He has bought two new tuna lures – the anticipation is killing me (not!).
It was a beautiful evening with stars; the dolphins joined us many times, and Andreas was explaining to Emmi that if you want to get closer to the dolphins, you must use the gaff hook!
Night time, and you could watch the dolphins swimming under the water in the phosphorescence! Although this was wasted on Emmi, who preferred to be seasick.
Tuesday 22nd July
Today was hot and sunny, but no wind. We used the engine for a while, but as we did not know how much fuel was left, turned it off and were becalmed!
Mutiny 2!: Renée and I got bored and decided to find the nearest marina. San Vincente del Mar (Porto Pedras Negras), just past ‘Bird Shit Island’!
This is a particularly boring marina, and mooring was quite amusing, as evidently you have to enter 90degrees away from the pontoon, then get pulled in by ropes.
Nothing apart from 2 bars and a beach, I opted for the beach and went swimming.
Wandering back to the boat, there was an attempt to get a permit to visit Bird Shit Island, but evidently the herring gulls wouldn’t issue one as it was fiesta time there.
After escaping from the marina, I expected to turn left and back out to sea, but unbeknown to me, the plan had changed and we were mooring off the beach for the night. Usual stuff ensued, while Andreas and Renée squabbled about where to point the boat. I had to hang onto the anchor for 30 minutes whilst it dangled off the side! Winch Boy had no chance of developing muscles like Anchor Man!!
Then we bet on Andreas’ time for bowing up the zodiac (4 1/2 minutes – but it wasn’t fully inflated..). The next hour was spent trying to throw Andreas in the water.
An evening meal – risotto – is this the only dish Andreas can cook? I think so!
Unknown to Andreas, I had hatched a scheme to fill the Zodiac with rubbish (trash trailer). I even got Emmi to help (she didn’t realise that it was wrong! Love her innocence!). The look on Andreas’ face when I finished a beer and threw the empty can over my shoulder (on to the zodiac) was priceless!
Later, after Los Italianos returned to the Thembi, having re-visited the marina in the zodiac, we attacked the grappa!
After turning all the lights out and attempting to lock Emmi in the toilet (epic fail), we retired to bed.
Wednesday 23rd July
Grey, dull, miserable day. Everyone reading or sleeping apart from Titsi (painting her nails), and me (writing this, and updating my log book). A total now of 20 days’ sailing. 1315 miles logged.
Wind light westerly at the moment – hoping for northerly (stronger) later around 6pm – it’s 5pm now. The wind didn’t improve, and we spent most of the day under power. On realising we couldn’t reach Oporto on the fuel, the decision was taken to stop at Viana do Castela.
Probably the most helpful guy so far helped us berth at the marina (I love the Portugese after treatment from some of the Spanish and French!)
We had a long chat at the marina office while we were processed (I thought sailing was about freedom, not being processed like a can of peas every time we stop!).
Then off for a stroll along the river where there was a live band playing, and the local book festival was in full swing!
We were recommended a bar called ‘Liz’ – I don’t know who Lis is, but she wasn’t working tonight unless she was masquerading as a large bloke with a beard!
The local drunk was out, poncing cigarettes off people, and was upset that he was thrown out of Liz’s bar, so he sung tomorrow’s weather forecast at full volume! At least according to Renée who is obviously fluent in Portuguese. He managed to stagger back and get a cigarette off Renée before staggering off again into the doors, where his wife was probably lurking doing unthinkable things! Anyhow, it’s nice to be in Portugal. Really enjoy the architecture and culture! They tile the outside of the houses so you can piss up them! How thoughtful!
24th July 2014
Off to Nazare today, where Mr Andy Cotton surfed a 100ft wave – let’s see what happens!
The rest of the crew are looking forward to a cultural trip visiting medieval buildings and enjoy visiting different places. Me? A couple of cold beers and a packet of cigarettes – I am fluent in ordering these in four languages.
On another note, it seems that my attempt to create a perfume called ‘Odour of Thembi’ is being thwarted by Titsi, who insists on cleaning the heads at least four times a day. I am trying to thwart her attempts by pissing all over the place! Amy looked confused when Renée asked her if she wanted a golden shower!
Hahaha – nothing ever goes to plan! 10pm and looking forward to a quiet night sail… The autopilot decides to give up at exactly 10pm, there is no light on the compass, so we are using fishing boats as navigations points! The problem being they don’t stay still, so all of us are taking turns on the helm tonight in winds that are taking us up to 8kts.
2 reefs later, and reducing the jib, I retire to bed to sleep – I only wish Renée (Italian) and Amy (Greek) decide to argue about how to steer on the helm! Poor Amy – I know what it’s like, cos there is no deviation to route with Renée. Anyhow after two hours of Italian Greek arguments in English, and the torch shone in my eyes like some form of torture, I finally fall asleep… Only to be woken by LED lights shone in my eyes! No visibility – everyone is steering blind! So we enter Nazare in total fog
Totally happy – found a bar that sells beer and cigarettes!
Went back to the boat, and the married couples decided to stroll into the village. I opted to clear up the boat and have a hot shower. The showers in Portugal surpass the quality of any other showers in Europe! They have taps, not push buttons, and you can luxuriate under hot water! But not for me; the cyst on the back of my neck decided to burst, and I bled in the shower room, and all the way back to the boat, where I decided to resort to Portuguese brandy. This is recommended by top surgeons as the best way to treat burst cysts, so who am I to argue?
Spoke to Graham, a guy on a small sailing boat next to us, bled a bit more, and drank more of the brandy cure. Laid a rope trap into the companionway, which later Renee laughed at, saying it lacked quality.
25th July 2014
Up at 6am to travel to Lisbon. Wet and humid! Weather cleared up later, but we spent the whole day under power wondering when the fuel is going to run out again. Relaxed afternoon generally; sunbathing. I was looking forward to Andreas creating his first pasta dish of the trip. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen as we ran out of gas, so we resorted to beer. It is now 7.15pm and we are 8 miles from Lisbon!
Will we run out of fuel?
Can the Italians survive on raw pasta?
Can I survive on one can of beer and no tea?
We are now hallucinating, having not eaten since lunchtime, and no tea, coffee, or cigarettes. Can we last another 2 hours?! Only time will tell!
We made it, but only just. I found that Titsi had hidden a packet of cigarettes! After unburdening her of these, we managed to last the long two hours. We were like skeletal, crazed, hallucinating crew after this episode, and had to retire to a bar for both liquid refreshment and food.
Sunday 27th July 2014
The trip has finished, but Renée is still relentless. The alarm went off at 5.30, waking me up instead of 7.30 when it didn’t go off, so have been awake since stupid o’clock.
Got dragged around all four marinas to see which one was the best, only to find that Titsi and I had made the best choice. By this time, Renée and Aimy should be on their flight home, with the 5 sherpas carrying Renée’s luggage, minus the fishing tackle and rods which he has left behind due to despondency and utter rejection of his fishing career!
Then, the worst part of the whole trip – Shopping! Arghh!
I was consoled with a plate of snails and two beers – quite happy with that result.
My ticket is booked back on the same day (Tuesday 29th) as Titsi, albeit I get an extra day as my flight is 8.30pm, as opposed to Titsi’s 8.30am. We moved Thembi to her final destination of the trip: nearer the toilet and shower block. Disgusted with myself as cocked up the last mooring after so many successes!
Andreas and I had a chat about all the fishing gear that Renee had left on board, and the conclusion is that we are going to sell it on eBay alongside his Italian CDs, which he has also left behind.
Not forgetting Sunday morning in Lisbon, when the clubs empty at 7am in the morning! Usual shit bunch of blokes that haven’t pulled and decide to fight! Fair play to the little bloke who was going to get a beating, but legged it down the road – the big bloke following him tripped over the curb and perfected the face plant!
28th July 2014
Anyhow, it’s Monday now – a day off! Went to the beach with Titsi. Cascais. Love this place – told everyone she was my ex-wife that wanted to get back with me! G&T at the end of the afternoon – perfect ending!
My last night on Thembi I’m going to miss her, but would love to know where the spatula and the plastic knife we started the journey with have disappeared! It was a bastard cooking eggs without them!
Not forgetting the 17-piece brass band that entertained me on the beach at Cascais with their renditions of Daft Punk and other stuff – reminded me of Pookesnacken Burger in Brighton before they reformed as Stomp! Top percussion band!