At sea, at last

Well, we are finally enroute.

We realised yesterday that we had to get out of Lagos.

The longer we bobbed about in the comfort and safety of that marina, obsessively checking the forecasts, the more the thought of the Atlantic swells awaiting us filled us with uneasy apprehension.

The more the north westerly winds whistling through our rigging seemed to sing of impending doom and storms afoot.

The more we looked at one another and thought, ‘Ah, we should wait another day, it wouldn’t be a good idea to head out in this… I mean, the swell, think of the swell.

‘And the wind. Bang on the nose it is. No quite useless. We’re better off staying here…’

The problem was that we had been following the forecasts like a pair of weather junkies for a week, hardly able to go a full hour without another forecast fix, and at no point had those perfect conditions we both were secretly and silently hoping for shown even the most subtle signs of appearing.

And the more we bobbed about, reading about six to eight metre swells and listening to that incessant wind, the more a light tickling deep in the tummy, at first like a few fluttering butterflies graduated into an internal tempest, a raven rampaging around our innards.

Neither of us admitted to nerves but nerves they were, waking us in the night with their long spider-like fingers and trying to drag us landward. Trying to prevent us leaving at all. The fact is, the sea can be bloody terrifying, and we’re intelligent enough to know this.

Yesterday, as another forecast check confirmed big seas and heavy winds, we caught ourselves dangerously close to further delay.

Then in almost perfect unison we stated: “We’re going!”

And go we did.

A kindly neighbour helped us slip our lines in the marina as Pete gently manoeuvred N’Tiana’s 15 tonnes out of her berth.

“Where are you headed?” He shouted as we drifted off.

“To Sagres, then on to Lisbon,” came our response.

“North?!” He exclaimed. “Ha! Good luck with that!”

Always good to have a vote of confidence when you leave.

Out we headed into 25 knots of wind from the North West, bright sunshine and an energetic turquoise sea persistently attacking the immense red sandstone cliffs stretching from Lagos out to Cape St Vincent, also known as The End of The World.

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The rocky coast is interrupted only by the odd sleepy cove and golden beach, harbouring a strange mix of local fishermen and British and German tourists.

We sailed close hauled west towards Sagres at a healthy seven knots through the afternoon, and as we got further west and closer to the exposed Atlantic coast, we began to understand what the forecasts had meant by big swells. Great hills of water lurched towards us and we surged up to their summits before ploughing back down deep into their wide water valleys.

These giant undulations were saved from being terrifying only by their relatively gentle gradients – more like rolling hills than craggy crevasses and rocky peaks.

But as we neared the bay behind Cape St Vincent that had been our planned anchorage, we realised these great walls of water, rolling in from west were sweeping around the headland creating big breakers and an unsteady sea even in what should have been a well sheltered spot.

We turned around and enjoying some joyous downwind respite, hotfooted into Baleeira, Sagres, where the sight of windsurfers assured us of seas a lot calmer than where we had found ourselves.

We dropped anchor without mishap and here we are, nestled in among the fishing boats, hiding from the massive seas just around the headland a couple of miles west.

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As I write, the sweet spicy scents of chilli being cooked by Pete are enfolding me in their comforting arms. The sun has left a warm red glow over our protective cliffs.

The wind still rattles outside but is due to drop overnight and, all being well, we will set off by midday tomorrow into a, hopefully, reduced Atlantic swell and on to the great maritime city of Lisbon.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Helen and andy says:

    We’re behind you.l!😎

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jessi55331 says:

    Well done Mand and Pete! I’m not sure if the moral of your story is ignore the weather forecast (at least to an extent)… or don’t! Pleased to hear you’ve set off though and that the forecast is, at last, looking better! Xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Andrew Prynne says:

    Beautifully written well observed. Cruising on paper is so much easier. The winds are always favourable sand the tides benign. But with a great skipper and crew on a well found yacht the real challenges are there to be savoured and enjoyed.

    Liked by 1 person

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