Lisbon to Porto Santo (4th October - 8th October 2008)


On the 4th October we said good-bye to Lisbon and mainland Europe as we set off into the Atlantic. The passage from Lisbon to Porto Santo was 530 miles and we had assumed about 5 or 6 days depending on the wind. The forecast was for moderate breezes maybe strong on occasions but in the right direction.


For the first 24 hours we went like a steam train covering just over 150 miles. Conditions were a little fruity with the boat rolling a fair bit in moderate seas; this was commented on by a Danish boat, Pi, who overtook us about 6 hours out from Lisbon. They apparently agreed that they were happy not to be on the GSB; a bit rich I thought, because they were rolling like no-tomorrow in their 42ft yacht - I think we may have been a tad steadier? Despite this difference of opinion we met up with Poul and Jen in Porto Santo for a cerveza and I have come to terms
with their strange opinions of the GSB. In all other respects they proved to be top chaps. Unfortunately they are heading off to Brazil so we probably won't meet up for some time to come.


After a few hours, both the children were seasick, Ella in the sea which was good and Jack in his sleeping bag which was not so good. By the second day stomachs and ship board life began to settle down and we were able to enjoy the trip a little bit more. Harry Potter on I pod each night, charades, plenty of reading and DS’ were the on-going entertainment. Lessons resumed on the second day but for understandable reasons without much writing. The weather was lovely and we continued to make good progress running the engine occasionally when the wind died.

On the third morning at about 0300 the engine coughed and then stopped. Had my suspicions as to the cause because when I had changed the fuel filters at Shotley and in Risor they had been very dirty so a blocked filter seemed likely to be the problem. Being the patient guy I am I decided to change the filters straightaway and woke Selma up for torch-holding assistance. We changed the primary filter without success and then the secondary which proved to be completely blinded and the cause of the problem. With new filters in place the engine restarted and off we went.



The following night whilst I was on watch we encountered an abandoned ship. She loomed up out of the darkness, unlit and slowly drifting with the mainsail shredded and flapping and gear hanging, discarded over the side. I circled the yacht from 100 metres or so with the spotlight on it to check there were no signs of life and then sailed on, it was all a little eerie not least because it was the middle of the night. Later on I called the coastguard who advised that there are a surprising number of yachts bobbing around in the Atlantic which have been abandoned by their owners.

As we munched through the miles we started to realise that we might actually make it in 4 days which is always a mistake because hopes are raised and expectations set. Nonetheless, if we kept a good breeze we would make it in daylight on the 4th day.

As it happened the wind stayed with us and in the morning of the 4th day we sighted land and moored up in Porto Santo at 1700 that afternoon.
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