Saturday, 11 October 2008

The First Leg…Cowes to Madeira Via Bayona and Porto Santo 21/9/08 to 9/10/08

After nearly 3 months of hectic preparation, repairs and installations we finally left Cowes on the last of the cool North Easterlies headed for Bayona and warmer waters. I was slightly worried that we wouldn't complete the passage before the weather turned, but arriving off Cape Finesterre with 40 kts from the NE, we had made it through the Biscay unscathed and hopefully warmer, fairer weather lies ahead.

We left on 21 September after a real "fast finish" and although we planned to leave at 3 am we decided to get some sleep, as we weren't finished in the house until 2.30am. Consequently we were all tired as when we eventually left at 8 am. We had a guest on board for the first leg…a camera man who was filming for a documentary to be shown sometime in the future. Biscay was just fine and we saw some typical Atlantic weather with winds in the 25-30kt range and some large seas on the port quarter. Finesterre caused us a little worry with high winds and some really steep seas on the beam, but we were through that by 11am and finally motored in with clear skies and a light warm breeze.

We had daily runs of 159, 181, 180, and 179 miles and dropped anchor on the 25th at about 8pm off Pria De Rodas on Islas Cies some 3 miles NE of Bayona, After a great beach day, which was enjoyed by all, and a meal ashore we left the following day and berthed in the Marina in Bayona. The cameraman left after a few days and we headed up to Porto Novo a few miles up the coast for a little family time and a bit of beach before our trip to Madeira.

The Weather was not looking good in the medium term so we shelved plans to meet up with friends further north, and upped sticks and headed for Madeira on the 2/10 with a following wind. Feeling refreshed after a few days alone.

Again with the NE Trades we made good speed making 210, 155,153 and 136 miles, arriving on the island of Porto Santo at 4.30 pm on 6/10.

Porto Santo was great with a really large beach and beach bar / restaurant where we could see Pegasus and the boys could play on the beach as we ordered food and relaxed. Although the beach is quite exposed from the south and east, it provided good shelter while we were there and the holding was good.

With a freshening wind from the NW we set off for Madeira after breakfast on 9/10. We had all sorts of weather, full sail, to 3 reefs in, making 16kts at one point to ghosting along at 9 kts in 7 kts of breeze…really quite a challenging day. Pegasus was really responsive as I had scrubbed the bottom when in Porto Santo taking all the summer weed off, and much of the antifouling, so she now has great pick up.

We all really noticed a difference coming down to the Madeira group. The water temperature is 10 degrees warmer than N Spain so at 72 deg is quite swimable…(my cut off is 70 although the boys will swim in 60 deg F!!!) It was almost as we passed the straights of Gibraltar that the weather changed and the wind was really quite warm and pleasant We all felt that we had finally got into the cruising grounds we had left 4 months ago when we departed the Azores for the UK in June.

The last 1400m miles has been quite a test after 3 months ashore. We have changed so many things on board that each new system has had to be checked, and the propensity for massive problems has always been there, but luckily the modification that have been made have held up and at last the rig is working well and using the rotating mast has really increased our speed and windward performance.

The Atlantic has played with us and been forgiving…we really could have had a few problems in Biscay had the gusts been at the wrong times of that wave been a few meters closer when exposed reefing etc. The Reefing procedure is now much more polished…I had forgotten the finer details of the procedures whilst getting fat ashore…and yes, 3 months ashore and the muscles you need to perform the deck tasks quickly and smoothly have just gone soft and I've
been out of breath and not really fit enough. All that has now changed and the strength is returning and sailing the boat is getting easier and less scary.

Life aboard is finding its rhythm again. The boys and Amanda are happy and family life is moving on….Amanda's making soup and trying to get JJ to lay the table, and I'm on the computer… good got to go!!!

The Soup was delicious sort of tomato and garlic sausage. Were here in Madeira in Porto Da Calheta, (Funchal marina is full and all the boats are being evicted Next Friday as the On Deck Farr 65's come in on their race…rather boring especially as this was organised by someone we know in Cowes our home port!!!) We plan to stay here for a week or so to sort a few issues and take a look around, then head off to the Canaries after our new guest arrives…Grand Mere.

The Trial run...USA, Bahamas, Azores, UK

In Brief…We had a great time in the states. I picked Pegasus up from John Lombardi's yard in late February and with Whig Neil and Neil Edwards set off down the intacoastal waterway headed for Charleston. I've got to say it was pretty cold, with ice on the inside of the cabin, but after 2 weeks the weather was warmer and we arrived in Charleston in early May ready for the
arrival of Amanda, Jean-Jaques and Louis. The lads left and Amanda and the boys arrived and we spent a pleasant week with my Cousin Emily and family enjoying Charleston. Sadly Amanda had a spot of food poisoning so didn't really see much of what is a beautiful city. We headed south and made our way to West Palm in Florida, ready to cross to the Bahamas. We had an early weather window and made our way to the Abacos, where my brother Edwin joined us for a week. Ed Left from Nassau and we headed south through the Exhuma chain enjoying island hoping and ended up in Georgetown. After a week on the beach it was time to go. Amanda had decided that she was ready and that she and the boys would do the crossing with me on Pegasus. I was delighted, as if all went well then we had a sustainable system and the rest of the world was only a sail away.

21 Days later we arrived in Sao Miguel in the Azores. Al was well. We had done our longest trip and everyone had enjoyed it. A week later and we were off again headed for the UK and home waters. 9 days later we came up the channel in force8 conditions headed for Christchurch where Amanda's parents had organised for us to go alongside the yacht club. We had a great reception and Pegasus looked really quite large up the river…we only just got in as there isn't much water there. We spent a long weekend there and then headed for Cowes our homeport. I had a jobs list as long as your arm and so set about a mini refit, repairing some planking which had cracked on
our transatlantic, installing a new wind generator, sail repair, rig tuning, changing the running rigging, new sail bags, and numerous other details to make the forthcoming trip easier. The summer proved wet and windy and the weather delayed repairs so that we didn't get as much done as we wanted.

However we had set a date and as the weather turned in our favour we were under the countdown. A last minute deal with a production company saw a cameraman and some production staff around the boat before we departed and we spent our last few days along side in Shepard's Wharf in Cowes where all at the harbour commission were extremely helpful and really made our stay as easy as possible for us…we are very thankful.