Current location for King Malu

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Is this day 4 or 5?

When you get on a sailing boat for some time, somehow days seem to merge into one another, you almost lose track of time. You develop a different rhythm of life, based upon the needs of the boat. There are four of us on the boat, and overnight there has to be at least one person on watch, and watches last for two hours, so your sleep is somewhat disturbed and so you also sleep during the day. This is the rhythm of life on a boat.

DAY 1: We left at 9pm on Thursday. I remember that much. We had worked hard for three days getting the boat ready. A new boat is not ready to sail. It might have all the linen on board, but this is equipping a small mobile home, so there are pots and pans to buy, food and provisions. And when we say provisions it's not just the food, but all the little things like salt and pepper and other sauces. We had to get a microwave, and all the things needed for bathrooms.

And it wasn't quite finished. There was a washing machine from Korea that had been freighted over by and and needed fitting. This took Costas, the distributor for Lagoon, the best part of a whole day to do. This is a special upright washing machine like I have never seen before. Light weight, not the really heavy front loaders we have in Europe normally.

Then there was the sea trial as part of the handover procedure. This boat has one of the new roller booms that Lagoon are developing, and it broke on the sea trial, so they then had to get new parts sent over from the factory to be fitted before we left.

I had a frozen shoulder, what they call 'iPad shoulder' I think, which made things doubly difficult. Getting on and off the boat required me to grit my teeth catch hold of the boat with my good arm and one leg, then hoist myself up enough to grab with my bad arm in a way that didn't make me scream with pain. It worked but took a lot of effort. In between all this we had fantastic French cuisine in the evening at different restaurants in Les Sables.

So... Back to the story... We left at 9pm and ate our first meal of the trip on board. The winds across the Bay of Biscay we predicted to be almost perfect for a downwind run from Les Sables to the north western tip of Spain. If all goes well it will take two days across the bay. The Bay of Biscay is notorious for bad weather so I was somewhat apprehensive, especially with a bad shoulder. I don't have great balance at the best of times and the thought of falling and not being able to catch myself... well... it made me even more careful than usual.

DAY 2: The night watches went well. One thing that's really cool about the new Raymarine E-series chartplotters is that you can view and control them remotely with an iPad or Android tablet. This means that you can stay in the relatively warm saloon which has great all round visibility and watch the radar and AIS for other ships without sitting outside in full foul weather gear. You still need it on or available as if the sails need trimming then it's out into the cold of the Bay of Biscay you go. Tim and I were doing a double watch together, because my arm would not allow me to trip sails too easily, even with electric winches.

Today we sail with just the genoa. Nobody is really excited about trying the roller main sail. And we're doing good speed because of the wind.

DAY 3: Today is time to try the new furling main sail in daylight. But... sadly it breaks again. This time it's a lot worse than the first time, as some parts jam in the luff, making it impossible to completely raise or lower the sail. Frankly that makes me edgy, being unable to easily drop the mainsail if you needed to in an emergency.

So we spend the rest of the day attempting to un-jam it sending emails back to the manufacturer for advice and comment. We have a Thrane and Thrane Sailor 250 system on board. It's very expensive, but really, really efficient.

Today is not a good day, not only is the sail broken, but I get sea sick. Makes me feel less than fully able to pull my weight when I'm in my bunk feeling like nothing on earth.

DAY 4: We pass Cape Finistere. And I'm feeling a lot better! We found a way to drop the main sail and put it up again. It's not easy but possible. And that's a big step forward. And Cape Finistere is spectacular.

Alongside the Raymarine chart plotter we're using iSailor on my iPad and PocketGrib on the iPad to download weather forecasts over the satellite internet? This is the new version of iSailor and it's very much improved in all functions except for one, and that is plotting multi waypoint routes. That feature used to work well, but the new way, I cannot get the hang of. I've read the tutorial, and it just doesn't seem to work for me. Everything else though is great. One of the other crew mentioned that as a chart plotter it's easier to use than the Raymarine! And it is.

We're all growing to love the remote control of the Raymarine with the iPad, because amongst other things the touch screen of the iPad is significantly better than that of the E-series chartplotter, so it's actually quicker and easier to use the remote than the actual device.

The grib files on PocketGrib have been pretty accurate for the main part, but with gusting way, way higher, but I guess that's Atlantic weather for you. This is my first time not sailing in the Med, and to be honest the jury is still out on whether I like Ocean sailing compared to the Med.

DAY 5: The grib says we will wind will turn southerly, which means that we would be beating into the wind and waves on the engines, not the great downwind or broad reach sailing we have had so far. So there are long discussions about the alternatives. Final decision is to hold up in Sines for 27 hours when the wind will have moved back to the west and we can broad reach down the rest of Portugal and sail downwind to Gibraltar.

Sines is a wonderful little marina, makes you realise what Larnaca has to live up to... and fail. It's amazingly well protected, for the final few hours into the marina we were beating into the wind with wind speeds showing in excess of 45 knots and speeds (SOG) of up to 12/13 knots. That's pretty much roller coaster sailing. I'll try and see if I can upload some of the footage of this onto YouTube. I didn't get the fastest speeds filmed. The Lagoon 450 is a very sea friendly boat, you don't get the hull slapping you do on the Lagoon 560.

So here we are sitting and catching up, looking forward to a meal ashore this evening and watching the flag gently waving in the breeze, the rain falling, and the wind gauge... which on our mast is well above the harbour wall showing 30s and 40s. Yes, I'm very glad we're taking a break. The hot shower was wonderful. We do have hot showers on board, and that is good, but with onboard showers you .always have to be careful of water usage.

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