Last tweaks and we’re nearly ready to go

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The intrepid crew members

The other two crew members arrived last night and before I say anything else, it turns out that Kevin’s sister lives in Huntington, Long Island, which is where my mother and her nine siblings were born and raised and many of my cousins were born and raised. One of my cousins still lives there and I’m hoping his sister is reading this. What a small world, eh?

Thanks to the French air traffic control, the flight last night was delayed by an hour, but Paul and Kevin arrived safely and we were able to get back to the boat, unload their stuff, and get to a restaurant across from the marina by 11 o’clock for dinner. The Adega do Marina, incidentally, which was very good.

IMG_2938So today we have to go over the boat, start planning our passage, provision up and hopefully we’ll be good to go. Kevin and Paul are both exceptionally experienced sailors, so that is a great comfort to the spouse and me. I have done my snivelling about being an inexperienced and unconfident sailor and they have been very kind and reassuring.

Maybe at this point I should say that many of our friends and relatives have been very positive about our awfully big adventure, but other reactions have ranged from ‘why do you want to take the boat from Portugal back to the UK?’ and [sharp intake of breath] ‘Bay of Biscay, hope it’s not too horrible for you’ to just weird looks. I was getting stressed enough that John rang Keith, who took the boat out for her sea trial when we first saw her, to come and reassure me. Which he did very well. So between him and the other two I feel slightly better.

But back to Wednesday, which is where I left off: that was the first night we have slept on the boat and the excitement and tension finally got to me – I woke in the early hours with a horrendous migraine, resulting in me keeping the spouse awake as I moaned pitifully and demanded medication.

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Beautiful example of a tiled building in Lagos

There are no holding tanks on the boat (yet) so when it finally reached that terrible stage of a migraine where it hits your stomach I had to leave Masquerade at 1am (still moaning pitifully) to head for the marina facilities. Amazing how noisy wooden pontoons are at that time of day when you are trying to tiptoe. I’ll draw a line under my suffering but by breakfast time I was fully recovered.

It’s a testament to Masquerade’s comfort that, in between the piteous moaning and sneaking out to the marina in the small hours, I slept really well.

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Algarve oranges are about the best ever

Thursday was a day of final tweakings – lee cloths being installed, testing the radar, buying more seasickness tablets just in case, and dashing off to the supermarket because they had pressure cookers on special offer. Kevin is a chef and has offered to do the cooking on the voyage; he had suggested that a pressure cooker was a good idea for ship cooking. I had assumed that on-board catering meant eating stuff out of cans.

Yesterday we had lunch at an amazing restaurant just behind the marina; just grilled fish (choose your own) with salad and boiled potatoes. And I had the chance to wander into town a little bit.

It’s now Friday, so I’m pretty much up to date. We may, depending on the last tweaks, have a little test sail today.

We arrive in Portugal, and luckily so does essential equipment

imageLast night (back to dinner) was a very pleasant evening: drinks in the bar, a lovely meal – the chef there obviously knows his or her stuff. We both avoided duck, having admired the white ducks in the hotel grounds, just in case they were hotel pets.image

The morning went relatively smoothly apart from nearly missing the hotel transfer bus (we had booked it but the other passengers obviously boarded early and were agitating to leave before the designated time). Meanwhile I was struggling from the room with my share of the recalcitrant baggage, the spouse having (luckily) gone on ahead to secure the bus.

Check-in went smoothly and security was packed but we managed to choose all the right lanes and were through in plenty of time for breakfast (full Engulish for him, Eggs Benedict for me) and boarding when again we managed to be near the front so were on practically first (after all the speedy boarders).

The flight proved uneventful, which is sometimes the best you can ask for these days, with a slight delay due to strong head winds. Our bags – all four heavily laden of them – were among the first out, and we were good to go. Oh, wait, we had to go to Europcar for the rental car James had booked. Nearly an hour later and we were on our way from Faro airport to Lagos marina.

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Good thing we had an estate car – it took all the bags. John and Ana Paula were at the marina when we arrived. John, who was the broker when James bought  has been doing a lot of work on the baot and co-ordinating a lot of the other work. No of course nothing major, just tidying up stuff.

Ana Paula, John’s wife, has been a godsend with helping to unravel Portuguese red tape and rushed off to the post office with us to get a series drogue. That’s a vital piece of equipment for when things go horribly wrong, so I am hoping we never have to deploy it.

imageThere is such a long story behind that and the red tape that my one glass of vinho verde is not enough. Suffice it to say it has taken ages, including the two weeks when the marina office didn’t tell imageJames he had the letter from customs telling him it had arrived.

The other drama has been the radar and again one glass of wine isn’t enough but the important bit arrived today. Again, with help from John and Ana Paula after James had a hissy fit online with everyone because they tried to deliver it to the wrong address. That has involved Ralf up the mast in one of the two bosun’s chairs (another long story), and pliers and cable ties also featured heavily.

imageAt that point I became a dedicated landlubber, having started the tedious process of unpacking and trying to find places for everything, and headed into town for a little mooch. And I am now sitting in the sun writing this and realizing that it is going to be difficult to continue this level of blogging once the adventure is underway. But I’ll do what I can. If I have time, given all the unpacking and washing up.

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Packed and ready to go

Packed

Ready to go!

There’s quite a lot of luggage when you’re packing for a boat as well as two people, but we managed it.

We probably have far more clothes than we need but (a) I figure you can never have too many layers and (b) they help pad out sharp corners on essentials like sets of hex keys.

Dress rehearsal

Ready for wet weather

A(nother) dress rehearsal of the wet weather gear went well; I can get my salopettes, jacket and boots on in the right order and (mostly) without assistance.

So it seems we’re pretty much good to go, and hopefully everything will be hunky dory at the marina.

Two days should be enough to get everything ready at that end, and I am looking forward to a well-deserved (I think) Portuguese gin tomorrow night. Late afternoon. Maybe lunchtime.

Speaking of gin, I heard today that it is becoming even more popular in this country and the number of gin distilleries has doubled in the last few (10 I think they said) years. I wasn’t much of a gin drinker till I tried Nao when we were first in Lagos and I am now a convert.

 

By way of background

It all started over breakfast coffee one day when the darling spouse said, “I think we should buy a boat.”

In time-honoured tradition, I said absently, “That’s nice, dear,” while looking in horror at all the online polls showing how well Trump was doing in the race for Republican candidate.

When we had first gone sailing with friends in the Med many years ago, the spouse was so taken with the experience that he determined to buy a yacht and moor it in the Med so we could live on it a few months of the year. Provided he could get internet access constantly so he could work on the boat. Not wanting to sound dismissive, I had always viewed it along the lines of my occasional comment of, “When I win the lottery.”

“There’s one in Portugal I want to go look at,” he persisted. “Want to come out with me and look at it?”

That got my attention very quickly. It seems that over the years, rather than losing the desire to own a yacht, the criteria had been crystallizing in spouse’s mind. It had to be a Moody 40 with the big rear cabin, with in-mast furling, and it had to have a blue hull. All of which boxes Masquerade ticks.

And here we are: from seeing the details of Masquerade online to buying her, getting all the work done, and preparing to sail her back to the UK has been a process of less than six months. I guess when all the pieces fall into place it all moves along quickly.

Incidentally, though that first sailing trip was nearly 11 years ago, we are what ‘proper’ sailing people scornfully refer to as part-timers: our experience has been limited to a week or two a year in non-tidal waters. The spouse is rather more experienced that I am, as on those trips I tended to be more bartender and scribe than useful crew member.

So it may be a doddle for many of you out there to sail from Portugal to the UK, but for us it is an awfully big adventure.