Wednesday 25/05/2011 Cascais to Cascais

Well, all the talk of snakes and ladders has been somewhat self-prophesying. Yesterday has got to be one of the few low points of our trip, although by now it is slightly less painful. We left Cascais at 4.30am to get to Peniche, the nearest harbour about 45 miles up the coast. The forecast was great; northerly F1-2 and not too much swell. We left, made good progress to the first headland and got round that fine. Then we started heading for the second one, Cabo Roca. The sun was up by now and it was clear there was some wind and swell against tide causing a short lumpy confused sea. Oh well, we thought, never mind, we’ll speed up once we’re the other side of this headland and we’ll get there in the end. We did not. The swell got bigger and stayed short, any helpful current disappeared and then the wind picked up. By the time the wind arrived we were about fifteen miles from Cascais and about thirty miles from Peniche. So reluctantly we realised that the only thing to do was to head back to Cascais and try again the next day. There was no other harbour to go to and at full revs we were making 1.5 knots over ground, just being stopped again and again by the sea. If we tried to carry on we’d end up burning all our fuel and getting in to Peniche the next morning too shattered to use the good forecast for southerlies the next day. So about midday we turned round and sailed back to Cascais in a northerly F4, thankful that at least we had the knowledge of finding a nice free anchorage when we got back. We both slept a bit on the way back and as the wind dropped in the shelter of Cabo Roca and Cabo Raso, we drifted into the anchorage under sail and I had a lovely swim when we arrived. By then we felt a bit more cheerful, and got new forecasts and an early night, in order to make the most of today.

So 4.30am again today, and this time the forecast seemed to be good. Before long we’d already gone further than we did yesterday when we turned back, and although there was swell, it was long enough now to drive through with no problems. We found that by taking a slightly more inshore route than we needed to, staying about a mile off, we got about half a knot of helpful current with us and all in all we made good progress. Instead of the light southerlies forecast we got light northerlies, but they were very light and not enough to slow us down which was a relief. We were talking about it just now, and both of us said that after yesterday we didn’t really shake off the thought that we might have to turn back a second time until we were very close to Peniche. It was very nice indeed to see Peniche come into view on the horizon.

We passed lots of fishing boats and lobster pots and a couple of other yachts heading the other way. Si caught a good sized mackerel and we motored into Peniche harbour this afternoon with enough time to have showers, do a big supermarket shop and have a drink with our neighbour who is heading south to Cadiz.

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