Days 4,5 and 6
Back in touch again as we stand off Portimão on the south coast of Portugal waiting for a pilot to come out and guide us into harbour. If we don’t get one soon we may have to look for a berth further down the coast. The captain is not best pleased…
The sun is at last shining out of a clear blue sky, and there is a gentle breeze blowing – cool but not cold. Various members of the voyage crew who are about to leave the ship are seizing their last chance to go aloft and enjoy the view from on high.
The last few days have seen us pass through the spectacular Straits of Gibraltar
(helped along by the strong surface current that runs out into the Atlantic). The Rock was shrouded in rain for much of the time but the African shore was very clear. We then sailed north west, past Tarifa, and across the historic patch of sea on which the Battle of Trafalgar was fought.
The weather has been ‘unsettled’ – to put it politely. We’ve had little wind and frequent showers often coupled with thunder and lightning. At one stage we even saw a waterspout curling up into the dark clouds. Dolphins have joined us frequently – riding our bow wave with a grace and power that fills you with wonder and delight.
Night watches have been pretty cold and dark, with not a glimpse of the stars – until the clouds rolled back last night to reveal the glory of whole sky. Jupiter shone brightly in the west when my watch – Starboard Aft – came on deck at 0400 this morning.
I did a second, well-attended talk on celestial navigation on day 4 and I’ve given several demos of the use of the sextant. Some of the voyage crew have even said they want to buy my book when they get home! Yesterday however there was too much going on to fit in another talk as planned.
Unfortunately the weather, coupled with the frequent need to adjust the sails, has made it difficult to fit in more than a few real sextant sights. But those have all gone well with the beginners getting some impressively accurate results.
We have a lively group of young merchant navy cadets on board, learning their trade. Last night we had a quiz in which they tied for equal first place – putting some of the older members of the voyage crew to shame!
Tomorrow the party will break up as the present voyage crew all head for home.
I’m staying on though, to help take the ship to her next destination – Ponta Delgada in the Azores.
More soon I hope!