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Hard to capture the lumpy seas in a photo!

We disembarked from Ponta Delgada at 10am local time with a destination of Porto, Portugal. We had known for several days that the forecast for this leg of the voyage would be challenging. Sufficiently challenging that we delayed for a few days.

With winds coming from the northeast and our need to sail in an east-northeast direction, catamaran sailing is not ideal. These boats are not designed to sail into the wind. In fact, while reviewing the log book of our sail from Florida we only had a few hours of those conditions. Instead, the conditions were primarily with the wind from behind the boat, which is ideal. 

We set off regardless, knowing the conditions would be sporty, bouncy, damp, whatever adjective you might like to use, and not particularly fast. In our first 24 hours we have sailed 171 nautical miles but at times have been forced to be sailing to Morocco, and at the best times, to the southern tip of Portugal. But at least we are making headway.

Why would we leave under these conditions? After we have sailed for about 48 hours the winds will turn more northerly and eventually out of the west which will allow us to change course and make it to Porto.

There is a predicted wind shift in 4-6 hours. We keep looking at the data hoping it will arrive on time or even early. This is sailing. We set off with a plan and then wait and see. So far everything is according to the forecast.

During the past day we haven’t eaten much. The boat has been slamming into waves that are 9-12ft tall, which makes even getting food difficult. Sometimes we are on hands and knees to move around, if not that, then with a low center of gravity. Everyone is smiling and enjoying the journey. Looking at the rolling side of waves and witnessing the beauty of nature is magical.

South side of Ponta Delgada

As we left Ponta Delgada we had beautiful views of the south side of the island of São Miguel, again enjoying the moment and putting out of our minds the slamming we would soon encounter for a day or more.

We got into a night watch schedule in which the crew have 3 hour watches with 6 hours off watch. During the off watch period it’s important to rest, hydrate and eat if possible. I am on a flexible schedule, filling in as needed. For the first night I overlapped with each person’s watch to spend time with them, making sure they understood the boat and its controls. This also gave me a chance to have a little one on one time as each crew member settled in.

During our night watch Robert and I had some radio traffic. Due to a system called AIS (automated identification system) we are able to see another vessel’s position, speed and heading far off in the distance. We hailed by name one of these vessels, PHC Lion, as we were on a direct collision course. It’s not as dramatic as it sounds, but we were projected to meet in 45 minutes. So I radioed the ship, wanted to make sure they could see us and in the conversation they said they would turn to port to avoid us. 

View of our chart plotter with AIS information displayed. This vessel will pass within 12.41nm (CPA or closest point of approach) of our position, in about 42 minutes (TCPA or time to closest point of approach).

Shortly afterwards, we were hailed by name from Ponta Delgada. This confused us as we were 100 nautical miles away! They must have heard us on the VHF radio and once we connected they asked if we had seen a particular sailing vessel, which we hadn’t. Hopefully all is well. 

Page from the logbook, outlining the strategy for the next few days

After this was over we were back into the routine of a night watch.

The stars were glorious and the Milky Way brilliant.

All are getting their sea legs and we are planning our routing strategy to get to Porta. Still waiting for the wind to shift in our favor.

2 thoughts on “The First 24h to Porto

  1. With a VHF radio, how is the language barrier overcome to ensure proper communication is given?

    1. Thanks for your question! The standard language to use in VHF communications internationally is English, thankfully!

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