Day 14- Tuesday 1st November 2022

Finally, we have just entered Portuguese waters and I have just swapped the Spanish flag for the Portuguese one! Having left our anchorage near La Coruna where we were sheltering from yet another gale that was blowing through, the crew was in high spirits as the last leg of the journey was about to begin. Captain Darren warned us of high swells which was immediately apparent as we left the sheltered bay. Our watch, Aft Starboard, was on watch from midnight to 0400 so early beds after a delicious stew and frangipane tart for supper. We were woken to a night sky full of stars and Second Mate Tom was pointing out various stars and constellations. We could see Orion’s Nebula through binoculars really clearly.

As we were rounding Finisterre we were no longer fighting into the wind but were able to hold a course close hauled to the wind. So, at the changeover of the watch at 0400 we hoisted some sails! The inner jib, topmast staysail and mizzen staysail were flying in the wind! I think the oncoming watch were delighted to be hauling sails before they even had chance for a cup of tea!

`Here comes the sun` was played over the tannoy to wake us up along with the smell of eggs, sausages and hash browns! After breakfast it was time for the morning meeting which had good news- Portugal was on the horizon! 

After breakfast, a few Minke whales were spotted about a ships length away! They are distinguishable by their snout surfacing first then their blowhole and dorsal fin are seen often simultaneously. This was an amazing experience and adds to the numerous dolphins we have seen across Biscay swimming and playing at the bow.

Third Mate Rory then did a talk about COLREGS (The Collision Regulations at Sea) which was interesting and helped to give us an understanding of what to do in a collision situation including more abstract ones such as coming across a Minesweeper in a narrow channel! We have had various talks from the Permanent Crew over the past two weeks including topics such as Astro Navigation, using a Sextant, Charts, Buoyage, Day Shapes and Lights, How to Set Sails and Meteorology (very apt considering the conditions we have hidden from!). We have also had splicing lessons and knot tying lessons which came in very useful today! These talks have been both interesting and informative, which the crew have learnt from and will be able to put into practice when they are sailing in the future.

After lunch (a delicious paella) BM Dave taught a group of us how to make new stoppers. It started with us doing an eye splice followed by doing a sailor’s whip to ensure that the lay wouldn’t unravel. We then plaited the three strands as this gives the stopper a greater surface area because it is flat so increases the friction on the rope, making it more effective. Then we did another whip at the bottom of the stopper to ensure that the plait was held together. Bosun Fi is going to swap out some of the old stoppers for our new ones – so keep an eye out for them when you are next onboard!

We are now on watch again – the First Dog watch from 1600 to 1800 and we are making good speed at 7 knots heading due south towards the warmer weather! The seas have calmed down and as we near the end of the voyage, the crew is beginning to reflect on how lucky we are to have made it safely across Biscay thanks to the expertise of the Permanent Crew helping us avoid the worst of the weather that Biscay has tried to throw at us! 215 NM remain of our passage to Lisbon and we are starting to smell the Pastel de Nata! 

Watch this space for the next update!