The Descent

We slipped lines and left the harbour at 15:15 in the afternoon. We left harbour and headed around the Cape Finisterre, and down the coast to Lisbon, where the Fountaine Pajot representative said we could get our electrical issues fixed. My first watch was at 8pm, and I decided I better lay down. I already was feeling a little queazy. Those couple of days on shore had not done me any favours with my seasickness. We were doing four hour shifts. Four hours on, eight hours off. By the time I was to stand my watch, I had sent my salmon dinner and everything else my body could think of, back into the ocean. My head was a typhoon and I could barely walk. Luckily the auto helm is working, so I can go lean over the back of the boat and release whatever cookies or water I try to consume. By ten, I decided I was just going to make myself useful, because I was going to feel like crap anyway. I cooked supper. I made something simple, chicken legs, green peppers, mushrooms and ramen noodles. I couldn't eat any, but at least Jon and John would be able to eat.

Torre de Hercules - This is an ancient Roman
 Lighthouse in Coruña is 1900 years old
Sunset - the one thing that is never lacking
in a sailor's life, is the most breathtaking
sunsets and sunrises.

John got up at about 11:30 or so, and I was so relieved. I watched the minutes tick by. He offered to let me go to bed early, but I wanted to finish my four hour shift and do my log entry. John ate, and I actually managed to keep a little of the salty noodle soup, and even a few noodles down. At 11:55 I decided I could write my log entry and go to bed and sleep until 8am. Maybe by then, with a good eight hours of sleep, the seasickness would abate and I would be able to have 

And then, like as if some great deity had flipped a switch in the heavens, we were in complete darkness. Without even thinking about it, I dashed up the steps and grabbed the wheel. No power = no auto helm. There was no compass light, no instruments, no navigation lights. Jon was up in a flash at John’s call and wasted no time in burying himself in the engine compartment, battery compartments, cupboards and panels. I steered on into the night, marking my compass heading with a star. After 30 minutes I told John we should switch off, as the 30 minute swap was what Jon had asked us to do last time we were hand steering. 

About that time, Jon got the lights back on… kind of. He decided we should hand steer for now and save the battery power for the navigation lights. We would take two hour shifts driving. Two hours on, Four hours off. It was one am. So now, after a five hour shift instead of a two hour shift, I had three hours of my four hour off shift left. I undressed and crawled in to my frigid sleeping bag, and put my fuzzy socks on my hands to keep them warm. Just before four, my alarm went off, and I shivered out of my warm nest, changed socks and pulled on all my foulies. We rotated like this all day Saturday. Steer for two hours, watch the compass, watch the sky, watch the wabes that gyre and gimbal … 

From 10 pm to midnight I was on shift. Even at the beginning of my shift, I was really looking forward to my four hours off. The seasickness had mostly passed, but the exhaustion was beginning to creep in. 

Exhausted, but still smiling

And then, the lights went out. Why? Why did Joh turn my compass light out I whined in my mind. I need that to steer with. It’s hard to have to keep shining a flashlight on it, I want my compass light I whined louder in my mind. Why does he have to conserve energy by switching off my compass light… But I knew, I knew the truth. Joh hadn’t switched it off. It, like every other light on the boat, including our navigation red, green and white lights, had gone off, and we were sailing like an invisible ghost ship. I tried not to think about the fact that freighters can’t see invisible ghost ships. 

At midnight, John decided that he was too ill to stand his watch. Jon came up, and we decided that until John was better, we would rotate through the two hour watches as we had been doing, but with only two hours off time in between. I wrote my log at eleven minutes after midnight, and stripped off my outerwear, changed my socks, set my alarm for 1:45 am, put my fuzzy little mitts on, and tossed and turned. This had just turned into a much longer, much darker night.

Still hanging in there

There was a lovely sunrise at 7:15 am. It unfortunately took the stars I was following away, but let me see the compass numbers without a flashlight. Jon came up for his 8am watch, and I set my alarm for an hour and a half and I almost started crying. Land. My shifts were over. We would reach port before the start of my next shift. I woke before my alarm, to the sound of the engines slowing and revving as we came into port, and came up to help dock at Cascais at 9:25 am. 

I whipped up a lovely French Toast with cheese and sautéed mushrooms, onions and peppers, and we drank coffee and relaxed. At 10:30, Jon had reached the Fountaine Pajot representative and we moved the boat down into to Alcantara del Mar, which is just outside of the downtown core of Lisbon. 

In the late afternoon, I took the train into the old city and walked around. It is a lovely city. There was a soccer game on, and the city was alive. Luckily the local favourite won, and people went mad, throwing orange coloured smoke bombs and firecrackers, and driving up and down waving banners and whooping!

I have been listening to the audio book “Genome” by Matt Ridley. He says that some people are genetically wired to seek out challenges and adventure. I guess I just have to assume that I am one of them.


Coming in to Lisbon Harbour, past the castle. There
are a lot of tall ships here - lots give tours.

I'm thinking I'm gonna obey the sign...

And of course, here we are in Lisbon