It’s a Wednesday afternoon.
I’ve read my Board papers and made notes and prepared.
I’m dialling in for the monthly management meeting at Trovus.
It’s just like a normal management meeting other than I’m sitting under a tree in Nazares in Portugal. Life goes on no matter what and you just find a way to adapt.
It’s been a super last couple of days.
The highlight has been making new friends. 2 nights ago late in the evening a boat rafted alongside us with a Dutch Family. Over the past 48 hours we’ve spent much of our time with them and their 2 children who are 10 and 9 from the yacht Pacific. The similarities between our journey and theirs are striking – we have much in common. Our own businesses, young children, much time in the planning. In the space of 12 hours their 9 year old daughter and Bluebell have bonded and the first sleepover planned. The children now start to believe our long standing re-assurances that they will meet other boat children. The simplest way of putting things that any parent will understand is that it went quiet for 12 hours. The children contented, happy and making friends.
The days continue to blend into one.
Two days in Figuera da Foz where we met up with Pentagram and met Mikael, a single handed Swedish sailor. Sailing south from there, we stopped at Nazares. One day turned into 3 days as the children wanted to play with the children from Pacific. Days spent fixing things on the boat, sharing experiences, visiting the beach and stocking up on provisions.
From Nazares, it was a short 4 hour sail South to Peniche for one night, and then a 9am departure for the 50 mile sail to Caiscais, just 20km from Lisbon.
This stretch of coastline is rich with history and the original explorers who set off from and lots of original architecture. Our friends without children set off to explore many of the places/ Right now for us getting into a settled routine of schoolwork, boat maintenance and sailing are the priority.
I reflect that it’s now been 3 week since all 5 of us have been on board. Two weeks of that were in Porvoa and since then we’ve had a week’s sailing. We’ve just been day sailing with the children – 80 miles is the longest in one day and we seem to have a system worked out. On departure, we put on the videos that my brother Max made for the children to keep them occupied. That buys Nichola and me the time to slip lines and get Aretha in and out of the harbour or marina. We’ve done 5 departures and arrivals now with just the 2 of us. The fluency and understanding is coming and we are working together as a team well. We’ve moored up onto hammerhead pontoons, finger pontoons, rafted alongside other boats and anchored. This was one of the areas of concern we had before – how would we handle Aretha with just the two of us, but all seems fine ….touch wood.
On a passage, the children are still taking a little time to settle. Some of their time is spent on deck (Columbus is loving his fishing and has more garfish and mullet to add to his rapidly growing tally), Bluebell ventures up once in a while and Willow is clamouring to get on deck at any opportunity.
Sailing from Nazares to Peniche Willow had a touch of seasickness (it’s great at that age – you’re sick and 30 seconds later you are smiling). The mistake we made was Nichola going down to clean the sick. I peered down the companion way to see both mother and daughter vomiting in time into the blue washing up bowl. They are a tough bunch this crew and recover quickly.
The sailing has been good – our first passage as a full crew was motoring all the way, then motor sailing with the genoa only. Yesterday’s sail to Caiscais was with full main and full genoa in winds gusting 30 knots. We even started some gentle racing with our friends on Pentagram as we surfed down the Atlantic rollers at 10.5 knots. Wonderful stuff.
So, today is Sunday and we were joined late last night by our friends again on Pacific. The children are happy between boats using the dinghies to cross between and are content playing Lego and making loom bands. We’ve cleaned the boat and have supper planned on board as we are cooking for our friends.
Pacific has an interesting story for the sailors reading this. She was built to the same model as Pen Duick III – the boat designed by the famous French sailor Eric Tabarly. They bought her 10 years ago in the Caribbean and have spent the past 10 years rebuilding her.
It still feels strange settling into our new life and we hanker (Nichola in particular) for a regular routine. We have much to learn still and are sponges for information and shared learning. The great thing about the sailing community is their helpfulness and there is always some willing to offer advice and help you fix things.
We are becoming the go-to boat for fishing advice (I hasten to add based only on limited success) and are happy to share whatever knowledge we have gleaned about offshore warm water fishing.
Of course, there are highs and lows – Nichola and I have never spent this much time together and we both need our time out and space. The children are…well the children and are delightful and frustrating in equal measures.
Right now, life is peaceful. We have 5 children on board all happily playing. The sun is shining. We are at anchor and the breeze blows through at 20 knots or so. The harbour is alive with colour with Laser SB3’s and 420’s racing along, a fleet of yellow sailed Optimists and there are around 20 yachts anchored all around and we’re heading ashore shortly.
Tomorrow is a trip to Lisbon for long standing spare parts (and ordering up new spares for the latest things to break). Then, it’s up the rig for rig check and fixing new wind instruments and Tuesday sees up head south again probably to Sines or Lagos.
Thank you all again for your lovely comments and feedback – we all love hearing them and it’s a highlight to read them to the crew over a meal.
For now, over and out. Have an awesome day everyone.
The crew on Aretha.
Nichola sailing into Nazare in Portugal Columbus & Willow at sea
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