The Excellent Adventures of Island Girl

The day was finally here August 14th 2014. We departed on our long awaited trip to the Med and beyond. The week before had seen Hurricane Bertha causing chaos along the British coast but the wind speed has dropped below 30.

There was food aplenty on board including casseroles pre cooked and vacuumed sealed. And loads of treats for those long nights on watch. This pre planning proved to be invaluable.

Karen, Ossie, James and I pulled out of Hayling harbour much later than expected but as a sign at the club says “The lovely thing about cruising is that planning turns out to be of little use”. We made this our motto for the next few months.

The sea was turbulent to say the least and this continued to the English Channel. I did not like the English Channel. Cold does not even go close to describing the temperature. It took Karen and I a good 36 hours to get our sea legs. This did not look good for crossing the Bay of Biscay – aka Bay of Certain Death or Bay of Destruction.

However, against all predictions the Bay was awesome. We had 20 knots on the beam with an asymmetrical spinnaker flying, Dolphins even came to play. It wasn’t so bad. But the infamous Bay had the last laugh with the wind increasing to high 30’s and some nasty seas for the last 30 miles in to La Coruna, Spain. We were very happy to reach a safe harbour by Sunday evening after about 550 nautical miles. We are still getting to know the boat and had a small scare with fuel capacity and were fortunate to have breeze all the way.

Again a late start leaving La Coruna, but the breakfast was so worth it. We had decided to head to Cascais, Portugal but after a few hours it became apparent that we needed to head non-stop to Lagos, Portugal as Ossie and Karen are heading back to the UK for a couple of weeks for long term commitments. This took the trip from 347 miles to about 468 miles. And James had earlier given me grief for the amount of food we had on board. As always, I over catered but in this instance this was a good thing.

The breeze was still 25 to 30 as we left but soon dropped to 10 to 15. The iron sail was put to good use for most of the trip.

The Dufour is performing above all expectations. Having two Olympic yachties on board it is all about the speed, and of course we are racing any other boat that comes within sight. “Island Girl” is very responsive and quick but still has all the comforts of a modern cruising boat. And yes we are having lovely hot showers every day.

Our top speed to date is 13 knots with one reef and full headsail in about 30 knots. And the competition on board to get that top speed was fierce. We even gave “George” the autopilot a shot. He is more the slow and steady kinda guy.

Our arrival in Lagos was difficult in the dark. I would advise only arriving in daylight as the harbour entrance is very small and the lights of the town make it incredibly difficult to see the channel lights. But once in harbour there is much to enjoy. I may not leave here for several days at least.

One thing I have discovered about cruising is that is all about the food. The better the food the less you notice the other little annoyances, like a rolling swell or pouring rain or cold.

– Marita Wilmot

Pantaenius Sailing
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