A world of firsts.

Looks like the next few days are going to be ‘fun’.

20th September 2020

Marina Parque das Nações (Marina Expo), Lisbon, Portugal – Sexial, Portugal

The aquatic lifestyle enables us to sample lots of firsts. On the plus side there is the first sail at night, the first ocean crossing, the first sandy beach and the first snorkelling with turtles. On the downside there is the first named storm, the first grounding, the first boat imprisonment and the first letter in the Greek alphabet. For this blog we’ve not had any of the upside firsts, but we have had all the downsides ones.

As we left the safety of the marina in Lisbon, we watched a small depression in the Atlantic turn into the first named storm to grace the Greek alphabet and we then watched as it’s predicted track swung south straight over Lisbon and straight over Ruffian. We were in for a blow and luckily, we thought we’d found somewhere perfect to wait it out.

As with the best of named storms the calm before it was serene. As the sun set over the hills the fishermen took their fill of shellfish from the mud flats around us and Ruffian bobbed in the serene waters. And then it started.

Rain lashed Ruffian’s decks and the wind threatened to tear loose all her canvas, all however was safe as Ruffian sat facing the wind with the tide going out. We thought we’d chosen well, we thought we’d leant lessons and we thought we were masters of the sea, things however were about to change.

As the tide turned the flat anchorage turned into a washing machine. The wind and the tide fought for dominance with poor Ruffian caught in the middle. We swung from left to right and back to front, one moment grounding was a danger and as we swung the other way crashing into other lively boats took our focus. All that was between Ruffian and disaster was the mud sitting on top of her anchor, the snubber holding the chain firm and our constant vigilance in case disaster really did strike.

We got used to life on a 6 hour rotation. For 6 hours as the tide was going out, everything was in control, for the other 6 hours as the tide came in, bedlam ensued. As the storm raged on around us its effects were starting to show. Boats that were once safe on their moorings broke free, crashed into other boats and ended up grounded on the shore, and workboats, clearly too big for their moorings, dragged, crashing into their neighbours.

With the storm abating the tide finally won the battle of the elements and we were aground on the very mud that had protected us. Suddenly the motion stopped, our keel had sunk into the bottom and for the first time in Sexial Ruffian was still. We’d weathered our first named storm and there was nothing more than to catch up on sleep while the water gently filled the bay.

We were not the only boat in Sexial to weather the storm, dance about and fight the tide.  The difference however between us and them, is their firsts are a long way behind them; their New Zealand flag was testament to this. Atea complete with their really cool kids and 2 cats had just sailed 54 days from South Africa after being in places as cool as the Chagos Islands, Solomons, Indonesia and India. Atea is everything we aspire to be.

With Ruffian now floating we could finally escape our first boat based imprisonment and as ever there was a tantalisingly interesting walk in order. Landing on the dodgiest of docks we made our way through abandoned industry (that had been flooded by the storm), across a military complex (whose roads were flooded by the storm) and through the detritus that you only ever find on derelict wasteland (that had been washed about by the storm). In hindsight tsunami walk would have been a more appropriate description than tantalising.

Ruffian is now free once more and with our new friends in tow with their kids as cool as cats and the cats as cool as kids, hopefully we’ll be experiencing firsts of another kind and not repeating the firsts we’ve had in Sexial.

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Author: Iain & Fiona Lewis

2 thoughts on “A world of firsts.

  1. I keep a 100 weight butchers weight in my keel step for these occasions. Just run it down the chain ( plenty of chain ) have waited out storms up to 60 its so far and watched all the other boats at anchor slip past……

  2. We had similar there 8 years ago! In the early morning wind and lashings of rain came out of nowhere. We sat peering into the gloom wondering if we were dragging and watch a Cat motoring round until after a couple of hours all calmed down Scary!

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