Pleasure and pain

They disappear with the sun.

11th September 2020

Pavoa de Vazim, Portugal – Cascais, Portugal

If you use the phrase ‘pleasure and pain’ in the wrong company you’ll be given some hard stares and have to answer some pretty difficult questions. If you were to ask the Ruffians about their time in Pavoa and then their trip south to Cascais then ‘pleasure and pain’ would sum things up perfectly. With the pleasure being shoreside and the pain being offshore.

The pleasures of exploring Porto faded as we found everything that Pavoa had to offer. The trusty Bromptons took us around landscaped parks, through ancient castles and to churches who had hidden delights. All these were overlooked by the aqueduct with 999 arches (you’d have thought they would have built another just to get a round number) that delivered water to the church, which they could then, in the best corporate style rebrand as ‘holy water’.

The pleasure of PdV was balanced with pain as we bid a fond farewell to Annie. Larry was finally introduced to Pigamus and we’re not sure that either Pigamus or Larry will ever be the same. We’ve enjoyed Annie’s outlook, their knarly kitesurfing stories and how our paths have crossed so many times in so many different places.

With the sun high in the sky and the seas a glassy calm we looked forward to the pleasure of Ruffian slipping effortlessly south and being somewhere where life is simple, tasks are single minded and calm can descend. We were going offshore for a couple of days. This pleasure however would quickly turn to pain.

With land far away and the engine purring happily the water pump suddenly kicked into life, it’s red light shining and giving a warning of things that were to come. Perplexed as to why the water system wasn’t pressurising, we put it down to air somewhere in the system and continued having fun. As the miles slid by and the water pump far from our minds suddenly the bilge pump kicked in, it’s warning light blinking brightly and it’s whirring telling of untold pain below the floorboards.

With horror in his heart Iain lifted the floor and found the pumps were keeping Ruffian afloat but where was the water coming from? Checking the engine bay his heart sank further as water was lapping at the engine mounts, threatening to kill the engine move the situation from dodgy to dangerous.

Fiona with her quick thinking enquired as to the state of the water (she really is frustratingly clever and clear in a crisis): Salt or fresh? Warm or cold? Finding warm fresh water meant 1 of 2 things, either the engines cooling water was now in the bilge or we’d had a catastrophic leak from the hot water tank. With the engine purring it had to be the hot water tank.

Suddenly everything fell into place. The water pump wasn’t pressuring because it had been busy pumping all our litres of lovingly made watermaker water through the calorifier and straight into the bilge. This realisation didn’t make the bailing any less painful, it did however mean that we were safe and the ocean was remaining where it was meant to be, outside the boat. Our only worry now was would the calorifier melt and would the engine remain purring.

As the miles ticked by, we thought that the journey couldn’t get any more painful, but worse was still to come. As darkness descended so did the fog.

Ruffian’s little world suddenly got even smaller. Shrouded in fog we could only see as far as the bow, the stern light hardly illuminated our wake and the steaming light was useless as it would be invisible to any marauding fishing boats before they ploughed into us, turning a dangerous situation deadly. As the night went on the fog slowly seeped through our clothing making everything damp and with the prospect of no sun to warm our aching bones every mile south became more painful.

The radar not only told us where other ships were it also confirmed where land was and as we neared Cascais we dreaded anchoring without being able to see other boats, without being able to see the dangers and without knowing exactly where we’d put the anchor. Instantly the pain of the situation eased, as we closed in on the land, the fog lifted, the beach glowed and we knew that we’d come through a painful offshore passage and could only take pleasure in the fact it was over.

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Author: Iain & Fiona Lewis

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