The Sailing Season for 2017 kicked off with the Quinta Do Lorde Regatta in February. It was one of those gloriously sunny days, with bluest skies and a hot sun. Unfortunately for sailing, it was not so good. No Wind!
The Regatta was due to start at 1 pm so, at 12 noon we motored out of the marina. We surmised that the wind was not going to appear but, after making the effort to get to the Marina, we wanted to go out onto the water anyway. So, off we went. A few minutes behind us the other yachts came out too.
We hoisted the mainsail and the Yankee, catching some wind. Where did that come from? Not to be shy in taking advantage, we sailed off into the wind...... For a whole 5 minutes!!
In came the Yankee and on went the engine. We then joined the rest of the yachts waiting for the race start, in zero wind, and spent the next hour motoring around the committee boat whilst waiting for a decision. Eventually, the regatta was abandoned.
The second Regatta of the season was held in Funchal. At the end of February, the skipper and I became proud owners of a new puppy (well a 3-month-old puppy) from the local rescue centre. As he was only with us a couple of weeks when the Regatta was being held I decided to stay home with him so it was a 'boys only' crew.
They set off for Funchal in good time and in good winds, arriving at the start line with a little time to spare. Winds were blowing an average of 20 - 25 knots. Perfect for Red Ruth. The team did well at the start (thanks, Antonio) and set off toward the first mark. Swing, who was up ahead and approaching the first mark, radioed the committee boat to say that the buoy had moved in the wind and was too close to the rocks to allow a turn around it.
Not long after that a couple of the other yachts radioed in to say that the wind was too strong and they were giving up as they didn't want to damage sails. Needless to say, that was the end of the Regatta. Red Ruth and Alf, both with the 'older' crews and both sponsored by CEX were the only two yachts happy to continue sailing. But, once again the Regatta was abandoned!
Red Ruth had a great sail back to Quinta do Lorde Marina and, despite no Regatta, the boys enjoyed the days sailing.
pic: Red Ruth sailing in Funchal bay (pic courtesy of Norberto Nunes & ARVM)
The last weekend in April was the CEX sponsored 3-day Regatta in Funchal bay. As it coincided with the 1st May holiday there were not as many yachts participating as hoped for. But, as a previous sailing colleague would say "two boats heading in the same direction is a race". We had 7 entrants in total.
Again, I volunteered to stay home with our puppy as our skipper had to miss last years' event due to health reasons.
The day began with good winds and Red Ruth was doing very well, keeping up with the others and even taking some places. However (there is always a however!) on the last leg, just as they approached Santa Cruz bay, they fell into a hole in the wind. You can imagine the frustration on board to watch the others sail on by and you are going nowhere.
Such a hole in the wind doesn't affect the other yachts as much as it does Red Ruth. She is a very heavy boat so any drop in the wind can mean a significant drop in speed. We also are not flying a spinnaker, which would catch any little breeze and pull you along.
The wind eventually filled in, but too late to be useful.
Another day of little or no wind. All the yachts headed out to the start line where once again, no wind prevailed. The committee spent the next 4 hours zooming around in their rib trying to find wind out to the east and to the west of Funchal. After 4 hours it was decided to abandon the days sailing. Well, everyone got to bob about or try out their engines. Some swimming and fishing were done whilst they waited for the committee to make their decisions.
The 3-day event is made up of 4 or 5 races over the 3 days. A minimum of 3 races is required for the results to count for in the year's score.
Day 3 heralded the much sought after winds and with 2 races set for the day, the entrants set off early to the start line. Back to back racing with 15 - 20 knots of wind saw some fine sailing.
Prize giving in the evening with supper was most welcome. Red Ruth picked up a 3rd in Class prize so, considering the weekends' winds, the crew were happy with that.
June so far has been a windy month up our mountain. I always see a trend with a full moon; lots of wind both sides of the full moon. The full moon in June has been no exception. Fortunately, on both the first and second Saturdays of June, the wind and weather have been excellent for sailing.
On the first Saturday of the month, we took out some friends who have not been on a sailing yacht before. The sun was shining, the heat was on our backs and the wind in our sails. Everyone had a go at helming and the men put their muscles to the test with hauling up the sail and tacking. It was a really good sailing day and we had a lot of fun, as well as getting to know new friends.
pic: Red Ruth sailing (courtesy of V. Gorbachev)
The second Saturday of the month was the annual MEO Regatta to the Desertas Islands. We had been watching the wind forecasts all week with increasing disappointment at the lack of wind predicted. However, on the day the wind arrived and sustained at 17 - 22 knots for the whole regatta.
We were out on the water by 9.15 am for a race start at 10.30am. On our way to the start line, we were informed, by radio, that the start had moved to the next town along the coastline so we had to increase engine speed to get there on time.
Antonio took us across the line at the start in first place. An outstanding combination of skill and knowledge. Well done.
pic: Out in front at the start line (courtesy of R. Ornelas - facebook)
The leg back to Sao Lourenco point was a competitive run with the local knowledge of tide and wind keeping us alongside the other yachts.
Rounding the buoy we headed out toward Ileu Chao, the nearest of the Desertas Islands. We took in the staysail to allow the Yankee to get maximum benefit from the wind and sauntered along at about 4.5 knots until we cleared the Sao Lourenco point when, with a tweak of the sails, no land in the way of the wind, we surged up to 6-7 knots.
pic: Rounding the mark (courtesy of Machico Municipality facebook page)
Ahead of us, the other yachts had their Spinnakers flying and as we watched them pull away we suddenly saw one large orange spinnaker fall into the water. The stitching had given way and down it came. Fortunately, it was retrieved and they carried on with their Regatta.
Once around the mark at the Desertas buoy, we had a fine run back to the finish line in Machico. Sailing alongside us w as Vadio IV, a Dehler 39. It's always great to have someone else alongside you to challenge and rate your own performance against. A pod of Dolphins kept us company along the way for a good 20 minutes.
short video of dolphins sailing alongside us at https://www.facebook.com/antonioornelas.rato/videos/10210993304641482/
Our angle was good which meant that we did not need to tack until we crossed the line.
pic: Just across the Finish Line, (courtesy of R. Ornelas facebook page)
We returned to Quinta de Lorde where we tied up, cleaned the boat and headed back to Machico by car, for the prize giving. En route we received a telephone call to tell us that we had won first prize overall on handicap as well as first in class.
A FIRST!!!! Our first 'First' in Madeira Regatta racing. Well done Team Red Ruth.
A short video of Red Ruth sailing, taken by R. Ornelas. https://www.facebook.com/tininha203/videos/1413019872054845/
A planned trip to the Azores and back this month was due to happen on 7th July. The house and dog sitter were all booked up and arrived on time ready to take on the duties of watering plants and walking dog. Friday 7th came and we traipsed all our luggage and vitals down to the yacht and loaded it up. Diesel was put into the tank and beds made up, marina informed that we were on our way and weather reports checked once more. All Set to go.
We left the Quinta do Lorde marina at 2.30pm and headed into the bay to raise the mainsail and then we headed off to the tip of Sao Lourenco point. The passage plan was to round the point and head off on a bearing of 330 degrees. All being well this should take us past the east end of Madeira, out into the Atlantic and up to the smallest Island of the Azores, and also the most southerly island - Santa Maria.
We struggled to get around the Sao Lourenco point with wind and tide pushing us south and east. We hoped that once round the point the wind would settle into the NE'ly that had been forecast. After a few hours, we were tacking along the coast with a wind that was determined to remain a NW'ly - straight onto the nose.
As we were on a lee shore it became difficult and we struggled to get away from the Island. After about 6 hours we discussed the options. To work our way there with a headwind would take us an extra day or so, which meant we would not have any time to spend in the Azores before having to return to meet our deadline.
So, with heavy hearts we turned around and headed back to Quinta do Lorde Marina. Just after we changed course we saw the spume of a whale just off the port bow. It got closer and closer to the yacht. Just as we were about to change course to avoid a collision, the whale changed course and skimmed down the port side of our yacht. We said hello and thanked it for not hitting us. It gave us a good wink, flashed its flipper and headed off. A lovely bit of interaction to lighten our moods.
For the next 2 hours, we gybed our way back to the Sao Lourenco point, rounding it whilst surfing down the waves and into the bay, ready to drop sail and return to our berth.
All tied up by 10 pm, kettle on, pot noodles made and collapsing into bed.
Our trip to the Azores will have to wait for another time when, hopefully, the wind will check the weather report and blow from the direction it's supposed to blow from!!
Sorry - no pictures - we forgot to take the camera!
22nd July - Regatta in Funchal Bay.
The notification of race came through and we duly entered. The month of July has been exceptionally windy on the east of the Island so, during weather watching every day for a week in the run-up to the Regatta, we noticed that as the wind increased on the east, it decreased in Funchal!
We left Quinta do Lorde around 11 am with our crew. Due to it being mid-summer most of our crew are off the Island but the two "Tony's" were still able to join us. The wind wasn't too bad, about 15 to 20 knots with a gentle sea. Arrival in Funchal with 5 minutes to spare to the start (motor-sailing all the way). The wind was 4 - 6 knots with toccasionalnal gust up to 12. We were not going to go anywhere very fast!
Once again Antonio took us across the start line in the top 3.
pic: crossing the start line (R. Ornelos Facebook)
We had a little 'distraction' with Bombay on the start line as we both approached it on a collision course with each other. Unfortunately we could not go anywhere as there was another boat on a mooring bouy to our starboard side.
The course was a straight upwind and downwind course with the first turn around it being okay in terms of the wind and our speed. The second turn around however was in decreasing winds and our extreme speed at one point (0.4 knots) caused us all to wonder if we should get the safetly lines on!!!
pic: Heading towards the 2nd buoy.
pic: Crossing the finish line (Santa Maria do Columbus tour ship in the foreground)
With six yachts in the Regatta we managed to take 4th place and a 2nd in Class. Due to our committments at home (namely our new pup Ziggy) we were unable to attend the prize giving but, we managed to arrange a pick up for Antonio who collected the prize for the team.
Our trip back to Quinta do Lorde was lovely and gentle in the baking heat of the sun until we got to Porto Novo when the wind whipped up to a good 25 knots, gusting 30 knots at times, on our nose! Fortunately, although the sea was starting to get bigger it was a long, slow swell.
As we approached QdL Marina we noticed 7 sails coming round the Sao Lourenco point. These were some of the arrivals in the Transquandra Race from Barcelona and Nantes to Madeira. There was quite a welcome crowd on the Marina wall as we entered - shame we didn't get any of the champagne!
pic: Transquadra yachts at Quinta do Lorde Marina, after the first leg to Madeira
(QdL resort and marina fb page)
The end of September was the rerun of the 5th cruisers event hosted by Yacht Club Santa Cruz. The regatta course would take us from the bay of Santa Cruz over to the bay on Grand Desertas (the largest Island of the Desertas group). Originally planned to be held on Saturday, we received notification on Thursday that the regatta would now take place on Sunday 24th. Crew changes were required with some of us not being able to sail on the Sunday due to earlier commitments.
The morning dawned bright and sunny, and not a breath of wind! The Skipper was not very happy! Still, lunch boxes packed, sun cream applied and off he set to meet the crew at the Marina at the specified time. The trip from Quinta do Lorde Marine to the start line was deathly still, with a strange orange light. The Atlantic was shimmering like a mirror, the sun was beating down and still no movement of the air.......
pic: Waiting for the start
Start line signal was due at 10h30 and as the yachts gathered the wind came round and filled the bay. Spirits rose, along with mainsails, and as the signal went Red Ruth crossed the line in 3rd position. A great start.
Pic: Crossing the start line (courtesy of Iate club Santa Cruz facebook)
The first few minutes saw all the yachts heading in toward shore and a stubborn approach from Marujo had Red Ruth almost in the cordoned off swimming area. Fortunately, the crew of Red Ruth managed to slow her down ready to tack in behind Marujo.
Pic: Heading into the Bay before a tack out to sea.
With two yachts ahead after the tack and, once the bay was cleared, Red Ruth picked up her skirts and off she went! Winds were perfect in both direction and strength so a winning place was secured. Ist on the water, 1st in ORC and 1st in ORC Class 3. Well done to Team Red Ruth
On arrival at the Desertas, all the Teams dropped anchor and enjoyed a BBQ on the beach. The teams reported that as they approached the finish line, which was in the Bay, they could see the wind coming across the top of the Island and falling down onto them. Wind speeds at these times were reported between 40 and 65 knots. A lot of effort in releasing mainsails and pulling them in again was required. Too slow on either point of sail and you were either overpowered or stopped!
Pic: At anchor - Grand Desertas
Pic: All the Teams!