Passage round Cabo Sao Vincente by JoJo

Passage from Sines Portugal round Cabo Sao Vincente to Sagres, October 2014

After spending a glorious four days in Sines, the north wind was back and ready to blow us round Cabo Sao Vincente.  This would take us onto the Algarve and would mark the first stage of our voyage, and our first decision point. Do we want to continue further south and then on to the Caribbean?
Lochlann up the mast looking towards Cabo Sao Vincente.

We started at dawn and sailed off the anchorage under main and topsail.  Finbar rapidly got the headsail up and goose-winged the staysail.  It was a slow start, but our speed increased throughout the day.  Simon was on the helm, Lochlann was playing the piano, Finbar was reading about maths and I was making Cabo Sao Vincente cake and bread. What a wonderful sail we had. We were sailing in company with Nick Skeates in Wylo II, and as the day wore on and the wind increased we started to pull away from our companion. 
Sailing in company with Wylo II
We sailed close enough to the coast to be able to see the wonderful coastline and cross off each headland in turn. As we neared the cape and ate apple cake on deck, we saw another boat arriving on our starboard bow. It was the Colin Archer, double-ender ‘Garibaldi’ from Norway, who we had met in Bayona. The wind and swell increased as we both converged on the cape, and I thought it prudent to give way to ‘Garibaldi’. We took down both the topsails and gibed round to the port tack.  By this time Wylo II was along side and, as dusk was falling, we both raced around the dramatic headland towards Sagres bay to anchor for the night.  Needless to say, Nick was first in, but I was really proud of my family crew. We had logged 49 nautical miles for the 60 nautical mile distance, showing we must have had a 10 nautical mile lift from the current.
Finbar with Cabo Sao Vincente in the background.

Cabo Sao Vincente.
By the time we dropped the anchor it was dark and all we could see were the anchor lights from ‘Wylo II’ and ‘Garibaldi’ and some shore lights. But in the morning the bay revealed itself to be surrounded by beautiful cliffs and a small beach. We were very tempted to go ashore and walk around towards the point of Cabo Sao Vincente and also visit Sagres fortress.  

Garibaldi rounding Cabo Sao Vincente
Apparently Henry the Navigator founded the town of Sagres to support ships sheltering in the bay.  There is also a 15th century wind compass in the courtyard of the fortress.  But we decided to use the brisk north wind and sail on round the coast to try and make Culatra Island off Faro.
Simon rowing Island Swift
Sadly the wind had other ideas. It slowly decreased, changed to a south easterly, and then died!  Simon at this point tried to row Island Swift, and with Finbar’s help managed to obtain a not-too-impressive speed of one-and-a-half nautical miles.  That is until Lochlann decided to go swimming and wanted a tow!
No wind! So swimming is a good thing to do.
After flapping around for some time, we then motored for an hour, but ended the day reaching towards Portimao on a brisk sea breeze and coming to anchor just in time to watch the sun go down with a beer. We have logged 1127 nautical miles since leaving Falmouth on the 2nd of September. It has taken us a month and we have learnt loads about Island Swift. She is a very trustworthy boat that has looked after us in all conditions.  She is a pleasure to sail, is brilliantly well balanced on the helm and sails well on all points of sail.  Most of my rigging changes have worked out well, and I have all fallen in love with my new jib topsail.
Sunset at Cabo Sao Vincente
We are now planning on sailing along the Algarve coast, visiting friends and family, and doing some work on the boat to prepare her for the trans-Atlantic crossing.

written by JoJo

A happy Crew


  1. It's another life; I'm getting a real sense of that from all the blogs. XXX

  2. Looking great guys, lovely to spend some time catching up on your adventures.