top of page

Plymouth to Lagos and on to Gibraltar

Rally Portugal

Sunday the 29th May 2011, grey and overcast, we slip lines from the hammerhead in Mayflower Marina Plymouth England, setting off on a 600+nm voyage across Biscay to Bayona in Spain.
This is the first real leg in our sailing adventure that would eventually see us cross the Atlantic and beyond. We had decided to undertake this trip as part of the World Cruising Clubs Portugal rally in the hope we would meet a few crews that later in the year would be travelling across the Atlantic like we planned to.

As it happened all the twelve other vessels were heading for the Mediterranean.


Place cursor over image to control slide show and see text or

Double click to enlarge pictures to full size, browse and see text

So Biscay first which has a fearsome reputation, due in part to its exposure to the Atlantic and at times the topography of the  ocean floor. Pat, Murray our younger son and myself  had sailed it before and in smaller vessels than BriZo but we were still very much getting used to BriZo and with a late crew cancellation were down to just three.
That turned out to be a blessing as we discovered that we could comfortably cope with single overnight watches, something we had not attempted before.
We were slow to start, BriZo fully loaded and weighing in at some 27tons and most of the fleet seemed to all overtake us until they were quickly lost in the rain, mist and nightfall. We had a few days to prepare at Plymouth and met Nick of WCC for the first time and some of the other crews but most of us were all far too busy to really socialise but there would be time for that later in the trip.
Biscay weather was pretty typical – a bit of everything, it certainly was not the worst we had had before nor the best. To cut a long story short half the fleet some seven vessels had to make unscheduled stops either in UK, or French ports due to damage to their vessels and some serious damage to some crew ! We arrived in Bayona in Spain at 00:35 on Wednesday after a great trip exceeding 200nm per day, met by a very smiley Nick as we reversed BriZo for the first time onto a dock. We were surprised to hear we were first in and by 12 hours ending up 3rd on adjusted time.


The 13th June saw us into Nazare then onto Peniche by the 14th. All the time we were getting to know other crews very well and one crew Pam and Craig were to later join us across the Atlantic.
We arrived in Oeiras (Lisbon) on the 15th June where we lost Murray and Teagan both returning to the UK. But we had a wonderful meal with one of our Instructors and his family who live in Lisbon in fact just 5 minutes from the Marina ! Antonio and I go back a long time but we see each other very rarely yet he travels all over the world teaching for us so it was great to see him socially.
So Pat and I were now on our own for the first time to handle BriZo and we had just one more stop on the Rally - Lagos (pronounced Lagosh). WCC pulled the stops out and the marina put us in the tightest corner possible – luckily a couple of staff on the quay were on hand to take lines. (getting back out was even more difficult). The farewell dinner was on the 21st and everyone was a winner ! It was sad to say goodbye to everyone whom we had met on the rally but exciting to be heading off on our own.
So then we were on our own, Pat and I – with a deadline to get to Gibraltar by the 26th to complete our VAT export and exit from the EU. From Lagos we had planned to sail direct to Cadiz but stopped at Vilamoura  for a great evening with Kay and Nigel who we had met earlier in this Blog and whom have a house there.


Place cursor over image to control slide show and see text or

Double click to enlarge pictures to full size, browse and see text

It was a great port and during the following few days Murray returned home and we got to know many of the other crews. It also saw the arrival of friends of ours from Dartmouth, Deborah and Simon who were going to help us take BriZo down the coast of Portugal for the next week. Before the next leg we took the opportunity of a tour to Santiago and the historic University.
The following few days we sailed first to Povoa De Varzim  on the 7th June and took time to visit the home of Port making in Porto on the 8th. On the 10th June we sailed the 75nm to Figueira DA Foz. Amazingly on the way down Pat received a text which led to us meeting her oldest friends in Kay and Nigel who coincidentally were sailing the same route and we arrived within minutes of each other in the marina, several beers and a few sardines (local delicacy) later we had just started to catch up.
It was here we also lost our great crew in Simon and Deborah but our Niece Teagan arrived from UK and we spent a great night at the well known casino in the town. Murray arrived the next day and that evening we all went out for a meal with Nick also from WCC (being similar ages to Teagan and Murray) – they arrived back in at 05:00 after a night out with the Casino Show Artists celebrating the end of their show. Luckily Nick’s scheduled early rally start on the next leg was postponed until the afternoon due to lack of wind, so he could go back to bed – our crew were grateful to!


Murray, Pat and Stuart arrive in Bayona at 1am from across Biscay

On the 23rd we entered Cadiz and Rota marina and had a bad experience on the pontoon, this was only our 3rd ‘two up’ docking in BriZo and the fenders lifted and a protruding nail managed to put a scratch – probably the first of many on the hull.  The town of Rota was very pleasant and full of tourists its North of the large Cadiz bay and Cadiz was where we had to attempt to get our EU exit stamp for VAT purposes. We could not dock in the Cadiz marina due to size.  With the weather pattern in the straits of Gibraltar worsening we did attempt to head on early the next day but with F7 winds on the nose,  an engine alarm going off and a call from the office to say the wages had not transferred we decided to return to the bay of Cadiz. This time we took the option to go into Puerto Sherry and that was a great marina so much better than Rota.
We then had to sit-out the bad weather in the straits for two days with gale F8 winds heading out of the Mediterranean. We did take a trip into Cadiz by taxi but no luck with the exit stamp (Government offices hardly ever seem to be open). Time was running out on our exit so in the end we just had to leave – to the disbelief of the marina manager !
Off we went down the coast and sure enough we only saw one other Yacht out and we had F8 on the nose East of Gibraltar, in the end we went down to bare poles and motored in past Tarifa where the wind started to drop.
Pat had never been in through Gibraltar before and I recall how narrow it had seemed when I went through many years before – just 7nm between Spain and the African coast. However on this occasion it was difficult to make out the opposite coast due to rain and mist.
I had never been into Gibraltar but we had booked the best marina, Ocean Village and it was here we finally left the yacht to return to the UK – after getting our exit stamp to prove we had exported BriZo !
Gibraltar is an odd place – too English for our liking, if you know what I mean, still it made for a safe base for BriZo and we were able to ship parts in fairly easily from Discovery Yachts.
it was here that we first met the owners of a sister Discovery Yacht 55-034 Tioram II and Anne and Ian whom later became firm friends in St Lucia.

bottom of page