After a few busy days in Lagos, Portugal, where we had repaired the main sail, taken care of a leaking engine exhaust, cleaned all the bilges, replaced a broken deck light and reprovisioned we thought that we had found a weather window that would take us to the Canaries. This would be the last window before Christmas and with our crew for the Atlantic waiting for us, we were keen to get moving.
The skies were blue and it was a beautiful morning as we called the marina office to open the bridge and let us out from the marina. As we come out into the bay we prepared to hoist the main sail, but suddenly it was stuck in the track. In between the mast top and the top spreaders, the main sail was completely stuck and we could neither get it further up or further down. After several attempts, and a sail that was coming apart from our attempts and wind speed quickly picking up, we saw only one option left. Further into the bay, outside of the city of Portimão, Portugal, there was a big bay sheltered with high cliffs and big wave breakers.
We set course for the bay, found a big free area, dropped our anchor and went up the mast again and had to cut down the sail. By this time, the source of all our issues has become evident. The screws on the mast track had come slightly undone (nothing that was visible at our last rig check) and these were blocking the sail carts from sliding up and down. It was clear, Christmas would have to be spent in Portugal.
We spent the night anchored in the bay, to recover from the day and set a plan going forward. We called the marina and asked for availabilities and took an early night.
Next day, as the sun rose, we got up, went in to the marina, checked in at the office and where assigned a spot. The rest of the day was spent untangling the mess from the day before, take down the sail (which now needed even bigger repairs than the previous time) and plan how to repair the main track.
Our crew, who had been patiently waiting in Las Palmas, kindly flew over to Portimão. We had busy days in the rain getting the sail repaired (while everyone was trying to shut down for Christmas), find the parts we need and get working. The entire mast track needed to be dismounted, re-tightened, and then remounted. This meant working on a rocky boat, in the rain, making sure that more than 100 parts all safely were taken care of and not single screw or bolt was dropped in the water.
By December 23rd the mast was finally back together, the sail was back onboard and we were all discussing weather windows for the next leg.
We celebrated Christmas Eve onboard, with preparations, some laundry and an improvised Christmas dinner with the Swedish classic, meatballs and mashed potatoes. We ended the evening with a strawberry cheesecake and then went to bed, all set for casting off towards the Canaries the next day.
Third try is a charm? 😉