Reunion with Inga

When we were in Doca de Alcantara, Lisbon, we found out that the Swedish yacht Inga was in Cascais. Inga was one of the boats that left Falmouth at almost the same time as us. They left the morning after us and ended up in bad weather and decided to go to La Coruna instead of Baiona. We all missed them in Baiona and were a bit worried about them before we found out that they were safe in La Coruna. The story about their crossing was promised to be exchanged against cold beers, therefore we decided to go to Cascais and loaded the fridge with beer.

Cascais marina is very expensive but there is an excellent bay to anchor in just outside the marina. We dropped anchor and soon discovered that one of our closest neighbours was Zahara. Zahara is the smallest yacht joining the ARC 2009. But when Cantare was next to Zahara, Cantare looked smaller. After a short while Ron, the skipper of Zahara, came over in his dinghy to say hello and invited us over for wine later.

We launched Volare, our dinghy, and went into the marina to find Inga. Mona and Lasse were aboard when we found her, it was a very happy reunion. We handed over the cold beers and got the story. The story of how they after a day or two on the Biscay found out that they didn’t have nearly as much fuel as they had thought, therefore they were forced to sail even when there was no wind. This made it impossible for them to avoid the strong winds that were predicted the day after our arrival and in the end they went to La Coruna to rest and repair some broken parts. We had a lovely evening aboard Inga and Lasse gave us a tow out to Cantare. We were also given one of Inga’s spare fruit net. I never got around to buy one in Sweden and we had been on a constant lookout since Denmark, with no result. We split the net into two smaller ones and put our fresh fruits and vegetables into them. Now Cantare has the look of a real blue water cruiser.

The second evening in Cascais we went over to Zahara. Zahara not only looks bigger from the outside, she also feels bigger when aboard her. The cockpit has more space, there’s no wheel to divide it into two as is the case on Cantare. The saloon looks wider as well and we soon found out that it’s true, Zahara is in reality 12 cm wider. Can she still be called the smallest yacht of the ARC? Hmm…I think we are almost the same size. A friendly bet has been made between us. The slower boat to the Caribbean has to take the other boat out for dinner. We will do our best to win, of course.

Last night we left Cascais and sailed, or motored, to Sines. We arrived here at 8.15 am and by then we had a long list of things to fix before we are ready to leave for Porto Santo. Most of them are done now, but we still have to download the latest weather forecasts, and take the decision of whether to leave or not. One plan is to go south first and then when the southerly wind sets in we will head west. If the grib-files develops in a way we don’t like we have the possibility to go east instead, to Faro, Lagos or Cadiz. We will try to keep you updated via the satellite phone. / The Captain

P.S The laundry came back smelling clean and neatly folded, we are very satisfied! D.S

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Onboard HMS Gladan

Finally, we have met another Swedish sail yacht. Recently we have merely come across Norwegian yachts, no worries though since the Norwegians are all very nice. However, lately we have started wondering whether the Swedish sailors have died out or something, until we met HMS Gladan in Lisbon. For those of you that are not familiar with HMS Gladan, it is one of the Swedish Navy’s school ships. Maria and I got very excited; I mean who doesn’t love men in uniform?! Last Friday we were out partying in Lisbon and at a nightclub I suddenly heard guys speaking Swedish, it was some of the young cadets from HMS Gladan. They were in civilian clothing at the time, but anyway handsome. Then I got another proof of the fact that the world is smaller than you think, one of the cadets was the little brother of an old friend of mine. The young cadets were very nice and managed to get us permission for visiting HMS Gladan (on the assumption that we would be cousins to one of the guys…). We got a guided tour onboard HMS Gladan by handsome cadets in uniform, it was very pleasant. When leaving Lisbon we decided to joke little with the guys onboard HMS Gladan, or more correctly make the cadets on duty work. Flags are important at sea, it is a good way of greeting each other. When a yacht is greeting a ship like HMS Gladan it is of particular importance that they respond in the right way. They are then forced to lower their flag to greet. When passing HMS Gladan we held our flag horizontal forcing them greeting us. It took some time before they realized we were greeting them, but then there were some activity and they lowered their flag.

Besides a visit on board HMS Gladan Lisbon offered some relaxed days of shopping and sightseeing. I also had a nice reunion with an old Portuguese friend whom I met when I visited Lisbon four years ago. We left Lisbon last Sunday and at the moment we are at anchor outside beautiful Cascais. For those of you interested in knowing what happened with our dirty clothes, I am glad to tell you we handed it in yesterday at a laundry here in Cascais. We are going to pick it up later today and hopefully it will be worth the 18 Euro we are paying for it, at least it is cheaper than using the expensive washing machines in Cascais Marina.

We are leaving Cascais tonight for Sines, situated 50 Miles south. In Sines we will make the decision when to start journey towards Madeira and Porto Santo. Unfortunately there is a low on its way that might cause us trouble. We are going to follow the weather forecasts closely and get some advices from a retiredweather forecaster, Ron, skipper onboard the smallest yacht in the ARC competition, Zahara. We will see what happens, as mentioned before sailing is hard planning and unfortunately we cannot master the weather. /First Mate

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Pictures from Lisbon

New pictures from Lisbon. / The Captain

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Lisbon - city without internet and washing machines

Here we are in the capital of Portugal. Due to very bad Internet access we have not been able to update our blog until now. At the moment we are sitting on the pavement about 40 cm from the passing trams. Everytime they pass by we lean closer to the door behind our back. A few minutes ago a lady stopped by and explained in Portuguese (took a while for us to understand) that this was a bad place to sit with a computer, we might get robbed. But since we have been walking around the whole day looking for wifi we will at least do a short update. Citing Sofia "since we are well insured by the insurance company Europeiska we like living close to the edge from time to time". Another lack in this otherwise very nice city is the fact that we haven't been able to find any washing machines and that is very much needed. Yesterday was spent shopping in the Bairro Alto (new underwear instead of washing), today we have been walking around in the scenic Alfama. Tonight it's time to explore the nightlife of Lisbon. New pictures are uploaded here. /The Captain

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Paradise Islands and a Hot Lisbon

Taking a little detour on our way to Lisbon was really worth it! Ilha da Berlenga, the islands outside Peniche is our new paradise islands. It is amazing how many beautiful pearls there are around Europe, maybe we should stay, I mean, who need to cross the Atlantic ocean just to get some paradise feeling? Oh no, I bet there are more paradises to discover and eventually it will get colder even in the southern parts of Europe, and by then we are going to make sure we are far away.

As Maria told you before, Ilha da Berlenga didn’t offer the most convenient anchor places, however, it worked out pretty smooth. We had an anchor alarm set on the GPS and we took turns at waking up every other hour to make sure we weren’t dragging. The night went safely by and in the morning we decided to explore the paradise little further with the help of our dinghy. We both very much looked forward seeing the 17th century Forte de Sâo Joâo Baptista from the inside, too bad tough, the fort was closed. However, no shed tears, we were totally absorbed in the beautiful surroundings. The afternoon was spent on a small beach, our own beach, it is not every day one has the opportunity of sunbathing on a private beach, awesome!

At 6 pm we continued our journey towards Lisbon, our departure well calculated in order to enter the river Rio Tejo with the current the following day. Due to fair winds we made good speed throughout the night causing us arriving little early, however, we didn’t get any current against us, it only made the journey through the approach channel little longer. Speaking of long, Doca de Alcantara, the harbor we are now moored in is very long, containing loads of boats. Hard seeing boats are arriving and departing, however, our orange stripes in the mast makes us little special and all of a sudden the welcome committee consisting of Kenneth and Martin from Johanna and Einar from Time Out was waving on a pontoon. It was my watch and I was entrusted with the task of mooring us, it went really smooth! Sailing at sea is one thing, mooring in a harbor another thing, it takes time to get to know a boat and her reactions when manoeuvring her, Cantare still has lots to show me, and so has Maria. I am so impressed by the way she knows Cantare! The guys had a pretty bad hangover but could not resist having an arrival beer with us. One beer turned into several in the warm evening and the guy’s plans of leaving Lisbon yesterday were quickly dashed, haha!

We are now looking forward to some chill city life here in hot Lisbon (oh yeah it’s hot here indeed, making us taking lots of siestas and baths with the water hose on the pontoons). Lisbon is a beautiful city with lots to offer, I have been here before and are really looking forward to this reunion! /First Mate

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Frightening Dolphins and a Fantastic Island

That's what you find on your way from Leixoes to Lisbon. The previous night was windless and very dark, no moon at all, but there was an amazingly bright sea fire to make it more pleasant. That was needed since it was rather tiresome to keep a sharp look out for the many fish pot flags that appeared just a few meters in front of Cantare, some of them barely visible. There are so many along the Portuguese coast and they can be far from land, we took a route that kept us about 12 nm of the coast, still there appeared at least one per hour. Two hours into my night watch I was becoming a bit stressed by all the evasive manoeuvres. Right then the sea fire glowed very strong around my starboard side, and water was splashing into the cockpit, I thought I had hit a flag or something bigger. I was just about to put the engine in neutral, when I realised that it was dolphins who caused the disturbance. I took a break from the fish flag watch, hoping for the best, and amazed while looking at the group of around 20 dolphins. They were swimming very fast back and forth, jumping up and splashing around. After a while I could make out the sea fire caused by the many fishes that fled for their lives. The dolphins were hunting for food, it was a great show. Then another fish flag appeared just a few meters from the boat, the dolphins swam around it and I quickly realized that I needed to focus on the look out again.

With the morning light came the wind and we spread our two headsails. The sun kept shining during the day and the wind was a steady 8 m/s, we did around 5 to 6 knots, sometimes more. Around 2 pm we could make out the contours of two islands in front of us, Ilha da Berlenga. According to our pilot book they were beautiful, but not very good for over night anchoring. When we got closer we decided to give it a try anyway. That's where we are right now, anchored beside the 17th century Forte de Sâo Joâo Baptista, built by monks. It's very scenic and peaceful here, although I would sleep better if the wind decreased a bit more. Tomorrow we will enjoy the day here, exploring the fort, and the caves that surround it. In the afternoon we will continue towards Lisbon. / The Captain

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Port Wine Tasting and Architecture with Music

Yesterday was all about enjoying Porto from its best sides. We had three main goals for the day, three tourist attractions which we wanted to explore. First and foremost was trying one of Portugal's most internationally famous products, the port wine, by visiting the wine producers situated along the river Douro in an area called Vila Nova de Gaia. Furthermore, we wanted to visit Solar Vinho do Porto, an 18th-century villa considered one of the finest locations for sampling ports. Last but not least we were told that Casa da Musica, a modern concert hall with fantastic modern architecture was a must-see in Porto so we put it on our list of what to do in Porto.

We started our sightseeing trip at Casa da Musica, a major concert hall in Porto. I was little doubtful whether Casa da Musica would be worth a guided tour, but I agreed on accompany Maria, and I am glad I did, I can really recommend a closer look at the fantastic architecture. Casa da Musica is not only an architectural phenomenon created by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, it is also a building entirely dedicated to music. In Casa da Musica all types of music are mixed together creating a music meeting point.

Our day continued with a visit in Vila Nova de Gaia where all the famous port wine producers have situated their “lodges” or “caves” as they call them here in Porto. The world famous port wine is stored and aged in the lodges and they are also opened for visitors making them a major tourist attraction. Of course we also wanted to get a little taste of the port wine so we started at the oldest port lodge, Kopke. Maria tried a sweet white port wine and I had a dry white port wine. It was served with chocolate, and we had a wonderful sophisticated time sitting sipping our port wines in beautiful chairs on the top floor overlooking the river Douro. In the district later on we bumped into our dear friends Tom and Susanne from Escape and decided to join them on a wine tasting at another port lodge, Calem, a large producer of port wine. We got a guiding tour among the huge oak barrels filled with port wine stored for ages and afterwards, of course, we had the pleasure of enjoying a taste of both a white Calem port wine and a red Calem port wine. By this point we all needed some food, the port wine was beginning to tell and I can remind you all that port wine has an alcohol level of around 20%. We had a nice dinner together at a local restaurant in the area and then we decided to make a glamorous ending of the evening by visiting Solar Vinho do Porto. The 18th-century villa was little hard to find, even the taxi driver did not seem to know where it was at first, little strange since it is suppose to be one of the major sights in Porto. However, at last we arrived there and it was almost like entering a fancy living room and even though it was a Friday night there was plenty of room for us. We had a seat on a comfy sofa and tried a white sweet port wine from Sandeman's and a red Dalva port wine. The evening was perfect!

Now we are in the marina waiting for the high water to come so the water level will rise and be high enough for Cantare to reach up to the fuel pontoon. Tides are fascinating! After we have filled the tanks with fuel we are off towards Lisbon, a journey of around 180 Miles. Before starting making myself and Cantare ready for sailing again I will give those of you wish to fill up your blue empty camping gaz bottles a hot tip; exchange your bottle here in Leixoes. We have just done it with our old 3kg bottle and was very pleased with the price, 10,75€, goes perfect with our tight sailor’s budget! Have a nice weekend and see you in Lisbon! /First Mate

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Sailing to Porto

After one day in Viana do Castelo we decided to sail for Porto. When you are out on a trip like ours you get a lot of advices about where to go and where to stay from other sailors, and that's great, but they are often conflicting and that was the case with Porto. Porto is situated 3 NM upstream Rio Douro and some people said we should go in there and stay at a cay in the city center, free of charge and close to the port wine houses. In the pilot book on the other hand they said it was a bad idea, no good spot to moor and quite strong currents. In the end we decided to go to Leixoes, a harbour just north of the Rio Douro, and then take the metro to Porto and check out whether we would like to take Cantare there the day after or not.

Before I tell you more about Porto I have to start with the story of our new sails. Before we left Viana do Castelo we hoisted our second head sail on the Furlex. That is how we will cross the Atlantic, two head sails on the same furler. Our sailmaker Lasse Lind, Lind Segel in Helsingborg, advised us to do this as an easy manageable way of sailing downwind. One week before we left Sweden our two new head sails and our new main was ready, we never got the chance to test the second smaller head sail before we left, and since there was no downwind sailing until Spain and Portugal it was still untested up til yesterday. With stable northerly winds for the next couple of days we thought now was the time to try it out. We are carrying two spinnaker poles for the purpose of spreading one head sail on each side of the boat. We had it all set up before we left Viana do Castelo and when it was time to shut down the engine and start sailing all we had to do was pull the sheets. It was marvelous! It was so easy, and we were doing good speed. Best of all, there's no risk of an accidental gybe. For those of you who don't sail, that means there is no risk of the boom swinging from side to side very fast and possibly beheading us or at least causing the need to call our insurance company Europeiska for advice on how to get the best medical assistance. Anyway we had a lovely day with nice easy sailing and so far we are very happy with our new sails and the decision to use double head sails.

Now we are in the marina in Leixoes. Yesterday evening we went into Porto together with the crew of Escape and TimeOut. Johanna has left our big sailing family for the moment and are heading south on their own. We were all rather tired yesterday and after a stroll through the city center we had dinner at a nice small Portuguese restaurant, Sofia and I had mussels, they were great. Before we shared a cab back to the marina we found a very cosy water pipe place where we almost fell a sleep. Today it's time to explore the city and the port wine cellars, but we will leave Cantare here in Leixoes, to save time and because the mooring possibilities in the city didn't look that good. / The Captain

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Pictures from Isla Cies

New pictures uploaded from Isla Cies and our sailing to Viana do Castelo, Portugal. / The Captain

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Goodbye Spain, Hello Portugal

After some nice days and nights full of party we left Baiona Saturday evening in order to anchor (and detox) outside Isla de Cies, a couple of Islands just outside Baiona. Reaching the islands was almost like reaching paradise; turquoise/green water, beautiful mountains and nature’s pure silence. A good way to relax is just to lie on fore deck tanning and then jump into sea to cool oneself down when the sun is getting too hot. That is what we have been doing the last couple of days, absolutely wonderful!

Today we pulled up the anchor and left Spain around noon and arrived in Portugal at 6pm. We had winds from the north, up to 15 m/s, and wonderful sailing wing on wing. It felt like we were flying on the water towards our goal. At one point I certainly flew, when the GPS said we did 13knots! Ok, that was only for a moment, but anyway, I big time beat the old record!

Now we are safely moored in the old city Viana do Castelo, our first stop in Portugal. /First Mate

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Pictures from the Biscay and Baiona

I have uploaded new photos of our previous adventure. Leaving Falmouth behind, watching dolphins, sailing wing on wing, the first sight of Spain, drinking champagne, enjoying life in the sun and much more, you find it all by clicking here. /The Captain

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Whales, Dolphins and a Naked Norwegian

As Maria told you we almost bumbed into some whales, here is the proof of that. It was such an adrenaline kick, I was screaming of joy, but also little of fear! I mean, what if we really had bumped into them! No, I will not waste any energy thinking of the dangerous consequences of hitting a big whale! I rather think about the beautiful, playful dolphins we met and you can see too. I bet there will be more dolphin movies, this is just a little teaser. Finally, there is a little greeting from some of our dear Norwegian friends, a special greeting from Kjell Rune who needs to do some more tanning on a certain body part... Enjoy! /First Mate

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Mission accomplished – Bay of Biscay crossed

Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh! We made it, we have crossed the Bay of Biscay, and it took us 4 days and 17 hours! Not bad, huh? We arrived in the sunny Baiona at 12.15pm today. Bathing clothes and champagne were quickly found! Due to the high pressure we have had some calm days which have forced us standing the sound of old Mr Yanmar, 12 hk, however, yesterday evening we got our pay back. Perfect north easterly winds gave us fantastic sailing. A new speed record, 10,39 knots, was set by the captain, a very happy captain. We had dolphins playing round the boat all night and the full moon lightening our way, it was absolutely awesome! Pictures and movies showing our crossing will be uploaded when we can find better wifi!

PS, do you know the best part in the story? Among the 5 boats leaving together from Falmouth, we arrived as number 3 in Baiona, two more boats remain, both larger than little Cantare, when they arrive, the real party begins! /First Mate

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Downwind sailing

Position: N 43° 35' W 09° 33'

Finally the expected northerly wind has come and we are sailing again. I love it! No engine noise and a better movement of the boat. When we go by engine Cantare roll a lot from side to side and it gets a bit uncomfortable to sleep. With the sails up they stabilize her movement and it's easier to move around. For the first time since we left Sweden we have the wind with us, we are sailing downwind! It's fantastic, not having to beat to windward. When I was about to put the Monitor rudder into the water I noticed two dolphins swimming behind us. One of them was checking out the DuoGen water generator and the other one was looking at the wind vane rudder. They were really close and big, I wonder what they thought about our equipment dragging behind. After a while they sped away, and I could let the Monitor do the steering again. They say that wind vanes can have a problem with steering downwind, so far I don't agree with that, it works perfect for us. When we don't have to hold the wheel for four hours at a stretch life is so much better. We can read, listen to music and eat with both hands. Today when I was about to make dinner the LPG bottle was empty, luckily we bought a new one in Falmouth. Before we left I had no idea how long a bottle of 3 kg would last, now I can tell you, about a month, that's alright. Yesterday we got an email from Escape, the largest of the Norwegian yachts, they expected to reach Baiona the same evening or night, although we left Falmouth at the same time they will get to our destination about two days earlier than us. But we are close to Spain now, 102 nautical miles left to Baiona, hopefully the wind will increase a bit and we will be there before it get's dark tomorrow. I hope it's sunny and warm! / The Captain

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Celebrating and Bathing on the Bay of Biscay

Position 45° 02' W 08° 33'

One can always find a good reason to celebrate! Today we have celebrated the fact that we have accomplished more than half of the distance to Baiona. At 4.53 this morning, British time, the GPS showed 269M, we had sailed half the distance! At the moment we have done 340M, 198M left, we are slowly getting there!

Today it has been absolutely calm and since we are not planning on spending a month on the Biscay we run the engine. However, the weather forecast predicts winds from the preferable north east so we hope we can sail again pretty soon! We have made the best use of the calm today, for example done a lot of cooking and baking and once even stopped the boat and got a refreshing bath. It is not every day one is bathing in crystal clear water that is 4000m deep! The bathing temperature of 22 degrees C was all right, at least 7 degrees warmer than the water temperature in Falmouth.

Furthermore, we have started to get the offshore sailing life to work very well. This time we are having 4 hours watches, much better than the 2 hours we had before. Now we can get more sleep on our off watch and the 4 hours of watch keeping at nights are quite easily done with a good sound book and the full moon as company. /First Mate

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Sailing into a whale!

Position: N 47° 02' W 07° 26'

That is one of my greatest fears, since whales are quite big and therefore not as soft as one could think hitting one with Cantare would be disastrous. We would sink in a very short time and that would make it hard to collect as much survival equipment as we would like. Today it almost happened! I had taken over the wheel from Sofia when I noticed two black fins 10 meters from us. When Sofia saw them we screamed of joy, finally some company. I thought they were dolphins but when they started to swim towards us it became apparent that they were bigger than that. They came really close and when Sofia grabbed the hand rail to stabilize herself in case of a hit they dived just in front of our bow. Wow! Adrenaline was pumping and we couldn't stop talking about them. After a while they reappeared 20 meters behind us and we could see that there were three of them. We consulted our pilot book and have agreed on pilot whales. Since then two groups of dolphins have spent time playing in our bow waves. We have been able to sail for about 8 hours today but now the wind has decreased and we are forced to listen to our old noisy engine again. But the sun is shining and the water temperature has raised four degrees Celsius since we left Falmouth and is now up on 19 degrees. / The Captain

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Bay of Biscay.. Finally here!!!

Position: N 48º43'   W 06º06'

Yes, we are actually on our way now, God, it feels so great! You should have see the happiness on the pontoons when we decided the wind was calm enough to start the Biscay adventure. We have had a great time in Falmouth, but now it was definitely time to continue! We were the first boat to leave Falmouth at 7.15 pm yesterday. However, our lead didn't last very long, we where quickly passed by Escape, but managed to keep up with the other Norwegian boats, Johanna and Time Out, during the night. Today they have also passed us, although we still gain radio contact with them. The only boat remaining is the Swedish boat Inga who decided to leave Falmouth today, we are excited to see how long we can manage to keep Inga behind us!

Last night we had great sailing, top speed was 8,18 knots. Our windvane did a great job until it decided to jump off its cogwheels. However, it didn't cause us problem for that long, only giving me more arm muscles due to the hand steering. The master in windvane problems, Maria, managed to fix it this morning! At the moment we are running the engine since the wind is too weak. I am guessing the engine is scaring the dolphins, because they haven't come playing with us yet, too bad! Up to now we have covered almost 100 M of the 538 M to our goal, Baiona in Spain. The GPS says that we have about 90 hours left, but ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival) changes all the time, I hope we can open the arrival beer sometime on Wednesday! /First Mate

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We will leave Falmouth...soon

Yesterday the forecasts looked better and our hope was raised again, maybe we will be able to leave Falmouth soon! Today they still look good. We have prepared Cantare and will leave the inner harbour of Port Pendennis this afternoon. Then we will fill our diesel tanks and just wait for the right moment to leave. The right moment though is difficult to spot. Maybe it will come this evening, this night or tomorrow. We check the weather charts all the time and discuss the matter with the other yachts. In Falmouth we are eight yachts ready to cross the Bay of Biscay. We all have different views on when the best time to leave is and of course the best time is not the same for all of us. Most of the yachts are bigger than Cantare and they will get over quicker, therefore the predicted weather will reach us differently depending on where we are in the bay. Add to this the uncertainty of the forecasts and you might understand how hard it is to decide when to leave. But we will leave soon! /Captain Ingerup

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