Lucy and the New Dawn Traders

Fare Traded by Sail

Category: Vigo


7 days and 7 nights. Wandering by the stars from Vigo to Tenerife.

Highlight – The stars the stars the stars!

Lowlight – Our main rig collapsed after the jaws on the gaff broke….

Saturn day

A week ago today we slipped our lines from Vigo and set our sails for Tenerife on a bearing of South South West. Once agin the sun was shining brightly (I know I know! I say this nearly every post) and the winds were fair and there was a moderate swell.

Bye bye Vigo

After leaving the main harbour and cruising past the islands at the mouth of the estuary we had a light lunch of Smorgasboard before getting stuck into some training drills. We went through the routine for ‘Muster’, man over board and fire. The man over board routine was especially important as this was the first time practising the manoeuvre under full sails. After successfully completing the drills we set our course and settled into our watch system. Jamie and I were on watch from 10pm with the Captain Laurance. The sky was almost cloudless with a bright haloed moon. Our initial heading had us sailing in the direction of Orion.

Ville on Night Watch

We passed many cargo ships in the night as we sailed through the main shipping lane from Lisbon. Most of the crew went down with seasickness including Jamie who spent most of watch looking either quite green or being sick and poor Kat had to make her bed in the saloon with a bucket next to her head all night.


The following morning I was dragged out of bed before my watch to set the sails, gybe and hoist additional jib sails. We were making max speed of 10 kts with an average of 7-8. The swell was 4-5 metres. Our ship Irene was rolling all over the place which wasn’t helping the members of crew still suffering from sea sickness. On night watch I spent much of the time I was not helming the boat studying Star finder, an app on the iphone that shows you all the star names and constellations if you point it at the sky.

Full moon through the rigging

As we changed watch I took over the helm while we prepared to reef the mizzen sail (The sail on the smaller of our masts at the stern of the boat). As the wind was directly behind us and was building in force we were struggling to maintain the course due to the turning force of the mizzen sail pushing Irene up into the wind. It meant steering the boat was like a continual wrestling match. Irene was built as a coastal trading vessel and her hull and rigging are really designed for reaching along the shore taking advantage of onshore and offshore breezes. Not running downwind with the trades. Later in the afternoon our skipper Leslie gave a lecture to the trainee crew on coastal navigation. And the rest of the day I spent nose deep in my books.

Mars day

This was my galley day so I spent most of it preparing food. We were making excellent progress getting many sea miles under our sails. The winds were still good and there was a big swell. At some points we would look back over the stern and see a big wave approaching and be thinking is that going to break over us before the ship would lurch and surf down it. I set about preparing veggie burgers from scratch including baking fresh burger baps and making hand-cut chips along with Tahini chocolate cookies which I had promised the crew the night before. It turned out to be far more difficult than I expected due to the motion of the ship. At one point I was kneading bread in the saloon and got completely thrown against the side of the ship with the dough landing in my lap. Later I sent all the coleslaw mix across the galley.

Floured baps and tahini cookies

There was one particularly big wave which sent all the crates of our vegetable flying. After a while of thinking what the hell is going on deck I went out to check. And was gobsmacked to find that the the main rig had collapsed!

The collapsed main rig

Everyone was on deck wrestling with the main sail trying to restrain the boom and main gaff. In the heavy swell the jaws of the main gaff snapped off leaving the rig flaying widely pulling the boat over.

Untangling the mess of the collapsed main after the gaff jaws broke.

The crew were very shell shocked over dinner and we sat in silence as we ate. Kat commented that it was one of the most terrifying experience she has had on a boat.

Mizzen sail sail rigged from an old jib

However we managed to get all the sails safely stowed and we rigged up one of the jib sails to function as mizzen stay sail to go some way towards replacing the wind power we lost from the befallen main sail.

Mercury day

Remarkably we are still making good progress without our main sail. Average speed is 6 kts. The swell has settled.


Kat and Jamie made the most incredible lemon meringue pie much to the delight of all the crew – we scrapped over every last crumb.

As the sun set the sea took on a surreal quality of quiksilver with the sun as a perfectly circular molten lead orb.

Sunset. Again.

We listened to The XX by moonlight while helming under the stars with jupiter and venus to starboard and the moon and orion, the striding warrior, to port. I finished reading ‘Unbearably lightness of being’ a book on existensial philosophy and the nature of the soul. A final line from the book:

“Its terrific to realise you are free of all missions”

Jupiter day

Dawn watch and by jove it was another incredible sight. Each and every one has been slightly different. This one was marked out by the complete absence of any clouds whatsover. We are skirting the coast of Morocco so its an African sun rising over our heads today. The moon set at 7.47am and the sun rose at 8.10am. Already by 10 am it was baking on deck and we were reaching for the sunglasses and suncream. I made round of melty cheesy cumin and chilli eggy bread for watch breakfast. Martina joined us on deck for her breakfast before taking over the watch with her pimped up cornflakes. As she arrived on deck to sit down near the poop a massive wave broke over the deck and sent her cornflakes flying all over her crotch.

“Oh manno Schiesse. Verdammt Irene!”

Later that day we took turns dosing and cooling off with buckets of cold seawater.

Wet boys scrubbing the decks

The idle was only broken momentarily when Jamie struggled with a person from Specsavers over the Sat phone while trying to order a new batch of disposable contact lenses.

“What why didn’t you tell me at the beginning of the call that no staff are in yet. I’m calling from a sat phone! Do you have any idea how much this costs?”

Probably not. They were in Slough.

Venus day

The watch routine and the toll of being at sea for 6 days was starting to take its toll. In the night Antje had a really funny dream where she was being screamed at by Gaddafi (Ramon) to go PORT! then STARBOARD! Back to PORT! Antje was helming in her sleep with my feet! (We share a room and the double bunk top and tail – beats the hell out of the narrow top bunks with no head room!).

Without a doubt this was the most idyllic harmonious day of the week. Some how we all slipped into a mesmerising trance like industriousness on baord. I was back on galley duty and spent most of the day on deck slowly washing, peeling and grating veges for salads and evening dinner

Antje hoisting the mizzen staysail


Baggy wrinkles

Martina and Antje were making ‘baggy wrinkles’ for the masts (grass skirts from untwinned rope to protect the sails from the rigging). Captain was sanding and painting the gaff. Everywhere you looked on board someone was peacefully at craft. The earlier parts of the week we had been more fragmented due to sea sickness and rougher conditions. The best part of the day was a seawater bucket shower on deck after a delicious dinner of shepherds pie.

We finally cruised into Tenerife on Saturday. First sight was the tip of the Volcano around 10 am just as I came on my watch. Antje woke me at 8am.

Just another sunrise

“Lucy. You should see the sunrise. It is the best yet!”

Sun from the east rising over Irene

Gradually the full form of the island emerged from the morning mist.

The volcano faint in the mist!

We sailed into Santa cruz harbour and were given a mooring in along the sea wall next to the fishing boats and ferry. Another tall ship called Alva is in the harbour. We made fast the lines, jumped into the sea for a quick dip before stepping into Babylon…

What I hadn’t realised when we set from Vigo to Tenerife is that we were sailing through an epic planetary moment with all 5 visible planets in the sky and we saw every single one of them from the Atlantic. Truly truly blessed. 

Planetai means ‘Wandering stars’ in Greek

Pressure drop

As promised here is the picture of the little sea otter spotted by our first officer Damon on the pontoon last night. Otter was munching on a tasty flat fish he had caught in the harbour.


Today all the trainees had a relaxed day on board. Touching up the varnish, basting the mast, fixing little bits and pieces and loading wine and water.

Antoine has been busily hand carving a new door latch for the saloon door and adding new locks to the whaleback (the little chart house at the rear of the ship).


Antje’s wish to climb the mast was finally granted. She jumped into the ‘mast basting’ overalls and harness ready to get hot and sticky with liver fat up the mizzen mast. Image

This afternoon the pressure dropped and a low rolled in from the Atlantic bringing with it cooler air, winds and a small amount of rain. We have checked out the weather on Passage Weather, a website for sailors and adventures with detailed forecasts for the ocean. Although there is good wind for departure tomorrow, it is predominantly an north west / westerly which would mean we would leave beating hard. We are discussing leaving on Sunday when the wind will have shifted to a northerly which would enable us to broad reach / run down to the Canary islands. *Running = sails out full with wind from behind, Broad reach = wind across the boat with sails set halfway out, Beating head to wind = sails tightly hauled in with wind coming across the front of the boat*.

We’re keen to get going again. We would have left today but we had issues clearing the olive oil with customs. We are resigned to the fact that this will happen in every place we stop.


But there are worse places to be stuck then Vigo thats for sure. Wednesday evening we had a great night out in a local Jazz Jam club. Antoine wasted no time in leaping on stage and showing off his percussion skills.


Finally Antje and I are fighting over the opportunity to cut and style Villes awesome hair. Check it out.


Aceite oliva

Originally posted on New Dawn Traders:

The sun is shining and the tunes are blasting! The New Dawn Traders have just finished loading their cargo of premium olive oil. The oil arrived bright and early.

We quickly set about finding a trolley to transport our delicious cargo along the pontoon ready to stow in Irene’s hold.

Half way through loading a class of Spanish schoolchildren turned up. They had just finished a swimming class and had asked their teachers if they could visit the ‘Pirate ship’ in the harbour.

View original


We’ve had an incredibly good few days in Vigo. Sunny, bright, warm, welcoming.

Monday evening Antje, Jamie and I ventured out for dinner with our Skipper Leslie to a tiny little traditional Galician restaurant recommended by Ramon. A real treat to have a night off from the galley. Galicia is renowned for its stews and seafood. Vigo is an enormous fishing port and the seafood here is as fresh as it gets. I’m hoping to check out the fish markets before we leave. Apparently they are some of the largest in Europe.

The following day we pulled apart the galley, scrubbed every nook and cranny, did a stock take and prepared a list of provisions. We have been kindly assisted by a number of locals in getting our provisions assembled. Yesterday I got taken on a whistlestop tour of the city by Juan, a local to Vigo, to find the wholesalers and stock up. We also had great assistance from Ramon and his extended family. Fortunately for us, Ramon has a greengrocer in the family. Muchos gracias guys!

The rest of my hours here have been spent sunbathing on the deck and reading in between exploring Vigo.

Vigo is a busy sprawling port with an erratic city plan. A combination of cobbled steep streets, wide palm tree lined boulevards and derelict ‘casas’ mixed in with high rise flats and abandoned factories. There is some beautiful colonial era architecture here with high windows and ornate iron work frames.

But equally there is some rather grotesque post war bunker style buildings also. My wanderings took me snaking around the streets up to the park at the top of the hill where I got a great 360 view of the city, the Atlantic ocean and sprawling surrounding hillside.  Here are a few pictures to give you a flavour of the city.

Back in the port you can find a large statue of Jules Verne sitting upon an Octopus in reference to his novel ’20,000 leagues under the sea’ which features the wrecks of the Battle of Vigo bay in the novel.

Captain Nemo, the fictional commander of the Nautililus – a submersible, visits Vigo as part of his adventure to find the lost spanish treasure sunk during the 1702 Battle between the Anglo-Dutch and Spanish-French fleets. The British fleet were after the Spanish silver and gold acquired in the South Americas.

It is 20 degrees C here right now. There has been no rain for 6 weeks and there is real concern about water shortages this year. My local guide Juan informed me that there have been forest fires in central Spain already. Pretty early and doesn’t bode well for the rest of the summer.

Our cargo of Olive oil arrived early today (Thursday). See the above post for some pictures of us loading our cargo.

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