After that awful experience aboard Voyager this journey was a breath of fresh air. Not only was the skipper the polar opposite of the previous one but the vessel we were sailing was a kick-ass race-winning catamaran, Brigand.
If you’ve read the crew section of this journey you’ll have learned that the skipper was an award winning fisherman who taught us how to troll a line off the back of the boat and catch dorado. As my only previous experience of fishing was catching mackerel in the English Channel this was a valuable step-change in fishing experience. We were taught how to catch, fillet and cook fish, all important sailing skills!
Like the previous journey we hit some pretty heavy weather aboard Brigand. I learned a valuable lesson from this trip: learn where all the safety gear is before upping anchor and going out to sea! We didn’t have to use any of it, fortunately, but when the skipper wakes you up at 4 in the morning when the sh!t is hitting the fan outside it’s always useful to reassure yourself that you know where the liferaft is!
An early start thanks to Mum and Dad got me to the airport on time. After saying goodbye to them once again Tim and I made our way through passport check. What with the clocks going back we were starving so we sorted ourselves out a sandwich, which made us rather late boarding the plane. So late in fact we were greeted by some very pissed off boarding staff and then stopped by a bunch of security guards who politely reminded us not to carry gas canisters in our luggage. Our lifejackets had obviously caused a bit of hysteria at Stansted Airport.
A quick flight….blahblahblah…..arrive in Faro, bus to Lisbon and job’s a good ‘un, as Jason would say. Yes, Lisbon for the third time in the past month! As soon as we got off the bus Tim managed to lose his cash card in a machine so for the next few days he had to borrow from the National Bank of Furlong. Realising we were running late we piled into a cab and headed along the coast to Cascais. We thought this was just round the corner from Lisbon, which it is if you look at it within the context of the rest of the universe, but thirty euros later we got out at the very westerly tip of the coast, outside the marina.
We found Brigand pretty easily. How could you miss a 56ft cat with aquamarine sail covers? The first thing that hits you about Brigand is its size. It’s huge! And wide. Wide and long and huge and wide. Remember the previous vessel, Voyager, was 56ft with a single hull. This is the same length but a multihull. This is two Voyagers stuck together!
Expecting an open-armed warm welcome, three men appear on the deck looking a bit perplexed at our arrival, what with our kit and bags. Even an explanation of our presence seemed to confuse the guys on board. Anyway, we were introduced to Johnny – and – Dave – from – Manchester – but – living – in – Abersoch – in – Wales, and Vincent the skipper. Note that Vincent is not the owner of Brigand so he’s completely chilled out and quite human, which makes a refreshing change. The owner, Peter, who lives in Cowes had made a whole host of loose arrangements with regards to the crew aboard Brigand and I started to worry that this was gonna go tits up.
On board the cat was a satellite phone, which Johnny picked up and checked for messages. Sure enough Peter had sent a txt regarding our arrival, so we relaxed, made our way to our cabin and unpacked. The bunks were large – kinda like a double bed with a cabinet in between, all elevated at chest height which one got into by climbing up a small ladder. The en suite heads would also have been a nice touch if it wasn’t for the strong smell of old ladies (stale fruitcake and wee). This bothered us for our entire journey, with the smell getting progressively worse each day we were at sea. By the end of the journey it was so bad we couldn’t open the door to the heads without gagging, but it wasn’t until we packed up and left a week later that we realised the culprit was actually a pair of Tim’s socks he had left to rot in a plastic bag.
Wanting to make a good impression Tim and I asked if there was anything we could do with regards to prepping the boat but the boys explained that everything had been done for that day, so instead we put our waterproofs on and hit a restaurant for something to eat. Vincent, not a big drinker, left us and the rest of the crew headed into town for a large amount of beers (Paul from Voyager would have been tearing his hair out at the amount we drank that night). We learned from Johnny and Dave that Vincent was a very chilled out chap and didn’t expect us to be up scrubbing the decks by 8.30am! I needn’t tell you this was music to our ears, so we continued to drink and talk bollocks until the early hours of the morning in just about every bar in Cascais.