Portugal! - Povoa De Varzim

Susie and Adam (both think they are skipper)
Sat 4 Sep 2010 10:07
03:09.10,  41.22.29N 08:45.90W
Early morning start for our trip down the coast from Baiona to Povoa De Varzim in Portugal. . . . .  . 50 miles to go and no wind at all.  We had to motor for 6 hours with glassy flat seas although the thing I still haven't got used to is the swell - that is always present - it's like sailing over gentle rolling hill, you don't get any swell for 10 minutes at a time, then you see a wall of water heading towards you, and that will be followed by another 3 - it's not steep so the boat just goes up then rides down the other side - but it's something you just don't get in the English channel.  By about 1 in the afternoon though the wind arrived and we put out the sails and had a fantastic sail down the coast.  No dolphins, whales or anything else though - we haven't seen any Dolphins at all since Muros in the middle of August - there seemed to be loads of them around there but nothing since. 
The marina's in Portugal are spread pretty few and far between on the west coast - and there are very few places to anchor as the coast has no natural harbours so we only have a couple of stops down the coast before we get to Lisbon.  We picked Povoa since it has a metro link to Porto which is somewhere we wanted to visit, and the book says the harbour is accessible in most conditions.  We had a nice sail down the coast - the aforementioned swell but not really any waves and arrived about a mile of Povoa - thing is - we couldn't actually see where you were supposed to get in - the harbour wall and multitude of surrounding rocks were just a mass of white water -and breaking waves -  we picked our way in trying to find the best route.  In fairness it is quite a wide entrance - but it isn't that obvious from the sea.  Just as we approached the sea walls with waves crashing against them - a siren started to wail from the end of the wall, sounded like an air raid siren.  There was much frantic checking of Almanacs and pilot books - I was sure that I had never read anything about a siren so was wondering if it was some kind or warning or if we shouldn't be entering the harbour, after finding nothing we carried on anyway as the entrance looked accessible.   After we got moored up in the Marina we found out it is the over-sensitive fog horn - as soon as there is a hint of moisture in the air it sets it off, but it made it sound like you were sailing into doom, and there was no fog at all. 
The Marina is good - lots of boats and people all traveling from different countries and really helpful staff in the Marina.   We did have a good sail yesterday - but also a day of things breaking - not old things, but new stuff which we didn't expect.  We have enlisted the help of the local Marina handyman and a British guy who I assumed had been here about a week - but turns out he has been here 3 years so he should know his way around.  We have also seen a couple of boats that we first saw back in Portosin - everyone is travelling the same way so we have said hello to a few familiar faces who keep appearing.
Neither of us have ever been to Portugal before, this is the first town we have seen and we like it.  It has a different feel to the towns in the Ria's - there is more variety of food and and it seems more cosmopolitan overall.  We have also been able to get things from the supermarket that we were really starting to miss - not particularly British things - just things like fresh mushrooms rather than tinned (tinned mushrooms are truly grim even to a vegetarian) and fresh herbs.
The marina inside the huge wall is sheltered and it needs to be as there is nothing between it and America apart from sea - but we walked to the beaches today and you see the effect of the swell that I keep going on about when it hits the shore on the photo below. . .  today there was no wind at all - and these were the waves that the surfers were having fun with on the beach (tomorrow we are going to purchase body boards as we cannot surf - but we think we should at least have a go at taking on the waves). I want to see it when it is really windy if this is a day of complete calm!
View along the beach the other side of the marina - a bit different to our photo's of the Ria's
Beach huts at Povoa - the beach is all very organised with canvas beach huts - from a distance as we sailed past we though there was a market on the beach - but it's just full of huts.
Street in Povoa centre - I like the balconies - a lot of  the buildings are very pretty and one thing we have noticed in last month is no chain stores - no McDonalds, No Burger King, no New Look etc. - the only chain store I have seen here apart from supermarkets is Benetton today in Povoa, that's it in the last month - makes a nice change.  We saw a couple of  wine and general purpose shops today - they were great - wooden shelves behind the counter and a ladder for the shop assistant to get what you ask for (may be less great for those who don't speak portuguese though)