Wednesday 5th October 2011
On Monday, as planned, we took a look at Porto. Bill
and Jim, our American neighbours who had departed at 0700 that morning, saved us
a bit of time and research by handing us their Metro cards (same sort of idea as
an Oyster card) and explained how to put money on them, use them and where to
get off the tram in Porto. The half
hour ride cost € 1.40 and could scarcely have been easier.
Not really sure about Porto. It has to be said that it was a very hot
day and the city is very hilly.
But, parts of its centre are very run down – the Lonely Planet Guide
advises that this is because the young would rather move out into modern flats
than hole up in the gloomy narrow passageways which contain quite a lot of the
housing south of the centre and towards the Douro. Yes; it’s atmospheric and authentic but
you can see their point. However,
many of the blocks of flats we passed on the outskirts of the city would score
few points for imagination or artistic merit. The city centre architecture is a mix of
colonial era magnificence juxtaposed with corrugated iron and everything
in-between - all living cheek by jowl.
The R Douro is fairly busy with tourist boats – many of which are large,
rather crude, motorized imitations of Viennese gondolas. The river itself looked pretty murky and
one of the reasons we chose not to berth there (but, rather, in Leixoes) was
that the pilot book advised that it carries the untreated sewage of the city and
several crew have become ill handling lines. Not really on our agenda! Looking across the river, over lunch, we
thought about visiting some of the port caves on the opposite bank. Here were many familiar names –
Sandeman, Croft, Cockburn, Graham, blah, blah. But, it was much too hot to think about
tasting port – or carrying any quantity of it uphill to the Metro.
Cheek by Jowl – Washing and Sat Dishes
Colonial Era Baroque?
Anyway, been there now; done that.
Back to Leixoes for a swim and a fairly early night in preparation for a
0600 reveille on Tuesday morning.
Again, little wind was promised and we had 70 NM to go to get to Figueira
da Foz that evening. We did manage
to hoist the mainsail around 1400 but it did little for us. Obviously, as we got to the last half
hour or so of the trip – at about 1600 – the wind picked up to a really quite
useful Force 5. But, by this time,
we were piloting our way into the Rio Mondego and trying to make sense of what
we saw compared with what was charted.
They’ve been playing around with the layout of the entrance in a fairly
significant way and that information hasn’t quite made its way to the Navionics
digital chart. And, the paper chart
we have is too small a scale to be of any help here. Thankfully, the pilot book is.
As a marina, Fig da Foz works but it’s all rather thrown
together. The reception berth is
manned by the customs chap who does all the necessary paperwork and allocates
the berth. He’s helpful, if a bit
big on instruction and gesticulation, but presumably hasn’t done the necessary
government-run course to allow him to risk doing anything useful like handle a
line. The visitors’ berths are just
off the reception berth – though not connected to it. The marina office is at the other end of
the marina – 400 yards away. So,
again, no help to anyone trying to get a 47 foot boat alongside a 30 foot finger
pontoon in a cross wind. Carol
broke the first absolute rule of the marina by going swimming as she bridged the
gap between boat and short, wobbly pontoon (What gap? A couple of inches, maybe
– Ed). The boat was left to its own
devices for a minute or so as she was fished out – still, it must be said,
holding the mooring line in one hand whilst the other held a shoe (Shows a
proper sense of priorities – Ed).
Given the number of grey mullet in the harbour, surviving on God knows
what, an early hot shower seemed appropriate!
The reception arrangements appear to leave the marina
office man with not much to do in the office. Which means that ‘office hours’ and the
hours during which the office is actually manned do seem, at first encounter, to
be a bit at variance. The usual
facilities are functional and clean, if a bit basic. There is an excellent enclosed market
nearby and we’ll stock up there for the 100+NM trip tomorrow to Oeiras, just