Portugal - Povoa de Varzim

Mike and Liz Downing
Wed 3 Sep 2008 21:58
Another corner proving difficult to turn! Rounding Ushant was the first and now we needed to get round Finisterre on the north west tip of Spain, but strong winds and rough seas were forecast for several days. We waited in Sada until the North Easterly winds had moderated to some degree and left for Camarinas on Thursday 28th August. Camarinas is a small Ria on the north west tip of Spain, considered to be one of the prettiest. The wind hadn't abated quite as much as we had hoped (F5 to 6, occasionally 7) and the seas were still well up. As a result there were periods where it was very uncomfortable, rolling with a big following sea that threatened to come on board, but at least the wind was behind us for a change. The passage, of 60 miles, was quite quick, but one we were pleased to have behind us. We sailed all the way and motored into the quiet anchorage where there are wind farms on many of the hills.
They don't seem to mind wind turbines on the landscape here, and we quite like them too (and they tell you which way the wind is blowing). The next day we went out hoping to sail past Cape Finisterre but the winds came up from the south (26 knots) and there was lightning and a thunderstorm in front of us, so we made a hasty retreat back to Camarinas. That night the storm caught up with us and we had tremendous thunderstorms all around from 21.30 through to 05 am. The sky was lit up with lightning in several different places at once, and some of the most vivid forked lightning that we have ever seen - quite scary when you are anchored on your own with a 60ft lightning conductor above you! The storm did pass to the north eventually, but we waited another day before leaving as thunderstorms were still forecast and we had been up most of the night. On Sunday 31st August, we left Camarinas on an improving forecast and although the winds were in the south they were light. We motor sailed in the sunshine past Cape Finisterre which was enshrouded in fog and we could hear the foghorn going. We continued to motor-sail in the sun at up to 7.5 knots (depending on the wind strength) as the passage to Baiona is about 80 miles. We came in about 8 pm, before it got dark and tied up in the new marina. So we have now turned the second corner! It's now south all the way to the 3rd corner - rounding Cape St Vincent to get to the Algarve.
We stayed in Baiona for only one day, as we have been there before and the weather looked like deteriorating in a couple of days, so we left Tuesday 2nd Sept for Povoa de Varzim which is 50 miles south, and a new port for us. We filled up with fuel first and motor sailed as there was very little wind, but again a lovely sunny day. A couple of hours later we were treated to a show of expert bow-riding by a small school of common dolphins, they returned on a couple more occasions, staying with us on the last occasion for nearly 30 minutes - taking turns to get as close to the bow as possible without touching it. They were really having fun and I'm pleased to say we got the show on the camcorder and the point and shoot Fuji. Common dolphins are prettier than bottlenose and seem to like playing so much more. Luckily we have an auto-pilot as we both rushed up to the bows to watch them and let the pilot look after the helm. We arrived in Povoa around 18.00 and so are now in Portugal. The weather is closing in again with a new low and more thunderstorms promised so we're staying put this time until it passes! However, whether sunny or overcast, the weather is at least warm - it makes such a difference.

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