Our parcel has arrived! 10 minutes before we cast off! We will spend a couple of days in this area before heading further south.
From here in Bayona we are less than a day away from the Portuguese border. The Portuguese coast is very different to Galicia, gone are the sheltered rías, instead a linear coast which takes the full impact of the Atlantic swell. Towns have grown up around river mouths but these tend to be very shallow and most have a sand bar right across the entrance with only a narrow gap for boats to enter. The commercial harbours rely on manmade breakwaters to provide shelter, many of these now offer marinas (often expensive) but few have anywhere to anchor. In addition the 'Portuguese tradewinds' blow most of the day from the north and can be very strong.
Instead of day sailing down the coast we have chosen a few safe harbours (weather permitting) down the coast and will spend a few days in each place.
If the weather is settled and the winds not too strong our first stop will be in the River Minho, the physical border between Spain and Portugal, if Minho is not feasible we will head for Viana de Castelo where there is a marina. From here we hope to explore the rural north by bicycle. My friend Richard really enjoyed North Portugal, he felt the inhabitants had the right balance; the men were to be found in the bars from dawn to dusk while the women worked in the fields!
Our next port will be Leixões where will be able to anchor outside the marina within the port. Leixões is within a short train journey from Porto, an interesting city on the river Douro.
Aveiro, a small town half way to Lisbon offers a pontoon up river where yachts can tie on to or an anchorage in the main harbour. Aveiro itself sounds pleasant and we hope to meet up with Steve and Megumi, friends of my friend Angie who have settled in the hills between Aveiro and Figueira de Foz.
Nazaré is different, there is a small bay with a sandy beach and it is possible to anchor off the beach.
Lisbon is on the river Tejo and once inside the river there is a good anchorage off Seixal and a ferry every 20 minutes to the centre of Lisbon. We hope to explore the old town and listen to Fado, traditional Portuguese music with Moorish roots.
After Lisbon, the coastline remains difficult with very few harbours of interest to sailing boats so we will continue in one leg until we get round Cape St Vincent onto the southern coast of the Algarve. The first big port is Lagos which is home to thousands of yachts and has good yacht provisioning facilities. It is also apparently no problem to anchor.
We would be delighted to hear from you if you have been to Portugal and have any suggestions as to places and things to see (bearing in mind where we will be stopping), please contact us through our usual email addresses.