Lagos (Portugal!)

We stayed 3 nights in Cascais and would probably have stayed longer if it hadn't been a rather expensive marina.  Of course we were just too early for the significant low season price drop on October 1st!  There is the option of anchoring there, but we tend to be rather lazy about moving after the sheer convenience of being alongside somewhere.  Our other excuse is that a run is easier if you can return quickly to your boat for showers etc., rather than having to launch a dinghy each time.  Cascais is a pretty place, very popular with French and German tourists and the weather made us feel like we were back in summer at last.  Our return visit to the little backstreet restaurant offering an evening of Fado music was a huge success and we felt very lucky to have stumbled on such a genuine experience.  The singers seemed to be queuing up to perform for the sheer love of it and we were treated to some really good singing with traditional guitar backing for over 3 hours -wonderful!

 

We left Cascais on Sunday 30th and motored for first 3 hours in sunshine and a gently swell.  We were then able to sail with various sail combinations and reached Sines early evening.  We had the same slow check-in at the marina office as we experienced 3 years ago with the same dozy guy at the desk!  That night the pistol shrimps crackled under our hull for the first time this trip and it felt like we were actually heading into warmer parts.  Monday was a day for 2 loads of washing, whilst skipper donned wet suit and snorkelled down to cut off a rope which was wrapped around our prop shaft from when we hit a fishing float on the night's sail to Cascais (painfully cutting open the same finger that was still hurting from the abortive testing of the new furling system for the big red sail back in Lymington!).  We also enjoyed a tasty lunch amongst the locals in the otherwise sleepy town.  Portuguese food and wine is proving to be great value this time around.  Sines is an odd place - a nice beach and marina yet on both sides there are large petrochemical ports, whose financing may explain an unexpected amount of seafront development.  So lots of nice areas to wander yet no oil or smells.

Sines beach & fort:

 

SInes’ most famous son:

After a second night in Sines we left mid morning intending to do an overnighter to Lagos.  However we had got our 12/24 hour calculations wrong and soon after realised we would be entering Lagos in the dark of the early hours if we went straight there.  Decided instead to anchor at the beach just under  Cape St Vincent - Enseada de Sagres - where we also stopped 3 years ago.  Luckily we were helped there for 4½  hours with a fast goose-wing sail arrangement which was effortless (once skipper had set up the sails).  We still had to motor later as the wind died, but made it just in time to anchor before dark.  An hour or so later we were treated to a lovely moon rising over the headland behind us.  Passing Cape St Vincent is one of those milestones on a journey south as that is where the Iberian peninsular turns the corner and the south coast begins.  It also starts to feel quite a bit warmer.

Goosewinging down the coast in 20kts:

Sagres anchorage overlooked by another Portuguese fort:

 

Had a quick motor to Lagos in zero wind after the anchorage and were reminded of the spectacular coastline of caves and arches on the approach.  Dozens of little tripper boats were taking tourists out to see the formations.  We refuelled en route to a spot in the marina and were very disconcerted by the very short pontoon they had allocated us.  It barely fits half of Goldcrest's length!  It being October now we can afford a few nights here in this otherwise very expensive marina.  Lagos is a very touristy place but if you leave the busiest parts behind it has lots of charm in the old backstreets and some surprisingly extensive old town walls.

 

We are now facing yet another weather dilemma; we’re in the middle of a small high and there is nothing in the 7 day forecast that would allow us to sail all the way to Rabat in Morocco.  So, do we motor out for 12 hours or so to catch the easterly coming out of the straits of Gibraltar on Sunday or wait until there is good wind?  Spend money on diesel or a longer stay on the Algarve?  Decision, decisions…