Viana Do Castelo
We left Bayona relatively soon after it got light enough (which is ridiculously late here in NW Spain – its only just light at 8 a.m.) expecting 24hrs of reasonable winds to get us some way down the Portuguese coast. No such luck; we wallowed about in the confused swell for an hour or so, trying various combinations of sail in an attempt to make progress in light and fluky winds, keeping a watchful eye on the other boats to see if they had any better luck. We eventually gave up and motored, heading for the first port in Portugal where we could wait a few days for some wind. I was just stepping back into the cockpit after putting the spinnaker pole away when the boat did another big roll making me fall and twist my ankle. For a while I thought I must have broken something, the pain was so bad. However Lindsay leapt into ship’s doctor mode and soon had me in a freezing pack and then strapped up, so we were able to bring the boat into port in good order. A very solicitous marinero helped us tie up and was eager to drive me to hospital, but I was not at all keen on that, so just accepted his offer of ice. A night’s rest and I’m sort of mobile, hobbling around on a walking stick. So our few days waiting for wind have become recuperation – both to allow the ankle to get better and to give my back a chance to stop aching (which it has been since furling the gennaker away in Biscay).
So here we are back in Viana do Castelo (which we seem to have spelled wrongly when we wrote about it on our previous visit). In fact we are lucky to have a second chance to spend some days in this delightful town. Wiser yachties than us had given the place the attention it deserved, but we only spent one night here last time around and that clearly wasn’t enough. This was apparently the birthplace of the Port trade with Britain. Portuguese fishermen out on the Grand Banks would exchange their fortified wine for English made nets which created a market for this new “Port” drink. Viana profited from the development of this trade until it moved on to the more famous centre of Porto when its harbour silted up. The town lies at the entrance to the River Lima and we have a berth on the fuel pontoon which looks out over the river and towards a bridge built by the same Eiffel as built the famous Tower. The bridge isn’t pretty and it’s noisy with traffic and freight trains, but that’s a small price to pay (as are the marina fees) for a stay in this attractive and very welcoming place. It looks like we may be here for a while too as the forecast is pretty unfavourable for days ahead, so we will have plenty of time to enjoy it.