Baiona to Cascais

Thu 27 Jun 2013 21:59
Position 38.41.431N 009.25.088W

Part of the reason for our early leaving of Baiona was that we had seen
weather forecasts for the Fitzroy and Trafalgar areas of Gales up to force 9
and very rough seas!!

We plotted our course and estimated that we would cover the 180nm or so
easily in 24 hours and get ourselves safely tucked up in Cascais Marina.
Well, the northerly winds known as the Portuguese Trades had other ideas.
Within twenty miles or so of shore the winds were very light, we would have
to motor or risk heavy weather reaching us before we got to Cascais. Sailing
out of Baiona at midday, in glorious sunshine and a moderate breeze we held
the downwind set of our sails which eventually took us some eighty miles
offshore but sailing fast we were making good time. The seas though
continued to grow and became very significant. No doubt a result of the
gales in mid Atlantic. There followed a night (another!) that Lynn would
rather forget of fast sailing in mountainous seas.

We jibed towards Cascais around noon on Wednesday and our fast pace
continued thankfully around 14.00 the seas started to moderate and we
sighted Cabo de Roca. Lynn emerged from her misery and joined us in the sun
filled cockpit to enjoy some seriously good sailing. As we approached the
Cabo some two or three miles off shore the scent of eucalyptus assailed our
nostrils. Carefully wending our way through fields of fishing buoys we made
our way to the entrance of Cascais Marina around 21.00 where we were greeted
by a charming, polite marinero who helped us make fast at the visitors quay
and instructed me to visit the Harbour Masters office the following
morning. Mooring secured, sheets tidied we dined on chicken, ham and
mushroom carbonara before retiring to a blissfully quiet roll free night.

The following morning I awoke refreshed. Morning ablutions complete Rob and
I drank tea on a sun washed deck. A glance at my watch informed me that nine
o'clock approached. Time to visit the Harbour Master. Armed with Ships paper
and passports I climbed the steeply raked by low tide pontoon and entered
the glass doored coolness of the white washed building's interior. Light of
heart, passage made, living the dream. A brass plaque on more, this time
double, glass doors announced the dignitaries office. I strolled in
conscious that I was there promptly at the time of opening, keen to complete
the paper work and receive instructions as to our more permanent berth. My
light and happy demeanour was crushed as I was stopped in my tracks by a
Portuguese dragon who berated me in screeching Portuguese (not a dialect I'm
familiar with). Taking a step back I surveyed this vociferous creature. She
stood around 5 foot nothing, bejeaned and weighing about the same as a sheet
of A4 paper. Straight, black, shoulder length hair framed her sharp
features. Glowering eyes below heavy brows, taught necked and tight lipped
with a nose you could probably open tins with. Despite my ignorance and fear
I gathered that Portugal was GMT plus one hour whilst we had come from Spain
GMT plus two hours. I had arrived at the Harbour Masters office one whole
hour too early. Unsure as to whether or not this was a capital offence in
Portugal I beat a hasty, apologetic retreat back to the boat where I joined
the rest of the crew for breakfast.

Fortified by cornflakes and coffee I noted that the allotted hour had
arrived. Determined now to slay this dragon or at the very least make it
smile I retraced my steps back to its lair. There I waited my turn. It
glanced unsmilingly upwards from its screen, did I detect a slight
sulphurous odour in the air? I started somewhat on the command, given in
English, 'PAPERS!' I attempted a smile and handed over a folder containing
the ships registry and insurance documents along with passports for myself
and the crew. These she surveyed with contempt and started typing, looking
up occasionally as if to check that in fear I had not hurried away. Each
time she looked up I smiled I think charmingly and once offered 'lovely
morning'. She snorted softly this time, was I taming the beast. Emboldened I
was about to try a compliment when a door to the office opened and another
fearful creature entered. I shrank back slightly from the counter. Not a
glance from this one as she drew a chair in front of a screen and pressed
keys with horny hands. One dragon was bad enough but now two and the latter
older, fatter, later and without doubt more bitter than the first. I began
to think myself lucky with my allotted beast. 'Sign here' I was shaken back
from my observations as she pushed a paper towards me. I duly signed and
thanked her for allowing me the privilege of doing so. The seemingly
reasonable berthing fees now inflated by 20% Tourist Tax and a further 22%
VAT were not now so attractive as I decided we would eat in tonight. 'Thank
you' I said once again as if being robbed blind was a courtesy extended to
me. She smiled! When I say smiled I mean that the thin mean lips of her
countenance parted slightly and her eyes lost a little of their hard edge.
You will berth at K3, as if I would dare try anywhere else, and I have a
gift for you she said handing over a gift wrapped bottle of Portuguese wine.
'Oh how very kind' I smiled and she almost beamed back, 'My pleasure'. There
is nothing so satisfying as starting the day by slaying a dragon.

We rebirthed our vessel, washed and scrubbed her decks so she gleamed under
the midday sun. The overall effect only slightly lessened by Lynn's washing
hung out on the lifelines, so that we did somewhat resemble a very upmarket,
maritime Chinese laundry.

An afternoon of catching up on emails and exploring the not unattrative town
of Cascais. Drinks and dinner back aboard I retired satisfied that I had
achieved much this day.