Cascais-Sines-Lagos (Portimao) and now Vilamora

Tue 2 Jul 2013 22:39
Position: 37.04.567N 008.07.263W

We slipped out of a still and peaceful Cascais early on Sunday morning.
Even the seagulls remaining silent, presumably their night to had been
disturbed by the incessant beat of pop and rap music. Gently motor sailing
for there was little wind we passed 'Radiant', nothing moved upon that
vessel, no one, of no matter how lowly a rank stirred. Fenders and lines
stowed, course decided upon, sipping tea in the cockpit under an already hot
sun our passage to Sines commenced. Atlantic roll gentle today, no towering
seas to make our boat pitch and yaw, demanding that every task be completed
with Houdini like agility. Sadly though little breeze meaning that what
little canvas ( Dacron actually) we raised to steady our passage slapped and
luffed occasionally as if it too was bored with its under use. No sheets
hauled, no winches ground only the gentle hum of our motor propelling us and
charging our services.

"We're making good time let's slow and cast a line or two." Suggests Rob.
We do exactly that, rod tips closely watched for half an hour or so before
we resign ourselves to contemplation of the ocean and watch for the hazy
outline of land. Terra firma sighted, Pilot book studied, the pale grey
outline of oil storage tanks spied for Sines is also an oil terminal.
Suddenly a ratcheting, whirr from one of the rods (Rob's damn it!).The
Piscean creature does not fight much and is soon in the landing net, no gaff
required for this modest prize. But strange creature it is, fully three feet
long, eel like body as thick as a woman's wrist with a thin delicate heron
like beak around four inches in length. Its eyes implore "free me" and the
joint facts of our sensitive natures and our full bellies conspire to sway
us to grant him freedom. He's unhooked and cast back into the sea where upon
he swims away without a backward glance.

Sines approaches and we pass through the outer harbour where tankers lie at
concrete wharfs, all is silent no one works this day. Beyond another
breakwater and on into the inner harbour. Fishing vessels moored and idle on
our port side, the wind bringing to us a reminder of their trade. Half a
mile ahead a small beach beneath the town bordered by a repaired castellated
edifice that perhaps once repelled invaders and to starboard a small half
empty marina with a bright orange hued harbour office at its head.
Visitors berth looks too shallow for us so we moor alongside at the outer
pontoon which is laid alongside the granite edifice of the not insubstantial

Satisfied with our warps and springs, motor shut down, decks tidied the only
sound the garrulous gulls, squabbling about their business, feeding their
outsized chicks who resemble balls of grey cat clawed wool with tooth pick
legs and oversized webbed feet, who squarkingly demand more. Sounds from the
beach subside as families pack up towels and umbrellas. Children wrapped,
wriggle out of wet costumes and into dry clothes for the journey home. I
wander along the pontoon surveying the dusty boats with green and worn
mooring lines and reach the electrically locked gates, pass beyond these and
with no one here my return would be barred. So back to the boat, pre diner
drinks in the cockpit. Gazing around this silent resting place for mostly
elderly and little loved vessels we note an old circa 1980's, obviously
world cruising, live aboard's boat, tired and worn but still functioning.
>From the interior there steps an ancient French mariner skin tanned to one
shade paler than burnt umbra, thin as a vanilla pod with a shock of dense
platinum, grey hair. He goes about his self-imposed duties and without a
response to our waved greeting, returns below never (at least by us) to be
seen again. We dine, we sleep (soundly)to wake early for tomorrow we sail
for Lagos.

An overcast and still silent (except for our feathered friends) morning with
still no sign of life at the marina office. We leave our mooring at 07.30
gently slipping into the outer harbour as thick mist descends, envelops us
in its moist embrace and reduces our visibility to but a few yards.
Navigation lights on, radar sweeping, fog horn sounding its sonorous call we
proceed out and beyond the anchored bulk of rusty tankers. Two hours of
motor sailing, twenty miles offshore, still cool and overcast, passing Cabo
Sandao, AIS informs me of a fast moving vessel following an erratic course
astern of us. Interrogation of the instrument reveals that it is a law
enforcement vessel travelling at 26 knots and now headed straight for us
from six miles distant. Can they think us dangerous drug runners intent on
seducing the young of Portugal into the depths of depravity? Whether or not
fifteen minutes later a fast, black craft appears planning and bouncing off
the wave tops. Blue lights flashing the sleek, black rib draws near. Three
occupants, black uniforms, black life jackets, black sunglasses. One signals
us to slow down, we are to be boarded! Just at that moment a pod of dolphins
appear and play around our boat. Boarding delayed a lighter moment whilst
the crews of both boats enjoy their aqueous antics. Rob steadies Pamarzi to
the waves, I greet our two boarders, noting the holstered automatic weapons.
One a pretty ,petite girl, can she be old enough to carry such a side arm?
Interrogation, from where, to where? Owned by whom, ships papers satisfy,
passports identify, all taxes (including Portuguese lighthouse tax) paid.
Smiles now that proofs have been accepted, they mention unpaid harbour fees
in Sinse. I explain no one there to pay. They accept. A phone call,
laughter, the pretty gun toting girl says she likes it here, can she stay.
They brave the gap (with our help) between the rolling vessels and are soon
bouncing their way northwards atop the waves.

The skipper is ribbed mercilessly by the crew for the rest of the day.
Criminal activity, should be in chains or at least confined within some
Portuguese gaol, not fit to be a skipper, on and on it goes ad nauseum.
Trying my best to ignore their ribaldry we sail on along the West coast of
Portugal to Cabo Sao Vincente (Cape St. Vincent). Massive, towering,
stratified cliffs. Dominant white lighthouse and buildings. Another 'worlds
end' to those ancients who inhabited our western European world As we turn
towards the Mediterranean a freshening North wind. For the next twenty miles
or so we enjoy reaching, twenty five knots of breeze, full main and genoa,
double digit sailing on calm seas. This can go on and on and on.

Sun setting we enter the open bay where Lagos marina is to be found and is
still to be found by us for the skipper had placed the waypoint at the
entrance to Portimao marina! Pleasant mooring though it was my discomfort
was now double that which it had been previously as the crew sniped and
japed at the criminal, ill navigator, before, during and after dinner. Ah
well, a skippers lot is sometimes a lonely one.

To state the obvious tomorrow is another day and for us the crew of Pamarzi
a short hop up the coast to Vilamora.

Roger, Lynn & Rob
The crew of Pamarzi