Figuiera da Foz to Peniche and Cascais

Sun 16 Oct 2022 20:03

Figuiera da Foz to Peniche and Cascais.

Sunday 16 Oct

Peniche   39 20.8’ N,  009 22.4’ W

Cascais   38 41.6’ N, 009 24.8’ W

We are definitely in ‘let’s get there’ mode now. Convenient stops are few and far between after Porto.   I wanted to be in Cascais to do an engine service in time to meet Brian on the 14th. We did 60 miles to Figuiera da Foz on Friday, mostly motoring in poor visibility. Fortunately, the vis cleared as we approached the harbour but it was getting dark when we tied up for the evening. The following day we filled up with diesel, did some food shopping and laundry.  The laundrette backed onto a large fresh produce market and I bought some salad to get change for the washing machine. Chris joined me for a tour of the market while the clothes washed and we bought mackerel, as I had not managed to catch any, and some bread. There was also a cafe so we had a coffee and Portuguese custard tarts while we waited for the drying to finish.

We walked around the town in the afternoon.  Many of the buildings could have been Dutch except for the bull fighting ring, the fog was still blowing in off the sea and large ship fog horns in the approach channel were sounding monotonously. We distracted ourselves with a small beer in the sailing club and although we could hear ships moving out to sea only a stone’s throw away, we could barely see them.  It was still ‘thick’ when we ate our Mackerel but we decided we ought to push on tomorrow despite the forecast for more fog and no wind.

A French yacht rafted up along-side us late in the evening and we helped them tie up, it was so nice to be able throw in a few French words having been so useless in Portuguese.

We were delighted on Sunday morning to find the fog had cleared. The French dutifully got up at 0745 to let us slip out of the raft and we set off for Peniche, another 60 mile leg.  There was no wind and big Atlantic swells sweeping down to the surfing hotspot of Nazare made our mainsail flog uselessly.  Lots of dolphins visited us and that seemed positive because I don’t think they would be here if there were Orca around -but that might have been wishful thinking.  The last Orca encounter registered online was as Sines, south of Cascais.  We anchored inside the big commercial harbour in Peniche at 1900 and although it had be overcast all day, and threatening rain in the afternoon, we were treated to a stunning sunset and a friendly welcome hail from a couple on a boat called Fishcake.   We anchored, had a beer and supper.

On Monday we set off for Cascais beating into a light southerly which had died by early afternoon and we ended up motoring in rain at times for the final 24 miles and anchored in amongst 20 other yachts in Cascais Bay.  It was still damp and foggy. For supper we used up some leftovers in a frittata.

On Tuesday morning the sun came out and we could take stock and look around the stunning bay. We launched the dinghy and visited the marina which was quite pricey and inquired if my parcel had arrived, but it hadn’t and they wouldn’t let use their showers.   Leaving there we were heading to the beach in the in the dinghy towards a supermarket when we saw the Club Naval de Cascais which had a pontoon saying ‘exclusively members only’ – but in Portuguese.   Anyway, I asked in the office if, as visiting yachtsmen, we could use their showers and they said no problem.  We shopped at an enormous hypermarket with overwhelming choices returned to the boat and put the shopping away and returned to the club for showers etc., and lunch.  After lunch Chris put me ashore on the fish pier and I took the train to Oeiras to check out the marina prices there. I had also arranged to meet Paul MacDonald who sails ‘Moonshadow’, a sailing contacts of Morag’s, and talked about his sailing plans -similar to ours- and his electric motor installation replacing  a tired Volvo diesel.

In the evening Denis and Marta from Fishcake, now also anchored in Cascais, came over for a drink and a chat.  Tomorrow I’m going to change the engine oil.  I stayed up until two am as the wind was strong and Chris slept intending to take over the anchor watch but the wind died away around 2am  and we decided we could relax.

Wednesday was a busy day. We were still at anchor in Cascais Bay and I stripped out the aft cabin to get access to the engine in preparation for the oil change. We put the engine on to warm up the oil so that I could pump it out more easily.  There was no wind and all the makings of a hot day to come.  Suddenly, the boat that was anchored a good way away from us was very close and I thought they were getting under way and not looking what they were doing.  In fact, they were looking at us with concern because WE were moving towards them.   I still don’t understand what happened except that the anchor that had held us in 20 plus knots of wind for most of last night had simply let go this morning under no stress. I can’t explain it.  Anyway, with dint of a bit of mild fendering we got away from our new neighbours and got the anchor in and I was relieved to see It was still on the end of the chain (yes, I had wondered) and we moved and reset.  Then the tube on the little brass hand pump turned out to be too thick to pass down the engine dip-stick pipe to the sump.  You can’t drain a marine engine with a sump plug – there isn’t room under the engine to catch the oil – so you have to pump it out laboriously.

Visiting the chandlery in the marina by dinghy, I tried to buy a smaller diameter piece of tube but the only option was to buy a complete new set of little brass pump with a thin piece of tube as a kit. Baaaah.

It took most of the morning to complete the oil change but it was satisfying to get it out of the way.  After lunch we changed the diesel fuel filters which is normally no problem but always lets air into the fuel system and diesels don’t like that.  We bled out the air using the Tremain method which involves using the dinghy inflation pump to pressure diesel through from the primary filter and the engine started and ran perfectly – and then stopped just as suddenly.  I had neglected to replace the bleed screw in the primary filter (where the dinghy pump was inserted) and the engine had drawn in a mighty gulp of air which took and age to purge through.  Its running well now, though, and I rounded off by cleaning the engine bay and sorting a drip leak from a water cooling hose.

Feeling the heat we fitted the canvas onto the Bimini frame and generated a little shade – I’ll post a picture - and then, as it was almost beer o clock, we took some cold cans over to Fishcake to see their boat.

The wind came back in strong overnight but we now have forty meters of chain out in five metres of water so it should hold us. 

On Friday we moved into the marina at Cascais so that we could do laundry, shopping, and meet Brian and Sascha who had travelled down Madrid via Santander, spending a few days in each place before travelling on to Lisbon and Cascais.  Chris and I did dinner on board after a few beers in town to give the new arrivals a flavour of the place.  The ‘flavour’ of Cascais was dominated by the preparations for Ironman 70.3 Portugal.  Loud music and over 5000 competitors and their supporters filled the town.

On Saturday the Ironman was in full swing with the thousands of competitors setting off on their 2.4 mile swim in the bay to an over the top and very loud hype on the public address system.  We took Scathach up the R. Tejo to see the waterfront sights of Lisbon which majored on monuments to the Portuguese navigators and their explorations.   The JOIDES Resolution drill ship was along-side in Lisbon; the ship is used by scientists at different times from universities all over the worlds to study geology by drilling cores in deep sea sediments.  Passing under the immense Ponte 25 de Avril suspension bridge, we turned down river and found a beach to anchor off for a swim and lunch; even Chris swam.

Returning to Cascais in the evening, Ironman competitors were completing their half marathon in a loop around the marina.   We ate ashore in an outdoor restaurant called Clandestina in a narrow pedestrian street as it was Chris’s last night on the boat,  took in some mellow jazz in a small club afterwards and runners were still finishing when we returned to the boat around midnight.  In the morning all the Ironman paraphernalia of barriers, cones and posters had been cleared away.

Tomorrow Sascha heads back to Plymouth and the day after Alison is arriving for the next leg of the voyage to Madeira.


Waterside buildings near Lisbon
The Ponte 25 de Avril over the River Tejo at Lisbon
 The monument to the Discoveries in Lisbon
Torre de Belem un Lisbon
Cabo Carvoeiro at the end of the Peniche  headland.
Sunset in the vast commercial harbour at Peniche