Vilana do Castelo to Porto

Fri 7 Oct 2022 21:20

Vilana do Castelo to Porto

Friday 7 October

41 08.5 N    008 41.0 W

Instead of entering the Douro River in the evening, we anchored in the nearby harbour of Leixoes overnight on the evening of Tuesday 4 Oct.  ‘X’s are ‘sh’ sounds in Portuguese so the name is pronounced more like Layshonise, (yes there is an ‘n’ in there) and that was fine but the anchorage was heavily dredged and depths decreased cliff-like from 16m to 5m which was an anchoring dilemma for me: anchored in 5m water we laid the recommended scope of 20m chain, we then lay back into 16m water;  what do we do now?  I had to draw a diagram to visualise what the catenary (sag) in the chain would look like and then let out 45m – not strictly enough for 16m water depth but maybe a compromise and, as they say, chain is no use in the locker.  As it was, the wind died away to nothing and we could have anchored using the sounding lead line.

In the morning we motored to Porto from Leixoes, which was about three miles and then up the Douro River as far as the Dom Luiz I bridge, where the lower span wasn’t high enough for us to get under, but still gave us fabulous views of the city.  Following this we took a berth in the Marina Douro back downriver.  All very good but the marina was on the opposite side of the river and about 3km from Porto on the north bank. However, all the port warehouses are on the south side and after a barbeque lunch of sardines and meat/seafood skewers, we set off to try some Port on the terrace of the Graham’s Port establishment sharing a table with a Danish couple.  He was in the business of exporting Greenland- caught Cod to Spain and Portugal. Cod is still a big part of the Portuguese cuisine, but they don’t have any of their own and the Grand Banks off Newfoundland were fished out.

     A fortified wine, a harbour, the left-hand side of a river, the second city of Portugal?

We then walked into Porto which was very busy (I mean shoulder to shoulder busy) – Wednesday 5 Oct is a public holiday for Independence Day, plus Porto is a very popular tourist destination and, on top of that, it was the time of day when every Portuguese couple walk out and about to take the air and be seen, and bars on every street were buzzing.  Anyway, we joined in and with some sight-seeing got back to the boat late.

The following day with a combination of taxi and metro, we got ourselves to Sao Bento station again and eventually bought tickets for the Douro Valley line as far as Regua – fortunately we got some help buying metro tickets from machines from young people who took pity on us. The first part of the journey through urban Porto was typical of any city – lots of graffiti – and rural Portugal was interesting but the run along the banks of the steep river gorge looking down on the river was spectacular.  Vineyards covered both sides and individual wineries such as Sandeman’s and Grahams, had their names signed large.  A brief lunch stop in a café-bar close to the station was enjoyed and then back on the train for the return trip. We got off at another station in Porto where Phil departed on the metro to the airport. We will miss his sage advice and experience gleaned from cruising these waters.

On the way back to the marina, Chris and I walked across the impressive high span of the Dom Luiz I bridge allowing some spectacular views across Porto.  The bridge pathway was shared with metro trains crossing to the marina side of the river known as Gaia.  We had dinner on board and opted for an early night in preparation for an 0630 departure the next day and the sixty miles to Figueira da Foz. 

We are now motoring down the coast from Porto towards Figueira da Foz in no wind and visibility ranging from half a mile to half a boat.  Fortunately, most of the traffic are fishing boats who are not moving very fast although their movements can be a bit random, and we have AIS and RADAR, and the sun might be beginning to peep through at 1130 am.

Post script: we never saw any sun all day and arrived in Figueira just as it was getting dark and the marina staff had gone home. 

Good night all.

Tony and Chris.

Sailing up the Douro River following one of the barges that used to bring wine down the river.
The Dom Luiz I bridge at night
The sun setting on a great few weeks so far.
View from the high span of the Dom Luiz bridge
The Douro River from the train to Regua.
A quick about-turn at the highest point of navigation for us.
Fish restaurant barbeque
Port tasting