Viana do Castelo
Well settled in now. Got my ‘handle’(nickname) – Bear Lee Competent. I suppose I asked for it. Fabulous firework display in Baiona, late the night before we left. Didn’t think we’d behaved badly enough to merit that sort of celebration, but there you go.
Good weather deserted us the next day. Scheduling everything round the weather forecast makes for prudent sailing, but they must have asked Michael Fish back to do this one…
In the total absence of any wind whatsoever, we idled along au moteur at around 6 knots, expecting to enjoy the sunshine, when in short order, the sun disappeared and a 20 knot wind appeared ‘on the nose’ (the wind, not me). Quite soon we’re being sprayed like in those studio sets where they throw buckets of water over the actors to conjure up the imagery of a storm. Tea shirts quickly replaced by jumpers and leggings, we shivered our way to our next stop a mere 4 hours later.
It was almost miserable, but you have to take sailing in its totality, and use experiences like this against which to measure the good times. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many lobster pots. Extreme concentration was required to stop us becoming lobster food, but in a way, it didn’t give you time to worry about being cold. We have to admit to later taking reprisals against the crustacean community – disproportionate perhaps, but we felt justified.
There’s always a sense of achievement in arriving at a marina in sound mind and body, greatly enhanced this time by the majestic opening of the swing bridge solely in our honour, and the consequent blockade imposed on innocent local pedestrians. You can keep your Tower Bridge your Maj. – it’s just vulgar!
We walked into the strangely-deserted historic old city, eventually finding a picturesque little restaurant which immediately served up a tasty bean salad, followed by sardines in a sauce, blinis and olives. We politely scoffed the lot, then our meal proper (which was OK, but falls short of a blog description), washed down with Vinho Verde – what else?
Tired out, we came back to the boat and turned in. Next morning we realised that Portuguese time is actually 1hr behind Spanish (i.e. same as UK now), which is why the town was deserted.
Wednesday(1/8/12) was cold (fleecies and trousers again + brolly), and although it marred our enjoyment of the magnificent funicular railway leading to “The Monumental Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus” in Santa Lucia just a tiny bit, it would have totally screwed the sailing, especially with all those fishing pots.
Resigned to an afternoon of enforced indolence, we piled into the café, again to be presented with an array of starters that would serve as a meal in their own right. We opened all the little pots of crab pate, cheese spread etc, which, the decent-sized lump of cheese apart, were quite unremarkable, then went on to enjoy the set tourist menu, complete with wine, all of which was excellent. We had already grown accustomed to ‘a conta’ being embarrassingly low, and were not disappointed. Especially when we noticed that it included a few Euros for the starters. Second mystery solved! I remembered that in Portugal the first course is pay-as-you-go. So, “Do not touch unless you intend to buy!”
Next blog will tell you about the spiral staircase from hell, and how easily 2 hours vanishes when an internet famine becomes a feast.
Bear Lee Competent, I suppose.
Just to add an explanation of the depth gauge in the photo.
There is a brief note in the pilot book that mentions in passing that one boat several years back, at the lowest tide for a while briefly touched the bottom.
Nothing particularly worrying in that.
We came in at a not- particularly- low tide ( half way between springs and neaps) and moored up. The depth gauge went down, and down and down and then we stopped floating.
It seemed we were stuck in mud…fortunately lots of it and very deep. So we didn’t topple over.
Had a couple of anxious moments with the following tides which were even lower but the mud held us fast and upright and now we are floating and about to leave…another fine mess we survived…..