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Date: 29 Aug 2014 17:10:24
Title: Viano Do Castelo 41:41.68N, 08:49.21W to Povoa De Varzim, 41:22.2N, 08:46.0W

Dear Family and Friends,

This is a catchup email as I have been neglecting my writing! If there is one thing you can say of this coast line it is consistently misty and over this week we have been sailing, entering and leaving ports in visibility that is at best maybe unto 2 miles, which may sound enough but we have to be further off shore to avoid local hazards and to keep up the sailing angle, so you can see absolutely nothing!. We have had a boat length visibility as we were leaving Viano Do Castello, shallows, rocks, tricky dogleg channel and Atlantic swell to make things more interesting as we leave the lee of the last mole (sea wall.) Thank goodness for pilotage books and the GPS. We searched the foggy depths as if searching for an oasis in the desert, straining for any noise or sight and the inevitable fishing pots. Leaving V Do C we were conscious that this is a fishing port and the boats come in and out a a far speed, as it is we passed within 20m of a small boat and we could barely make it out. Much more of a problem are the fishing pots especially in low/no visibility, as they are often marked in colours that are hard to see like blue and black, or with flags so short that you completely miss them in the swell, that is until you are very close, when we rush to the auothelm to change course as getting tangled in the lines would certainly spoil our day! We have a cutter on the prop but would rather avoid them! White on the other hand shows up well in fog so we are hoping our sails do too.

Some of our sailing friends have said that Portugal has some of the biggest waves ever recorded, around 80’, so when I tell you that the swell we are experiencing is relatively benign, at 9’/3m. Like the Biscay crossing, if we are running before the swell and it is lifting our stern and pushing us forward on a wall of water, it is reasonably comfortable, if you have it on your stern quarters it can be more of a roll, and not recommended for those of sickly disposition! Winds have often been light so even more of a roll, oh joy. As I write this is the case although we have also had some good sailing winds, sailing I am told is sometimes about surviving the rest for those all too rare moments of pure joy!

We are trying our hand at fishing, but the fish will have to be quite fit as we have been sailing between 4-6 knots, so far no joy, wonder why! Thanks to Janet for your note on the fish pictured, you have confirmed my thoughts, they are plentiful in marinas and rivers for a reason! I can’t imaging the Spanish and Portuguese leaving them if they were any good.

We entered Portugal on Monday, crossing the seaward border as we passed the entrance to the river Mino, sadly a bit shallow for our exploration with shifting sand banks. So our port of entry was V Do C where we had to ensure we had correct paperwork. Portugal unlike Spain, can be hot on this and the fines can be steep. We were warned to go and pay light fees as soon as we could, I should imagine that these will never be asked for now, but the fine is about 300E for not having done so, so at 3E it was worth finding the Capitainerie, waiting 30 mins for the leisurely paperwork to be completed, after all we didn’t have anything else to do and it was foggy again! Making our printer work was harder! You know how you always wish you done the printing when you had it working last time…….having won the battle eventually we went for a walk!

We are beginning to see many similarities between places, they often have forts built seemingly on the same blueprint, back in the 15th-16th centuries, hexagonal with round and enclosed small turrets with firing slits, built on solid rock, close to the shore. The old town of closely built and quite narrow houses crowd the cart width cobbled lanes, before emerging into the 19thC wider avenues. Wealth was definitely in the width with grander houses being are finished with carved granite, coats of arms, a status symbol. A personal chapel and you had really made it!

There are public squares, wide sea front promenades, and many celebrations during the month of August. These are usually religious and the saints are carried through the streets on palasses (spell check doesn’t like this spelling!) with marching bands and traditional costumes. Having walked the tour of the old town, we headed to the costume museum, which I found fascinating. We met another sailing couple there kicking their heels on a misty day, with 2 men badly in need of a man creche! Josh it had an interesting section on working gold jewellery. I learnt that different carats of gold have a defined % of gold and then specified amounts of other metals like copper, was it tin or silver? You will no doubt find out when you start your course, which we are so pleased you have had confirmed.V Do C is a renewed centre for jewellery working I have some pictures of their characteristic shaped pendants, you will also see it in the street decorations.

There was a funicular rail to the top of the hill overlooking the town, but since the tops of the buildings were lost in the mists, we didn’t bother with this.

Moving on to Povoa de Varzim, the town is under going development around the outskirts so it is very much one strip between this town and the next along the coast. It looks to be mainly apartments, not sure about the planning laws out here, Tunbridge Wells planning department, with whom we have had some experience of planning (!!!) would have a fit. The coast is both sandy and rocky here, yesterday the waves pounded onto the beaches making swimming completely out of the question. There was a temporary city of colourful umbrellas, sheltering families from the wind and heat. Yes folks its official I have been warm here! It is noticeably warmer than NW Spain whose climate is a comfortable temperature much like the UK, maybe more reliably sunny. Here it is most definitely hot, though not at sea, so coming into port, I am always overdressed and at my busiest putting fenders out, getting the ropes on shore.

The town itself is short of charm, a few historic buildings and churches, the cakes shops on the other hand are wonderful, I must take some photos to show you! There no mention of food until now!

Yesterday, we cycled to the next town of Vila De Conde, which was charming and a renowned centre for lace making, so guess what we went to the museum, (poor Alan!) There was a lace maker actually making the lace, it is amazing to watch them shuffling the bobbins at quite a pace. The paper pattern is beneath their work, but how they know which bobbin is which, given that there may be over 20, is beyond me!

Today, (at last I have caught up!) we have slowly rocking our way to Oporto, a definite must see place. Our next rally starts here on Monday, but an extra few days will be good to see more of the city, especially the port bodegas, (the drink!). We were visited by more dolphins earlier, and again I failed miserably to capture them on the camera, its that second or so between seeing them and pressing the shutter. Never mind it is always a delight to see them.

I will do photos in a separate blog as I have to process them.

All our best, Lynne and Alan

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