From Porto to Lisbon, Seixal 38:40N 09:06.7W

SV Jenny
Alan Franklin/Lynne Gane
Wed 17 Sep 2014 12:58
Dear Family and Friends,

Limited comms have plagued us during the last eventful week. If we anchor out there isn’t any wifi, our on board system is not currently working very well, if we are in a marina, their signal is often poor and used by other yachts, with a weak signal it often disconnects, so we are mainly using bars with their wifi. We are investigating other systems and will be talking to our current provider when we return to the Uk in second half of November. Needless to say trying to talk to them is also difficult.

We are currently here in Seixal, a tidal basin off the main Tejo river, Lisbon. It is somewhat exposed to the strong winds we experienced yesterday, not to mention driving rain! Once on a mooring buoy in the lagoon it is secure, although picking up the mooring lines itself would have been tricky in strong winds with the tide against wind, (read choppy,) had not our co-ralliers Gavin and Georgie very kindly come over in their dingy and taken our lines. To give you a picture of this, imagine shallows behind us, so no going back, we turn into the choppy water, trying to position the boat close to the mooring buoy, whilst the wind and tide is blowing us off course, then holding position you have to hook up the mooring buoy some 5’ or more below you, so you can attach your lines, overrun your mark and you have boats moored either side of you, thank goodness Alan is so experienced and we had G and G’s help.

We are here to have the boat lifted out, tomorrow. She needs to have some sacrificial anodes fitted to the hull. Scratching your heads! Well these are semi disposable items renewed on a regular basis to stop the erosion of the stainless steel, (lower cathodic value or something!) We also need to maintain the copper coat, antifouling hull treatment. Most worrying is the gearbox clattering which has got worse especially in low revs, so the boat yard will look at this but Alan is concerned that it may not last until we return home in mid November when we could pick up parts, and that we should try to buy a new one sooner, so more investigations here.

Our journey to here has been interesting, in that understated British way! Leaving Porto after a wonderful 10 days we headed south sailing when we could but motoring more than we wished as the winds were from the south. The coastline changes after Porto, granite cliffs giving way to low sandy bluffs and wide expanses of sand dunes. Our next port of call was Ria of Aveiro, an extensive tidal inland water way. With a narrow entrance the tides are wicked, so much water trying to get in or out, we experienced flows of 4-5 knots against us, add to this an Atlantic swell, a 1m standing wave at the harbour entrance. Getting in was tricky and rather like a bucking bronco fair ground ride, quite ‘interesting’ for about 5 minutes until we had passed into the shelter of the harbour. We anchored in a small fishing harbour. The highlight of our stay was a ferry and bus trip to Aveiro itself. The small picturesque centre has canals and Venetian style gondolas, a wander around the old streets is pleasant although the newer shopping complexes are a Portuguese economic barometer with even McDonalds closed. In the many tourist shops there was a local product called Ovos (eggs,) de Aveiro, these seemed to be moulded shapes, in a white food material similar in appearance to sherbet filled shapes we had as kids, ( please rescue me someone and tell me you have some idea of what I am talking about!)

We timed our exit from Aveiro with care! At slack low water we had an easy passage out of the harbour and sailed/motored onto Figueira da Foz. It is a large port, with plenty of commercial shipping, sandy beaches stretching away on either side, but itself uninspiring development of the sixties and seventies, although we found out that it does have the oldest university in Portugal and a renown library.

Moving on again we spent 2 nights at our next stop of Nazare, a much smaller but all weather harbour. The previous 2 harbours have considerable precautions on entering and can be closed in adverse weather conditions, Nazarre is open in most conditions so it is no surprise that it has a busy fish warehouse on the quay, right next to the visitor berths. This is in operation through to the early hours of the morning, it must be wonderful to be able to sleep through all the noise, Alan seems to have no problem! The rally spirit is wonderful and co-ralliers Anne and Jonathon kindly volunteered to do our washing in their on board facilties, (what luxury!) and entertain us.

Plagued with a hip problem at the moment we walked the 2km to town rather than ride our bikes. The wonderful sandy beaches have colourful striped beach tents, the pavements street sellers, dressed in traditional clothing, selling all the usual jewellery, bags, clothes and some interesting snacks. These are dried fruits and nuts and some golden coloured broad beans type seeds, not sure what they taste like but we have seen them frequently in markets. We caught the funicular rail to the higher town sitting atop a high cliff and visited the Sanctuary of Nazare, together with a body of clerics and tourists. Dodging the rain we ate in a restaurant on the cliff edge and had probably one of the worst and most expensive meals we have encountered in Portugal! The cuisine we have found is often grilled meat or fish, some fisherman’s stew and tomato, rice and fish dishes. The fish is of course fresh and is probably best served simply, just a little uninspiring. The pastry shops look more interesting, we have had enormous Mille feuille filled with Italian merginue 4” deep, tarts filled with cinnamon flavoured squash, Portuguese egg tarts, almond tarts, walnut sponge, (which was lovely,) and Madeira cake. This last is not at all the English version, a solid, very dark cake tasting of ginger, spices and molasses sugar, very sustaining but more of that later!

The coast line becomes more rocky as you approach Nazare, but it is the seabed that is of greater interest. Close to the shore and harbour lies a deep canyon some 1200m deep. Local tidal streams, Atlantic swell and the effect of the canyon make this the site of enormous waves and a magnet for surfers. Just recently, (and mentioned in dispatches,) there was a wave over 30 metres high, photos to follow, the highest ever recorded, towering over the castle on the cliffs at Nazare, captured in a photo is a surfer on this wave, unbelievable! Another awesome feature of the seabed is a some miles out to sea, the seabed drops very steeply from around 100m to over 1000m in a little more than a mile or two, a veritable cliff.

Charmingly we were joined briefly by a tiny bird, a yellow Hammer we think, not more than 7-8cm from beak to tail, who rested on our rails for a while, recovering from the buffeting winds before taking off again, somewhat like the earliest aircraft footage, where you are not at all sure liftoff will be achieved! More dolphins too, they always make our day!

I had better make this part 1 of the journey as the battery is getting low! We are not connected to shore power here.

More soon, all our best wishes to you,

Lynne and Alan