episode 4

Thu 17 Aug 2006 21:04
Hello again from the good ship Thisbe, alongside in a place called Nazair.
Portugal. Very strong smell of fish at all times and a pretty ropey old do
all around is first impression. Fairly formal though, customs and all that.
Nice little fly blown food emporium, Luis, quaint and welcoming, great wine
at one euro a glass too.
First a little bit about the boat. She is a 1971 Nicholson 32. Mark 8. Quite
well preserved for her year so still looks quite pretty. I have replaced all
the standing rigging and most of the running. A new Beta Marine 28 engine,
prop and shaft, installed winter 2005. (1.6 liters an hour average under all
conditions) Old manual windlass replaced with new electric 1000w. Rebuilt
instrument panel. Extensive sort out of the electrics. Calorifier added. New
DSC VHF radio. Navtex. AIS. Guardrails replaced. Aries windvane added. New
pipework in the heads. Second manual bilgepump added. New music system. New
sprayhood. Many small replacements too numerous to mention. She sports a
Cruise and Roll inboom reefing system. Twin poles for twistle rig. Planning
to do the ARC 2006. Commencing Las Palmas November.

So much has happened in the last few days that I am losing the thread a bit.
We left off episode 3 as we departed Bayona for Poava De Varzim. Sat for an
hour before we left and put in the waypoints which would take us all the way
to the door. It is always a temptation when the sun is shining, to gooff a
bit unprepared, not a good idea as we have
discovered the hard way. What a difference a day makes. Once the harbour
entrance had been negotiated, very rocky and needing a bit of care, we
punched out through the big swell that had built up during the
many days the Nor Easterly had been blowing. Strange how ones perception
changes, only a few short weeks ago, putting to sea past St Anthony in a
swell like that would have probably ended with lunch in St Mawes as the
better option. Now we were taking photographs, making tea, and securing
everything for sea without giving it a second thought, seemed like small
potatoes after all that had gone before. The idea was to cruise along the
coast and enjoy the spectacular scenery but we had to partly revise that
plan in the first five miles. The effect of the mountains does very strange
things to the wind and it was becoming quite hard work to keep her sailing
in a straight line. We headed further out to sea and from about two miles
offshore it all settled down.
What a rare treat we were in for, put me in mind of the old time sailors
when they first experienced tradewind sailing in the tropics. A breeze to
kind of waft you along but still feeling as though you are making progress.
The sun glorious but not burning, protected on our halcyon way by mists
drifting down from the startling mountains. Alex plays the harmonica very
well along with all his other instruments, and is practising playing in d
minor on a c harp (dont ask), so the talk and the music was sailors
hornpipe. We didnt exactly do any prancing around like they used to, but we
did do a few moves, you know, kinda cool. He reckons we were feeling so good
because of the special cereal concoction
he had prepared for breakfast, says we should patent it and give a free
harmonica with every packet so people could hornpipe at will.
We spent some of the time doing ship jobs and cooking, but the rest was
spent just lolling on the deck, or wandering around enjoying the feeling of
not being trussed up in safety gear. A truly beautiful part of the world
that we had never experienced . The mountains slowly gave way to slightly
lower ground after we had passed the mouth of the Rio Mino, the dividing
line between Spain and Portugal. Wonderful sandy beaches overlooked by very
picturesque looking villages and towns, the difference between the two
countries is subtle, but noticeable. We even put out a fishing line but
I secretly hoped we would not catch anything. We didnt. As the day
progressed the wind became very floppy and we decided that more effort was
needed if we were to arrive before dark. So, mainasail on the preventer, and
poled out genny pushed up the speed as we settled in to getting the job
done. All along the Portuguese coast are towns that look newly built, great
high rise buildings the seem to grow out of the sand from our perspective,
it seemed a little incongruous to us, coming from a place where the planning
authority would not allow it in a million years, (so far)
Povoa deVarzim is one such place, which was our destination. It had been
to us as a stopping off place and it worked in nicely with the plan. To get
to Lisbon by Friday 18th to pick up Sue for our onward trip to the Canaries.
By now the wind had all but died completely, and we were using the engine.
Huge following seas pushed us
quickly on and we soon found the breakwater and the entrance to the harbour,
with the aid of our good but expensive pilot book. Nice little harbour with
the marina complex still under construction. After completing the paperwork
we set off to explore the town. We had read somewhere that a festival of the
sea was taking place so the place was popping. Crowds of people parading
around an area of about two square miles. The evening was very balmy and
even very young children were still out and about. I was particularly taken
with the rows of small fountains rising out of a long pool beside a kind of
tiled promenade which stretched for about a mile along the sea front. Flocks
of seabirds were flapping about in the fresh water for
all the world as though it was all done for their convenience. People
dressed up, and rows of bookstalls in a kind of semipermanent outdoormarket.
And everyone speaking Portuguese. Whatever next. ('Dos goblo du vino tinto
senor, obligado', its easy.
Back on the ship after a meal ashore and a wander around taking in the
sights, we planned the next stage of the journey. The distances between the
yacht friendly ports is a bit awkward if you want to avoid the dreaded night
approach, so we decided that a big jump of 100 miles involving an
overnighter was our
only option. Plan was to depart about two to arrive at Nazaire about 12. It
certainly puts you in your place when you get talking to people on the
marina. As we were preparing to leave the following morning we met some very
hardy types who's voyages made ours look like an afternoon on the boating
lake. A man on a beautiful 35 foot American boat, alone ! another man in a
hurry to get to Panama before the new Chineese controllers of the canal put
the price up to 1500 dollars, he is on his way to Fiji in the Pacific.
Alone! Other boats dotted around the marina, some with children on board
going to anywhere that takes their fancy. It's a subculture of activity that
some people dont even know exists. Very humbling. I hang on their every word
get crumbs of knowhow that they all take for granted. Anyway, everyone has
to start from somewhere, I'll be wearing an earring yet ! Any advice anyone
can give us on obtaining weather forcasts abroad please send to
thisbe {CHANGE TO AT} mailasail {DOT} com I'm hopeless. Set off as planned and had an uneventful
made very good time and arrived Nazaire about 8 am. 105 miles. The only
problems being fishing boats all over the place all night so maximum
concentration so as not to pass behind them and foul the gear. Nazair marina
is run by an Englishman named Mike Hadley who informed me that he is God
hereabouts, he also remarked that my flag arrangements left a lot to be
desired, (Cornish flag flown above the Portuguese courtesy flag, seems they
shouldn't even be on the same halyard ) stuff like that. I was glad I curbed
my acid tounge as he sweetened up afterwards and has kindly gone out of his
way to help us
with the weather etc. The wind has gone around to the S/W and blowing. He is
saying dont go, with the benefit of local knowledge. We were tempted to go
anyway, I think finding our sea legs is making us a bit cocky. We had a look
from the seafront and were glad we had taken his advice, the Atlantic swell
is very impressive.
I suspect the famous old sailors from this coast
would have thumbed their nose at our caution. But better to be safe etc.
With best wishes from the captain and crew of the good ship Thisbe. Manny.