Fw: Sines 37:56 N 08:52 W

Conor & Marion Wall
Thu 23 Sep 2010 21:42
It was early morning, I was just about to pull out my computer to do some more writing of my blog when Marion called me from the forward cabin to help her with something. As we were in the cabin (no not what you think) I heard a banging noise that resembled someone knocking on the side of the boat when I remembered the loose halyard that bangs on the mast when the wind increases in strength to a certain speed. I went outside to fix the offending rope when I noticed that some of the other halyards were also loose and could also potentially bang on the mast and rigging. This can be very annoying if you are just about to fall asleep so I went to the cockpit to find some elastic ties to secure them all at the same time. When I reached the cockpit and began searching through my bits of elastic and string I remembered a job that I had been putting off for days. I thought I'd better do it now as it was more important than the noisy rigging. I opened the cockpit locker to find the rope that was going to be used to do this job but instead of taking the rope out of the locker to begin working on it, I left the locker lid open while I went below to get the rope cutter. Whilst down below in the cabin I noticed the cup of tea I had made earlier was getting cold so firstly I would make a fresh cup.Half way through boiling the kettle the gas ran out so off I went to the transom locker to change the bottle. On the way out there I closed the cockpit locker lid so that I would not fall into it on my way past. I have four gaz bottles that are usually full but on this occasion I had used up three of them and now had to dig out the fourth to set it up. (Must remember to fill the 3 empties). Having done all this I went back to the cabin to finish boiling the kettle. Whilst waiting for the kettle to boil I thought I would take the opportunity to sort out some charts for the next part of our voyage. I got a little carried away and started to sort the hundreds of charts that have been loaned to us by friends who have already been around the world in their own boats, to try to get them into order for when they will be needed. I had only just started when the kettle boiled so I made a fresh cup of tea. By now Marion had taken herself off to the shops and the day was slipping away. I continued like this for the rest of the day and sat down in the evening exhausted having worked really hard all day but actually getting nothing done.
Hopefully you will appreciate why it has been such a long time since I did my last blog, and for those of you who have been asking me to do more regular and short blogs instead of long ones, my sincere apologies.
Since we left Bayona in Spain where our last blog ended  we have visited only three ports in Portugal. Firstly we arrived in Povo de Varzim where Marion's sister joined us for a weeks holidays to hopefully spend on the beach. What a laugh, the day after she arrived the fog rolled in and did not clear properly for a whole week until the day she left. It was bad enough waking up each morning to fog but at the end of the pier there is installed an automatic fog horn that sounds like the air raid sirens that sounded during the London blitz. It was not so funny trying to get to sleep with that racket going on. Apparently this stretch of coast is notorious for fog at certain time of the year. To us it seemed that we had the years supply in one week.
Povo de Varzim marina is indeed an unusual place and when we last visited in 2001 in our previous Ovni 'Idle Spirit' it had just been built and I believe that we were one of the first boats to arrive in the new Marina. Marion reminded me that she was only the second person to have used the brand new washing machines in the laundrette. Not sure how she knew that but if Marion said it, it must be true. One of the same washing machines is still there, rusted to bits but still working perfectly. They don't make them like they used to! The marina is still in excellent shape and is now run by the local sailing club as apparently the local government authority made a mess of running it. As a result it is by far the cheapest Marina to stay in, in Portugal. We were charged just over £100 for ten nights stay and I believe that Derrick and Ali Thorrington only had to pay about £130 for a whole month. On the other hand the most me have paid for one night so far is £50.
We arrived in Povo de Varzim on Monday 16th August and tied up a few hatches away from 'Green Flash' (apparently to be renamed 'pink flash' as the local ex pat community living on their boats and using the cheap facilities of Povo de Varzim had talked of painting her warps pink. It seems that you are more likely to see a pink flash than a green flash). Anyway I took a photo of her and sent it to Derrick to reassure him that the gunnels were still above the waterline, if only just.
We had an interesting encounter in Povo de Varzime when we woke up one morning and discovered a boat two finger pontoons away. It was an Endurance 44 ketch called 'Cythere'. Marion and I first crossed the bay of Biscay on this very same boat nearly 20 years ago with my then brother in law Jacky who is French and lives in Loctudy, Brittany. He had sold her some years ago and she had been through a couple of new owners so no direct connection was there but the new owner was delighted to hear of our sailing exploits on his lovely boat. She still looked majestic after all these years.
Endurance 44 'Cythere'  & Derrick & Ali's boat 'Green Flash in Povo for a month
Stacy arrived on Tuesday 17th and we met her off the train which is only a short walk away. Herself and Marion took themselves off to the beach. Just as well they did go to the beach as the next morning was foggy as I have already mentioned above and all that day was foggy and the following day and the day after that until the day Stacy flew home. That turned out to be a glorious day.
The Town of Povo de Varzim is quite a large and rambling town with extremes of wealth from area to area. You still see women dressed completely in black and in traditional costumes, women pushing home made carts (perhaps coming or going to the market), men sitting in their small workshops repairing fishing nets etc. The area around the marina seems not to have changed much since our last visit in 2001. The small streets just off the sea front and behind the marina appear to be mostly fisherman's terraced houses although there was a feeling that the city money is beginning to move in. There were lots of small shops, often run from the front room of their homes with sometimes a strange mixture of goods on sale. Several bread shops, bar/cafe places etc. However the centre of the town has everything that any modern town would have. There is even an Aldi on the outskirts and within walking distance of the marina. You certainly don't get a feeling of much wealth being generated.
We kept hoping that the fog would lift so that the girls could get to the beach but it didn't so we hired a car and took off to see the Douro river and vineyards and found plenty of sunshine away from the coast.
The river Douro and part of the Sandyman Vineyard & The Douro as it passes Porto City & some of the boats that used to work the river
I never realised how mighty the river Duro is and must have been before they built the many dams to control the flow of water and create the reservoirs above each damn. The history of winemaking here goes back hundreds of years and is indeed one of the oldest wine making regions in the world. We managed to visit the Sandyman vineyard and had the guided tour of the vaults and wine/port making facilities.On the way up the Douro river we stopped at one of the mighty dams holding back the water to watch some boats going through the locks, locks that drop and rise by some 30 meters, quite amazing to see. On this occasion they had a collection of boats in the locks from large tourist boats full of tourists some private motor boats and even a group of canoeists.
The lock ready for the boats, notice the drop. We were told 30 meters. And still they are dropping, not for the faint hearted.
From Povo de Varzim there is a metro connection to Porto so another day was spent wandering the streets of Porto. I understand that Porto is a world heritage city and is certainly high on the list of must see places for a lot of people. It was very strange for us to walk around the heart of the city through some narrow winding hilly streets which look today like they must have looked 100 years ago with people living at very close quarters to each other in really old and beautiful buildings. If this city was in any other country, I'm sure that these winding streets would be full of restaurants, bars, shops etc but here there is a thriving community still hanging washing out to dry from their apartment windows and balconies where sometimes you could touch both sides of the street with outstretched hands, some in the strangest of settings. At one location near the mouth of the Douro and where the city begins we took photographs of ladies carrying washing on their heads to the communal wash area where everything was washed by hand in cold water before being hung out to dry.
Washing Clothes in Porto. Remember this is a modern city.
Stacy left on Tuesday 24th August taking the fog with her so it was now time to move on and get out of range of the fog horn before the fog rolled back in. We left early on Thursday 26th and sailed through the night arriving in Cascais on the evening of the 27th (our second port of call in Portugal) We had a good sail all the way down with the motor only going on for a few hours out of the 36 hours or so that it took us to complete the journey. The only little hiccup we had was approaching the Cabo de Roca (approximately 20 miles west of Lisbon) when the wind picked up from a steady 12-14 knots to over 30 knots in the course of about 5 minutes. We should have remembered from our previous trip around this cape that the wind here is bounced off the high cliffs to the north and funnelled and accelerated on to the Cape. So for about 20 minutes it was a roller coaster ride with full main and rolled in headsail doing over 9 knots with the wind from behind trying not to inadvertently gibe. We only needed to round the corner and to be in the lee of the land so we kept the full main rather than try to reef and all the hassle that goes with reefing. It worked out fine and as we rounded the corner the wind slowly dropped off and the seas became very gentle. We then had a lovely sail along this stretch of about 4 miles to Cascais with the wind coming off the land on a beam reach. We dropped anchor close to Cascais beach inside all the other boats that were anchored in the bay when the police boat arrived and told us that we would have to move by 2100 hours due to the fact that there was going to be a fire works display in the bay and they needed to clear the area. We considered going into the marina but once again remembered from our last visit how hot it can get in the confines of the marina so we decided to just sit it out and see if the police boat came back at 2100. Most of the rest of the anchored fleet moved down the coast about a mile away and anchored there but two or three of us stayed put. Very glad we did. At Midnight we were treated to the most spectacular display that I have ever seen. Fireworks of every shape and size being launched from platforms out in the bay and down wind of us, sometimes seemed like hundreds at the same time and continued for about 20 minutes. What a waste of money but how fantastic to see them. Marion slept through the whole show, sounds impossible but true. It had been a long couple of days. However she was not to miss out as the following night we had a repeat performance and again the ringside seat.
Me, Ann & Ian
We had fond memories of Cascais from our last visit but this time we would spend more time here to explore the surrounding area, including Lisbon. Firstly however I needed to see if a friend of ours was in the marina as he happened to be sailing in the area with friends. We found their boat but Ian had moved to a hotel in Lisbon with his wife Ann. Next morning, however, we met up with them and put the world to right catching up on all the news. In the meantime we met Colin and Lou from the river Exe in Devon, in another Ovni 435. Their boat, London Boat Show boat, was on the hard as there appeared to be some problem with his rudder. We are still awaiting the verdict on what the problem is and how it is going to be fixed. I'll keep you posted.
Hieronymites Monastery in Belem financed by a tax on the spices from India. Built 1500 and where Vasco de Gama is buried
From Cascais there is a train that runs to Lisbon ever 20 minutes or so and is just a hop, skip and a jump from the marina/anchorage. We managed to get two full days of exploring the city including the Belem area with it's museums and galleries. In particular Marion wanted to see the Andy Warhol collection that was on display at the Berardo Collection Museum close to the magnificent Maritime Museum and Belem Tower and many other attractions.
Built in early part of 16th century to protect the entrance to Lisbon & Monument to the Discoveries close to the Belem Tower
The city of Lisbon is very run down in places like all the towns and cities that we have visited in Portugal. On the other hand there are some amazing monuments, open spaces and beautiful old and new buildings. A real contrast between rich and poor that hits you as soon as you arrive near the city. To be honest we were a little disappointed with Lisbon. The only explanation is that we had not long before visited Porto and we were so impressed with that city that nothing else in Portugal would live up to it. However Lisbon has an awful lot to offer and we only scratched the surface with our two days. I would definitely like to return some day and spend more time exploring her many treasures. 
Altogether we spent 6 days in Cascais visiting Lisbon, Cabo the Rocha (the most Westerly point of Mainland Europe and the cause of our strong winds rounding Cabo Raso, a few miles further South), were treated to a spectacular fire works display and an evening of music and dancing at the last of the religious festivals of the year in Cascais, not to mention some glorious sunshine. On one of the days the temperature in Lisbon was 40 degrees. Unfortunately the sea temperature was still a very cold 17-18 degrees and I still had to force myself into the water. 
This photo of us taken from the other Ovni 435
Time to move on to our third port of call in Portugal, a place called Sines, a place that we had missed on our last sail along this coast so on the 3rd September we set off on the 50 mile hop along the coast in the company of two other boats, one the Ovni 435 owned by Colin and Lou and the other a boat called Morphius who's owners we had not yet met but would do so in Sines. It was rather nice sailing in company with an identical boat to our own. We arrived in Sins in daylight and time to spare and tied up next to 'Pelerim', the other Ovni and very close to 'Morphius'. Again it was nice with the two Ovnis side by side and a chance to compare and discuss issues with our respective boats. This turned out to be very lucky for me as during one of our conversations we talked about the gooseneck fitting that failed on my last ovni mid Atlantic and Colin mentioned a similar incident that he had on his 435. This prompted me to look again at my gooseneck fitting which I had check only a few days prior. Only to find that the major pin that holds it all together had slipped out of one of the support holes and would almost certainly have worked it's way out completely if not checked. The reason for this happening was the split pin had sheared from the friction and movement of the fitting. But when I had checked it a few days earlier all seemed to be in good shape. However as I discovered on close examination, only the top half of the split pin was in the hole and the rest had sheared off. I am amazed that the manufacturers of this first class spar company continue to make products that rely on a basic split pin to hold them together. I will be seeing to replacing this pin with a bolt and lock nuts at the first available opportunity.
The large pin that holds this together is not visible although split pin appears good. Viewed from the other side, the pin about to work it's way out.
Sines turned out to be an interesting place and the birthplace of Vasco de Gama, the great Portuguese Explorer & Navigator who was the first European to discover the sea route to India and beyond. As a result Portugal commanded the Indian ocean for over 100 years. There were not very many tourist attractions apart from the Castle near the centre of the town complete with a rather quaint museum of archaeology items and run on a shoe string. In contrast the new building in the centre of the town that housed the library and an art exhibition. This building has to be seen to be believed. The art was crap(!) but the building was certainly art. I won't begin to describe it as I really don't think I could do that justice but suffice to say I have never see a building quite like it with its long corridors, triangle shaped rooms, use of light, winding ramps, stairs etc etc.it was certainly an experience for me on how to waste money.
Next blog will be from the Algarve.