Figueira Da Foz via Nazare

Zipadedoda of Dart
David H Kerr
Wed 26 Jul 2006 13:48

Figueira Da Foz via Nazare


What a funny trip this one turned out to be!


Our plan had been to get onto the fuel pontoon in Cascais first thing in the morning, so that once the office opened for business at 0900 we could check out then get fuel and go on our way rejoicing. Best laid plans………………….


Left our berth at around 0845, to find a French yacht parked right in the middle of the fuel pontoon (were you can easily get two yachts normally), and to make matters worse the reception pontoon was also full and the wind was blowing hard…off the pontoons. The French yacht realised the error of his ways and after some time managed to move his boat forward by hand, giving us just enough room to get onto the pontoon.


The office duly opened at 0900 and we completed formalities efficiently and quickly. However the man in charge of the fuel pontoon has slept in so we were not able to start re-fuelling until just before 1000. Got away eventually, fully fuelled up for another fun day, motoring into the prevailing winds.


Crew and I had a team talk and decided we could not face another visit to Peniche after our last visit where we had such a bad experience with the trawlers. So I scrutinised the pilot books and came up with the idea of stopping off for one night in Nazare before carrying onto Figueira Da Foz to replenish stores at the open market here.


Nazare claims to be the only all weather port on the whole of the Portuguese Atlantic coast. It has very deep water right up to the entrance. Once inside there is a small marina only for local yachts and a huge commercial fish dock and market. Adjacent to this is Nazare marina. It is tiny, with a capacity for around 50 yachts. The setting for the port is all 1960’s style buildings. Lots off them. It is very big but also very sad looking and definitely lacking TLC. The sort of place you would have expected to find in a Soviet Russian port in the 80’.


The pilot books advise you go onto the centre hammerhead out of the three pontoons that run in parallel from the shore. The centre pontoon was blocked off by ropes and semi-derelict rowing boats. Every where else was full. As we were circling around a French catamaran was also looking for a slot. As luck would have it there was a Nicholson 39, with a Northern Ireland family on the west hammerhead. They told us the marina was closed! But then offered to take our lines and let us come along side them for the night.  They had four young children on board. It turns out that this was the family to whom Seaquel donated all their funny hats to in Lagos. Small world.


Within 5 minutes of arriving, a policeman cum soldier arrived and instructed me to “follow him” and bring along all the ships papers and passports. I discovered during the walk to the large official looking (but run down) building, that he spoke little or no English, other than to “follow me”. If a film had been made of us trying to communicate I suspect I might have been sectioned!


Once into the “barracks” there were what seemed like dozens of soldiers and police men, all sitting around looking bored. It took some 10 minutes to find the chap in charge, who spoke good English. He then set about filling in all the various triplicate. The only time he switched on a computer was to check the date! By this time I was having to bite my lip to stop myself giggling. It was like being in a Bond movie send up.


Once this process was completed I asked the chap about an access code or key to get back through the security gate to the pontoon. I was informed that was nothing to do with him, and I would have to walk to the main port security building some 1 km away to get that! Great, well I needed some exercise anyway. Once there, the guy at the gatehouse speaks no English, but insists that we go through the whole process of filling out the forms once again. This was definitely turning into a farce. Still I managed to keep my sense of humour going, until that is he insisted on me “depositing either the ships papers or a passport as security”. So I did the decent thing and gave him Jennie’s passport. Crew was not amused!!


Finally made it back to the boat after around a one hour marathon, where upon Jennie served up a delicious meal. We then had one of the best nights sleep we have had for quite a while.


The fun continued the next morning. At 0800 we were awoken by a buglelor sounding reveille. I could not believe my ears. Was this really happening? Then at 0845 there was a loud banging on the hull of the boat. I had just got out of the shower and crew was indisposed. So I popped by head through the hatch to be greeted by a very stern looking chap who in perfect English, albeit with a stammer, announce that he was the Harbour Master, and the  harbour was closed to yachts. Furthermore the pontoons were unsafe and we were putting ourselves in danger by being there. I said. “Good morning!


He went onto explain that the ground tackle securing the pontoons was rotten and that the whole lot could move off at any time. I dryly observed there were rather a lot of quite large boats that appeared to be permanently moored there, and had been for some time The conversation went down hill form there. I was then asked to leave, (once formalities were completed) immediately. Not without the crew’s passport, mate.  More than my life’s worth you know………………………..


So I trotted off back to the guard house, more exercise, to be told that the passport was no longer there, but in the marina office. I had to pay them the berthing fee before I could have the passport back. I then trotted off to the other end of the port to cough up the Euros’ 31 (for a closed marina with no faculties), to be given someone else’s passport. I did not think the crew would see the funny side of that, so held out for the correct passport. Much shuffling of paper later we got the passport. As we were leaving I had the pleasure of bumping into the (British) harbour master. This time he was a little more relaxed and explained how he had been waiting for months for the Portuguese local government to repair the pontoons and also to sort out the fuelling situation. He went on to explain that due to some dispute or another they could no longer “bunker” large boats in the port. This was particularly embarrassing for him as the Training ship TS Royalist had come in that morning low on fuel, because they had been turned away from Peniche. The matter has apparently been referred to the British consulate. Boy what an experience of Portuguese beaurocracy that was.


The trip to Figueira da Foz was once again all motoring, but on a flat sea and a beautiful sunny day.


More fun with immigration this time. I was questioned extensively about why I have so many Arabic stamps in my passport. I think the problem is that these guys are just bored and need some entertainment. I certainly now fully appreciate what a wonderful job WCC did in organising Rally Portugal and “smoothing” all the processes. We also now miss all the help we had with mooring up. We had to get Zipadedoda (all 14.75 metres of her), onto a 4 metre finger pontoon, in a 20 knot breeze on our stern quarter.

The crew certainly earned her keep last night I can tell you!! Never seen her run around so quickly or pull so many strings. Be calling her wonder woman next……………………………………….



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