Bayona to Pavoa de Varzim and on to Porto

Sat 14 Jun 2014 13:07
40:55.2N 008:44.3W  Is the spot we have just passed as we motor, without wind towards  Figueira da Foz at 6 knots and in thick fog. Rob is on watch and has just spotted some weary racing pigeons, sitting exhausted on the water.
Our departure time this morning was in doubt as we couldn’t even see the other side of the river. Andrew decided on a review meeting at 11.00 as the fog extended all the way down the coast where we are going. Five minutes later the fog cleared in the harbour and we were ready for the off. A strong last two hours of the ebbing tide meant we had to motor astern firmly against it and one yacht did have a problem , impaling itself on the bow sprit of a gulet type tourist boat.
Going back a little, we left Bayona on the 11th after a constructive day spent with the engineers aboard for the morning emptying the fuel tank of 250 litres fuel including a lot of the muck that had been loosened and agitated in the Biscay gale. It even blocked their pump at one stage. Most of the solids collected by hand we flakes of white paint. When Rob took some photos inside the empty tank it revealed the tank itself had once been painted and there is just a small area left covered in paint. So we have emailed Oyster with a few questions.
The sail from Bayona to Pavoa de Varzim was lovely, flying chutes all around us including our blue one which we have been told glistens. As soon as we turned a little to head for the port we downed the chute and goosewinged the genoa out on a pole on the opposite side to the main, losing only half a knot in speed by doing so. A small whale with a white belly passed close alongside.
The boatyard at Povoa is a real graveyard of restorations projects with hulls of different materials keeping their stories of life on the high sea a secret from us. On our search for teabags and fruit we passed a lady shopkeeper sweeping crumbs onto the street for a grateful pigeon, and in a shady square an old lady wearing a pale purple straw top hat sat on a bench knitting. We voyeurs supped expresso and watched the early morning pass.
A later start for us all as its only 12 miles to Porto and another lovely sail with the blue chute doing its work. The marina in Porto is only two years old built alongside a very sandy river Duoro. It reminded me of Cowes/East Cowes, the latter being the poor neighbour of the former. Hopefully the marina is bringing wealth into the locals’ pockets. The buildings in the marina are impressive, big white blocks.
We had a lovely, social meal on arrival surrounded by pristine white walls in contrast to the blue vista all day.
Our one day in Porto was a delight. We climbed the steep hill to the Continente Mall to victual up with beer and spirits as we were hosting  pre-dinner and in the afternoon went on a tuk tuk tour around the area on both sides of the River Duoro. The bridges are architecturally amazing and the effect of terracotta topped buildings covering all the steep hillsides is very attractive. Lots of the old style wooden boats with their high bows and long steering oars over the stern are still used on the river, now for tourism. They used to be used for bringing the barrels of fermented port from the vineyards to be stored and aged for years ready for export. At Churchills the tuk tuks came grinding to a halt so we could enjoy our tasting of the White Port, Ruby and Tawny Port.
After drinks on board and farewells to Ian and Steve, our Biscay veteran friends from Ca Canny, and having shown around Zac from the other Oyster 406, Nikita, we made ready to go for some supper. Zac gave us a really good tip, in the V of the forecabin, Nikita has locker doors on the vertical sides of the V so they don’t to lift the bed mattresses to access the locker, thanks Zac!