Porto to Figuera da Foz then Peniche

Thu 19 Jun 2014 10:11
We are now in position 39:12.08N09:26.81W on route to Oreiras but let’s catch up.
Back in Porto we awoke to the second day of thick fog and that day it mattered because we needed to set off once more to keep up with the schedule. Andrew postponed  the start for two hours, but no sooner had he done so than we could see the harbour entrance. So within a few minutes we were all ready for the off. As Porto dumps raw sewage into the River we were aware of the need to disinfect our hands after stowing the lines. Well, I was busy casting off when I smelt this awful stench and saw brown liquid pouring from the black water tank. Oops it wasn’t just Portuguese poo we were dealing with. The gauge on the tank doesn’t work so we didn’t know how full it was, now we did!
The day was spent passing through banks of fog and Really enjoying the radar and its special eyes. Rob noticed some exhausted racing pigeons, sitting on the water. With their non webbed feet we couldn’t imagine how they would be able to take off. One had already expired with its head hanging down in the water. A more fortunate one landed on one of the other boats, so lets hope the rest means it could make it to dry land.
From Figuera we went on a coach trip to the old Portuguese capital Coimbra, which has had a university for centuries. On the way we stopped for coffee and amazing pastries and cakes at an enterprising road side cafe amidst tall eucalyptus trees. The day was hotting up and by the time we got to Coimbra the temperature was 34 degrees under clear blue skies. We lingered in the cool of the library at the university, surrounded by books dating back to the 16th century and all on public loan. Fortunately our coach had driven us up the hill, now all we had to do was wander back down the narrow, cobbled streets and find a little cafe for a light lunch, and this we did.
On the way back home we meandered around Montemor-o-Velho castle where the pretty tree dotted grounds and tranquil atmosphere belied the bitter interfaith struggle between Moors and Christians to which the castle has borne witness.
The day before yesterday, the 17th June was a real curates egg of progress from Figuera to Peniche. Wind on the nose and light once more. So we made a long tack out to sea and had some reasonable sailing then, dodging lobster pots all the way, many in over 100mtrs depth. At least there was no fog. A night time landfall on the Portuguese coast must be very dodgy.
Approaching Peniche reminded me of Portland with its high rock overlooking the ocean and sand bank that was once absent making the outcrop a true island. As we rounded the headland fishermen waited patiently for that tug on the line. We crossed the line at 20.15 and were rafted up between Orion and Infinity on the exposed visitors pontoon by 20.30.
I dashed below to get our Figuera Fish market bass cooking in the oven when Hille asked Rob if we would like drinks on board Infinity. So while we chatted and nibbled our fish was cooking, but would not be needed for that meal. No matter we would have it as a salad for lunch the next day. I popped back on board to turn the oven off and collect a bowl of cherries, the punnet of greek yoghurt and the biscuits I had made on the way down. Well they went down well with Torsten’s raspberry snapps! We slept well.
Yesterday was a fishy day. We had sardines with sliced tomato and toasted stale rolls for breakfast. In town there were many shops, especially ladies wear, often selling shoes too, pharmacies, gift shops, electrical shops etc and in the market we stocked up with veg including a bag of fresh shucked pees. We were going to find a cafe but then Rob spotted a traditional barber’s shop, the barber of Peniche. And therein lies a tale!
I sat and watched as this skilled master of the sharp scissors spun Rob in his chair. Rob had gestured with finger and thumb about 1cm but after a while we realised the barber thought that was the length he wanted left, not off! On the first revolution his duck’s arse fell to the floor, next revolution the pile of tumbling locks grew and when I was just about to yell “Stop, enough” (a girl has to have something to run her fingers through) the scissors were laid down and the cut throat razor was set and greased. Neck hairs gone, now for the ears, where next I wondered. Now this was ambitious, hairdryer and round brush, ok. So impressed was Torsten he waited till the barbers lunch break ended at 2.30 and had a cut himself. All that for 7 euros!
We had a look around the fort in Peniche after the fish salad  lunch on board. Political prisoners were tortured in different ways, bread and water to eat, standing for long periods and sleep deprivation but at least they had a once a week bath, for an hour and a half in a cool underground cistern.
Our last fishy meal of the day was swordfish at a local restaurant arranged for us all by Andrew.