41:40.34N 008:50.43W Viana do Castelo and Hello Portugal.
Wed 26 Aug 2015 08:00
“I show you where to go, please come in backwards” Renarto’s voice carried well from his work boat as he came out to greet us, peaked cap reversed on his head and sporting a black beard. He tied up his work boat and was ready on the pontoon showing us with his hands exactly where he wanted Zoonie’s transom to be parked. Poor Rob. Zoonie is not the easiest hull to reverse in a straight line and here we had little room. As Rob gently coaxed her backwards I threw a mooring line to Renarto and he passed me the line that runs out from the pontoon at a right angle and is designed to be tied to a forward cleat on Zoonie’s foredeck and keep her bow in position.
A few minutes later Enjoyster arrived. She had had a slow start but then sailed at over 10 knots with full rig. As we had less time to cover the distance in light airs we had cheated with the motor. We were invited aboard for drinks in the cockpit in time to see the replica HMS Pickle, all 19 metres of her, arrive and squeeze in between Enjoyster and the harbour wall. Two workboats acted as tugs and pushed and pulled until she was in place.
The original HMS Pickle was one of the fastest vessels at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 and was given the dubious task of returning to London as quickly as possible to report Nelson’s victory and his death. The captain spent half his year’s salary hiring coach and frequently changed horses to carry the news from Falmouth to the capital. This Pickle was on her way to the Humber via a spell in Portmouth with the Victory, after an extensive refit. Built largely of larch to keep her light she was almost a wreck when the current owner purchased her, having been used as a party and events boat and no maintenance being done for years.
When we were approaching Viana in a 30 knot wind Pickle was a few miles further out and was experiencing 49 knots of wind. Fortunately she can call on her 125hp motor to help matters. She has a global following and ancestors of the original captain keep in touch with her progress.
18th August. First job ashore was to find a hairdresser. Rob had made a good job of shortening my hair but struggled with the layering so we decided I needed to be ‘tidied up’. That was how Cristina Castro tactfully put it at C3 Cabeleireiros. She sent us off to have a coffee until 9.30 when she would start work. She worked magic making me look as if I had more hair after she razored the back than before she started. She only had to show the hair the razor and it fell off.
Next we walked into the old town which was a hive of activity, scaffolding and workmen all over erecting mass tiered seating areas up the sides of all the main streets. There was an atmosphere of contained excitement. Men holding fistfulls of strings of brightly coloured balloons and heads of giants (gigantones), that looked as if they were made of papier mache, were displayed at shop doors and in windows. The most important festival of the year would start the next day in honour of Nossa Senhora da Agonia, patron saint of fishermen. Cristina said it was a must for us with more than 1 million visitors. A vast flotilla of boats leaves the harbour with the effigy of the patron saint on one of them, and bunches of flowers are thrown onto the ocean turning it into a garden in spring time. We were put off by the size of the crowds and decided to leave the following day. I know, we’re a couple of boring old folk aren’t we.
But not before taking the funicular (on Sue of Larry’s recommendation) up to the Basilica on Monto de Santa Luzia for a panoramic view over the estuary and city. Again some distinguished lady reported it as the finest view in the world. She definitely needed to travel further to broaden her perspective.