Portugal cont. 38 41.8N, 9 24.9W

Saro's Gyda
Derrick Thorrington
Mon 13 Sep 2010 18:34

Since rejoining Green Flash in Povoa de Varzim on the 31st August we seem to have had a busy but highly enjoyable time.

We were delighted to meet up with Celia and Andrew (also from Christchurch) on Alice and Dorothy and Bryan aboard Caitlin of Argyle. We had originally met Caitlin in Camaret before crossing Biscay and had enjoyed sharing interests including fiddle playing. Bryan commented that I was the only person they had met who had given them both homework. Bryan, advice for his bad neck and Dorothy, violin practice!

Having enjoyed the weekly café meal with the Marina folk and spent a day cleaning the boat and sorting ourselves out, we left Povoa on the 2nd Sept, looking forward to our friends catching us up later.

Figueira de Foz was 75M south. We intended to start at 0700, but the sudden onset of fog delayed us and we set out eventually at 0800. The passage was fairly windless and we motorsailed most of the way arriving in the bay in the dark having seen the elusive “green flash” as the sun went down. There were some confused moments when we discovered that the leading lights were not lit and there seemed to be a crane where the entrance should have been. A quick look at the pilot book corrections made it all clear. The mole had been extended by 500m and we were heading straight for it! Having sorted this out we passed through uneventfully and tied up in the marina after a 14hr passage.

“Fig Foz” was a pleasant town with a large leafy park, a University, an enormously wide and long beach (big enough to incorporate several football pitches with stands) and a huge indoor market. We enjoyed a look round but felt ready to move on the next day. We were joined in the evening by “Caitlin” and over the necessary social drinks, decided that we would sail in company to Nazare, 35M south.

Once again there was very little wind. We motorsailed out together taking pictures and enjoying the lively fiddly music coming from “Caitlin” and particularly the exhibition of dancing on the afterdeck by D and B!

Nazare is a fishing harbour with a small marina tucked into a corner. It was very busy and we caused “Captain Mike”, the resident manager, a few headaches trying to fit us both in. After a bit of a sticky start, Capt Mike proved to be a lovely man with an eye for the ladies and a lovely sense of humour.

The town of Nazare was delightful. The main town sat behind the long promenade and was made up of long parallel narrow lanes lined with tall, red tiled buildings. Apart from the long and wide beach with it’s big Atlantic rollers, it was not touristy. Older ladies in traditional type clothing sat outside their doors or stood in the lanes gossiping whilst the men congregated separately together to play cards. Part of the beach was taken up with large, sloping racks where the ladies prepared small fish for drying. The fish were then left on the racks to dry in the sun. (Interesting but very smelly!)

As we entered the port we had rounded a high overhanging cliff above the town with a funicular leading up to it. We all decided to investigate. We were greeted by a delightful little town with a big ornate church and magnificent views of the bay from the overhanging cliffs. We learned that this was the original town called Sitie.

Dorothy and I were determined to get some “fiddling” in whilst we were together so made a date for the evening. By chance an American couple, Peter and Kourteney on a lovely old wooden boat, “Norna”, had noticed the instruments and joined us on the afterdeck of “Cailtin” for an evening of music. In all we had 3 fiddles, 2 mandolins, 2 guitars, a bodhran and a banjo. A lively dutch couple enjoyed it so much that they came aboard too and contributed by clapping, singing a dutch song and providing a fiery toast to be swallowed in one at the end of the evening.

My big birthday was looming and “Caitlin” and “Alice” were determined to share it. “Alice” with Celia and Andrew arrived after a hard slog to windward on the 7th to get there on time. The birthday started by secret dawn decoration of the boat with balloons, bunting and a banner (thanks Lucy and Libby) and a (rather out of tune) rendition of Happy Birthday by the assembled crews on the pontoon. The day carried on in the same vein. We all visited Sitie for the feast of the Virgin where petals were laid throughout the streets for a procession, very pretty. Early evening brought everyone together on Green Flash for fizz, cake and Pass the Parcel followed by a lovely meal in the town for all eight of us. It was a great day made all the better for being able to skype the girls and chat to them.

We were all too worn out to get up early on the 9th but set out for Lisbon on 10th in company with” Alice” and “Caitlin”.

It was approx 80M to Oeiras in the suberbs of Lisbon and once again there was very little wind until we reached Cabo de Roca where the wind started to blow. We had been warned by Conor aboard “Toucan” that this was an acceleration zone so decided to reef the main…… then the mizzen…. and then take the mizzen down as the wind increased within minutes. We had a suberb sail into the Tejo and up to the marina where we took the sail down and stopped. We had hit the river at a spring tide ebb. We were motoring at 5.7 knots and were making 0.7knots over the ground!

Eventually we passed the entrance and were able to turn in across the tide, The entrance was a tight dog leg and at one point I thought that we were going to enter sideways as the tide took hold of us again. No problems however as the able skipper turned us expertly and motored in without fuss.

The marina was very expensive so we decided to stay there only as long as it took to see a bit of Lisbon. With Bryan and Dorothy we took the train in and thoroughly enjoyed the maritime museum and old monastry with the tomb of  Vasco de Gama, one of the 15th century famous navigators.

We spent the following day in the marina enjoying the international “free swimming” championships which finished at the marina. Competitors swam downstream from Lisbon either 5 km or 10km!  After some more fizz to celebrate Celia and Andrew’s wedding anniversary, we left on the outflowing tide and are presently at anchor off Cascais awaiting a fair wind for the next passage to Madeira, approx 480 miles away.