Bayonna and Viana do Castelo

Mon 11 Sep 2006 17:33
We left Ilas Cies bound for Bayonna relatively early on Sunday morning (1030) and put in to the marina for diesel, water provisions and lunch.  Diesel and water were easy enough but provisions proved too much to ask on a Sunday in Portugal.  Instead, we had a magnificent lunch in the old town - wild smoked salmon and Spanish pie.  The fishing tackle shop and chandlery both closed seconds before we got to them so we turned our backs on Bayonna and headed for Viana do Castelo, around 5 hours south.  We set off with high hopes of a brisk sail in the sunshine only to plunge YET AGAIN into thick fog and a head wind.  We are all getting fairly ticked off with the weather now although it has, in some ways, helped us to cover the ground under engine.  The diesel bill was a timely reminder of the distance we have had to make under the "steel sail" but poor old Free Spirit has been treated more as a motor launch than a yacht.  She has behaved very well, chewing up the miles without a complaint but we would all like a bit more sailing.
The fog closed in dramatically as we approached the harbour entrance at Viana do Castelo giving us some hairy moments as the electronic charts also seemed to team up against us and provided no details below the 12nm range view.  I had to resort to good old fashioned navigation for a while as we crept in a found the starboard breakwater about 50 meters away before we could actually see it.  As we moved into the river we came out of the fog and motored the last 1.5nm in brilliant sunshine.
The marina at Viana was pretty full but we were given a berth rafted up alongside a Dutch couple who were very friendly.  The harbour master was delightful but a little stretched but he managed to appear out of nowhere every time we looked up with another piece of helpful advice; mostly he directed us to eat or shop in establishments that we assume were owned and run by members of his extended family!  We ignored his recommendation to eat at the yacht club by the marina and walked into the old town for our first meal in Portugal. Sunday night was quiet but we found a delightful place and then retired to bed at a civilised hour with a new plan for Monday.
We decided to spend Monday morning getting laundry done, provisioning and getting one or two items from the chandlery/fishing shops.  I also put a litre of oil into the engine (which otherwise looked in fabulous shape) and, I think, managed to solve a little mystery with the shore power connection which had been bugging me for a while.  We left at 1204 (having discovered to our surprise that Portugal is on the same time zone as the UK and therefore gave us another hour of preparation time) and are en route for Nazare, skipping Porto altogether.  We expect to arrive at 0900 tomorrow and sadly Tim is leaving us there to join his wife in Seville for a few days.  The three of us will press on to Lagos and meet up with Colin there. We are passing through a miserable cold front at the moment, with rain and moderate visibility and very chilly air temperatures.  However, the weather forecast for the next week is excellent for our trip to the Canaries so we are hoping for some good sailing.
Apart from the water maker, everything on board has been well shaken down and is working very well so I am feeling pretty good about preparations for the ARC so far.