Arrived in Oporto yesterday after a fast sail in F6 winds from Baionna in Spain. The coast down here is littered with lobster pots and we have to keep a sharp lookout to avoid snagging one – we have had a few close calls. Tomorrow at 7.00am we leave for Figuera da Foz about 60 miles from here so another 10 hour day but the last for a while. The remaining stops to Lisbon are all short 30 mile hops. In Lisbon Stefan leaves the boat to pick up another boat in Barcelona bound for Brazil and Sim Rendall joins for the next leg from Lisbon to the Canary Islands.
The photo shows Stefan checking our course and the old rag is our patented cloth for covering the plotter screen during night sailing. Now we found the dimmer button its redeployed as a mop up cloth. We tried fishing for the second time yesterday but lost the line again, either these are big fish or we hooked a lobster pot. We bought some Dorado and cooked them in butter and salt for dinner as compensation – wonderful.
Sunday 25th August – yesterday the wind got up to Gale force 8 with huge breakers coming over the harbour wall so tucked up safely in the marina; we were in the best place, a good day for a day ashore exploring.
We had the most amazing sight in the marina in the afternoon – several thousand mullet congregated at the top end of the marina where the water was warmest to sunbathe on the surface as the photo below shows. Some of the fish were over 2 ft long but unfortunately they feed off the rubbish in the marina and are not good eating.
Stefan went down to the beach in the afternoon for some surfing and I headed off to Oporto by bus and had a look around. The next photo shows the river going up to Oporto which is a lovely old city and well worth the time spent. I returned by a verey modern Metro which runs overland from the outskirts down to the port at Lexoises on the mouth of the river and is much quicker than the bus having no traffic delays.
Drama unfolded when we both returned around 6.00pm to the boat, a big German catamaran had been anchored in the outer harbour bay and we met the crew going ashore for a meal and a few beers.
The crew off the boat next to us, Freddie and Hugo, another Brit/Swede combination, thought the Catamaran had dragged its anchor and when we checked sure enough it was no longer in the same place but surging against the outer harbour wall of this big port. They set off in their rib to check it out and found the boat was holed in the stern and in danger of sinking if the damage got worse. I called the port authorities on the VHF who were less than interested and said they would call the marine police. I requested a tug or powerful boat to pull the catamaran off the wall but the harbour authority just repeated that the police were coming. They did eventually turn up in a car which didn’t help much however the pilot boat was returning from escorting a ship out and overheard my VHF conversation with the port guys and came into the marina and picked up Stefan and Freddie to go on board the catamaran. Hugo and I stayed ashore to throw the mooring lines as they came in. After a 30 minute struggle by the four of us to pull the boat onto a pontoon in the dark and against gale force winds she was safely moored alongside and we could see that the port side was holed fore and aft but above the waterline and in no immediate danger now she was in the marina.
The Police arrived again so we related the whole story and they asked us to send the owner round to the police station when he returned and with our job done we all went off to a nearby restaurant, sank a few beers and had a delicious meal of barbequed fresh sardines and homemade bread – perfect and reviewed our rescue mission. Freddie and Stefan were clearly impressed with the power and fit out of the pilot boat which doubled as the coastguard vessel with padded roof and massive engines and pilot seats in to which you were strapped so you didn’t fall out when the boat rolled over in heavy seas.
In the morning the owner came to see us full of thanks, he has someone coming on Monday morning to fix the holes and then he’s heading off to Germany to pick up a charter party for the Baltic. We head south to Figuera da Foz, 60 miles distant, tomorrow as the forecast is for the wind to drop to F4 this evening and hopefully no more than F5/6 in the afternoon. At least the wind will be northerly and behind us providing a following sea, much nicer than beating into it as those poor souls going north have to do.
Arrival in Lisbon
We have now arrived in Lisbon and are anchored off a place called Cascais. Stefan left for his boat in Barcelona which will take him to Brazil from where he will cross the Andes to Chile where he joins Nano’s band as percussionist. A real adventure and it was a real pleasure having him on board, I will never forget the flute music haunting our journey across the Bay of Biscay. On the wa y since the last post we stopped at Figueras da Foz, Nazare, a lovely if very busy holiday resort
We took the funicular railway to the top of the point and these were the views.
The journey here has been a real adventure for Stefan and I – the highlights had to be the Dolphins and the Whales, Stefan playing the flute, making it across the Bay in one piece, arrival in A Corunna, Paella in A Corunna in the balmy heat with cold beer, the beautiful anchorage just around Finisterre, and many more. There were no real bad bits, the last day crossing the Bay we took a hammering but we coped and more to the point so did the boat, and motoring down the Portugese coast with little wind was boring but all in all we had a great time and both learned a lot. I am now an expert in South American Folk Music – just joking Stefan!
Once Sim arrives on Tuesday we will decide where next and what the next stage of the journey will be – Africa or Gibraltar or Madeira and the Med and then on to pick up Gill and Ray in the Canaries on the 22nd October.