Portugal

I am now writing from the island of La Graciosa, in Canarias, where we arrived a few days ago after five days of sailing from Lisboa.
The trip has somehow slowed down a little bit since we left the waters of Galicia, with its million places to stop, there are so many beautiful moorings and little ports in there that one would need at least a whole summer to explore them all.
Once in Portugal, there are not as many places to stop along its West coast, making us stay in fewer places for longer time. This is pretty cool, because we keep on crossing the same boats that are also going South like us, and we have made a few friends, like our Viking friends from Norway, Inga and Peter, on their Hallberg Rassy 38 Miti are now in Las Palmas and Charlotte and Magnus on their Ovni 39 Aluminati are somewhere in the South of Portugal.


Our first stop was Leixoes, a commercial harbour near the town of Porto. The sailing from Baiona was…foggy… and it was not really sailing, it was more like motoring by night under the fog in a “field” of fishing pots. My face says it all in this picture, at “sunrise” approaching Leixoes. To make it worse, the autopilot had stopped working, so we had to helm under engine, clearly not my favourite activity.

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Fortunately, we were about to meet my parents and sister, who had come to visit us in Porto, so my “angriness” disappeared pretty quickly.
We were very lucky to find a spot in the marina, which was otherwise full, advantages of having a small boat! It was also possible to anchor in the port, but with my family coming to visit, we thought it was easier to walk in and out the boat.
Porto is just beautiful, really worth the visit, here are some photos taken by my sister Lucia.


After the family left, we sailed to Aveiro, 30 nautical miles of sunny spinnaker weather = The Dream. We anchored in Sao Jacinto, a village in the North of the Ria de Aveiro, amongst five or six more yachts. The bay of Sao Jacinto is in fact well protected, and there are not many of these anchorages in the West coast of Portugal. The village has all we wanted: a bakery, a bar and a super long sandy beach. So we stayed for a while. We also did a bit of tourism in the town of Aveiro,” the Portuguese Venice”.


When we left Aveiro, it was foggy again. We have read somewhere that there is 10% chance of the weather being foggy in summer in Portugal… surely somebody forgot the “not” in the sentence. The forecast was for some good NW wind coming in later during the day and so it did. It was pretty light though so we only dropped the anchor in Peniche the day after at dawn.
From Peniche, we sailed 6 miles to Isla Berlengha. We took a mooring buoy on the south east side of this spectacular island. The light forecast made us decide to spend the night in there, but we should have checked the waves forecast as well as the wind… after a bouncy night we saw that the swell had increased massively and despite being on the opposite side of the island, the waves were bouncing against the rocks. We left the mooring and surfed back to Peniche, where we anchored behind the pier, well protected from the waves.


The fog was yet going to accompany us to Cascais. This time at least, there was wind. After some hesitation, we turned the AIS (receptor) on and we decided to keep flying the spinnaker. Once in a while we blew the fog horn in case there was someone out there. We could not see more than 20 metres around the boat, and it was pretty scary when we heard the noise of an engine, but we never saw where it was coming from, probably a plane. Inga and Peter who were at anchor in Cascais sent us a picture of a clear day, but we were only 8 miles away and the fog was so dense that it looked unreal.
And suddenly, the sky cleared out and we left the curtain of fog behind, as we turned east into the river Tejo, what a relief! Feeling happy we turned the music on and we sailed into the bay of Cascais, just as the sun was setting down. We dropped the anchor and were received by our Norwegian friends on board Miti for a well appreciated glass of wine.
The anchorage in Cascais was full of other travelling boats, of all shapes and nationalities. It is very interesting to look at them and take new ideas for our own boat – and for our future boat as well 😉 – as it is also cool to watch the RC44 fleet getting ready to race – the two poles of sailing yachts in one place, amazing.


27th of September, Gaspar is turning old! To celebrate his birthday, we took the train to Lisboa and we explored the city with the excuse of fulfilling his favourite activity: visit pretty much all the “ferreterias” (tool shops) in the area. In the evening we went for a few beers with our friend EJ, who we met for the first time five years ago in the ARC. He showed us around some pretty cool boats that are being prepared for a race starting soon from Spain…
The next day we sailed up the river and saw the stunning city of Lisboa from the water. We were going to spend the next three days in the marina Parque das Naçoes, getting the boat ready for the trip down to Canarias. This marina was built for the Expo in 1998 and the place is quite surreal. We went out for a walk in the evening in what looked like a futuristic ghost town, we only started to see some people as we approached an area with glass windowed office blocks, people were working inside, we kept on walking and we found a massive shopping mall, and guess what, it was full of people. Fortunately, the area is nicer by day, there are many cool parks and buildings to look at and people are walking around in families and so on. The marina was also built for the Expo and for some strange reason, half of it dries out at low tide, so there are many empty pontoons; it makes you think whether this was the job of a group of politicians playing architects/engineers for a day? Despite all this, the other half of the marina is pretty good and so is its location, not in the center of Lisboa but pretty close by bus, next to the airport, and to a big supermarket that opens every day of the week, it fit our purpose perfectly.


With the mission of finding somebody out in Lisboa to recode our emergency PLB – which had to be done because we have changed the boat´s flag from French to British – we ended up exploring the city again, discovering some areas with not so many tourists. The job was finally done on the day by a company called Nautel.
My dad joined us on the 30th and with the boat ready and full of provisions, we set sail to the Canaries on the 1st of October. But that is another story.
Obrigado Portugal, you have exceeded all my expectations.

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Obrigado Portugal

We were here for a while. Yet we did not find time to tell you our portuguese stories.

We ll do that once we reach la Graciosa. We are sailing off this afternoon. The shore crew came onboard for this crossing and so we will have the help of Gon to get to Canarias. That should help to keep the spinnaker up as much as possible.

More news in 6 days or so…

Hasta la vista Lisboa, you have been amazing!

Technical stop in Faial

We are still stuck in the Azores, waiting for a sheave box to arrive. Indeed without this little plastic piece we cannot use the staysail halyard which enables to hoist a stormjib or a staysail. After the weather we have encountered to get here it seems to us silly to leave without it. But meanwhile we use or time to get out the marina and explore the island the best we can.

The first impression left by the local Portuguese is friendly, open and helpful people; most of them will speak either a bit of Spanish, English or French, and even if they don´t they will understand you at the condition you speak with a lot of “checheche”. The islanders produce many excellent products: cheese, meat, vegetables, so that being stuck here ends up being rather pleasant.

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Pico´s mountain, culminating some 1600 meters high

The island at first sight ressembled to Ireland with its green and rocky landscape, steep cliffs and bushes. But when approaching it, the visitor faces a vegetation mixed from tropical and northern weather: bamboos, aloe veras, pineaples and palm trees growing next to pine trees, lichens and spiny bushes. One thing is sure the Azores do not risk to lack of fresh water: from the summit of the island rivers come down in cascade down to the sea, at the top of Pico´s mountain (Pico is the island that we contemplate from the marina) snow can be seen when the clouds are gone, and finally in the week we spent here it did not rain only one day or two. In three words “we like it”. It is amusing considering how the different islands we visited since October differ: the arid Lanzarote, the green and tropical Antigua and finally the mixed green Faial. When the landscape in the Canaries was red, black, brown with black and white houses, in the Carribean blue and green with multicolor houses, here it is grey and green and black and white house. Although the houses have the same color as in the Canaries you could not confuse an Azorian house from a Canarian: the orange clay roofs are typical here and usually the walls are ornamented with curvy shapes or contrasted walls of black stones and white cement.

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Horta´s architecture in what looked like the poshy neighbourhood

The central point of Faial is Horta, with its harbour famous for sailing boats who each year stop here before continuing towards the Med or n0rthern Europe. The harbour is covered of paintings from the boats who passed here and you can easily spend a full day looking at all of them trying to find a known boat. It is apparently bad luck to leave the harbour without leaving your trace. We became sligtly supersticious after our last experience (left Martinique on Friday and we broke, Zebulon left Guadeloupe on Friday, they got bashed up in the storm for four days…) and so left our mark too.

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Horta´s pier from Zebulon´s mast

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Our mark!

As we mentioned Zebulon, the third Glenans´boat had a harder crossing than us. They spent four days in the storm, running in front of gigantic waves, breaking sails and generally being shaken around in their polyester tupperware. So we escorted them inside the harbour: they arrived with a staysail rigged as a main (the mainsail having been ripped from leech to luff in two places). For us it was a pleasure to welcome friends who did not hesitate to turn back to help us when we stopped in Guadeloupe.

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Zebulon´s arrival to Horta

Last Sunday our presence in the marina was not required (nothing to do on the boat, no help to give to our friend) and so we took or chance and rented a car for an express tour of the island. We were recommended to drive around the island anti-clockwise, visit the Western point that extended in a volcanic irruption some sixty years ago. On our way we stopped for a typical lunch and admire the view from some of the many splendid “Miradouro”. Funny enough, these “Miradouro” are all equipped with a stone barbecue which made us think that goiung around with a machette and coal you could survive: chop the cow, light up the fire and eat excellent meat in a wonderful environment.

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Enjoying the view from a “Miradouro”

On the way back we drove up to the summit of the island hoping to climb high enough to be above the clouds. We did not manage… we could only see 20 meters in front of us, far enough to spot the odd cow standing on the road.

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“Slow down it looks like there is… a cow? a cow on the road?!…”

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“How high is it?”   (extension of the island)

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The recent western extension of Faial

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The pine tree forest around the vulcano of Faial

It is indeed very nice in here, but on the other hand we are waiting forward to our piece to arrive as soon as possible and to go out sailing again, this time towards the continent where hopefully our friends and family have not forgotten us. For the moment… we will stay in Horta until next notice.

First aquarella in Portugal

We are writing just after our first evening with the bear family. So far everything is going perfectly. Around a beer in us two, we were reflecting on the fact ” we can’t believe it, we can’t believe where we are!”.

Tomorrow we should leave around lunch time for Lanzarote, so that we cross the channel at the South West corner of Portugal at day time so we can easily see all the tankers coming. We are planning a trip of around five days. We inventoried the food, had a tour of the boat… It is amazing how many things can be put on a cat!

Rocio has a lot of success with the kids; she managed to get more than two words out of Harry. Gaspar only got a “hihihi”.

First Aquarella and first sand castle, check it out!

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We both learned a bit of Portuguese although we do not know what it means; “Chechu chechochecha cheche chucho”

Sometimes it does strangely look like hearing people speaking in Amsterdam or Antwerp…

Change of plans

The administration of this blog would like to announce that due to some issues with the new Vismara 52 we are skipping the Med and meeting Intrepid Bear in Portugal for the passage to Canarias.

We would like to apologize for any inconvenience this could cause our fellow followers.

Vê-lo em Lisboa Intrepid Bear!

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