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.
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.