Monthly Archives: August 2017

Lisbon – 18th to 27th August 2017

We left Peniche yet again in fog for our passage to Lisbon.  On reaching the most westerly part of Europe, Cabo da Roca, the wind started to pick up 25-30 knots and the fog clearing. As we went around the headland the wind dropped off a little and we left the bank of fog sitting behind us.  We had decided to go on the opposite side of the River Tejo from Lisbon to a place called Seixal.  Very calm and peaceful away from the hub of the city. It took us a bit longer than it should have to get up the river as we were going against the tide which was running at 2knots. So it was three steps forward and one back! However it was late afternoon and decided we would prefer to get to Seixal that evening. The sun was shining and a good breeze so it wasn’t unpleasant.

A2. Cabo Raso, Nr Lisbon leaving fog behind 18.8.17.

On our way down the Rio Tejo we passed various sights including the Torre de Belem, the Padrao dos Descobrementos and the statue of Christ standing on one side of the 25th April bridge.  The noise as we went under the bridge was loud with the cars and trains running along it.

Seixal is a small town with a lot of development going on. There is a riverside promenade being laid. We stayed here for 10 nights. There’s a ferry across to Lisbon which takes about 15/20 mins for just €2.85 each way. We bought a Viva card which is like an Oystercard.

We spent the first couple of days on the boat and then ventured into Lisbon on Monday (21st August). We took a trip on the Yellow Tour Bus, as this would give us an idea of what places we wanted to visit.  So first of all we thought we’d go to the Torre de Belem, closed on Mondays!

Tuesday, first on our list was the Gulbenkian Museum, closed on Tuesdays! A pattern is beginning to form.  Next was to pop down to the Volvo Ocean centre. Try as much as Ian could, we couldn’t get access. This is as near as we could get but we did see one of the boats practising on our way out of the river.

We finally got into the Jeronimos monastery. It is quite spectacular.  The tomb of Vasco Da Gama is in the church here.  Gama was a navigator and explorer who discovered the sea route to India from Europe.

Gas and fish

D2. Fish eating at the surface - Seixal 21.8.17.Gas and fish you ask????  There we were Ian just about to dish up dinner and the gas goes out. No it wouldn’t relight, must be the bottle needs changing. Now we had three bottles when we left and we exchanged an empty one so by our reckoning we had a spare. Well no we didn’t. What we’d forgotten to factor in was that we changed the first bottle two days after leaving in May, so we only had two full and a little gas in one. There was a shop in town that sold gas but no not camping gas. It was looking more like we would have to go to Lisbon, which is a ferry ride away. There’s a large yacht Centre a 15 min dinghy ride away that we were sure didn’t sell gas but we were desperate! So off we go. Fish, yes a fish jumped out of the water into the boat, about 8inches long. It wasn’t easy trying to pick it up as it was flipping itself all over the place. We managed to scoop it out of the boat with the water baler only after we’d gone aground.  We were so busy trying to get the fish back in the water that we weren’t paying attention. We arrived at Tagus Yacht Centre and there wasn’t anyone in the office. A really helpful guy who was on his boat spoke to one of the guys working on the boats for us and we discovered there was a place 2km away. Anyway one of the guys agreed to taxi us to the shop for €10. The fare and the two bottles of gas came to €35, which is less than two at home or in France. So that really was a result. I waited with the dinghy and saw quite a group of fish (yes back to fish again) coming up to the top of the water feeding. Not seen anything like that before.

Ian to the rescue.  The boat behind had lost their dinghy, so Ian set off to retrieve it.

C1. Seixal - Ian rescuing someones dinghy 20.8.17.

 

The Castelo de S Jorge, is high on the hilltop and so gave great views of the city.

SINTRA

We’d met up with our Mahe Mates, Karen and Ronnie and we decided to take a trip up to the Royal Palaces.  We took the train which was 40 minutes from Lisbon, and just €4.40 return.  There are various places to go but we decided to go to the Pena Palace which is like visiting something at Disney, very brightly coloured.  It was a very steep bus ride to reach the palace.  The bus driver had quite a task trying to get through very narrow gaps, particularly where people had parked on the side of the road.

Views from the Palace

 

 

30th August 2017

Portugal – Leixoes to Peniche

10th to 18th August 2017

 

 

We arrived in Leixoes which is not the prettiest of marinas as it is situated in a large commercial port.  It was quite windy on arrival and the wind was pushing us off the pontoon as we tried to moor up, this is where two engines come into their own.

A2. Beach at Leixoes 11.8.17.As I’ve mentioned in various blogs the weather has been quite unsettled to this point (was assuming that would be the end of it and we would be in for more settled weather – more on that later) but the forecast for the next day was hot so it had to be a beach day.  It may have been hot but the ocean was freezing and I do mean freezing.

 

A1. 49ers World championship - Leixoes 11.8.17.Whilst sitting on the boat looking out we saw 49er dinghies on the pontoon opposite all with different national flags on their sails.  It appears that the World Championships is being held there at the end of August.

 

 

PORTO

We were not far from Porto, the home of Port, so on Saturday 12th August 2107 we took a walk 20 minutes over the bridge into the next town where we took the tram into Porto.  Porto is the second city of Portugal.

We visited the Sao Francisco Church which is completed covered in gold and very elaborate.

The Cemetery is in the vaults of the church these are known as catacombs.  From what we could make out the graves are numbered on the floor and these are doorways down to the lower burial tombs and along the walls relates to who the graves belongs to, generally those who were well off.  There is also a large number of bones which can be seen through a grate these are of common people.

Porto as well as the home of Port is also the economic/financial city of Portugal. The Palasol de Bolsa is the old Stock Exchange.  It was built to impress and to earn credibility with European investors.  It has an “Arab Room” which is very ornate.  One of the rooms looks like it is wood panelling when in fact it is plaster painted to look like wood.

We had a stroll around the streets of Porto and we came across a barbeque in one of the narrow back streets which had fish and potatoes being grilled.  As we walked along we realised it belonged to a restaurant just along the way.  They had a menu of two courses for 10€, which was soup and a meat or fish dish.  We wandered further on, as we have a habit of jumping straight into the first place we see.  Further on was so crowded so we decided to go back.  The food was delicious.

PORT HOUSES

There are so many port houses to visit here which are on the other side of the river.  We decided to visit the oldest port house, Taylor’s.  Very interesting tour followed by a taster of white and red port. It was suggested for a long drink to mix white port with tonic and we can vouch it’s very nice!

AVEIRO

This is a fishing port and the town of Aveiro is about six miles down the river, so we went on down to the pontoon in the Canal de Veia which is run by a local association.  The moorings are all alongside so we don’t take up any more space than a boat the same length.  However, as soon as they see you are a catamaran they add extra on the price, so as a result we only stayed the one night here.  The surrounding area was quite flat and is made up of salt marshes so it was reminiscent of the East coast of England.  Would you have thought this was Portugal?

It was an overcast day (another one) and the local town of Aveiro was just five minutes on the bike.  This was a lovely little town that had a canals running through it, the “Venice of Portugal”.  We decided not to take a gondolier ride.

We visited the Cathedral and a church as you do in these place and they are not as ornate as those we’ve seen before.

We spent the next night in an anchorage in the Bao de Sao Jacinto which was nearer to the entrance as we had a long journey to our next stop which was Nazare about 65 miles, so nearly 11 hours journey.  We set off in the fog and apart from about an hour it stayed with us for the rest of the day.  The fog didn’t put off the small boats fishing in the entrance.  We did eventually get some wind to enable us to sail but it didn’t last all day.  We did get to see dolphins twice this day.  The second time we saw them there were lots of them, so much so we saw dolphins for half an hour, we couldn’t see anything else with the fog though!  As we approached the harbour entrance to Nazare the fog started to lift and we saw the sun.

NAZARE & SAO MARTINHO DO PORTO

P1. Nazare 16.8.17.We only stayed overnight in Nazare, a big tourist beach resort.  In Portugal you have to pay light dues and if you don’t have the relevant piece of paper you can be fined.  So off we went to find the local Maritime Police and pay our dues.  The tax was 2€.  The cost of the administration doesn’t seem worth it but I guess it could be worse the tax could be higher.

 

The following day was a lovely hot sunny day so we decided to go to Sao Martinho do Porto which is Portugal’s answer to Lulworth Cove albeit bigger which was about six miles along the coast.  There wasn’t much wind but we weren’t in any rush so we sailed round averaging about 3 knots.

We thought we would stay a second day here but, yes you’ve guessed it, we got up the following day (17th August 2017) and it was foggy!  So off we went to Peniche, which was just 18 miles along the coast.

We left Peniche the next day (18th August 2017) for Lisbon.  Another lovely foggy and rainy day too.

22nd August 2017

Adios Espana

Vigo to Baiona

We left Riveira for Vigo on Monday 7th August 2017, a leisurely start at 11.30, with overcast skies and winds of about 13 knots in a north easterly direction.  Winds got up to about 20 knots and we were surfing on the waves with our fastest speed being 13.5knots.  On the way out of the Ria we passed this fishing boat who was swinging his net round in a circle.

Vigo is a big commercial port.  We only stayed here the one night as we needed to visit a chandlers for a few bits and pieces to ensure we complied with Portuguese safety rules.

We left the following afternoon and took the short trip to Baiona.  Baiona is stunning, set in a small bay and very sheltered.  It wasn’t what I’d expected.

Ian had visited here about 30 years ago and as you can imagine the change was dramatic.  There were no marinas back then whereas there are now three and it is much more developed for tourists. There was only the fuel jetty, the castle and the yacht club back then.

We visited the replica of the “Pinta” ship which was commanded by Martin Alonso Pinzon.  Baiona is significant as it was the first port in Europe to know about the discovery of America when the Pinta arrived there on 1st March 1493.  The ship was surprisingly small.

C4. Tiller on the Pinta - Baiona 9.8.17.

The boat was steered from down below where the tiller was so it wasn’t possible to see where you were going from there.

The ship brought back various items from America including three natives, one of whom died on the trip.  The main product they brought back was cotton however they also brought various plants which at that time weren’t known to Europe including corn, sweet potato and tobacco.  There was also some wildlife.  Sailors generally slept on the deck of the ship however, they discovered the hammock in America and so had a much more comfortable sleep on their return.

We had a spot of lunch “menu del dia” in the old town and then went for a walk around the fort, “Fortaleza o Monte Boi ou Monte Real S X XVII”.

We visited the local yacht club “the Monte Real Club de Yates de Baiona” which overlooks the bay and so we had to stop for some refreshment.  King Juan Carlos II of Spain sailed from here.  The club has also made several challenges to the Americas Cup and had a number of entrants to the Whitbread Round the World Races.

We left Baiona on Thursday 10th August for Portugal just as the sun was rising.  As the morning went on their were lovely blue skies, northerly winds of 12-14 knots, perfect conditions, idyllic, for sailing yes but land is definitely warmer than on the sea. I had my jacket on and a towel wrapped around my legs for most of the day as it was rather chilly.  As some of you know our cockpit is covered with a bimini so no getting into the sun and out of the wind there but I have been told on numerous occasions that I’m going to be grateful for that bimini when it’s hot! There was me thinking by the time we got to Portugal I’d be stretched out on the front of the boat.  It’s forecast 26 tomorrow and we’ll be ashore.  Hurrah!

Modern technology

Oh how grateful we are for technology.  We have discovered the app Google Translate, thanks to Julia.  So wherever we go now we stand with a phone hovering over menus, signs and such like and the phone shows you the translation through the camera.  Amazing!

 

17th August 2017

 

 

A Coruna to Riveira

27th July to 6th August 2017

We arrived in A Coruna in the pouring rain on Thursday 27th July.  The following day we took the train to Santiago de Compostela which was just 25 minutes.  Here is the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela which is one of Spain’s biggest attractions.  It was built over the tomb of the Apostle Saint James and is the last stop for the Camino de Santiago (the way of St James) which is the route for Pilgrims.  We arrived just after mass was being held.  We queued to get in and they stopped letting people in two people in front of us.  We eventually entered half an hour later and there was another service being held.  Pilgrims had carried a statue of the Virgin Mary from their local church and the priest made a blessing.  It was quite a sight to see.

On Saturday we had a long bike ride around the coastal road.  We went along to Torres de Hercules which stands 180 feet high and is the oldest Roman lighthouse still in operation.  It was originally built in the 2nd century AD but it was rebuilt in the 1800’s.  We viewed it from the outside rather than take a walk to the top.

From here we moved on to the Spanish Rias, first to Caraminas where we anchored for the night.  The rias are very picturesque and even more so if the sun is shining.

We had another visit from dolphins just before we passed Cape Finnestere.  There was a family of them.  It doesn’t matter how many times they come by the boat you can’t help but get excited.  They are such lovely creatures.   We arrived at Muros which is in one of the Spanish Rias where we spent a couple of nights again on anchor.

Riveira – Wednesday 3rd to 6th August

G. Entrance to Riveira 3.8.17.

We left Muros and it was foggy again, visbility was about 300 yards.  We headed to Riveira in the Ria de Arousa using the Paso del Carreiro which is quite narrow.  There was still fog but it was gradually lifting.

 

Another 5 miles to Riveira and the fog had lifted and it was a lovely sunny afternoon.  However by about 6.30 the fog started to roll in again and by 10 o’clock you couldn’t see anything again.

Most of the places we had been to has a fishing industry.  Riveira is on a different scale to what we had seen before.  There were lots of warehouses and artic lorries rolling in and out with their loads.  This was going on at all hours.

Now they do like a celebration in Spain and we had arrived in Riveira when there was one to be held at the weekend “Festas do Veran”.  This is dedicated to people of the sea.  There was a very large funfair, stages at both ends of the main street with music being played.  Once the music started which at one stage wasn’t until midnight people started appearing and they danced.  This was mainly the older generation.  Nothing begins here until the earliest 10pm.

On Sunday 6th August there was a procession we didn’t know exactly what it would entail but had been told it was at about 5/5.30.  Me, Ian and John (of Bonaire) walked from the marina up along the warehouses.  There were people dressed in Galcian clothes practising the bag pipes.  Further along by the fishmarket there were people hanging about, again it was mostly the older generation who were in their Sunday best, so we thought this looks like where it will be.  We waited for half an hour or more then, some doors opened and everyone swarmed to them and in they went.  Curious, we had a look.  The fishmarket had been transformed into that of the inside of a church with lots of chairs and the statue of the Virgin Mary at the front.  We decided that we would stay for mass.  After 45 minutes it was Holy Communion.  We departed at this stage and waited outside.

J1. Fiesta service 5.8.17.

The procession entailed the Statue of the Virgin Mary being carried out by six guys who took her to a waiting fishing boat where she would be taken out to sea along with the priests and various dignatories who made a blessing.  This was the same ceremony we had seen at Castro Urdiales however this time we got to see the whole thing.  Accompanying her was a brass band and the people playing bagpipes.  It was quite a sight.

Once this had all finished we had a wander round the town and in the main street outside the church came across some youngsters doing some street dancing.  It transpired that they were a religious group attempting to get their message across through dance.We know this as they tried to convert us!

During the rest of the evening there was another two stages playing music which went on until the early hours.  On Sunday night the finale, there were fireworks, which didn’t start until Midnight which we watched from the boat.  We were glad we stayed for the weekend to be part of it.  We had a really enjoyable time in Riveira.

 

 

8th August 2017