Saturday, 15 September 2018

Tintin is in Lisbon

Peniche and Cascais share the fact that they are both citadel towns -
with medieval castles protecting the town.  They are also both on the
coast (obviously).  However, other than that, they could hardly be more
different.  Last night we were lit up by the lights of the factories,
with a loud hooter echoing across the bay every hour or so.  Every so
often we were rocked by the wake of a passing fishing boat.  The air was
cold and light was grey - and it is apparently generally 10 degrees
colder than inland.  After 40 miles of motoring and 5 miles of really
nice sailing (why couldn't the win have arrived earlier), we have
arrived in Cascais, just outside Lisbon.  The air is clear and warm. 
The marina is full of well-maintained, smart boats.  On the way to the
showers James and I passed a Ferrari and a Rollls-Royce Corniche -
perhaps guest of the wedding whose jazz band we can hear wafting over
the harbour wall.  It's a much smarter place!

Which is nice, because this is the end of Stage 1 of our trip and Tintin
will be staying here for 3 weeks.  We have 2 days of surfing & culture &
boat maintenance, depending on which generation you're from, before we
return to the UK on Tuesday

Cliffs of Cabo Carvoeiro

South to Portugal

We had gentle northerly breezes for the first 12 hours of our leg from
Baiona to Peniche, but then the engine was needed as the wind died away
in the evening. With just a thin new crescent moon, the stars were
brilliant during our night watches. We passed a few fishing boats but
there was little other traffic. As it grew light, the day became grey,
and visibility reduced with it.

The Portuguese coast along this stretch has a limited number of safe
havens for boats. Much of it is low lying, and is subject to swell from
the Atlantic - most of the harbours have man-made walls to provide some
shelter. As we neared Peniche the cliffs of Cabo Carvoeiro loomed into
view, and we decided against anchoring at Isla Berlenga, a nature
reserve a few miles off the cape, due to the poor visibility. We hoisted
the Portuguese courtesy flag before we entered harbour, to oil the
wheels of the inevitable bureaucracy that is so much part of visiting an
overseas port.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Messing about in boats

Having filled in all the forms needed by the authorities, we obtained permission to navigate to and anchor at the Islas de Cies: stunning islands that guard the entrance of the Ria de Vigo, and which form part of the Atlantic Islands National Park. This is where Francis Drake launched his attack on Baiona hundreds of years ago.

The water there is stunningly clear and blue, and the beaches white with shells. Pine studded rugged hills behind framed the bay on the Isla del Sur where we were anchored. It felt like paradise.
We swam and messed around in boats.

Tonight we are sheltered by the castle in Baiona; tomorrow we start our voyage south to Portugal with a 170 mile leg to Perniche. The crew will be standing watches once more - now with Ali Philips joining us

The Old Man and the Sea

The fishing boats in Galicia come in all shapes and sizes. By far the most charming are the wooden boats with a single sail and just a pair of oars for power. Yesterday an old man sailed into the bay where we were anchored, rowing when his sail fell empty of the slight breeze. He spent an hour or two fishing, gave us a wave, and then slipped away as quietly as he came. I don't know if he had any success fishing, but he seemed cheerful.

We also had an encounter with Tim, who rowed over in his little rubber dinghy for a chat. Tim has sailed solo across the Atlantic several times in China Blue, his junk-rigged 21 foot Jester (built in 1954). This boat was originally owned by Blondie Haslar, the man known to have invented wind powered self steering - which allows a boat to be sailed and steered mechanically, allowing a solo sailor to rest. Compared to Tintin, the Jester looks so small  - but it has travelled many thousands of miles across oceans in its life. It was very inspiring to hear about. Tim gave us a book about sailing around the world - many thanks!

Monday, 10 September 2018

Escorted by dolphins

Almost every day, a shout goes up from whoever is on the helm: "Dolphins!" and everyone else rushes on deck, "Where?"

This morning we were joined by 3 large bottlenosed dolphins for a while. It is magical and feels such a treat to be visited by them each time it happens. They seem to love swimming along by the bow, then after a while head off as if to get back to what they were doing before we came along.

James managed to catch them on camera for us.