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.

Sunday 9 September 2018

Cruising the Rias

Exploring the Rias of  Arousa and Pontevedra over the last couple of days has been very gentle. Wind no more than 10 knots, beautiful beaches to anchor off,and peaceful nights with no dragging anchors. But today brought patches of very thick fog as we headed to Punta Cabicastro, clearing suddenly at times to reveal the rocky shore and islands. The radar helped with navigation.

James, Lizzie and Rob went diving  - and saw squid, starfish and an angry octopus.

We have come up to the top of the Ria de Pontevedra this evening, past plenty of  large"bateas" (floating platforms used for mussel farming, a major local industry), and have anchored tucked in by Tambo Island for the night. 

Friday 7 September 2018


A couple of photos from our downwind sail around Cape Finisterre 2 days ago (for you, Mum!)
We have had a couple of lazy lovely days in Ria Muros, swimming and enjoying a bit less wind now we are east of the brisk northerlies. On to the next Ria south tomorrow (Arousa) in search of diving grounds.

Thursday 6 September 2018

Into the Rias

After Corme, we had 20NM run down the coast to Camarinas. Camarinas tries hard to be a lovely seaside town, but just doesn't quite make it. . The people are very nice and friendly, but the houses are just a bit run-down, or never completed in the first place. However, the thing that got to me is it seems to always be windy! It was windy when we were here last time, the pilot book comments on how its a windy place and it was windy last night. We went to the marina at the town to allow easy departure for Millie and Bee - it may have been quieter had we headed right up to the head of the bay under the trees. N'importe
Millie and Bee departed today. We were sorry to see them go - the boat is much quieter. Before she left, Millie completed her commission as resident artist to decorate the vane of the wind steering. The windvane now seems much too smart to expose to the wind and weather, but it will only while we are on passage. I know Milie was particularly keen for this picture to be put on the blog, so here it is:
 After the girls left, we came out of Camarinas and continued our run south - it was great sailing; goose-winged down the swell at up to 10knots. We had been planning to tuck in under Cape Finisterre but eventually decided to carry on and get into the rias so try to escape the wind, so we carried on SE. We're now in Ria de Muros - the most northerly of 'Ria Baixas' of Galicia. We found a calm anchorage in Ensanada de Estreio thanks to Tim Trafford's advice and are having a very leisurely morning making bread and doing odd jobs in the sun and out of most of the wind. We can see the clouds a few miles west scudding past a 30knots, while its less than 1/2 that here. I'm doing this blog to avoid having to service the heads, but it's time to don the marigolds....

Tuesday 4 September 2018

We have found the wind

We had a speedy sail with wind reaching force 7 yesterday, downwind and past dramatic granite headlands. Top speed reached 12.6 knots surfing down a wave. Last night we found welcome shelter in the harbour of Corme, a fishing village on the stretch of coast known as the Costa da Morte. Bow Cottage apple crumbe to finish the day  - thank you Gurneys!

Saturday 1 September 2018

450 miles under the keel

Tintin has arrived in La Coruna, at 4;30 am today. We were treated to
memorable encounters during the crossing of Biscay. We saw the sea
depth change change from 150m to over 4000m as we traversed the edge
of the continental shelf. The Atlantic swell, sizeable to start with,
gradually reduced over the passage and our horizon became flatter. As
well as the magical regular visits from dolphins, we saw whales 3
times - cruising along the surface, blowing a fountain of spray from
time to time. They seemed to ignore us completely as they serenely
continued on their way.

Yesterday we became aware that the engine seemed to be vibrating more
than it should. A video shot over the stern showed that we had rope
around the propeller. James was voted to have the opportunity to be
hero of the day by jumping in , diving down with a knife and freeing
the prop. The bike helmet was to protect his head form the hull - the
boat was slopping around in the swell a lot.He surfaced after the 5th
attempt victorious with an armful of rope and fishing net. The girls
jumped in too for a quick dip in the deep blue sea.

Later in the afternoon, the wind returned allowing us to sail on a
broad reach for the last 70 miles. The sky as we approached Spain was
so bright with stars, until a huge orange moon rose and lit our way as
we navigated into harbour, led again by dolphins at the bow (who woke
Rob, asleep up for'ard with their squeaking).

Now we are enjoying the luxuries Coruna can offer: hot showers, a calm
berth, and dinner ashore. Lizzie has arrived to join us so now we are