6th to 14th October
Povoa do Varzim – you may remember I had an uncomfortable stay there – snapped mooring line and later a snapped rubber shock absorber thingummyjig….plus sleeplessness for crew.
Povoa’s redeeming features? Delightful and ever-so-helpful marina staff, meetings with Nigel (from Exeter too, on a Vancouver), and Chris and Barbara (they live on their boat and have sailed nearly everywhere in north Atlantic [lots of tips], and Chris has climbed, potholed, kayaked – and taught all of them – everywhere else too…the sort of person who lives five normal people’s lives and remains totally normal, unassuming and friendly). My crew had a really good meal with them in downtown Povoa – not really sure if it was downtown but it was near the metro station.
Many harbours on Portugal’s Atlantic coast get closed when there is heavy Atlantic swell, so for three days, or maybe four, we weren’t able to leave Povoa. When at last we were allowed out, there was a quick exit through surf-bordered, rolly, swelly harbour entrance (did an aunt used to say “up and down like a roast leg of pork”? maybe not), it was a good sail – reaching and running about 180 miles south to Cascais – such a joy to enjoy good sailing after so much engine.
Cascais? Cascais is a very smart holiday resort about a dozen miles down the Tejo estuary from Lisbon. The Almanac and various sailors’ sources warn of sky-high and mouthwatering marina charges in Cascais, so I anchored outside and did not enjoy three uncomfortable nights bouncing and snatching about on a windy lee shore – most of the time too wet and breezy for crew even to row ashore. Next day…enough of this…into Cascais marina. Pay attention and take note, sailor folk: after 1st October, it’s said to be ‘low season’ here and marina prices plummet. (About 25 euros for me…a bargain which must be half the price of most of England’s south coast marinas…and marina staff gave my crew a bottle of wine as well). It really is smart. I think there’s even the Queen’s old yacht ‘Bloodhound’ in the marina (see picture). And several super-shiney professionally-crewed yachts.
As we waited and waited for better weather – at that stage intending to go straight to Madeira and Porto Santo (a long way), there was time for local interests and culture. A couple of days in Lisbon, an easy train ride, gave glimpses of Portugal’s distinguished history and current delights and plenty of sombre cathedrals…some photos below.
By now, M wants to get a move on. We’re meant to be well on our way to the Canaries. In fact we’re little over halfway from Devon. Alas! big windy lows are destined for our patch of the Atlantic, and four or five days of rough sailing seem unappealing. We instead move south to Sines. This might be where Vasco da Gama was borne (see photo); but marina manager seems doubtful… but then he’s from Lisbon. (By the way, you don’t call it Sines as in Cosines, you call it ‘Cinch’ as in ‘a bit of a ~’ – soft cinch though. Portuguese pronunciation seems not at all straightforward.)