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The Rabelo boat
07/28/2008, Povoa

The Rabelo boat invented in the 9th century was used for transporting port wine from the farms of the Douro for centuries. The journey lasted more than a week and the conditions were precarious, often leading to dangerous accidents. However, with the coming of the railways and better roads the boat lost its importance. Finally, the dams along the Douro river brought its activity to an end.

Visit to Porto
07/28/2008, Povoa

The work on the boat has been completed successfully and the price was far more reasonable than the UK where people seem to wrongly assume all boat owners are well off. Our departure was short-lived however as we were only a mile or so from the harbour entrance when we switched on the auto helm which promptly went loopy so we returned to the marina to have it looked at as we have a long journey ahead.

Alex and I decided to spend a day in Porto. We travelled there by the efficient, modern metro system. The city has many beautiful old buildings and picturesque squares. We walked down to the river Douro and had lunch at one of the many cafes along the banks. Then we walked over the Dom Luis I Bridge which connects Porto with Vila Nova de Gaia, where the port houses are. Famous port names like Taylor's, Croft, Fonseca, and Sandeman crop up everywhere, and many have cellars that can be toured. I suggested this but Alex said he preferred just to taste some port and as he insisted on paying I agreed. You can also see the old fashioned boats for shipping port-wine along the River Douro from the vineyards further up the river to the storing, shipping, and aging warehouses in Vila Nova de Gaia moored alongside the bank.

Those yellow beans.
08/22/2007, Povao

I was intrigued by the yellow beans as they seemed so popular and did not look in the least appertising to me so I Googled them Apparently these are Lupini / Tremoco beans, frequently served free of charge in bars alongside a glass of beer These salty, buttery beans make perfect beer-munchies and are said to be an awful lot healthier than salted peanuts so I'm told. The outer skin is thick and not something you want to try and chew. The thing to do is nip the corner of the skin with the teeth before squeezing the soft bean from inside, or pull a tiny corner off and squeeze the bean out with the fingers. Ugh - not for me - But then I don't like beer. Steve tried one - just the one!

The Feast of the Assumption
08/16/2007, Povoa

Before we left we saw the festivities for the Feast of the Assumption on 15th August. The day before the procession, as we walked along the cooler shaded backstreets near the marina, we noticed lots of women working at wiring flowers together. Of course the next day all was revealed as these were made into huge flower arrangements to display the statues of saints on for the procession. In the fishing harbour all the boats were decked out with colourful flags as well. The town was heaving with crowds so it was a good job we set off early to find a suitable place to view the parade. The heat was oppressive with not even a hint of a breeze and I have no idea how the men, dressed in suits, managed to carry the heavy statues from the church through the streets for hours.

In the evening we were perfectly placed on our boat to watch the impressive firework display on the harbour wall. It was all very pleasant except for those maroons which were not pretty but just ear-splitting and they lasted for the whole fortnight leading up to procession.

A good spot to stop
08/14/2007, Povoa

We explored the town of Povoa and decided that it was a good place to stop to over-winter as we had run out of holiday time. The marina staff were helpful, it was cheap and there were plenty of little shops and a small supermarket in easy walking distance of the marina. With cheap flights from nearby Porto airport and a train service to get you there it was the perfect option. The only downside was the noise. on the way in to the marina we were startled by the sounds of gun shots which we later learnt were fired on the hour to celebrate the feast of the Assumption.

The beautiful baroque church opposite the Marina.

Off to find the Sun again.
08/10/2007, Povoa

In the Summer of 2007 Steve and I, with our son Alex, sailed Kaivalya back to the Mediterranean in search of the Sun again. We bought her in Corfu and had been wondering why we had sailed her all the way back to wet, windy and chilly East Anglia. We crossed the channel at Fowey and arrived in Camaret, after a pleasingly uneventful crossing. Alex generously took his dear old Mum out into the town for the local speciality of crepes with a glass of Calvados.

Our Biscay crossing took about 2 ½ days, sailing all the way in a 3-4 with no unwelcome excitement and I think we only saw 2 cargo ships on the horizon. We relaxed in the cockpit on watch making a start on our suntans while reading and listening to our MP3 players. Steve made a delicious Spaghetti Bolognese and on the second day we spotted a fin whale spume in the distance. Initially I did not realise what I was seeing , mistakenly thinking the spume was a sail or weather phenomena and this was not helped as every time I said to Steve "Hey look at that" it promptly disappeared. We were excited to see it but were glad that it was not too near as they can grow up to 24 metres.

As we closed on the Spanish coast and rounded a headland it became somewhat choppy but we were soon in Sada, enjoying a rest and some excellent tapas.

We saw our first dolphins off Corunna. We stayed overnight at Camarinas, Portasin in the Ria de Muros and Balona in the Ria di Vigo. The views along the coastline were lovely but sadly we had a time schedule to keep to so will have to explore the Rias in the future. There were a fair number of fishing pots to watch out for along the way, most clearly marked with flags.

As we approached Povoa de Vazim there were a lot of excited screaming youngsters having a fantastic time riding Banana boats. We entered the Marina and were met by a helpful marinairo who reminded us to, what sounded like, " Make chicken" at the Office. I stood puzzled and then it dawned on me - check in. Must not criticse though as his attempts at Engish were streets ahead of my Portuguese which only extends as far as hello, please and thank you.

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