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An expensive stop
Sue
08/25/2008, Vilamoura

We stayed in Lagos for 3 days, Steve had booked some cheap flights home from Almeria in September so we needed to press on to get there in time. The next stop was Vilamoura which turned out to be even more touristy and of course pricey. I was getting quite proficient at berthing now without the help of my son Alex who had been with us when we sailed the boat home from Corfu where we bought her but paled when I saw the pontoon here. As we turned in I took it in - very short and pointed, Steve warned "Watch out - it'll bounce" and it did, several times! I carefully and quickly turned on the narrow point and gave the line a turn round the cleat and then looked for somewhere to put it down as I went forward to the bow to take another line as there was no midships cleat but the pontoon was so narrow there was little space. Of course I need not have worried as Steve had the whole situation under control, as I reached the bow an American guy was rushing up to hold off the bow to stop it hitting the quay but the boat just stopped moving as Steve had judged it brilliantly.

The showers were very plush but hidden under the restaurants in the main street and you had to walk about 100m to get to them through hordes of people back from the beach or off for a night out - weird. You also had to dodge the posse of men handing out flyers for the many, nearby Indian restaurants.

A short stop
08/23/2008, Lagos

Lagos

Lagos strikes me as very commercialised and reminded me a bit of Almerimar with apartments and shops and cafes/restaurants overlooking the marina but not quite so much of a fish bowl affect as said bars etc are not quite so close, towering above you. To access the marina you have to call the marina office so they can open the pedestrian bridge to let you out so if you want an early start you need to stay on the visitors/check-in pontoon outside the marina as the bridge didn't open till 8am in the summer and later in the off season.

Cascais to Lagos
08/19/2008, Lagos

Cascais to Lagos

We left Cascais and set off for Sines which came highly recommended. Sines is in the same bay as an oil terminal, can't say more as we didn't moor. It was a Bank Holiday and we quickly saw that the anchorage and marina were full so we decided to go overnight for Lagos. As we set off Tim and Bev came alongside and asked if we could sail together as their radio was on the blink. We decided that they should take the lead as they were a bigger boat and we didn't want them accidentally bumping into us in the fog which was developing.

Fog, what a bonus for my first night watch alone (of course Steve was below and not likely to fall asleep very deeply!) It is quite eerie in the fog and I saw nothing except the pinprick light from Emerald ahead of us until that too disappeared. There were a few craft on the radar but nothing came near.

I was on watch when we rounded Cape St Vincent, the most westerly point of Europe with its light house guarding one of the world's busiest shipping lanes. It is one of the most powerful in Europe and can be seen as far as 60 kilometres away. The sea was like a mill pond and despite it being a dolphin hotspot not one was in sight. We motored past the red sandstone cliffs, pock-marked with caves eroded by the sea. As we neared Lagos around midday we saw a tiny armada of little craft scurrying around the coast taking tourists on grotto or fishing trips. Large ribs powered out to sea taking excited holiday goers on a dolphin safari and colourful kites towed wind surfers across the bay.

We checked into the marina but having made no arrangements to contact Tim and Bev we never managed to find them in the packed marina but hope they were there somewhere.

Cascais
Sue
08/16/2008, Cascais

Cascais

We spent a week in Cascais enjoying the sunshine and the town but not paying 45e a night in the marina. However on the plus side there was a Raymarine agent who arranged for the auto-helm to be looked at. It turned out that the course computer was corroded where some sea water had dripped on it so we found a better place to house the new one. All the money we saved from getting a lot of work done, very reasonably in Povoa, went on the computer - typical. However we had a pleasant sociable time and met up with the couple from Nazare again and Tim and Bev from Povao. A hilarious, late evening/morning meant we all set off for Sines a day later than planned.

Povoa De Varzim to Cascais
Sue
08/10/2008, Cascais

Povoa De Varzim to Cascais

With the auto helm repaired we set off feeling excited that we were on our way at last and to bless our escape from Povoa we were accompanied by a small pod of dolphins. Our enthusiasm was short-lived when the auto helm went "walkabout" again. After a quick conference we decided that we would carry on the old-fashioned way with manual helming and look for a Raymarine Dealer in another marina to have it properly sorted.

It was a grey day, the wind less than a 3 so we motored for the 12 hours it took us to reach Figueira da Foz and light was fading fast as I steered us in, dodging the many fishing pots, so helpfully positioned in the way of port entrances. Steve booked us in and was told to go where he could find a space, not easy as it was pretty full. As we were not given a card for the pontoon it was fun getting back there after a shower but some locals were helpful and kept an eye open for us when we returned to go for a meal. I can only do the basics "please, thank you etc" in Portuguese and the waitress seemed confused by my order for Sea Bass so I repeated it to make sure. Five minutes later a huge Gin and Tonic arrived! I was relieved to receive only one fish - you never know.

The following day we set off for Nazare. A small pleasant marina with 2 main pontoons, next to a fish dock so there were a few fish heads floating about but the smell was ok. We were late arriving so had to raft on to a Swedish yacht. In the next hour another 2 boats came in and rafted onto us with the same thing happening on the other pontoon. We were tired so after drinks with another couple on their boat, swapping stories we didn't fancy walking into the town.

The next morning we were met by a rather cross Harbour master who turned out to be English. He was much exercised by the fact that the pontoons were anchored and not on piles so the strain of the rafted boats was a worry for him. He was relieved most of us weren't stopping and even gave us his top tip of how to get to Cascais quicker by going a little further out than we planned to catch a current which would hurry us along, near the islands off Peniche.

We saw lots of dolphins off the islands and the sun was shinning but the current was having a day off so we finally got to Cascais at 10pm in the dark, dodging the pots on the way. Some as you can see not so easy to spot even in daylight!





The Rabelo boat
Sue
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.


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