Yesterday, we made the 20 km bustrrip north to visit Sintra. Into the 19th century, Sintra was teh residence o the Portuguese King. The town was founded in the 8th century by the Moors. First of all we climbed uphill to the 'Castle of the Moors' (Castelo do Mouros) a veritable Eagle's Nest that actually reminds more of a fort than a castle. Amazingly enough it's wall si almost untouched since then, and as a couple of our pictures shows, the technique used in raising the stone walls shows the Arabian style.
The walls and towers of the fort (sorry, Castle) blends in a magical way with the surrounding nature and it can be seen from a long distance. On the hilltop one has good view all the way out on the Ocean so it's easily understood how strategically this choosen location was in those days.
After this combined trekking and historical/cultural affort we went downhill to the Historical Centre of Sintra (this is a UNESCO world heritage). Here the impressive mansions of the 72 Noble families of Portugal anno 1400-1550 is hiding behind high stone walls and as the apple in the pie the former Royal Palace, now known as National Palace. This is a well kept museum and when you see the pictures of the Kitchens (two of them!) in the Castle, you must bear in mind that those two enormous conical chimneys that make the silhouette so specail, is nothing but the chimneys from the kitchen stoves!
Note the 'rotisseurs' - Barbeque is not a new concept! ;-D
Yesterday we didn't even leave the boat. Admitted! What we did, beside just relaxing during this VERY hot and wind-less day, was Isabelle cleaned the whole interior of the boat, to get the salt out and I made a better version (Beta 1.01 for computergeeks) of the brackets and straps that s supposed to FIRMLY hold the life raft in place just aft of the main mast.
Regarding the salt it is reallly discouraging how quick it enters the boat. First i form of a fine mist/spray wjile at sea. In fact it's mostly so fine that ine cannnot take notice of it. Secondly it moves into the cabin with us eveery time we go down below decks. ON our feet, foul weather clothes and not to forget our hands. We have a non-negotiablle rule onboard to ALWAYS wash our hands in fresh water beofore touching anything sensitive. (read computer and other electronical gear). The issue with salt penetrating everything onboard was also a main reason for rebuilding the chart table thus providing better protection for the navigation computer and better functionality.
Enough ranting about that. Today, we really took a day off, and took the train to Lisbon, a thirty minute trip. We intended to start with the Maritime Museum in Belém, which is said to be the largest in the world. Just to find out that they are closed all Mondays. We should have thought of that. Many museum are closed on Mondays so no sensation.
Well, we had no problems spending a day walking from Belém to the old town and 'Castelo Sao Joao' on the highest hill. Here, Vasco da Gama went to see the King after his return from the Far East. The castle was here already 600 BC though and the Phenicians reportedly had it built. Later on, during the long period when the Moors held most of the Iberican Peninsula and Lisboa was an important stronghold and Port for them.
We ate Portugals national dish #1 for lunch - Bacalhao frita with french fries.
Bacalhao is cod, or at least in the 'cod family' and is sold in every supermarket in large quantities. It is dried and salted and comes in big 'flakes'..
It was well prepared and very good - but extremely salt according to our preconceptions. That could largely be cured with generous intake of the local beer.
We also managed to find a couple of hard ware stores and chandleries to visit. As usual.
Pictures uploaded in the Gallery from this charming and unpredictible city that feels very laid-back.
We got delayed a few hours more due to the weak, sorry, non apparent winds and left Leixoes 8AM local time in the morning the 9th Oct. Motored in the calm for couple of hours before the wind slowly came into the scene from NW as predicted. Hoisted the spinnaker and leisurely moved on at 3-4,5 knots for a while. The wind increased steadily though and soon enough we made 6-7,5 knots with the spinnaker as the only canvas. My plans of hoisting the mizzen staysail were never realized. Otherwise this makes a great combo in light air when there is a bit of swell, since there is no booms that swings back and forth as he swells move by.
On board Röde Orm we have a very nice set-up for crusing with a spinnaker. (important with a heavy dsiplacement boat to be able to keep moving at light air. Personally I like lightwind sailing since it's challenging to keep the boat at a few knots as opposed to fire up the engine.
Back to the set-up. We have got two spinnaker poles that runs on tracks along the front of the main mast. Thus no need to 'fight' a bulky and heavy pole on fore-deck. With heavy swells, or waves for that matter, this makes a huge difference. We also have a sock for the spinnaker that makes hoasting adn dousing it a very non-dramatic procedure even single-handed.
We were able to keep the spinnaker up until at midnight. I hand-steered all day and until midnight simply because it was great sailing. At midnight the wind had increased to at least 20 knots though at it seemde prudent to douse it before Isabelle's first night watch. Otherwise a lovely nght- starshine, warm, dolphins from time to time and later on the moon helped us see what we were doing on deck. Talking of dolphins I must tell you that we caught a maqurerel on one of our fishing lines that provided a lovely filé for each of us for dinner.
After getting the spinnaker down, and sorting out all those lines on a dark foredeck, we hoisted the main sail with one reef. Before we even thought of hositing the jib, we noticed that the boat balanced prefectly and the wind vane took over the steering. We made around six knots during the rest of the night under the reefed main only, and didn't see any point in increasing the sail area. I'd anticipate the wind speed to around 25 knots ( Force 6) and the seas started to sound mighty when they passed by with a foamy crest on top.
This meant that we moved ahead of the 'schedule' passing Peniche and the offlying Ilha Berlenga with it's light houses while it was still dark. we never saw the island as nothing but a vague dark silhouette with a light on top.
After sunrise, the wind decreased for a few hours, so we shook out the reef, but didn't bother more than that since we still made in excess of 5 knots of boat speed. the wind veered to NNE and strenghtened to a good 25 knots or maybe a bit more. We took 2 reefs in the main and still did 5.5-6 knots so all was well. Soon enough we sighted the mighty 'Cabo Raso' some 8 miles north of Cascais.
Here, we joked about getting 'Cap Blasé. as Cabo Raso ,, as mighty and beautiful as ut is, looked like a close 'realative' (cousin perhaps) to Finisterre in Galicia and a couple of others in both Galicia and Bretagne.
In the early afternoon we slowly entered the anchorage outside Marina de Cascais and just opposite a beach and some old style and very classy hotels. We dropped the hook in 18 feet of water just behind *Zephyr', whose crew apparantly were on shore.
Among sailors a k a 'harbour rot' is a phenomenon that I guess affects all of us. For good and for bad. We took shelter here from a frontal passage that was connected with a nasty low that provided storm force winds over southern Sweden and elsewhere further north. Here, the winds have been in the 30 knot range for 2-3 days now and LOTS of rain. As opposed to the higher latitudes I (Magnus) am used to, it's still warm though. Around 20 degrees so still shorts and t-shirts mostly.
Needless to say the laundry does not dry in these conditions, making the boat look like an alley in southern Italy or maybe an old style gypsy camp. We have been able to take advantage of shore power (for our tools) to rebuild the navigation table. Will post a few pictures in the 'Photo Gallery'.
Functionally, we are satisfied with it, but since we had to reuse the old teak pieces the finish wasn't 100 %, but that can be dealt with later with some teak trim...
We've also explored Porto - a very charming city- and in the middle of the city, on the river, we found 'Zephyr' from Jersey again and reunited with Steve and Colin. We did the day trip to Porto (by bus) with Alistair, an English single-hander in a Tradewind 35 and had a very nice evening in the cockpit of 'Zephyr' over a glass of wine, or erhhh, maybe two ;-)
As it seems they will sail to Cascais before us since they will have friends flying in who are supposed to sleep onboard. We do not envy them the 170 miles beating to windward....but wish tehm good luck.
Being on a schedule is always what makes you end up in the 'bad stuff' when sailing.
We also visitied Croft's, one of the many usually English own Port wine caves here. A guided tour through the cellar with all it's casks and barrels sharing their special smell with us. After the tour a sample was offered us for free consisting of one white Port and a Ruby. We decided to add to the experience with a Vintage 1995. Cream of the crop to say the least.
Tomorrow the wind will calm down a bit and turn NW, so we'll do the 1,5 day passageto Cascais then as it seems now
10/01/2009, Ria de Vigo
We have been here for a few days now. Nice and sunny but no wind to take us anywhere. By now we are getting a bit itchy to move south though. Being in Lisboa before the end of September was ib our plans. It's 230 M or thereabout to Lisboa and motoring for 48 hours simply is not a very attractive proposition.
We will leave this afternoon anyway. Firstly to Bayona (just across the Ria) to fill up the fuel and water tanks, and then during the night the 68 or so miles to Leixoes. Leixoes is a not so charming commercial man-made port just north of the city of Porto n the Douro river. Porto is said to be very nice, and of course it's famous wines could be experienced. Add to this that from now on we are in low season, which means that marina fees are reduced sometimes as much as 50%.
We need to deal with some everyday practcalities. Laundry is one. Another is that we have come up with another little project on teh boat. We are going to rebuild the navigation station completely to fit the 'modern style' navigatn better. I e a dedicated and sheltered slot for the computer and other electronic 'toys' that seem to enter the boat either you want it or not.
Southerly winds (unusual statistically) are predicted for the nex weekend a couple of days more, and after finishing our project and exploring Porto we hope for the famous northerly 'Portuguese Trade Wind' to finally show up and provide us with a nice downwind sail to Cascais and Lisboa.