14 November 2016 | Lisbon
13 November 2016 | Figueira da Foz
04 November 2016 | Porto and Leixoes
31 October 2016 | Viana do Costello
31 October 2016 | Sanxenxo and Baiona
21 September 2016 | Muros
14 September 2016 | Cedeira
14 September 2016 | Avilles
14 September 2016 | Gijon
22 August 2016 | Laredo and Santander
22 August 2016 | Bilbao and Castro Urdilares
02 August 2016 | La Rochelle
21 April 2017 | Alvor
On Easter Sunday we left Lagos at 14.45 in bright sunshine; a bit of a tricky departure as the wind blew the bow onto the pontoon - Paul carefully negotiated a six point turn! Our genoa pulled us downwind for the 4.9 miles to Alvor; we arrived here on the half flood so that we could see the sandbars, this is a very shallow anchorage. As we slowly and carefully motored towards the town we saw an amazing house on the bank with its own pontoon (see the photo album)- wow, what a setting, I want this house!
We spent three nights in this beautiful spot and it didn't feel like we were at anchor, so still ( apart from late evening and early morning when the fishermen sped past us). Paul enjoyed a spot of bird watching through his binos: he saw storks, herons, egrets, swallows, swifts and the highlight for him was an, as yet, unidentified large falcon which was taking down prey over the sandbank and devouring it. Paul also has finally had success with his fishing rod and caught several Dorade( Sea Bream) which were very tasty. We used our Cobb bbq whilst here too.
We took the dinghy ashore to the small town which, for our liking, had one too many Irish bars for its size, although, Paul did partake in a Guinness!
We felt like we were in paradise here and would have stayed longer but extremely high easterly winds were coming so we decided to make our way to the next marina, Portimao, which also has an appealing anchorage called Ferragudo- hopefully we will make a stop there too.
Sesimbra, Sines and around Cabo Sao Vincente to Lagos
21 April 2017 | Lagos
On 01/04/17 we said goodbye to all of the friends we had made over the past five months and wrenched ourselves from the wonderful city of Lisbon. We had become too comfortable here; the marina had everything we needed: clean, hot, powerful showers and a good washing machine, great transport links and nearby shops. We made our way to Oeiras, being a convenient stopping place before Sesimbra, and sailed back down the River Tejo past all of the fantastic landmarks of Lisbon; the sunshine was gleaming across Alfama, my favourite district, and its Pantheon; we then past Commercial square with its impressive Augusta Arch; we sailed under the extremely noisy 25 April bridge, which resembles the Golden Gate bridge; after that was Belem with its fairytale tower and Monument of Discoveries. I am sure that one day we will return to this awesome place.
We were a little early arriving at Oeiras and there was too much tide action, hence our approach was a little traumatic! The swell was horrendous, I was helming whilst Paul put the main sail down and got thrown around a lot, so in fear of falling in grabbed the harness ( or strap on, as I like to call it!) to secure me to Swallow- the clip had seized up over winter, classic faux pas, should've checked it before leaving. I feel we have become a little out of practice but know that we will soon get back into it! What should have been a simple sail was terrifying for me! Ridiculous!!!! (as Paul would say).
Four days later we sailed 30 miles down the West coast to Sesimbra; there was a 2m, beam on swell as we departed the river and we were on a beam reach, port tack. We looked back to Lisbon's skyline: beautiful diamonds were sparkling on the sea's surface and the sun was illuminating the coloured buildings. As we rounded Cabo Espichel the tide was dropping and the swell on our port quarter slewed us round; the waves were crashing into the caves in the sandy coloured cliffs. We moored up at the Clube Navale de Sesimbra which had excellent facilities.
Sesimbra has a busy fishing harbour, a beautiful beach and quaint town. We walked up to the medieval castle and enjoyed views as far back as Lisbon, stunning!
On 10/04/17 we made the 36 miles further down to Sines as the last stopping point before rounding Cabo St Vincent and heading for the Algarve. This was a motor sail for most of the way as there was not much wind at all; the rippling sea resembled corrugated cardboard. To our delight, after a couple of hours, six bottle nosed dolphins appeared and were playing on our bow wave. We only stayed one night in Sines, as we were keen to use the calm weather window to round Cabo Sao Vincente, so we didn't venture ashore. The town looked rather industrial but there is a nice beach and Locomotion, who were there a couple of weeks before us, told us that there is a great local restaurant. We met a Welsh man, Martin, who has been living aboard in this marina for eight years!
The next evening we had dinner and togged ourselves up with our warm, wet weather gear and set sail for Lagos. We departed at 22.40 with a full moon to guide us across a calm sea. We had a good run for 57 miles down to the point with 8 knots of wind and watched the welcome sunrise. The wind died as we came around the point at about 0900, but we didn't mind as this point has a reputation for being very nasty with wind and swell. At this time we had encouraging texts, which spurred us on, from Ula (Andy and Clare), who were further round in the Algarve and also from Drew (Madness), who is our Ground Control! Next we had four and a half hours of a hard slog into the wind blown current, we were so tired; Paul had stayed awake the entire journey and I had had two hours sleep ( testing out the lee cloth). As we approached Lagos we sailed past a fish farm and what I can only describe as a sea bass graveyard; there were loads of dead fish drifting by us, this is a probably due to overcrowding within the nets resulting with disease spreading among the fish and they are then discarded as useless; even the gannets weren't interested in them! We arrived in Lagos at 13.20, stopped at the reception pontoon to complete the necessary formalities and then they raised the lift bridge for us to proceed to our berth, which, to our delight was next to Lotta, our lovely Swiss friends, Shon and Liisa.
After a very long sleep we caught up with Shon and Liisa and celebrated with a few beers! We were
Shake down to Oeiras
23 March 2017
We will be leaving Lisbon at the end of this month; it will be emotional as we have become very attached to this city. Christmas and New Year were great, the city was tastefully decorated and the atmosphere was low key but still magical.
We have visited so many places and have never been bored here. We have even taken up baking; Paul has been making bread and I made my first ever madeira cake! Paul also had a go at painting and produced an impressive watercolour of some Portuguese washing!
We returned home to the UK at the end of January for five weeks; this was a busy time in which we spent five days preparing our house for new tenants, visiting our friends and families and stocking up on various boat parts from You Boat; we also bought Swallow's injectors back to be serviced, as we had a lot of smoke when the engine was on. It was lovely to see everyone, especially our beautiful grandson who had his first birthday party the day before we left - thank goodness for Facebook video!
Our bags were stacked to maximum capacity and weight for our flight home! - we also took back loads of tea bags ( they're never the same over here)
A few days after returning back to Lisbon, Swallow was lifted out of the water for her annual scrub and check-up. The lift out was done at our marina; they did us a good deal for this and also hard-standing and a jet wash. Paul worked really hard cleaning the hull ( we are copper coated), polishing, changing the anodes, anti-fouling the prop and sorting out the speed log paddle wheel, which was encrusted with barnacles; there were also remnants of rope wrapped around the prop shaft! Paul also put the injectors back in. We were back in the water within four days. As most female crew would probably say, living on the boat in the yard is not ideal as it involves weeing into a bucket and carrying the bowl of washing up down the ladder! The winds were pretty high too, I didn't feel as safe as I do on the water.
Just before we went away Paul contacted Westaway Sails in Devon who had supplied Swallow's original sails; they still had all the details and so we ordered a new Premium Dacron main sail. To Paul's delight this arrived the day after we were dropped back into the water so, with the help of Ken, another UK sailor, he successfully fitted it. We tried out the new sail a few days ago; Drew and Jackie (Madness) flew over from London for four days and we sailed to Oeiras, stopped for a lunch of Greek salad and king prawns on board( the marina didn't charge for the mooring), and back again.
We had a fantastic three hour sail to Oeiras; the wind started as a F3 to 4 and increased to a F4 gusting 5; we flew along on a close reach to starboard, achieving 7 knots. The sail back was pretty much the same on a port tack; we have realised just how tired and stretched our old main sail was, bearing in mind it was twenty years old, it's done us proud getting us all the way to Lisbon from Gosport. Now Paul is coming up with ideas on how to recycle it; he may make a hammock/ sunshade- sounds good to me!
It was wonderful having Drew and Jackie here; as well as a day sail we took them to Cascais on the train, enjoyed an evening of Fado and on their last day we devoured a delicious fish lunch of red mullet at Senor Peixe in Parques das Nacoes. The day before they arrived was my birthday and our third wedding anniversary- we had a lovely lunch in our favourite place, Alfama. Sounds like all we do is eat and drink- ummm, yep, about right.
Today, unusually, it's pouring with rain, hence me catching up with the blog. We will spend the next few days preparing ourselves and Swallow ready to move down the coast and round Cabo St Vincent into the Algarve; exciting times ahead. Millie, Ula, Kady and Locomotion have already made it to Lagos, we are looking forward to catching up with them. Stay tuned!!!!
Christmas sail to Cascais
28 December 2016
We've been in Lisbon for two months now and it already feels like home; the extremely friendly Marina Parque das Nacoes is ideally situated, the bus stops outside the marina and takes us to the centre of Lisbon in 20 minutes.The supermarket, in Vasco de Gama shopping centre, and metro/train station are a 10 minute brisk ( as we need the exercise) walk; the promenade which leads to a nature reserve, along the river ,is ideal for walkers, runners and cyclists - there are loads of bars and restaurants, a casino, cinemas, shops and a concert arena. Our favourite area is Alfama which is about ten minutes by bus (the buses run all night); this is the old town which is really quaint with its sloping, cobbled streets and pastel coloured houses displaying the inhabitants' washing! Alfama houses the cathedral ( Se), the Pantheon, St Jorge's Castle, many museums and lots of restaurants and extremely entertaining Fado (traditional Portuguese guitarists and singers) houses.
A week before Christmas we took the train down to Cascais (about 40 minutes) to visit Ula and Kady; we had a delicious pre Christmas roast dinner at a local Irish bar, a good day was had by all. We then decided that it would be lovely to sail there for Christmas so that we could all celebrate together. So on 23rd December 2016 we set off at 11.30 ; we left in slight fog which lifted after an hour; there wasn't much wind but the tide took us down. There was a 2.5 m swell across the bay before heading into Cascais- it was a bit uncomfortable but, after a three our sail, Cascais welcomed us with brilliant warm sunshine.
We enjoyed an ice cream whilst walking along Cascais beach on Christmas Eve, it was blissful. Christmas day was great fun, Clare and Cath had already been shopping and managed to find all the ingredients for a perfect Christmas dinner (including sprouts, parsnips and cranberry sauce!). All three boat crews worked together using all of our ovens to produce a fantastic meal which we devoured aboard Ula. It was a special day; delicious food, great company and of course copious amounts of alcohol! On Boxing Day Andy made us a scrummy turkey curry.
On 27th December we enjoyed a three hour sail back to Lisbon; there was a bit more wind this time and we managed to tack up the river. The river shone across Commercial Square as we sailed past it; Lisbon is built on seven hills and its skyline is stunning from the river with the vibrant colours of the red roofed buildings (red, orange, yellow, pink, mint green and sky blue ) and of course Belem Tower, Jerome Monastery, Augusta Arch, the Pantheon, the 25th April and Vasco de Gama bridges.
Cascais and Lisbon
14 November 2016 | Lisbon
On 30/10/2016 Swallow led the 'British Armada' out of Peniche at 0800 and we all set sail for Cascais, approximately 47 miles away. Not a lot of wind again today so we motor sailed for most of it. We watched the greedy gannets dive bombing into the sea to catch fish and we witnessed a forest fire on the shore. As we rounded Cabo de Roca, with its sheer cliffs, the swell increased. We arrived at Cascais marina at 1630 and decided to stay here for two nights before moving on to our final destination for the winter-Lisbon.
Cascais is a beautiful, up market holiday resort.; there is a stunning beach with an anchorage and the old streets are paved with granite sets. We were delighted to stumble across a delicious Indian restaurant, Masala- of course we couldn't resist!
On 01/11/2016, after fuelling up, we left Cascais with Millie; Kady and Ula had decided to overwinter in Cascais and so we had a farewell drink with them the night before - we will definitely be meeting up again as it's only a short train ride away from Lisbon. This was only a short three hour journey up the Rio Tejo and was the best sail of the year! The exit out of Cascais was incredibly rocky but then we had 7 knots of tide taking us into the mouth of the river; we found ourselves amongst some 50 racing yachts - Paul was in his element when he was racing a Beneteau and achieving 8 knots , which is fast for Swallow!We sailed under the imposing bridge of 25 April- which resembles the Golden Gate bridge; judging from the sites we saw coming up the river we could tell that we were going to enjoy Lisbon. Locomotion welcomed us into the berth next to them in the marina and took our lines; it was great to catch up with Sue and Ed and nice that we will be spending the winter here with them and Millie (Andrew and Angela).
We are at the Parques da Nacoes marina which is on the old Expo 98 site just a 20 minute bus ride from the centre of Lisbon; the airport is three metro stops away so we are well placed for popping home and to welcome anyone who wants to come out and visit. We've been here two weeks now and have already visited Sintra, with its Moorish Castle and Pena Palace; we've also walked around St George's Castle, the downtown and oldest district of Alfama and the upmarket area of Bairro Alto and nearby Baixa, where we enjoyed a typically Portuguese meal and a samba bar. We have become rather partial to the custard tarts- there are so many pastry and coffee shops to choose from! Lisbon is built on seven hills (but there are many more than that) so we are definitely strengthening our leg muscles! This week we will be visiting a massive flea market and a fado house; I am sure that there is plenty to keep us occupied here for the next few months - an exciting prospect for us!
Figueira da Foz, Nazaire & Peniche
13 November 2016 | Figueira da Foz
On 26/10/2016 we left Leixoes at 0600, accompanied by Millie, Ula, Lotta and Kady, with only the lights of a crescent moon and the port to guide us; we had a 12 hour journey ahead of us and wanted to arrive in Figueira da Foz in daylight - Portugal is on British time and the days are getting shorter! Apart from a slight altercation with a large tanker entering the port at considerable speed we managed to navigate our way out to sea without hitting any pot buoys. The sun came up at about 0745, it was a beautiful day with little wind,; the sun sparkling onto the water gave the impression of an array of flashing fairy lights laid on top of the sea's surface. Paul enjoyed watching the gannets diving for fish. The wind was very variable but we managed to get a decent sail for the last hour and made it by 1845.
We didn't see as much of Figueira da Foz as we would have liked; the general consensus was to keep on moving south whilst we still had good weather. As it turned out we could have lingered slightly longer ; we are now in the second week of November and the weather is still glorious- hindsight is a wonderful thing! There is a colourful covered market across the road from the marina here where you can buy fish, fruit and veg, olives, bread and pastries, bric a brac and clothes- I enjoyed trying to use my very limited knowledge of the Portuguese language here as the locals did not speak English; The language in the written form is similar to Spanish, but the pronunciation is quite different- it sounds more like east European, I am really struggling to understand the spoken language at the moment- am hoping it will suddenly become clear! We didn't think that we could find a nation friendlier than the Spanish but the Portuguese are lovely; apparently there is an Anglo/Portuguese alliance, signed in 1373, which is the oldest alliance in the world and still in force. I'm sure that by spending our winter in Lisbon we will learn a lot about this fascinating country.
After two nights in Fig da Foz we all moved on to Nazaire, apart from Lotta who stayed behind - we had a farewell drink on Swallow the night before; ten of us up on deck - the bow lifted out of the water considerably! Apart from a rather overpowering, pungent smell wafting out from a processing plant on the coast it was a very pleasant day's sail- the wind was in our favour at last; it was good to hear the gentle lapping of the water hitting Swallow as she glided along on a close reach. A ginormous bee hitched a ride with us. I was rather nervous about this part of the coast as I had read that Nazaire is famous for the tallest wave ever surfed, at 100ft; a deep water canyon runs to the shore and funnels the large Atlantic swells; two lovely marina guys took our ropes and told us that the wave had visited them three days ago!
The following day, still taking advantage of fair weather, we sailed to Peniche; not a lot of wind resulting in the engine being on and off a lot. There were lots of unmarked pots to dodge and we saw several fish jumping which was a shame as Paul had given up with his fishing gear weeks ago! There was not a lot of room for the British Armada, as we like to call our collection of four boats, here; we all had to raft alongside other boats and we had a very bumpy night due to the fishing boats coming and going at great speed at all hours. Hence, it was a unanimous decision to move on the next morning to Cascais.