Portosin to Nazare
25 October 2010
Portosin to Navare
Portosin is an excellent place to come into. The marina is very good with the best, cleanest showers I've been to so far. The water is plentiful and really hot and it's tempting to spend a long time in the shower. The club restaurant is on the second floor of the building with huge picture windows overlooking the marina and the ria beyond. There is also a balcony but the wind had a bite to it so I quickly retreated inside to the big clunky sofas which once sunk into brought on a reluctance to want to move. The wi-fi signal in the restaurant is excellent so I spent a few hours catching up on emails etc while being brought cold beers at regular intervals.
I went for a walk into the town, well large village really and found it to be a sleepy seaside place with small beautiful beaches of proper golden sand, which must attract lots of people during the warmer weather. The fishing part of the harbour is busy, as they all are along this coast and in the sunshine made for a colourful sight.
The boat which came in after me was a New Zealand yacht called Restless of Auckland. She is a 50ft ketch and looks an excellent seaboat. I was invited onboard for drinks and a bite to eat. There were three people on board: Roland and Consie Lennox-King and their friend Keir. They are certainly well travelled and I had a very pleasant evening with them. They are very experienced yachties and were able to give me lots of good advice, especially about New Zealand. They have a house in the Bay of Islands and should be there when we will be so it will be good to team up with them again. I told them about the Spot 2 and they were very interested in it. Consie's twin sister is always worried about her and so Consie thinks that the Spot will be ideal so that her sister can keep track of their movements.
I slipped at 0800 the following morning, Sunday 17 October, while it was still dark. The wind was quite strong but was from the NE so it would be behind me on the way to Bayona. I raised a reefed main as soon as I had cleared the harbour and a few minutes later put the engine to sleep. The wind was forecast NE5 to 7 and it certainly lived up to it. The frequent gusts were definitely approaching force 7 so I was soon doing 6 knots with just the reefed main. This lasted for the first three hours or so but by midday the wind had eased so I was able to set the genoa. The sea lost its white horses and the sun warmed everything up to make it very pleasant sailing.
The wind gradually died so that at 1530 I had to furl the genoa and fire up the engine again. I could see Cabo Silleiro quite clearly from many miles off and as Bayona is only a couple of miles inside it my target was in view. I debated whether to pick up a visitors mooring at the yacht club, try to see if there was a vacant berth alongside or go to the commercial marina next to it. As I approached a RIB came out of the commercial marina and told me where to berth there - the choice was made.
The marina is big and I was a very long way from the shore along long pontoons. The facilities are crude and it was by far the most expensive night's stay of the journey so far. However, it was only for one night so I had to put up with it. Bayona is a seaside town and being a Sunday had lots of people about, probably out for the day. I tried but failed to bring up wi-fi so went back to the boat for a quiet night.
The following morning, Monday 18 October, I went ashore to the supermarket to buy a few things and was pleasantly surprised to find the prices much cheaper than La Coruna. I then slipped at 1100 and went round to the fuelling jetty to top up with diesel. Having been relieved of 110 euros I slipped the dock and set out for Viana do Castello, my first stop in Portugal. I set the main but the wind was definitely asleep so I motored down the coast in bright sunshine.
Again the visibility was good so I was able to see the breakwater at the entrance to the commercial harbour from a good distance. On my last visit here ten years ago I had a potentially fatal incident when I fell back, due to a film of diesel on the pontoon, cracked my head on the capping rail and found myself in the water under the pontoon. Luckily I am confident in the water and just reached back and pulled myself to the surface again. Had I been knocked unconscious though I would have drowned. I was fortunate in having a thick skull.
The marina is in a cut out off the river Lima. Now, unlike my previous visit, there was a pedestrian bridge over the entrance. This has to be opened to allow entrance and exit to the marina. However, there is a waiting pontoon just outside in the river itself. At 1800 I tied up to this with the aid of from children from a French boat which was alongside.
This suited me as I did not want to be trapped in the marina to await the bridge opening. I booked in for one night initially but in the event decided that a second night was called for.
I walked around the old town which is full of little streets and interesting courtyards. The supermarket prices were even cheaper than Bayona which was a bonus. I found that I could get a good wi-fi signal sitting in a café alongside the marina so was able to catch up with emails etc.
Its quite strange how technology has invaded our lives so much. When I first set of in my 24ft Achilles, Dunkers, in 1985 I had only ordinary mail as a form of communication. I had to plan ahead to find mail pick up points and these were spaced sometimes weeks apart. Now the first thing I ask is if there is a wi-fi connection so that I can instantly catch up on my emails. I also fire off the Spot at very regular intervals whilst at sea so that everyone can keep track of my movements. Prior to this it was just sending postcards from where ever I was at the time. Of course I phone home very frequently, at least a couple of times a day and also send text messages to friends most days. The plus side of the coin is that Mary knows that I am safe and can see where I am. The Internet means that banking, ordering spare parts and keeping a close watch on the weather is now so much easier and convenient.
At 0915 on Wednesday 20 October I slipped from Viana do Castelo bound for Leixoes about 30 miles down the coast. As soon as I got to the harbour entrance I set the main and genoa and stopped the engine. Half an hour later I set the mizzen as I was on a beam reach and with all plain sail set it was very pleasant on a perfect day. This didn't last long though and a couple of hours later the wind died and I took in the genoa and flashed up the engine again. By 1400 I was opposite Varzim and was tempted to put in there. Common sense prevailed though and I carried on the extra 12 miles to Leixoes. By 1715 I was alongside in a very scruffy marina with muck and rubbish in the water and rickety pontoons. The marina staff were friendly though and welcoming.
When I checked in I thought that I'd go for a cold beer after my day in the sun. I found a bar within the marina/yacht club area which was nice and handy. It seemed to be for the workers in the marina and yacht club but was perfectly fine for me. There was the inevitable large television set tuned in to a sports channel, with the sound turned down and a radio blaring at the same time. The bare wooden floor was varnished and there were plain wooden tables and chairs. The barman was friendly and it had a good atmosphere so I was quite content.
The next day I went for a long walk along the front which sported a very long beach, where there were quite a lot of surfers in the water. The sun was out and the place looked great. I should imagine that in the summer it must get very crowded as it is only a few miles from Porto, Portugal's second city.
I had planned to leave the next day but the pump in the head decided to jam up completely. I had a spares kit ready for this eventuality but did not relish this job at all. Breakfast was not an option as I would probably not of kept it down once I got amongst the nasty stuff. I did quite well as I only wretched a couple of times but it took me a lot longer that I had anticipated. However, at last I had a working head again and a clean boat, after lots and lots of hot soapy water going through the bilges. After a very long hot shower and a change of clothes I went to the dockyard bar again and had a well deserved beer while watching a rugby match between two South African teams. I was the only one watching the game but no one seemed to mind and the barman didn't change channels to find the inevitable football.
On Saturday 23rd at 1010 I sailed bound for Aveiro, about 30 miles down the coast. The wind was still in bed so and the visibility was down to about a miles. The sun was in the ascendant so I hoped that soon the mist would be burnt off and the visibility improve. By 1235 a wind sprang up from the starboard quarter so I was able to stop the engine and set the main and genoa. The wind continued to fill and at 1530 I had to reef the main and genoa. As I got nearer Aveiro it became obvious that I would not be able to enter as the pilot warned that it was dangerous to enter the narrow channel in strong offshore winds. This meant that the nearest harbour was Figueira Da Foz, another 30 miles ahead. Unfortunately this would mean a night entrance , which I did not relish as I didn't know the harbour at all.
The wind continued to rise and the sea was covered in white horses. This meant that keeping the boat on course was hard work and I could not leave the wheel for a moment. I had made a flask of coffee and had a couple of chocolate bars as I thought that it would be just a routine day sail. As it got dark I began to wonder at the wisdom of going into Figueira in the dark on my own. The wind and sea would be behind me and I would have to identify the harbour entrance against a background of shore lights. At about 2300 I decided not go attempt the entry and to carry on to Nazare, another 30 miles further on. By now I was getting tired but it was the only sensible decision. I was now out of coffee and had nothing to eat so it was going to be a long night. However, the wind began to moderate and the sea was not as high or as steep so the going was easier. At 0400 I hove to for half an hour just to have a rest and make a hot drink, both of which were very welcome.
I carried on into the blackness but here and there stars shone through the clouds. At times a big full moon put in an appearance which really made a big difference to morale. I had got my second wind and although tired I was able to concentrate on steering and keep a reasonable course.
Dawn came up just before 0800 and I could see quite clearly the coast on my port side. I put a fix on the chart and angled into the entrance to Nazare. As I got closer and it got lighter I began to look for the bay where the town was. The sun was directly behind my target and could not see any sign of either a town or the marina moles. I began to wonder, in my tiredness, if I had identified the correct bay but the chart showed no other in that part of the coast.
Suddenly the sun went behind a cloud and I could the glimmer of something ahead. Sure enough I could see the marina entrance a couple of miles ahead. As I got closer I hove to and got the ropes and fenders ready for entry. I was glad to go between the long arms of the harbour entrance and find flat water again. As I got closer to the corner of the harbour where the marina was I saw a figure on the end of one of the arms waving me onto a hammer head. This was just what a needed, someone to give me a hand and take away a little of the strain of a single-handed entry into a strange port. In fact I brought the boat alongside perfectly and could have managed quite well on my own. Nevertheless, I was grateful for someone to take my bow line and secure it for me. The time was 1010 so it had taken me exactly 24 hours from port to port.
It turned out that the man on the jetty was Mike Hadley who was sporting an RNSA teeshirt. I happened to be wearing my RNSA sweatshirt so I had an ally in the camp. Mike left me to finish squaring off only to return ten minutes later to take me to his office to complete formalities. In the office was his wife, who is the RNSA Liaison Officer for this part of the coast. They made me most welcome while the paperwork was being completed. I was also given a sheet of information about the port and town, a map of the area and general advice. Once this was done Mike took me upstairs to the Customs to clear in there. After that I was free to go back to the boat and get some much needed sleep.
Tomorrow I shall have a little potter ashore but I need to leave early on Tuesday morning on the next quite long let to Cascais. I had planned to have a night in Peniche, about 20 miles down the coast from Nazare but I found out from Mike that the harbour is closed so I shall have to do the 70 odd miles in one hit. As Kate is flying into Lisbon on Thursday morning I have to get my skates on so that I can be at the airport to meet her.