Leaving Baiona early morning I had a great sail down the coast to Leixoes, which is close to the river Douro where Porto is based. I entered the marina at dusk, and moored behind the Western Star on the visitors pontoon…..I thought I would never see them again after leaving Santander. We had a great night out at a restaurant and the next day three of us caught the local bus into Porto.
Leaving Leixoes on the following morning at dawn, I had to motorsail in calm conditions and through two dense banks of fog to Figueira da Foz. Two other UK yachts were also heading down to the Mediterranean, and one of them, Scarlett with David and Lynn, I was destined to meet again.
I planned to sail from Figueira do Foz to Peniche, and although the day started well sailing under the Genoa only in a NW wind, the wind and Atlantic swell increased to the point where it seemed like an endurance test. So I turned into Nazare. It was here that I realised that Nazare is famous for a guy surfing the biggest ever wave…..100ft! The sea here is affected by deep caverns…..and didn’t I know it! Scarlett did too! It was here that I first met Paul and Norma on the beautiful ketch Spectra, on their way, eventually to the Caribbean.
After a day in Nazare I left for the short passage to Peniche, and early afternoon rafted up against the Western Star on the visitors pontoon. Scarlett had taken the last pontoon place, which is why I had to raft. Later, Spectra joined us and we all went to a superb fish restaurant in town.
Four days later (because of sea swell and southerly winds) I left Peniche and arrived in Cascais early evening. Cascais is a forty minute train ride into Lisbon. There are marinas further up the river Tejo, but are often full. In Cascais marina I caught up with Mike and Christine on Hannah and from Hull marina. Both Spectra and Scarlett arrived on the same day too. I was lucky enough to go into Lisbon on the Saturday, because later and for the next two days the weather was awful!
The weather looked good, and so I left the marina just before Spectra. Just as I passed the mouth of the river Tejo the Yacht Granuaile showed up on the AIS (anti-collision). It was on the same course down to Sines, and after mooring close to each other in the marina I met Richard and Eilish, who were on the way across to the Caribbean….on the boat that Richard built himself! So with Spectra and Western Star also here, the “gang” had increased. We all stayed for nearly a week because of a big swell coming from mid-Atlantic and southerly winds. So I organised a meal out for the increased gang of ten. But with friendships made this is where we split….Spectra and Yacht Granuaile sailed down to the Canaries, and Western Star was able to motor south against southerly winds.
I eventually saw the “weather window” I wanted and left Sines on a great sail down to the south western tip of Portugal, and “around the corner” at Cabo de Sao Vicente into the Gulf of Cadiz. It was too dark to risk anchoring close to the beach at Sagres, so I motored up to the river Arade and anchored overnight near to Portimao. The next day I was just able to sail in sunny and calm conditions the short passage past Albufeira to Vilamoura.
Vilamoura is the best marina so far, and the thermometers hit 29c! Here I rested in readiness for one more long overnight sail….
I left Vilamoura early afternoon, and sailed most of the passage to Cadiz (the wind dropped with the sun, but soon came back strongly) arriving at 11:30 the following morning. As darkness fell there was a call on the radio for all ships to stay out of the area where NATO warships were performing strategic manoeuvres….luckily this area was just south of my course. All night and into dawn there was radio contact with “motor boat Sierra” and later I found out that they were simulating a ship hijack rescue. Close to Cadiz I had to alter course briefly as a warship passed my bows!
Time was passing, and I wanted to get off the Atlantic coast as soon as I could…..safely! I sailed down towards Porto and moored in the marina at Leixoes…..and I moored behind the Western Star. I first met the crew of this ex-trawler in Santander, so it was great to see them again even with a couple of crew changes. Porto was fantastic.
From Leixoes I had to motor most of the way to Figueira da Foz, and for the first time hit two banks of dense fog on the way. I had a great sail towards Peniche but the wind and the swell became too much, and so I stopped at Nazare.
After Nazare I went to Peniche, and not only caught up with the Western Star, but also rafted up next to them!
Peniche to Cascais was a short hop, and I finally met Mike and Christine on “Hannah” from Hull marina! I had a great day in Lisbon, but that night we had the biggest storm EVER!
As I write I am hoping to leave Cascais on Tuesday, and it should be a good sail down to Sines….and from there it is just one more sail to get off the Atlantic coast and then four more sailing days to Gibraltar.