28th – 31st January – Back to Shelter Bay
I left Lemmon Cays soon after first light, as soon as the light was good enough to see the reefs. Out past the reefs and breaking surf I could set a course to clear the reefs of Porvener. A close reach this wind about 20 knots and a reasonably lively sea. I chose to get enough northing in to clear all offshore dangers meaning I could run down my westing free in that knowledge, rather like the old time clippers used to do. Once out at 9 degrees 38 minutes I turned westwards, putting Sea Bear on a beam reach and she fairly romped along. Much later the average speed on the log was showing 6.1 knots, good going indeed for us.
Rounding Isla Tamba and Isla Grande we were in good time and so instead of going in to Isla Linton to anchor I carried on to Portobello. The wind had eased a little over the last hour but rounding Drake Island and within sight of the anchorage with the log showing 60 miles covered in 10 hours, it died completely. No problem I thought I’ll just motor the last mile to anchor, but problem there was. The engine did not start, it would not even turn over but was locked solid. An initial assessment showed me that it wasn’t something I could fix right then. With wind I could have sailed in but there was none. I called up some cruisers in the bay over the vhf and explained my position so they said they would come out in their dinghies and assist. Before they arrived though a little breeze came back so I sailed towards the anchorage, the dinghies dully arrived and shepherded me to anchor. I was grateful for their support.
Safely at anchor it was out with the tools, out with the injectors, off with the exhaust elbow and drain all the seawater out of the engine and crank by hand to blow the remains out. Put it all back together and mercifully the engine started and ran. I warmed it up to drive out any moisture lingering. Finished well after dark and then I could make a cuppa and cook dinner. Puzzling over why this had happened I investigated further and discover the air inlet pipe to the anti-syphon valve was blocked, allowing sea water to syphon in to the exhaust manifold and thence the engine, Easily solved that but worse was that the exhaust elbow was corroded inside – only cure for that a new one.
Spent a couple of day at Portobello then headed off to Shelter Bay, turned out to be a very windy day and approaching the breakwater rain squalls too. Dodging both and outgoing and ingoing big ships I entered the breakwater and so to moor alongside in Shelter Bay marina. Time to try and get a new exhaust elbow and start with the canal paperwork.
1st Oct – Lisbon
A day walking around in the hot sun. I visited the maritime museum which was worthwhile. Hats off to those early Portugese navigators exploring in boats that were sometimes not that much bigger than some modern couples yachts. Lisbon is a fascinating city, huge and sprawling with loads of character summed up by old buildings, cobbled roads and pavements, and tiled buildings. If you liked cities it is the sort of place you could get stuck in. Found a non tourist area and had lunch at a cafe on the street a sort of mixed fish stew flavoured with fresh coriander and one of the custard tarts that Matt told me to look out for.
28th September – Peniche
Arrived here via a series of day sails.
24th Sept – Leixos to Aveiro
Out to sea and there was a surprisingly large swell, considering how calm the weather. The morning started with gentle SE winds then later there is a calm and in the afternoon the wind returns from the NW gradually getting stronger as the afternoon progressed. I rigged the big red and white cruising chute and when the wing was about 8 knots it was pulling like the proverbial steam train. Later as the wind increased to about 13 knots I decided enough of such nonsense, this would seem like about the upper limit for this huge sail so I handed it, Thanks to it’s snuffer a relatively easy task.
The coast here is just an endless line of sandiness and beaches on which even 2- 3 mile out you can hear the surf roar. Navigation is straightforward, you just get far enough off shore to find the 20 m depth contour and then turn south.
The intention was to enter Ria Averio but the pilot gives dire warnings of the effects of swell so I was a little uncertain whether to attempt an entry but I closed with it to have a look. Some big ships were coming out and some smaller fishing boats too and then I saw a yacht about to enter so I followed at a discreet distance and it turned out there was no problem. I motored up the river and anchored of the little town of St Jacino. The area is one of lagoons, sand dunes and salt marsh but is very developed industrially.
25th Sept – Aveiro to Figuera da Foz
In the mooring I headed out through the harbour moles. There was a bad swell breaking to the S so I headed W to clear it, an outgoing small fishing boat also pointed me out the way. Once again out to the 20 m depth contour and turn south for more endless mile of sand dunes and beaches. Early afternoon saw the NW breeze kick in again so out with the cruising chute. Not far behind me was Jean Michelle and his Wharram cat who I had meet earlier in Spain. They had been catching me until I hoisted the chute but now we could just stay ahead. Past Cabo de Monego I handed the chute and gybed towards the port of Figuera da Fox which I entered and found a berth in the marina for the night.
26th Sept – Figuera da Foz to Nazare
Yesterday the log had not worked all day so after taking out the paddle wheel and cleaning it I hoped it would be back in business. More of the same sort of coast until the early afternoon when we passed the lighthouse of Penedo da Saudade. Here the coast was a little higher and more rocky in nature. On the whole though it is not an inspiring coast to cruise along.
This afternoon the wind failed so we motored to round Pontal da Nazare and entered the harbour of Nazare where I berthed in the marina.
27th Sept – Nazare to Peniche
The marina staff had told me today would be bad weather in the sense of rain,so I was a little undecided whether to stay or press on. I walked into town in the morning which it seems has developed into quite a tourist town but there were still signs of the old way of life with racks of brine soaked fish put out to dry in the sun on the beach. Back at the boat the weather didn’t look bad so I left.
About and hour later I wished I hadn’t. The sky was black, riven by lightning flashes and there was a torrential rain. From what I could see though it would pass and indeed the worst was over fairly soon and although still overcast the rain was just light. Whilst all this is going on I just sheltered under the spray hood keeping a watch and the boat steers herself, I didn’t even get wet.
Later visibility improved and I could see the Os Farihoes, a group of islands of the coast. I was aiming to pass between the mainland, Cabo Carvoeiro and the island of Berlenga.
The weather further improved and I rounded Cabo Carvoeiro in bright sunlight and from there it was just a little way to the port of Peniche. I was moored by 4pm so a nice short day, just a pity that the marina office was closed so no key for the gate. I could have got out of course but not back in. Still I borrowed a card and key from a couple on an English boat which I had seen anchored at Baiona so could have a shower.
23rd September – Porto
Leixoes is the industrial port of Porto. I took a bus ride into Porto today for a look around the old part of the city. It was certainly worthwhile, lots of interesting buildings, old cobbled streets, steep hills, the quayside and of course all the wineries or should that be potteries, for which it is famous.
I have added a couple of photo albums, one for Baiona and another for Porto so if you want to see the pics click on the photo gallery link.
21st-22nd September – Baiona to Leixoes
Well I eventually got away from Biaona after being weather bound for 5 days in which it pretty much rained all the time and blew pretty strong at times. It eventually cleared up late Saturday afternoon. Sunday I was pretty tardy getting started and I hadn’t thought I’d be leaving but it looked right so I did. I had a struggle get the anchor up as it had really dug itself in and eventually came up with about a ton, well it felt that heavy when you’ve no winch to do the donkey work, of mud on it. I then motored into the marina to fill up with diesel and then away. Clear of the harbour all plain sail was set and we reached out to the cardinal mark clearing the rocks off Cabo Silleiro. Here we turned south, we have left the Rias behind and the coast more or less runs south for a couple of hundred miles.
Almost becalmed for a while past the mark and then a nice Northerly breeze kicked in. Instead of keeping on a dead run I decided to sail with the wind a few points off the quarter, that way the foresails stay filled and there is less risk of a gybe, altogether more relaxing. Late in the afternoon saw me cross into Portugese waters so I swopped the Spanish for the Portugese courtesy flag flying at the spreaders. It was dark as I approached Viano de Castello, the first feasible port to stop but the almanac advising against a night entry if swell was running plus not being able to spot the red light at the mole end made my mind up to carry on. Its always stressful entering strange ports at night plus it was 3 miles to motor up the river to the marina. Only trouble was the wind deserted me just like the fan had been switched off. There was an impressive display of lightning with both sheet and forks lighting up the whole sky over land. We had now a fickle breeze from the south.
The Coast had certainly changed in character since leaving Spain, now it was low and at night appeared as a continuous string of lights as far as the eye could see. As I continued I was a little surprised at the number of boats there were about, some passed quite close, no catnapping tonight I needed to keep a constant watch. Later it started to rain.
Daylight found us somewhere off Povoa de Varzim but now the coast was shrouded in mist and rain and the need for tacks every so often I was finding a bit wearing, progress was slow. In the end I decided to motor the last miles as the wind was right on the nose. Leixoes was spotted but it seemed to take forever to reach. By now at least the mist had cleared and the rain lighter and entering the harbour it stopped. Fenders out, lines made ready and I entered the Marina. Where to go? the marina staff waved me to a pontoon and helped with my my lines. It was midday, so a passage of 24 hours for what the chart says should be 63 nautical miles, but I must have sailed farther with the gybes and tacks. The log is still under reading, wretched thing says 53. First things first a cup of tea and then a nap I think.
17th September – Baiona (Bayona)
I didn’t manage to get ashore yesterday in the end. After rain overnight and early morning it later cleared and was a bright and sunny. Blowing old boots mind. I decided to put off a trip ashore until the shops re-opened in the afternoon around 5. However no sooner than I had inflated the dinghy then the heavens opened and the wind was howling, going ashore did not look an attractive prospect at all.
It seems this low has decided to pay us a visit. The barometer has dropped from 1021 millibars, where it has been hovering for days to 1009. Nothing for it but to hunker down and put our trust in the Mason Supreme.
Indeed it blew and rained all night and the mist/rain clouds were down shrouding the hills around the town and across the ria. Even in these conditions it is a lovely spot. Out to the north west you can see the rugged Illas Cies, to the north the headland of Monte Ferro, across the bay the town and beaches of Panxon. There is Baiona itself the houses climbing up the wooded hillside and there is the medieval walls of the Parador Conde do Gondamor on the headland.
15th September – Bueu to Baiona
In the end I stayed at anchor at Bueu for 3 nights. There were 3 other boats here, an interesting contrast in style. A big old wooden Norwegian Gaffer, a Halberg Rassy 50 all mod cons and power hungry, they were running the engine to power the machine washing, and Wyloe , these seem the boat of choice by a number of livaboards. Next day I inflated the dinghy rowed ashore and swam from the beach, it was lovely. Next day was a rainy morning and although it cleared by early afternoon I thought I’d stayed another day, whats the rush when you are in such beautiful places. It was a lovely bay backed by wooded hills scattered with houses climbing the hillsides, there were a number of beautiful beaches and behind the rest of the ria, always with these beautiful wooded hills. But then it was time to move on so I weighed anchor and set out for the Illas Cies.
There has been a low sort of stuck of the coast of Portugal for the last fortnight or so which has been giving us either no wind or persistent southerlies. Not so good when you are trying to go South. So after reaching out from the ria it was another beating to windward session again. It all started out so well but then where does this wind suddenly spring from, one minute a lovely 15 to 17 knots then its 20, 25, hold on a minute 30 plus- more sail shortening practise. I had wanted to anchor of the islands but it was far too windy and the sea too rough so decided to press on to Baiona, a shame for the islands, rocky and rugged look truly beautiful. Into the Enseadia de Baiona after rounding the Ilas Serralleiras and you wonder what the fuss was all about, a gentle breeze and flat sea. You feel a bit silly with 3 reefs still in the main. So I anchored in the bay along with a dozen or more yachts, obviously a popular spot.
12th September – Villagarcia to Bueu
I quite liked Villagarcia, an unpretentious working town. There were parks, a good beach from which I had my first swim in the sea for many year and the marina was cheap I could have stayed on for much longer but it was time to move on to the next ria. The day started with a gentle sail, beam reaching down the ria but turning southwest past the Illa de Arousa it was a beat. Past the Isla de Rua which just seems like a heap of gigantic granite boulders we had a mad half hour where I went from yankee, staysail and full main down to 2 reefs in main and just a furled yankee in 3 stages with 25 knots of wind oh yes and heavy rain too. It kicked up quite a sea too. Soon the wind was back to normal and I was back to a full set of sails but the sloppy sea and now light winds made sailing difficult. I rounded the Peninusla de O Grove and headed fro the gap between the Illa de Ons and the mainland. Eventually it was just one tack too many and if I wanted to make the anchorage at Bueu before dark I accepted that I would have to motor so I finished the passage by motoring past Picamillo tower and into the Ria Pontevedra. Crossing the ria and passing through lines of vivaros I arrived at Bueu where I anchored off the beach in time to watch the sunset.
9th September – Ria Arousa
Leaving Muros it was a bright and sunny morning. However I’d not gone far when I ran into one of the areas renowned mists. The sun could still be glimpsed overhead but the visibility was not good. Several times I thought of turning back but soon I was outside the ria and so I carried on. Thank goodness for GPS and AIS. Experience had shown over the past days that almost all Spanish fishing boats were fitted with and used AIS so that was some reassurance but the trouble with fog at sea sometimes is you just cannot tell how far you can see, is it 50 or 200 meters? Needless to say a nervous watch was kept. Later the visibility did improve and then it eventually cleared altogether, another hot sunny day of the Spanish coast.
As if I hadn’t enough excitement for one day I decided to take the Canal de Norte to enter Ria Arousa, it all looked straightforward enough with care and indeed it was all going well apart from no port hand red mark visible as on the chart and pilot. The white and green tower starboard mark on Pedras del Sargo was clear enough though and I watched several fishing boats go through. Then the rock awash to the channel side of the tower was spotted. Dead slow, give the tower a wider berth, but how far since no other marks, watch that forward echo sounder closely, were are past . That was a nasty surprise.
Further up the ria, which really should be named Ria de Mejillon, from all the vivaros used for cultivating mussels, we anchored off Playa Arena de la Secada at the northern end of the Isla de Arousa. A very pleasant spot indeed. I should explain vivaros are big floating rafts from which they hang ropes on which the mussels grow.
8th September – Cabo Finisterre
A couple of days bad weather kept us in Camarinas, but then it was time to round Cabo Finesterre. There was no wind so it meant a deal of motoring but at least conditions were calm, with just a little swell, for rounding this notable cape. Further on down this “Costa del Morte” I decided to take the inshore passage inside the unmarked rocks of Bajos los Meixidos and los Bruyos. They do poke above the water though and the swell breaking over them gives a clear indication of their whereabouts. Passing Punta Queixal and its offlying rocks we entered the Ria Muros and proceeded to Muros where we anchored off the town outside the harbour.