Lisbeth´s Blog from Gran Canaria to Cabo Verde Islands (Sao Vicente)

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Lisbeth at the helm, toward Cabo Verde, in high-ish seas. She was whistling or singing, mostly! Phot by John Bryden

 

We sailed from Gran Canaria Sunday October 28th, waiving goodbye to Tia and Marco, who were also visiting the island the same time as we were. The first couple of days the wind was not satisfying us, although we did managed to get the parasail up and sail with it for a couple of hours until we realized that it had been tore on the anchor, and had to take it down again to be fixed. However, we were lucky the coming days, the wind got stronger and we were blown forward with great enthusiasm. Then the waves got bigger and we had some turbulence with John trying to bake bread down below, twice the flour went on the floor and we also saw John flying through the air, which was a bit worrying, but he did manage in the end. He is now saying “We must simplify the cooking”. At night the flying fish flew on board, the piles grew bigger every day, and by the time John gather them together to throw off again we had nineteen flying fish lying around. One evening Kim and I also had one landing between our legs while eating dinner, and we thought we just might add it to our dinner, but were merciful enough to let it into the sea again so it could tell its friends what a terrible life the one on land was, all its flying fish friends lying around dead onboard. By the time we got to Sao Vicente, after six days, we were, I must admit, quite tired. John and Kim enjoyed a drink and we all went to bed, happy to for once get a whole night sleep.

 

Photos by Lisbeth Refsgaard. Kim at the helm; John and the Helm; small volcanic island at entrance to Mindelo harbour.

 

Coming from the Canary Islands, the life here in Mindelo and on the island of Sao Vicente is quite different. It is not nearly as touristy, which we enjoy as it gives the place a more authentic vibe, and it has its own twist of African and European mixed society. The music scene is great, we have seen the museum of the famous Cesária Èvora, where we mostly heard of the clothes she wore different places in the world, but having gone out in the evening listening to the live music we discovered the greatness and beauty of this music. Its rhythms, its softness, it has some kind of Brazilian touch to it, but in some songs you can also hear there’s sorrow in it.  I would definitely want to go back here to discover the music scene even further.

Yesterday we hired a car to go around the island. Monte Verde, the biggest mountain, was beautiful and green and the first place to see that they are farming the land, growing corn. We had lunch in a disappointing place, serving more American fast food than the local cachupa that we have tried earlier on, and we got to see beaches and volcanic areas. Other than this we have seen the local markets, which always is a pleasure and people here are in general very helpful and welcoming. I will be sad to leave this island, it is a name on the map not known by many people, but a place worth going to, and also to leave the boat, where I now have been for nearly two months. Despite the seasickness I have enjoyed a lot of the trip, the sailing, exploring new places and learning more about sailing and am wishing to come back with a lot of energy for Christmas and New Year.

 

Photos by Lisbeth Refsgaard: Farmer with Donkey in the national Park; view of national park with farming on the high slopes (maize etc); John and Kim near the top; John on North Beach; Kim on North beach.

 

 

 

 

Gran Canaria to Mindelo, Sao Vicente, Cabo Verde Island

On Wednesday 24 October, my daughter Tia and her partner Marco joined Lisbeth and I for a wee sail to Tsavarte, a small community and bay to the NW of Puerto Mogan. We had a nice swim and lunch together, and when we got back had a pizza in town. Kim Fasting from Denmark joined Svalen’s crew on Thursday, which means we are three to sail to Cabo Verde, about 880 nautical miles. On Thursday the engineers  I had arranged from Las Palmas did not come, and I could not reach them to find out why until very late in the day.  They said they could not come on Friday either. So on Friday I had to get the bus up to Las Palmas port, find the Volvo agents, and pick up spare parts, oil etc to do the job myself. Meanwhile, Tia and Marco gave the crew a very interesting tour in the interior of the island. Last minute crises are not helpful, and I give no points at all to the Volvo agents in Gran Canaria, although they were all personally very kind and helpful. 

Despite rather than because of the support services, we managed to  prepare for the voyage, and Tia and Marco came to see us off from Puerto Mogan after we filled the diesel and all available spare 20L drums on Sunday 28 October, casting off at 1030am.  There was hardly any wind until later in the afternoon, when the wind picked up to a NE’y \F5 or so. This continued into the next day,and Kim and I put up the Parasailor while Lisbeth controlled the sheets and guys, allowing us to sail at up to 6.2 kts. However, we took the parasailer off before dark, and continued under main and genoa. The wind stayed into the following day, but now accompanied by nasty cross-seas, which made sailing, sleeping and cooking very difficult. During the night we had a good moon and mostly good stars, noticing that Orion’s belt starts really low in the sky on the aft port side. We also noticed that the fridge and freezer were not functioning well – everything was beginning to warm up and melt. Bad news. The little water pump was still running and the compressors seem to work, but be very hot. I suspect that the gas has evaporated off again! The difficult seas overnight caused a couple of glass item breakages.
Nevertheless, we made terrific progress,  regularly hitting 6-7 knots, and even 9-10 at times. The slight wind shift allowsed us to sail with both genoa and main, and the wind was excellent. We now knew that we would reach Mindelo on November 3rd, and probably before darkness falls, which is highly desirable from Skips viewpoint. We regularly maintained 6 knots and often more, and fairly surfed down the large Altantic waves, which were also troubled by cross waves. But the boat stayed amazingly dry and took the seas easily. As we gt closer to Cabo Verde we found more and more flying fish landed on deck during the night and knocked themselves out, or became stranded. But we were disappointed to see no whales.
We did not see many ships, and only one sailing boat came into view during the voyage. It had no AIS showing so we could not identify it.
Lisbeth was  terrific on deck and at the wheel, taking good watches at night, and mostly sleeping in the cockpit when off duty. However, in spite of Scopoderm patches, she still felt sick down below and was upset that she could not contribute much to cooking, washing up, cleaning etc. So very reluctantly she has decided to fly to S America and join us again in Brazil rather than undertake the cross Atlantic voyage. We have put out a ‘crew wanted’ notice. We will certainly miss her cheerful company on the long trip. Ocean voyaging is not everyone’s cup of tea. Fortunately Kim and I seem to enjoy it and cope ok with the problems. But even so, I caused the crew much amusement in those heavy cross seas when, caught unawares, I was seen literally flying across the cabin a few times. Not very much fun, and often the food was spilt, creating dangerous conditions underfoot until cleared up (another hazardous operation.). As when the box of good organic flour flew out a couple of times when we had bread-making in mind!
Needless to say, the venturi effect came into play on arival in Cabo Verde as we went between the islands of Santo Antao and Sao Vicente, the wind picking up to near gale as we sailed in towards the harbour. It remained very windy overnight and the next day, the area of the harbour feeling like a wind tunnel. Several boats were unable to anchor.
We were too tired to cook, and so took advantage of the reasonably priced café restaurant (floating bar) in the marina itself, although Lisbeth and Kim were laughing at Skip who was falling asleep from time to time. We leaned about the local currency CV Escudios – about 110 to the Euro and  enjoyed a large beer. We returned and slept as long as we could –  it was Sunday next day, and no repairs could be done.

As always we have a list of repairs to be done:
1.      The Parasailor was ripped along its foot again because we were not sufficiently aware of the anchor when we put it up.
2.      The Jabsco pump in aft heads is blocked . It seems that the valve has inverted for some reason.
3.      The solar panel bracket, which is connected to the davits for the dinghy aft, needs to be raised about 1 metre in order for the wind vane self steering to work properly.
4.      We need to find someone who can fill a propane gas bottle!
5.      The fridge and freezer have both stopped working, and we need them both to survive! I suspect that the gas has boiled off again and needs topping up.

The CV Boat folks seem pretty efficient, but I worry about spare parts. For example there was no Jabsco service kit in their small shop at the marina. The parasail was repaired overnight by the Marina Captain, Jose Augusto.
First thing on Monday we cleared in via Immigration and police at the port offices between the ferry terminal and the clean sandy beach. No problems, and very helpful officials. However, they keep the ship’s papers until one clears out before leaving. They are not open at weekends; we and others need to watch this.

Skipper John Bryden, 5 November 2018

Lagos to Canary Islands

While in Lagos, and thanks to Canadian Paul Baker who skippers and helps with boats there, we were able to fix the U-bracket on the boom to which the main sheet block is attached. The replacement bracket was much strong, and made and fitted by Antonio Viegas, sailmaker. The large Sopromar was too busy to tackle the job while we were in Lagos. Paul also told us were to go to fill our assorted LPG bottles with propane, something we have been trying to do – and failing at – since arriving in the Shetland Islands! This mess of different prone gas bottles and fittings is a real headache for sailors (and no doubt campers too) who cross borders, and it has been made worse by stricter regulations. however, we hired a small care for about €30 are drove 60km or so to a propane filling station some 60km east of Lagos, where the owner had the necessary fittings to fill our Swedish and British Gas bottles, enough to get us to Brazil! WHAT A RELIEF!

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Photo: The reception pontoon south of the footbridge, Lagos, showing the canal through which one enters and leaves. The fuel is at the south end of the pontoon.

 

October 4th was Lisbeth´s birthday, and we had a birthday breakfast, and went out later to find some live music. Nothing notable, but we did meet a lot of cheerful Brits on a car rally to Gibraltar!

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Photo: Viviana, Alice, and V´s brother and his girlfriend arriving on Svalen.

Viviana, Alice and Marilia arrived late pm on Friday 5th, and loaded up their gear, which was a lot! So we finally set off for Lanzarote on the morning of October 6th, with a reasonable forecast. After a good sail in the morning, it got rather rough away from the coast due to cross waves-swell, and the new crew were all sick, including poor 5 year old Alice. We decided to sail back to the next port, Portamaio and take a decision if it was sensible for Alice to continue, or whether it risked putting her off sailing for life. In the end we decided that it was not sensible, and Viviana helped Lisbeth and I to look for an alternative crew to get us to Lanzarote. This we quickly found through a notice posted in Portamaio marina, and Alex and Sara joined the boat after the Brazilian crew disembarked. We then went to anchor behind the breakwater, and near to our friends from Cascais, Camilla, Pim, Anne and Paula on “Rajac”.

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Next morning we set off at about 0730. Alex and I set the spinnaker in light winds, and we made better speed. However, the wind strengthened later and we struggled to get the spinnaker back in its sock!

Spinnaker en route to Canaries

Photo: Nice colourful, large, Spinnaker set and drawing!

On the way to the Canary Islands we had mixed conditions, with some uncomfortable waves, and light winds, but also some fair winds and good waves. Happily Lisbeth was not sick on this leg, and was a tower of strength for the Skipper when the other crew were not so robust.

The Rhumb line distance from Portamaio to Lanzarote is about 552 nm, and we estimated our arrival in 4 days and 4 nights. In the event we arrived in the early morning of 12 October in Arricife, after the wind died and the engine would only run on minimal revs, giving is about 2 knots! So the crossing took nearly 5 days and nights, and we were all pretty exhausted at the end of it.

During the voyage we had dolphins playing alongside, and saw a pod of three small whales. We also had a squid land on the deck, presumably after being chased by a larger fish, and a visiting dove which rested rather shyly on deck for several hours.

In Arricife, it was a holiday on Friday and indeed a holiday weekend. Alex and Sara disembarked on Saturday, and we met Diego from Bilbao on a neighbouring Angus Primrose boat called Looping. Diego is a liveaboard musician and surfer, and he helped us fix the fuel problem ( air in the system – but why?), and came on board for a little wine and home made music, to which Lisbeth also contributed.

On Monday 15th October, Lisbeth and I cast off to sail to Puerto Mogan on the south coast of Grand Canary, a sail of 150nm direct, passing through the passage between Lanzarote and Fuertoventura (Estrecho de la Bocayana).  This seems to be the best direction from the point of view of wind and swell, but we did meet confused seas for a while once through the passage. Nevertheless, we had a fine day and night sail, with  lovely clear starry skies, and visiting dolphins inn the night. Soon we were able to see the city lights of Las Palmas off to starboard.

Photos: (a) Lisbeth at the helm (b) sunset

We arrived in the small and friendly harbour of Puerto Mogan at about midday on tuesday 16th after a great sail of 26 hours, the wind only dying for the last hour or so, in the wind shadow of the island. The two of us managed well, one sleeping or resting in the cockpit while the other was on watch. We had lunch and then a sleep. Later we celebrated by going out for a pizza together.

Next day (Wednesday) we had a nice swim at the small beach, and moved the boat at the request of the marina, and on Thursday John did the laundry in the local laundrette, while Lisbeth went off for a long weekend to visit a good friend in London via Ryanair. Tia (Bryden) and Marco also arrived for a ten day holiday in Grand Canary, and called.

On Friday 19th, Tia and Marco took me on a tour of the interior of the island, up many hairpin bends and close to the Military base and Observatory on Pico de las Nieves, which is about 2000m. I was amazed at the number of small towns and villages there are in the interior, which is where most of the locals seem to live, and where the farming goes on. This island had original inhabitants before being colonised by Spain in the 15th Century, after a long 90 year struggle. The locals lived in caves in the volcanic mountains, and were not people of the sea, it seems. Some still live in the caves. Tia and Marco took me out for a meal in Puerto Mogan later. The Canaries were granted autonomy from Spain in 1983, but remain a part of the EU.

Photos: (a), (b) and (d) mountains and hairpin bends in the mountainous interior of Gran Canaria. (e) Marco and Tia.

On Sunday, Tia and Marco and I went to see the caves at Barranco de Guayadeque,, net Agüimes, where there are still some cave dwellers, including one who collects honey from the wild bees in the mountains. Needless to say we bought some. After a walk through the village, with its small farms with sheep, goats, hens and turkeys, we went to the nearby town of Ingenia for lunch at Bar Cafeteria Nico, where we enjoyed excellent Rabbit, a local speciality. We later attempted to visit the local archeological site in Puerto Mogan, but failed, it being closed. I cooked Chicken, red lentils and green beans Indian-style for us to eat on board, and Tia brought a nice wine from Douro.

Photos: Cave dwellings, farm etc. Last photo of Nico´s Cafe in Ingenia.

Now we are beginning to prepare for Cabo Verde.  Lisbeth comes back tomorrow, Tuesday 23rd, and new crew member Kim Fastning from Denmark arrives on Thursday 25th. Weather permitting, we plan to sail on Sunday 28th. The engine will be serviced tomorrow, 23rd, and the fuel system will be carefully checked then.

Sines to Lagos, and waiting!

Lisbeth and I enjoyed the port of Sines, which was about 45nm from Cascais. Lisbeth took a gum thing against sea sickness and it worked for 75% of the voyage, but unfortunately wore out before we arrived. However, she was not physically sick, which is a good sign, and we arrived in good order. We were a bit late in leaving Cascais because we had to wait until mid-day for the repaired Parasailor to come back from North Sails. So we arrived in the small marina in Sines at 2300 hours, pretty tired and hungry. The marina office was open until midnight so Skip took the passports and filled in the paperwork which Lisbeth organised food on board.

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Photo: Lisbeth with the old town of Sines behind.

Actually Sines was very nice – not touristy, and with a nice old town with small shops, restaurants and bars. A highlight is a prominent castle, the birth place of the famous Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama. Indeed there is a fine statue of him below the castle.

Photos above from top left. 1. The beach with old town above, including the Castle. 2. Statue of Vasco da Game, 3. street view, old town, 4. Lisbeth with wooden xylophone, 5. Interior of the Castle, 6. Skipper at entrance the Castle.

 

On Sunday 30th, Lisbeth and I had a swim off the boat before going to the old town to explore. We visited the castle and walked around the neat small streets,  visiting a small art gallery, and finding a small restaurant with a €10 lunch (including beer and coffee) which we enjoyed. On the way back down to the beach front promenade we passed large xylophones and tubular bells and drums for people to play. Some were missing bits, like the hammers, but of course we tried them and thought this a great idea for public spaces. We also climbed the small hill east of the marina to see the view.

Monday 1st we cast off from Sines marina at 0720 and exited the harbour with the sun rise, heading more or less south towards Cape St Vincent, once the edge of the known world. There is a large commercial harbour here too, and we manoeuvred around an oil tanker being take in by four tugs. The wind was very light, so we were motoring and then motor sailing most of the way, although the wind picked up later with the acceleration zone around Cape St Vincent and from there into Lagos. The sail was about 74nm, of which about 19nm between Cape St Vincent and Lagos.

Photos: We saw quite a few dolphins between Sines and Cape St Vincent. Also shown is a photo of Lisbeth at the wheel.

Cape St Vincent was striking. Tudor quoted a line from Browning´s poem about the sea battle of Trafalgar (1805), fought in the seas to the west of Cadiz. Here Britain was fighting the combined fleets of Spain and France, and this was the battle when Nelson died. But also the battle that gave Britain control of the high seas for a hundred years and more (a future predicted by Napoleon, and that he was trying to ward off by a preventive strike in cooperation with Spain – the case of Trafalgar.) Here is the skippers photo of the Cape, which is striking.

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“Nobly, nobly Cape Saint Vincent to the North-West died away;
Sunset ran, one glorious blood-red, reeking into Cadiz Bay;
Bluish ‘mid the burning water, full in face Trafalgar lay;
In the dimmest North-East distance, dawned Gibraltar grand and gray;
“Here and here did England help me: how can I help England?”—say,
Whoso turns as I, this evening, turn to God to praise and pray,
While Jove’s planet rises yonder, silent over Africa.”  By Robert Browning
Shortly after we passed the Cape the sun went down, and was indeed blood-red. But on approaching the Cape the wind picked up from the NW, and that nice wind stayed with us until we reached Lagos. Unfortunately, the boom fitting holding the main sheet block parted, so we had to take the mainsail off and continue under Genoa alone at around 5kts. Half this leg was in the dark, and we were afraid of the long fishing nets stretching from near the shore. It also seemed to take for ever to cover the distance. Nevertheless, we entered into the canal leading to the harbour and marine safely at around 2000, and tied up at the marina reception at 2030, spending the night there.
Next morning we went through the usual paperwork at the office by the reception pontoon, and found our berth. A friendly Canadian, Paul Baker from Toronto, was working on a nearby boat, and imparted freely of his knowledge on how to fill our assorted gas bottles from Sweden and UK, and also how to repair the boom fitting. The first involved hiring a cheap car (€30) to drive to the village of Boliquieme, about 65km east of Lagos. This we did, finding the small LPG station with the fittings to fill all three of our gas bottles, at the cost of €22. That was great, but why are these guys with the correct fittings not everywhere? The second involved a welding job by Antonio Viegas, a sailmaker, and this was done the next day. A very nice welding and fitting job!
Wednesday we explored the old town, including St Anthony´s chapel – very ornate! In the evening we tried a couple of live music venues, but they were a great disappointment, and the town is very touristy – full of Brits!
Thursday October 4th we celebrated Lisbeth´s birthday by a swim and picnic lunch on the beach close to the Marina. Lisbeth also baked a chocolate squash cake. Our Brazilian friends and new crew arrived in Lisbon today, but unfortunately they did not reach us. There were traffic jams in Lisbon due to the bank holiday on Friday, so they spent the night en route. So we hope to leave on Friday, but this is no longer certain especially as there is a strong southerly swell, which makes crossing the bar at the entrance hard.

Lerwick to Grutness Voe, SE Shetland

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Sorry friends, this one seems to have remained a draft, and it is now seriously out of place!

 

The boats in the Bergen-Shetland race – they were starting back to Bergen this afternoon at 4pm. But we left for Grutness before them, and had a quiet sail down to this wonderful harbour, with birds, seals, and nobody else (except for a friend of Michael´s who had also been the Chief Jarl for Up Helly Å). This is our jumping off point for Fair Isle. It was a great afternoon to walk over to Jarlshof archeological site, where multiple layers of ages are there to see, more or less on top of one another. Iron Age, Bronze Age, viking age, feudal age, all represented here in excavated houses, foundry’s, wheel towers, brochs etc. And all presented very well indeed. This is one of the many jewels in Shetlands, and indeed Scotland´s, crown.

 

Went for a walk around Cascais this morning and found some stuff

Those of you who know about the Black Magic author, Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) will know that he was mostly infamous. I knew that he had a house (Boleskin) on Loch Ness, much later (1970s) bought by Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin fame, and that The Song Remains the Same visuals were filmed there. Well, Crowley appears on a plaque at Boco da Inferno, Cascais, where it seems that he staged a fake suicide of his latest “scarlet woman” companion. Well, there is a lot to this story that I do not know, and probably do not wish to!

  1. Plaque commemorating Crowley´s visit to Lisbon, Sintra and Estoril in 1930, for about 20 days.
  2. The cave, which in storms produces the “inferno” of its name.
  3. Fishermen catching sardines off the Boca do Inferno.

So we have a link between Inverness, and Cascais!

There are some other nice views that I recorded this morning.

First is a view of the Fort from seaward, and next the bronze to the International Sailing Federation. Third, a nice house at the entrance to the Marina with the tiling on the second floor fashioned ínto sailing boats.

The lighthouse (Farol) is a notable landmark for sailors and has a museum – Farol Museo de Santa Marta. Here are a couple of contrasting views of it.

 

 

I had a swim to cool off just on front of the lighthouse, on the way back.

The final photo in this piece is a view of the coast west of Cascais where there is a nice new cycling track, and also to the west of the Boca do Inferno cave.

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You can also see the excellent weather we are having!

 

Two Crew on Svalen write about the sail from Falmouth to Lisbon

Our 15 days with John -the highs and lows as told by Gill and mostly shared with David

We left Falmouth on Thursdayin the grey but it soon gave way to sun and great winds.

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Leaving Falmouth: Photo by Gill

The 4 day 3 night sail from Falmouth to Muros, Galicia could only get better as our bodies became accustomed to the fickle waves.

Everything below deck was challenging while heeled to port on a beam reach, often making 8 or 9 knots but with the swell on the beam tossing the ship and us every which way.

Sleeping in the forepeak was like being bombarded by tennis balls (as if inside an MRI scanner) while riding on a roller coaster.

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The Parasailor in action in the Bay of Biscay: Photo, Gill

I gave in on Fridayand took some Cinnarizine –regretted this as rendered me unable to keep my eyes open for the next 24hrs.

Morale was much improved by sighting whales and dolphins, eating John’s delicious fish chowder and, on Sundayafternoon, seeing the hazy outline of the Galician Coast and as we got closer a heavenly scent wafted from the land. (I’d read about sailors smelling land before and didn’t believe it). We hurriedly washed and repaired the Spanish courtesy flag.

Muros marina did not disappoint.  Pedro the marina manager was every bit as friendly as the pilot book promised, giving us a warm welcome on our arrival at around 8:30pm. (He even helped me do our laundry on Monday). It was wonderful to enjoy a lovely Gundry ginger salmon dinner (with G&Ts and wine!) in the cockpit with everything staying where we put it. The warm shower around midnight was a real treat.

Two photos from Gill are our first real view of Galicia after crossing from Falmouth, and sunset as we approached Muros, our first harbour in Galicia.

 

On Mondaymorning we visited the Church of San Pedro, with its lovely vaulted wooden roof resembling the keel of an upturned boat, and climbed the tower for panoramic views. We enjoyed an exceedingly hot walk through the sweet smelling pine and eucalyptus woods toward the sandy beach at San Francisco. To our surprise there were few people swimming but our surprise was quickly dispelled as we felt the cold, cold Atlantic sea. Cornish waters are much warmer!

John chose a superb restaurant for our evening meal in Muros – calamari, pimiento peppers, clams and turbot to die for.

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The harbour at Muros: Photo by Gill

 

Tuesday

Today we had a lovely sunny sail to Baiona although the wind became very light. There were dolphins frolicking with the bow on and off all day. We enjoyed a moonlight stroll within the castle (now a parador) grounds viewing the bay and city lights from the ramparts.

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Lights of Baiona from the Ramparts: Photo by Gill.

Wednesday

David Gundry sadly left us this morning and we sailed off in a fresh breeze into the sunshine, which rapidly changed to fog. We could have done with more philosophical conversations with DG today. Only the Ghost Ship (Polarix) and fishing float spotting to relieve the monotony. The fog was still with us when we arrived at our first Portuguese port of Viana do Castelo, where we waited some time before the marina staff opened the footbridge to allow us inside.

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The ghost ship Polaris in the mist: Photo by Gill

Thursday

It was still foggy at breakfast but this lifted as we explored the interesting old town with its many old and attractive buildings. We saw the famous Portuguese blue and white tiles – Azulejo – in one of the churches, topped off with baroque and gothic gilt work and paintings –a strange mixture. Coffee and pastel de nata (custard tarts) in a bustling pastry shop then buying bread, fruit and veggies in a tiny little shop before returning to Svalen. Persistent fog for our sail to Leixoes , some excitement when the outhaul snapped and needed replacement, no dolphins, no berth for us at the industrial looking marina. Rafting up next to the helpful owners of Polarix we recognised our “ghost ship” of Wednesday. The friendly couple were from Brazil.

Friday

We 3 had a great day out in Porto on public transport and foot. Terraces of tiled houses with terracotta roofs and traditional boats laden with port barrels. It was worth the scenic walk along the South side of the Douro to arrive at Taberna Sao Pedro (Pedro features rather often in Iberia) just minutes before closing. The grilled sardines and Douro wine were heavenly and the wacky washing lines alluring for photographers. The marina looked more tempting than Leixoes but would have deprived us of 2 bus rides and a peek into the fantastic covered market in Matosinhos on our way back to the boat.

 

The marina in Porto, the restaurant where we had great sardines, and the traditional port boats on the Douro river, Porto. Photos by Gill.

Saturday

A sunny departure and Northerly wind but big sea and lolloping about.

David and John spent best part of an hour raising the parasail while I watched from the safety of the helm as they pitched and rolled on the foredeck. I ran through the man overboard drill in my mind and when the sail was finally flying we 3 talked about how we would manage to stop the boat with the parasail up in the event of MOB. Decided the only safe thing was to give it a try but alas we never got chance as the sail was ripped by a mighty gust. Made do with Genoa alone for remainder of the day and rued our loss as Polarix overtook us reaching Figuera da Foz marina well ahead.

Sunday

Another amazing covered market in Figueira Da Foz. Many small stalls all selling wonderfully fresh salads, vegetables, fruit, eggs, fish and flowers. Bread, meat, clothing, hardware and toys in the more permanent units round the outside. Our purchases of lettuces, pears, oranges, peppers, bread and bananas cost less than 5 Euros in total.

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The great covered market, Figuera da Foz. One of many modern clean public markets in the Iberian peninsula. Photo by Gill.

Sunshine and good wind for a fast broad reach all day. David and John amused themselves playing with the wind vane self steering –all fine and then every so often a big gust would blow us way off course and more fiddling would be required. We saw a large pod of dolphins with one or possibly two babies – one of them determinedly swimming away from the rest like a mischievous child.

We arrived at the impressive cliffs of Peniche having sailed across the extra deep cleave in the seabed off Nazare without signs of any change in the sea other than the depth sounder reading. After another very long day aboard we all agreed to eat ashore. Grilled fish and potatoes –standard Portuguese fare.

Monday

The fog is back! David and I deliberate about whether to go to the Berlenga Islands or catch a bus to Obidos (reckoned to be Portugal’s prettiest town). The Islands won. We explored the Peniche first finding an ATM and tiny shop, run by a very friendly elderly couple, that provided a simple picnic including some delectable green figs. At least 5 different companies sell tickets from their kiosks on the quay and randomly choosing one of them we got a place on a small ferry with 2 Portuguese families and a young couple. The inevitable happened as the rolling sea got steeper and hilarity gave way to quiet then handing out of black plastic bags to the greener passengers.

Our initial impression of the island was of barren landscape and guano smell. Then the rain started and we began to regret the whole thing.

 

Berlenga: Photos by Gill.

However the sun eventually burned away the fog and the fort looked wonderful. We were disappointed by the bird life however – we saw very many yellow footed gulls with their unattractive young and possibly a very few Cory shearwaters but no petrels or any other of the species described on the signboards.

Tuesday

Once again we left in fog and it stayed with us most of the day with no wind and no dolphins. Glad to reach Cascais with time to refuel, take down sails and book B&B in Lisbon for our last night before the flight home.

 

Scenes from Lisbon (including the iconic tram), and saying farewell to John in Cascais. Photos by Gill.

Wednesday

We took an expensive taxi to our B&B where the welcome was well worth the expense. We had a great time in the city especially enjoying Castelo de Sao Jorge and a new museum in the old prison Aljube that tells the stories of the Salazar dictatorship and Portuguese resistance movement.

An altogether remarkable and worthwhile adventure in great company!

 

Skipper comments:Thanks Gill and David for being a great crew, and great bloggers and cooks, yet again!  This is getting to be a good habit! I. will add a couple of photos of Cascais below. It is a lovely seaside town, very convenient by train from Lisboa. Yesterday I had a nice swim at the small rocky beach of  Rain. The sun was hot, but the water was cool and fresh.

 

Photo from the left. View of Cascais from the walkway above the Sailing Club. Then a view of the Fort, and finally, looking across the bay to Estoril.

 

To Lisbon (Cascais)

This afternoon we arrived safely in Cascais, close to Lisbon and Sintra. With a lot of help from Viviana, we got the last place for our size of boat left in the marina, because there is a regatta of large yachts here this weekend and it is very busy. David and Gill say this is a nice place with live jazz from Thursday to Sunday nearby, and a fast regular train to and from Lisbon. We had phoned ahead to the sailmaker to check the Genoa and main, do minor repairs, and do the major repair to the parasailor, so our first task after checking in was to take off the sails and tie them up. Vincente the sailmaker will come to collect them tomorrow morning.

On the way, we had some great overnight stops, a longer stay of two nights to visit Porto, and for the crew to visit the Island of Berlenga off Peniche, and me to see old friends from Missouri days who just happened to be having a wee holiday in Lisbon and came up to Peniche for a morning aboard and a great lunch at Cafe Snack Bar Sol é Vida – we all thoroughly recommend this rocky spot with great views, and especially stuffed crab with Vinho Verde to eat! Vickie was a leading light in the beginners Celtic band in Columbia, which I joined while there, and later married Jim Berkley who works for the EPA in Denver, Co.

We also met other sailors – a Brazilian couple – he comes from Salvador de Bahia, and has all sorts of connections there, which could be very helpful. Also a friendly German couple in sabbatical, heading to Canaries and Azores on ¨Tiger Blue¨. To name but a few.

Highlights of the voyage in Portugal as far as Cascais were:-

Lunch at San Pedro´s restaurant in the district of  Afurada  in Porto, near to the Marina, and on the south bank just downstream of the large motorway bridge. Very highly recommended indeed! Just down the street, on the waterfront, we found a newly constructed public laundry house with large open air drying area outside, and ladies singing as they washed inside. This was both highly unusual in present times, and very encouraging in many ways, especially as it appeared to be a public facility.

Vies from Porto, including the drying green outside the laundry and the laundry itself, the cinematographic institute, and view down the Duoro river.

Next  highlight was Peniche, and for me the visit of Vickie and Jim and our common lunch, and for the crew the visit to Berlegna island.

L1002743

Vickie and Jim from Denver on thee boat. Note the Donald Smith watercolour behind, that I bought when visiting Frank and Agnes Rennie and Carola Bell in the Western Isles in about 1986!  Donald was the Art teacher in Stornoway, and the picture is of a fisherman in Stornoway harbour. Svalen is not just a boat, but a home for Karen and me, out families and friends!

Unfortunately we were sometimes dogged by heavy sea fog down this coast, and at times it was even cold and damp. however, we also had good sunny windy days.

Now we have effectively reached Lisbon, a major milestone in our voyage. We will report more soon.

 

Destination Peniche da Cima

We all loved Galicia, and had a great welcome in Muros on Wednesday 22nd August after the Biscay crossing, and then at Baiona, where we got an excellent berth at the Monte Real Club de Yates. This is one of the oldest yacht clubs in Spain, and the first to challenge the America’s Cup. The location, in the walled enclosure of the Parador do Bayona, and the facilities, are second to none. Baiona or Bayona is close to the Atlantic islands of Cies, a maritime national park.

Monte Real Club de Yates Bayona, Galicia

We sailed from Baiona in Galicia to Viana do Castello in Northern Portugal,  unfortunately in thick coastal fog! We hope it clears today for our sail towards Porto. We had a fine welcome here in Portugal.

Viana do Castelo c. Photo convention and visitors bureau

From Viano do Castelo we headed to Leixeõs, just north of Porto, on Friday, mostly in fog ! We tied up to a Danish boat, Polarix, that was itself outside another boat. We resolved that this morning before taking off by bus for Porto, where we had a long walk along the river, followed by an excellent lunch of roasted sardines and white wine for duoro! A beautiful city. The wind picked up from the North, and so on Saturday we headed for Figuera da Foz, a long sail of 62 nautical miles. We are sailing south from Figueira to Peniche da Cima today – it’s about 32 nm north of Cascais. We blew out the Parasailor yesterday in a gust, while sailing at 9kts, so back to slower sailing again! More soon..

Porto
Porto

Falmouth to Muros, Galicia

 

 

We left Falmouth marina in drizzly rain on Thursday morning 0900 or so. There was a good westerly wind once we got out, and we sailed on main and genoa, sometimes also staysail, until about the middle of the Bay of Biscay, at which point we lost the wind completely and plodded along under engine for a while. We got the sails back, but for a while were only doing 3-4 kts. For the first half of the journey, down to 46 degrees North, 7 degrees west, we were doing 7-9 knots, and thinking we would arrive at Muros, 25 miles after Cabo Finisterre, sometime on Saturday, which we had to revise!
We have seen whales blowing thier spouts, and some Dolphins, a large tuna fish that leapt right out of the water, and many ships heading North or South. The marine mammals are always a highlight. The weather has turned hot and sunny, and started feel decidedly southern. Everything is working well, although the rough seas for the first 250 miles or so brought on some seasickness that cleared up as crew got their sea legs back and the seas calmed down. Later we put on the parasailor because the wind came from the east, aft of abeam, in sufficient strength. This increased our speed to up to 6 knots.

We arrived in Muras at 9pm on Sunday 19th August, just about 84 hours after leaving Falmouth, all except 16 hours under sail alone.  our average speed was 6 kts and total journey length was over 500nm .

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