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.


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.


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.


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.


The harbour at Muros: Photo by Gill



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.


Lights of Baiona from the Ramparts: Photo by Gill.


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.


The ghost ship Polaris in the mist: Photo by Gill


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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..


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 .




From Dublin to Falmouth


Photos: (1) One of the many Dolphins playing beside Svalen in the Western Approaches (2) Peter having his last cuppa on board before leaving for home from Falmouth.

As planned, we set sail from Dublin on Wednesday 8th August at 0840, and arrived in Falmouth at 0715 on Friday 10th August. The sail was a memorable one for two main reasons – first, the fact that for once we were able to sail without engine for practically all of it, and that on a single tack until shortly after Lizard Point when we turned northward towards Falmouth harbour. Second, because of the enormous number of Dolphins who joined us in the Western Approaches between breakfast and lunch on Thursday 9th August, playing in their usual joyful manner around the bow wave as we made brisk progress in strengthening west winds. Less notably, it was also quite tiring with only two of us to manage the boat, cook, check forecast information, and keep track of progress. In the end, we had to slow the boat down by reefing sails severely after land End. We did not want to arrive in Falmouth before daylight came and the sometimes heavy shows and gusts had stopped.

At any rate, we were tied up by 0745 at the muddy end of the Falmouth Marina, which fortunately had a space available for us. Again, both being pretty exhausted by this time, we went straight to our bunks for a few hours before having a good big brunch. Peter in particular had suffered some feelings of nausea in the sometimes heavy jumbled seas we came through since leaving the protection of the Irish coast, and did not eat a great deal en route. But we mostly had great sailing, and arrived safely in this strong boat, well-named Svalen (Swallow) because she goes through the waves so easily and flies with the wind.

Skippers Blog, Gigha to Belfast and Dublin, posted on 11 August

After the ´high´ of our days in Gigha waiting for the wind to blow somewhere other than from the South, we finally departed on Thursday 2 August at 0630 in light winds from the SE. As we passed the South Harbour, we noticed Maggie McSporran waving from her house, and we all

Photos from Upper left (1) Stuart at the helm (2) Fraser (3) Achamore Gardens, Gigha,  (4) Approaching Muglhins at SE corner of Dublin Bay (5) Peter in the early morning approach to Dublin.


waved back. Maggie really looked after us all in Gigha.  Also met with Alan Rankin, now Islands Manager for National Trust of Scotland (what a great job!), and his friend Tony from Aberdeen, who were also sailing in Gigha.

Sailing was necessarily intermittent, so we used a mix of sail and engine. The tide gave us a good start down to and beyond the end of Mull of Kintyre, where no mist was rolling in from the sea today, and the waters were unusually calm.

We called the harbor master in Bangor on Channel 80 VHF, and finally moored in Bangor Marina at 1830, and old friend Peter Willis joined the crew. We all enjoyed a roast Orkney lamb and red wine dinner together.

Fraser and Stuart disembarked on the following morning to catch the Belfast-Inverness flight at 0815, and Peter and I shopped, did laundry, filled with water etc.

Peter and I noted a good forecast and favourable tides for the morning of Saturday 4thAugust, and cast off at 0945 for Dublin Bay. It was a fine night for observing the stars, especially Polaris, sailor´s friend, steadfast in the North. We expected a day and a night sail. There was not much wind, and the tides were sometimes with us, sometimes against. The Irish sea is a very tricky place for tides, since the flow is at first around the north of Ireland and into the Irish Sea, but simultaneously, and further south, from the south and west into the Irish sea. There is a kind of tidal doldrums mid way. After calling the Harbour Master at Dun Laoghaire on Channel 80 and finding out we  we should moor, we finally arrived at our destination at 0700. Then we had a sleep, and later a large cooked brunch.  Later we visited the Maritime Museum, learning a little about Ireland´s maritime history, shipbuilding, and related matters.  That was very interesting, especially talking to one of the curators.

Peter had a day in Dublin on monday, and I did the laundry, shopping etc. Sally Shortall and Dave came for dinner and stayed the night, having been in Laois for a family 50thbirthday celebration. We were also joined by old Masters student Deirdre Joyce and her (sailing) husband Fergus, old friends that I had not seen for some years. We had a great evening together that ended all too soon. Fergus expressed a wish to join the Brazil venture at some point, which was great. All resolved that they would meet us when we land at Cork or Waterford next year after the sail from Azores. I hope we get there, as I know it will be a great party!

Tuesday was a day of preparation – shopping, laundry, filling water, checking all the forecasts and routing information we could get hold of, and so on.  Sally and Dave disembarked at about 1030am.  The sail from Dublin to Falmouth is a serious proposition, not for the faint hearted.  It is 236 nautical miles, and at an average speed of 5 knots, that means 48 hours – two days and two nights. In strong winds, there can be wind-against-tide turbulence, and St George´s Channel, Bristol Channel and the Western Approaches as well as Lands End and notorious. I was short-handed with only Peter, and I don’t normally do even one night sails with less than 3 on board, which allows one at a time to have a little sleep.  So I was both nervous and careful! Looking at the 5 day forecasts, we planned to depart on the mornings of either 7thor 8thAugust, leaving at High Water Dover to gain maximum advantage from the tidal flows, and trying to arrive at Lands End about 3-4 hours before HW Dover to maximize the gain from Tidal flows from there towards Falmouth.  The sail to Falmouth is the topic for the next blog post, so I will stop there.

Slow crossings

Skipper will update the blog soon.. he, Stuart and Fraser had a slow crossing from Gigha to Bangor, before heading south with Peter to Dublin.  Now on the way to Falmouth, hoping for fairer winds!

Peter Willis tidyng ropes at dawn, Irish Sea, Dublin bound Aug 5

Peter Willis tidying ropes, Irish Sea, Dublin bound, 5 Aug


Approaching Muglins Sound at SE corner of Dublin Bay

Approaching Muglin Sound, at SE corner of Dublin Bay.

The Mull Crew

A belated blog from the ‘Mull crew’ about our mini tour – from Corpach, to Port Harris at  Lismore Island (where some delicious scallops were dived for by Robin with assistance from Karen and Veyatie! enjoyed later for supper) 38120029_672284506483661_8354109469763829760_n  https://youtu.be/2OLK1tg0yI4

and then on to Tobermory. We tied up  at the pontoon there – a handy base for shops and of course MaGochans Pub macgochans-tobermory.co.uk ! A nice friendly place for a drink with some live music. We enjoyed a lovely forest walk to the other end of Tobermory Bay the following day, before heading off for a favourite anchorage at Drum na Buidhe by the entrance to Loch Sunart. A gorgeous evening with otter playing in the shore waters a highlight. The next morning some went ashore for a walk up to the headland following the track to Kippin – well worth the hunt through bracken to find the path! Karen and John had a mini adventure in the dinghy to find a phone signal before heading ashore also. Then off to Oban and the marina at Kerrera Island where we sadly said goodbye to Karen. We had a little explore of Kerrara, walking up to Hutcheson’s monument and round to a beach where a seal colony can be seen. The wind was against our planned circuit of Mull, so our travels  took us next back to Port Harris  and from there to Loch Spelvie – a tricky entrance to be done with a fast running tide – where we spent another beautiful evening watching wildlife (another otter and many seabirds fishing) and Robin and the girls went ashore for a swim. Our last day’s sailing came around too quickly, as we headed back to Oban, where we met new crew Stuart and Fraser the following day and bid sad farewell to Svalen and Skip! See below for the blog of their first few days adventuring.  A fantastic week.  Tanera Robin, Veyatie and Pollaidh.


Skipper´s update from the Island of Gigha, Argyll, Scotland

We lost our lovely family crew in Oban on Saturday last week, but were joined by Stuart Black and Fraser Greive from Inverness simultaneously. We came here on Sunday after spending a night and a morning in Ardfern (to do the laundry and avoid strong winds that caused four lifeboat call-outs that night in the Oban area!). However, we have not been able to leave again yet due to strong south winds related to a series of depressions rolling in from the Atlantic and proceeding northwards up the west coast of Scotland.

When we arrived in Ardminish bay, Maggs Mcsporran was on the pier to greet us. She lives on the island, and has like her uncle been involved in the Gigha Community Trust that did the Community land buy-out, bought three second hand windmills, and generally helped the get more residents, better housing, and some small enterprises started. Now Maggs works for Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and is a good friend of Stuart´s. She took us for a tour yesterday to the north of the Island, and also joined us on board for an evening meal, which was good fun. Tonight we will all go to her home for a meal.

We have also explored a bit, and enjoyed a great lunch at the Boathouse pub and restaurant just by the Pier. They have an excellent local chef, and there is a lot of local produce  including lobsters, scallops and oysters, delivered fresh daily by a small fishing boat. That was thanks to Fraser.

We hope to be able to leave early on Thursday morning with the outgoing tide, and reach Bangor at the mouth of Belfast bay in Ireland about 12 hours later after catching favourable winds.

Stuart and Fraser in the pub, and Maggs, Fraser and Stuart at the north end beach, which has a north and a south sandy beach for bathing. Maggs said it was where the Royals bathed off the royal yacht ht Brittania when doing their annual sail around the north (back in the old days!).