31st August - 3rd October 2001
On arrival in Portugal, the first job was to put our watches back by one hour. Although we'd travelled only around 30 miles from Bayona in Spain, there was a time difference between the two ports.
The marina in Viana do Castello was pretty crowded with lots of boats heading south at the same time for the ARC rally, so when we spotted a free berth, we grabbed it. Unfortunately we were up early next morning when the boat which normally moored there returned home. On relocating, found ourselves in a raft of about ten boats, mostly Swedish, on the wall of the harbour.
Unfortunately we had arrived just a week too late to meet our friends Gwyn and Angie from Wales, who had been holidaying near Viana and as normal had just missed the local town fiesta. However there was a folk festival taking place in the town, which was very colourful with dancers from many different countries including Peru, Mexico, Bulgaria and Lithuania among others, so our timing wasn't too bad after all.
Wierd folk, dancing!
Viana we enjoyed pottering about
doing a few little jobs needed on board. After trying several restaurants recommended in the Rough Guide and
sampling the delicious gooey cakes from the bakeries, we decided we better
take the hike up to the town's impressive church high on a hillside, just to make sure we
didn't burst! We bumped into old Norwegian friends Tom and Ann-Marie
again and introduced them to new French friends Marc and Béatrice from
the boat Coconut. We were definitely settling into the
On our last day in Viana, we met Oscar and Adriana, a lovely Portuguese couple from Guimares, who were sitting on the next table in a restaurant. They invited us for a day out at a very clean and unspoiled beach about 10 km north of Viana. It was a great opportunity and Phil had a lot of fun bodysurfing in the Atlantic swell with Oscar.
passage from Viana to Leixoes, about 35 miles south down the coast was
particularly nerve-wracking in thick fog. The forecast
had promised that the fog would soon burn off in the sun but that wasn't
to be. At one point a coaster appeared from nowhere on our
stern, luckily passing close by. As we approached Leixoes,
about 10 miles away Phil, on the foredeck, heard a noise ahead and by the
time he'd run to the cockpit and grabbed the wheel, a large steel trawler
appeared from the fog directly on our bow. Fortunately both
boats swerved to starboard, in accordance with the regulations and a
dangerous collision was narrowly avoided. The fishing boat was
travelling particularly fast in the conditions and was hard to spot on our
radar as we were experiencing many false echoes from the shore, which was
only about half a mile away. It was terrifying.
As we approached the port of Leixoes, we were startled by a loud foghorn close ahead. Again we'd seen nothing on the radar but suddenly a large ship appeared from behind the breakwater which protects the port. We managed to pick our way into the marina using our chart plotter, with the radar for confirmation of our location. After picking our way through a group of anchored boats we were relieved to enter the marina and even more relieved to be greeted by a couple of marina workers standing on the dock, apparently waiting to take our lines. What service, they didn't even know we were coming! However, after a couple of minutes walking up and down looking at our boat and conversing with one another, we discovered that it wasn't us they were expecting at all and we were asked to move to another pontoon to make room for a much larger boat. That was when we met new friends Eugene and Kirsten, who were cruising on their beautiful new Oyster.
town of Leixoes didn't have much to offer, apart from being a safe but
dirty haven in which to recover from our near death experiences in the
fog. The shops were limited in their range of goods but Phil did
manage one evening to rustle up a tasty dinner of roast chicken, broccoli
Leixoes was an excellent spot from which to take a bus trip into the city of Oporto. We went sightseeing in the Ribeira area by the river, which has a very exotic feel with its very old, ramshackle buildings and 1940s trams.
We had a fright one night in the marina to be awoken by a knocking on the hull and a voice asking if we had a cat. Fearing the worst, we rushed outside to be told by another startled cruiser that Sophie had jumped through their forepeak hatch into bed with them in the middle of the night. Phil was sent off to retrieve the errant cat. We could only think that during her nocturnal explorations, she may have encountered one of the local toms and fled in terror down the wrong dock and become confused when she couldn't spot Anju. All was forgiven though and we went out for a lovely meal with her new friends the next day!
The Ribeira area of Oporto
Wait for us Sandpiper!
For our next passage to Figueira da Foz, we travelled in company with Sandpiper. Well OK, we set off first, Sandpiper soon caught us up and overtook us and got to the marina first but it was nice to have company nearby.
Figueira Da Foz had the widest beach we'd ever seen with the exception of Southport in the UK. It was a really long walk to the sea but they certainly made the most of the beach, with Samba bands with bikini clad dancers and visiting Australians giving the Portuguese locals rugby training. Perfect entertainment for the Captain, who was recovering from the shock of hearing he was to be a grandfather!
As usual we had just missed the local festival and international film festival but had fun watching the "Blues Brother" type band entertaining in the street for the last night celebrations.
|We were invited for drinks aboard Sandpiper one evening at 7 pm. Around 6.30 pm we could see Eugene and Kirsten on deck and debated whether it would be rude to arrive early. In the end we were cheeky and went over, apologising for being early. We noticed Eugene and Kirsten frown but say it was fine. A while later their other guests arrived as well. It was only the next morning that they discovered that, although they had been in Portugal for a week, they hadn't changed their watches from Spanish time, so had been wondering why we'd been sitting on our own boat relaxing when they thought we were half an hour late for drinks!|
From Figuera da Foz, we headed south to the port of Nazaré, again in company with Sandpiper. The marina was pretty full and we didn't want to raft our steel hull against Sandpiper's brand new fibreglass, so we found ourselves rafted beside another steel boat, Windharp and quickly became friends with Brad, Susie and their children Hayden and Elise, especially when Christine was able to help them out by translating the German instructions for their watermaker. Susie was nursing a broken rib sustained from a fall during the trip there.
The town of Nazaré seemed to be closed for the winter already but the marina staff were very helpful and organised a taxi tour for ourselves and Eugene and Kirsten from Sandpiper of some local sights. First we went to Obidos, which was a very picturesque walled town.
Do you think our galley is big enough?
We also visited the monastery in Alcabaca, with its enormous kitchen and the very narrow door into the refectory, which was used to check if the monks were already too fat to have any dinner! We managed dinner in a very good restaurant near the monastery, although we didn't risk the obesity test first!
From Alcabaca we went on to Batalha to another enormous monastery. Unfortunately by this time I think we had post-lunch monastery fatigue, so we didn't stay long, but it was a very impressive building.
We didn't stop long at our next port of call, Peniche. We had planned to anchor overnight at the offshore Islands but on finding the anchorage pretty exposed, ended up in Peniche. On arriving we found the Customs taking up almost the entire visitors area with their 4 new boats, which were to be "baptised" and visited by the Prime Minister prior to commissioning. Each boat was moored 5 metres away from the next, leaving no room for anybody else. We weren't very happy but we managed to raft up next to a poorly Frenchman, who was also very displeased.
morning we left quickly before the Customs crews arrived, as Sophie had
decided to "baptise" the ropes of one of their new boats before
the official ceremony. Well their neat
coil of brand new rope did make an excellent cat toilet! It was very
amusing after they were so unhelpful to us on arrival. I wonder if
the prime minister noticed the scent?
Next we wanted to visit Lisbon and opted to use the marina in Cascais as a base, as two of Lisbon's own marinas were closed temporarily. The marina at Cascais was beautiful but pricey.
We travelled by train into Lisbon and visited the old part of the city which was charming. The views from the Castle were excellent. We stopped at the beginning of our the tour for a small beer, only to find it was only served in glasses the size of buckets. This helped to deaden the pain in our feet from walking up all the hills, so is highly recommended at the start of every walking tour of Lisbon.
Another day we visited the wonderful Oceanarium at the old Expo site and also went to the cinema. One advantage of Portugal was that they didn't dub the films, they were all in English with subtitles.
Should we get one of these for the boat?
near Lisbon, we took the opportunity to
visit Christine's old workmates at the Continental Teves factory in Palmela.
The trip involved two train journeys and a ferry ride across the river but
it was well worth the effort!
We were overwhelmed by our welcome and the way we were looked after by John
Hudman and Isabel Santos. We
had a lovely lunch before our tour of the factory. After working
hours Isabel took us sightseeing with her daughter Rita in the Setúbal area,
with its striking coastline and views.
Finally we had dinner in a beautiful restaurant in Setúbal with Isabel and John's families. For the first time we ate partridge eggs, which were delicious. When we couldn't decide on a dessert and we ended up with a plate containing a little of every dessert on the menu, every one was delicious! Isabel's family drove us all the way back to Cascais, which was very kind. We had a lovely day.
Teves Friends in Setubal (Manuel, Ann-Marie, John, Christine, Isabel and Rita)
in Cascais, we spent some time sampling the excellent service at the
casualty department of the hospital, when a sharp cable tie damaged Phil's
eye. He was offered the option of immediate
transportation by ambulance to Lisbon's hospital to see a specialist or he could have
eye drops and an eye patch and return next morning to Cascais for further
treatment. Christine could tell things weren't too serious
when he opted to return next day, so he wouldn't have to miss out on the
roast lamb dinner we were invited to aboard Sandpiper!
In Cascais we said farewell to Sandpiper for a while, as they would be over-wintering in Lagos in the Algarve before spending some time in the Mediterranean but before leaving to head out to the Portuguese island of Porto Santo, near Madeira, we joined forces with four other boats, Windharp (British), Emma (Norwegian), Coconut (French) and new friends Daan and Birgit on Synergie from Holland and decided to all leave at the same time and try to keep in contact by radio.
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