30. September 2012 · Comments Off on Portugal: Nazare · Categories: Posts

The human’s are really rubbish at this sailing thing.

They told me they were going to sail all the way to the anchorage at Cascais (just outside the harbour of Lisbon) and they didn’t.

Eight hours of fiddling with the sails in light winds and rolly waves and they give up and head into port.  Wimps.


Come on you can take 8 more hours of this.


Me, I was fine.  A little trouble walking about…but I blame that on the night before.


The winds died down and the waves were rolling them about and backing the sails, so the humans decided to head into the nearest port.


A bit of a late decisions and they had us coming in at night again.

The moon rising over Nazare

So, here we go again, trying to find our way into a strange port at night.

Not as bad a Figueira da Foz as there are not as many back ground lights and the port entry is simple.  Thank the full moon for a bit more light too.


The Marina inside is tiny.  I think we stole someones berth as it has fenders attached to it, but it was the only empty one we could find.  Hope he does not come home tonight.  This is catholic country and there are no staff working late on a Sunday night.  So you just find a spot and take it.


Maybe if we get off early enough???

Yah, we know it is a lot short of Lisbon, but it was bumpy and horrible out there.

We got trapped in the ‘Lemming Effect’.

The ‘Lemming Effect’ of anchoring was explained in an earlier blog, but the ‘Lemming Effect’ of departures (from a perfectly safe and sound anchorage) is very similar.

Despite the fact that the weather forecasts, we had from SSB, said that there would be a 3m swell (6m from top to bottom on wave) on the beam with only light winds on the nose…..everyone left.  We were the last ones left in the anchorage.

We had planned to leave in a few more days.  After a strong Northerly blow went through and the sea state settled.  But everyone was gone.  Did they know something we did not?

So we fell for the ‘Lemming Effect’ and left in the afternoon.

Stupid, stupid, stupid!!!

Despite the light winds we could sail…almost.  The winds were on the front quarter, but as we rode the waves ‘up and over’ the movement colapsed the foresail against the shrouds (things that hold up the mast) and the main backed.

We folded in the foresail, to protect it, and motored, but it was horribly rocky.

I could not walk around the boat and my humans looked very green at the gills.  They could not imagine putting me through it all night when there was a perfectly suitable Marina along the way.  So we ended up in Figueira da Foz.


The entrance was a little confusing to enter in the dark, because they have greatly extended the port sea wall.  But ignore your charts and chart plotters and follow the bouyage and you are fine to enter.  We did surf in, a little out of control,on the Westerly swell.  But no major worry.


All the ‘Lemmings’ were here when we arrived, and they all left this morning.  We have decided to wait.  There were no winds this morning and they are meant to be very strong Northerlies tonight.


This will shift the swell to come from behind, much more comfortable Southerly sail, and Northerly winds are meant to remain.


The only problem is the Marina here is quite expensive.  Our boat is miles away from the facilities, that are basic at best, and there is only WiFi when you sit on there office step, even with our antenna.

But we have since learned that you can barter.  We have moved south enough now that you can start to barter for cheaper prices, the time of year may also have an effect on prices.  We talked our way to more than 50% off their price.


The town is ok, with some lovely architecture and squares.

Homes along the river side

Central Church

Local fire department is right infront of the church.
Just incase a burning candle runs astray

The beach is the largest I have ever seen in my life.  You have to walk a mile out on board walks to even come close to the sea.

Board walks help you cover about half the distance to the sea

Still have not made it to the sea yet

It is a holiday town with lots of cafes, restaurants and shops, but maybe more modern then charming or historic.  There is also a lot of construction around.  As in all holiday resorts along the coast we always find a parking lot full of these.

And we thought we were cheap


I had hoped, if we are stuck here anyway, I could do some stocking up.  But there are not many places to stock up on canned or frozen foods.  There is a good municipal market where you can haggle for cheap fruit and vegetables.  I have roasted and jarred up peppers and aubergines (egg plant) for longer voyages.


Check out how long the new port break water extension is.
Watch out for this if entering in poor visibility

View fron breakwater up river to bridge

View of Marina before the bridge

Wide entrance into Marina from the river


Some people have asked how we do the laundry with out a washing machine aboard.  Our neighbours are happy to demonstrate the technique for you.

When child labour is legal and fun

And if you do not have a drier aboard.  Let the sun and wind do the work.

Who needs a shade binimi

You have to love the ‘little’ themed socks

We hope you never take your washing machine and drier for granted again!


25. September 2012 · Comments Off on Portugal; San Jacinto and Aveiro · Categories: Posts

It has been a really crazy few days.

It started and finished with some high winds. Over 35 knots. In the shallows of the lagoon we had nothing more then little wavelets that got you soaked on the dingy.

We walked through the town into the Nature Reserve here in San Jacinto. It is a mixture of sand dunes, grasses, every green trees and eucalyptus all running to the sea. The immense sand dunes and the pounding waves gave me the feeling I was on the Skeleton Coast of Africa.



The beach to myself….wonderful

No one to tell me…NO DOGS ALLOWED!


We had one calm day and scouted over to visit Aveiro. We tied the dingy up in town, caught a ferry across the canal and bus up into the heart of town. As we were driving into town we saw the salt lagoons and the interesting hills of bright white salt that had been harvested from the sea. Some had ‘for sale’ signs on them.

You don’t have to get off the bus here to get salt as the centre of Aveiro has lots of shops selling the local salt. The bus drops you off in the centre of town which is pretty with the central canal running through it. There are some lovely examples of architecture and of course your fill of churches.

Aveiro: Canal des Pyamides in the town centre

Aveiro: The bows of the traditional regional lagoon boats

One amazing church we found that was both tiled outside and inside.

Aveiro: Traditional Portugese tile work on the outside of a church


The tile work continued on the inside of the church


Every surface inside the church was covered with tiles


Each one of the tiles is hand painted


We also found a very creepy grave yard with both memorials and crypts.

Wonder what is through these gates?

Aveiro: Cemetary in the city centre


The cemetary was surrounded by all these crypts

The crypts had gates or glass doors with the caskets and pictures of the loved ones that had passed away

Aveiro was ok, but it is a modern town with very little of the old character conserved besides a few key buildings. The canals were concrete lined, the bridges modern and a large shopping mall in the centre of it all selling everything from GAP to Body Shop.

Back to the anchorage in San Jacinto and the calm day of weather had brought a lot more boats South. The anchorage was very crowded and we knew there was going to be trouble once the winds got up in the night….and there was.

By dinner two Dutch boats had collided and decided just to tie together until the morning. By the wee hours of the morning boats with small anchors started breaking free. Most headed up to the pontoons in Aveiro except one boat ‘Madam Bouquet’ of Liverpool. She moved in front of us. We spent the remainder of the day with a horn and fenders ready as she broke free several times and headed at us. We could not convince them it would be safer to move up to the pontoons in Aveiro. Finally Jeff on the boat Horizon rowed out to them with his spare anchor and gave them a hand setting it.

The weather has improved and we have decided to head towards Lisbon today. We will get as far South as we can. It mayl be an over night trip and we would like to make the anchorage near Lisbon in day light, so if we get caught short we will stop just north of Lisbon at Cascais.

The tide is high and we need to get going, so I will fill you in, with pictures, later. The tide waits for no man.

21. September 2012 · Comments Off on Portugal: (Sao Jacinto) Aveiro in the Ria de Averio · Categories: Posts

I know we said we were staying in Porto until the strong winds died down ,but either the humans were too embarrassed to show me how rubbish their surfing is or, they got sick of sitting in rubbish.

Leixoes is a big industrial port and with that commonly comes a LOT of rubbish in the water. Fine if you are off in Porto all day, but not a nice place to hang out waiting for the weather to change. If I was to come here again I would go to the new Marina. It still may be a way out of town, but it is cleaner and has better facilities.

Little or no wind was predicted for the day, but we decided the cost of fuel was worth getting out of the place. The humans took until noon to get everything organized, but we were off south down the coast. The winds did pick up a bit and we were able to sail to the Ria de Aveiro.

The urban sprawl of Porto extended quite far south, but then the shore line turned to bright white beached backed by every green trees. The Ria entrance is dominated by a huge traditional light house and we were swept into the sandy estuary and maze of sandy lagoons by the rising tide.

The entrance to the Ria de Aveiro

Close up of the lighthouse lit by the warm evening sun

We anchored in a walled in tidal pool just off the main channel and the town of Sao Jacinto. There is a small military base, a small ferry running across the channel and thriving fishing village. The military and passing ferry traffic means the sea front has a little selection of cafes, restaurants and shops.

Tradional lagoon boats

Tradional style moorings along the lagoon

Strong winds are predicted for today and tomorrow, so we will stay inside here protected for a few days. There are always things breaking on the boat and we would like to find out how to catch ferries up to the touristy town of Aveiro. It is nick named the ‘little Venice of Portugal’. There is no internet connections here so we will up date you on SSB and add the pictures later.

20. September 2012 · Comments Off on Portugal: Porto · Categories: Posts

Welcome to the city of churches.

Boy the Portuguese love their beautiful ornate churches and Porto is full of them.

Church with hand painted tiles

Close up of the hand painted tiles


The import of ‘fortified’ wines, known as port, by the English made Porto a very rich city for a long time and it is reflected in the architecture.


The city centre


Busy city streets


But like all major cities there are also run down sections.  But even they are interesting too.


How many Portuguese flags does it take to hide the fact it is time to paint?


Of course there are lots of examples of the tile work I love so much here.


Some crazy hand painted tiles


These ones are in the train station

Welcome to the house of tiles



We climbed up the bell tower of one of the highest churches to get an all over view of Porto and the Port lodges across the river.


Tallest bell tower in Porto


The view half way up


As we passed the bells one of the human’s said ‘Hope the bell does not toll’.  No sooner did she say that then the bell struck the hour….very loudly.  Luckily it was 1pm.


View from the top of the bell tower in the church

The cities roofs below

A great panoramic view of the city


Besides port Portugal is also know for it’s hand made lace.  It is sold in all the tat stores, but it is lovely to see it used in traditional ways, including the most common use, window dressing.


Lace curtains


We had seen a bit of Porto, so it was time to make our way down the waterfront and across the river to the Port houses.



Bridge over the river Douro

Traditional port barges with Porto, across the river, in the back ground


The first port house we wanted to visit was Taylor’s.  Mostly because the ‘lonely planet’ guide said it was free.  We had a long climb up as everything is uphill from the river Douro.


Climbing the stone streets up


It better be up here


Finally made it !


Of course, it was not free.

But at three euros for the tour, including three tasting for free, we really could not complain (and besides we were up here now).

So the many types of port wine were explained to us and their fermentation techniques including a white port we were unaware existed.


Ruby port is aged in large wooden barrels so that less oxygen effects the fruity taste and colour.


Tawny port is aged in smaller barrels so the oxygen and wood add to the flavour and the colour turns pale.


More oxygen means more evaporation. One 600 letre barrel is lost every 6 when making tawny port


All this climbing hills……

learning about port production…..

and maybe a little too much port tasting….

meant we really needed to get something in our stomachs.

So we headed back over the river to see if we could find some traditional Portuguese food.

Along the way we ran into this tourist boat.


Do you recognise this boat? Think jubilee celebrations.
Still need a hint?
Think….the queen never sat down!


Crowded waterfront balconies



We found a lovely ‘locals’ restaurant that served local food.  The humans had the house lunch specials.  One was Portuguese salted cod cooked with onions and peppers and served with potatoes.  The other was sheeps offal (stomach and spine) cooked with butter beans and rice.  Both were excellently cooked for only five euros each.


Little local resturants


Walking off lunch down the river bank you find some more great examples of Portugese sea side archetecture.


The ground floor was traditionaly used to house fishing nets and gear. The living quarters were on the floors above.


We stopped at the local market and got some lovely green figs to go with the cheese and port.  The Portugese cheeses are lovely and, not that the brown figs are not nice, the little green figs are like small balls of brown sugar.  The locally produced wines are also very nice and economical.


The winds are too light or in the wrong direction over the next few days.  We found out that the Marina does not charge you to dock your rib inside if you anchor out side.  Well the truth is they say there is a charge, but they rarely can be bothered to collect.  So we are going to anchor outside tomorrow.  We will fill our next few days with repairs to the boat and some surfing.  The beach right beside the Marina is great for surfing.  I will watch from the shore as they crash about pretenting they know what they are doing.  This should be fun to watch!