Lisbon to the Algarve
After 4 days at anchor in CasCais - with winds hitting F8 at times I decide to move to Lisbon - handier for Pearse to get to the boat. I also want to update my flares as I have been told that the Police Maritime can inspect foreign flagged yachts and hand out fines if you do not have in date flares - I had put off renewing mine because the longer you leave it the longer they last and it is a real pain spending money on flares and not needing them before they go out of date (well, I suppose it is actually better than the alternative, but even so it is a lot of money...)
I had thought of renewing several times on the journey so far, to discover in Spain that you order from chandleries and it can take 1-3 days for them to arrive, I usually think of it on a Friday or Thursday, hence the delays.
I arrive in Lisbon on a Monday, a simple 2 hour trip up the river. I go to the chandlery by bike and am told, they can't sell flares in Portugal, I have to go to a specialist place that services lifeboats and rafts for big ships - Orey Technica is 10 miles out of Lisbon <sigh>
Luckily I have the presence of mind to phone them. They say, they can do flares for passing yachtsmen but I meed a permit from the central policestation is Moscovide in Lisbon.
Tuesday, I cycle to Moscovide Police statiion - it looks like 5 miles, it is more - it takes me an hour and a half in hot hot weather. The police station is cool, I take a ticket from a machine, my turn is number 3 and before long I am sitting at a desk with a nice young policeman who speaks workable English. Oh, he says, we normally just supply permits to Lisbon residents for Lisbon registered boats, but he goes and asks and discovers, yes he can supply me with a permit. Then he says, but you need a letter from the Captainaire of the Port where the boat is. He writes out in Portuguese what the Captain's letter should say and shows me a photograph of the port office where I must go.
Wednesday I go to the Captainaire's office, no problem, the letter will take an hour and cost 5 euro and 11 cents. I then have the wit to go by bus this time to the police station. I discover the ticket machine has a label stuck over my button and ask WTF (politely). I am told that an entire rifle club has come in for its members to get permits for their rifles. Come back at 2:30 and the machine will open again. I know the office shuts at 4 p.m. so I return shortly after 2. At 3:10 the nice policeman comes over and says don't worry, he will process me - just wait. At ten past 4 I am invited to his desk. Right he says with a triumphant smile - just give me your uk income tax reference number and National Insurance number and he can print up the form. I tell him I can give him my National Insurance number - in Belfast these are two letters, six digits and a further letter (a check letter).
He frowns, asks a colleague, who asks a colleague, three people in animation around his computer, one phones a friend, after 30 minutes my tax reference becomes 99999999. Then my NI number - they have an impressive book with copies of tax and NI/Social security documents for over 60 countries. Unfortunately the English ones show 8 digit NI numbers. not like the Northern Ireland ones. <sigh> another policeman joins the melee, then another. The five of them finally decide what to do and at 17:10 the permit is produced with a flourish and waved in front of me, smiles all round. I tentatively reach out but no, not yet, it needs signed by the head of police. A policemen is dispatched upstairs and we await his return. At 17:30 he comes back and.... I have my permit!
Thursday, I fold my bike and take a train to within a few kilometres of Orey Technica, with my new permit, ships papers and my passport. By lunchtime I have my flares and I ride back to the train station and hence to the boat, just in time to head back out again to pick up Pearse. He has a 3.5 hour, 20 Euro train ride from Faro to Lisbon.
Pearse phones from Belfast to say Easyjet (hardjet?) have delays, then Delays, then DELAYS... I do think airlines should not give out bad news drip by drip. Anyway, Pearse will now miss the train so books a hotel, he is on his own mini-adventure. He picks a civilised afternoon train the next day and I go by local train from near the marina to the main train station - note there are two types of train station near the marina - Alcantara Mar and Alcantara Terre, the latter takes 30 minutes to get to the Estacion Oriente where Pearse is expected at 17:25. (the other Alcantara Mar station has trains that don't go to the Oriente). One hurdle overcome. Then Pearse txts to say the train has encountered forest fires and is stopped, they need (eventually) 20 buses to ferry the passengers from one train to a relief train. Pearse's bus runs into more smoke and has to divert from the diversion. He arrives in Lisbon at just before 11pm, five hours late. I go to get tickets for the local train and (a) the card reader on the first two machines is broken and (b) the coin trays are totally full. By racing aound a really big station I find a third machine, get the tickets but we miss the 23:11 to Alcantatra. Anyway we need to eat so we get a quick snack from the nearby shopping centre and finally get the 23:46 train. After all is said and done we arrive at the boat at half past midnight. <sigh>
A few Dolphins come in and say hello to Pearse, the Collins guide we have highlights personality differences between breeds - these dolphins only stay a few minutes and have a particular dive and swim tactics - the ones in the Irish sea/St Geroges channel usually stay for 30 minutes plus and weave in and out like plaited hair just in front of the bow. Best seen when they are three of them. Mystical. The ones this far south are actually fairly boring.
I depart Lagos about noon and head for Faro - I can anchor there and work on the boat until she gets lifted out at "Bruce's yard" in Faro - handy to fly home from. It is much cheaper to get lifted out than to pay to stay in the water - marinas are expensive.