Porto to Lisbon

You try and take photographs of Porpoises and Dolphins by the score and often just get a splash of water. Here is my best yet. A short beaked common Dolphin. Clear enough to be identified using the Collins nature guide "Whales & Dolphins" that Peter Kirby-Smith bought for Shadowmere on her return from Norway to the Belfast - we were spotting Minkie whales on that trip.  The shot above was taken a few miles South of Varzim. I am visited a dozen times on that trip. Maybe they know I an on my own.

 Just a few shots of Varzim - a wonderfully cheap marina  (only 23 Euro a night or245 Euro a month!)  with a nice core of longterm liveaboards - barbecues on Friday night, book swop area - sort of clubhouse feel to it. The town is very much a holiday town, well, it has a holiday beach, the rest of the town is unassuming, shore front it full of restaurants and cafes, back one street and it is an ageless old Portuguese town.
 This little huts go on and on

 On the right are stalls packed with second books - unfortunately in Portuguese

After visiting Porto by train from Varzim, it is time to move on, Originally intended to head to Leixoes not far down the coast or possibly to Figuero de Foz. Simon and Paula on Sylvana report that Foz was a disappointment - 4/10. Marina not great and expensive and town a bit like Brighton (not that there is anything wrong with Brighton - if you like that sort of thing) Anyway as I am singlehanded I am keen to save money - Varzim was great but anchoring is free. Hence I head to Aveiro - a lovely shallow inland sea with an artificial lagoon just off the main entrance river.
I anchor where the Red arrow points! you can also anchor towards the village but there are many moored boats and I am still learning how to anchor - it is difficult singlehanded! I do add a tripping buoy which is a great reassurance - you can see where the anchor lies and get feedback on how much chain is along the bottom and what your swinging circle is. Also if your bitter end breaks you can recover the anchor without diving for it! I stay here for 4 days - swimming every day for exercise, doing some work around the boat and practising my breadmaking - using the slowcooker to save gas!
I am still experimenting - outer skin is a bit too moist - I need to make a trivet to raise the breadpan off the hot water in the slow cooker. I could of course just use prove the yeast in the open air and use the Oven, but gas is precious - the loaf above was made with 20 minutes of a very low simmer on a gas ring, which must use an awful small amount of gas compared to a 25-45 minute very hot gas oven. You then leave the bread in the slow cooker for 4 hours and the magic happens! it tastes great.

Although the river is busy - there are ships three times this size coming and going I am well protected behind the man made barriers. After 4 nights I decide to move on - a longer leg this time so I leave at 6 in the morning and arrive 15 miles offshore in a nature reserve called Isla Berlenga. I have a pleasant sail for most of the trip, marred by having to dodge lobster pots, marked with very thin bamboos, sometimes with flags. From spotting these until you are upon them takes 90 seconds, which for the singlehander is a bit tiresome I had batches of these every 5-10 minutes for hours, I took avoiding action about a dozen times <sigh>

As you might deduce I am motoring when I photographed this one,

 The islands approach - these are just to the west of Berlenga and have no anchorage
 Berlenga has a lighthouse, I resist its temptation
 Sun goes down at 8:30 - it is dark by 9:30
 Manage to borrow a mooring for the night - you have to anchor in 17m here so a mooring is a better option. This place is described as a fair weather mooring, this part of the world had pretty consistent wind directionsin summer  (Northish) so this is a reasonable anchorage - just a touch rolly

I leave early the next morning for Cascais - at the entrance of the Tagus river that leads up to Lisbon.
This is a gorgeous 35 mile run  - I pole out the jenny and delight in the sailing. Then with 15 miles to go I turn left and head for the coast - a beam reach which shadowmere loves. Suddenly I see a bank of fog extending 10 miles off the coast. Very scarey. I startup the radar, hit the foghorn, and keep my eyes peeled, I eventually start to reduce sail as the wind comes up to a force 5-6. I begin to worry how to anchor in very strong winds, in bad vis - Cascais has a bay that you can anchor in  - just as well as it is a very expensive marina.

As I pass the point the good news is that I sail into a fog free zone. the bad news is that the wind is up to a full force 7, with flat seas though. I drop the mainsail and motor in. Still panicing a bit as to how I am going to anchor in a force 7 (badly I suspect!)  I think through some strategies but as usual you plan for the worst and hope for the best - when I round the second corner into Cascais the wind drops to 5 knots <sigh>

Cascais is very very nice, a delightful town and I stay here another 3 or 4 days at anchor. I go ashore to get gas and groceries on the first day The afternoon and evening winds are very strong and get stronger - so mush so I have to lift the punt onto the deck and cannot go ashore on days 3 and 4. My friend from my (old) work Pearse is coming out and I have to decide where to meet. With shipping forecasts of NW5-6 occasionally 7 and local grib forecasts from windguru mentioning force 8 I decide to move up to Lisbon after the 4 days in Cascais and ask Pearse to get the train from Faro (3 hours/20 Euro)

I am flying an anchor ball - not common
The red hand of ... Cascais!
The wavy lines on the tiles are not as seasick making as the ones in Villagarcia de Arosa. The whole town is paved, clean, full of tourists and is really, really well kept. It is a holiday town for Lisbon I suspect, there is a  good train service. Cascais is hoping to be "best young people's destination town" I hope the worst young people stay away.
The trip up to Lisbon takes 2 hours - last of the flood tide has me doing 7.5 kts
I had been here before with Ian Stevenson and we moored in a marina directly under the bridge, alongside lovely cafes and bars - one of which became a nightclub in the evening and played loud music to 5am. I avoid this marina and go further up to the Doca da Alcantara.
The shoreline of the Tagus is superb - you can walk or cycle right along it - there are 2 or 3 really good memorials.

 The marina to the right usually has no room for visitors

 There is a rather large bridge - 100 foot of clearance, but it still gives me the willies to go under it


Anyway, I get to the Doca da Alcantara and spot that the lifting bridge is not (lifted) despite the pilot saying it is kept lifted for yachts... I hover about in the current and try the VHF to no avail (channel 9) I then use the telephone (god bless the EU for getting rid of roaming) I am told the bridge lifts on the halfhour (actually it is kept open - outside office hours). I continue to mill about but it opens 20 minutes early and a police rib comes out at full speed with blue flashing lights, I snuck in after it passes and come alongside the first pontoon I see, I walk up to the marina office and they move me of course. It is blowing 15 knots by now and it takes me two goes to get Shadowmere into the new berth. She is still the same length as when she was made, so that is a good thing.

I have now undertaken three anchorings, one mooring bouy pickup and 3 pontoon moorings singlehanded, my skillset must surely be lurching towards improvement...

My next post will probably be more reflective on how things are going. Also the saga of how to buy flares in Portugal. How Easyjet  complicate Pearse's holiday on the boat and what happens next.


  1. That is a fantastic photo on dolphin? Just need to find what type :) Just lovely your blog and Alan and I have caught up now...Has Pearse joined you yet. Loving the Mr D usage :) I am following his videos on fb he has recently done a lamb casserole using lamb chops! lots of love the Doyles XXX


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