We had a nice sail through the night. Although our gennaker had exploded yesterday, we still made good speed and zig-zagged around our rumb line (the wind was too northerly to sail straight to the next waypoint) towards Cascais (on the outskirts of Lisbon).
Except for one jibe we had to make to avoid a close encounter with a freighter at 4am, it was generally an uneventful sail.
It was interesting to see how the water depth changed quickly from 100s of feet to 1000s and back again.
When the wind died down, we started the engine to move on. As the water got shallower, we saw dolphins again and the sun came out when we rounded the cape towards Lisbon.
Cascais turned out to be a very nice place that is packed with people until late at night. The marina is very large and international (we have French, Swedish, German, American and Australian neighbors) and hosts a lot of remarkable yachts.
Our late night dinner in town exposed us to yet new versions of Iberian food, more live music and other entertainment.
Today was everything but a steady day; starting off on wonky legs after yesterdays extensive port wine sampling, we marched back to Chirchill’s Caves- the port winery we, disappointingly, found closed yesterday evening. Pablo, our guide for the tour, took a lot of time guiding us not only through the solemn halls of the site, but also the rich sensations of the selected wines. Pablo obviously did a good job, seeing us leave the property with a range of their favorites and behind our planned schedule.
Leaving the Douro river we found ourselves veiled in thick fog again, wind blowing steadily in our backs, allowing us to bring out the genaker. The next few hours were dominated by high waves but generally good cruising conditions until suddenly the genaker tore. Luckily, after some minutes of tension, we were able to pack up its remains and, unfurling the genua, continue our journey south.
The evening bore another highlight, when Mark, our sealegged caretaker legend, served an awesome dish of lamb and beans. Yum!
It took us a while to get going this morning, business work, registration in Portugal, dealing with the heavy rain of the thunderstorm slowed us down.
After a nice walk along the Douro river, we reached Gaia (where the port wine is made/stored in the cellars) and then then the footbridge across the river. We had expected some interesting sites in this city of 1.2 million, but were overwhelmed by the beauty and size of this large old town where every corner we took revealed yet another interesting or historically relevant site – just amazing.
Porto is truly an amazing city that is worth a visit.
We enjoyed the narrow and winding streets, had lunch soaking in the vibe of Porto and even found a traditional barber shop (with the old chairs etc from decades ago) were Ulf and Marc got their well deserved hair cut.
We tried to visit the very interesting bookstore (where it is believed JK Rowling came up with a lot of the ideas for the Harry Potter story) but were reluctant to pay for visiting a book store (never mind waiting in line for a long time to get a ticket to visit the store).
A traditional Portuguese Cod snack with Port wine helped us through the afternoon before we settled for a nice seafood dinner close to the marina (after we learned that the Port wine tours were not offered after 18:00 (the difference in working hours between Spain and Portugal is quite significant)). Of course, the restaurant had a nicely smoking grill out on the walkway – we found it thanks to one of the lovely local grandmothers whose gesture were easy to follow…We were also finally able to order Percebes (a type of barnacle that was sold out in all prior places we saw it on the menu). A very tasty appetizer. While physically very different (it looks like turtle feet) it reminded us of Cracas we had on the Azores last year.
Tasting more Port wine and a few deserts later this night complemented another perfect day. We were thankful that the weather turned out that well (after the quite heavy thunderstorms in the morning) and hope to visit a Port wine tour tomorrow before leaving to Lisbon.
Unfortunately, the fog from last night did not lift and we motored out of the harbor without much to see.
As forecast, the wind picked up further offshore and we enjoyed a couple of hours under gennaker and for a while even blue sky.
In the afternoon the fog caught up with us and forced us into our foul weather gear and hats. Later, the wind calmed down and not being able to see as far as 50m we found our way with the help of the AIS system (there were quite a few fishing boats out there).
We motored up the Duoro river in the dark and enjoyed the atmosphere as the fog lifted further inland.
Tied up at the dock, we cleaned up and enjoyed another seafood dinner that Marc prepared.
Today was a welcome slow day. We got groceries and laundry done, used the beautiful club house for business work, strolled around the impressive castle and were throughout the day looking for shade. We even rigged the large sun-cover to keep us and the boat cool.
It was another sunny and calm day in Galicia.
The facilities of the Monte Real Club Yates are very good, the staff extremely friendly and most speak English – an easy environment to feel at home.
In the evening, Ulf arrived after a long journey and we celebrated his arrival with an outstanding Spanish meal and lots of Rioja (even our favorite ice cream place was still open at 1am).
Hopefully the forecast for tomorrow holds true and we will leave towards Portugal with some northerly wind (currently it is dead calm and fog moved in).
It wasn’t quite paradise but Islas Cies are pretty cool.
We went ashore at about 10 in the morning and walked most of the paths for the next 5 hours and could not believe the views the islands had to offer – from perfect beaches (voted the world’s best beach by the Guardian in 2007) via very cool forests to quite impressive views from the mountain tops to everything in between…
We walked until we could not more and were happy to finish it all with a swim in the still pretty cold water.
While we did expect some people on the islands (we had to get a special permission to visit with our own boat upfront), we were quite surprised to see ferries drop off tourists by the truck load – it is fair to say that we were not alone out here – nevertheless, the experience was awesome and this might have been the best day of our trip yet.
We then moved on to Baiona, were we not only had our first Med-mooring experience and dolphins in the harbor, but also saw the replica of one of Columbus’ ships who had sailed back here on one of his explorations.
We also had dinner, but it wouldn’t quite make today’s blog post. The icecream afterwards, on the other hand, should – it was simply outstanding…
We can tell we are back to civilization as people speak English again and prices are going up.
When we changed our plans yesterday, we were not so sure that the detour to Muros was a good idea. In hindsight, it
was a very good one.
Not only did we meet super-friendly Pedro (and his colleague that spoke English extremely well), enjoyed walking the narrow streets, taking in amazing vistas of the mountains, the ria and the fish farms, but also decided this morning to walk 5km to the beach and lagune. And what a walk it was; winding roads overlooking the ocean, small villages and the bouquet of the wild woods along the way – with quite a reward at the end, an extremely picturesque lagone, Lagoa de Luro, in combination with very large sand dunes, an endless beach with huge breaking waves, framed by mountains on either side.
Not too bad for a start.
We got back to the marina by noon, had a quick shower and moved on. As predicted, the wind filled in, we set our sails and sailed along an impressive landscape.
What made this sail even more remarkable was not only the dark blue sky, but the 10-14 feet rolling swell. It was breathtaking to see these waves hit the rocks we navigated around and listen to the thunder when they exploded – very nice.
As we bore off the last point, we changed to the gennaker and had a very nice broad reach in monster waves towards Islas Cies. The usual firedrill takedown (the wind had significantly increased by then) was followed by a search for a good anchorage. We found one (a little rolly but still quite nice) and had a nice seafood meal, lots of salad and a mango desert.
We are still not tired of the Rioja and our Spanish is improving with each bottle – Ai Caramba😉