Leaving Sao Martinho wasn’t easy, we really enjoyed relaxing in such a fantastic spot, I think this photo will always remind us of our time there.
It wasn’t easy in other ways too, the anchor got fouled around an old DIY mooring that took a while to sort out.
Despite the swells having died down in the entrance they were still running quite large. With both engines on three quarter throttle we motored into them at 6 knots until we were a couple of miles offshore at which point they died down a bit and in any case became more comfortable as we turned South heading towards Cabo Carvoeiro.
I did have one moment of panic when I suddenly heard the anchor chain running out as we came off the top of one wave. I ran forward to find that the anchor had been pushed off the roller and was hanging just below the water on its retaining rope as the chain headed for the bottom under it’s own weight. The anchor retaining pin had got jammed as we left Martinho and I hadn’t bothered to free it. I shan’t make that mistake again.
Once things calmed down a bit Gail went down to put the kettle on expecting to find stuff all over the place as a result of our bumpy ride but amazingly nothing had moved, more evidence of the stability of these Wharram cats. We’d decided to avoid going into Peniche just around Cabo Carvoeiro We’d read that there was no anchorage, that the marina was small and that the large fishing fleet seemed to relish sending as much wash into moored boats as possible. It was a good decision, our friends on ‘Quanza’ spent one very disturbed night there and came away with a damaged hull. Our decision meant we had some 65 miles to run down to Cascais so I was hoping the ‘Nortada’ would pick up and give us some speed, it didn’t happen. To avoid spending the night dodging pots and fishing boats we needed to average 5.5 knots and it was only possible by motor sailing on one engine, the swells remained quite large though despite the lack of wind.
Of course the wind did pick up as we rounded Cabo da Roca but by then it was a bit late, it dropped again as we passed Cabo Raso and started our approach to the Rio Tejo and Cascais and both Gail and I noticed how much warmer it felt despite the setting sun.
We dropped anchor in the bay after some 12 hours at sea, very tired but pleased to have completed another leg of our journey. We spent two nights anchored in Cascais, I had some preconceptions about the place being a playground for the rich, brash, noisy and a bit up itself. The marina has the highest prices and the worst reputation for service anywhere on the Portuguese coast, the anchorage has patchy holding and suffers from swell and strong katabatic winds Our stay there did nothing to change my view, not least because we didn’t go ashore and the anchor dragged once then fouled as I was lifting it. Our friends Gary and June on ‘Friendship’ anchored there for over a week not long after we left and loved the place so maybe I should have given it a better chance. As it was we decided to spend some time enjoying Lisbon instead.
So on a sunny and calm Tuesday morning we set off to motor the 18 miles inland to the Parque das Nacoes Marina on the North bank of the Tejo. Lisbon is a busy port and the currents run fast so I had to be on my toes with regard to navigation but luckily we seemed to have picked a fairly quiet morning and I was able to enjoy what turned out to be a spectacular trip. A little over a year ago we’d sailed Gleda down the Tamar river, under the bridge and out past Plymouth into The Channel.. Now here we were sailing into one of Europes most beautiful cities, and from the river we got to see many of it’s most famous landmarks, the Belem Tower, the Discoveries Monument, the monastery of St Jeronimo. We passed under the 25 de Abril bridge, which is similar in design to the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco and on our port side we could see the city laid out on the hillside.
Even with the tide it took over 3 hours to reach the marina and my next challenge was to manoeuvre Gleda into the outer basin and through the 8m wide sluice gates, Gleda has a beam of 6m so there wasn’t a lot to play with and it took me two attempts to slot her through. My heart rate was pretty high by the time we got in I can tell you. The ‘marineros’ helped us tie up and gave us a very warm welcome and later, when we went to the office to check in, they invited us out onto their little patio overlooking the entrance and insisted we drank a couple of cold beers with them. It was a bit of an effort to get there but without doubt PDN is the nicest marina we’ve stayed in.
Gail has written plenty about how we spent our time in Lisbon on her blog so I’ll not repeat it all. Highlights for me were the Oceanarium visit, Sintra, and the Tuk Tuk tour of the Alfama.
Instead of words here are a few of my favorite photos from our stay.
We stopped 8 nights in Lisbon and thoroughly enjoyed it but we still had two more 60 mile plus passages ahead of us so we had to get going again. Next stop was Sines, birthplace of Vasco De Gama, it took another 12 hour day of inconsistent winds and motor sailing to get there and we spent a full day anchored near the marina to rest up, grab some more fuel and water and have a quick look at the town.
Sines is a busy commercial port but most of that is hidden from the inner harbour where were, the town is authentically Portuguese and surprisingly large, it was nice to see.
On Friday 21st August we weighed anchor before dawn and laid course for Cabo Sao Vicente 54 miles to the South. Yet another day of motor sailing and, just as we’d experienced rounding Cabo Finisterre back at the end of June, more fog.
We didn’t see the Cape until we were within a mile of it but as we turned East it lifted and allowed us to see this iconic headland towering above us.
A few miles later we rounded Sagres Point and turned into the bay to drop anchor off the beach, we’d done it, we were on the Algarve proper.
Time for a break, time to let it all sink in, Algarve thoughts coming up.