Down the Portuguese coast

(It’s possible to click on the pictures now for a bigger version)

To sum up the last weeks, we were a little bit lazy and just did some short passages down the Portuguese coast. Nearly all Portuguese harbours are in river entrances and can get quite rough even with moderate winds because the Atlantic swell works against the river and tidal currents.

Porto
Porto
Port wine tasting in Porto
Port wine tasting in Porto

We had some great days in Porto with crews from other boats and our friend Moritz who joined us from Povoa de Varzim to Peniche. We explored the city, had an exceptionally good sushi and did a Port wine tasting that was included in the marina fee.

Dolphins
Dolphins
Motoring through the atlantic swell somewhere on the Portuguese coast
Motoring through the atlantic swell somewhere on the Portuguese coast
Sao Jacinto anchorage with Mila in the back
Sao Jacinto anchorage with Mila in the back

After some days we headed south to Aveiro and anchored in the nearby Sao Jacinto anchoring bight, because there is a high voltage cable crossing the river that goes to the Aveiro Marina. According to our charts the minimum height below the cable is 18m, but as Mila has a height of nearly 17m including the VHF antenna we decided not to try out the accuracy of the given cable height.

The entrance to the river delta was quite rough although there was nearly no wind and only about 2m of swell outside in the deeper water. But as we approached the shallower entrance the waves got steeper and quite chaotic. It didn’t help that we arrived exactly between high and low tide. When we walked to the entrance the next day at high water the conditions were a lot calmer.

Going to Sao Jacinto turned out to be a wise decision, because it is an interesting place that is much less touristy than Aveiro. We were the only boat in the anchorage at first, and then another french boat joined us. We went to the only existing bar in the village, which was only populated by locals and had two nice evenings with cheap beer and funny karaoke singers. As this was the only place to go to there were people of all ages, and on the second evening we noticed that there were not only exactly the same people but they even sat in exactly the same spot. So we wondered whose spot we occupied…

Moritz and me went to a fish restaurant and I ordered grilled sardines and got a delicious plate of six of them. This has been the first time in my life that I ordered fish in a restaurant and was not able to eat all of it, but fortunately Moritz was able to help.

Exploring Aveiro
Exploring Aveiro
Sao Jacinto beach
Sao Jacinto beach

From Sao Jacinto we went to Peniche and originally planned to visit the Berlengas Island which is about 5 nautical miles west of Peniche. But this island has no harbour and there was to much swell to use the dinghy to get to land, so we just motored around the island and then went to Peniche.

Peniche harbour
Peniche harbour

When we arrived we were welcomed by the norwegian girls of Paloma which we already knew from Porto. We had told them before that we are really sad about not being able to make pizza on board because we don’t have an oven and so they invited us over for a really nice pizza dinner.

We stayed for some days and walked around the peninsula, went for a swim and to a local bar. The weather was changing a lot between warm sunshine, strong rainshowers and extremely thick fog.

Next stop was Cascais in the Tejo river nearby Lisboa. We didn’t like this town as it is a rich people’s area and so were the prices in the harbour, not only the high marina fee but also 13€ for using the washing machine and the dryer. Because of the conditions on the river we had to stay some days but then went on to Oeiras closer to Lisboa as soon as possible.

Approaching Oeiras was as rough as the other Portuguese river approaches, but this time we had a funny encounter with a portuguese submarine warship. We arrived in the darkness and the submarine was black, had no AIS transponder, the wrong navigational lights (actually it had the lights that a sailboat shows when sailing without the engine running and therefore having the right of way). The lights were mounted so low that i saw the boat at first when it was only about 50-60m away. But all went fine, probably they saw us much earlier and kept clear of us.

Exploring Lisboa
Exploring Lisboa

In Oeiras we met up again with some of the other boats. The marina has its own pool that is naturally only open during daytime but as we decided that all of us are in need of a swim in the late night we unfortunately misunderstood the pool area fence for a pool area boarding ladder. This worked quite well for about 10 minutes until the very relaxed pool guard arrived. He approached in normal Portuguese guard pace (means extremely slow) and friendly informed us that the pool is closed till the next morning. So we went back over the pool area boarding ladder and decided to go to the next beach for another swim and the usual bonfire.

Partying on Landkrabbene with the Girls from Paloma and Tuuli
Partying on Landkrabbene with the Girls from Paloma and Tuuli

In contrary to our original plans we decided not to head to Madeira next but go further south on the coast and then cross the strait of Gibraltar to go to Morocco. While Madeira would definitely have been nice too, we’re interested in going somewhere that is a little bit off the normal cruising routes, so we plan to visit El Jadida and Essaouira because those are the only harbours that we can enter with our 2m draft and do at least have some sort of small pier where a yacht can go to. After Morocco we will get back on our planned route and therefore sail to the Canaries.

I ran the Berlin Marathon, we crossed the Bay of Biscay to Spain and now we are in Portugal!

Olá dear readers, I am sorry I did not write my blogpost sooner, we were too busy enjoying our life the last weeks and I never found the time.

We have a new crewmember since sunday, our friend Moritz came from Berlin. I’m pretty sure he will catch a fish before Lukas, who still caught nothing but some seaweed and a bird. But more about that later.
About three weeks ago we left Mila all alone in the harbour in Brest and went to Berlin with the Flixbus, which only cost us about 60€ per person but was of course extremely uncomfortable. It took about 22 hours, with a little break in Paris.
We were happy to meet our families and friends and to have some drinks in our favourite bar, the Flop. On the 25th I ran my first marathon in 3:56. Five days went over really fast and then we headed back to Brest to continue our journey. It was a strange feeling to return to the harbour, like dropping into a completely different life again.
After we made sure everything on the boat was fine we drove to Camaret sur mer, just 11 nautical miles from Brest. We arrived in the dark and I was super tired from the travelling but Lukas convinced me that we should go to the Irish pub and eat a pizza and drink some pints. When we arrived there it was too late for pizza sadly, so we just had the beers and watched the barkeepers’ impressing games of darts.
Camaret is much more charming than Brest. We were especially fond of the ancient ships rusting away on the side of the harbour.

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Camaret sur Mer

The next morning we got visited by some customs officers that were anchoring in front of the harbour. As they were a lot of officers coming to watch one guy filling out some forms Lukas didn’t invite them inside but let them sit outside in the rain. Fortunately they still found nothing to complain about. So we paid the harbour fee, got some water in our canisters and bunkered 150 liters of diesel for the crossing of the Bay of Biscay.
Due to our detour to Berlin we couldn’t cross it together with Tuuli and all the other boats with young crews that they met in Camaret, so we went on our own.
The leg started pleasant with about 10 knots and a crazy crowd of dolphins hunting for jumping fish around us in the first night.
The next night was less pleasant with about 35 knots in the peaks. We sailed through it with just the jib up and were racing along with up to 8,4 knots. I took this photo the next morning, when the waves already got smaller.

Waves on the Bay of Biscay
Waves on the Bay of Biscay

In the evening the wind died and we had to use the engine until the harbour. It took us 63 hours from Camaret sur Mer in France to A Coruña in Spain.

In A Coruña we had a great time partying with sailors from Norway, England, Sweden, Germany/US, Belgium, South Norway. One evening we tried to fit 12 people into a tapas bar.
For sobering out Lukas and I wanted to visit the Hercules tower, which is situated on a cliff north of the marina. The tower was already closed when we arrived there, but the view from the cliffs below the tower was amazing enough anyways.

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Cliffs north of A Coruña
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My headache disappeared and I made a handstand to celebrate 🙂

We also got out our snorkeling gear and went for a dive with Sigurd and Tobias from the Landkrabbene. It was fun, although the water was too agitated to see anything.

Snorkeling on the big beach in A Coruña
Snorkeling on the big beach in A Coruña

When we had enough of A Coruña we left the harbour together with the sail boats Tuuli, Rosanna, Landkrabbene, Divina Remi and Danae. We were starting a bit later than the others because we had to get some diesel in the morning. I am proud to say that we still arrived in the bay of Camariñas first 🙂 Our colourful booster did a great job in the steady wind from the north, driving us forward really fast.

Lukas booming out the booster
Lukas booming out the booster

Oh, almost forgot the fishing story. Lukas came to wake me up for my shift and suddenly we heard the fishing rod making sounds outside. When we rushed out we discovered it was a big bird, we think a kind of grey gannet that bit on the rubber octopus Lukas was fishing with on the surface.
My stomach flipped over at the thought of Lukas having to pull out the feathers of that bird, spill blood everywhere and eat it, because when it’s dead anyway you should at least eat what you caught. I helped him to carefully pull the heavy bird onto the boat, trying not to break its neck. When it sat there in the net in the back of the boat it was alive and we saw that it spat out the lure already so we didn’t have to risk our fingers getting near its sharp bead. We got him back to the water as quickly as possible and were extremely releaved to see him fly away. Unfortunately there was no time to take a picture for the blog. After we were not shaking anymore Lukas started fishing again with a heavier lure, that was not staying on the surface. And … had bad luck again. The reel broke when he caught a giant bulk of seaweed. I have to confess that I was happy he wasn’t able to fish for some time then until he bought a new reel.

All the boats were anchoring next to each other in the bay in Camariñas and we had two nice campfire evenings with two guitars on the surrounding beaches.

Anchoring with boat buddies in the bay of Camariñas
Anchoring with boat buddies in the bay of Camariñas

I also paddled into the river with my paddleboard and found a beautiful little beach just for myself. See here:

Lonely beach at the mouth of Ria do Porto in Camariñas
Lonely beach at the mouth of Ria do Porto in Camariñas
View from the top
View from the top

Lukas came by with the dinghy and we went for an exploration up the river. It was really interesting to see the colour of the water changing from the shallow mouth towards the inland where it got a lot deeper. We could see a lot of fish under us in the clear water.

Further up in the river
Further up in the river

We pulled up the anchor on Saturday midday and had perfect sailing conditions until the Cape Fisterra, where the wind picked up a lot and we had to steer by hand as the windpilot started to steer a zigzag course which caused the boat to lean from one side to the other side in every wave which was slightly annoying.

Cape Fisterra - the Romans thought it would be the end of the world before America was discovered
Cape Fisterra – the Romans thought it would be the end of the world before America was discovered

In the evening the wind decreased a bit until it died completely. We had to use the engine and had some dolphins visiting us again in the dark. After a while a heavy fog appeared reducing the visability to about 30 meters. I started to sound the horn every two minutes making it impossible for Lukas to get any sleep. But as we still didn’t install our radar I was a little bit scared we might run into a boat without AIS. Luckily there were almost no ships around us except of some fishers. When we reached the harbour of Póvoa de Varzim in Portugal at 8 in the morning everything was still covered in fog and the harbour was filled with hundereds of mullets eating stuff on the surface of the water. We slept for a while and then visited the city centre to get some breakfast. We got breakfast and 4 pairs of shoes for 50€. And we also went to a Portuguese Lidl to restock our provisions. In the night Moritz arrived with the metro. The next day he had a walk in the city while Lukas tidyed up the boat and I went for my first run after the marathon.
Well, that was yesterday, in the afternoon we motored about 3 hours to Porto. When we arrived we were greeted by Emilie from a Norwegian Hallberg Rassy. Had some lovely cheese and port wine on a big new German boat without the Germans, but with an Irish guy and the Norwegian girls. When we moved to our boat we also conviced the Crew of the German boat Kobold to join us and in the end had about 11 people in the saloon heating up the air quite a bit 🙂
Was a really cool evening, thanks to everyone for making our first night in Porto awesome. We learned that it is really more communicative to park the boat with its butt to the pier, so that other sailors can see the home port, which is a great conversation opener.

Puh, I think I’m through now. As soon as Lukas is back from getting our outboard engine fixed we can finally go and explore the city.

Adiós for now, don’t let autumn get you down in Germany 😛
Well to be honest, sometimes temperatures are getting lower here as well, so it’s not the weather for t-shirts all the time anymore, actually I’m sitting in the cockpit at the moment with a blanket wrapped around me.