Lagos to Barbate

After a nice couple of days in Lagos our first trip was to Faro, or at least an anchorage near there.

Faro

There’s not much to report about the trip over. Except for the fisherman. It’s always the fishermen! We were taking an easy sail over there and I was on helm with Simon snoozing on deck – one of his favourite pastimes. I was keeping an eagle eye out for pots, after the trouble we had before, while also keeping an eye on the chart plotter.

AIS has been a God send since the beginning. Anyway I was checking out the boats around me that we’re going in the same direction, and any others in the near vicinity. There was just one fisherman whose status was anchored. No problem there. He was kind of annoyingly in the way so I altered course to port while others in our fleet went to starboard. We got pretty close, which was cool, and I was thinking about fetching the camera when suddenly I got the impression that he was moving… towards us. Checked the AIS again,
status = safe.
anchored.

Studied him again and then woke Simon who confirmed, yep, definitely on the move! Anyway I went slightly left, he went slightly right and we passed without incident but lesson learned – don’t always trust AIS and definitely don’t trust those pesky fishermen!

After that there was just a bit more jostling for position with the fleet, some choosing to stick doggedly to the straightest track while hammering the engine and others tacking back and forth using the little wind there was. No one really made any huge gains.

We made it past Faro and up the river towards the anchoring zone that Simon had found on a blog.
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Imagine our surprise when we got to the anchorage and found a nice spot in front of Smitten, the cat we’d been following in AIS all day, and it was flying the Aussie flag. We exchanged a few ‘G’Days’ but unfortunately we didn’t get chance to pop over and introduce ourselves. Next time!!

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Tonight we were hell bent on an early night ready for an earlier morning tomorrow and an even bigger run down the coast. We watched an amazing sunset, had dinner and got ready to have a long snore.

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But that was not to be, because who should turn up but Anchorman. Anchorman and his friend were in a huge red sailing boat and they were having huge amounts of trouble anchoring. His solution to this was to drop his anchor as close as possible to anyone else’s, after all, if they had firm holding, he can – right?

Anyway, he came super close to us and so Simon went up there and gave him a bit of a stern look. By that I mean he asked ‘Are you ok mate?’. Anyway turns out he was having problems because of “all the slippery mud”. But as another Brit so delicately pointed out to him “no one else had any problems and maybe he should consider purchasing a bigger anchor for his ridiculously large boat!”.

Anyway, if you think he’d be put off and head to another less muddy anchorage or nearby marina then you’d be wrong. No instead he chose to go around to each and every other boat until he finally got a hold next to a boat who’s owners had obviously gone to bed. It also happened to be far too close for comfort to us. Needless to say, we didn’t get much sleep that night. Thanks Anchorman!

Faro to Rota

It was a long trip! That means an early start which can be like pulling teeth for us. The way it works is I get up as soon as the alarm clock annoys me sufficiently and drink tea. Lots of tea! But while I’m doing this I’m pottering around getting things ready and doing all the little things that we should of done the day before. Then as soon as the sun comes up I start annoying Simon and when he’s sufficiently annoyed he teleports onto deck. Before you know you’re off and away.

We thought we’d done pretty well, ‘first up and at them’, when all of a sudden someone got the jump on us.

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As we were headed out of the harbour through the swelly entrance we were amazed to see it was ‘Nurse it’, a yacht we first saw in Camaret. It was like seeing an old friend. Anyway we raced ‘Nurse it’ and a few other boats all the way to Cadiz where we all went our separate ways. We headed to Rota.

Our plan was to stay in the anchorage there but after dropping the hook we found it was very rolly due to the swell coming through. The wind was quite light, only 10 knots, and not expected to rise but it was from the wrong direction for this anchorage. So we slunk into the marina, with our tails between our legs, where we berthed on the fuel pontoon.

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We’ve been having a few problems with the fridge in the hot weather which we’ve put down to opening it too often or for too long. After two disastrous attempts at dinner we called it quits, ate some cheese and crackers and headed to bed. But not before the security guard had hit us up for our papers. I’m sure there will be a bill to follow.

Rota (Cadiz Bay) to Barbate

The weather did pretty much the same as yesterday. A cloudy start to the day with no wind, then the wind picked up and came around for a nice close haul down the coast.
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It was just on the cusp of being fast enough to push us at a decent speed but whenever we switched off the engine, the wind died and then when we turned the engine on again, the wind picked up. Can’t complain though we got in some awesome sailing for much of the day and the sun came out about midday.

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We did have a scary experience as we rounded one of the capes. Scary for us means I’m freaking out while Simon’s cool as a cucumber and wondering why he’s been rudely awoken from his Nanna nap. Anyway this time it was shoals. Now shoals to me are those things you dread in your theory exam as you have to work out the best time to go over them or if you have to avoid them all together.

According to Simon’s three-waypoint passage plan we could sail straight over them – which we did. But my gripe was the depth we were recording was a meter lower than what was on the charts. Simon’s answer to this was moving sandbanks. For me it was scary but we passed through and entered the flat bay of Barbate beyond and it did really leave me wondering what all the fuss had been about.

By the time we got to the marina it was roasting. The helpful marina man tried to help us in but did some very strange line work that had us perplexed.

The usual routine is that I throw the front line to any random passerby then jump off with the mid. Usually works a treat. This guy commandeered the pontoon, took both lines, tied the mid to the back of the pontoon so tightly that Simon couldn’t actually drive forward into the berth. And then there was some frantic scrambling before marina man edged away and left us to our own devices and we fixed up the lines ourselves. Anyway after that we both agreed that we’d much rather have done it on our own. So that’s one for the books!

After that, and a much deserved shower, we headed into town for a paddle in the warm waters of Gib Straights and a beer or three with some more World Cup action.

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I always got the impression that Barbate was one of those places that you just pass through on the way to somewhere much better but it was actually a really lovely town with an amazing atmosphere where you could definitely while away a few days.

Lagos

Today we made it to Lagos, washed all the salt off poor Interlude and kinda hung around as we were both suffering from man flu. I know! Who’d have thought the day we arrived in the Gibraltar Straights, the hottest day yet, we’d have a ruddy cold!

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Anyway think that would stop us watching the opening game of the World Cup? Think again!!

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We settled into a bar at the marina as the sun set overlooking the berth where Interlude was safely berthed and watched the opening game of the World Cup with the many expats there.

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Looking forward to making the most of the World Cup! England, England, England! Aussie, Aussie, Aussie Oy Oy Oy! Bring it on!!

Either way we’d be happy chappies or awesome dudes!!

We spent a few days in Lagos chilling out and of course planning, provisioning and doing boat stuff. First time we’ve relaxed on the beach which was just divine :) On the way back we found a great local restaurant selling locally sourced fish to the locals. Simply cooked on the BBQ with boiled spuds and salad – it was perfect.

In the evening, we did take a wander around the town earlier but to be honest it wasn’t really our thing. Too many touristy tat shops and bars selling pints, English Breakfasts and burgers.

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After that it was time to take our leave, through the little pedestrian swing bridge, and past the plethora of grottos that dotted the coastline. We had a bit of a deadline as we’re panning to meet Simon’s folks in Gibraltar.

 

Sesimbra to Sines to Baleeira

After a fun time was had by all in Lisbon it was time to move on and make some more headway. The Med doesn’t seem to be getting much closer. We decided on another three-leg journey via Sesimbra, Sines and Baleeira that would not only break up the trip but with the added bonus that we would hopefully be able to anchor and save some mullah!

We were going to anchor outside Cascais the night before but it turned out that we’d already missed the cut-off time – 2pm for checkout!! So that was a little frustrating, especially as this is one of the most expensive marinas we’ve stayed in but it did mean that we could chill out in the marina a little longer.

The good thing about smaller sailing distances is that you don’t have to get up before dark – which we both hate – and I was trying to avoid that dreaded alarm clock since leaving work. So we left at a leisurely hour, moseyed on down to the fuel dock and then off to sea again.

Sesimbra

The first stop this time was to be Sesimbra, a little anchorage that Simon had found on our new favourite website, Manor Houses of Portugal.

This anchorage was so small it hadn’t even been included in the almanac but lay just East of Setubal. We mentioned it to our neighbour as we were heading out and he seemed to know of it so we thought we’d give it a go.

We had some good sailing downwind and so got there at a reasonable hour. The website said there was a harbour wall that you could tie up alongside, but we couldn’t work out which harbour wall it was and saw that there were a few yachts on mooring bouys. That seemed like a good idea so we got out the boat hook and picked one up.

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About an hour later a dinghy started making the rounds to each of the yachts and when it was our turn he informed us that the moorings were not strong enough so that we would have to go into the marina. Everyone did, except that is for us, we chose to anchor instead just out from the beach. We were the only boat on anchor which was a bit disturbing but it’s good not to follow the herd all the time.

It was a pretty town. The beach was full of families making the most of the sun and even some brave enough to swim. We contemplated getting the dinghy out but decided against it. To be honest we’ve both had a cold and we just weren’t feeling up to it. So we ate dinner and then headed to bed.

Sesimbra 2

Sesimbra 3

It was a bit of a sleepless night as the anchor chain kept banging on the bow roller and there’s always that worry of ‘Are we dragging?’ so there was lots of times when we got up to stick our noses against the window to check our transit lines. It was all good though and I don’t think we moved all night.

Sines

The next day we were destined for Sines. One of the things that we love about anchoring is that when you’re ready to make way it takes just minutes to leave. When we’re in a marina there always seems to be lots of time spent with lines, sail bags, fuel docks, returning the cards etc. We were also a bit more prepared with the uploading of our route to the chart plotter. The previous day there was a bit of a malfunction with that so now we’re determined that this is another thing that we will do the day before. It makes sense but it’s just all too easy to put it off.

Anyway we were up and away and heading for Sines. Once again the wind was from behind and the gribs predicted 10 to 15 knots. There was a bit more cloud cover than expected making it a bit on the chilly side but we were cruising on down and making some half-decent speeds.

Next thing we knew the wind veered just a couple of degrees and the temperature dropped just a couple of degrees and of course next thing we know, the wind was over 20 knots! Now we had both our main and head sail out and a preventor on the main. Our first thought was to head into wind but with the preventor on that just made things worse.

In the end we managed to wind in the main sheet, releasing the preventor as we went, dropped down the main a little and put in our first reef. By that time the cold front had passed and it was time to shake the reef out again. Anyway were still not 100% certain about the process of reducing your sail while sailing downwind with a preventor on, it still seems a little clumsy, so if you have any ideas please post a comment.

After that bit of excitement it was just plain sailing over to Sines. Once again we headed into the harbour and dropped our anchor close to the beach.

Sines 1

We were alone again, so were only too pleased when our Swedish friends that we’ve bumped into a few times now, turned up and dropped anchor just behind us. Gave us a bit of added confidence.

Beleeira 1

Also we’ve been talking for ages about tying off the anchor – a tip that Jamie gave us to protect your bow roller and windlass. Anyway we noticed that this is what our Swedish companions had done so we thought we’d give it a go. We only had some thin string but it worked a treat and we slept much better with less banging and crashing :)

Sorry, we can’t tell you much about Sines either, except that it looked lovely from our boat. We’re still suffering the flu and didn’t get the dingy out – I know it’s a crying shame!

Sines 2

Beleeira

Our next stop was Beleeira. We headed out into some calm weather and were motoring along nicely, hoping for some stronger winds later in the day so we could get the sails out. It was Simon’s watch and I just sat down with a nice cold drink ready for some R&R when I heard him holler “We’ve snagged some pots!” and cut the engine.

I later asked him how he knew we were snagged and he said “The speed fell and the pots were skidding along the surface of the water like a scene out of Jaws.”

jaws1The water was really clear and you could see that the rope was going from one buoy down and under the boat then back and across to the other buoy. We could only hope that it was snagged on the keel and not the prop. Simon swung around and I managed to grab both ends of the rope with the boat hook but it was still snagged below the boat. The keel is two meters and the boat hook is probably the same, so add on the depth of the hull and we were never going to be able to simply unhook it without one of us getting in the freezing and choppy waters.

I have to admit that we decided to cut it (sorry Mr Fisherman). We were able to pull it through to the other side. Luckily we had just hooked it and hadn’t taffled it so it just pulled straight out. Anyway, I was pretty mad abut it but Simon did the right thing and knotted it back together before throwing it back out.

Then just like that we were on our way again. The wind did pick up and we sailed most of the way there. Then the direction of the wind just wasn’t in our favour and the seas were getting a bit rolly and confused so we reluctantly put on the motor and put the sails away. Not long after that the wind picked up to over 20 knots – that usual Northerly bluster.

We had two options, head down to Lagos or try the anchorage at Beleeira. We were feeling pretty rough and didn’t fancy another three-hour trip to Lagos so we hoped the anchorage was protected and headed in. In the outer harbour the wind was still at 20 knots and in the inner harbour it was still the same.

In the guide we’d read it said that there were three buoys near to the fishing harbour. Well we found a huge field of mooring buoys but after getting kicked off our mooring in Sesimbra that didn’t seem right. So we headed to the far end of the harbour near to the beach where we could see two or three moorings but as we approached the depth became too low. So we swung back around and took a mooring that we’d previously spotted. We decided to hang there for a while to see if a) the wind dropped enough for us to anchor, or b) we were thrown off the mooring by a fleet of fishing boats. Neither thing happened so we ended up staying there until morning. The only people we did see were very friendly and gave us a wave, a thumbs up or an OK.

Beleeira 2

Lisbon

After visiting (and absolutely loving) Porto, the nations capital, Lisbon, had a lot to live up to. We’d both been excited to visit this city from way back when the trip was in the planning stages.

The journey from Cascais over to Lisbon was about 30 mins by train. We got off and started walking (what else!).

There’s a really famous tram that circles most of the must do areas so we roughly walked that path taking in the major sights, but also slipping off whenever a back street looked interesting enough.

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It was down one such street that we suddenly found ourselves in a small network of backroads and lane ways all setting up for a big festival. Beer kegs were rolling into place, food stands getting built. Was amazing seeing the energy and excitement in everyone’s faces and we always love finding stuff like this rather than hanging with the tourist crowd.

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After a few hours walking around the town we headed off for some well earn’t pork rolls that had been highly recommended on TripAdvisor for the area we were in. Fast food Portuguese style!

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We worked out way back down to the station, headed back to Cascais for a quick shower and change of clothes, and then like a flash flew back into Lisbon for a big night out.

Until Porto, where we winged it a bit and had a few let downs so we’d researched the crap out of a good night out in Lisbon. First up was a classy rooftop bar looking down on the whole town.

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Then was got a cab ride over to a different area called Barrio Alto which is famed for being totally dead during the day and then exploding into life in the evening. We visited a few cool bars first to let things get underway and then walked down into the heart of the area where every street is filled with people drinking, dancing away and having a great of time of it. All ages mixed and just hung out chatting. It’s lovely to see this rather than how messy it would get if back in the UK or places in Sydney. Was an amazing night filled with a lot of good memories (Helen even ended up on stage with a local guitarist at one point).

The next days slightly foggy haze was more than worth it.

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We only had a few short days in this area and needed to press on but we’d love to return to this part of the world at some point. I totally fell in love with the Portuguese attitude to enjoying life and focusing on what’s important.

Figueira du Foz, Peniche to Cascais

After spending a few lovely days in Porto we decided it was time to get some more miles completed so we did a hippety hop down the coast of Portugal towards Lisbon – the Portuguese capital. We were conscious that every day we spent here was a day that we wouldn’t have in the Med and the longer we stayed out of the Med the less chance we’d have to make it East as far as Greece or Turkey.

Having said that, we woke up in the morning and decided that we were actually quite exhausted and we’d stay another day! Ha! Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches.

The day after we were bright as buttons, up and on our way. We said goodbye to Porto in our own particular style – that is messing up the exit from the pontoon. Luckily there was no-one beside us to hit and due to the early hour only one helpful witness. It would have to be the one day that I’d been extra efficient and stowed the lines. Back on went the lines and then we reassessed the conditions, sprung off correctly and were on our way. I guess we just didn’t want to leave Porto.

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Figueira da Foz

The next stop was Figueira da Foz which we chose simply because it was a day hop away. The marina got ok reviews and, in fact, it was, ok. We had a couple of standoffs with some tankers on the way in. I guess they thought high tide would be a good time to up anchor and enter the harbour. We’re too small to play chicken with them so we ended up slinking in after them. It’s funny how used to 200m long supertankers we are these days. Crossing from Germany they scared the life out of us, now we’ve got to grips with the AIS and we can find out what they’ll do, how quickly they’ll do it (they sure can motor) and give them the space they need.

The marina was actually pretty full so after docking at the fuel berth and checking in with the friendly marina man, we took the last berth on the pontoon near the entrance. Do not choose this one if you get the chance as the wakes from the fishing bouts smack you every ten minutes so there’s not that much sleep to be had. And to be honest there’s not that much going on in Fig da foz at all – the casino, rumours of a Maccas (we can’t confirm this), a few empty restaurants and that’s that. So we opted for pasta on board and an early night.

Figueira da Foz

Peniche

I had been looking forward to Peniche for a while. The fish restaurants are famed for their freshly caught seafood so as soon as we had docked, we headed out. The town was pretty dead but we hunted down a little place that we’d seen on Trip Adviser. Once we were seated and tucking into some delicious bread, we got some free entertainment watching a German couple kicking off to the owner about something to do with their bill. We were a bit worried but ended up having a great meal. The fish stew was amazing, with so many different types of fish and some yummy prawns to boot. The owner of the restaurant was really friendly too.

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Cascais

From Peniche it was just a short sail around the ‘nose’ of Portugal. Throughout the trip many people had told us ‘Once you pass… the weather changes’ and this was another of those times. A big milestone and so we were quiet excited – plus we were looking forward to visiting Lisbon.

The weather window was closing fast though. We’d checked the weather with the guys at the marina office in Peniche and found out that the weather would be very still in the morning but would be picking up by the afternoon and there would be BIG WIND and BIG SWELL by 3pm. That would continue for three or four days so if we wanted to make Cascais (and therefore Lisbon) before the weekend then this would be our last chance.

We thought we’d chance it, which mean’t getting up early and motoring all the way. So we were up with the crows, then motor on all the way. We checked our average speed constantly to make sure we would make it before 3pm. And it all went smoothly. By 2.30pm we were checking into the marina at Cascais.

Originally we’d planned to anchor here for the night to save some pennies, but due to the BIG WIND and BIG SWELL we opted for the safety of the marina. And so there we all were, me, Simon and Interlude all scrubbed and clean, waiting for the bad weather to arrive… and waiting… and waiting. We’re still waiting…!   :/

Cascais