Porto to Nazaré – the good, the bad and the ugly (14-16 May 2014)

 

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Porto tram

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View of Porto and Douro river from some beautiful public gardens

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Waves crashing at the harbour

We left the Douro marina in Porto at 4.30pm with a good forecast overnight.The Douro marina had been great. It only opened in 2012 so everything was new and the staff spoke good English (just as well as our Portuguese is non-existent!). We even got fresh bread delivered to the boat every morning for breakfast. Andy ended up with double rations!

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View of Douro marina

For the night passage, we were expecting some strong gusts but we felt we could certainly deal with them. There was a full moon too and that would make it easier to see, especially given the way the lobster pot buoys seem to be everywhere along this coast, even in water deeper than 50m!

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Petra at the helm at sunset

All went well and in fact the wind never really got up and we were able to sail along under genoa only in the light northerly winds. The full moon gave a good light and the night was clear. When I came on watch at midnight, Andy had been watching a dolphin display for about half an hour. I managed to catch a wee glimpse and then they departed. It’s always a magical sight to see and hear dolphins at night.

We did 2 hour watches and managed to grab a bit of sleep in between. We made good time and by 10am we were only about 15 miles (3 hours) away from Nazaré. That’s when things turned bad! The wind started gusting up to 20 knots from dead ahead. I had to wake Andy to come and help reef the genoa and pull it in and we also wanted to raise the mainsail (with 2 reefs in) as were beating. It was a bit of a struggle with such strong wind, but we were nearly done when a RIB arrived alongside telling us we were in a restricted area as gunnery practice was taking place that day. We had not seen or heard any warnings of this and it was not a restricted area on the charts, so we were completely unaware!

Next we were hailed on Channel 16 on the VHF radio. It was the warship Viana de Castello telling us in no uncertain terms that we were in a live firing area (although luckily they not started yet)! We had to sail due west to be a further 5 miles offshore on a course of 270°. This was quite difficult for us as we couldn’t really sail a straight enough course for their liking, so several more messages followed and we took the sails down and motored out of there at 5 knots! I don’t think they really understood that a sailing boat can’t just motor off in a specific direction at 15 knots!

Sighs of relief as the naval vessel disappeared in the distance! Not really what we needed after a long night and little sleep, however that’s just what you have to deal with sometimes. Then the ugly happened! We had a sudden invasion of thousands of flies! All shapes, sizes, species…. some entomologist would have had a field day. They covered everything, decks, sails, us and it was very unpleasant. Luckily as we approached Nazaré we then had a head wind so a lot of them got blown away.

We were so glad to tie up at the pontoon at Nazaré. It’s a very sheltered marina, which is just as well as they can get ferocious waves here. Apparently the world record for the largest wave surfed was set here in 2013 by a Hawaiian surfer on a 30m wave! No sign of monster waves as we were coming in luckily. Apparently these huge waves form due to a 3000m trench just off shore which was caused by an earthquake a few hundred years ago. This trench funnels the water and, as the water gets shallow towards land, these huge waves can form with a good westerly wind behind them.

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Vaila at Nazaré with skipper looking skipperly

Nazaré is a beach resort which gets horrendously busy in the summer months, apparently. At the moment it just seems to be fishing boats coming in to unload their catches. The marina was obviously very smart when first built but really showing the lack of maintenance. Having said that, the showers and toilets were immaculately clean and there was lots of hot water for the showers (best yet this trip). 

We spent the afternoon in a zombie like condition after we arrived, swotted flies with the electronic “tennis raquet fly killer”  and went to bed at 8.30pm and slept until 9 am this morning. We were awoken by torrential rain and a thunderstorm.

Andy has just spent 2 hours in the relative cool today making a little widget to stop our reefing winch from fouling up. How the idle rich (in time only!) spend their time! And among many other things I spent a happy hour this morning removing dead bodies from the decks and cabin floor (flies – obviously).

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Andy’s special widget

 

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