As the time was approaching for us to leave Cascias we were watching to see when the weather might make it sensible to leave. For most of February and March the winds had been from the North and a number of times ports had been closed for days due to swells. The weather looked as if it would be good to leave on the 8th April.
We left Cascias at first light on Thursday 8th April (Graham’s Birthday). Winds were light and the seas flat we needed the engine on to make progress, having the mainsail added about 0.5 knots to our speed and we made progress at around 6.5 knots.
The plan was to go around 45 Miles north to Peniche and anchor there overnight. This anchorage can be a bit rolly as the local fishing fleet take great delight passing by as fast as possible and as close as possible to cause maximum wash and disturbance to visiting boats. As we were making good progress we decided to travel on another 10 miles to the Cove of São Martinho do Porto. This is one of those places that requires careful pilotage and should only be entered in settled weather. The weather was good and we had no problems. We only draw 1.4 M and found a place to anchor. The water seemed shallower than expected and we only had around 0.6m below the keel at low water a deeper draft yacht may have problems.
The sunset at the end of the day and the view out to the ocean was great. We had a very peaceful night in the cove and were ready to leave by 7 in the morning and carry on to Figueira da Foz our first proper stop.
Exiting at low water needed carefully manoeuvring while watching the depth gauge carefully. Soon we were out and back at sea. Once clear of the coast and the rocks we hoisted the mainsail and unfurled the genoa and were sailing North. For around an hour we were managing speeds of 4 to 5 knots. Slowly the speed dropped and we were doing around 2 to 3 knots and our arrival time at Figueira da Foz showed around 9pm and we really wanted to be in before that. We started motoring for a few hours to make sure we would arrive before dark. The sea was flat and despite a weather forecast for rain the sun was out and we were having a good day. The rain stayed inland, we could see the clouds but we stayed dry. As the afternoon started the wind strengthened and we were able to sail again making around 5 to 6 knots and as a bonus, in the direction we needed to travel.
Around 4pm we approached Figueira da Foz and had covered the first 100 miles of our journey home to the UK.
We planned to stay a few days in Figueira da Foz, some friends who had not managed to visit before we left Cascais were going to drive up Monday to see us. It was good to spend a day with friends and take a walk around town.
We stayed a few days in Figueira da Foz when travelling south, the marina seems to have been hit hard by the winter storms as the part of the marina we stayed in last time has been damaged and still has to be repaired. It is still early in the season ad there was plenty of space.
Figueira da Foz has a vast beach and in the summer it would be packed with holidaymakers they have yet to arrive so you have a vast expanse of empty beach. We took a trip along the seafront on our bikes.
The next segment of the journey home takes us to Póvoa de Varzim. This a 12 to 15 hour trip from Figueira da Foz. there are not many options to split this trip the only real opportunity to make an overnight stop is in the river near Aveiro in the lagoon at São Jacinto. You really need to plan to enter and leave here at High water so looking at the tides and weather we left Figueira da Foz Friday to allow us to leave São Jacinto early Saturday morning.
All went well and we found a spot to anchor in the lagoon although we had to try twice to get the anchor to set. Once anchored we had a pleasant dinner in the cockpit and settled in for a quiet night. We anchored next to a wrecked trimaran. It capsized in September 2019 off Porto, the five crew were rescued and the hull was found drifting 17 days later and brought in here, one wonders how much longer it will be here. This an industrial harbour so a big contrast to our last overnight anchorage.
The next day started early to catch the tide. We were up at 5 am at 6 we were watching the dawn break as we were waiting for there to be enough light for us to see the buoys marking the exit to the lagoon. Just to make life interesting the mouth of the river is crowded with small boats fishing and they are constantly moving back and forth across the channel. Large coastal cargo boats use this port so I guess the fishing boats get out of the way quickly as we were followed out by a tug and a cargo boat.
Once out at sea we hoisted the sails and soon the wind picked up and our speed backed up from 4 knots to 6 making a course towards Póvoa de Varzim over a flat sea. We knew this was too good to be true but it lasted about 2 hours before the wind dropped and we were doing 2 knots. With 45 miles to cover we needed to put the engine on. The light wind moved around all day but not until we were well above Porto did it get close to 10 knots. we kept the engine on for the rest of the trip but for the last hour, the wind provided us with an extra knot of speed for free.
Póvoa de Varzim.
The town is around 16 miles north of the centre of Porto. It is a fishing harbour and seaside resort. Sunday was warm and many people were out enjoying the beach. We were still under restrictions and in the afternoon all restaurants had to close, it seemed that ice cream shops were allowed to open and the one place open had a long queue.
The tourist guides will show pictures of golden beaches and wild seas. I have posted a few below.
When exploring a new place it is always interesting to see the small things in town, this is a working fishing town and in the back streets, there are people trading fishing nets, lobster ports and chandlery for the fishing industry. Next to the marina is a boatyard with a number of fishing boats hauled out and undergoing repair.
Póvoa de Varzim has many things to discover. Churches shaped like boats, doggie drinking fountains, a local traditional costume on display where the male’s hat looks suspiciously like a Santa hat accidentally left on the model since Christmas. Doing some research this is not the case this is the traditional fisherman’s headgear in the region.
The library in Póvoa de Varzim is right on the beach, it must boast some of the best views from a library anywhere in the world.
The other thing you find all around Portugal is a derelict property not just in back streets but in prime locations such as right on the seafront. Odd buildings also get constructed tall towers next to bungalows, thin tall buildings on a plot of land next to vacant plots. We understand this is partially to do with Portuguese planning rules and partially to do with inheritance rules. The problem is also exacerbated by the number of Portuguese who moved overseas and tracing the owners of property can be complicated.
Being only 16 miles from Porto we wanted to take another trip into the city. We had visited on our way south in 2019. The metro takes you to the city, the journey takes between 40 to 50 minutes and the return journey costs around 5 Euros. We wandered around the almost deserted city streets, we took a ride on one of the vintage trams. Normally these would be crowded but we were the only tourists using them.
We had lunch at a small restaurant overlooking the Douro. Our table was right next to the tram tracks and the team passed within inches of the table.
Porto is an interesting mix of fine buildings and small alleys. Buildings run down the hillside to the river and are in all states of repair.
Boatyards are always interesting, you find boats being restored and boats being left to die. In the boatyard here we found our friend’s boat Amadeus stored here and waiting patiently for them to return. There are also boats just rotting away. One boat has rotted so much that the supports have gone straight through the hull.
We have now reached Baiona in Galacia. We delayed leaving Póvoa de Varzim by one day as we did not want to spend most of the day sailing in the rain. The rain has now returned and looks like the weather might be wet for a few days. This has been a long post so we will save Baiona and Spain for the next post.
We knew travelling north would be hard the winds come from that direction a lot of the time. Swells can also be a problem on this coast. We said before we set off that we would like southerly winds but would settle for no wind and little swell and this is what we got. We had to motor most of the way from Cascias to Spain with only around 3 to 4 hours of good sailing. One final picture shows us crossing the border from Portugal to Spain.