Plans change when sailing. We had originally planned to go to the Algarve for the winter but over the last few weeks we were looking at our options and felt that it would be more interesting to stay in the Lisbon area. We tried to find a berth for the boat in Central Lisbon but it is virtually impossible to find somewhere to stay in the marinas along the river Tagus. We will be staying at Cascais over the winter. But let us bring you up to date with our recent travels.
When we updated you last we were just leaving Nazare. We had one of the best sails of the year along to Peniche, just the right amount of wind for most of the trip. We had a video call with our daughter on the way which was fun. There are limited mooring options in Peniche and the visitors pontoon was full so we anchored in the harbour. The only problem with this was the fishing boats that seemed to leave and enter at great speed and as close to the anchored boats as they could. This created quite a bit of wash and bouncing around but fortunately not too often. We took a trip ashore in our dingy and walked across the peninsular to the north side. It was there we discovered a wash house in use.
We planned to leave early on the Tuesday morning to sail down to Cascais but when we woke the harbour was shrouded in fog. The forecast was for this to clear by mid morning. At around 10 it was still a bit foggy but we decided that if we were going we needed to set off if we were to arrive in Cascais at a reasonable time. Other boats were leaving and the forecast for the next few days looked a little windy.
We made our way out of the harbour passing a incoming fishing boat and had to motor south for a few hours . The fog thinned and finally there was some wind we could sail with for the last hour or so. As is typical it started to get a little too strong as we rounded the Cabo Da Roca. As we approached Cascais it was time to get the sails in and motor on. This is normally uneventfully, we turn the key and the engine fires up. Not today!The engine did not crank. Were we going to have to sail into the anchorage? Graham went below and fiddled with the gear change in the engine compartment and the engine fired into life.
We were thinking of going into the marina at Cascais if they had space. As we approached the marina entrance a Russian sailing boat just in front of us managed to run aground in the entrance and looked as if it might get blown on to the breakwater. The winds had picked up to 25 to 30 knots to complicate things further. We needed to keep out of the way so we anchored with other boats in the bay. The marina staff came to the Russians assistance and it was dragged over to the pontoon and an incident was averted. ( We suspect he still had to have his keel inspected to make sure that there was no damage.) Safely anchored up we decided to stay put for the night. Graham looked at the engine and checked, cleaned and lubricated the gear change lever to try and avoid another starting issue.
Wednesday the winds were still a bit high but after lunch we made a run ashore to pick up some food. By the time we returned the wind had increased and we had a wet ride in the dinghy back to Island Girl. Through the evening the wind increased force 6 gusting 7 and the boat was bouncing around a lot. It is always worrying as the anchor always seems so small relative to the boat but it held us secure all night. This did not stop Graham worrying and he kept looking out until the winds started to subside at around 2am. The only damage we had was a smashed glass that fell off the table during the drying up.
Thursday we decided that we would head up the river Tagus and check out the main visitors marina Doca de Alcantra mentioned in the pilot book. We hoped that if we turned up we could get a place for a week or so and then if we liked it try and negotiate a longer stay. We could also visit the other marina where we were on the waiting list at Marina Parque das Nações. The engine fired up in the morning without a hitch and we made our way up the river.
This was a good trip as you pass by the Tower of Belem and Terreiro do Paco. You then pass under the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge. This bridge is often compared with the golden gate bridge due to its colour but it was not built by the same company.
Our plan to get a berth by being in the right place was a complete failure. There was no free space not even for one night. We were told that we had to leave immediately. We made a few phone calls but there was no space anywhere and the best option was to return to Cascais and they confirmed that they could accommodate us for as long as we wanted. (If we had been over 12m then we would have problems even at Cascais.) We had tied up for lunch as the marina office was closed when we arrived and when we turned the key to start the engine nothing. At least this time we were tied alongside and not at sea. A quick fiddle and success the engine started. We headed back down the river. We went into Cascias and tied up at the reception pontoon and fuel dock and you’ve guessed by now the engine would not start. Clearly this is an issue that must be resolved before we move off again.
Our plan now is to stay here until early April so plenty of time to carry out repairs. We will be making a few short trips back to the UK over the winter but we will spend the majority of the time here.
We will explore Cascais over the winter but over the last few days we have walked around the park that has hundreds of chickens wandering about, the chicken is a national symbol in Portugal. We went to the Cinema to watch Downton Abbey (in English with Portuguese subtitles) and explored the market where we were surprised to see pre-recorded cassette tapes still being sold. We visited a local beauty spot the Boca do Inferno at sunset, the local fishing club fish off the cliffs. You can not really see in the photos but I would not want to sit that close to the edge. Walking around town we see tree lined avenues and even some buildings reminiscent of Leamington Spa. Our Leamington friends can take a look at the photos and see what you think. We even saw a Samba band and a brass section accompanying them reminding Graham of Royal Spa Brass when we teamed up with The Sambassador for Art in the Park a few years ago.
During our time here we plan to explore Lisbon and the surrounding area. We will also get involved in the Expat community to some degree. (We will also work on trying to learn some Portuguese.) We have been going to Riverside International Church here is Cascais. We also have a few friends planning to visit over the winter so we are looking forward to that.
We will not be posting as regularly over the winter but we will keep you updated from time to time.