We went to Lisbon twice. The first time it was Sunday and we thought the city might be quiet. It was heaving by 10.30am, largely due to cruise ships. We did a self-guided walking tour around the old city, particularly enjoying wandering up and down the old, narrow city streets.
|Kathy wends her way through the intricate streets|
Two days later, we bought a Moroccan courtesy flag in a shop that only sold flags and went on to tour Castelo do Sao Jorge. There were fabulous views of Lisbon and the river from the top of the battlements. After a morning walking walls and towers, lunch was required and our needs were well satisfied at a restaurant in Rue Saodiago. We had great difficulty finding the Musea de Lisboa and the exhibition I wanted to see called “A Tale of Two Cities”, which compared to histories of Edinburgh and Lisbon.
|Local kids Bobsleigh|
On our return from Lisbon, we met the crew from two other anchored boats in the mini market at Seixal. The wind was blowing a strong south westerly pushing us close to the moored trot of boats. Jeremy stayed up on anchor watch until 1.30am when the tide turned and Sal Darago swung clear. Two hours later the stern cabin smoke alarm started beeping loudly. Jeremy got up and removed the battery, replacing it with a new one in the morning.
|Castelo do Sao Jorge|
The next day was cold and unsettled with very heavy, thundery showers. That afternoon we were in the library checking emails and finances and finding out about Morocco hearing the rain hammering on the roof. What we didn’t know was a gusty wind of 30 knots accompanied the rain, pulled out Sal Darago’s anchor and she dragged about 100 metres close to the trot of moored boats, coming to rest not far from the pontoon. Sylvia had tried to phone us but could not connect, so it was fortunate that we went to her office that evening. We were assured that Sal Darago had not hit anything and had not run aground and she was OK now, but we would have to move her from the fairway. After quick showers we went on board to the relief of the crew of a moored yacht that was nearby with all its fenders out. We apologised, started the engine, weighed anchor, motored upstream and reanchored for our last night in Seixal. Will, from a British Rival 32, “Mangata” came aboard for drinks and nibbles and told us the details of Sal Darago’s unplanned trip. We had a late supper and felt blessed that no harm had been done to anyone’s yacht or property. The wind died away and we had a peaceful last night.
|View over Lisbon|
We were about to leave Seixal on 13th Oct at 8.30am, when Jeremy realised he had made an uncharacteristic mistake with the tide. We should have been leaving on the ebb but it was actually the start of the flood. We left anyway, dodging the ferries and keeping close to the south bank to avoid the strongest tide. Generally, we made 3.5 knots with a burst of 5 knots on an eddy at the mouth of the river, followed by a disappointing 2.5 knots. Rain threatened but did not appear and we had a pleasant motorsail to Sesimbra. The afternoon NW wind began to blow to 23 knots as we entered the harbour which put me off anchoring. The marina had a few empty berths and a staff member met us and took our lines. Jeremy had to go with him to the office immediately with the ship’s papers. He was pleasantly surprised by an English speaking, friendly woman in the office who asked him to pay 13 euros for the night (low season rates from 1st Oct). We filled up with water, had hot showers and used the free wifi provided.
|Castle escape route|
We left Sesimbra at 7.30am and motored in light winds and a decreasing swell to Sines, the birthplace of the famous Portugese navigator, Vasca de Garma. We filled up with diesel at the marina fuel dock and went to anchor in the bay within the harbour under the walls of a medieval castle. We weighed anchor the next morning in the dark at 7.00am. There were three tugs and two pilot boats heading to a large tanker waiting to enter the harbour. We kept a good offing and started a long motorsail to Cabo Sao Vincente. Lots of dolphins were looking for breakfast and some of them came over to ride our bow wave. Many seabirds swooped and dived nearby. During the passage two separate fishing trawlers were likely to collide with us, but despite trying radio contact, we had to avoid them. We rounded Cabo Sao Vicente, the most south westerly point in mainland Europe, at 6.00pm. It was very calm and we could go quite close in to observe the massive cliffs rising almost vertically from the sea. We were tempted to anchor just around the corner beneath a fort at Enseada de Belixe, but decided against and rounded Ponta de Sagres a few miles east and anchored in Enseada de Sagres. It was a little rolly in the swell, but very beautiful. The sun set behind the cliff and the almost full moon rose over the opposite cliffs. Magical.
|Dom Vasco de Gama|
It was only 20 miles to Alvor on the Algarve and we were attracted by its lagoon and calm anchorage. We entered at half tide on a rising tide as recommended in our cruising guide . A local fisherman waved at us and shouted in Portugese trying to tell us to turn away. We did turn away, but went aground anyway. We were close to a green buoy, which was supposed to mark the channel. I wanted to anchor and wait, but Jeremy was determined to find the way in. Once more we touched the bottom and then managed to sound our way into Alvor without incident. There were many vessels and it took some time to find a space to anchor away from moorings and catamarans. As expected, we had a peaceful night after a brief trip ashore for food supplies.
|Moon rising over Sagres cliffs|