23 to 24 August 2016

Lisbon N38°45.37′ W09°05.92′  to Setubal N38°30.53′  W08°54.97′ 

49nm, 8 hours

Another day, another destination with strange pronunciation: Setubal pronounced Shtoo-bahl

After our brilliant river cruise back passed all the sights of Lisbon and an unexpected reunion with Stormschnitzels we even managed a couple of hours sailing on our passage to Setubal and the Sado estuary.

We had debated whether to go to Setubal’s anchorages. The pilotbook indicated challenges and we had been a little burnt by the experience in Cascais. Our nerves weren’t helped when we heard the Stormschnitzels talking to the Faiths over the radio and they had changed their plan and were heading direct for Sines further down the coast. If the Stormschnitzels were avoiding it, it must be bad! But the promise of a quiet anchorage after being in the city, sand islands to explore and bird life to see kept us from changing course.

Dramatic cliffs and the pine covered Parque Natural da Arrabida marked the headland at the mouth of the estuary and we followed them all the way in.

We had a bit of trouble identifying where the pilotbook’s suggested anchorage was. We plumped for an area just in front of a beach busy with sun worshippers and where there were two other yacht’s anchored. We deduced from the presence of their tenders tied on the back that they were there overnight and dropped anchor nearby.  First one then the other, the yachts left, leaving us wondering if they knew something we didn’t.

After the fleeting drama of a nearby forest fire quickly despatched by the emergency services, we settled in for a quiet night. Despite warnings about tide and variable holding (1) we had no anchor drag alarms at all that night. It was not however a quiet night!

Lying in bed I started to hear a noise that sounded a bit like running water. This is not a sound you want to hear on a boat! Having not elimated the possible causes in my mind I thought I had better alert Stefan. We both listened harder. It now sounded like the crackling of an electrical fire. This is also not a sound you want to hear on a boat. There followed a now farcial half hour of near panic as we tried to identify the source of the noise, opening lockers, taking up the floor, checking the batteries, listening to the hull. It seemed to be coming from everywhere but if we went on deck we couldn’t hear it at all! We started to think something in the water might be reacting to the coppercoat on the hull. Having exhausted all possible causes I resorted to Google for help. On a number of sailing forums we found our answer. We were having an encounter with the loudest creature on the planet – the snapping shrimp! Reassured that we were not in mortal danger we finally got to sleep with their snapping still in our ears. If you want to know what this sounds like, try going to sleep whilst someone pops bubblewrap two feet from your head!

We planned a sunrise picnic and took the tender over to explore the beaches on the shore. It took three attempts to find a secluded and clean spot. The first beach was really dirty with rubbish and the second was inhabited with two tents who we didn’t want to disturb so we headed to the furthest point on the stretch.

We took a closer look at the rock formations fringing the coast many with trees seemingly impossibly growing out of them

and while we were at it did a bit of sea gull bothering!

Confident that our holding was good we decided to stay another night to explore the sand islands and enjoy the peace (snapping shrimps aside!). When we arrived there had been no sign of them but at low tide water gave way for sand.

In the afternoon we headed out to the now exposed sand islands. On the way we could see people apparently walking on water and dragged the tender onto the newly appeared sand for a look around.

Despite our proximity to the rather garish resort of Troia and the estuary’s industrial buildings it was the nearest we had found yet to a desert island and the kind of place we had hoped to find with the tender.

We didn’t find flamingos (we were too early for them) but we did find some argumentative terns and a very tame seagull.

Unable to find anywhere to leave the tender to go ashore in Setubal we cruised the sights from the water before returning to Pintail for another night living amongst the snapping shrimps….


View of Parque Natural da Arrabida from our anchorage.


(1)    Slightly dodgy place to anchor because of the surface of the seabed


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