30 May to 10 June 2021
Please forgive our absence of posts. The ennui of the absence of travel has got to us a bit and WordPress was playing up a little and we needed help from the experts to fix it.
One of those issues has been fixed so rather belatedly we bring you our attempt to get up the Portuguese coast…
Lagos to Sagres, 37°0’10″N 08°56’43″W, 16nm, 5 hours 30
to Sines, 37°57’13” 08°52’07”, 63nm, 11 hours 15
to Oeiras, 38°40’57” 09°19’08”, 52nm, 10 hours 15
Leaving Lagos meant turning the corner from the relative protection of the Algarve coast to the open Atlantic and we knew now from experience that meant swell on the beam. So we made the most of the flat calm while we could and motored down to the southern most tip of Portugal. On the calm surface of the water at least the ever present fishing pots were easily visible!
Before we turned the corner to head north we stopped for the night in the anchorage at Sagres. With its rugged cliffs and nothing but open ocean to the south we really did feel like we were at the end of the earth. Despite our remote location, our internet connection remained strong and we still managed to have our weekly Saturday zoom chat with friends! We did not, however, escape the Atlantic swell and we have a rather bumpy night waiting for our dawn departure around Cabo do São Vincente.
Our 6.30am start was cold and drizzly. Suddenly we got a taste of what we might expect back in the UK. We both fought putting on socks until it became obvious the sun wasn’t coming out and our toes were tingling with the cold. Cabo do São Vincente was shrouded in a similar cloak of grey to the conditions we experienced the first time we rounded it coming south in 2016. This time it was not just the swell that tested our nerves but also a fear of the dreaded black fins.
Ultimately though it was to be a long and uneventful, even boring, motor up the coast. We had long given up on the hope of any southerly winds to enable us to sail and were resolved to eating through the diesel in our quest to get Pintail “home”.
We arrived in the anchorage at Sines just in time to cook and eat dinner in daylight under the watchful eye of Vasco da Gama. Our evening’s entertainment was to watch the groups of teenagers playing on the beach. We have fond memories of Sines from the first time we visited and it was a bit sad not to get to revisit but in this gap in the northerly winds we needed to push on.
Our second day motoring up the coast was equally dull. After the early excitement of a close encounter with a fishing pot Stefan assumed his watch position at the bow. With nothing but grey sea and sky in view my suggestion of a game of I Spy fell as flat as the surface of the water.
With a good few days of strong northerly wind forecast we decided against the anchorage at Cascais and instead headed into the marina at Oerias, right at the mouth of the river Tejo. Being right at the mouth of this fast flowing river means that the marina entrance has something of a reputation but we got in without incident and were soon settled in our berth.
We settled in for a few very windy days and, whilst I worked, Stefan took the chance to ride up river into a very empty Lisbon to revisit some of the sights.
It also gave us a chance to explore this wonderfully colourful suburb of Lisbon, from its river beaches
through its beautiful leafy parks
and up to its old village centre.
From there, almost entirely by accident, we stumbled across a brand new park, the Parque dos Poetas. This 25 hectare celebration of Portugal’s favourite poets was an unexpected gem and fast became one of our favourite public parks.
Each poet was represented in his
or her own unique garden. Most in figurative sculpture,
some in a much more abstract style.
Although we had heard of none of them nor could translate the majority of their words, we loved the spirit of the park so much that, when the wind kept us in Oeiras longer than expected, we returned again another day for a picnic amongst all the wordsmiths.
It felt so good to be exploring new places again but we had to remind ourselves that this was no longer our mission.
Our mission was to get back to the UK. Watching the weather we saw no gap in the relentless northerly wind. We considered joining Babs and Rene on their passage to the Azores to get a better angle on the wind. But that meant an eight day ocean passage and we didn’t quite feel up to that short handed. We were resigned to the fact that getting back to the UK was going to take a lot of patience and a lot of diesel.
After an extended 8 days in Oeiras, and with still no sign of a weather window north, we decided to head round the corner to the anchorage at Cascais. There, in the warm sunshine of early summer, we listened to folk back home moan, slightly more than usual, about the weather. We heard reports of heavy rain, even hail. Everyone still had their central heating on. We started to question the logic of heading to the UK to live on the boat through a British winter somewhere on the south coast.
And then came the defining moment. At the G7 conference in a cloudy Carbis Bay, President Biden announced “Cornwall is so beautiful, you don’t even need the sun”.
He might not but we had got rather accustomed it. We realised that we were perhaps not as ready to say goodbye to the sun after all. And so, right there, we started to think that there must be an alternative and tentatively hatched a plan that might just keep us in the sunshine.
But how to overcome our new found immigration issues? Our Schengen clock was well and truly ticking. And what to do about the new tax implications of not returning Pintail to the UK by 31 December?