17 June to 17 July 2021
Cascais to Sines, 37°57’13” 08°52’07”, 53nm, 10 hours
to Portimão, 37° 06′ 51″N 08° 31′ 71″W, 82nm, 15 hours
One of the most important lessons we have learnt in our sailing life is to go with the weather – to let the wind direction and conditions tell us where to go and definitely not to battle against it. But suddenly the wind wasn’t our only obstacle. We had the mere trifle of our immigration status and a fast ticking down Schengen clock. We basically had a month to get out of the EU and the wind was not cooperating!
In the anchorage at Cascais we consulted a Portuguese lawyer who told us all was not lost and armed with options that could extended our time in Portugal we made the decision to do what the weather was telling us to do – turn around and go with it.
And once we’d made that decision, we had the most perfect ride downwind all the way back to Portimão!
We made another stop halfway at Sines, this time long enough to revisit it properly. We remembered why this very typically Portuguese place had drawn us in on our first visit
and how proud of its favourite son it is. You can’t leave not knowing that Vasco da Gama was born here!
Stefan even revisited his turn on the public instruments. The intervening five years had not improved his playing!
A couple of days turned into a week whilst we sat out fog and stronger winds around Cabo do São Vincente but we were far from disappointed to spend more time in this quiet seaside town.
When the weather was right, we had a wonderful sail back to Portimão. Cabo do São Vincente was kind and a lot more visible and, once round, we found perfect conditions for flying the cruising chute all the way back into the anchorage. Everything told us we had made the right decision.
And so having made a decision to try to elongate our time in the sun, we did something we hadn’t done since we were at Essex Marina and took out an annual contract in the marina at Portimão. It meant we had some security at least for Pintail for the coming year even if we were not able to stay with her immediately.
We also found that Babs and Rene hadn’t gone anywhere. They had given up on a passage to the Azores and were waiting instead for weather to get them to Madeira.
And while they waited we enjoyed yet another reunion and celebrated by taking Pintail and Momentum out for a sail together along the coast to watch the GC32 Lagos Cup. There we watched some far crazier sailors than us get thrown around in the air on these foiling catamarans.
We had a race of our own there and back and the result is still subject to a steward’s enquiry!
And sailing with friends means we get some rare footage of us three flying along!
While Babs and Rene waited for a weather window to get across to Madeira we hung out for curry, watched the World Cup football final in the anchorage and had another final farewell drink on the beach at Ferragudo. We just know these three are just going to keep cropping up on our adventures but for now we said another fair winds and see you somewhere.
We made some more plans of our own towards our residence applications, opening bank accounts and getting our tax numbers. We dealt with some classic, patience testing Portuguese whilst also trying to fathom the rules for returning to the UK during the pandemic.
And then, with a few days left before our flight to the UK, we hired a car to get to know the surrounding area a little better. After all, if we were going to make Portimão our semi permanent home to sit out the continuing uncertainty in the world, we needed to know we were going to like it. Stefan was already familiar with Monchique from his 900m hill climbs on his bike but we took the less lung busting option together to wander around the almost tourist less streets of this town famous for its hot springs. And having failed to make it all the way up the Arade river on the tender to Silves we finally made it in the car.
West of Portimão, just along the cliffs, we visited another of Stefan’s cycling haunts, the fishing town of Alvor. Here we watched the yachts at anchor tucked in amongst the sandbanks and wondered if we’d ever be brave enough to tackle the tides to make it inside.
Our Schengen clock was nearly up so we prepared Pintail for an unknown but likely extended separation and on 12 July we flew out of Portugal with no idea when we’d be able to return or under what circumstances.