Friday, September 04, 2009

Porto, Peniche, The Cabo de Roca Effect and Cascais

Porto is a beautiful if slightly wilted old city. Against the advice of the pilot we tied the boats up to the high-sided bank in the center. The lines needed to be adjusted every few hours to compensate for the tide but otherwise we were in a perfect position and the only sailboats to be seen. The boats looked great with the Ponte Dom Luis I bridge (built by Eiffel) in the background against the Hollywood-like signs of all of the great port-houses on the other side of the river – Croft, Sandeman, Burmester, Taylor, Galem, Graham, Niepoort and more.

On the overnight voyage for the 120 nautical miles from Porto to Peniche, there was little wind so we motor-sailed for much of the way, sadly a very boring trip. Peniche is a pretty harbour and we stayed an extra day to take a bus to the medieval village of Obidos, where the castle is one of the seven wonders of Portugal.

The 45 nautical mile sail from Peniche to Cascais began perfectly. We hoisted the half-winder and the mainsail and settled in for a fast and steady sail. We had heard from a Portugese man in Peniche that the winds could be expected to pick up significantly around the Cabo de Roca (the most eastern point of Europe). The Imray pilot made no mention of this effect but we approached with caution and doused the half-winder as the wind began to pick-up. About 10 miles from the cape we heard a warning via the VHF radio from the Lamawaje (another very nice Dutch cruising boat we’ve met along the way) that the winds around the cape were gusting up to 40-48 knots. A strong force 9!!! This was more than double the comfortable 15-20 knot winds we were then experiencing. The wind picked up slowly as we moved closer and the Pjotter began chomping a little at the bit. We stationed the monkeys inside safely and I took the helm to alleviate the pressure on the autopilot. The winds picked up as expected and we clocked 47 knots on the meter but it was a broad-reach wind and the Pjotter surfed comfortably and steadily through the waves and was not too heavy on the helm. Amazing! The effect lasted just over an hour and then the winds died suddenly after the cape and we had to motor for the last five miles into Cascais. We left this experience feeling glad we were warned and prepared, with a great feeling of trust in our boat and with a hope that our exposure to this level of winds would be minimal.

Cascais is a perfect little holiday resort with an incredible park and playground and a massive mega-supermarket with everything you could possible dream of so we stocked-up considerably.

In Oeiras, on the mouth of the Rio Tejo leading into Lisbon we spotted the big Pjotter sailing by and met up with them for a coffee and a cosy catch-up. We then bumped into them again in a café just beside the Castelo Saint Jorge in Lisbon, in a city with millions of people!!! They are headed off to Madeira to visit with their daughter and grand-daughter so we will probably not see them for a couple of months.

1 comment:

  1. Hey sailing travellers,

    Yvonne and I were in Lissabon and Peniche for about a week early last year for sightseeing and our kite surf lessons. We had a really cool time there and the fresh fish almost every day was fantastic. It's so cool that you arrive there always from the sea side... ;-)