Since our last post, we seem to have crammed quite a lot in! After we had recovered in La Coruna from our Biscay crossing, we headed south – our first passage was a long-ish 80 miles down to Muros. We received a very warm welcome from Pedro in the marina, and we spent a couple of days enjoying the local tapas, and exploring the town and beaches.
We then pushed on further south to one of our favourite pit stops so far, in the Ciés Islands, just off the coast of Vigo. This small group of islands is a protected nature reserve, and we needed to secure cruising and anchoring permits before we arrived. With all the necessary paper work done, we anchored up and spent a really wonderful 3 days exploring the islands via the walking trails, and enjoying the beautiful white sandy beaches – we’d highly recommend a visit to the islands for anyone passing through the North West of Spain! On our final night there, we pottered over to the main land, to another beautiful anchorage, where we met another Irish boat and shared a beer and a chat, and did a good SUP around the bay.
While in Cies, Marty decided to investigate the squeeky steering we seemed to have picked up half way across the bay of Biscay, in usual fashion the boat was turned upside down and inside out, and the steering cables were found to be at fault and needed to be re-greased.
A little reluctantly, we left the Ciés, and set course for Viana do Castelo, which was to be our first stop in Portugal. Shortly after our departure, the thickest fog I have ever seen set in, and stayed with us for the entire duration of the passage to Viana. At times we could only see roughly 2 or 3 meters in front of the boat, so we took turns at watching out for the little lobster pots off the bow, and watching the AIS for any approaching ships (or other boats). We spent a rather tense half an hour listening to another vessel’s fog signals, although we couldn’t see him, either on the AIS, or with our eyes. When we could no longer hear it, and we hadn’t been run over by anything, we concluded that we were probably ok! After a nerve wracking 6 hours, the charts told us that we had arrived at the river mouth, although we couldn’t see either side of the entrance.
We motored very slowly up the river, and suddenly emerged from the fog bank into blinding sunshine, and a rather busy fishing port. We got all our paper work done checking in to Portugal, and then spent a pleasant afternoon with a neighbouring French boat – there was much google translating, and pictures shown, but I think we just about managed to understand each other, and we shared a very tasty bottle of the local wine, before a quick exploration of the town and an early night! We were a little disappointed not to have more time in Viana, as the old town looked like it had plenty to see, and the cable car up the hill would have been a nice adventure – hopefully we’ll make it back there one day to do a proper exploration.
Probably the stop I’d been most looking forward to along this coast was Porto. We stayed in a marina a little further out of town, and caught the train into Porto city. The first port of call was a Port Wine Tasting at the Ferriera Wine Caves, which was excellent! We also did a walking tour with “An Irishman in Porto”, Caoimhin from Tallaght, who was brilliant – we got a whistlestop tour of the very impressive city, and spent a really nice day seeing all the sights. Highly recommend!
From there, we had an uneventful sail to Figuera da Foz – we arrived late, went to bed, and set off again early the next morning, so not much to report there!
Our next stop was in Nazaré – famous for the largest waves in the world, and very highly regarded among the surfing community. We spent a really lovey couple of days in the colourful old fishing town, and took the cable car up to the old town, walked out to the cliffs, where we found a surfing museum in the old lighthouse, and enjoyed the beaches and the €1 beers.
From Nazaré, we went to Cascais, a pretty fishing town on the outskirts of Lisbon. The marina was full, so we anchored in the bay, which turned out to be absolutely perfect. Our friends Dara and Siobhan joined us for a day after a wedding they attended in Lisbon, and there was much swimming, eating and drinking done!
We spent a few days at anchor in the bay, before heading further up the river towards Lisbon, where we stopped in Oeiras Marina – by far my favourite Marina of the trip so far! Every morning we had fresh baked bread delivered to the boat, and we had access to the lovely swimming pool. Getting into Lisbon was easy from here, and we caught the train to the centre. Another walking tour showed us the highlights of the Alfama and Mouraria districts of Lisbon – we will be going back to explore the other districts! We also hired bikes, and cycled the 10km from Oeiras to Belem, to see the famous tower, the monastery, and the Maritime Museum. There is so much to see in Lisbon, and we definitely didn’t have enough time to see it all – we’ll be going back for sure.
Èalù is currently in the boat yard in Belem, where she’s been lifted out of the water for a good clean and antifoul before we head out to the Canary Islands. We were having some small issues with the engine and getting water to the engine for cooling, Marty had stripped the cooling raw water system twice in search of the issue, upon lifting the boat, it all became very clear what the issue was, a rubber glove had got sucked into the cooling water intake and blocked the whole system up.
We’ve left her there for a couple of weeks while we visit family and friends, and do a few days of some different sailing, so the adventure will continue at the beginning of October as we make our last couple of stops in Mainland Europe, and make the passage out to the Canary Islands to explore, and begin our final preparations for the Atlantic Crossing.
Until next time…