We left Baiona on July 16th to make our way down the Atlantic coast of Portugal as we needed to be in Rota, Cadiz Bay, by July 31st for Liz’s 50th birthday when her parents were joining us for a week. We found the Portuguese marinas to be very good value and often with free wi-fi. We stopped for two days in Povoa de Varzim as we were going to get the very good metro link to Oporto. Getting into Povoa proved challenging as the afternoon sea breeze coupled with the increased swell made the entrance difficult but all was calm once inside. It cost us €31 for the two nights and with excellent free wi-fi.
We then continued down the coast to Figueira de Voz but had to motor most of the way as it was over 75nm from Povoa and the winds were from dead astern at around 12 knots which was only 7 knots apparent and with some swell. It was a long day as we left at 0800, but arrived after 2130 by which time it was dark. There is a customs office at Figueira and they expect you to register there first before going into the marina. Luckily, one of the customs men came out to take our lines as the wind had picked up in the last hour and was gusting over 18 knots as we came into moor! Customs formalities completed, we duly moored up and ate on board. This marina was quite expensive at €38 a night with no wi-fi but they did have a great indoor market on the seafront where we bought a lot of local, fresh produce the next morning. It also had the most amazing beach that needed boardwalks and lamp lights from the road! We continued down towards Lisbon via Nazare, but the marina had nothing to commend it as it was a bit out of town and we knew we had a long day the next day to get to Lisbon. Apparently, Nazare is lovely according to a Swedish couple we met on our travels.
As we approached the mouth of the River Tagus just outside Oeiras, it became apparent that it is used as a car park for a number of tankers and container ships. It was another frustrating day of mainly motoring with light winds all morning and directly astern of us in the afternoon so only a few hours of sailing but we did manage it in the late afternoon sunshine.
Oeiras marina is a few miles east of Cascais but considerably cheaper (still €44 per night) yet with easy connections into Lisbon. On the way to the station, we came across this piece of street art that looked a lot like Banksy. We had been to Lisbon before so we only spent a day there visiting the Tall Ships along the dockside.
A magnificent spectacle appreciated by the many visitors who were happily queuing to go on board them despite the 25 degrees plus temperatures. Lisbon is a lovely place and is one of the oldest capitals in Europe pre-dating both London and Paris. It is also the departure point for many expeditions throughout the “age of Discovery”.
After Lisbon we made our way down to Sines (pronounced Cinch),which had a World Music Festival running whilst we were there and we had the best Caipirinha ever and only for €3! The next day we rounded a significant headland, Cap San Vincente, with little incidence and we were in the Algarve. We had managed to sail for three hours in the afternoon breeze but at least we were able to run the watermaker for a while with the motor on. As soon as we turned the corner into the Golfe de Cadiz it immediately felt different. Our next stop was the lovely town of Lagos with its turquoise waters and real Mediterranean feel.
Lagos is set down a channel from the open sea so felt very sheltered in terms of swell but was very windy when we arrived. Initially, you have to report to the marina office on the sea bound side of the lifting bridge and then go and find your berth. The marina is on the opposite side of the river to the town itself so they open the bridge at certain times as there is a lot of foot traffic, especially as it was now summer holidays and it felt like we were suddenly surrounded by a lot of Brits. The town itself is lovely with shops and cheap off licences catering to the tourists.
We stayed in Lagos (pronounced Laygosh) for a couple of days as it was so nice but expensive at €58 per night. We also fitted a new Split Charge Diode we had bought in Lisbon that was the correct size for the new alternator. The town had many small streets and squares with restaurants and bars but also a lot of local people milling around. You can see why it is a popular tourist destination. During the day, people made their way to the small beaches or took trips out to the outlaying rocks to sample the turquoise waters and diving.
On our second day, as the wind had died, we took our dinghy out to the sea to explore these waters that are too shallow for keel boats.
Our next stop was a short hop along the coast to Portimao where we anchored in the large harbour but did not go ashore. The same was true the following day when we travelled to Faro. We anchored in the Canal de Olhao but the weather had deteriorated and was very windy so we were more concerned about ensuring we were safely tucked in rather than exploring the marshlands in the national park that gave the area such a flat landscape. We did manage to sail quite a bit that day though.
The following day we made our way to the Rio Guardiana, which is the river that denotes the boundary between Portugal and Spain. The town of Vila Real de Santo Antonio lies on the Portuguese side and the town of Ayamonte on the Spanish side. We weren’t sure which courtesy flag to fly as noticed that many boats seemed to fly both! We opted with staying with the Portuguese flag as we anchored that side of the river that night. It was a beautiful spot with only Mother Nature as company. A lovely way to finish off our exploration of Portugal.