Friday 3rd August. Viana do Castelo
We are now on a mission. We are meeting up with Ryan, Dawn & Lukas in Lisbon on the 10th for a week of sightseeing, the Port wine cellars of Porto in between so we really have to press on.
We slipped Baiona at 10.00 and motored out into 2-3m swells. The swells were so big that small fishing boats were disappearing in them! We past Cape Silleiro and turned south, motoring with very little wind. Eventually the afternoon winds started to blow and we were able to sail.
Hoisting the courtesy flag
Sailing on a very broad reach with the full Genoa and mizzen in a F4/5 we crossed the border at about 14.00 and hoisted the Portuguese courtesy flag. Next stop Viana do Castelo.
The best fishing marker we saw!
The whole of this coast is littered with fishing floats, some mark crab pots and fish traps, others are attached to nets. They can be very difficult to spot especially in the swells and often the top flag has worn away so it is just a stick in the water. When you spot one you end up playing a game of “Chicken”; watching the pot, holding your course trying to decide if you will miss it. Then at the last minute, dashing to the stern to alter the autohelm. The prize for hitting one is a fouled prop or rudder.
There were a few gannets early on and then quite a few shearwaters. I am still trying to identify which they are, but there are so many so similar it is almost impossible. I have discovered why we are seeing so many immature gannets. Apparently the young ones all fly to the North coast of Africa until they return for the breeding season.
At the entrance!
To enter almost all the harbours down the Portuguese coast you have to turn north around the breakwater, so in 30kts we turned north around the breakwater and motored up the river into Viana do Castelo. Ho hum! 30kts true wind plus 5kts boat speed add 2kts of tide against 2-3m swells equals a pretty bumpy ride! I forgot to add the entrance is full of windsurfers falling off in front of you.
We arrived at the marina expecting to find shelter but although the waves had died down the wind was still very strong. We were hoping to tie up on the holding pontoon outside but it was full. The marina has an opening pedestrian bridge across the entrance and this was shut, we circled deciding what to do when the bridge opened and we were called in. Our mooring spot was bows to with a stern pickup line, not alongside a pontoon. The marineiro was coming to help as in 30kts this was going to be difficult. Several minutes passed and no sign of help. Eventually the bridge closed so we were trapped inside a tiny marina with little room to manoeuvre. When the guy turned up he apologised as he had been having difficulties opening and closing the bridge. I wondered if we would get out in the morning!
On checking in we realised we had crossed a time zone as it was only 17.00 not 18.00, Portugal being on the same time as the UK. As the shops were open until 19.00 we had time for a quick walk around the town and to get some fresh bread and milk.
Viana do Castelo is obviously an old town, beautiful churches and some magnificent tiled frontages, but unlike Spain there were a lack of small cafe’s and bars, just restaurants touting for custom with hardly any customers. The Tourist information is in a hospital built in 1458!
One of many squares in the town
We were leaving at 08.00 in the morning for Leixoes (Porto) and given our experience with the strong afternoon northerlies we wanted to be on our way early.
The bridge was left open all night and closed at 08.00. As we motored down the river we heard the church clock chime 7? I was confused was it 0700 local time or was the church clock on UT?
Given yesterdays experience we had an uneventful motor sail in a SW F2 all the way. There were many pot markers again with the best one being a plastic milk bottle! We arrived just after lunchtime and were met by the marina staff on entry and directed to a berth in the marina. Not the prettiest of spots behind the container port, obviously an old dock that had been converted into a marina. It was quite interesting watching the containers being loaded though. It never stopped all the time we were there.
Leixoes was to be our base for exploring Porto. Our plans were to spend the weekend here exploring Porto before moving south towards Lisbon.