Yacht Pipit


Running down to Cascais, 24th September 2011

After waiting out the weekend of very strong winds in Figueira da Foz, we made three successive day passages to reach Cascais on Wednesday: Foz to Nazare, Nazare to Peniche and Peniche to Cascais.

We motored for a few hours out of Foz after which the wind picked up and we had a good sail for about 5 hours. As we rounded the headland towards Nazare, the wind and sea state increased and in spite of reportedly being an all weather port, the entrance looked very narrow and turbulent with the largest number of fishing pots we've seen right in the fairway. Despite all this, we made our way through the entrance with no problems and with 28 knots of wind still blowing, 'Uncle Albert' was at the marina waving his stick indicating that we should let the wind blow us onto the hammerhead berth. With said 28 knots of wind beam on, we had already thought of that... 'Uncle Albert' is a helpful soul, and is always ready to impart his wisdom and advice, whether you want it or not.

The marina at Nazare is a strange place, with tired facilities and not cheap so this, coupled with our mission to reach Cascais, meant we didn't visit the town which is some distance away, even though it is said to be quite pleasant and would have offered our third funicular railway journey in Portugal.

On Tuesday morning, we motored over to the fuel pontoon. We've never seen so much guano on a pontoon, but we stuck to plan A and filled with diesel, rather than bio-fuel... We then had an uneventful motor towards Peniche with a pleasant couple of hours sailing at the end. As the visitors' berths in the marina at Peniche are reputedly extremely bouncy due to the constant stream of fishing boats passing at high speed, we opted to anchor outside the breakwater as the winds and moderate swell were both from the north. We enjoyed a pleasant sunny evening and calm night, and even managed to pick up a free WiFi signal to check the weather early on Wednesday morning.

Cabo Carvoeiro, to the north of Peniche.

Sunset at anchor in Peniche, calm despite being open to the Atlantic to the southwest.

Again, contrary to the forecast, there was not much wind when we left Peniche, so we motored for a few hours until we approached Cabo da Roca where predictably around the headland, the wind picked up and we were able to run under genoa with 25-30 knots behind us. We were pleased with our speed, although Azzam, the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Volvo Open 70 was making rather better progress than us! Having thundered past us going to windward, they later turned around and still managed to overtake us going into Cascais.


Approaching Cascais.

We anchored in the bay at Cascais on Wednesday night and on Thursday morning we moved into the marina. We paid over €40 for a 'welcome to Cascais' bottle of wine, although they did throw in a night's berth FOC! This is, by some margin, the most expensive marina we've been to, and the facilities are no better than average, including poor WiFi and showers that double as a skating rink for the unwary. In fact, the only exceptional thing is the price. Cascais itself is an upmarket resort initially popularised by the Portuguese monarchy, with impressive architecture, plenty of trendy bars, cafes and restaurants and a very pretty park just outside the marina entrance.

A very expensive bottle of wine. With free berth...

Boca do Inferno (Hell's Mouth).

Spot the peacock.

If the marina charged more reasonable rates, we'd have been minded to stay another night, but as they don't we are now back at anchor. In fact, there were plenty of visitors' spaces in the marina, but judging by the number of other yachts at anchor, other people may be thinking the same as us. The main reason we went into the marina in the first place was to allow the Raymarine engineer to come and look at the plotter. Carlos said that he has seen many problems before, but not this one, so has consequently ordered a new processor, now from Poland not Portsmouth. The bad news is that this may take two weeks to arrive, but the good news is that the plotter is still under warranty, with one month to spare! However, this 'enforced' stay in the Lisbon area will give us a chance to relax for a while, take Pipit up the river into Lisbon (the first capital city we'll be able to sail into) and maybe beyond to Seixal, and perhaps enjoy some land-based sightseeing in Lisbon. We'll mix anchoring with marina visits to fill with water and avail ourselves of their laundry facilities.

We hope we will still be able to continue around the next pointy bit (Cape St Vincent) to reach the Algarve before the weather turns, but this is in the hands of Raymarine at the moment. In the worst case scenario, we think there are options for over-wintering in this area. In the meantime, the weather is still hot through the day, cooling off quickly at night which, although it means we move below as the sun drops, at least gives more pleasant sleeping temperatures.

Before we left Spain, we tried to buy an Iberico ham, but couldn't find one small enough (all the little piggies must have avoided the market) so we've improvised with this one: