Yacht Pipit


Portugal, 31st August 2011

Another day, another country...

As planned, last Sunday we weighed anchor at 0850 and set sail for Portugal, specifically Viana do Castelo. The forecast was for ideal light northerly winds, so of course the reality was light southerly winds, i.e. right on the nose! We motored every inch of the way, but at least the sea was flat and the sun was out - until the fog descended... We reduced speed, switched nav lights, radar and Active-X on and kept an eagle eye out for the plethora of pot markers in the area - as well as other vessels of course. After about an hour and a half the fog lifted as quickly as it had engulfed us, and we motored into Viana do Castelo, where we rafted against Calluna on the waiting pontoon until we were allocated a berth. This seemed like progress, until we calculated that we would be aground by 1 metre at low water - we pointed this out to the marinero who agreed with us and quickly found us the one remaining berth, stern-to with lazy lines.

We originally planned to stay in Viana for a few days, but the weather forecast was for southerly winds for most of the week, so we thought we'd rather push on to Povoa de Varzim as we wanted to spend quite a few days there. So with this in mind we got up early on Tuesday morning and took the funicular railway to the Basilica de Santa Luzia.

Lynton & Lynmouth? No, no water power here...

Having taken the lift to enjoy the view above, we discovered it was in fact the 'wrong' lift and that there was another one that supposedly took you to the top of the dome. So we paid another few cents each and took the 'right' lift. Now you wouldn't think it was possible to get lost in such a place, but we did - having taken the lift as far as it went, it seemed sensible to walk up a few steps and onto the outside of the dome. This seemed a remarkably similar experience to the 'wrong' lift, so we didn't linger and returned to the ground floor, where a lady seemed surprised at the brevity of our visit. So we tried again - obvious, when you exit the lift, in order to go up you must first go down!

The traffic lights were green, so up we went.

Is that me or Boris?

So having seen what we came to see, as recommended we walked back down to Viana, through pines and eucalypts, rather than taking the railway, and meandered through the old part of town back to Pipit. As soon as there was enough water, we made our way out of the marina and into the surprisingly strong current of the river - not something we've really had to consider since Brittany. We headed out into flat seas, sunshine and light south-westerly winds, allowing us to sail for a while until the wind dropped and we had to motor sail. A pleasant passage, and we were allocated a berth almost next to the most important man in Povoa, i.e. the one who had taken delivery of our new toilet seat (as well as a number of other packages - thank you Michael).

Soon afterwards, we were invited by Helen and Marcel who we had met briefly in Baiona aboard Dakini, their lovely Lagoon 421, for a drink. Now we could be converted to catamarans - there is simply acres of well designed usable space, and makes for a great liveaboard experience.

There are quite a few liveaboards based in Povoa marina as well as a number of yachts making their way to the Canaries to take part in the ARC and last night, we went along to the Tuesday evening dinner at a local bar/restaurant - good company, more good food than we could manage to eat, plenty of wine and all for €10 a head!

The weather has turned as forecast, so we will spend the next few days doing numerous jobs, including an engine oil change and of course fitting the new toilet seat. We also plan to take the metro to Porto, where it is rumoured they make some sort of alcohloic beverage... We will report on that in the next update, show you Andy's birthday present and introduce you to our new crew member...