We never really settled in Cascais and never got agreement on quite how to pronounce it. We felt a bit ripped off by the high marina fees, almost double everywhere else we have been so far, for the least appealing spot we have had. Our berth was right under the high marina wall, next to that area of water that all marinas seem to have, where all the rubbish and scum collects. The showers were not great either, I’m rapidly becoming an expert at what features make a marina shower good and having to press a knob to get the water to run, that turns off every 30 seconds, is definitely not one of them. And last but not least the free wifi was so weak it was almost unusable.
The town and bay were very pretty but very much a holiday town full of cheap Kiss Me Quick souvenir shops, restaurants tempting you in with pictures of the food – never a sign of high gourmet standards I find – and at the weekend it was full to bursting with day trippers from Lisbon.
But enough moaning, with a bit of effort we did find some fantastic food, Italian on a secluded roof terrace, bizarrely one of the best Indian meals we have had for a long time and we spent a very pleasant evening in the wonderfully named Douche Bar, discovered and thoroughly researched by Brad and Duncan, where we ate amongst other things fantastic grilled sardines. The hilly streets were paved in mosaic, as is common in Portugal, but many of the lanes were laid in wavy black and white patterns that were fun to look at but slightly disconcerting to walk over, especially after a couple of bottles of Portugal’s finest. There were three very nice beaches to explore, we did have a paddle and ate ice-cream but the water needed to be quite a few degrees warmer to tempt us in for a swim.
After Brad and Duncan left us we considered moving out into the bay and anchoring for a day or two, but those pesky north winds were still plaguing us and often reached F6-7 in the evening. We decided with our first night sail with just the two of us planned for the next day, a night checking our anchor was holding, was probably not the most restful way to prepare.
The crux of our passage plan was to round the headland – Cabo de Sao Vicente in the morning when the winds would be at there lightness, which meant leaving at about 2pm. I cooked a chorizo, potato and pea stew an easy dish to reheat for our supper, Rick filled our water tanks and we cast off. We were surprised by the chill of the north wind and were quickly back wearing three or four layers. The sea quickly built as we travelled further offshore but the wind was slightly lighter than we were use to and it took us a while to set the sails so they were comfortable. We ended up with the main slightly reefed, out wide on a preventer line and the Genoa full on the other side, with wind directly behind us, we goose winged down the Portugueese Coast for about twelve hours. The AIS told us there were plenty of boats about, but only a couple of fishing boats and one tanker came into view. We had a 72ft yacht sailing the same route as us, he was about five nautical miles behind when we first spotted it on the screen and to ‘this is not a race’ Smith’s delight didn’t manage to catch us, in fact if anything we pulled ahead. We had a bright full moon and during his early morning watch Rick was honoured with a performance from a dolphin somersaulting out of the water, framed perfectly in the shimmering moonlight.
We didn’t do a very good job at getting much sleep. With someone always needing to be awake we opted for a three hour watch system. When I was on watch Rick tried to get some sleep in the salon so he was within easy reach if I needed him and I conscious of the fact that he wasn’t getting much sleep felt I needed to cut short my off watch periods to support him, I think we only managed about two hours each. Room for improvement but everything we do at present is such a steep learning curve and everything needs time to be worked out.
I have read many a time how turning the corner at San Vicente is a a real milestone and that everything becomes easier but we weren’t quite prepared for the dramaticness of this change. One minute we are fully reefed with 3m swells and white horses, just half an hour later we had calm blue sea and as the dawn turned into the morning the temperature rose steadily. Of course we paid for this by a drop in the wind and eventually had to put the engine on but to be honest we were more than ready for a bit of easy motor sailing.
On the chart the entrance to the river that runs up to Lagos marina is marked at 2m, the navigation app on my iPad tells me low tide is at 9.37am with just an extra 0.7m, a bit close for our 2.4m draft. We had estimated our arrival at about noon when the higher tide would gives us plenty of depth, but our fast progress down the Portugueese Atlantic Coast meant we were arriving at 10.30, we squeaked in with just a metre to spare under our keel.
We tied up as instructed at the welcome pontoon, only to discover a familiar face smiling at us, our friends Chris and Barry have been holidaying in Lagos for the past week and following us on Boat Beacon saw us approach, Barry cycled down to meet us. A lovely surprise and after the arrival beer and a catch up snooze we joined them for an enjoyable dinner at the Carribean beach bar a ten minutes walk away, (we must really try to fine some Portugueese food somewhere!).
The marina, it turned out, had no visitor berths large enough for us available and so we remain on the welcome pontoon. To be honest it’s rather pleasant, watching the comings and goings of the river and the people walking along the busy street on its opposite bank. The breeze is blowing into the cockpit helping with the temperatures that are in the high twenties and we are spending the day catching our breath.