A Night of Bad Singing … and Al Gets Right into FaceTube

There’s something about that Ooroo mob – they tend to be dangerous to hang around.

We arrived at Cascais and promptly got a berth in the very expensive but very nice and well run marina right next to them.

This time they were equipped with a guitar and some more guests in Alison, Casey and Owen, meaning Al and I were completely outnumbered – what hope had we got.  We hadn’t seen Ooroo since A Coruna so there was a bit of mischief to catch up on.

Su turned out to be a pretty good guitarist and I turned out pretty much the same as I’ve always been at singing – four letters starting with C – you know the rest. But still it didn’t stop me trying – and with the help of lots of marina supplied red wine (They give you a bottle of very passable red when you check in), I convinced myself that I was up there with Frank.

With one iPad displaying the chords for Su and another one with the lyrics on for the rest of us, we ploughed thru some of our favorite songs, even managing to successfully avoid “Big Red Tractor”.

It was a great night of Mischief and Ooroo-ness;  but please note that we’ve had to apply the 7pm rule and posted no photos what so ever, despite Al (the social media Luddite) threatening to publish his very embarrassing videos on FACETUBE!!!!

All that did was make us laugh even harder.

Into The Portuguese Trades…And Without a Mainsail

Leaving Porto, we were keen to get to Lisbon to get our mainsail fixed. It was frustrating motoring along in the Portuguese trade winds, unable to take advantage of being blown down the coast. Instead, we were a motor boat with a very tall mast.

We headed for Figuerira da Foz, 62nm away, the place where Ooroo first hit Portugal. It was a pretty non-eventful motor, getting there in good time. We arrived on the 1st May, to be told it was high season and the prices had gone up accordingly. It didn’t feel like high season as the whole town was shut for a public holiday. We were glad to get going the next day, bound for Nazare, a short hop of 23nm.

Nazare turned out to be a great little spot. The marina is small and very scenic, with the fishing boats tied up right next door. A couple came in whilst we were tied to the end of a finger jetty and expertly missed our stern by inches as they swung around to berth. At least someone round here can drive a boat, we’ve seen some terrible yachtie and powerboat drivers.

Nazare was definitely in the holiday resort category, with a beautiful beach running along the front, bordered by a majestic cliff face at one end. Alex reminded me that this is where they surf the monster waves coming off the Atlantic. None of those today thank goodness.

After visiting the mandatory boat shop to replace a shackle that had come loose off our topping lift at an incredibly low price (prices in Portugal are interesting – anything made here is incredibly cheap, anything imported is incredibly expensive – courtesy of a 23% VAT), Al and I then ventured into town to check out the “action”. At 5pm the streets were buzzing with lots of pommy and german tourists. By 8pm the place was dead. We sat in an almost empty restaurant – the locals saying its because all the waterfront real estate is now owned by out-of-towners that only come here fro 3-4 weeks a year.

Next stop was Peniche, another great find.  As we only had 25nm to knock off, we decided to check out Sao Martinho do Porto along the way. Here the sea has widened a breach in the hard cliffs and carved out a crescent shaped bay out of the softer rock behind. Quite spectacular, but not a place to linger as any sort of swell will trap you in there for days. Sightseeing over, we headed for Peniche and got there in no time to find another attractive and this time reasonably priced marina. We parked behind an Irish cat that had evidently played lets see how fast we can ram this collector jetty the day before. Lucky we parked behind it as it left before us the next day.

The music festival was still on and the place was full of Uni students and local tourists. Its a petty the place doesn’t get more tourists – it deserves it. About 4pm the music started and we went over and checked it out after dinner. It was loud but I think we were a little early as nobody was there. The music went on to 5am so obviously people came later.

Next morning it was off to Cascais to catch up with the Ooroo crowd. But that’s another story….



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Porto, oPorto

Porto (or oPorto as the locals call it) was on our must see list. Its one of the oldest cities on the planet, going back to Roman times. The city itself is UNESCO World Heritage listed and full of really old stuff.

But first we had to get there. Porto is on a river which has no marinas, so we found ourselves heading for Leixco, a nice marina on the coast, with a metro station 15 minutes walk away.

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After a 30nm motor into Leixco, we checked in and headed for the metro station. The metro is nice and new, and drops you in the centre of Porto after a 30 minute ride.

Stepping out of the metro station, you are immediately blown away by the majestic old buildings surrounding expansive squares. You are also struck by the number of tourist police everywhere, trying no doubt to stem Porto’s pickpocket reputation.

After wandering around, taking snaps of all the impressive sights, we stopped for a bit to have the obligatory glass of Port and watch the world go by. I think we both decided that one glass was enough; and we would go back to drinking Portugal’s excellent beer and red wine.

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The one thing you really notice about Porto is its steep. It was okay going down all the way to the river; but then we had to get up again. The water front is beautiful with all the old style  boats, complete with wine barrels, lining the waterway. We found a nice terrace bar overlooking the river and had a beer. More crowd watching.

Then we began the climb up again, though wonderfully narrow streets, past museums and churches. Once up the top we wandered over one of the main bridges, high up over the river, where we could look down on where we had just been.

At this stage we were getting rather peckish, so we made our way back into the old town and found somewhere outside to eat. Here we ran into a young German girl and her friend, who had just got back from a working holiday in Perth, Pemberton and Broome. Small world.

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After a big day, we hopped on the metro, looking forward to getting back to the boat and crashing. The trip back on the metro was fine, but we needed to cross a bridge back to the marina – and that bridge was upright, letting two container ships pass under. Bummer – added another half an hour to two tired gents.

And on top of that, we also had an early morning start as we were religiously sticking to our 2pm rule.

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Off to Portugal

Well – the complaints are mounting up and people are probably starting to think I’m having too good a time to put finger to keyboard.

So to put this chatter to rest I better get on and write a few blog updates.

As you recall from my last entry, we’d had a big night in Bayona and I’d suggested that a recovery day may be in order. But…

When I said no way, I didn’t count on Allan waking me up with some nonsense about a beautiful morning to go South. I tried to ignore Al – but you’ve got to give it to him, he’s persistent. So with the birds tweeting and the Sun Shining, we motored out in next to no wind and pointed our nose towards Portugal. Our destination was Viana Do Castelo, 30nm south.DSC_0743

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

We made it to Viana do Castelo about 12 and tied up to the collector jetty outside the swing bridge that needs to be opened to get in and out of the marina. We were met by a rally friendly marina guy, who immediately apologised for not coming to collect our lines.

He said we could stay there on the collector jetty and suggested we should stay two nights. He also charged us for the price of a monohull – no 50% uplift. The place looked rather nice so we took him up on his offer.

New country – new set of SIM cards so off we went in search of a telco store. It was Sunday and for a while there we thought everything was shut on a Sunday.

Finally we found the local shopping centre where it seamed everyone from Viana had gone for the day and we got what we wanted. That night we had what we thought was a good attempt to find the local nightlife. It was a bit of a shock to the system to go from Spain, where you just had to walk around a corner to find a bar going off – to Portugal where the highlight seemed to be two little old ladies getting slightly animated on a cup of tea and a portuguese tart.

But not to be deterred, we tried again the next night for pretty much the same result, beside consulting Google and Al asking the local hairdresser. Yes, following on with the tradition started by Ooroo, both Al and I had our hair cut. I found two 70-year-old (male) hairdressers in a very traditional old saloon – Al went for a slightly more modern approach, complete with head massage.

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Its funny, but when you get to Portugal everything changes. For a start, all the way around France and Spain the water is deep a short way off the coast, but now when you look at the electronic charts you see lots of shallow bits miles off shore – no more than 20-30m deep for a long way out.

And the people are different – a lot more reserved than the Spanish who are a little bit out there. The portuguese generally speak pretty good English and are happy to do so, so that was nice. On the downside, the nightlife drops away – the late opening Tapas bars being replaced by sedate cafes.

Viana do Castela turned out to be a real find. In its hey day, back in the days when the Portuguese were ruling the waves, it built some truly magnificent buildings, in a very classical Portuguese style, again quite different to the Spanish architecture just 30nm to the north.

And then there was the magnificent church at the top of the hill. Inspired by the Sacre Couer in Paris,this church was built in the 1800s way up above the town, with views up and down the coast. Monday was the day the venicular railway was closed so we had some enforced exercise going up all those stairs.

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The next morning we were up early (but not that early) as Portuguese time is an hour behind Spains, and off towards Porto.