Round the Cape to the Bottom of Portugal

We left Sines at the crack of dawn, which was quite a sight with the red light on the colourful fishing fleet. We had another big day ahead, wanting to get round Cabo De Sao Vincente and into the Algarve, on the south coast of Portugal.

It was another lovely sail down the coast with the winds and waves behind us. As we got near the cape the winds started to build. We had the geneker down by that stage and through in a couple of reefs.

It was an amazing transformation from the Alantic swells to the flat water of the Algarve. The wind picked up to 30kts and was were speeding along on a nice reach, a much better angle now we had turned the corner.

We decided we would strikeout for Lago, making it a long 75nm day, but we had had great winds all day and had made excellent progress.

As we neared Lagos, we could see a thunder storm developing in the distance. Stan suggested we drop some speed so we could time our arrival into Lagos after the storm had passed southwards.

As we got closer we dropped the main as the winds freshened. Remarkably the seas remained completely flat, but the wind kept climbing as we neared the storm. It peeked with a short gust at 77kts (a new record) but it felt like about 30.

That was its last hoorah as we passed safely to the north of it, missing all those nasty looking lightening bolts. We found out later one of the yachts in the marina was hit by lightening. Youch!

It was a nice motor into Lagos,past a spectacular coastline, soft sandstone chisled by the weather into grottos, honeycomb columns sticking out of the water, interspersed by nice looking beaches. Much of Lagos tourist trade involves boats taking hoards of people out swimming, kayaking and sightseeing amongst these formations.

We found the anchorage just off the beach and dropped the pick in 4m of water. What a lovely spot to anchor – the view once again spectacular.

We’d booked in with the sailmaker at Lagos (Fofo’s), recommended by Jorge, to tidy up our geneker that had taken a bit of a battering coming bck from Sesimbra. The geneker now gets put away religiously after each use. We packed up the geneker into its sail bag and popped it in the dingy, for the ride into town.

We tied up at the collector jetty and asked at the marina if we needed to check in with the authorities, which according to the cruising guide is a particular requirement for Portugal if you are a non-EU boat. But the guy at the marina office said it was not necessary. So there you go once again.

After dropping off the sail at the sailmaker, Stan andJudy took off for a mammoth 4 hour walk along the cliff tops, which they highly recommended. I stayed around town to do some chores. Everyone I ran into seemed to be from England. There were english living here, both in the marina and in town and plenty of english tourists. The pubs all sold Guiness and everyone at the phone shops and chanderlies spoke good english to cater for their clientele.
After lunch, we had a wander around town, picked up the sail and headed back to La Mischief.

Net morning, we headed out early in the dingy to do our own spot of Grotto touring. With cameras clicking, we leisuring weaved our way around, between and sometimes through the rocky formations.

Dingy tour over, it was time to up anchor and head East.

For photos see

Heading South Again

With mast fixed and working beautifully, and the weather fining up, off we headed to Sines, some 50nm away.

Stan and Judy were especially keen to get going, as they’d been on board for a while now,and they were looking forward to a bit of adventure on the high seas. Stan had also eaten Lisbon and Cascais out of food and was keen to try and eat his way through some more fishing towns further south. I’ve never seen someone eat so much (ok – I have but they were teenagers and don’t count). But he’s pretty active – a cycling nut – we now have two fold up bikes on board that Stand and Judy brought with them. And they hike whereever they can, so he does chew up a lot of calories. But still its good fun, ribbing him about it.

Our days on the ocean are pretty set with the weather now settled. We start off motoring, then we fly the geneker for a while, then the wind picks up in the afternoon, so down comes the geneker and out going the genoa. Then the wind picks up some more so we reef. Then we get there. Its all downwind sailing so pretty nice in a cat, even when its blowing hard.

Sines was a nice spot. We got a good anchorage off the beach inside the breakwater. The cruising guide said we needed to pay the marina 35% of the berthing fees to anchor, so we trotted off to the marina, only to get a strange look and told anchoring was free and no need to check in.

So off we went to explore the town. First stop was dinner (of course) and Stan had taken quite a liking to Sea Snails. I wasn’t so sure I wanted to sit at a table with Stan watching him eat sea snails but I endured. They must have been good because the restuarant did a roaring trade in take away sea snails (BYO tupperware container). Afterwards we had a wander around and visited the fort (that was closed) and the statue of Vasco De Gama, who was born here and left to discover the sailing route to India from Sines.

Not a bad spot to spend an afternoon.

For photos see
Continue reading “Heading South Again”

About Time that Slacker Did Another Blog!

Time for some more blog entries … well overdue…. got to stop being so busy exploring to actually sit down and write about it….

Cascais looked like a great place to send some time and we were a little disappointed to leave the next day on the incoming tide to head down the river towards Lisbon, where we would catch up with Seaway, the Lagoon agents and finally get our mast fixed.

The motor down the river is quite spectacular. It was a Sunday so half of Lisbon was out racing their yachts. Reminded me a bit of Sydney Harbour. We sailed past the Monument to the Discoveries and under the 25th April Bridge, which was designed by the same bridge guy that did San Francisco’s Golden Gate bridge and it shows. Another first for me – sailing into a nation’s capital city.

We pulled into the Doca de Alcantara, and were immediately unimpressed. The marina sits  behind a commercial dockyard; and between that and the noise from the April 25th bridge, it was noisy, dusty and very unappealing. Add to that the marina staff who really couldn’t be bothered and we felt like getting out of there quickly.

We wandered around Lisbon for the afternoon and then caught up with the Seaway guys the net morning, only to be told that Lagoon had only just shipped the parts and they would be there in two days time. Despite being the bearer of bad news, the Seaway guys were very good and very professional and I would recommend them to anyone with a Lagoon that wants anything done. I think they are fairly used to doing a lot of warranty work there as a lot of Lagoons travel past.

And they did have some good news in that Jorge, the shipwright lives in Cascais, so we were able to leave our horrible surroundings and go back to Cascais, where we anchored in the beautiful bay just around from the marina.

This is one of the best anchorages we’ve encountered, great protection from the north and right opposite some lovely swimming beaches. Lots of colour and movement to watch on a nice sunny day. On the days that it was not sunny (and very windy) it was also a great anchorage.

Wednesday came and so did the parts, but by this stage Jorge was busy on another boat and we had to wait to Saturday morning for Jorge to turn up, only to be told that the wrong mast track had been ordered for the top of the mast. It’s evidently different from the one lower down. Jorge also found a problem for the way Lagoon have attached the square top rig – the way they attached the line was highly suspect and Jorge went away to make us one that would last more than a couple of months. Something for all you square top rig owners to check. Jorge turned out to be a real find. He’d spent 14 years working for Beneteau and one of his jobs was setting up the mast and sails, so of all the places we could have picked to get this problem fixed, this turned out to be the best. And he lives in Cascais, which is a much better place to park a yacht than Lisbon itself (and with the train there is no need to sail down to Lisbon).

So with promises of parts being here early next week, we decided we would go off and check out Portinho de Arrabidda, which our sailing guide described as one of the most scenic anchorages in the whole of Portugal. We motored across the bay in little wind and managed to put up our geneker for some of the way before the wind changed on us.

Arrabidda is a national park and the way in is across some shallow sandbars. But its worth it as you come to this beautiful bay off a pretty amazing beach. The town isn’t much, just a couple of restaurants over the water, which made for a pleasant setting.

Although the cruising guide said anchorage, we found out we couldn’t and had to use one of the pink mooring balls, which are evidently supplied by the National Parks for visitors. They were day use only so we had to go round the corner and anchor up next to the cliffs, which to be honest wasn’t a bad option given their spectacularness.

After a couple of nights there we headed back towards Lisbon some 9nm and anchored off Sesimbra. The holding here wasn’t that good and we took a couple of goes to set the anchor. And even then, we 70m of chain out, it still didn’t set well as we found out when we got back after a day on shore and found we were a couple of hundred metres down wind of where we were when we left.

Sesimbra is a very pleasant holiday and fishing town with a very old castle perched high on a hill behind the town. And whenever there’s a castle high on a hill behind a town, Stan and Judy don their hiking shoes and head towards it. And it turned out to be a very interesting and scenic castle too – well worth the walk.

That night the wind picked up, but our reset anchor held firm. I bought a handheld GPS with an anchor alarm (not that easy to get) so now I don’t have to leave the instruments on draining the boat batteries – I just take my portable unit to bed.

Next morning started to head back to Cascais. We thought by following our 2pm rule, we would be okay, given all the weather forecasts said max of 25kts. It quickly picked up to 55kts and we had made the mistake of leaving the geneker up (furled but not put away in its locker). We had some fun as the top started to unfurl and we needed to get it down on the deck and away in very strong winds. Stan did a great job I have to say.

Not only were the winds strong, but they were coming directly from where we wanted to go. We had one of our 75hp motors going full pelt and a little bit of jib out doing 6kts through up and down seas. Unfortunately the fish traps were still there and the spray was horizontal, so out came the dive mask so I could pick up and dodge the fish nets.

Boy this is a strong boat.

Safely tucked up in Cascais, we worked out we would need to be there until Sunday, two weeks to the day since we hit Lisbon. Never mind, there are worse places to be holed up. Jorge told us the name of an excellent restaurant – Mar de Inferno –  which served the best seafood in Cascais, and a beautiful cliff top location to boot.  We also caught the train into Lisbon a coupe of times. We had a great night at a jazz bar followed by a restaurant with Fado singers and portuguese guitar, getting the second last train back to Cascais and falling into bed at 2am.

We also visited the Maritime Museum and saw some great street performers on a busy Sunday afternoon. To top off all the beautiful architecture, there are these cute little trams that zip up and down the narrow, hilly streets of Lisbon. Lisbon turned out to be a great city to hang out in.

Finally, with our mast fixed (thanks to Jorge), and the weather fining up, we pointed La Mischief south and set sail.

I’ve had some troubles synching Facbook with wordpress so I’ve decided on a new strategy. I will just put the one set of pictures on Facebook and provide a link (see below) for all you non-Facebook users to see the photos (even though they are stored in Facebook you can still follow the link and view them).

For Lisbon photos see

For Arrabidda photos see

For Cascais photos see