Our Journey on Voila…..so far

Our Journey on Voila to date

How we got to where we are….From leaving La Rochelle in April last year until arriving here in the Leeward Islands some 15,000nm later. Thanks to Romain Crozon, Alsino Ferreira , Jimmy Mathys, Maud Wierinckx, Tim Sandford , Barbara Groff, Joe Russo, Ken Robertson Jenny Thomas , Ann Clarke, Ian Clarke Annie Gardner, Eric Witte, Peter Yin, Penny Nash, Dale Rynvis and Irene Klemm for helping us on the various passages to get here.

Its a Wrap

Now that we are reduced to watching sailing videos on Youtube, Delos pointed out that there are 50 people who called Delos home; and that got me thinking about how many people stayed on board La Mischief during her time on the high seas.

So I started to count them up….

  • 2013 (Sables D’Olonne to Marmaris, Turkey)

Countries/Islands Visited: France; Spain; Gibraltar; Balearic Islands, Croatia, Italy, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Turkey

Total On Board: 16

  • 2014 (Marmaris to Leros)

Countries Visited: Greece, Turkey

Total On Board: 14 (New 11)

  • 2015 (Leros to Cyprus)

Countries Visited: Greece Turkey Cyprus (South and north)

Total Persons on Board : 11 (New 9)

  • 2016 (Cyprus to Barbados)

Countries/Islands Visited:Cyprus, Turkey, Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia, Italy, Sardinia, Corsica, Balearics, Spanish Morocco, Gibraltar, Canaries, Cape Verdes, Atlantic Crossing, Barbados

Total People on Board: 16 (new 9)

  • 2017 Barbados to Florida

Countries/Islands Visited: Barbados, Martinique, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Antigua, Monserrat, Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, St Martin, St Barts, St Eustatius, St Martin, Saba, St Barts, Anguilla, BVIs, Bermuda, USA (Newport, RI to Maine to Florida)

Total People on Board: 16 (New 9)

  • 2018 (Florida to Colombia)

Countries/Islands Visited: USA, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Culebra, USVI, BVI, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, St Lucia, Bequia, Mustique, Mayreau, Tobago Keys, Union Island, Petit St Vincent, Carriacou, Grenada, Tobago, Guyana, Trinidad, Bonaire, Curracao, Aruba, Columbia.

Total People on Board : 13 (New 6)

  • 2019 (Colombia to Rio Dulce to Mexico)

Countries/Islands Visited: Colombia, San Blas Islands, Panama, Panama Canal, San Andres, Providencia, Guanaja, Roatan, Rio Dulce, Belize, Mexico

Total Persons On Board: 7 (New 2)

  • 2020 (Mexico to Florida)

Persons on Board : 3

Grand total 73

  • 34 Aussies
  • 22 US
  • 1 Slovenian
  • 3 Germans
  • 4 Canadians
  • 1 Polish
  • 1 Curacao
  • 1 Cypriot
  • 4 Poms
  • 1 Vietnamese
  • 1 Uruguayan
  • 1 kiwi

Racing into Harbour

We needed to drop by another Lagoon dealer called Oceancat in a place called Mazagon, so that we could pick up a plug for our emergency swim ladder that had been recalled. It was a bit far for a day sail so we settled on Cabo De Santa Maria, near Fago, about 40nm along the coast from Lagos.

The day started off well and we soon had our newly repaired geneker up, going along at 6 to 7 knots.With a few hours to go, the waves started to build so we made the decision to drop it. We were still going along at a good clip with the geneker out, but the wind instructs were starting to act strange. The True wind was only showing 7 kts and the apparant wind was down to 0. We were travelling along at 7 kts so that was pretty good. Only problem was there were white caps starting to appear and we eventually worked out that the wind instruments weren’t working.

As our 2pm rule had passed, we decided to err on the side of caution and put a couple of reefs in. As we went outside a large fish farm, we noticed we had company – another 40 cat had crept up behind us. As we got closer to shore where we had to head in through a breakwater and into a large estuary behind, we dropped our sails and turned on our motors. Our new found friend kept on sailing. It was a nasty entrance, with the tide rushing out of the estuary, against what was now a reasonably strong wind. With our two 75hp earning their keep, we were being tossed all around the place in the whirlpools that were forming near the entrance as it went from shallow water to a deep hole back to shallow. We were doing 7kts of speed but only 3kts over ground. Meanwhile our new found friend had his whole sail up and was flying in first behind then beside us through the narrow entrance. I was not all that impressed as I struggled to keep La Mischief going straight. As he sped past, I realised he only had small outboards and his only way in was to get enough speed up and sail in. I think he must have gone through here before.

Safely in the channel, we motored around to the anchorage, where we joined about 20 other yachts at anchor for the night. As we anchored, we noticed that our wind instruments had come back to life and were showing 40kts of wind – perhaps a voltage drop problem. Something else to add to the list.

See photo at: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=4666965845040&set=a.4666965365028.1073741849.1620379103&type=3&src=https%3A%2F%2Ffbcdn-sphotos-g-a.akamaihd.net%2Fhphotos-ak-frc3%2F468772_4666965845040_15290026_o.jpg&smallsrc=https%3A%2F%2Ffbcdn-sphotos-g-a.akamaihd.net%2Fhphotos-ak-prn2%2F983598_4666965845040_15290026_n.jpg&size=2048%2C1360

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 https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4625286363079.1073741846.1620379103&type=1&l=f0aca0b395

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 https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4625295803315.1073741847.1620379103&type=1&l=1fc657df84
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 https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4563768425169.1073741842.1620379103&type=1&l=b546638ec0

For Arrabidda photos see https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4612461722471.1073741843.1620379103&type=1&l=61de40b020

For Cascais photos see https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4563758024909.1073741841.1620379103&type=1&l=fa75d1958a

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.