Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Will we ever leave Figuiera Da Foz???
Yes. We will.
Three weeks of constant weather disappointment, and we were itching to go. The rainy season was upon us and temperatures were dropping to 70 degrees and I was getting worried about being trapped in a pleasant cage. Great food and nice people, I could see us staying another year.
The Florida locals went out on their 38 foot Freedom sailboat with a goal of visiting the Madera islands, just four days journey. They came back with a broken main sail wishbone and tales of a very tough sea, having only made it two days out before turning around and limping back.
With the Bay Of Biscay caper so fresh in our minds, we worried that we might have a bumpy ride to Lisbon.
We did want to go to Lisbon, right?
Review the chart. We are at the middle point between Leixoes and Lisbon.
Finally, the weather looked good but it was late in October, we needed to make a real nautical statement, so we decided to make the two night passage to Portimao, bypassing Lisbon. We pulled the 'Beest over to the fishing fuel pier, got creosote and oil on the sides of the boat but we filled up with diesel and were underway by mid-afternoon.
So far, the winds were gentle from the North West, and we happily began motorsailing for maximum transit speeds, riding the swells and watching the ever present Siamese Dolphins.
Evening soon came and we began swapping out the helm duties, the Spousal Unit taking it from 2200-2400. She woke me up from a half sleep at midnight and I took my turn on the helm in the cool night. I think I was hallucinating by 0300, and I had her take the next hour. Generally, when it got like this I would snooze in the cockpit so I could be at the ready if anything happened. Not very comfortable but it made me feel useful.
When you are at the helm in the middle of the night, all you could see is the red LED lights on the compass, the red glow of the Garmin 45XL hand held GPS mounted on top of the instrument panel which consisted of three square indicaters.
The left indicater was a multi use indicater which I used for a True Compass and depth. The center indicater was a Raymarine Autohelm 4000 which showed a digital magnetic course, but I could only use the Autohelm in flat seas. Finally, the right hand multi-indicater was used for wind direction and speed.
The bow lights glowed red and green, but that was about all the light we emitted. Inside the boat, we had red lights near the deck so we could keep night vision. The coast had sporadic lights so it was easy to stay clear. We passed Lisbon at about 0430 with me back on the helm.
Traffic was the odd fishing boat, they were lit up like christmas trees so it was easy to remain clear.
About surise I passed control over and went below for a good snooze. I came back up about 0830 and took the helm. Breakfast smells began to waft outside and we shared hash and toast with coffee. Then the Spousal Unit went below for four hours while I let Otto-Helm drive us through the calm water. I liked when the Autohelm could steer and I looked forward to having the newfangled self steerer in operation after Rota Spain.
After lunch, we both were up and doing our normal chatting and patient watching of the weather. It started to get cloudy, but the winds were still fair and under 12 knots, out of the North West. About 1800, we started seeing the thunder storms ahead, and I knew we were going to get it but good. There was no port to duck in, so we continued towards Cape St Vincent. I tucked my head down at 2000 to get some rest before the evening fun started. But first I rolled up the head sail and reefed the main.
About 2300, I heard a quiet voice (Her ankles were beginning to hurt- sure sign of badness) I stiffly rose to take the helm as She Herself folded up to her smallest package under the dodger.
A brief memory of a film came to mind in the humid darkness, this;
I could hear that goofy, upbeat voice say, "Could be worse; Could be raining!"
The downpour started at full throttle. No pause between drops with a growing pitter patter of pennies from heaven for me; Nope!
Full. Florida. Pour.
With Thunder and lightning.
"Sorry". She said.
Meanwhile, I'm thinking about electricity, water, and metal steering wheels. So I'm looking like an idiot, balancing on my right foot and holding the wet, metal, conductive steering wheel in my right hand, hoping desperately that a great jolt of blue happiness doesn't pass through the propeller/motor interface and send all 5 gigavolts flying outta my butt!
A second later, only one hundred yards away; BOOOOOOOOM!
Rinse. Repeat. Rinse.
For the next two hours. I swear I shook like a little girl with every new stroke.
I casually glance at my loving wife, fetally curled under the awning, dry. She made apologetic motions.
It could be worse, indeed.
The fireworks stopped awith the rain, about 0200. We swapped duties and I curled up in the warm place up front and managed to get an hour worth of snooze.
Back at it about 0330, as we pass Cabo Sao Vicente and make our turn to the next waypoint, finally on the Southern part of Portugal in the Golfo De Cadiz, but more properly called the Algarve Coast of Portugal;
This photo is from http://www.algarve-portal.com/en/cities/sagres/OBJ/cabo_vicente/
The weather was no very quiet, and there seemed to be hundreds of seagulls just sitting in the water watching as we ghosted on by. Portimao was ahead, maybe five or six miles and it was looking like we had made better time than we thought! We would actually have to slow down in order to let the sun rise.
We were tired, but knowing that sleep was coming soon made us have to move just a little bit more careful, a bit more deliberately. I started making an approach to what I thought was the Portimao river, only to find I was actually heading to the beach! (Someone else did exactly that a couple days earlier...)
After a bit of prodding, we were able to see the opening in the cliffs and headed for the Municipal dock in the fishing town of Portimao. It is the same dock seen in the photo below.
The dock master told us we could only stay four nights, since cruisers were encouraged to go to the new marina at the Praia Da Rocha.
Where ever that was. The Cruising guide made no mention of this new marina development, so we were here and wanted to take a shower and catch some rest.
That was fine with the Dock Master, just be gone in four days.
We refilled with water and secured our stuff and went on a brief walkabout.
Click to embiggen the chart, you can see where we parked the Wildebeest in relation to everything else.
We had a good sleep and the next day we took a trip to the Praia Da Rocha; Beach of Rocks and Cliffs.
We saw the Marina, it was under construction and this is a recent pic;
We stopped by a cliffside restaurant for lunch (Eight bucks for both of us, with one drink included) The photo below is the picture taken by our waitress.
Here is another. I really wished that lunch could last forever, like Jimmy Buffett said in the song by the same title.
After lunch, we headed back to the marina and walked to the new development.
As we approached the gate, we saw our old friends from Brest, "Fair Rose of Sharon", from Denmark.
Actually, their Golden Retriever saw the Spousal Unit. Dog started the happy barking thing and sprinted down the dock at full throttle.
Animals LOVE She Who Will Be Obeyed. All of them. It's embarrassing.
We had a great afternoon swapping tales of the trip from Leixoes. "Fair Rose" spent the stormy two weeks stuck in Lisbon, at $60.00USD a night. Their bank account was very depleted, but they hoped to go home and get jobs for a bit before resuming the trip.
Bummer. But there was beer and wine to enjoy, and some wonderful dining to be had.
We returned to the boat in the wee hours, but despite the desire to move to the Praia Da Rocha marina, we decided we had better stay at the municipal Marina so that we could be back on the journey to Rota. Time was getting late!
The final night, we decided to not eat at a restaurant but check out hte chicken kitchen, "Cozinha".
There was a line outside the door, and English was not spoken or understood. This was a "locals only" place and it was worth the hour wait.
I had no idea that such heavenly grilled chicken existed! It was run by a Brazilian family headed up by a cigar smoking black lady who stood over a twelve foot wide wood grill wielding three foot tongs. She placed marinaded, split chickens (Split in the back, not the breast) that were flattened for cooking ease. We muscled our way to the counter and grabbed a tag. Numbers were called, and people paid. No ordering.
Pay = Receive.
Somebody who was helpful nudged us when our number was called. It was like standing in a Mosh Pit, and instead of Punk Rock we were there for dinner. It was smelling good.
We paid our four bucks and scurried back to the boat.
After eating such a wonderful meal, we felt remorse, because we only bought one chicken and we were leaving in the morning. Just one chicken. It's been ten years but we talk about that chicken to this day.
And the witchdoctor lady smoking a cigar who created such a spell.