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Palm Trees and Blue Skies

written by Terysa August 7, 2015

Oh dear, I’m getting very slack aren’t I? I’ve left you hanging for a whole week and a half between blogs. How on earth are you coping?!

Right, let’s get you up to speed. Nazaré was awesome, but after 12 days there we decided the time had come to move south. Nick and I had spent much of our time eating fish and seafood in Nazaré or surfing down the beach, which was really quite idyllic, but nothing lasts forever, and we picked Sunday as our leaving date.

Motorsailing to Peniche- before it all went wrong.

Motorsailing to Peniche- before it all went wrong.

It was a beautiful day: blue skies, light winds, pleasantly warm. We were enjoying our 25 mile sail south, anticipating our arrival in Peniche, when two things happened at once. First, a fishing net got caught in our propeller. This is the first time this has happened, although it’s certainly not an uncommon occurrence amongst yachts in this part of the world. We had met another couple who had had the same problem, and were only able to make 2 knots as they made their way towards the nearest harbour. Luckily, it didn’t seem to effect our speed at all, and we were still doing about 5 knots. We managed to cut a big clump off as we were underway, but that didn’t actually effect the section of the net still caught up in the prop. We decided to wait until we got into Peniche until making any further attempts to remove it. Not that we had much of a choice.

The second event occurred only minutes later. Suddenly, all our electrics turned themselves off. Chart plotter, our log/depth/wind displays, everything. We did the whole ‘turn off, then back on’ trick, which worked for a few minutes, before they all shut themselves down again. After much troubleshooting, we determined that, if we turned our chart plotter off, everything else would function happily on it’s own. By turning the chart plotter on, it would all crash again. So, we finally had use for Nick’s chart plotter app on his iPad, which we used to navigate into Peniche harbour.

We had been warned about Peniche marina, and we interested to see how we’d get on with it. Peniche harbour is huge, and contains not only pontoons for yachts, but also for tourist boats going to neighbouring islands, and the fishing fleet. Visiting yachts are to moor on the outside of the small marina’s hammerhead, which means there is absolutely no protection from the wash of passing boats- of which there were many, often travelling at speed. Tourist boats during the day, fishing boats at night. Thankfully, as it happened, there were only a few fishing boats that passed by us overnight, causing minimal discomfort. More problematic was the thumping music until 2am, which concluded with a long firework display right over the marina.

So, once we were tied up (a hairy moment occurred when Nick, trying to avoid the boat in front, had to put the engine into reverse, causing the net to become even more entangled in the propeller, at which point we lost drive completely- luckily, we were only metres from the pontoon, and were able to glide in and tie up with the help of a friendly Dutchman dressed in nothing but his underpants), we had an afternoon of problem solving. First, the electronics. Nick, after spending a couple of hours testing individual instruments and systems, finally announced that everything seemed to be working just fine again. How mysterious.

Then Nick donned his wetsuit and, as I watched on trying to be helpful without actually doing anything, jumped in the water to hack the net away from the prop. Again, things went our way, and it came away without any major dramas. After much pondering and scouring the internet, Nick’s concluded that somehow the net becoming caught in the prop caused our electronics to crash. All we know is that everything seems to be working again, saving us considerable money and hassle, for which we’re extremely thankful.

Haven't had a photo for a few paragraphs, so here's one of Nick looking relaxed and happy!

Haven’t had a photo for a few paragraphs, so here’s one of Nick looking relaxed and happy!

So, the next day we made our way to Cascais (pronounced with a Sean Connery accent, in case you were wondering). Again, the marina’s reputation preceded it, this time for even less desirable reasons: it is exceptionally expensive. By Portugese standards, of course. But, to give you some context, Nazaré marina worked out to be €20 per night for 12 nights. Cascais marina was €45 per night. For that we got a free bottle of wine, a couple of guys waiting for us at our pontoon ready to take our lines, fairly average showering facilities and slow wifi. Don’t ask me how they justify that cost.

Cascais marina at sunset

Cascais marina at sunset

However, one very happy event took place in Cascais: our friends Matt and Kaitlyn came out to meet us! For those really keen followers who have read last year’s posts as well, you might recall that Matt and Kaitlyn came out to France with us last summer. Well, since they behaved reasonably well and did almost all the dishes, we invited them back.

Cascais marina at night, looking toward the town.

Cascais marina at night, looking toward the town.

Cascais is a bit of an odd place. Like Porto, we felt like we should like it- but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to warm to it. It’s certainly a very attractive town with lots of well maintained public gardens and patterned cobbled streets lined with palm trees. There’s several small beaches along the seafront, and a beautiful anchorage. Unfortunately, there were also plenty of Irish pubs, overpriced restaurants with english names, and far too many actual English people (including one Mr Cameron, according to the BBC news- as good a reason as any to dislike the place, if it’s the chosen location for the PM’s summer holiday).

However, Cascais will have a place in our hearts forever on account of the huge hypermarket right in the centre of town, which is, sadly, quite exciting for Nick and I , since we’re usually forced to do our shopping in small mini-markets. Poor Matt and Kaitlyn were forced to spend the first morning of their holiday traipsing up and down the aisles after us, as we made excitable comments like, “Yes, coconut milk! Better get a couple of cartons” or “Terysa, they’ve got pimentos!” or “LIMES!” Then, “They’re selling trolleys for a tenner. Better get one.” It got a bit out of control for a while.

Sailing with our mates.

Sailing with our mates.

The next day we didn’t hang around. Off we went for the arduous 6 mile journey to Oeiras, just downriver. For we were now entering the River Tagus, which is where Lisbon is located. Oeiras is a town on its outskirts, and the only reason we were stopping there was because we get 50% off, and after feeling totally ripped off in Cascais, we felt the need for that smug satisfaction that comes with getting a hefty discount.

However, Oeiras is extremely appealing, as it turns out. The marina is far better appointed than Cascais and, even full price, is €10 less per night. Small and intimate, surrounded by a high breakwater, you feel safely sheltered from the rest of the world. The staff are incredibly warm and friendly, there is a shuttle service to Lisbon, Sintra and Cascais (and the bloke who owns the boat opposite reckons they might even give us a lift to the nearby hypermarket for free, but we’re yet to test that out), the marina itself has cafes and bars aplenty, there’s a swimming pool next door that we get free access to (we went to visit and it was all a bit mad, so maybe not, but it is school holidays), AND we get lovely fresh bread in the morning delivered to the boat. Plus the wifi speed is the fastest we’ve had since Nick’s parents’ house in London, so we’re streaming BBC Breakfast every morning with our coffee. Feels like old times!

Beach right next to the Oeiras marina.

Beach right next to the Oeiras marina.

There’s a small beach right next to the marina, separated from a larger beach by a fortification of some kind that we’re not allowed access to because it belongs to the military for some reason. Along both beachfronts is a plethora of bars and cafes, giving us plenty of dining options. We’ve spent quite a bit of time walking along the promenade, then recovering from the sun exposure in the shade with a beer and lunch. It’s been bloody warm, with barely a cloud in the sky since we rounded Peniche, a marked difference to the changeable weather in Nazaré and further north. The sudden presence of palm trees and oleanders indicate that this isn’t merely a bit of good luck- it’s clearly the norm. Luckily, once the sun dips below the horizon at night, it cools right down, allowing us to sleep comfortably.

Matt and Kaitlyn

Matt and Kaitlyn

Sadly, Matt and Kaitlyn had to leave us yesterday to head back to London. We’re definitely going to miss their company, but plans for them to meet us in the Caribbean are already in place, so hopefully we’ll see them again soon, this time drinking rum instead of sangria (yeah, I thought sangria was Spanish too, but it’s everywhere here, so we’re not going to turn it down, are we?).

So Nick and I have the weekend free to get the boat sorted before my sister arrives on Monday. I can’t promise another blog between now and then, but I’ll try not to leave it another week and a half. That would just be cruel.

Chilled evenings with our mates.

Chilled evenings with our mates.

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