Captains Blog 13 “Fishing” Potty for Portugal

He was a dashing Doctor with a shock of curly white hair and an uncontrollable desire to sail the seven seas and she was the blonde bombshell property guru with a shared sense of adventure and an infectious laugh. Together they were Hans and Katrin.

We’d meet them briefly in A Coruna (♫ Hey A Coruna ♫), when Katrin had informed me that a Swedish couple had visited our boat earlier that day (my suspicions were that the Swedish Secret Service were up to their old tricks!). Anyway, here they were in Porto. We chatted briefly, exchanging pleasantries and in an instant they were off to their next destination.

We had planned to move fairly quickly down the Portuguese coast, as the nights were drawing in and there was an increasing chance of a storm disrupting plans, so it was with a tinge of regret that we headed out of Porto so quickly.

Our next destination was Figueira da Foz, 68 nautical miles away. All went well until we rounded the final headland and were hit with building winds. We had to take down the main sail and furl the genoa pretty rapidly and in the process ended up with a sack of #@!t hanging from the forestay. We managed to sort it eventually and arrived in the marina, mooring next to Esmerelda, the boat belonging to Hans and Katrin. We nodded and exchanged pleasantries before getting settled for the night. The next day we were off exploring our new surroundings. We met Geoff working on his old diesel “fishing” type boat. He was a Midlander who’d ended up working on oil rigs and had never really escaped from the water, then Jean, the proud owner of a fine 42’ Sun Odyssey, who delivered us a large bag of green figs from her garden.

That evening we met Hans and Katrin together with Hans’s son and his girlfriend. We nodded, exchanged pleasantries and were about to move off when they invited us to join them for a drink. A great night was had with a thoroughly lovely bunch of people. A shame they’d be leaving the next day to continue their voyage.

No sooner had Esmerelda departed when Nike arrived at the visitor pontoon. Erling and Karin, the Swedish secret service were still in pursuit and in true chase fashion arrived a few hours before we’d depart.

Next stop was Nazaré, a marina and yacht club located immediately adjacent to the fishing boat dock. This led to an overwhelmingly fishy odour pervading the marina area but thankfully we’d given ourselves some space by opting to moor at the yacht club. That night I trotted off for a shower and was half way through when a woman walked in with her son, who needed the loo. She didn’t bat an eyelid at the fine example of naked British masculinity tubby, nude bloke confronting her and simply guided her son through the process of urinating into the bowl in an attempt to stop it going all over the floor. Really madam, standards!! I ensured that as I passed them on my way back to the boat, now fully clothed, I harrumphed and shock my head in dismay accordingly, while throwing in the occasional tut.

Time to move on to a less fishy, more dignity friendly place, Peniche. Now I thought there were a lot of fishing boats in Nazaré but this place took the biscuit. Even before we’d got into the harbour we’d had to negotiate the fishing boat slalom, a black route replicated from the fishing boating Olympics 2008. It took all the courage and skill the first mate and I could muster to reach the sanctuary of the harbour. The visitor mooring is alongside a single long pontoon which forms the enclosure to the marina and is subject to a major tsunami each time a fishing boat passes by. As mentioned, there are a lot of them.

We moored immediately in front of Esmerelda!! Yes we were back with Hans and Katrin, who’d picked up a new crew member. We nodded and exchanged pleasantries in the usual fashion, before having a catch up. But where were the Swedish secret service? No sign, perhaps we’d given them the slip.

The comfort of the mooring was a major factor in the decision to depart the next day, so we were off again. The choice was to go into Lisbon itself or Cascais close by, from where we’d be able to get one of the trains that ran every 20 minutes.

Cascais won out and we had the usual combined motor/sail to get there. We hadn’t banked on there being a major sailing event, together with an iron man race over the course of the weekend so were very lucky to secure a mooring. The marina visitor pontoon was completely full so we tied up inside and went back to the reception to book in. Our allocated birth was at the other end of the marina and after we’d had a good chat with Thord, who’d moored in front of us the evening before in Peniche, we motored around to our spot. It was a tight one, which we overshot initially. No problem, I’d reverse out and come in again. Nope, I kept trying to reverse but she just shuddered horribly and started drifting uncontrollably across the berth. Thankfully a group of British Marines on a boat called Osprey saw what was happening and came to our rescue. They were absolute stars and gave us a hand to move her to her proper location using just ropes and the marina rib.

The next morning I sucked my belly in and, remarkably! managed to get the wet suit on before diving beneath to cut away the fishing pot rope that had become tangled around the propeller and shaft, causing the problems the previous day. It’s a strange thing diving under a 37’ sailing boat. You know that you can hold your breath for a fairly long time, but when access to the surface is blocked by a hull you only seem able to manage a few seconds.

Cascais was a cracking place to explore, with plenty to do. The day we decided to head to Lisbon we discovered there was a rail strike but only after we’d purchased our ticket! We could use the ticket the next day so came up with the devious plan of heading to Decathlon just around the corner. We arrived a sweaty, 3.5 miles later and the first mate decided she wanted a bike to free wheel down the huge hill we’d had to walk up to get there. After deciding folding bikes were the order of the day they were duly purchased and we were off.

We had a cracking day in Lisbon the following day. We took a tuk-tuk! with the very knowledgeable and entertaining Pedro, who was working towards his law degree using the proceeds earned from the tuk-tuk he’d purchased earlier in the year. As with all capitals cities there was plenty going on and plenty to see so it didn’t disappoint. A full and exhausting day with the most magnificent sunset finished things brilliantly.

The Swedish secret service arrived in Cascais the very next day. We were chuffed to see them arrive safely and didn’t even give them 30 mins before we’d invaded their boat and were sharing a beer.

The last stage of our journey to Lagos, our winter home, was 130 nautical miles away. We’d decided to do it in one, so an overnighter would be required. We set off at lunchtime the following day, so we could negotiate the fishing pot slalom in daylight before getting 25 miles offshore through the hours of darkness. At around 11pm, the first mate got her head down. It wasn’t long before we were joined by a pod of dolphins. They’d obviously come just to see me and it was nothing to do with the huge shoal of fish behind the boat.

I didn’t sleep that night and I’m not sure the first mate did either, but it wasn’t too long before the first hint of daylight appeared and we were closing in on Cabo de São Vincente.

Once we rounded the headland we’d have around 15 nautical miles before reaching Lagos. Until this point all had gone well as we’d motor sailed merrily along. I’d not anticipated the swell or wind that hit us as we came around.

Big swell and big wind! At this rate it would take us 6 hours to complete the journey. We’d been cruising at 5/5.5 knots until now but had dropped to 2.5. No option, we’d have to tack away from our destination so we could make up some ground.

In true Gianti fashion we were slapping into big seas, soaking the foredeck and on occasion the crew. That said we were getting 6 to 7 knots. We tacked a few times before we ended up running almost parallel to the coast, which was looking more and more spectacular.

Eventually we closed in on the last bit of headland that would take us around to Lagos. There were lots of people on top of the rugged cliffs and we must have looked ridiculous as we were thrown around in the choppy confused swell. We saw only one other vessel out at this time.

The swell seemed huge powered by strong winds and I knew that I’d need to line up for access to the harbour entrance as we didn’t have the engine power to manoeuvre out of difficulty if we got it wrong. We lined up about 1Km out and headed closer to the harbour, carried in by the huge waves. At the point we entered the harbour, we were picked up by the last big wave and delivered into the harbour entrance at a speed of 11.2 knots, as recorded on our Navionics.

That was that. We’d reached Lagos safely and could now relax a little having completed 2071 nautical miles since leaving Swanwick marina back in March.

There are so many things that haven’t been said about our time in Portugal so far, but it is without doubt the most welcoming place we’ve visited to date and any country that has a radio station airing a full Joy Division concert, from the late 70’s/early 80’s without interruption, has to be a fine place indeed.

Next time, getting to know Lagos and our new neighbours, Captain Mac and Erling Larson go fishing and VIP guests surprise visit.

If you’ve not seen the first mates fine video, you can find it here:

Thank you and good day.

Captain Tarquin Horatio Mac


3 Replies to “Captains Blog 13 “Fishing” Potty for Portugal”

  1. Fantastic effort to the pair of you. It feels like the initial trepidation and lack of familiarity with the boat are ebbing away and that you’re settling nicely into life aboard.


  2. Sounds like you’re having a fantastic time. If you get bored at any point, we could always use some extra help at school. How does 90, 9 and 10 year olds sound? They’ll keep you young!!!!….. or drive you into an early grave!
    Proud of you both xxxx lots of love xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mmm, I’d love to Mrs Pollard, I’m just stacked out at the mo. Obviously I’ll let you know as soon I’m available! 😉 X


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