• Richard and Petra

Past the Porto to Lisbon and Trafalgar!

We sailed into the Douro river on a pleasant evening 11 hours after leaving Bayona and Spain .

After swapping the courtesy flags which we are are required to fly and a realisation that my online Spanish lessons would not be any help in Portugal, we set off to explore Porto and learn about Port wine.

Churchills was first on the agenda as it was included in our marina fee! It would be churlish not to!

We also saw some of the nine million litres of port stored in the Sandeman cellar!

We were feeling a bit peckish so the Cockburn ‘s tour and tasting was paired cheese!

By day 2 of cellar tours and tastings some of us couldn’t take the pace and found the tasting room at Graham’s just too comfy!

We also enjoyed visiting the city of Porto and found it is a city of contradictions, some ultra modern buildings scattered within narrow Streets and tall balconied buildings, huge ancient cathedrals , churches and convents. Situated on the side of a gorge, we were able to get our exercise walking 3 km from the marina and then up and down some steep steps, hills and towers!

We left the Douro early morning in thick fog, ( not alcohol Induced!) and headed south to Lisbon. Here we hopped on a local train into the city and then did a tourist bus trip around. An excellent way to visit a city when short of time.

The tour reminded us that the Portuguese were great voyagers and reputedly discovered and linked the continents of India, Africa and South America.

There is also a huge bridge like the Golden Gate and a statue of Christ, similar to that in Rio. Rio being where Portugal was ruled from at one time, after their Royal family escaped from Napoleonic invasion!

Setting sail directly after our day trip allowed us to round Cape St Vicente 110 miles away on the south west corner of Portugal in daylight.

The Portuguese Atlantic coast has several headlands which cause wind acceleration and can kick up big seas!

We set off with Northerly Force 4 winds and decided get some practice flying the spinnaker sail with just the two of us. This Is a huge powerful sail flown with 4 ropes and a pole to hold it out, so it is difficult to manage short handed.

Sensibly, we were discussing safe use and maximum wind speed we could cope with when ironically and frighteningly we found out! The boat broached side on into big seas, the boom was in the water and we were hanging on, with Richard up to his waist on the down wind side deck hauling the sail in as I was trying to de -power the straining ropes at an angle of 75 degrees from the cockpit! Once we we got sorted out with the boat sailing along nicely again we had a fabulous rich sunset and the rest of our Atlantic coast sail was glorious, illuminated by a dome of stars plus shooting stars and a new moon.

Early in the morning we rounded the Sw Cape.

The sea area here is called Trafalgar after a famous battle was fought off this Cape in 1805. More interestingly, we saw a whale breach several times, but not close enough to film. This exuberant display of joy and huge splashes cannot fail to make me smile and laugh at the sheer improbability of an enormous animal launching itself skyward! What a brilliant welcome to the Algarve, reinforced shortly afterwards by a pod of dolphins leaping and splashing around us.

Once we had closed with the shore and the sun was becoming higher we realised that it is so much hotter here. The shoreside flora looks very different, and the dry hot air is laden with an aromatic smell reminiscent of the Mediterranean. We had sailed down in long trousers and fleeces, coats and hats! They were rapidly discarded and Richard decided to cool off by having a tow behind the boat. The water is also a lot warmer here.

Who would have thought that rounding Cape St Vincente would change so much?

We have anchored in the lagoon off Culatra island, Faro behind us.

Now we have a couple of days boat maintenance and preparation ready for guests who are joining us on Saturday in Vilamoura for a cruise of The Algarve.

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