We were undecided when we left Camarinas if we would head for Vigo, Porto, Peniche or indeed Lisbon. My desire to get us south as fast as possible meant my preference was Peniche with the beautiful islands of Belinga & its stunning beach or Lisbon a city which has it all. As we passed Finisterre, Nicky was in agreement that Vigo was not really an option & Porto is a beast to get into due to its lack of decent marina facilities & when she read that all the cities raw sewage runs out and into the sea & that crews had been known to get sick from handling ropes after being there we laid a course for the latter two. Although the weather had been over cast off Finisterre, this soon blew over & we were under blue skies & unfortunately little breeze. With the tanks full & another 100ltrs in gerry cans on the back, both Peniche & Lisbon were well within our range. We decided a watch system of Nicky taking the 7-12pm watch & my going down when the kids go to bed & then my taking 12 till morning watch. With us both being able to do the mornings together as the kids wake up, and my being able to catch up on sleep as the kids take their naps throughout the day. Although this is not really sustainable over a longer period for 2 days & 2 nights it is just feasible before fatigue becomes dangerous.
We had a good run down the coast with little shipping & fishing boats being either well inside or well out side of us. I experienced an phenomena i have never had in all my days sailing which happened on the first night out. In the black of night, suddenly all i could hear around me was the splashing of water, slight,y perturbed i switched on the high beam flash light to see hundreds if not thousands of fish jumping all around the boat. If i had had a net we'd be eating fish for the next month. Truely incredible... With the fish came the late night dolphins to keep me company on my watch. Always welcome guests to have jumping around the boat on a dark night.
The next day brought more dolphins by the pod load, and Audrey was beside herself with excitement as they came to play around, performing their acrobatic tricks.... All was going well except we have discovered what seems to be either one or more of the diesel tanks are leaking into the bilge or we have a fuel line which has split. Monitoring the situation we seem to be loosing around 4 litres every 5 or 6 hrs, although we cannot be sure as it is mixing with water in the bilge. But now being in port, it does appear to be an amount which needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. And i have earmarked time tomorrow to investigate. If it is indeed the seams in the stainless tanks, we may need to patch or replace the tanks. If it is one of the lines, which i hope it is, this may be a quicker, cheaper & less laborious problem to fix. Added to this on the afternoon of the second day, we were all sitting in the cock pit when we heard a clunk. Followed rapidly by the auto helm alarm going off, as it ran off position. Quickly diving underneath our bed i found the bolts on the heavy cast steel arm which connects the ruder to the hydraulic arm which steers the boat when the auto pilot is on had sheered clean off due to age & fatigue... Now there is a saying im German 'Glueck im Umglueck', which quite literally means 'luck in unlock', or perhaps blessing in disguise would be more correct. For not only were we over half way through our passage, but we were also in dead calm seas, as this now meant we lost our auto pilot & would be manually steering the boat till we got to Peniche or Lisbon. But more over like our gearbox this did not happen mid Biscay or Atlantic & can be addressed now. However. this would now add an additional burden as it totally takes one person out of the equation of looking after Audrey & Bertie. We took some time out, stopped the boat, went for a dip, had some lunch and did some maths. Based on these two new dimensions & the fact that we would run into Pencihe at 2am, which we could not vouch on their facilities for fixing the auto helm issue, decided the run for Lisbon instead, where not only we could take some time to relax but also get the boat bits we needed. We were lucky in that the wind had picked up a little and we were able to sail nicely round the back of Belinga and on, to Lisbon.
Coming down the final part of this part of the Portuguese coast can be interesting to say the least. You have a mine field of Lobster pots to contend with, which really is a case of luck rather than skill at night, and then a wall of fog which greets you as you come round Cabo Roca in the morning. We managed to come through both this tests fine, only to be hounded by a 735ft Moldovan Supertanker as we wanted to turn left up the river to Lisboa.... Needless to say we gave way grudgingly, and made our way to our chosen marina of Oeiras.
And what a cracking place it is, i would highly recommend this place to anybody & everybody. The Marina, offers access to an amazing swimming pool complex behind, which was our first port of call following a sea food lunch in the cafes beside the marina. The staff are on the ball and super friendly. The washing machines are good the wifi works, and we are 30mins by train from Lisbon town centre. So today we have been lapping up Lisbon. Aside from Barcelona this place rocks for me in Europe. The city is super cool with its cobbled streets, old yellow trams & totally delicious custard cakes. Nicky had not been here and is loving it, the people are super friendly, the sun is shining, its lovely & hot & now the beating (in miles anyway!) has ceased, moral of the crew has definitely improved. Audrey is being touched by all the locals as i don't think they have seen anybody so blond or curly in their lives & Bertie just smiles and all the girls seems to fall about themselves. I think we are finally in the hot sunny place we want to be. Next stop Largos & the Algarve, but for now a few more days of Lazy Lisbon......
boa noite Lisboa!