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First Steps in Portugese

August 27, 2009
Fishing boats at Sao Jacinto

Fishing boats at Sao Jacinto

… We had a fairly gentle day on the Monday after our return from UK in order to recover from the excesses of the weekend.  J & I walked across town to a supermarket and struggled back in the heat, weighed down with provisions for the next few days.

 

Rampage at anchor in Sao Jacinto

Rampage at anchor in Sao Jacinto

On Tuesday we set off at a civilized hour (9.30ish) and managed to sail nearly all the way to Aviero, the wind only dropping just as we arrived.

Waterfront at Aviero

Waterfront at Aviero

Reed’s Almanack told us that the city of Aviero was worth visiting – the Venice of Portugal with its many canals.  Accordingly we took the ferry from our anchorage in the little village of Sao Jacinto, across the estuary & caught the bus to the city.  We had a delicious meal of fresh sardines at a little restaurant but on the whole came to the conclusion that the worthies of Venice have no cause to lose sleep over their city’s potential rival! 

 

Gondolas Aviero style

Gondolas Aviero style

One of the interesting things we have observed in Portugal is their fondness for facing the outside of their buildings with coloured tiles.  Some also have a religious scene depicted in tile work, usually above the doorway.  In addition, quite a few of the pavements are covered in mosaic tiles, usually a pale creamy colour with symbols and pictures picked out in black stone.  Julia was particularly pleased to see pairs of seahorses decorating one of the bridges in Aviero.

 

Skipper hard at work deciding where to eat....

Skipper hard at work deciding where to eat....

We left Aviero at about 8.30pm to catch the ebbing tide out of the estuary and so to sea.  All went to plan except that there was still a current running into the estuary but nothing we couldn’t cope with.  The mainsail had been hoisted on leaving the anchorage as there seemed to be a bit of wind – not a bit of it.  As soon as we cleared the breakwater, what little puff there was disappeared and we wound up motoring the whole night long.

About 4 hours into the trip, the fog closed in round the boat and we were reduced to a radar watch.  It felt like the boat was in its own little bubble, as we couldn’t see much beyond our own lights for several hours.  At about 1am, the dolphins came to visit the boat.  At first, it was a touch worrying, as they disturbed the surface of the water without you being able to figure out what they were.  But fairly quickly, you could make out their phosphorescent wakes as they played their usual tricks of swimming alongside and under the boat.  The phosphorescence meant that you could see their tracks through the water, all sweeping curves and sudden turns.  Magic.

 

Dolphins off the port bow!

Dolphins off the port bow!

The fog lifted later in the day and by 0830, the land was in sight and the last headland before Nazare loomed up.  Just as the fog was going, the dolphins came back to play again.  There was a pod of about a dozen who came helter skelter out from the coast to join the boat; you could see them coming from about ½ a mile away as they came on an interception course to meet the boat.  They then merrily swam round the boat before forming up on the bow, forever changing position in the formation, breaking away and then coming back to join the fun again.  They stayed for about 20 minutes before dashing off to join another group who had found a shoal of fish which they had bunched up in a ball for feeding.

... and off the starboard as well.

... and off the starboard as well.

As we watched, more dolphins came from the surrounding area, swimming in to join the others in feeding from the shoal.  Seabirds wheeled overhead, hoping for the leftovers from feast going on below.  You know, I’ve often wondered about dolphins and just how intelligent they might be.  The more I see of them in the open sea, the more convinced I become of one fact; you don’t find dolphins, they find you.  If you’re not a threat to them they’ll come and visit you, playing the bow wave of the boat for as long as it takes their fancy.  Once they’re bored or there’s something else better to do, then they’re off about their own business.  I always feel privileged after they’ve been to visit and this time I got some photos to share the moment!

 

After that burst of philosophy, the marina of Nazare was a return to normality.  The marina is small and tucked into the southern end of a little fishing port which is sheltered by a small headland.  The town seems to be fairly ancient and we will explore it either today or tomorrow before we set out for Lisbon; David and Julia seem to be set on staying at a port called Oeros, which, given the way pronunciation seems to work round here, drops the leading O – hmmm!   (The skipper fails to mention that he was somewhat disappointed, whilst we were up in the Spanish Rias, not to have stayed in a little place intriguingly called Portosin! – Julia)  Seeing as Oeros, (or could it be Oreos?) is more than 70 miles from here, we’ll probably leave mid afternoon tomorrow (Friday 28th) and make an overnight passage so as to arrive in daylight hours on Saturday.

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