Next Steps in Portugese

August 30, 2009

Nazare was an entertaining place to stay.  The port and marina are about a 25 minute walk away from the main town, which is a somewhat downmarket tourist destination.  To be fair, the marina is a match; that is somewhat downmarket too! 

The main entertainment in the marina is the English harbour master, Mike. I’d say that he’s just the wrong side of 70 and is full of advice and helpful comments.  We came alongside initially, made a competent job of it and were promptly asked how Rampage handled in reverse and then told to tuck ourselves into a berth at the top end of one of the pontoons.  That entailed reversing the boat about 75 metres with the wind doing its best to disrupt things.  Mike then proceed to offer helpful advice on how to tie Rampage up.  Ah well, at least we got a berth to ourselves only a short walk from the marina offices.

Nazare also demonstrated the Portuguese bureaucracy at its best.  Two examples; to book in the boat I had to visit the marina reception and the Guard National Republica and a chap from the immigration police came and visited the boat.  When J wanted to do a wash using the machine in the marina offices, she first had to visit the marina manager, who solemnly filled out a form, which she then took to another office which took her money off her and gave her a token (from a locked safe!)  She then completed the process by going back to the marina manager to produce the token and collect some washing powder.  Small wonder it cost €6.50 for a load, considering the employment generated by the process.

We had decided to make an overnight move to Lisbon as the trip would take about 14 hours.  We had planned to set off at about 5pm but things were knocked a little askew by the water pump.  The pump had been running by itself at odd times, probably as a result of some dirt in the mechanism.  To sort the problem out, I took the pump out and stripped it down.  Result; pump reassembled minus the dirt found in it but now it wouldn’t draw water up from the tanks.  Much head scratching, 3 strips and reassemblies and I eventually tested the pump to see if it was properly sealed; result, slight leakage of air, which indicated why the thing wasn’t able to lift water less than a metre from the tanks.  The bodge job conducted in the pump entailed araldite and the permanent joining of two bits meant to come apart.  It fixed the problem but I feel a new pump coming on.

All this was done against the clock, as we’d booked out of the marina and couldn’t face booking in again.  We eventually left about 1½ hours late with much advice from the harbour master on the best route to take.

(N.B. Those readers who are not of a nautical turn of mind will guess that the skipper wrote this blog as it now becomes mildly technical and very unJuliaish!)

The harbour itself was very well designed and absorbed all of the fairly significant Atlantic swell which we met on leaving the breakwater.  The swell was about 3 – 4 metres with a northerly force 4 blowing, so we got the sails up and headed south to our first turning point.  As darkness fell, the watch keeping system was started with David taking first turn, then me and finally J.

We kept shortening sail as the wind increased, eventually down to 2 reefs and on a broad reach just off the wind.  The first turn was made during my first watch.  The ideal course would have been due south but the sea and wind meant that we couldn’t come that far round, as keeping the boat under control with the wind dead astern would have been too difficult.  Instead, I headed south south west, as close to the wind as comfortable.  I had decided to gybe the boat on to a south south east course after about an hour and so on either side of our ideal course until we rounded the next headland into the Lisbon area.

The wind was such that we were doing 8 knots much of the time, a good speed for Rampage, so losing ground tacking didn’t worry me too much.  The more southerly course also meant that we were following the swell rather than crossing it, so the motion of the boat was much easier than before.  I handed over to J once we’d brought the boat onto the opposite tack; she woke me about an hour later to reverse the tack and the next thing I remember was David marking the chart with our progress 3 hours later!  He’d put a waypoint into the chart plotter and was tacking a mile either side of the resulting course.  Much neater than my hour or so but more work, as we seemed to need to gybe about once every 45 minutes.

The normal way to gybe a boat is to pull the mainsail into the centre of the boat, the helmsman then turns the back of the boat through the wind whilst the crew pulls the genoa (foresail) through to the opposite side of the boat.  The helm then steadies the boat on the new course, the crew trims the sails and re-rigs the preventer (a line to stop the boom making an unexpected trip across the boat – this can lead to holes in the skipper’s heads).  It is possible to do it yourself if you’re on a night watch.  Instead of the helmsman doing the work, the autopilot is told to move 60 degrees across the wind.  This happens in reasonably slow time, giving the person on watch time to bring the genoa across to the new tack.  Just means you have to it all yourself.  It certainly stops you getting bored at night.  J had never done this particular trick before, so I coached her through it for the first time.  Inevitably, by the time we came to do it, the wind died as we finished the turn….  Motor on and resume our course, putting the genoa away as we did so.

I then went to be bed and David took over from J later on.  I woke at about 10am to find David grinning from ear to ear.  He had hoped to get alongside in the marina without either of us waking up!  He’d got to within ½ mile before being joined by myself and J.

This port is not called Oeros but Oeiras and is quite the poshest marina we’ve visited so far.  All fairly new and up market but a good base for exploring Lisbon and surrounding are, which we intend to do over the next couple of days.  Watch this space for our opinions about the place, if we can ever find internet access that doesn’t cost an arm, a leg and half our bank balance…

PS – Sorry, no suitable pics for this entry.


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