Portugal – Part 1

On September 9th we arrived at the Rio Douro, in PORTUGAL. We dropped the anchor in the river, just west of Marina Douro. It was a perfect spot, with good holding, calm water, very nice view and only a short dinghy ride to shore. We were very excited to be here and exploring Porto – the capital of Port Wine – was one of our highlights sailing down the Atlantic Coast of Europe.

Within the next couple of days a small fleet of Danish sailboats gathered here. Amongst them our good friends on “Cherie” – Bente and Peer – which left Denmark 3 weeks after us and had now caught up with us. Our old neighbors from Skive – Michael on “ANEMIS” also turned up. Such a strange and surreal feeling to meet people you know from home, such a long way from home. We were all living our dream.

The next couple of days we spent exploring wonderful Porto. Unlike in Spain, it was not obligatory to wear a facemask all the time – only in shops and on public transportation. The crew aboard “Papaya” arranged a tour and tasting on Calem – one of the big brands of Port wine. It was very interesting to learn more about Port, how it is made, the history and the different types. If you come to Porto, make sure to take a tour of one the many Port houses.

Porto is a very charismatic and beautiful city with old colorful houses, narrow streets, the river and the hilly landscape. It just has a special atmosphere that is difficult to explain. You just have to come here. It will definitely not be our last visit.

Besides sightseeing in the city we also had fun hanging out with the other Danish boats and made more sailing friends. But after 4 fantastic days it was time to move on. We left together with Cherie – hoping to meet some of the other Danish boats again further down the coast of Portugal.  

Along the Portuguese coast there are a lot of tide/currents, swell roll in from the Atlantic, and the waters are filled with fishing equipment – and not all very visible. Therefore we only sailed during the day, making our way down to Lisbon. All anchorages and marinas are located in rivers, of which there are several down the coast. Once you are in there you are very protected, but you have to time your arrival and departure according to the tides – which can be very strong.

We stopped in Rio Vouga and had a peaceful night at anchor tied up with Cherie. In the anchorage there was a wreck of a big racing trimaran. We went online to find out the story behind – turned out it had crashed a year ago during a race down the coast of Portugal. We went over in dinghy and on SUP to take a closer look.

Next stop was Marina Figuera da Foz. Unfortunately there was no anchorage here and we had to use the quite expensive marina. We had read on NO FOREIGNLAND that it should be possible to fill our 10 kg lightweight gas bottle here. We called a taxi to get us to the gas station. The driver took one look at the gas bottle and without any explanation he drove us to the nearest gas station. He clearly knew the procedure as the staff just gave him the key to the locker with bottles. He changes our bottle, we paid, and he drove us back to the marina. The whole thing took 10 minutes. FANTASTIC. We also found a small shop with diving equipment and Sebastian bought a weight belt and a neoprene hood.

Next morning we sailed out with the tide and down to Peniche where we anchored in a bay. It wasn’t the best spot, quite rolly during the night, but it was the only option. The next morning we got up just before sunrise and had quite a nerve wrecking start to the day.

But more about that in the next blog.