Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Hopping down the coast - First stop Leixos

Leaving Baiona just after dawn in cold mist.
We had accomplished all we'd set out to do in Spain for this year. We said our good byes to the Lagos family and to Oscar Calero and Noelia at the MRCYB, leaving them a copy of the Spanish-English boater's dictionary by our friend Kathy Parsons.

Showers along the coast of Portugal.



The sails were in place and systems were go. Only thing that was stopping us was the lack of wind: <5 knots and variable. Oh well, our diesel tanks were full, and we do carry a lot of fuel. The distance from Baiona (Bayona in Spanish) to Leixoes (pronounced Lay-shows) in Portugal was 67 nm, an easy reach within the day. I had looked at distances to try to gauge how long it would take to get where we needed to be and how far we could get if we wanted to:
  • Baiona to Leixoes -- 67 nm
  • Leixoes to Cascais -- 165 nm
  • Cascais to Cadiz -- 245 nm
  • Cadiz to Gibralter -- 80 nm
Clearing up as the fog and mist lifted along the sandy coast.
We motored the entire way from Baiona to Leixoes, a huge commercial maritime port near Porto. The swell was large but consistent and gentle, not confused. At about 8 knots, we made good time in hazy sunshine. We hate motoring but sometimes it is necessary and good for the engine to have a workout. The AIS was working, thank goodness, and alerted us to ships in our vicinity. We sailed along the Portuguese EEZ national boundary and seemed to be just inside their shipping lane. We had to keep a sharp lookout for buoys, most of which had flags (often black or dark blue) which we assumed were markers for drift nets. As we approach Leixoes we exchanged the Spanish courtesy flag for the tiny Portuguese flag we had aboard from our last visit. 

Reading Donal Ryan's excellent new book.
We wouldn't be able to get into Porto itself as it is too shallow and the bar across the entrance would be treacherous for a boat with our draft of 8.5 feet, especially with the heavy swell today. We heard it was a nice ancient city and easily accessible by bus from Leixoes where bodegas serve up port made with centuries' old recipes. We departed at about 730 am and arrived in Leixoes about 4 pm. There were huge ships -- tankers, cargo vessels, cruise ships -- anchored awaiting their turn to come into port. For the first time, the voice on the radio of the harbourmaster and capitania del porto was female. Very nice and very efficient woman based in the marina office. Alas there was no room at the marina for us so we had to drop anchor. Always a good thing to check out before you need it. 

I drove Aleria to the anchorage while Alex prepared the anchor and windlass, which of course had not been used since last October. Do you sense a story coming on?  I said, "Ready!" Alex released the anchor and the chain stopped after a few feet. Jammed. Where's that 'anker wanker' when you need it?

Ships anchored off Leixoes near Porto
He tries to pull up the anchor with the windlass, but it won't turn on. He goes below to make sure it is turned on - it wasn't - but it still won't work. I drive in slow circles around the vast anchorage with ships going every which way while Alex goes below to deal with the chain first and the windlass second. No joy with the windlass. So he grabs a winch handle and manually winches the anchor back aboard. Always good to have back up systems. (We had electrical work done over the winter and we were assuming the electrician had disconnected the windlass and forgot to reconnect it.)

I drive back to the selected anchoring spot and Alex drops anchor again. This time the chain sings all the way to the bottom. I tug gently in reverse. We are set. The anchor is holding. We are secure. He lets out more rode and secures it. I tell Alex he will have to go to the office to check in anyway as we have arrived in a new country. He calls the Capitania and asks for permission to check in at our next port in Cascais if we are not going ashore. She tells him it is better if we check in here. So into the dinghy we load ourselves and our papers and to the marina we go. There's a queue of masters checking in ahead of us. The young guy asks the next in line, "Are you from the 17m yacht anchored outside?" "No, we are," Alex and I both answer. I expect him to admonish us for anchoring in a no anchoring zone, but he says nothing. Later they tell Alex, people often anchor out there. 
What showed on AIS around us.

We walk the town, aside from these spectacular flowering trees there is nothing there. A few bars are closed, one uninviting one is open. There's a tiny fort and a bus stop. That's it. We decide Porto can wait and go back aboard for cocktails. Yes, much better. We'll have a good night's rest and then carry on for our overnight sail to Cascais. 

Alex decides to work on the windlass so we can pull the anchor up in the morning, he steps on the on switch, and it works. Job done. Good night all. 


Approach to the inner harbour

Interesting cruise ship terminal

The fishing section

The container section (see cars on the top - strange)

Cruise ship at the terminal

Tankers on the wall

Oil tanks on shore

Second cruise ship maneuvered into the docks
Marina very full. 

Nice marina but where do they sail? 

The office.

The tiny fort.

Bars are still closed.

One pub was open. Not much to do here.

Lovely trees in bloom

Amazing red blossoms covered the trees. What is it?

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