Sunseeker Chapter 17

Sunseeker Chapter 17

With the formalities out of the way we longed to step ashore and with that in mind I pumped up the dinghy and fitted our tiny outboard motor while Rene put together a shore-going bag with bank cards and sunglasses and a shopping list. As we made our dinghy secure on a beach on the east side of the harbour we noticed the road signs and realised we were in yet another foreign land. We were becoming seasoned travellers! It was a long walk around the large, spread-out harbour but the sights and sounds and smells were well worth the effort. The waterfront is lined with colourful restaurants, each with its own barbecue grill loaded with sizzling sardines, their aroma enveloping the entire town.

Away from the harbourside the town is a labyrinth of narrow streets with grocery shops and homes and bakeries and small hotels crowding the almost non-existent pavements. People jostle each other as they make their way along from shop to shop, stepping off the pavement to be greeted with the staccato beep-beep of a dilapidated car’s horn. Wherever you wander, though, in this bustling little town, is the all pervasive smell of the grilling sardines carried along in the faintly visible blue smoke, mmm

We called in at the new supermarket on the road around to the beach where our dingy lay waiting. Fresh veg and newly-baked bread were among our purchases as we staggered, tired from lack of sleep over the previous two nights, back to the dinghy and over the water to Sunseeker. An early night was definitely in order and it wasn’t long before the groceries were stored away and we fell into our cosy cabin for a well deserved sleep.

It seemed like only a few minutes when we awoke, bleary-eyed to the sound of a very big engine very, very close. I looked out of our tiny porthole to see the massive bows of a large fishing boat towering above, only inches away from Sunseeker’s sides. As Rene rose from the depths of a deep sleep I rushed on deck and looked up into a sea of grinning faces gathered together high in the bows of our massive intruder. One of the Portuguese seamen spoke halting English and he hurriedly advised me to shorten our bow line attaching us to the huge mooring buoy. He told me that we were welcome to share their mooring but if we didn’t move forward, “My big boat will break your little boat!”. I hastily moved along our deck to follow his advice and it wasn’t until later that, to my embarrassment, I remembered that all I was wearing were a pair of underpants. Later, when the big engine was shut down all the fishermen, probably fourteen of them, piled into a launch and as it circled us they waved and grinned and shouted, “Cheow” and “Boa tarde”. Of course we waved back and laughed along with them. As the launch pulled away towards shore, taking our new-found friends home to wives and families for the weekend, we turned to each other and hugged and grinned feeling happy and content and welcome in this harbour.

The following Monday morning, bright and early, we were again woken as the fishing boat’s engine was fired up. I looked out of the porthole to watch the monster inching forward, again inches away from our sides. With a splash the fishing boat’s mooring buoy was dropped into the harbour waters and, ever so gently, they pulled away from us to head for the open sea and a day’s fishing. In the evening our friends returned and, just as carefully as before, they skilfully manoeuvred their craft to pick up the mooring and rest for the night.

We had enjoyed walks ashore and a little party aboard TinTin so that by Tuesday we and Sunseeker were ready to put to sea once more for the next leg. Just over forty miles would take us around the corner into the Rio Tejo (River Targus) and the anchorage at Cascais, there to mount our assault upon Lisboa.

With little, or no wind in the harbour I hoisted the mainsail more with a thought to steady the rolling motion than with any prospect of catching a wind outside. When all was ready Rene cast off our mooring buoy and we gently motored out through the long moles of Peniche; taking with us happy memories of another pleasant harbour. The first three or four miles along the coast were littered with tiny, open fishing boats, their single occupants long lining to keep the restaurants well stocked with seafood. After we cleared the maze of fishing boats I decided to try the autopilot again. It seemed to work fine until a large fishing boat passed us by making for Peniche. Our Sunseeker obviously took a fancy to this macho Portuguese boat because she did a ‘U’ turn to follow. I hastily disconnected the autopilot and brought Sunseeker back on course, spoiling her fun. A few miles further along we shut down the engine and rolled out the genoa to catch a gentle offshore breeze over the port quarter.

As we approached and rounded Cabo da Roca the wind increased dramatically and while I struggled to reduce sail Sunseeker screamed around at more than eight knots; truly a breathtaking speed for her. Once around and with the lighthouse behind us the wind and seas calmed again allowing me to take a photo of the lighthouse perched high atop this massive headland. We have learned to be wary of anything marked on a chart as a ‘Cape’. Some have been an anticlimax to round because of benign weather but we reckon that all are potential danger spots.

From here on in to Cascais the wind died away to next to nothing and after rounding another cape, this time Cabo Rasa, we ghosted along the northern shoreline of the mouth of the Rio Tejo enjoying a beautiful, early evening sail half a mile from the shore. We were treated to secret views of expensive homes nestling in orange groves in tiny clefts in the rocky shoreline. Almost within sight of our destination we looked back, over our shoulders to see way, way in the distance, silhouetted by the lowering sun, the schooner Breath, her topsail drawing steadily as she rounded Cabo Rasa for her run into Cascais.

We anchored well away from the shore opposite a modern hotel called the ‘Estoril Sol’. The sea was very calm and Sunseeker rose and fell to a lazy swell. If we thought we were to have a peaceful night in Cascais we were sadly disappointed because shortly after eleven o’clock an open air rock concert began in the grounds of a nearby hotel. Although the music was more than a mile away it sounded to us to be in our cockpit. The music continued all night but because we didn’t have to get up for work in the morning we were able to lie in after the musicians had all gone away.

End of Sunseeker Chapter 17

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