Monday, September 28, 2009

Anchored at the southwest corner of Europe

We haven't had Internet since Peniche a week ago, and there we had to take the laptops to the Java House to connect. The exception was a quick check for weather and e-mail in the marina office in Oerias. Sesimbra had a couple of wireless routers, but there was no Internet behind them. So, I apologize for the failure to post to the blog. This post is being sent over the single side band radio and Sailmail.

The big news is that we're finally heading east, or will be in the morning when we pull the anchor and head into Lagos. There I hope to be able to post all the photo pages that we've been working on since we didn't have Internet to distract us.

We did enjoy our time in Lisbon, but it was too short. We're considering visiting again in the early summer on our way to the Azores. All we did was take the double-decker tour bus on a couple of tours. Oh, and we sampled the local cherry liquor called ginjinha.

At Sines we were surprised to meet a couple of Americans, Phil of Deep Blue and Lee of Renegade. We knew that our raft-up partner from Horta last year, Per Mare, was at Sines, but the owner, Gerry, is in the U.K. until this weekend. His sailing partner, Magnus, was in Sines, though, and he introduced us to the Americans.

After a few beers in Solstice's cockpit, Phil took us on a provisioning run. When we got back to the boat, Phil's local friend Nuno was looking for him to go to dinner. They invited us to join them, and we accepted. Completing the dinner party were Nuno's wife, Marcia, and another friend, Miguel. (I've probably misspelled everyone's names, but I hope they'll forgive me.) It was such a treat to get to spend time with local people, and everyone was very gracious. Plus, we finally tried bacalhau, the salt cod that seems to be the Portuguese national dish. Since we wanted to try it anyway, the waitress (who spoke excellent English, by the way) suggested that we try two different preparations. (There are said to be thousands of ways to serve bacalhau.) Both were very tasty casseroles with rice. John's also had cream and was very rich. Marcia told us that we could take the leftovers home with us, and they'll be dinner tonight.

It was a long day today with no wind. There really aren't any places to stop between Sines and Cabo São Vicente, and it's 55 miles, so we started in the twilight before dawn and anchored just at sunset. Our average speed has been down to 4.5 knots, and there are currents along this coast, not always to our advantage. It's a beautiful anchorage nestled at the base of tall cliffs, one of which has an old fort on it. The anchorage is exposed to the south, so we would only want to be here in calm weather. Of course, if there had been wind, we could have gone faster and maybe made it to Lagos before dark.

After all our overnight passages, you may wonder why the dark is such a big deal now. It's because of the fishing floats that litter the coast here. I call them fish sticks because most of them have a stick poking up with a flag on it, but often the flag is so bedraggled that it just looks like a stick. The line from the floats usually goes straight to the bottom, but sometimes there's a second float to aid in retrieval. We don't want John to have to go swimming in the middle of the night to cut away a line tangled in our prop, so we travel in daylight to avoid incidents.

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