The day after I arrived in Cascais, Sunday before last, Claude turned up on his boat ‘Oui Oui’ having departed Madeira a few days earlier. After completing the Jester Challenge to the Azores he had then sailed to the Canaries and was on his way back north. Apparently the Jesters that reached the Azores, including several who had done the trip and solo transatlantic’s before, all agreed “Never Again!” A few (quite a few) beers were drunk and a couple of days later I left Fathom at anchor and sailed with Claude on his boat to Seixal. This is a very nice local place a few miles down river opposite Lisbon, where he will leave the boat for a month. I will likely take Fathom there for a few days soon. Must be careful with the pronunciation and spelling of this town for obvious reasons.
While Claude was still about Chris and Cath on ‘Harlekin,’ arrived in the anchorage. I was surprised to find out they all knew each other as it turned out Claude had purchased his boat from Island Harbour and spent some time there. So there we were, three boats from Island Harbour on the Isle of Wight all at anchor together in Portugal. Chris and Cath had some problems installing a replacement compass for their autohelm but four heads are better than two and we managed to get it working for them just in time to see the Tall Ships departing Lisbon.
One day I received a message from a friend of mine Charlie from uni who was on holiday just up the road. Charlie is a top Figaro sailor and aiming for the Vendee in 2020. Great to have an unexpected catch up with him a couple of days short of the 10th anniversary since graduation. Where has the decade gone.
The anchorage at Cascais has had a real cruising community feel about it. In addition to bumping into several boats I had met previously further north, last week I had a very nice evening and dinner with Norwegian couple Erik and Britt onboard their boat ‘Harry Z’. It has been particularly satisfying anchoring for free off the marina which is ridiculously expensive and has unhelpful staff and a general bad attitude. I know of other cruisers who were quoted 10 euros a day for permission to tie their dinghy in the marina while going ashore from the anchorage. I thankfully discovered the Naval Club on the edge of the marina which is very friendly and allowed me to tie up the dinghy for free and have free showers. Not only that they have a TV in the club which showed the Formula 1 and the Americas Cup series racing which was a bonus. The wind has really been blowing at times particularly in the early evenings though the anchorage is well protected from swell. Several days the wind has been in excess of 25 knots with gusts up to 35. I have a lot of faith in my Rocna anchor and touch wood have never dragged. Last night the wind was so strong the dinghy, which was tied astern, tried to do a back flip several times.
This area really has been a great place to spend time and nice to meet people from outside the sailing world too. New friends from places including Sweden, Norway, Germany and Italy. Days spent up the coast on the beach and nights out in Lisbon. Fun times.
This morning I eventually pulled up the hook and left the anchorage. Fathom has not travelled far, just five miles or so down the coast towards Lisbon, in a nice and friendly marina called Oeiras. I need to fill up the water tanks, do the laundry, exchange gas bottles etc. Some friends are still in Cascais so I will stay around this area a week or so longer. I want to explore Lisbon properly too. I am in no rush and current plan is to arrive in Porto Santo, Madeira, in early September. On entering the marina here at Oeiras earlier I was hailed by John and Jenny who I had met a few weeks back in Baiona. Within five minutes of tying up I had been invited aboard their boat for home made burgers and some red wine. How will I ever be able to return to the real world?!