Yacht Fathom - Setting off from England in May 2016 on a single-handed voyage somewhere a bit warmer

Viana do Castello

The Southwest Rias (Rias Bajas) and offlying Islands have been an amazing place to cruise and I am very happy I ended up visiting them. Would recommend to anyone wanting beautiful anchorages, pretty towns and of course some of the best seafood anywhere. Could have easily stayed longer but decided it was time to head south so on Friday departed Cangas for Viana do Castello in Portugal – a trip of around 40nm. Pleased to discover that on paying the mooring fees for both visits to Cangas I was only charged an average of 6 Euro a night so happy with that.

After exiting Cangas a nice 10 knot breeze pushed Fathom down Ria de Vigo towards the open sea and we made good initial progress with full main and headsail poled out (see selfie below). But the breeze soon died and the engine was required. For the next few hours as we headed south the wind occasionally increased to 10 knots at which point the engine was turned off and headsail poled out again but just as we started making decent progress under sail the wind would die. Quite frustrating as the strong northerly winds, known as the Portuguese tradewinds, should be blowing consistently at this time of year. One notable difference after crossing into Portuguese waters was the huge numbers of fishing buoys and markers. There were so many in fact that our track resembled a slalom as we headed down the coast. Important to keep a look out at all times and definitely not somewhere to sail at night. Ironically on the approach into Viana do Castello in the early evening the wind suddenly built to a good 20 knots out of nowhere and we weaved our way through a  flotilla of kitesurfers and windsurfers as we went up river.

It is not possible to anchor in the river but there is small marina behind a swing bridge about 1.5 miles from the harbour entrance. While waiting for the bridge to open the pilot book mentioned a waiting pontoon outside so I tied up alongside a large Norwegian yacht who it turned out were heading back home after a circumnavigation. Within seconds of tying up I had been invited aboard and it was nice to have a chat and couple of beers with them.

Viana do Costello gained its importance in the 15th century as one of the main ports from which Portuguese explorers set sail. In the 16th century it became famous for exporting ‘Port’ to the UK. Yesterday I walked around the pretty town of grey granite and white stucco houses and watched some traditional Portuguese dancing in the town square. In the evening took the funicular up to the temple which overlooks the town but was too late to go inside and up to the observation deck. Fantastic view looking down on the town nonetheless. On the way down a local told me there was a free music concert on the harbour front with an “excellent Portuguese performer”. I was intrigued so headed down there later on but was disappointed to discover the singer sounded like a Portuguese Peter Andre and after he started his own cringy version of Robbie Williams ‘Angels’ made a swift exit.

Heading south again tomorrow cross fingers for some breeze.

Posted on 17 Jul in: Logs 2016, Portugal (No Comments)

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