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

Archive for August, 2016

New friends and good times

Sorry for being slack at posting updates recently but the last month has absolutely flown by and Fathom and I have not ventured too far. The last few weeks have felt like a holiday within my voyage as a whole and it has been quite refreshing not to spend every moment thinking about boat jobs and the next destination. I have been lucky to meet some really amazing people and spend many happy days with new friends.

After temporarily leaving Cascais at the beginning of the month a couple of days were spent at Oeiras marina nearby where the water tanks were filled and the boat given a well needed wash.  Then back to the anchorage at Cascais where I ended up spending time with people both in and out of the sailing world. Natasha, Barbara and Nadja had hired a car for their three weeks of holiday in Portugal and it was great to hang out with them and visit some beaches up the coast by road which I wouldn’t have had the chance to see otherwise. We also made several trips into Lisbon both in the day and for nights out. Anyone wanting a good night out in Lisbon go to Pensão Amor!

Mid month I took the girls sailing south for a few days. We anchored off the beach at Sesimbra which is a nice town and then onto a brilliant anchorage off the beach at Arrabida where the water was so warm we swarm ashore. The wind then piped up for a couple of days and as I didn’t want to make the crew uncomfortable beating back north into 25 knot headwinds we pulled into Troia marina for a couple of nights. This marina is situated at the end of a peninsular which contains an amazing white sandy beach but is unfortunately also a tourist resort and not a place I would normally choose to spend time. At least having an Italian on board we had some great food. Once the wind had moderated we made our way back to the anchorage at Cascais.

This month I have visited several companies as a Shipbroking consultant on behalf of my previous employers which has worked well. I purposely brought one smart shirt with me which spends most of its life in a vacuum packed bag and only makes an appearance when I need to be extra smart. I had to reassure my ex colleagues back in the office that I had trimmed my beard and wasn’t looking too much like a salty old seadog.

Yesterday I arrived in Seixal across the river from Lisbon where I intend to spend about a week. It is a very quaint and interesting place and I will write about it and upload some photos in the next update. It was fun and games pulling up the anchor in Cascais when I left. The pilot book mentions much of the anchorage is foul and sure enough the windlass pulled up a lobster pot, huge bunch of fishing net and a large fishermans anchor all wrapped around my chain. Thanks to the Dutch guys from the boat next door for their assistance in getting it all free. Sadly there was no lobster in the pot.

It feels quiet now that my new friends have flown home and other boats I had been anchored next to for many days have moved on. I must adjust and revert back into the solo sailing mindset. The cruising community is small though and I will see familiar faces again further south. This week I intend to work through a list of boat jobs and get everything in order before departing on the 4 or 5 day sail to Porto Santo, Madeira. Claude is flying back here at the weekend to sail his boat back to the UK so I’ll have a beer with him before departing. Really looking forward to setting sail again and getting back out in the big ocean.

Posted on 23 Aug in: Portugal


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?!

Posted on 03 Aug in: Logs 2016, Portugal

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