Moonlight Adventure

The story of our travels on board Moonlight, our Vancouver 36.


Wednesday 2nd September 2009

Posted by yachtmoonlight on September 3, 2009 at 10:38 AM

We both had a very restless night on our first night in Baiona marina, due to the unbelievably loud creaking of our mooring lines as the boat wobbled around in the swell that was coming into the bay. It became so bad, we moved into the back cabin in the middle of the night, which we don’t keep made up for such events and is usually used for storage, so this was more difficult than it sounds. We emptied the contents of the back cabin and made up the bed, resulting in us having to do an ‘Krypton Factor’ style assault course over spare pillows, a duvet, three rucksacks, a bag of smelly washing (with John’s socks fighting to escape), my dinghy buoyancy aid (used only when returning to the boat at night after drinks due to the high probability of me falling in) and a multitude of cockpit cushions to get out of the cabin in the morning.


(Baiona marina)


After re-organising the boat into some kind of order (i.e. shovelling everything into the forepeak), we popped to the supermarket in town to stock up on groceries. This was quite stressful as the supermarket was very small with narrow aisles and all the older women shopping there barged around, elbowing anyone standing in their way into the nearest freezer. They also shout. A lot. They shout at the shop assistants, at their children, at other people’s children, at each other, at teabags, cheese and vegetables, and anything or anyone else they encounter. The tills are a particular focus for shouting as they seem incensed that other people have got to the tills before them and resolve this by elbowing their way to the front.

After returning to the boat a little shell-shocked, we spent a quiet afternoon catching up on internetty stuff with the free wifi in the marina and giving our ears a rest.


In the morning, we braved the shops in town again, but this time the normal and touristy shops to buy more raspberry chocolate and to continue our search for some birthday gifts for friends and my brother. We were partially successful, but obviously I can’t divulge any details here in case any of the recipients read this, which would spoil the surprise somewhat.

In the afternoon, John was playing quite happily with his drill (drilling holes in the boat, I didn’t really ask why, but it kept him amused) while I decided to mend a cushion we had bought on a previous trip to Paris and which had exploded from over-stuffage and broken it’s zip. For some strange reason I had decided to wear a dress that day and as I sewed up the cushion I became acutely aware that I was in serious danger of turning into a girly girl. It starts with an innocent summer dress and a spot of sewing and before you know it, I’d be co-ordinating shoes and handbags and painting my toenails pink. I made a mental note to wear my jeans and drink beer straight from the can the next day to make up for it.


(Ann being a girly girl and sewing in a dress!)


It was a very hot day, so we waited for the afternoon to cool down (to about 25 degrees!) before heading out for a walk along the castle ramparts, which was fabulous. You can walk all the way around on top of the walls with stunning views over Baiona and out to sea.


(View from the ramparts)


Back on the boat in the evening, John made eggy splat for dinner, with some local goats cheese melted on the top under the grill. It was quite possibly the finest eggy splat I have ever eaten. (I have always referred to omelettes as eggy splat since I once visited my brother many years ago not long after he had bought his first house. Tony’s culinary skills at this time went as far as toast and marmite or cream crackers with chocolate spread on (I’m not joking – I once visited him when he was at uni to find him living entirely on chocolate muffins), so when he offered to make me something to eat I was a little nervous. He said he could try and make me an omelette but although they usually taste ok, he could never get them to stick together, they always came out as an eggy splat. So I braved the ‘omelette’ and nice as it was, it was indeed very splatty (and eggy). Tony is now a fabulous cook by the way!).


John woke me up in the middle of the night to say he couldn’t sleep due to the noise created by water slapping against the hull, so we went through a reverse of the events a couple of nights previously, dragging everything out of the forepeak and making up the bed in there, recreating the Krypton Factor assault course while trying to stop John’s socks from escaping out of the boat and running away.

We had a quiet day doing jobs on the boat, I tidied up the assault course and the clothes locker as it was exploding every time it was opened, while John did some very clever nerding and converted some films to a different format so I could watch them on my ipod before setting up Skype so he could make free phone calls to his daughters. Unfortunately the wifi connection in the marina was a tad iffy, so these calls mostly consisted of John shouting “Can you hear me? I can hear you, can you hear me? You’re breaking up now. Are you still there? Can you hear me?”

John then decided he wanted to go to the top of the mast to replace the anchor light and tricolour bulbs with new LED bulbs (as these last longer and take a lot less power), so I hoisted up the rope he was attached to while he clambered all the way to the top. I was tempted to leave him up there to give me some peace and quiet for a while, but I decided that would be a tad mean (and of course he may get his own back next time I have a trip up the mast) so I eased him down gently when he had finished. Unfortunately it turned out the new bulbs were too big for the rather old fitting we have on the top of the mast, which was rather annoying as the bulbs were quite expensive.


On Monday we had another attempt at birthday present shopping and posted what we had bought so far along with some postcards and completed some final shopping to stock up on some of the Spanish things we liked (that we might not be able to get in Portugal). John perused the charts and pilot books to plan for our passage to Portugal the next day while I spent rather a long time trying to book a hotel for my few days in London in three weeks time (while John goes to Becky’s graduation). I struggled to find one that cost less than I would expect to buy a house for, but which didn’t look like a flea-pit but with John’s help (through frustration as apparently three hours looking at is excessive) I finally booked somewhere and am now really excited about seeing Tina, Ali, mum and hopefully Tony.

In the evening, we had drinks with Charles and Penny, possibly for the last time as we are not sure if we will meet up with them again in Portugal (but hopefully we will!) and had a final Spanish empanada for dinner.


We set off for Portugal yesterday and had a very nice 50 mile sail to Povoa de Varzim, making sure we swapped the Spanish courtesy flag for a Portuguese one as we sailed across the border.


(Leaving Baiona)


There is nowhere to anchor in Povoa de Varzim, so we went into the small marina which turned out to be extremely friendly and very cheap!

In the evening, the water pump decided it would be much more fun not to work and have a nice rest, leaving us with no pressurised water (not a big deal as John has fitted foot pumps for exactly this eventuality) and unfortunately no hot water. It has been a little temperamental recently and John had already ordered a new pressure valvey type thingy wotsit for it which he is picking up when we fly back to England in a few weeks time. So, John did the usual boy thing (opened everything up and wiggled a screwdriver in it) before getting annoyed with it and giving it a thump, at which point the pump sprung back into life and produced oodles of hot water for the washing up. I think he scared it out of misbehaving but he’s going to order a new pump as well just in case it has another sulk in the future.

It was chillier than we have been used to in the evening, which was actually quite welcome and would have helped us get a good night’s sleep if the harbour didn’t use an old air raid siren to warn boats when adverse sea conditions mean that entering the harbour becomes dangerous, which was obviously the case for the majority of the night.


After enduring the siren throughout the night last night, we had a walk along to the yacht club this morning, where there is a great view over the harbour walls and out to sea from the restaurant balcony to see what all the fuss was about. The sea was quite swelly, causing waves to crash onto the nearby beach and creating breaking water across the shallow entrance to the harbour and we could see why the siren had been warning incoming boats of this throughout the night.


(The waves crashing onto the beach)


Later in the morning we took a metro train to Porto, which is a beautiful city full of old narrow roads with the painted tiles it is famous for on buildings in nearly every street.


(A church covered in painted tiles)


We wandered around the winding streets down to the river, where many old traditional boats that were once used to carry Port barrels are anchored and found the spot where John had moored up against the harbour wall on his previously sailing travels in 1983.


(John on the harbour wall where he moored up in 1983)


There is a huge, stunning iron bridge that spans the river to Vila Nova de Gaia on the opposite bank, where all the famous Port manufacturers are based.


(Traditional boats anchored in the river with the bridge in the background)


We crossed the bridge at the lower road level and found our way to the Taylors port warehouse up on the hill overlooking Porto.


(John outside Taylors)


We joined an excellent guided tour of one of the warehouses where there were hundreds of barrels of different sizes while the tour guide explained (in English!) the differences between the different types of Port and how they are produced.


(The Port barrels at Taylors)


After the tour came the free Port tasting in a fabulous old bar which resembled an old English country house drawing room.


(Ann sampling the port)


Several Ports later, we wobbled into the shop and bought a bottle of white Port and some very cheap and rather nice Port glasses before heading back down to the river.

Looking up at the bridge, we noticed that some people were walking along the very top, where the metro trains also ran, so had a (very slow) hike back uphill to find where we could walk across it, stopping briefly to rest on a bench on top of a grotto in the middle of a rather scruffy park that looked like it was once rather lovely before being rather neglected over the past few years.


(The view from the park)


When we reached the top of the hill, we found a path runs along the top level of the bridge either side of the metro tracks and we walked across, enjoying the stunning views up the river in one direction and out towards the sea in the other, while my legs wobbled just a little at the huge drop and lack of anything to stop a passing stampede of wilderbeast from knocking me into the air and over the side.


(The view from the top of the bridge)


Thankfully no herds of wilderbeast (or any other savannah-dwelling animals) came past, so we reached the other side safely and headed to the city centre for more birthday present shopping wondering why we know so many people with birthdays all at the same time.

In the evening, we treated ourselves to dinner at the yacht club restaurant after using their free wifi to order the new water pump.

It had turned quite cold and there was rain forecast so we were the only people in the restaurant.

When we asked for a menu we were told they didn’t have one and we asked what kind of thing we would like to eat. John said he would like fish and I said I would like a steak (as I have eaten so much fish recently I am sprouting gills) and we were told by the chef to trust him and he would make us something nice. After a starter of shellfish, some random unidentifiable raw fish (which was surprisingly good), olives, chickpeas and bread, our main courses arrived and I had quite possibly the finest steak I have ever eaten. The meal was fabulous and although it wasn’t cheap, I would urge anyone staying in Povoa de Varzim marina to treat themselves to a meal in the yacht club restaurant.

Categories: September 2009, Spain , Portugal

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Reply Mum
6:02 PM on September 3, 2009 
The castle sounds fab - walking round ramparts would be my sort of thing. And Porto looks just stunning -didn't know uou could get white port but sounds good.
Reply chris
3:27 AM on September 4, 2009 
im in falmouth no better here so you r not missing any thing.andy is going to do some work on the boat today which is the reason for being here.home then and soton boat show next weekend.keep up the blog and best wishes. chris
Reply Sharon
8:57 AM on September 4, 2009 
I am really enjoying the stories, it looks like you guys will have some beautiful memories. One thing I can't quite get my head round though is that it look's like cloughster has some sort of colour on the skin, could that be a TAN!!!!! good lord, no. Unheard of, the original milk bottle to burnt lobster girl. That John is obviously doing you some good by making you experience some good interesting life. Well done John, proud of you.
So pleased you guys are having a good time.
Keep truckin or whatever the nautical term is.
Reply Mum
3:45 AM on September 9, 2009 
The reason why so many people are born in September is because it's 9 months after Christmas / New year ! Plus we had a lot of power cuts that winter!!!