Moonlight Adventure

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


Saturday 19th September 2009

Posted by yachtmoonlight on September 19, 2009 at 2:56 PM

The fridge electrics, which have always been rather temperamental since we bought the boat were playing up again on Thursday and blowing fuses (that's a week last Thursday ) I am a little behind with the blog for reasons that will become clear soon), so John wandered to the nearby BP garage to get some more fuses for it. I was very happy when he reappeared with a small bottle of diet Coke for me and an ice-cream each as well as the fuses. I've been mostly deprived of diet Coke since we left home, so it was a real treat!

Armed with the fresh fuses, John spent an hour or so blowing them and finally got it working by replacing some of the dodgy wiring (a common feature on the boat it seems!) and by making a new fuse holder to replace the old one which was badly corroded.

We were planning to leave the following day and make the mistake of mentioning this to Mr Box-of-Frogs the Harbour Master, who in his usual doom and gloom style implied we would be sailing to our certain demise if we did so as the fog was so bad visibility was down to one metre (had this been true it would be a tad concerning as it would mean I wouldn't be able to see the end of my ears, but it was obviously utter bobbins) and whichever marina you said they were planning to go to, he would tell you it was full. He also relayed stories of recent incidents when boats crashed into each other because they didn't follow his advice, his advice always being that if you leave you are doomed.

In the afternoon, having been on the boat all day, I fancied a walk along the beach near the marina. John was a little tired and didn't feel like a walk as it was drizzling a little, but I wasn't to be put off, so I set off for the sand dunes on my own. Just outside the marina gate, a lone stray dog was looking a little soggy and bedraggled and came up to me, so I patted him on the head and gave him a quick fuss and then carried on my way.

As I walked towards the sand dunes, the dog ran past me and stopped just ahead of me. As I got closer to him, he set off again, always keeping a few paces ahead of me. When he started to climb the sand dunes with me I realised I had a new best friend and named him Fidolino . Fidolino continued to stay a few paces ahead of me, looking back every few paces, until he got to the edge of the dune that led steeply down to the beach. He waited and as I got closer, he got more and more excited, jumping up and down and barking, so when I reached him he was completely beside himself and ran up to me, jumping up and grabbing my sleeve. Wearing shorts (me, not Fidolino), I was not impressed when he scratched my leg, even though I know it was unintentional and told him very sternly, with a finger pointed at his nose, 'Calm down and NO jumping'. Amazingly for a dog that I doubt has much command of the English language, he seemed to grasp this and didn't jump up again.


(Fidolino on the beach)

We made our way down to the beach and Fidolino was in his element. He raced along the beach chasing seagulls and stopping to dig in the sand while I walked along behind him and enjoyed watching the waves crashing against the beach. Fidolino kept looking back to make sure I was still there and when I stopped and stood still for a moment, he realised I was ready to head back and came running back to me for a quick fuss, and then we headed off back, with Fidolino running ahead of me again.

When we came up to the very steep and sandy track back up to the top of the dunes, Fidolino waited behind while I made my way up and when I was halfway, ankle deep in wet sand with every step and not making much progress, he started charging up and down the track at a huge speed, which I pointed out to him in no uncertain words was really not helping. When I eventually made it to the top, we carried on back as we had come, with Fidolino a few paces ahead of me all the way.

It was lovely to have some company on my walk, and I guess Fidolino must have thought so too.

When I got to the marina gate, I said goodbye to Fidolino, but as the gate opened, he tried to follow me in. I had to push him back and make sure the gate closed with him on the other side and found it heartbreaking when I turned round and he was lying down with his nose and front paws under the gate watching me go. As I walked along the pontoon, he walked along the dock parallel to it and when I turned to go down to our berth, he stood and watched me until I had climbed about Moonlight. I felt terrible leaving him out there in the drizzle, knowing he was a stray and had nowhere to go to keep warm and dry.

In the evening, we watched a DVD on the boat while we had dinner and I worried about Fidolino.


We didn't leave on the Friday as it was quite foggy (although I could definitely still see the ends of my ears), so we decided to stay for another day. The fog cleared at lunchtime and it was a beautiful sunny afternoon, so we walked into the town to get some fresh groceries and post some postcards before heading back to the boat and then across the dunes to the beach for a few games of quoits in the sunshine.


(View of Nazare from the beach near the marina)


As we were heading for the showers in the late afternoon, there were a lot of stray dogs around, soaking up the heat and I looked around for Fidolino. I spotted him running towards me and waited for him to run into my arms for an emotional reunion, but he completely blanked me and kept on running, straight past me. I turned to watch him and saw another small woolly-looking female dog running from an opposite direction to meet him. When they met up, they had a quick sniff of each other before running off towards the sand dunes together and I realised which a little sadness that Fidolino had dumped me for a new girlfriend. But I was much happier knowing that he wasn't alone and actually had lots of other dogs around him. I guess he was the only one who wanted to play in the rain the day before.

In the evening, we spotted Charles and Penny arriving, so after they had moored up and had the usual Harbour Master welcome, we all went round to a nearby bar and had rather smashing and very reasonably priced pizzas for dinner.


We had decided that it was time to escape from Hotel California on Saturday morning, so we made a dash for it at dawn before the Harbour Master got the chance to tell us we would be sailing to our certain doom.

Charles came round to help cast off our lines and we set off at 8am.

It was a long and uninteresting sail. It was a little foggy, not enough to be a concern, but enough to spoil the view and it was also quite cold and rained at times, so we were glad to arrive in Cascais at 7.30pm.

We anchored in the bay and sat in the cockpit watching the sun go down over the town.

It was a lovely evening, only spoilt by a concert that started late in the evening which consisted of a woman screeching very loudly and without feeling the need to stick to any particular key. Or song.


(The sunset in Cascais)


In the morning, we pumped up the dinghy and went ashore, leaving the dinghy on a fishing dock as we figured we'd get away with it on a Sunday when there were no fishermen about. Next to the dock there was a temporary stage and seating which had obviously been where the screeching woman had been 'performing' the night before. It was packed full of people and as we watched, four marching bands appeared from different directions and met up in the arena before all playing together.


(One of the marching bands)


We wandered around the town, which is lovely. The narrow cobbled shady streets are full of beautiful houses, nice shops, bars and restaurants. The only slight downside is the apparent lack of parking, so some of the narrowest streets are very congested with cars parked haphazardly all the way along.


(One of the houses in Cascais)


We found a lovely shopping centre, with a huge supermarket next door which was unfortunately just closing, but we managed to get some fresh groceries in a smaller supermarket in the shopping centre.

After exploring the town, we headed back to the boat and John went for a swim. I had been feeling a little bit iffy all day, so I decided to give it a miss and read the English Sunday papers I had found in a newsagent in the town.

We had a quiet evening and dinner on the boat, watching another lovely sunset.


I woke up on Monday morning still feeling a bit off. We decided to go ashore again, but this time left the dinghy in the marina as the fishing docks were busy. We found an internet café and as I updated the website and caught up with emails and banking, John went up to the big supermarket to get a few bits and pieces we couldn't get in the smaller one the day before. As I was starting to feel worse, we headed back to the boat and had a relaxing afternoon.

Charles and Penny arrived in the evening, as well as Ron on Zahara. We popped round to Charles and Penny for drinks (Ron was too tired after a very long trip single-handing from Nazare) and I stuck to orange juice, not wanting to upset my stomach any more than it was already. It was another very pleasant evening in their company.


On Tuesday morning, I had got much worse and was very ill. John decided it would be best to move into the marina in case I needed to get off the boat to see a doctor. I wasn't up to taking lines ashore, so Charles came in with us and took the lines, while Ron followed in his dinghy to take Charles back. It was very kind of them to help and we were very grateful.

John took our passports and papers to the marina office to check in while I stayed on the boat.

While John was away, I noticed I had missed a call on my phone from Ruth, a former colleague and good friend. I could tell by the tone of Ruth's message that she wasn't ringing just to say hello as she sounded very serious and asked me to call her as soon as possible. I called her back straight away and her phone was answered by another friend, Andy, who as gently as anyone could, broke the news to me that someone I had worked closely with had died very suddenly that morning. He was 36. I was terribly upset and John came back to find me in tears on the phone to another friend, Sharon, who had called when she heard the news. (Wayne - I'm gonna miss you buddy. I'll never forget your silly dances and how you always made me laugh. You were one of the good guys and I couldn't have done my job without you. It was a privilege to work with you and to call you my friend.) My heart goes out to his fiancée and the rest of his family and friends.


The following day I was no better and had hardly eaten for the past few days, so John decided to take me up to the medical centre. There is no NHS equivalent in Portugal and the E111 card covers hospital treatment, but not the medical centres, which are essentially private.

The medical centre looked very new and clean and the staff were extremely friendly and helpful. I only had to wait about 10 minutes before being seen by the rather dashing Dr Matthew Sawasky, an American doctor on a secondment in Portugal. He diagnosed Gastroenteritis and put me on a drip for an hour and a half to get some fluids, painkillers and some other stuff he assured me would be helpful inside me quickly.

After parting with 159 euros (which I thought wasn't too bad for the fantastic care I received) and a further 27 euros for prescription drugs, I was back on the boat with a list of things I could eat and drink and headed back to bed, where I stayed for most of the next two days.

I won't write about Thursday and Friday, as they mainly involved sleep, the occasional DVD, a little reading and generally feeling rubbish on my part, and lots of nursing, housework and grocery shopping for the things from the doctor's list on John's part.


This morning I was feeling much better, got up in the morning and managed to stay up all day.

Charles, Penny and Ron came round in the morning. It was great to see them and we spent a happy hour chatting in the cockpit. The sun kept going behind the clouds, but when it was out it was baking hot and for some reason, rather than get the bimini out, John grabbed some brollies to shade us, giving the duck brolly to Ron (who I think took quite a liking to it).


(Ron with the ever popular duck brolly)


Ron said he realised I was on the mend when I started making fun of him again, and John realised I was on the mend when I dragged him into the Helly Hanson shop next to the marina and tried to convince him a 40 euro zip hoody was a bargain because it was half price (I failed).

We spent most of the day tidying the boat and getting ready for our trip to England. We are heading to Lisbon on the train tomorrow and staying at the airport, ready for an early morning flight to Luton on Monday morning. (John is heading down to Plymouth to attend his daughter's graduation and I've got a few days planned in London, meeting up with family and friends, which I'm very excited about. We are back on Friday, so I expect the next blog update will be about a week after that).

In the evening, we spotted some friends from Portsmouth, John, Liz and Steve on their boat Shearwater, who had stopped off on their way to Gibraltar where Steve is flying back to England and John and Liz are carrying on to Malta. We popped round, caught up on the past 3 months and John gave us some fantastic photos he had taken on the day we left Portsmouth. It was great to see them again and as they are planning to sail off around the world in the opposite direction to us, you never know where we might meet up again!    

Categories: September 2009, Portugal

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Reply Simon
4:16 PM on September 19, 2009 
Sounds like you've had a rough few days. Safe journey home.
Reply annette
4:35 PM on September 19, 2009 
glad you are better love the pics..soryy fidolino stood you ..your mom are and i are still happily migh tbe an idea to pick up some rehydrant in case you ever get the bug and good medical care is not as immediately availble as it was...look forward to more news..and to seeing you later in the year
Reply Mum
4:08 AM on September 20, 2009 
Great to read this update; so relieved that you are feeling better. Looking forward to seeing you on Thursday ..... and going to dartmouth tomorrow. Am actually not back at work until October 2nd - will be a great break.
Reply Steve
8:49 PM on September 22, 2009 
Hi guys, nice bumping into you in Cascais. We are now in Portimao. Wind was totally absent so diverted in for fresh beer! En route Villa Real de Santo Antonio tomorrow at the crack of dawn! Will follow your blog with interest. Stay safe and fair winds,