Pembroke Haven Yacht Club

Hobbs Point, Pembroke Dock

Oeiras to Sines, Sagres & Lagos 20.11.17-22.11.17

We left Oeiras at 9.45 on a beautiful sunny morning.  The wind was perfect and we averaged 6.5 knots with a maximum of 9.2 knots.  Unfortunately the wind disappeared at 1400 but as we had made such good headway we decided to head for Sines.  We arrived at 1800 and anchored just inside the harbour entrance. 

At 7.25 the following morning we continued our journey.  This part of our journey had been talked about many times!  Cape St Vincent was familiar to both of us from land but not sea.  We had stood on the cliff top and looked down on sailing boats battling against wind and waves far below us on many occasions – we were approaching with trepidation.  We had approximately 64 Miles to sail today and again the direction and speed of the wind was perfect, however, as we drew closer to our destination we realised that we could be rounding the Cape in darkness!  At 17..20, in semi darkness, we finally sailed around the Cape.  The sea and wind were kind to us and we wondered what all the fuss had been about! 


Anchoring in the dark in Sagres was another issue!  By the time we arrived in the bay it was ‘black’, the wind had increased substantially and we were extremely tired.  Ideally we would have been better continuing our journey to Lagos (14 miles along the coast), but the threat of numerous lobster pots and the darkness made our decision to anchor easy!    We tried two or three times and eventually the anchor ‘caught’.  We could now relax and try and get some sleep.   Caught what?  We found that out in the morning after hardly any sleep due to the heavy swell!  We had ‘attached’ our anchor to the ground chain of a nearby mooring!  At least we hadn’t dragged across the bay!  We were lucky to recover the anchor.

The direction of the wind for our 14 mile trip to Lagos was not so favourable and we were hoping for some sunshine and calm water to take in the coastline that was so familiar to Judith. Her parents had owned a house in this area of the Algarve for a period of 20 years.  After 4 hours under engine we made our way into the channel leading to Lagos Marina.  This entrance is guarded by a lifting footbridge which connects the town to the marina and local train station. 

We arrived at 12.30 and having moored to the waiting pontoon, reported to the office. We were then told that the bridge would not open again until after 2pm.  Lunch it was then! 

A young French couple came across to us asking if we were going across the Atlantic.  They were looking for a passage.   This happened a number of times whilst we were in the Marina at Lagos.


The day after our arrival in Lagos was Judith’s birthday. Mark & Noemia, our good friends who live in the Algarve, joined us for birthday celebrations.  Over the next 10 days we met a number of expats with common links to the UK, watched the Autumn international Rugby  matches with fellow Welsh supporters and the highlight was Friday night in the Marina Bar…….Friday Night is Music Night!   The expats met for a ‘jamming’ session bringing whatever instruments they could (or could not!) play.  Words were provided for those of us whose voice was our instrument!!!

Matthew & Charlie (Judith’s son and grandson) arrived for a brief visit and a great time was had by all including a December swim for Alistair and Charlie!


We would have loved to have remained in Lagos for the rest of the winter months but the price was just too high.  Eventually we left the town behind and headed for Albufeira.

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Oeiras - (Sintra & Mafra) 15/11/17-20/11/17

Oeiras is on the entrance to the Tagus River which heads up to Lisbon.  As we had visited Lisbon on a previous road trip, we decided not to head further up the River.


Oeiras is within easy distance of Sintra, a town within the National Park, in the foothills of the Sintra Mountains and home to the Sintra National Palace, the hilltop Pena National Palace and the spectacular Moorish Castle.  We made some enquiries regarding car hire and found that the easiest and cheapest option to hire a car was to head to Cascais.  We walked along the sea front to the train station and caught a train.  Cascais was beautiful, with tree lined streets,smart restaurants, shops and a Marina.  We spent the day exploring the town and then collected the hire car late in the afternoon ready for the following day.

Sintra is some 30 miles north of Oeiras.  We arrived, parked the car in what we thought was a convenient place and headed, on foot, up towards the National Palace, pasting pieces of art along our way.


We took a tour around the National Palace with it’s stunningly decorated rooms and artwork.  The Palace kitchen was larger than the average house with two huge conical chimneys to extract the smoke from the burnt toast!!!  Copper utensils that would be the envy of many a chef.


On the recommendation of Alistair’s brother David, we decided to walk up to the Pena Palace and Moorish Castle.  The first part of the walk took us through a lovely wooded area but this eventually brought us to the roadway.  Why were we the only ones walking?  We walked and we walked and we walked…….we had a car which we could have used but this was parked at the bottom of the hill!!!  As luck would have it we spied a couple of Tuk Tuks parked down a small lane with their drivers having a sneaky rest.  Perhaps they would take us to the top!   £5 was their quote so we took it!   At the top, £10 was the charged - £5 each!

The Pena National Palace was originally a monastery.   No doubt the royal family in the valley bellow didn’t enjoy being overlooked by their neighbours so commandeered said monastery and turned it into yet another royal palace.  The upshot was that each room was unusually small compared to most royal palaces but the tiled decoration and the views from the Palace were spectacular.  This area was one of the highlights of our trip so far.


The Moorish Castle, close by, was yet another spectacular monument with views overlooking the valley and surrounding plains.  We spent another hour or so exploring this and then made our way back down to the car.



The following day we headed for Mafra.  Mafra is a small town 28 km from Lisbon with yet another Royal Palace.  The construction of the Palace of Mafra was started in 1717 and finished in 1755.  There was a daily average of 15,000 workers, but at the end of construction this had grown to between 30,000 and 40,000 workers.  In addition 7,000 soldiers were assigned to preserve order at the construction site.  There was even a hospital onsite, although a total of 1,383 workers lost their lives during the construction.  The façade is 220 m long (Buckingham Palace is 110 m long)with the whole complex covering 37,790 sq m, with approximately 1200 rooms and more than 4,700 doors and window, 156 stairways and 29 inner yards and courtyards.  The Palace is the most important baroque monument in Portugal with unusual decoration in a number of the large rooms.


We spent an hour or so walking around the Palace but were not nearly as impressed (apart from the size!) by this palace as our visit to Sintra the day before.  We made our way back to Money Penny along the beautiful West Coast stopping off to explore a couple of beaches and began to look forward  to move on in the morning.

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Portugal (The West Coast) (8/11/2017-15/11/2017)

Viana do Castelo

On the 8th November 2017 at 10am we said goodbye to Baiona.  As we headed out past the headland and the Castle above, the sun shone and although there was a swell was 2.7 metres we were looking forward to the journey and finally arriving in Portugal!  As we passed the boarder between Spain & Portugal , with excitement, we changed our curtesy flag from yellow and red to green and red.

 20171110_093803 IMG-20180502-WA0005

We had heard a number of horror stories about the entrances to some of the West Coast ports of Portugal but the weather seemed kind and we were optimistic.  When we arrived at our destination, Viana do Castello, there was breaking surf at the entrance to the river heading in to the marina.  We turned on the engine, packed away the sails and put all our faith in Money Penny being able to ride the waves into the calm of the river mouth.  Money Penny became a giant surf board…..surfing at 12 knots as we entered the river!!

As we approached the marina entrance The Ponte Eiffel Bridge crossed the river ahead of us.  This railroad iron bridge was designed by Gustave Eiffel and completed in 1878 .


The Santa Luzia Sactuary dominates the top of the hill overlooking Viana do Castello.  This monumental Temple of the 20th century is beautiful both inside and out.  We took a funicular railway up to the top of the hill where the views of the river and coastline were amazing. The interior decoration and the stained  glass window inside the Temple were beautiful and there was a magnificent display of flowers on the alter.  We spent an hour walking around the hilltop area before returning to the town.



We left Viana do Castello two days later and continued South.  Porto was our next port of call.

O Porto

After 36.8 miles, an average of 6.4 knots and max 12.1 knots (probably surfing one of ‘those’ waves!) we entered the River Douro.  Porto on the banks of the River Douro is the second largest city in Portugal.  It doesn’t have a marina so we chose Douro Marina just after the entrance to the river.  On ‘check in’ the friendly staff explained that as part of our stay we were entitled to a free tour of one of the Port houses.  We would take up there offer tomorrow!  For now, we decided to make our way in to the City to look around. 

We took a ferryboat across the river and then caught one of the Victorian trams that run into the city….much more fun than a modern bus!  Porto is known for its many stately bridges and port wine production.  There are narrow streets housing old merchant’s houses and cafes.  As it was early evening by the time we arrived in the City, we sat in a riverside bar and watched the world go by.  Looking across at Vila Nova de Gaia (the town on the opposite banks of the river), the Port Houses were visible as their names were lit up.  Famous Port houses such as Calem, Ramos Pinto, Offley, Sandeman and of course Tayor’s and Graham’s.  The City was alive with both young and old and the atmosphere superb.n

The following day we returned to the City, this time in a taxi.  The free tour was to a lesser known House, Churchill’s.  Churchill’s, in contrast to most of the other Port Houses who have been in existence for centuries, has only been in existence since 1981.  It was founded by John Graham of the Graham ‘port’ family. He named the Company after his wife Caroline Churchill (no relation to Winston!).   On arrival we were given two different wines to taste, before being shown around the storage units and given the history of the Company and details of production.  We were then given a number of different ports of varying ages to try.  On departing, ‘very tipsy’ was an understatement


We spent the rest of the day exploring both Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia.  Lunch was in a city centre café and being adventurous we acceded to the waiters recommendation and had the local speciality – three types of spicy sausage in a round of bread covered in gravy with an egg on top. Different is all I can say. After a long wander and as darkness fell we left a restaurant to walk along the riverside and discovered that an historic car rally was due to set off from the area. Alistair was in Heaven with a vast array of classic Porsche, Fords, Mini’s et al in superb concourse condition. We stood and watched all the cars set off for the night rally on the roads surrounding Porto. Another taxi and ‘home’ to bed.


Nazaire (14.11.17)

The next two stops on our journey were ‘quick overnighters’!  Aveira at anchor and Figueiro do Foz.  We had now travelled another 73 miles since Porto and were on route to Nazaire.  We had heard some horror stories about this mecca for surfers regarding the size of the waves. If you google Nazaire you will see what we mean!  Some are reported as 100 ft high and we were about to enter the harbour!  Surprisingly for the time of year the sea conditions were calm and we were left wondering what all of the fuss was about.   The waves are caused by a deep natural channel that stretches all the way to the shoreline.  This can be seen on the photograph of our GPS below.


During a walk along the beautiful sandy beach we encountered women selling dried fish.  There were stands behind them where the fish from today’s catch were drying out in the sunshine.


We enjoyed our stay in Nazaire but this looked like it could be an extremely busy town during the height of the season and perhaps not as relaxing.


We left Nazaire and headed for Peniche for a quick overnight stop before moving on to Oeiras at the entrance to the Tagus River (Lisbon)       ………… be continued!

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The Rias


Over the next few days we began to head South again, visiting  the Spanish Rias on route.  The Rias are a series of four inlets on the North western side of Spain (Galicia).  Ria de Muros, Ria de Arousa, Ria de Pontevedra and Ria de Vigo.  They are rich in marine life and a large fishing industry runs from here, in fact the city of Vigo is said to be the leading fishing port in Europe. Personally we felt that they were spoilt by the numerous floating mussel beds but understand that this is a major source of income for the area alongside tourism.  During our time in this area we enjoyed the company of a number of pods of Dolphin.

20171105_095408Ria de Muros with the floating mussel beds in the background  20171029_125604

Our first port of call was Muxia.  We arrived and were greeted by a Marinero on the dockside who helped us tie up in the, (almost empty) marina.  We were then asked to take our paperwork to the ‘office’.  The office turned out to be a Shell petrol station on the side of the road adjoining the Marina.  We were then charged an exorbitant amount for the night with no promise of wi fi or decent facilities!  Now we knew why the marina was empty!  We spent the evening walking out to the headland to the Sanctuary of Virxe Da Barca (The virgin of the boat!).  Originally a pre-Christian Celtic shrine and sacred spot which was only converted in the 12th Centrury, it was rebuilt following its destruction by fire in 2013.  The ‘A Ferida’  nearby, is a tribute sculpture to the volunteers who helped to clean the Prestige oil spill, when the MV Prestige, carrying 77,000 tonnes of heavy fuel oil sank in November 2002.  Over a thousand beaches on the Spanish, French & Portuguese coast were affected.

20171028_17413320171028_174218 The almost empty marina at Muxia!       20171028_185601IMG-20180502-WA0000

Ria de Muros

Our sail from Muxia to Muros was downwind with 15 knots and gusts of 26 knots.  We reached up to 10 knots SOG at times and were visited by two separate pods of dolphins.


On arrival at the Marina we were met by Pedro who helped us tie up in the windy conditions and then directed us to the office.  The Office, in contrast to Muxia, housed a reading/TV room complete with small library of books, TV and sofas, showers, toilets, and a small kitchen/laundry room.   The building was old and a little ‘tired’ but perfectly adequate for our needs.  The wifi was free and worked well from our berth & the price per night was half that of Muxia!!  Pedro was charming and very helpful.

Whilst in Muros we visited Santiago de Compostela.  The capital of the Galicia region of Spain and known as the culmination of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, it is also alleged to be the burial site of the biblical apostle St James.  We caught the bus to the City and spent the day exploring. 


We spent two nights in Muros and then decided to explore further into Ria Muros.   We motored as far into the Ria as we could passing hundreds of floating mussel beds and beautiful houses overlooking the water.  At the top of the Ria there was a small fishing harbour and just about every boat from the harbour was out on the Ria fishing for razor clams.  Apparently they have a limited license in which they are allowed to fish for these clams.  They were obviously making the most of it!


We watched the boats returning to the harbour en masse and then headed for Portosin on the opposite side of the river.   Portosin was ‘easily forgotten’!!!  Apart from being given a free mug by the marina staff, the marina was out of the way of the main town, very quiet and not very pleasant on the eye!  We stayed the night and returned the following morning to Pedro in Muros! 5 miles across the Ria.

Ria de Arosa (3/11/17)

On the 3rd November we left Muros and headed the 34 miles out of Ria Muros to Ria de Arosa.  We were welcomed in to the Ria by two bottle nosed dolpins.  Two nights were spent in this Ria, at Pobra de Caraminal and Vilagarcia.  Both towns were virtually closed for the winter although one nightclub had decided to remain open in Vilagarcia, 200 yrds from Money Penny, playing loud music until 6am!!!   We moved on!!x

Ria de Vigo (5/11/17)

With no wind, we motored the 34 miles from Vilagarcia to Baiona.  There are two marinas on offer here and we chose the right one!!!  Real Club Nautica Baiona was in a beautiful setting with an amazing Club House and facilities, underneath the backdrop of Castelo de Monterreal, a castle that sits on a hill at the edge of the town.  In the old area of the town there are narrow corridor like streets with typical Galician houses lining them and a number of bars, cafes and restaurants hidden away.

20171105_141855Approaching Baiona

Having arrived at Baiona we had heard that a boat had left Milford approximately one week prior. Onboard were Martin & Pat, heading for Baiona.  Judith managed to make contact and we found that they were over in the other marina.  We met up for drinks and a catch up on their boat, Legal Tender and then again a day later in the Club house and restaurant for lunch.  Exchanging stories, we learnt that they had departed The Haven and headed out for Southern Ireland, with one stop there, they then turned left and sailed directly to Baiona!!  They had had an amazing experience.  We think we prefer the route we had taken!!!  

We thoroughly enjoyed  our 3 days in Baiona.  We walked around the Castle and headland, through the small streets of the town and took a bus to nearby Vigo.   On the 8th November we headed for Portugal!

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