Portugal

1st July 2017

The predominant north-westerly winds and south-going current along the coast of Portugal make for an easy passage (unless of course you are going north!), at least in theory. But the ports are often far apart, and useful anchorages rare until you get close to Lisbon. Also the winds are often quite strong in the afternoon, and sometimes strong for days at a time (other days may have too little wind). Consequently, on this part of the trip, we mostly had foresails set but the motor running in order to make the next port in good time. The weather was warming up and on a few sunny days we hid in the shade. Mostly there was some cloud cover and a fresh breeze which was a relief. In all the harbours a profusion of large fish swim about, and many are the small boats out to catch them. Plenty of pot-buoys too, some of which we were told are actually mooring lines for small fishing boats, marking good rocky spots offshore.

The whole coastline of Portugal is dominated by its geology, almost all high cliffs but of many different rock types. The edge of continental shelf is so near, and the native limestone and sedimentary rocks are interspersed with granites that have been pushed up along the edge. Full exposure to the Atlantic and prevailing NW wind have carved the rocks into fantastical shapes. It all makes for some breath-taking scenery. Offshore, we had many dolphin sightings, and the dominant avian life changed from the usual gulls to young gannets and to shearwaters, large graceful birds with dark grey plumage above and white below, quartering the waves in the manner of true ocean birds.

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Eroded rock formations at Lagos

Our first stop was Viana do Castelo, the marina in the town below a huge domed church on the hill. The wind was getting up from the north, which led to a lively entrance up the river past the high-speed kamikaze wind surfers. We had fun mooring stern-to just inside the swing-bridge (there are lines set to an anchor which you have to pick up at the pontoon and secure to the bow). We took the funicular railway up to the church (Santa Lucia) and walked on up the hill, seeking some ancient ruins we had read about. We found a modern building by the road well back from the church – almost no signposting – and asked inside, whereupon we were charged €2 each to walk around the ruins – which are amazing. The hill was occupied from iron-age to roman times and comprises several walled areas with round and rectangular buildings – often with a curious diagonally laid stonework. J was less keen on the raised walkways with lattice floors however! Nigel from Lady in Red was also in port, so came aboard for a late drink or two.

IMG_0284aIron age and roman ruins above Viana do Castello

Next morning we were off before the bridge closed at 9am, and motored on to Poava de Varzim, which had been recommended as a cheap friendly marina with easy metro access to Porto.  Along with Lady in Red, we stayed here three nights as there were quite strong SW winds. There was time to do some deck painting and catch up with the laundry etc, plus an afternoon trip to Porto, which was beautiful and still hot well into the evening. Looking for toilets, we wandered into the Sao Bento station to find ourselves facing huge frescos showing historic scenes – famous apparently and definitely outclassing the loos. On our first evening here we took the metro just a few stops to Villa de Conde, which has good views over the attractive river estuary, and an extensive (7 km) aqueduct built some 400 years ago to provide water to a convent!

5th July

The 45 miles to Figuera da Foz were accomplished by the engine in light wind most of the way. We checked in at the arrivals quay (they like to see passports and ship registration in most Portugese ports, and especially here), but then made a mess of getting into our allotted berth – but no damage done. There was time in the morning to visit the excellent fish and produce market, before setting off again, destination the Ilha Berlenga. The swell was quite large and there was a light rain as we headed in before dark, but all was calm near to the island.

Some of the scant guidance available said there were buoys available SE of Berlenga, so we picked one on arrival in the evening, and no-one seemed to object. We had a quiet night, then rowed ashore to the deep cove and harbour. At about 9:30 all hell broke loose as ferry boats raced over from Peniche (some 9km away), competing for space in the harbour.  Smaller boats took parties off to do diving, fishing, racing through cave arches, or trips to the old monastery (on a rock nearby). We asked around and were told we could stay on the mooring (no charge) but later were asked to move to another buoy, which we did. There was time for R to walk over the top of the island (mostly gull nesting colony), and for a trip to the monastery in our own dinghy. This is a great island to visit.

IMG_2673aOur dinghy anchored at the monastery on Berlinga

7th July

After only a morning at Berlinga (wish we could have stayed longer), the weather drove us on to Cascais, some 40 miles south and situated on the approaches to Lisbon. Here is a protected bay (when the wind is in the north) and harbour, where we anchored for a couple of blowy nights. We were entertained by some moth-like dinghies which sail with only the tips of the keel and rudder in the water, and our first sighting of a lateen rig sailing by. Cascais is a popular and attractive seaside town at the end of the Lisbon metro, featuring the usual profusion of restaurants, tourist shops and all-night disco. There is a fine park (featuring a variety of free-range chickens and other fowl), and we had a walk along the rugged limestone of the south-facing shore.

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Lateen Rig

The winds still forecast to be strong from the north for several days, and there are some good reports on the CA Captains Mate app for Seixal, a little place on a creek to the south of Lisbon. Actually, there seem to be several places on the map called Seixal – this is the one near Ponto dos Corvos– a popular sandy spit opposite the town. So we took the flood tide up the Tagus, under the suspension bridge, along the extensive city sea-front. There are big catamaran ferries going to Seixal, and a buoyed channel to follow. Inside the creek the channel is quite narrow and full of moorings, so we had a job to find an anchorage. The spot we chose proved to have a sunken buoy right by us, and though our first night was comfortable, the next was problematic with a moored boat getting rather close. The subsequent two nights we got a space on the town quay pontoon (€15/night) next to some traditional sailing barges. Every low tide, the local fishermen would come out with floats and baskets and sieve through the gravel, looking for scallops. Three cheery men came out each evening with lights and chatted as they searched.

We took the ferry to Lisbon and a train to Belem to visit the maritime museum, which features a huge collection of model ships and traditional boats. The impressive feats of early Portuguese discovery (Vasco de Gama et al) are related. Well worth the visit.

Back at Seixal we had fun sailing the dinghy around the extensive (and broad at high water) creek, visiting the sand spit for a swim, and exploring the ruins of tide mills along the shore. We would certainly return here if cruising in the Lisbon area.

IMG_0475aOn the town quay at Seixal

13th July

Our next port of call was Sines, some 50 miles south. This is described as a pleasant fishing village in the almanac, which fails to mention the massive oil and container terminals which surround it. As we arrived round the mole, two tugs manoeuvred a big tanker into the harbour. But we had a good anchorage between the marina and fishing harbour. After breakfast we moved on south, another long hop to finally round Cape St Vincent and arrive at the South coast of Portugal, the Algarve.

It was a quiet day and we motored south with headsails set, taking in the genoa later as the NW wind faded. There was a good deal of swell, though, and this increased as we approached the cape, and the wind began to build again. The ride past St Vincent was great, with manageable surfing swells and a following wind, and fantastic scenery with the sun on the contorted rock formations of the headland. But instead of the expected shelter as we turned east round the cape, the Nortada wind was building rapidly, and soon grew to 30 knots blowing down off the high land. The light was fading too, and the first two bays where we sought an anchorage, proved untenable in these conditions. We had to work our way round a fish farm to a broader bay, and finally anchored off the beach as the wind dropped gradually, though the anchor rope snubbers gave us a noisy night!

In the morning all was calm. We continued east along this coast of layered and contorted cliffs, round a headland where the sea has eroded caves, fantastical stacks and hidden beaches, to Lagos (see earlier picture). Hidden that is, except for the dozens of tourist boats and ribs, some with rave parties in full swing on board, all tearing about the bay and surrounding rocks. We entered the Lagos canal as far as the fuel pontoon, topped up the tank, and went back to the bay to anchor. In spite of the mayhem about us and sweltering heat, we spent a relaxing afternoon and had a swim around the boat. We intended to row ashore in the cool of the evening, but up came the Nortada so this was too risky. So shopping was postponed until Sunday morning, which was calm. All being well, the weather looks OK for the voyage to Porto Santo, Madeira over the next few days…

 

 

 

West Coast Cruise (Galicia)

Wed 20th

Woke up in Spain, where it is not cold, and loafed about the boat all morning. We were anchored in a pretty bay with wide beaches interspersed with rocky promontories. After lunch, we rigged the dinghy and sailed up to the town (Ares) where we found a supermercado and staggered back with bags of local goodies. After a dinner of local mejillones (mussels), we had another dinghy sail to the beach for a walk on the soft sand. Next morning the dinghy was hoisted back on deck, and we set off west along the rugged coast as far as Cap de Vilano, aiming to round Finisterre before the weekend (when weather was expected to deteriorate). Visibility was still not good, but a light northerly breeze sprang up in the afternoon to help us along. We anchored in Ria de Camariñas for the night – a very sheltered spot near the harbour.

This area of Spain is known as the Costa de Morte, due to the number of granite headlands interspersed with submerged rocks. Behind these lie the rias, protected bays and estuaries which make such an attractive cruising ground. The scenery is majestic, with the jagged ridges and peaks and the red coloured rocks. In bad weather though, it must be a terrifying coast to sail.

We had an easy sail with good visibility next day, to round Cap Finisterre. The cape forms a south-pointing isthmus, a high headland with a low saddle behind. The NW wind  forms a cloud as it funnels over the top, then comes gusting down over the water beyond. Even the relatively light wind laid us over a bit as we turned around the cape, and sailed into the bay behind to anchor off the beach.

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In the evening we took the dinghy ashore and walked along the beach into the little town of Finisterre. It was just the time of evening when sand-hoppers emerge from their burrows along the tide-line, by the million, to forage on the inter-tidal strand. It’s an amazing sight to see them boiling up out of the ground and hopping frenetically in every direction!

We had heard that midsummer’s day is celebrated with bonfires and fireworks in this region. It seems most of the festivities were postponed until the weekend. It being Friday night, bonfires were being prepared around the town, and at one place a band was playing with bagpipes and drums, very reminiscent of Breton and other Celtic music. We walked back along the beach in the fading light as smoke rose from the fires, rowing back out to the boat to see fireworks on the opposite shore, enhanced by a W cardinal.

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Wonderful colours in the rocks looking East from Finisterre

Sat 24th

After another walk ashore, we sailed on to the Ria de Muros in a strengthening northerly, where Ambition II anchored near the town. We were pleased to find shops open on a Saturday evening, and found bread, meat and fish, as well as a small supermarket. After a home-made paella aboard, we visited a nearby yacht, Lady in Red from Poole, for a drink and exchange of experiences.

This anchorage is quite steep-to, and while the wind blew us into the deeper water, we drifted into the shallows when it calmed down in the evening, so that we touched at low water. This necessitated an early start next morning, to avoid getting stuck, but we just motored round to the bay of San Francisco, anchored on the beach, and walked over the hill to view the tidal lagoon, then out towards the point and back along the beach. An easterly was getting up, and we had a rocky time getting the dinghy back aboard in the waves. Then we had a slow sail round to Ria de Arousa (as the wind faded and went round to the west). This ria is particularly sheltered by a maze of rocks, so careful navigation is required. We threaded our way into a tidal lagoon near the town of Cambados, which reputedly forms the world’s largest mussel farm. Hundreds of rafts are moored here for this purpose, each one supporting hundreds of ropes dangling in the water, on which the mussels grow. We found a quiet anchorage at the north end, where we were entertained by firework displays all around the ria. As the tide went down, our own private rock emerged from the lagoon.

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Typical mussel raft

Threading our way SW out of the Ria de Arousa, our course then passed between the mainland and Isla Ons. This is one of the Islas Atlantico, which are a national park and one is required to get special permission to anchor off or visit the islands. Unfortunately, this is a deeply bureaucratic process taking some days, so we missed the opportunity for a visit. Instead we continued to the Ria de Aldan, a small narrow ria open only to the north, which would be protected in the current SW wind. Smoke from a small forest fire was visible as we approached and a helicopter was deployed, managing to control the fire.  Anchored off an attractive, steep – to beach on the west side, inside the array of mussel rafts, we rowed ashore and had an evening walk to the port at the head of the ria, and in the morning another scramble along the shore.

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At the head of Ria de Aldan

Tue 27th

Several days of strong north-westerly winds were forecast, so we took the opportunity to cross the Ria de Vigo, passing inside the Islas Ciel, and on to Bayona where we anchored off the beach near the harbour. This anchorage in a huge bay encircled on all sides except a small gap to the NE, with the city close at hand, was to be our home for the next few days. It was a longish row into the harbour (where we tied up next to a replica of the Pinta), or to some fisherman’s steps on the sea wall (where we anchored the dinghy on a long line to keep her off the wall). We had several good walks: along the beach to a tidal lagoon; up a lovely scenic walkway by a stream to an old church on the hills, surrounded by pine and eucalyptus forest; westward round to the next bay, another scenic stream with old mills, and back over the hill. On each return to the boat, we filled a rucksack at one of the local supermarkets, stocking up on tins of local shellfish, olives and fresh produce. We were tempted by the whole hams hung on the bone (maybe later), and ate well on the local fresh meat, fish, fruit and and vegetables. Retrieving the dinghy each time at the steps, and getting aboard with our supplies, attracted a small crowd of onlookers every time!  Maybe it was the wellies-and-shorts outfit and funny hats.

On the last day of June we went in to the yacht club (Monte Real Club de Yates), in its prestigious location below the old fortifications, to fill up our diesel (€1.13/litre)  and water tanks. Back at the anchorage we made a final forage ashore to stock up on Spanish wine, ready for our next leg down the coast of Portugal.

 

 

The Bay

Sat 17th

All the weather sources agreed – high pressure for the next week would mean light winds for the south of England and Biscay areas, predominantly from the north east. Ideal for crossing the Bay, and the roughly 450 mile voyage to La Coruña in Spain. We delayed departure until midday so as to be outside the Ushant TSS at nightfall. We had to motor as the wind was actually a very light westerly, but the plan worked well, and as we skirted west of the TSS, all the ships were in their lanes, well out of our way throughout the night.

After dawn we arrived at the southern end of the TSS, then gradually worked our way across the traffic until more or less clear of shipping by the end of the afternoon. Here we came to the continental shelf, where the depth plunges to 4-5 km within a few miles, and features steep canyons named after the French towns, such as Brest and Douarnenez. By this time the expected north easterly had picked up to F3/4, enough to sail without the engine at last.

It was time to try out the Hydrovane self-steering gear. This had been fitted in the winter but we had not yet had a chance to test it. The wind vane operates an independent rudder, so first we had to set up the sails so the boat almost sails herself, then lock the wheel steering before engaging the Hydrovane. To our astonishment it just worked straight away, needing only an adjustment to the vane angle (via control lines to the cockpit). For the next 24 hours Ambition II steered herself under sail at mostly 5 knots.

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Fishing net caught on a hull anode (luckily not the prop!)

Later on day 3, the wind dropped until we were forced to motor again. Then it started to blow (still gently) from the SW, and grew overcast. Banks of fog appeared, and that night it was hard to know what visibility we had since there were no ships within 10 miles on the AIS or radar, and no lights visible all night. On day 4 the fog cleared for most of the last 100 miles, only reappearing near the coast.

When motoring at night, we engaged the Raymarine autopilot, since it is hard for one person on watch to steer as well as navigate, make cups of coffee and put on another CD. But the electric autopilot is normally disconnected, as we have had problems with the gear wearing out, so when two are on watch we hand-steer unless the Hydrovane is engaged.

We had several dolphin sightings in the Bay. First we had a group of 3 small dark animals playing around the boat for a while, though we could not identify them. Later a large group of short-beaked common dolphin were with us for long enough for J to get some good photos.

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short-beaked common dolphins

The impressive rose-coloured cliffs emerged from the mist as we approached La Coruña in the late afternoon. Avoiding the city and marina, Ambition II anchored in the Ria de Ares, a little to the east. Yesterday’s beef casserole was enhanced with a tin of chilli, and washed down with a bottle of Rioja (thanks to the RSA!).

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Plotter snap: steep contours off the Iberian coast, and close encounter with fishing boat!

 

Go West!

The jobs to complete at East Cowes included fitting the electric bilge pump and refitting the switch panel below the engine controls, tidying up some wiring and adding some labels, and sorting out the heaps into something resembling ordered stowage. In between jobs we had a bus ride to Newport, Ventnor and Ryde and a walk to the East Cowes castle. The beach was stony and seaweedy, but the children’s park was creatively furnished and boasted a sparkling blue paddling pool. Unfortunately we had no toddlers to give us an excuse to go in. At the nearby café, we had our final cream tea:

  1. Yarmouth, café by the pier : good standard & liveliest location
  2. Royal Hotel, Ventnor – who charmingly fitted us in after hours -high class ambience and scones, with price to match
  3. East Cowes prom café – decent tea, friendly staff and outstanding value for money.

 

On Thursday we crossed to West Cowes for a rather rainy walk, collecting a take-away curry along the way. Until Thursday we could not get to West Cowes because of the Floating Bridge. This had recently replaced the old chain ferry, but suffered from teething problems, such as a tendency to get stuck on a falling tide. The MCA actually withdrew its operating licence for a time, but despite another grounding on Wednesday, it was back in service, much to the relief of locals, and persons in need of a curry.

As we settled aboard that evening, the sounds of the Isle of Wight Festival reached us from up the Medina valley, through the pouring rain.

 

Fri 9th

The forecast being less daunting, we set off in the morning and tacked down the West Solent, punching the tide. But it was still gusty and as the ebb started the waves increased, so we stopped once again at Newtown, this time picking up a mooring near the West landing. It was a dry afternoon at least, so we applied some paint to the cockpit floor. More curry for tea!

 

Sat 10th

Along with several other yachts, we headed for the Needles channel at what passes for slack water. The wind was still SW around F4, but we managed to set a reefed main and motored on to Portland harbour, arriving in time to avoid the next weather front, and to have a walk to the incredible Chesil Beach. Next day we caught a bus to Portland Bill, watched a couple of intrepid yachts round the point close to shore, heading West, then walked along the eastern cliff path most of the way back to Castletown. But the path ended and we had to back-track a mile to a steep path, and round the prison wall to find a bus stop. In fact we had two such detours due to losing the path, which is not well marked at the SE, so it was quite a long walk!

Monday was still a bit windy, so we spent the afternoon in Weymouth, exploring the beach front and harbour, and taking the rowed ferry across the river – well worth the £1 fee for the experience.

 

Tue 13th

The tide being slack off the Bill at 13:00, we set off at midday and rounded close-in, following several other boats.

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Portland Bill lighthouse

 

There was enough south in the very light wind to set the main, but with 55 miles across the bay we motored at around 6 knots, and made Salcombe in the fading light. Along the way we were called on the VHF by a nearby yacht who turned out to be from Shoreham yacht club, and had recognised Ambition II. We were both heading for Falmouth via Salcombe and hoped to meet up, but we ended up in different places so failed to meet. We anchored that night east of the rocks near Sunny Cove, just inside the harbour, and set off early for Falmouth. The wind was now in the NE so we tried headsails, but again found it necessary to motor all day, passing south of the Eddystone and coming into the Carrick Roads in the early afternoon. We checked into Mylor marina, where we were booked to have the engine alignment adjusted. After discussion with the engineers, we arranged to dry out on the slip wall next day, to draw the prop shaft and re-set the rope-cutter (which was chafing) and fit the new bearing seals R had brought from Essex. This was all done, and we were back on the pontoon after refloating in the evening.

 

Mylor has a beautiful setting on the Fal estuary, with river beaches, muddy creeks and low green hills all around. The nearest shops are in Mylor Bridge, a little over a mile as the crow flies and rather more if you miss the correct footpath and go up the steep hill by road and then miss the path a different way on the route back and lug your bike up through woods, puddles etc to the top of the hill (again).  J does not like to cycle up or down hills so was not amused. However, we had a peaceful walk down through the churchyard, stopping to reflect at the memorial to HMS Ganges.

 

Fri 16th

The engine alignment was adjusted next day (the mounting nuts were actually loose!) so the job was done. The prices at Mylor Yacht Harbour are quite high, but the boat facilities are very good and the attitude friendly and helpful.

We met up with J’s Cornish relatives, H & H, who live nearby, and they kindly gave us a lift into Falmouth to collect some Euro and USD currency, and a last big supermarket shop. Later we filled up with fuel and water, and concluded that the forecast for the week ahead was as good as we could expect for a Biscay crossing – light winds with elements of north and east. We rounded off the evening by finally following the easy and pretty route along the river to Mylor Bridge, with an optional low tide shortcut over the stepping stones.

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Setting off, and a week in the Solent

Ambition II had a new engine fitted in March/April, and we spent most of May getting stores aboard, painting and finishing some essential maintenance. We had sailing friends and family aboard several times (keeping up our function as RSA floating clubhouse to the last). Also we had some pleasant short-trips, including days with J’s ex-colleagues Jill and Julie, and Lena and Meg from J’s CELTA course. We also had a farewell party at home, greatly assisted by our children and their partners, where it was good to see many sailing and village friends.

 

Sat 27th.

It was time for the May Bank holiday weekend RSA cruise to Kent, so we planned to tag along and then set off South. But with delays leaving the house and strong winds, only one boat, Gem, made it to the Medway. Three others, Pakljhawa, Sea Jay and Ambition II joined her at Harty Ferry on the Sunday. Meanwhile we had a convivial Saturday night dinner aboard Ambition II with the crews of Ulabella and Pakljhawa on the mooring at Paglesham.

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Motley crew at Harty church

 

After a late lunch at the Harty Ferry inn (we just made last food orders at 4pm), and a walk to the ancient Harty church, we had farewell drinks aboard Gem before turning in. Jon and Dawn did sterling service ferrying us ashore and between boats. Overnight we had thunderstorms with strong NE gusts which dragged anchors of both Ambition II and Sea Jay, but no harm done. We weighed at 05:30am and made our way from the Swale via the Gore channel to round the Foreland. The tide remained in our favour almost to Dungeness, and despite headwinds all day we reached Beachy Head in thick fog by 19:30. It was so thick at Newhaven, we could not see the south harbour wall from the entrance channel, but we got in safely and rafted alongside a Dutch yacht. Naomi was joining us, and appeared with the lady in charge of the marina, who proceeded to tell us we could not stay. It seems that much of the former visitors pontoon is taken up by wind farm boats. We had tried to contact the marina by phone and VHF, but no reply. So Naomi jumped on board and we cast off, and motored on to Brighton, fortunately with less fog as it was dark by the time we arrived. The HM had Ambition II on record, incorrectly, as a smaller boat, and put us alongside in rather a tight spot, but we got in without causing any damage in spite of the strengthening wind.

 

Tue 30th

Off at 07:00 while there was still enough depth in the entrance. Motoring into the SW wind all day, arriving Newtown anchorage in the evening. A man on a motor boat anchored nearby proceeded to play the Scottish bagpipes for half an hour, to applause from the other moored boats! We launched the dinghy and had a walk on the South side.

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Naomi negotiating Selsey Bill

 

Recipe: Yoghurt Chapatis (thanks to Naomi and Tom)

Mix 1 mug of plain flour with a heaped teaspoon of baking powder and a pinch of salt, then add enough yoghurt to make a dough. Roll into golf-ball sized balls, then roll (with self-same mug) each ball flat and thin (lots of flour here). Dry-fry over a high heat, and eat immediately.

Next morning after several phone calls to local Yanmar agents, R managed to book the 50 hour initial engine service which was now due. But this meant 6 days to kill in the Solent. So we walked the coast path to Yarmouth – very attractive with early summer flowers and woodland. At Yarmouth we bought 7 day rover bus tickets, and took an open top bus ride round the southern tip of the island (hairy on the hairpins). This was followed by fish & chips and a bus ride to Shalford, then another long walk back to the dinghy.

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Anchored just inside Newtown entrance bar

 

Thu 1st June

We had a very brief morning walk as far as Newtown church, as otherwise the dinghy would be left dry on an extensive mud flat. Later when the tide rose again, we set off to Yarmouth where Naomi needed to catch the ferry to Lymington and train home. At the quay we were kindly offered a lift by a local lady, “E”, who took us to the New Inn at Shalford to catch the bus. As we had time to wait, we are our picnic in the churchyard, but Naomi realised that her phone was left in E’s car. She found the car parked in a drive, and retrieved her phone. E invited us all to tea, so we had a nice chat in her house full of pictures and models, family portraits, trains, boats and planes.

In Yarmouth we visited the ice cream parlour and waited for the ferry. The coming weekend was the YOGAFF festival, and already the gaffers were arriving, with several dressed overall. Stalls and marquees were being erected.

After waving goodbye to Naomi, R & J set off back to Newtown on the bus, and after another hot walk had a dinner of foraged sea-kale bubble & squeak with lemon sole.

 

On Friday R&J took the bus again to Yarmouth, this time rowing to Shalfleet quay, which is a much shorter walk from the bus stop. YOGAFF was in full swing, with lots of boats to see, bands playing on the quayside, and acres of attendant funfair. Saturday was fine but windy (not safe to leave the boat unattended for long), and the anchorage was crowded with lots of kids sailing as well.

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Boats at YOGAFF

 

Sunday was a little less windy so R rigged Tringa, our nesting dinghy, and we had a lively sail up the eastern creek, then out to the shingle spit at the harbour entrance. We walked along the beach to the point, and ate our picnic watching the boats on the Solent. Later we packed the dinghy on deck and after some difficulty weighed anchor (very weedy and dug in to the clay) to sail up to East Cowes Marina, where the engine service was booked for next day. After tying up the boat, we walked out of town in search of the river path (but got lost in housing estates). Eventually we found our way to Whippingham and the path to Folly Inn, where we had dinner on the veranda before walking back.

 

Mon 5th

J took a bus to Newport to get the last of her vaccination jabs, meanwhile David from Odessa Marine came to do the engine service, which included checking the valve clearances and engine alignment. All went well, except that the latter was only just within tolerance, and to carry out proper adjustment would need the boat to be dried out for access to the stern gear. We resolved to look into this further along the coast. By mid-afternoon the weather had deteriorated with very strong southerly winds and rain, and it looked to stay that way for a couple of days. So we are hunkered down in the marina with a list of jobs to do and books to read!