Log #37b Porto to Lisbon

November 1, 2005 in Log Series 30-39, Logs by Series, Series 37 Portugal, The Logs

Port Naos, Arrecife, Lanzarote, Canaries

Nov. 1, 2005

Hi Folks,

This may be the second log you get at the same time as #37a, as, due to extreme frustration at being unable to send E-mail, I have had extra time to complete this one. We could have left three days ago, but I wanted to get off Log #37a which was completed on Oct. 31.

I went into town with a map of where an internet cafe is located, but got hopelessly lost in the warren of back streets and streets with no name showing to add to the confusion. Nov. 1st over here is a national holiday on which everything was closed down, and we debated should we leave for our next anchorage, which may or may not have internet, or stay another day until things were open again. We stayed, and today (after a ten minute dinghy ride and twenty minute walk) we finally found the internet spot. However, only three computers were available, all in use, with another person waiting ahead of us. OK, I would wait while Judy did some grocery shopping. Fifteen minutes later one computer was freed up and the Australian waiting ahead said he would only be about ten minutes. OK, but then after ten minutes he said he had a batch of E-mail come in that he had to respond to.

OK, I continued to wait. Then the second computer became available before the Australian was finished, and I was able to pay the 1.80 Euro for an hour’s time and go on line. However, that computer would not take the memory wand on which I had all my E-mail to send out and on which I download E-mail in. The only unit that would take the memory wand was the one the Australian was using. So I waited again. After about ten minutes, the Australian realized I needed the computer he was on, and volunteered to take the other one as he did not need to use a memory wand. I thanked him very much and we exchanged machines. By this time Judy had returned from the grocery store. One hour of waiting down.

On the computer, our wand worked and was ready for use. I called up my Hotmail account, got on line. However, it (Hotmail) had difficulty in navigating from page to page. We would get messages in Portuguese to the effect “Page not available”, or “Error in page”. We could see our “IN BOX” and the 23 new messages, but when we tried to open them, we would get the error message. However after paging back, trying other Hotmail menus, and even signing out and restarting, we finally got to call up and read one or two messages, but not others. After trying another variety of entering data such as double clicking, single clicking, using the ENTER key, we tried the REPLY menu, but no luck. When I tried the SEND menu I got the error message at first, but after several other variations we got the blank message form.

“Oh goody”, we can at least send out the Log #37a and other messages on the wand. I downloaded the first log from the wand with its log list, planning to cut and paste it on the blank message form. I hit “Control A” to highlight the whole log and a menu in Portuguese came up. I was then able then scrolled down the entire log to highlight it and clicked on “Control C” for copy. I then was able to paste it on the message form. I tried the same thing with all the addresses and I lost them! I am not sure what else I clicked on, but finally got them back and was able to paste them to the Blind Copy Address position. However when I hit SEND, nothing happened, but the error message started blinking at the bottom of the page.

Give it a rest! We (by this time Judy was getting her fingers onto the mouse as well) signed off and went to the news section of the sign in home page to read about the Gomery Report critical of our former prime minister in a multi-million dollar kickback scandal. The article allowed it to be E-mailed to a friend, and so I set it up to see if it would actually send E-mail. It went out!

Hurrah! Maybe now my Hotmail account would be in working condition and would allow me to send or receive E-mail. So we went through the sign in procedure again and tried all systems. No go! Now even the new messages were screwed up as rather than being in order of date received, they were in “bloody” alphabetical order, and I had to search all over the three pages of messages to identify the new ones, which of course I could not download anyways! I gave up!

Judy wanted to use the remaining 8 minutes of our frustrated hour on line to check weather sites. The sites we used last time were not immediately available as the format of the weather sites had changed, and by the time we found one we could use, guess what? Our time was up!

Sending and receiving E-mail is the most frustrating aspect of cruising! That’s why when we were in Portugal and I could access the internet on a phone card from our laptop; that was happiness. However we are now in Spanish territory which does not permit data transmission except with telephone contracts within the country. Winlink requires short wave capabilities which we do not have and allows only a limited amount of data or time, not suitable to the logs and pictures I try to send. We might have used Judy’s sister’s address to get a French contract with associated roaming charges, but we will be out of the EU in a couple of weeks once we head over to the Cape Verde Islands. I am not sure what the situation will be in the Caribbean when we get there in January. All this vaunted technology is a “dog’s breakfast”!

Forgive my ventilation, but I wanted to write out my frustrations while feeling them !

All the best, whenever you get this,


PS – I had not saved this on our memory wand and thus did not send it out at the same time as Log #37a


Log #37b Porto to Lisbon

Port Naos, Aricife, Lanzarote, Canaries

Nov. 1, 2005

We enjoyed Porto, especially Villa Nova de Gaia where the port wine lodges and related industries dwelt, mentioned in my previous log, and also the old town, Ribeira district, now a UNESCO Heritage site. This latter area on the river opposite Villa Nova de Gaia still has medieval, shadow-covered tenements in steeply sloped narrow lanes, grimy cobblestone passages coming up from the river, contrasting with trendy quayside restaurants and tourist boats. This is an interesting vibrant part of Porto where Henry the Navigator is said to have been born. There is a museum in his family home (never open when we were there) which at one time served as a customs house for the port, and a statue of him pointing out to sea in a park above the Ribiera district. Right in the centre of the port were a couple of Scandinavian cruising yachts alongside the wall. We were reluctant to bring Veleda here as the sea wall is high, the waters tidal and foul (We have heard stories of people who got skin infections from handling lines wet with the dirty, effluent -polluted waters of Porto.), access to the few ladders difficult, and the security non-existent. So we were happy to leave Veleda in Povoa de Varzim and take the local bus each of the three days we spent in Porto.

One of the days we left from Porto by a small narrow-gauge single car electric tram on the Linha da Tamega railway to go up into the hills, overlooking verdant picturesque river valleys, to Amarante, a small town straddling the Rio Tamega, a tributary emptying into the Douro River. We wanted to see this town as it was featured in one of Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe novels when the French in 1809 lost their brief hold on Portugal and were retreating, only to be held up for several weeks on one side of the bridge before getting across this strategic exit to flee Wellington’s troops. We have read several novels by Cornwell on the Peninsular Wars (the Iberian Peninsula of Portugal and Spain) against Napoleon and enjoy our travels through some of the areas where battles took place almost 200 years ago.

Another aspect of Portuguese architecture we noticed was the plentiful use of ceramic tiles on homes and public buildings. These shiny multicoloured tiles would serve as sidings for entire walls of homes; as decorative mosaics highlighting heraldic emblems, crests or balconies; or featuring heroic scenes of grandiose proportions displaying battles (as in the central train station in Porto) or religious motifs. Many churches would have either multicoloured or traditional blue and white ceramic tile scenes from the New Testament.

Porto has a reasonably good bus and subway system, one branch in process of being extended out to Povoa de Varzim, and another branch, inaugurated while we were there, going across the two tier high-level bridge Pont de Dom Luis I. We saw the first subway train go across the upper level while we were enjoying a meal at a restaurant below on the quay in Ribeira. Unfortunately it is no longer possible to walk across the upper level as it now carries the subway line across the bridge to Villa Nova de Gaia.

Three days later, on Sept. 18, we were off for a 48 mile run under sail and motorsailing to anchor in Sao Jacinto in Ria de Aveiro (40˚ 39.50’N, 008˚ 43.99’W). We entered south of the long breakwater, motorsailing with brisk force 7 winds abeam, and further assisted by a 5 knot flood tide, giving us a speed over ground in excess of 10 knots. The channel off to our starboard was crowded with yachts and fishing boats, with flags flying and fireworks going off. It was nice of them to welcome us this way, but we altered course to port to crab our way through the flood current to enter between the fingers of the long breakwaters towards the sheltered waters off the airfield and Sao Jacinto. Winds were still blowing at force 7 (about 30 knots) but the anchor held well. We noticed that another local yacht that anchored dragged and had to reset its anchor. We didn’t bother to go ashore and left at 0830 next morning for the 35 mile motor trip to Figuera da Foz, a very expensive stop!

As requested in the pilot, we went to the fuel dock, and while I tried unsuccessfully to use the card operated diesel pump, Judy went to check in. She took quite a long time, and when I went into the immigration office to find her, she was informed her passport into the EU was out of date. Oh sh…. Other check-ins were done with just our photocopies of the passports, but Judy had taken our actual passports and thus the expired date was noted. The official was quite co-operative and tried to help her deal with the issue by suggesting a trip to England (as it is not a Shengen country bound by the treaty) would suffice. He even indicated that we could wait until Lisbon to make that adjustment, but Judy did not want to take any risks, especially since we were to meet her Dad in Madeira in a few weeks time, and so we spent an hour at an internet café arranging a return flight from Porto to Stanstead to get her passport stamped in, then leaving six hours later to get her passport stamped out. So she was on a 450 Euro round trip for about 24 hours to satisfy the requirements of a 3 month limit into Shengen countries of the EU! I still think the immigration official would have accepted just the photo copy of our passports (I was OK as I was on my British passport), as the officials have done before and ever since. In fact he did not want any confirmation that she had renewed her stamp. We did not return to the office to show her now valid passport. No one before or since has looked at our actual passports. Oh well, if you can’t take a joke (regardless of how inconvenient or expensive) you shouldn’t be cruising!

The town itself was quite adequate and pleasant, with a large market across the road from the marina, and a good internet café for E-mail. The marina had finger docks (40˚ 08.84’N, 008˚ 51.61’W) with power and water for a relatively expensive 22.30 Euros a night. The night Judy was off on her 24 hour jaunt, I was invited over to Cool Blue for supper. There were several other boats we knew there, including Hydra Blue, Wild Adventure, and Sea Fox. We left after the second night for the 57 mile motor down to anchor inside the breakwater at Peniche (39˚ 21.22’N, 009˚ 22.13’W). At least on that trip we were visited by a pod of six dolphins, the first we had seen for quite a while. However when using our Simrad Wheelpilot, it did not work properly, but replacing the fuse solved the problem. We follow the procedure each trip to use both our Simrad and our Raymarine self steering systems to be sure both are working properly. We are not happy with the reliability of the Simrad Wheel pilot.

Off again we left next day for a 45 mile trip motoring and a bit of motorsailing, to anchor off Cascais, a suburb of Lisbon, on the coast. During this trip we passed Cabo Ruso (35˚ 41.75’N, 009˚ 30.71’W) the westernmost point of continental Europe. At Cascais, we anchored three times. The first location was near a channel that local fishing boats used to go in and out from their moorings close to shore. However, they did not have any consideration for the boats at anchor further out, and plowed in and out at full speed creating very uncomfortable and dangerous wakes. After yelling at three or four of these yahoos to slow down, I was aware it was not just an occasional inconsiderate skipper, but a concerted disregard of anchored sailboats. We then re-anchored further away from this area, but were cautioned by another boater that heavy winds come up frequently and cause risk of dragging, suggesting we might be better further away yet. So we finally went outside all the anchored boats nearer the beach and set our anchor (38˚ 41.86’N, 009˚ 24.70’W) for the next 5 days while touring Lisbon, doing maintenance for our 500 mile trip to Madeira, and waiting for our friend Doug Caldwell to arrive from Toronto.