We were excited to be meeting Phil’s cousins the “Andersons” from the UK in Portugal for a few days but between us and Portugal there was 65 nautical miles of coast to cover from Baiona, Spain to Porto, Portugal.
There had been wind for the last few days which was only just starting to ease and a sizeable residual swell, but the wind was from the north, we were heading south (down wind) so off we went.
We motored out in quite ugly conditions, having to hand steer in the swell for the first 3 miles out of Baiona, where the wind and waves were on our beam before turning south for the downwind sail. We started with one reef in the main but the wind was still blowing around 25 knots so we put a second reef in (reduced our main sail size) just to be conservative. Once we were on the south heading to Porto is was quite a good journey averaging 6-7 knots speed with the swell following, so not as noticeable. And although as predicted the wind did drop during the day we left the second reef in as we were comfortable and our speed was fine.
We dropped the Spanish flag and raised the Portuguese along with the yellow quarantine flag. As we approached Leixões harbour (Porto) the wind started to pick up again. This is very common in these parts, most afternoon/evenings the wind picks up and gives a bit of a north/westerly blow for a few hours. It got up to 28 knots as we approached the harbour entrance and we were very cautious turning across the wind and swell to get into the harbour. We dropped the anchor inside the breakwater just outside the marina.
Leixões is a little north of Porto (about 15 km) and is commercial shipping and fishing port as well as an affordable marina (unlike the marina in the Douro River closer to Porto which was out of our price range), there is also an anchorage (which is free) at Leixões. We anchored the first night as we were not attempting to berth in a new marina with 30 knots of wind and we planned to move into the marina the next day for a couple of nights when we had our UK family come to visit. The marina was ok, but very run down with rope and snatch straps holding the pontoon fingers to the main pontoon, however we must compliment the young lady at reception whom was one of the most efficient marina staff members we have dealt with to date, she was so efficient at the paperwork and formalities for entering Portugal and answered all our questions about getting around and where to find what, and spoke almost perfect english. It was remarkable as she only worked weekends, and in the past we have found that the weekend marina staff can’t always answer all our questions and can be quite frustrating to deal with.
Porto, our first landfall in Portugal. We made our way into the city, armed ourselves with a map and set off on foot to explore. With swivelling heads we walked the streets, up and down the hills and ticked off a few of the recommended sites.
We were impressed by the buildings covered in traditional tiles, there was a noticeable mix of buildings and living standards, some grand and well kept right beside many which were obviously poor and living very simply, this certainly wasn’t a downfall it adds to the culture and the experience. Overall we got the impression it isn’t a rich country dollar wise but certainly an interesting place to visit and the people are wonderful.
The main drawcard for the region for tourists is the port wine they produce, miles of beaches along the coast (although many are scattered with rocks at low tide), and a bustling old traditional city, largely untouched expect for the high street shops. Most people can be found down by the river Douro wandering the waterfront, eating alfresco, port tasting, shopping the markets for cork products (very Portuguese) or looking at the impressive Ponte Louis I Bridge.
This is where we caught up with relatives visiting from the UK, Clare (Phil’s cousin) and her children (young adults) Oliver, Annabel & William along with Oliver’s girlfriend Molly.
The next day was a real highlight, not just for Portugal but for our cruising to date, it was our opportunity to see Porto from the water with a day cruise on Red Roo. It was quite exciting as the weather and wind were in our favour so we fully stocked the fridge with cool drinks (including a bottle of pink Gin) and some Sangria, and prepared a feast of picnic food and awaited our passengers.
We had the Andersons on board along with Aussies David and Kris from yacht Taipan who had also just arrived from Spain. We set out in glorious sunshine for the 12 nautical mile round trip from Leixões down the coast along the beach and up into the Douro River to the centre of Porto turning around at the fabulous Pointe Louis I Bridge (as we are too tall to pass under it) and back to Leixões.
We had a great time, with the younger generation each taking a turn at the helm to steer Red Roo, the passengers relaxed along the way on the deck in the sunshine, keeping refreshed with a few gin and tonics and plenty of nice food.
It was totally fabulous, an absolute treat to share the day and experience with family and friends, Red Roo was in her element, Phil and I had grin’s on our faces from ear to ear and it certainly made a refreshing change from using the boat to get from A to B. A real reminder how lucky we are to be able to travel this way and do these things. An a delight to be able to share it with family and friends, thanks to the Brits and Aussies for joining us for the day, we loved having you all on board ❤️⛵️