Sunday, 28 August 2011

A land of contrasts

From the lavish architecture around the port it is obvious that Cascais is a wealthy town. On arrival at the reception pontoon at the marina, a smartly dressed assistant catches our lines and in perfect English asks us to check in at the marina office with our papers.

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The air conditioned offices and marble floors are in stark contrast to Peniche, the charming fishing village where we had spent the previous night. Tom arrives looking very dapper and unloads electronic gadgetry onto the boat. There is a music festival in town and when we walk in for supper there are throngs of people cramming the streets, eating at the pavement cafes and sitting on the beach listening to a local band who have an amplifier that rattles your bones.

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We leave Cascais the following day in strong winds and sail on a broad reach to Sines, with bright sunshine and winds on the quarter at 20 knots. Sines is un unattractive town next to an oil refinery but the marina staff are charming and as the wind howls outside we have a cosy dinner on board. Fatty and i have an early night because tomorrow we have to cover 75 miles to Lagos.

Our plan was to slip out of Sines quietly at 7am but in our haste we leave fatty on the dock so i have to go around again and pick her up, using Juno's powerful bow thrusters to manoeuvre in the limited space. The downside of the thrusters is that they make a deafening blast and they just happen to be sited under the berth on the fore cabin, giving Beth a loud and alarming wake up call. By 2pm we round Cabo de Sao Vicente, once the end of the known world and a springboard for the great Portuguese discoveries in the new
world.

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Once round the point the change is dramatic. No more Atlantic rollers, no cold wind from the North - although technically still the Atlantic we are definitely now in the Med. The sun is hotter, the sea is calm and all along the coast of the Algarve there are boats at anchor and beachside hotels with bodies covering the sandy beaches.

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We finally arrive in Lagos at 5pm on 27th August. Jamie's 18th birthday and for us another milestone. When planning this voyage two months ago my ambition was always to celebrate Jamie's birthday here in Lagos and somewhat to my surprise we made it. Fatty and i go ashore for a cold beer to celebrate and we marvel that it was only in April that we sat here with the Oxenham's looking at an Oyster in the marina when this trip was only a distant dream.

 

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