Wednesday 24 August 2011

Little Blighters

We are surfing along on a broad reach in brilliant sunshine heading due south along the Portuguese coast having just crossed the border from Spain. We are averaging eight knots through the water, and a little faster over the ground due to the south setting current running behind us and long Atlantic rollers that effortlessly lift our 35 tons and give us a benevolent shove down to the Mediterranean. Jamie and Beth are asleep, tucked up in the twin forward cabin, their lee cloths secured to keep them from rolling out of their bunks and the electric fan humming away. Having made breakfast in the cockpit, fatty has also gone below for a mid morning snooze leaving me on watch looking out for little blighters.

Ever since we left Baiona, the sea has been littered with lobster pots. These are marked with a little red triangular flag set on a metre high stick atop a floating buoy which is attached to the sea bed. We have forty
metres of sea under our hull so the anchor line must be 100 metres long. These buoys are normally set in pairs every half a mile or so and for Juno it is like a slalom course on a ski slope - there goes another one sliding past on our port side with its twin 20 metres to starboard. At first we thought that we must be in the 'lobster lane' and when we routed further offshore we thought that we had given them the slip, but then, just as I was relaxing into a bowl of cereal, a little red flag passed me only a few feet from the boat, bobbing in the waves as if to remind me to keep a more careful look out. The consequence of getting one of these lines caught around the propeller could be chilling. With the sea temperature still only 20 degrees, the prospect of diving over the side armed with a knife to cut free 100 metres of polypropylene line is not terribly attractive. We do have a very sharp rope cutter on our prop which is our first line of defence, but better still avoid the little blighters all together.


Last night we were in Leixoes (impossibly pronounced 'layshoinsh' - where did that 'n' come from?) a marina set in a busy port on the outskirts of Porto. When we talked of taxis, our Dutch neighbours in the marina scoffed and said it was much cheaper to take the metro. So, after a long walk to the metro station and two changes on the tram we eventually arrived in Porto at 10pm for our 'early' supper. The architecture in Porto is on a grand scale and numerous bridges span the Rio Douro which splits Porto. After a few diversions to avoid menacing looking side streets populated by swarthy men smoking cigarettes and gaudily dressed women standing in doorways dressed for business, we found the cobbled street along the river lined with
restaurants and packed out with diners eating outside in the mild evening air. After dinner, under the cover of dark, we took a taxi back to the marina, hurtling at breakneck speed through Porto, arriving back at the boat at 1am, with the prospect of another early start in the morning.


Today we are heading for Figueira da Foz, another 60 miles south - if the little blighters don't trip us up on the way.

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