Friday, September 23, 2005

Nazare to Cascais

We arrived in Nazare at about 10.30pm on Wednesday 21st Sept. As night entries go, it was pretty straightforward, the only real hazard being the fishing pots with very insubstantial markers. I stood at the bow to scour the water immediately ahead of us, with Nick at the helm, watching for my signal if I spotted a pot. We were lucky not to get entangled, I think. As soon as we had moored, a policeman appeared on the pontoon and asked us to show our papers – very efficient! The next morning, the harbour master (English and eccentric!) woke us at 8.30, ticked us off about the state of our mooring lines and, once again, asked to see our papers. Portugal is notorious for its beaurocracy towards visiting yachts, mainly due to a growing drugs problem along the coast.
The marina in Nazare was quite bleak – a bit of a wasteland with rotting boats lying around and feral dogs wandering about. It’s also right next to the fishing boat pontoons so it was quite smelly and noisy. As the seasoned tourists that we now are, we decided to reserve judgment until we had visited the town (about 2k away) After all, we had been wrong about places before! Nazare has a long, wide beach with lovely sand, but it was more geared to tourism than anywhere else we have visited and as such, lacked authenticity. We decided to stay for the day, and leave on Friday. We went to a fish restaurant with a very attractive display of pensionable lobsters and crabs in a tank. I thought they were a lesser known species of furry crustacean as they were covered in weed – not very appetising! By this time, however, it was too late to leave and we had a passable meal but it was the most expensive so far outside the UK and we felt a bit fleeced. We then went on the funicular railway, up to the old town which had a pretty square and church, but otherwise, nothing of note.
Decided to leave for Cascais at noon today and in order to stock up the starboard locker (running low on wizened vegetables and rotten meats) and purchase his ration of fresh sardines, Nick took a trip to the market before we left. By all accounts, it was excellent (although that description could be open to interpretation – I’d need to see it with my own eyes as his tend not to see dirt!). I stayed on the boat to get ship-shape and sort some laundry (it never stops!).
Cascais is about 70 miles from Nazare, so we decided to sail through the night. The wind and weather looked good so after some diesel faff (speaking in ‘Spench’ through the intercom doesn’t work!) we sailed happily into a north-westerly of about 10 knots. This soon died to nothing, however, and having tried poling out the spare foresail to give us more speed to no avail, we decided to call in at a small bay, a mere 8 miles away from where we started. So here we are in Sao Martinho do Porto, anchored in the bay, and it’s beautiful! How two places in such close proximity can be so different is a mystery to me. Although the town has a little fishing industry, it thrives mainly on tourism. Despite this it is quite unspoiled. We rowed ashore as soon as we arrived, and rushed to show our papers to whichever official wanted to see them. We waited in the harbour master’s immaculate office for over an hour while he listened patiently to a loquacious woman who obviously didn’t get out much and wanted a good chat! Our turn came and all documents were checked meticulously and we were finally asked to provide proof of payment for light duties! We hadn’t heard of such a thing and managed to communicate this in the usual ‘Spench’. The HM looked shocked and we realised that this omission was quite serious. It seems that on entry to Portugal, every yacht must pay a fee for upkeep of the buoyage and light system. Not unreasonable, but how come this was news to us? Was he trying to fiddle us? He pulled out an official form and pointed gravely at the text – all in Portuguese of course. ‘Why hadn’t we paid it on entry?’ ‘We didn’t know, we’re really sorry, don’t take our boat!’ He turned to his keyboard for a while and then reached for his calculator. Finally, he announced the full amount – in Portuguese! Aaaargh! Our faces said enough and he wrote the amount down……….. 2 euros and 25 cents! Bargain!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think you missed a great opportunity in Nazare to peel back the top layer and feel the rythm of the place.

If you're referring to the restaurant I think you are, you picked a tourist-focused establishment directly on the busiest part of the beach (owned by non-locals). I'm not surprised you were disappointed. A few minutes' walk up into the back streets yields a different place entirely - warm, welcoming family-run kitchens that are both cheap and delicious, generations of families walking through the streets chatting and yes, the town dogs running errands of their own.

Even better, walk or ride a couple miles out of town and find an even quieter, rural place. Although maybe this would be offputting to you as well; it can seem like sorrow that hangs above the dusty streets and scars of unplanned building. But amidst the plots of farmland and scattered villages, there is beauty and unexpected friendliness that takes one's breath away.

It's like a feral dog, matted and thin, who approaches you proudly, stops for a moment, and licks your hand.