During our first week here and having met lots of people from Sweden, Denmark, Norway, France, Portugal, Brazil, we met a couple from Baltimore, Ireland. Baltimore is only a 45 minute drive from where Mattis' family home is and it turned out they even went to the same school (though not in the same year). Just goes to show how small the world is.
We met a Norwegian couple, Guri who is a journalist and Oddvar, a pilot and they have three children who are 10, 8 and 3 years old. They are sailing the ARC+ (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) and beyond in their 45 foot catamaran. The ARC+ has 75 boats taking part in it this year and they are sailing from Cape Verde, across the Atlantic, finishing in Saint Lucia. Before they left Norway, Guri and Oddvar were approached by a Norwegian television station to document their journey sailing around the world. A project was set up to follow the family of five, documenting the home schooling of their children. They will observe whether home schooling with the use of iPads and Skype sessions with their classmates is as or more effective than being taught in a classroom setting. The children will be taught Monday to Friday with two and half hours of intensive teaching each day as well as having homework. What they will learn as a family such as how to sail, how to behave on a boat, what to do in different weather conditions, learn about different animals at sea, the different countries they will be travelling to, currencies etc and general life skills will be far more than what you can teach in a school. The social aspect will be different, but the children will still be able to keep in touch with their old classmates as well as of course meeting new people on their trip. It must be exciting for their old classmates back in Norway too, as they'll see what adventures the Oppegård's will be up to next. We will continue to follow them and maybe see them again. www.voyagingvega.com
We made friends with a Danish couple, Christina and Nicolaj and they were the first people we met when we arrived in Póvoa de Varzim. They saved up for five years to buy and set up their Sagitta 35 and have been sailing since May. Their plan was to sail to New Zealand, sell their boat, buy a campervan and continue travelling. Sadly, Chris gets very seasick, so much so that they can only sail for 2 days at a time, maximum. Any longer than that and they would need to have crew with them in order to get their boat safely across to where they need to be. They left Póvoa de Varzim about a week after we met them and they were sailing towards Lisbon. Unfortunately, due to seasickness, Chris and Nico decided to give up sailing, as the idea of sailing across the Atlantic over 3-4 weeks would not be feasible for them and probably not very enjoyable. They are now in Lisbon for the time being and selling their boat so that they can continue their dreams of travelling around the world.
Porto, 14th-15th August 2017
We explored a little more of Portugal and caught the metro to Porto, which was only 45 minutes away and stayed the night. We visited the River Douro, the Dom Luís I Bridge and ate lots!
History of Póvoa de Varzim.
Póvoa de Varzim is a maritime fishing town and is one of Portugal's best natural ports. In the 16th century, fishermen from Póvoa de Varzim fished as far out Newfoundland, due to their high nautical knowledge. After the 18th century, Póvoa de Varzim became a main fishing port in Portugal and its beaches attract many tourists.
On 27th February 1892, there was a strong gale which quickly whipped up into a storm. At least seven ships were completely wrecked, killing 105 people just a few metres outside the harbour entrance. The fishermen’s friends and families were stood on the breakwater helplessly watching whilst it took their lives.
When we arrived in Póvoa de Varzim, there was a week long festival called the “Assumption of Mary” (into Heaven) and this takes place every August. According to the beliefs of the Catholic Church, it celebrates the act of Mary's body going to Heaven at the end of her life.
Walking around the town, we noticed lots of different types of symbols on the pavement. After doing a little reading, we found out that they are called siglas poveiras. Also known as ‘marcas’, these symbols have been used by the local community of Póvoa de Varzim for many generations. The siglas were used as a family coat-of-arms in order to mark family belongings, such as outside their houses, barrels of fish, books of credit and tombstones. The siglas have been passed down the generations, from the father to the youngest son. The other children would receive a sigla with a trace (the pique), ie the eldest son would have one pique, the second would have two and so on and the youngest son would receive the original sigla, inheriting the same symbol as his father.
Since we arrived, at 6pm every evening, there would be fireworks set off from the breakwater. The traditional thinking behind it is that these loud bangs allow locals to communicate with the Gods, so that the Gods can protect the fisherman whilst they are at sea. Today, people continue to make their own fireworks and set them off at the breakwater in order to display that they can make the loudest noise.
Padhraic's and Victoria's wedding – Mallorca 18th – 20th August 2017
On the 18th August, before we flew to Mallorca for Mattis' friend's wedding, we had some lunch at a cafe opposite the metro station in Póvoa de Varzim. We thought we'd have some local tapas and try something we'd never eaten before. The waiter let us know which tapas was available that day and we chose to have 'moelas'. Moelas from the picture and from the sound of the word, we thought it could be mussels. The waiter said it was very good. When the food arrived, it didn't look quite like mussels, but more like small pieces of meat in brown gravy. After tucking in, the texture of the meat was quite soft, but we couldn't quite put our finger on what it was. We decided to wait until the end, after we'd eaten to Google it and find out what it was. It was chicken gizzard. Moelas isn't a dish we'd eat everyday, but it wasn't too bad! It was good to try something new.
We caught our flight to Mallorca and from there we caught two buses to Andratx, which was on the west side of the island. We arrived at our accommodation around 11:30pm and it was still so hot, we decided to get a refreshing beer and sangriaaa. Andtrax looked great and we explored more of the town the next morning before getting our taxi to the wedding venue. The wedding was set high up in a beautiful vineyard, where we had their local wines and produce.
About 70+ people from 11 countries flew to Mallorca for Mattis' friend's wedding in Finca son Bosch, Mallorca. The priest was funny, the atmosphere was relaxed, so many people got to catch up after many years of not seeing each other since school or university and there was lots of food and dancing. The night flew by! We wished we'd spent more than a couple of days in Mallorca, maybe next time...
We flew back to Porto the day after the wedding and from having 30 degrees of heat in Mallorca we thought it might be a little cooler in Porto. It had been around 25 degrees, but Póvoa de Varzim was just a hot when we got back. Normally at this time of year, there are what is known as the Portugese trade winds, or nortada. Winds which come from the north/north west, bringing a cool breeze with it. However, when we got back the winds had changed direction and there were southerly winds, hence the 36 degrees when we got off the plane! The weather stayed like that for a couple of days and then changed to north westerlies giving us a much cooler 23 degrees.
Barcelona Trip 25th – 28th August 2017
Mattis and I flew to Barcelona to see a few of our friends and we had a great time, sightseeing and exploring. We walked about 15km each day, we visited the Sagrada Familia, Montjuic, the Grec, Placa Espanya, Placa de Catalunya.... A flying visit, but we hope to see our friends again soon, maybe on the next leg of our journey....
Our Time Here in Portugal...
Food from the supermarkets and markets have been amazing. Just as a few examples, 1 and half litres of sangria is 1 euro, wine is about 1-2 euros and there is so much fresh fruit, vegetables and fish available everyday. We've been trying lots of local dishes and snacks, one of our favourites has to be the Portugese egg tart or pastel de nata. We've had a few!
We have been having a wonderful time, making dinner for our Swedish friends Sanna and Svante, having drinks in the evenings and watching the sunsets. We talk about how nice it is here to be able to take time with jobs on the boat, mainly because it is warm and sunny everyday. Before, when we were back in England, whenever it was sunny, we would do as much of the outdoor work as possible and the indoor work on the rainy days. Here, we only have a few jobs to do, so it has been nice to be able to take our time and enjoy visiting where we are staying and meeting new people. We're here until the first week of September, when we'll be heading out to sea again...
Jobs to do whilst in Portugal
- Clean shaft seal and test the engine by running it at high revs to make sure the engine is no longer leaking
- Reseal 4 leaking portlights
- Secure wooden compartment that houses the engine, so that it doesn't create loud banging/creaking noises whilst the boat is rolling at sea
- Get a longer jack to jack lead for the weather fax
- Get a longer aerial for the weather fax
- Organise power to the laptop
- Fix 2-speed winch on the portside. It stopped working just as we were sailing into Póvoa de Varzim
- We have a Tilley lamp that currently isn't in working order. We need to replace the mantle and a couple of other parts. The lamp will be our emergency light if all of our electrics fail whilst at sea
- Stock up on food supplies
- Fill up jerry cans (diesel)
- Gas refill for cooking