Porto and onwards
it's a tenuous 'segway' but there is a Perthshire link between Porto and our voyage. It turns out that the one of the significant founders of the port wine industry was a near neighbour of Hector's - albeit separated by a mere 250 years. George Sandeman must have been an enterprising chap though. He founded his business whilst the nation in 1805 was fighting Napoleon at sea off the Portuguese coast, and (as we learned in Coruna) war was being waged throughout mainland Spain and Portugal; yet throughout all that turmoil he continued to build the business that still bears his surname.
Porto is a lovely town of faded grandeur. Hidden backstreets and dilapidated buildings separate more spectacular public buildings on the banks of the Rio Douro. We'd debated whether to bring Atlantis up into the town but the fierce currents, shallow shoals and proximity of the altogether safer commercial port facilities at Leixos 2 km to the north saw us err on the side of safety and berth in Leixos to visit Porto town instead by metro from there.
All harbour stays beg the immediate question of 'how long should one stay?'. Many a round the world trip has stalled when the participants decide repeatedly just to stay a little longer in a safe berth whose attractions outweigh the uncertainties of putting once more to sea! The weather forecast was for strong northerly winds for two days (Tuesday and Wednesday) easing down towards very little towards the end of the week. On the one hand, strong northerlies were perfect for making progress; on the other there is always the risk of damage and discomfort when putting to sea into a blow; particularly into a lee shore of the Atlantic Ocean. Waiting another couple of days would have incurred no hardship other than perhaps limiting the range of our final destination of this phase of Atlantis' voyage.
In the end, we decided to go for it and put to sea just after lunch on Tuesday heading for Lisbon into freshening winds and a growing swell - total distance of just over 165 nautical miles with an expectation that the passage might take us up to 40 hours at sea. As it happens we have made fabulous progress. I type this as we round Cabo de Roca to begin the easterly approach into Lisbon some 25 miles to our east. We've had a 'sporty' passage - at times gusts of up to 45 knots, two reefs in the main, a small jib and Atlantis falling off waves at speeds of up to 10.5 knots (she's not used to such things!). At other times, we have had waves breaking into the cockpit - consistently when we've least expected them. But the water is warm, we've wanted to stretch our legs and Atlantis is a good boat in a blow. She's looked after us well and there's nothing a drying out and putting things back in their place won't fix when we hope to make landfall later this evening.
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