Chloe arrives in Porto!

To the boys (and our) utter delight Chloe has flown out to be with us for a few days in Portugal. The boys were beside themselves with excitement and Chloe was practically knocked over with cuddles! Bless. Thank you everyone for all our parcels and mail too, it was like Christmas as Chloe unpacked her bag full of presents, cards, spares and goodies from home.

We’ve spent two days exploring Porto, which is a lovely historic city on a hill and river, filled with tourists and with some great museums too.

The boys enjoyed the street entertainment so much they became part of it too! We also enjoyed our history lesson about explorers sailing to the new world in the Discovery centre (which is surprisingly good if you are visiting).

Festas D’Assunção

Fireworks filled the sky at 8am (yes 8am, no lie-in in this town!), but not quite as you know them, imagine massive bangs and smoke rather than colours. As they were let off on the sea wall, that’s pretty much above our heads in the marina. Nothing like starting the day jumping out of your skin with fright!

As we wandered into town we discovered the streets had been decorated with flower petals overnight in ornate patterns, over 400m of cobbled old town roads. The streets were also decorated with nets, mini life rings and it appeared that you should dangle your best carpet over your balcony too. The procession started at 4pm with amazing religious floats adorned with stunning flowers, and smart young men straining under the huge weight of carrying them. Every child seemed to be in an elaborate costume holding a serious or dramatic stance. We even saw marching scouts ⚜️ much to the boys amazement, their drum playing was brilliant (right behind the horses!?!). It took over an hour for the procession to pass us and it continued round the town for over another hour. Impressive procession by everyone and amazing children!

The streets were filled with stands selling bakery goods and Hugo announced it was his best day ever as we had a lunch of ‘donuts’, iced bread and other cake/bread like things that everyone seemed to be buying!

Portugal 🇵🇹

1400 nautical miles into our adventure and we’ve made it to Portugal. With a strong northern breeze behind us we pushed on to Póvoa de Varzim (just north of Porto) and Hugo excitedly raised our Portuguese courtesy flag. We sailed near a Dutch boat who kindly took some photos of us sailing as we passed them. The Portuguese coastline looks so developed compared with Spain and our first experience of a Portuguese town is that it is much wealthier. Albeit that prices are cheap, we’ve eaten out as a family of four, stuffed ourselves, over ordered on dishes and still got change from €30! This is my type of place! We’ve arrived in time for a colourful ‘romaria’ tomorrow and the preparations today have included a LOT of fireworks, mostly let off during daylight and mainly about the noise they make. The speakers are being tested currently at 11pm and the dancing and singing has started already. Even the church appears to be getting a set of Christmas lights. Tomorrow should be fun…

Vigo and the street sport festival

A quick stop in Vigo for some repairs turned out to coincide with the world skateboarding championships and a street sport festival complete with mountain biking downhill through the old town, bmx tricks and huge ‘dirt’ jumps. The boys’ eyes were out on stalks! Turns out the marina had a front row view (and full blasting of noise/music all night long too). Time to use our inflatable armchairs and watch the big jumps. There is never a quiet weekend in Spain in August, I think the boys will expect fireworks everywhere we go after Spain!

Moaña, but not the Disney version

The boys were keenly looking for a volcano but I did try and tell them this was not the film location, but a place pronounced ‘Mowannia’ instead. We said goodbye to Grandad as he started his long journey home and went cycling round the seafront. For a slightly neglected looking town, it had the greatest density of playgrounds (always one of three things we look for on any map of the town namely; a chandler, supermarket and playground) and we merrily cycled from one to another all along the seafront on a great cycling path much to the boys delight.

Rescue helicopter hovers above us….

So when the rescue helicopter did it’s 6th low fly over us, I really knew how bad the sea was. They were either taking some action shots of our beautiful yacht (unlikely but nice thought) or really thought we were about to be in real trouble. Sailing into 5m breaking waves is utterly terrifying, stomach sick making and unfortunately relentless. The ‘let’s just pop out, round the corner and into the Ría to drop Grandad off’ as the wind has eased turned into more of an epic than we bargained for. The leftover storm Atlantic swell combined with deep water hitting shallow water was a worse combination than envisaged. Understatement. Big one.

So picture this, I am clutching Felix and his sick bowl, trying to look calm and this is okay-normal face, whilst inwardly wanting to scream at Russell about what a @#£&*% idea this was. Meanwhile Hugo is wahooing each wave as we breathtakingly climbed to the top of it and then crashed down the other side. How the kids were not scared is a miracle. I was clutching my St. Christopher pendant (thank you Katy & Dom 🙏, best present ever!) Grandad and Russell did a great job of helming through it all. Our deck is well and truly “green water” christened now. Anchor blocks were clean washed out, even one of our throw lines on the BACK stern rail was washed out of its cover. Russell and Mac took turns to duck the waves whilst helming. They both got wet…

Once we rounded the mark, we were able to turn down wind and sail or rather surf into the Ría, soon in more protected waters and the waves eased to normal sizes and the helicopter flew off into the distance.

Hugo’s diary entry sums it up!

40kts + of wind…

So we are hunkered down in Bayona (near Vigo) and the wind is still howling outside at 40kts (around 46mph) plus walls of rain driving through. Boats around us in the marina have their spray hoods ripped apart and masts are heaving all over the place. It’s a battle to have a conversation above the roar of the wind around all the yachts. I’m so glad we are not sailing and I’m not sure how much sleep we will get. This sight is not what you hope to see on your weather forecast!

But in between the rain storms we have braved the historic fort and been aboard the replica ‘Pinta’ to learn all about Christopher Columbus and his route to the ‘new world’. Or rather to learn about Martín Alonso Pinzón who arrived here in Baiona in 1493 three days before Columbus landed, and it’s a point proudly made on all tourist information and plaques.