Nazare – Port of Refuge

Nazare is a quaint little fishing port situated on the west coast of Portugal about 65 miles north of Lisbon.  It is noted in the pilot book for its ease of access and protection from all wind directions.  Well we certainly put that to the test.  For the past 3 weeks the wind has relentlessly blown from the south – instead of the more usual north and with more forecast it was definitely going to hinder our progress south!

We spent 3 lovely days sailing around the well sheltered Spanish Rias enjoying the sunshine before it was time to set off down the coast of Portugal.  One of our guests sadly had too leave us in Bayona having hurt her back and with the weather due to come it was prudent to not risk more damage.  A good decision and she managed to take this lovely photo of us hoisting the main!

With the wind already a southerly 5-6, our progress was slow and the guests got a lot more night sailing than they had bargained for.  The original plan was to make a couple of stops between Bayona at the south end of the Spanish Rias and Lisbon,  but in strong winds and big swell the entrances to many of the harbours along this coastline become extremely dangerous and close.  Our only option was to head straight for Nazare, 150 miles away.  40 knots of wind,  torrential rain, thunder, lightening, 2 large waves filling the cockpit and more – 60 hard hours later we arrived to find that the pilot book was absolutely accurate and once inside this well protected little harbour there was flat calm water and a warm, ‘dry’ welcome.

The friendly and helpful harbour master, quickly nicknamed Captain Haddock, told us what a good decision we had made coming here as in the strongest winds last week it was the only harbour to remain open on the whole west facing coast!

As usual after a long passage we all sleep very well.  After a late breakfast and with yet more southerly winds in the forecast we decided to take time out and explore the region.  There is a funicular up the side of a very dramatic cliff and from the top there were great views of Nazare and the monstrous waves breaking on the shore.  Mike was nearly blown off his feet in the 50 knot winds.

The wind still continued from the south, and so our lovely guests, Jackie, Mike, David and Margy  have agreed to stay dry and relaxed and take the bus from here to the airport and have their day in Lisbon on the way rather than to battle it out for another 30 hours.  As Murphys law would have it, Tuesdays forecast is perfect, for light northerly winds and Richard and I are due to sail the boat down on our own in readiness for our next trip.

Michael and Jackie have provided the photos for this blog – can you see why we decided to stay in!

Good news for the guys on the Lisbon to Lanzarote trip, the Azores high has moved back into place and the northerly winds are now forecast to be back all of next week.  I’ve got all fingers and toes crossed in anticipation.

As a little addendum, Richard and I are now in Cascais, after arriving at 2300 Tuesday evening, the forecast was wrong, we still had headwinds  up till about 1700 and then motored the rest of the way in no wind but big sea!  All safe and sound now and enjoying a G and T in the bar!