We arrived here at the Douro Marina on Sunday afternoon and were ushered to a 10m pontoon! It was clear they had made a mistake……there was no way a buxom size 14 was going to squeeze herself into a size 10 little number!!

Eventually we nestled in between the big boys on the motor boat pontoon and checked in. The Marina only opened last year andv the office buildings opened in May. Everything is sparklingly new and they are trying to seduce us with a welcoming gift of a tin of spiced mackerel fillets and 4 complementary bread rolls landing in the cockpit every morning! All very nice, but the charges are too much for the location which is about 3 miles from Porto, with a bus service that takes 40 mins to get there and the last bus is at 2000hrs. Still it was good to arrive and with an agreed 20% discount things aren’t so bad. We put the bikes together and cycled along the river to take a look at the port houses ready for a visit on Monday and then back to the boat for a nightcap.

Romantic night from the back of the boat

Romantic night from the back of the boat

On Monday morning we decided it was time to tighten the fan belts, as they seemed to be a little slack. Whilst down in the depths, Marcus realised that the bilge was rather full! On closer inspection, it’s clear that the electric bilge pump is not working……enough for one day.

With fan belts tightened , we set off into Porto to sample some Port.
We took the advice of the lady in the marina office and visited the oldest establishment, Ferriera’s. The oldest port they had was from 1883 and cost €1,600! Needless to say we didn’t taste or buy that one. The cellar looks very unprepossessing from the street, but once inside the different store rooms take over about four streets that go back and up the hill behind the frontage. Everything has been absorbed into the structure of the storerooms and what used to be streets are now corridors.

Ferriera's wine cellar

Ferriera Port wine cellar

Interestingly, the floors are wood block Eucalyptus. This allows them to be soaked in warm weather to regulate the temperature and meant the casks were less likely to split if dropped on wood rather than stone. We had an interesting tour and a more interesting tasting session culminating in us walking away with a young White Port and a Ruby Reserve.

Oporto from the hill that is Farriers port cellar

Oporto from the hill that is Farriers port cellar

We went on towards the town and were sucked into a completely different cellar….very small and modern and a total rip off! They didn’t charge us to go in, but when we got to the end of the very short tour, they sold us an over priced bottle of Port and discounted us just one entry.

Don't go here .... it's a rip off!

Don’t go here …. it’s a rip off!

Back onto our bikes a little more wobbly than we started and off to catch the cable car to the top of the hill.

Cable car up, over the bridge and stroll down.

Cable car up, over the bridge and stroll down.

From the cable car.

From the cable car.

At the top we crossed the bridge which carries some very modern trams into Porto City. The views are spectacular.

Trams ....get a grip Edinburgh!

Trams ….get a grip Edinburgh!

View up river from the bridge.

View up river from the bridge.

Adisused cellar with it's port bottle still standing

A disused cellar with it’s port bottle still standing

From above you can see the extent of the Port store houses that dominate the south bank of the river.

High rise living

High rise living

As with all big cities there is wealth and poverty, but here they are so closely juxtaposed either side of the bridge.

Poverty and wealth side by side

Poverty and wealth side by side

With demand for all the modern infrastructure, the old is literally undermined.

Tunnel bored under buildings......that's the Cathedral above and palm trees!

Tunnel bored under buildings……that’s the Cathedral above and palm trees!

After a full afternoon of sightseeing, carrying our 3 bottles of Port, we were enticed into one of the riverside restaurants. The food was probably the worst we have had!

We ate at the bottom of the hill.....shame we didn't walk further!

We ate at the bottom of the hill…..shame we didn’t walk further!

If only we had walked on a little further! We came across this little place literally perched on a side street.

Where we should have eaten!

Where we should have eaten!

So back to the bikes, which thankfully we’re still where we’d left them chained to a tree, and a 20 minute ride along the river pathway to the marina.

We left on Thursday in light winds and motored all the way from Bayona down to Viana do Castelo. Having moored on the waiting pontoon, we made our way into the marina to meet up with Loic and Marie for a drink. They are leaving tomorrow so we will meet them again in Porto.

The basilica from the Old Town

The basilica from the Old Town

Viana is a city with an imposing basilica on the hill above it. The old town’s architecture shows how wealthy this port was when it was the major port for trading port wine to England in return for fishing nets! Such cultural exchange!
The first job on arrival in a new country is to get a sim card for the iPad so we have internet access. This took us through the city and we came across a procession with drummers, pipes and women walking in an imposing way in traditional dress.

Flying water plane picking up its load

You wouldn’t mess with these ladies.

Clocks are now on BST. Unlike their Spanish neighbours, the Portuguese don’t have a siesta, but shops close for 2 hours between 12.30 and 14.30. We were assured that unlike Spain, they eat early in the evening, but at 9 o’clock restaurants and bars were just opening. It’s a mystery to be solved!

Whilst in Viana we took the funicular up to the basilica with its panoramic views of the area.

Island Kea was moored just behind the block of flats

Island Kea was moored just behind the block of flats

Looking south towards Porto

Looking south towards Porto

Again we have met more yachts going our way. ‘Anne Wolter’ is a Dutch boat with three children under 12 onboard, we’re both headed for Porto.
Just by chance we met a local designer, Miguel, who proudly showed us his prototype electric bike that he was taking photos of with our boat in the background. It has 2 batteries, speakers, an iPad dock and aluminium plane fuselage for its frame. He said it cost about €10,000 to make, but it goes 40kmph and is designed for downhill rough terrain…… He very kindly / foolishly let Marcus have a go on it!

Miguel and Marcus ready for the test drive

Miguel and Marcus ready for the test drive

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More sightseeing in Viana, where there was a traditional Saturday market, with stalls and song and dance in the main square.

Two of the dancers taking a breather

Two of the dancers taking a breather

Traditional dancing

Traditional dancing

Me in 'traditional dress'.......it was the child's cut out.....couldn't reach the ladies!

Me in ‘traditional dress’…….it was the child’s cut out…..couldn’t reach the ladies!

We found a magnificent ironmongery that sold absolutely everything you never knew you needed…….including stills for distilling your own hooch!
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We were sorely tempted, but came away with a new shower head, a magnetic knife holder, two folding seats for the ‘sun deck’, 9 meters of chain and 3 of wire plus padlock to secure our dinghy and motor and 2 heat dispersers for simmering on gas rings. I love these shops. They’re real Aladdin’s caves!!
With our purchases in hand and weighing us down we went food shopping and returned to the boat, even more like a couple of pack horses, ready to make our way down to Porto on Friday morning.

We arrived here over a week ago now. Bayona sits in front of forested hills that seem to regularly catch fire! Since we have been here we have seen two. The way they fight them is with sea planes and helicopters that drop into the bay to scoop up water from the bay, then fly off and dump their loads on the fire…..very impressive to watch.

Seaplane scooping up water. Especially for you Carlos

Seaplane scooping up water. Especially for you Carlos

Luckily the wind has been blowing away from the town!
We came into the bay and decided to stay at the Mont-Real Club Nautica de Yates marina, so that we could have a safe mailing address for parts and post to be sent to. Initially we thought we would stay two or three days, but the shock of paying €57 for one night meant that we came into the bay to anchor.
We have had many forays into the old town for refreshment!…..it is buzzing with bars, cafés and restaurants and an ideal place for ‘people watching’.

So many cafes and bars

So many cafes and bars

We also did a tourist day and visited the replica of Columbus’ Pinta

Land ahoy. Such a small boat to carry 26 crew and all their food and water to America!

Land ahoy. Such a small boat to carry 26 crew and all their food and water to America!

and walked around the walls of the very impressive fort that sits at the entrance of the bay, right above the marina.

Arty shot of the Fort

Arty shot of the Fort

We have been catching up with jobs while we’re here. Our boat log and temperature unit hasn’t been working properly since we got the boat. We can trick it into working by flipping the switch on and off a few times, but some days it refuses to play at all…so we decided to sort it out.
After asking at the chandlery if there was a local electronics wizard (using google translate!) …. a quick phone call was made and it was arranged for us to be met at the gate in 5 minutes by ‘a man with glasses’. Amazing service, especially as it was nearly 10 o’clock at night! After another hour of Google translate, we were promised a return visit at 10 in the morning for a test of the transducer cable. It failed the test so we had to spent a rewarding day running the new cable the length of the boat, squeezing into gaps and mousing it through tubes and cable bundles and up into the back of the display panel.

Every job seems to entail turning the boat upside down

Every job seems to entail turning the boat upside down

It now works, but we haven’t been anywhere since we fitted it.
The other major job has been fixing the anchor windlass. The new motor arrived at the marina and having painted it and the gearbox, to protect them from the salt and damp, we got it into place only to be thwarted by a bent serclip that wouldn’t let us get the gearbox onto the winch shaft. After visiting every likely shop and workshop in Bayona to find a new one, we returned empty handed. As a last resort we decided to phone the guy in Mallorca who had sent us the motor.
His solution?…… Hit it with a hammer!!….
We now have a working windlass, painted and protected from the harsh foredeck locker environment and a hole in the deck that is boarded up and sealed.
We were concerned that being at anchor may not be as a sociable as being in a marina…..no need to have worried. We have met with all the other yachts around us and either been to them for drinks or they’ve been to us.
We are all on the same route down to the Canaries, the Cape Verdes and on to Barbados. We met a young couple, Dan and Charlotte, who have built their own boat with a double masted junk rig, a Swedish couple, Magnus and Sara on a Cigale 14, who have given up their jobs for three years, Mike and Kate on a Bowman 42, who are living aboard and Margaret and Roger, who dropped by to join us while they waited for their Bimini steelwork to be fabricated in Vigo.
We are building a floating neighbourhood!

With our 'anchor neighbours' for Mike's 61st

With our ‘anchor neighbours’ for Mike’s 61st

The latest good news is that Tash and family are visiting us in the Canaries over half term and that we will now be sailing from the Canaries with a full crew….. Jenni and Dan will be joining us for a family adventure across the Atlantic. So Haywards to the Windwards R Us!