We finally departed Baiona on Oct 15, realizing that we would probably never find our second bicycle and we best move on. We broke the trip to Porto up with an overnight in Caminha, located on the Portuguese side of a river marking the border to Spain. This involved navigating a tricky (narrow & shallow) river estuary entrance. Diana was stationed on the bow looking for shallows while Randy navigated slowly, with depths going as low as 2M. Once again, we were happy with the shallow draft of Randonnée which has allowed us to brave certain waters we never would have with a deep keel. We dropped the hook near a maritime police station and were soon boarded by friendly Portuguese authorities. Diana enjoyed practicing a bit of Portuguese… apparently she can say “I don’t speak Portuguese” almost perfectly, which usually gets a laugh.
We were up at 0430 the following morning to take advantage of the high tide out of the complex estuary. Once outside, we continued motoring under clear skies with no wind, seeing dolphins and phosphorescence. It was a beautiful morning. We arrived in majestic Porto later that day around noon.
The ancient city of Porto has a formidable breakwater against the Atlantic on either side of the Rio Douro. The approach is narrow with swell against strong river current. There is a lateral visual guiding range designed to keep incoming traffic lined up on the proper path. The lights are occulting yellow, the forward one is fixed down along the street above the beach and the aft one is high up on the roof of a church set on the hill behind. It is a pretty cool system, like having a runway centerline indicator for your boat.
Once clear of the massive breakwater, the scene changes to a small bay in an urban setting, heavy with tourist water taxis and river cruise ships that ply inland rivers and canals all the way up into the Mediterranean and Northern Europe. It is free to anchor and dinghy in to the local fishermen’s pontoon and explore ashore.
We spent about a week exploring Porto, saw some touristy things in Gaia, rented a car and went mega shopping at Ikea, hung out with Swedish friends on SV Saga, sampled lots of port (of course), and rendez-vous-ed with our friends and crewmates, Mistilyn from Bend, OR and Marina from Gran Canaria (but had lived in Seattle for 25 years).
Coincidentally, Porto was being visited by another Seattle-ite at that time, Derek Mazoni a DJ on our local radio station KEXP, who specializes in world music was in town for WOMEX. Diana exchanged some messages with him but we (sadly) never connected in person. It would have been great to hear some live music performances and invite other Seattleites for a sail out on the Rio Douro.
Our last night in Porto provided an opportunity for a sunset cruise followed by an evening pootle (remember, this is a real word in the Queen’s proper English) up the river to the city center. This was visually stunning and very fun.
On a side note, there was an irritating little sailboat trailing us all the way up the river, and without showing proper lighting or seeming to know what they were doing. They were a bit of a hazard to navigation but once we were bobbing in the middle of the city, surrounded by all the pretty lights, we witnessed a fellow drop to his knee on the other boat’s deck and propose to his girlfriend. How romantic! We cheered but they either didn’t hear or ignored us.