With our hands starting to heal but still kind of “puffy” from the barnacle busting, we will go as far as we can towards Miami. As of now, at 08:30 EDT, we are motor-sailing with one reef in the main. There are rain showers in the distance and we don’t want to have to reduce sail in a hurry, so we will just keep the reef in all day.
It’s very warm today, 81F / 27C. Many boats are transiting along the Keys today, maybe because it’s Sunday but definitely because the hurricane season is coming.
As we continue up Hawks Channel the Florida Keys turn to the left so the prevailing easterly wind comes more from the right, or starboard side. We unfurled the jib at noon today, and we are motorsailing at over 7 knots!
As we pass Tavernier and approach Key Largo, I’m reminded of how much I love the Keys and sailing “inside the reef.” We can go so much faster when there are small waves.
We will miss the safe, relaxing feeling we get from the protection of the barrier reef. I will miss the various shades of green water and the way the clouds make it turn so dark. Key West has been good to us and we are leaving some good friends behind as well.
With Miami in sight but not enough daylight to get there, we dropped the anchor in 12ft of sand. We are wide open exposed to the waves but they aren’t very big so we are calling it a day. 82 nm travelled in 12.5 hrs is 6.6 knots, we even shut the engines off for a few hours!
It’s kind of embarrasing to tell you this, but the bottom of our boat was very much in need of cleaning and I didn’t feel like getting in the water to check it before we left. Our bottom paint is already two years old, which is at the end of it’s useful life, so to say. I last cleaned it about three months ago, I think. I REALLY should have checked it before we left. It was so encrusted with barnacles down there that our fancy folding propellers wouldn’t open up all the way in forward or reverse! So we were significantly slowed down today, by a knot or two, which cut about 8-16 nm off of our distance travelled. We didn’t get to our expected anchorage. We stopped early to clean the bottom, about three hours before sunset.
I quickly put on my mask and fins and started scraping the barnacles off the hull with one of the 8 inch drywall knives while Lindsay dug out the buried dive equipment for both of us. It was so thick in places it looked like brown astroturf! Once Lindsay dove in with her scuba gear on and started scraping, I realized how slowly the whole process was going, and my arms were getting so tired of scraping I was switching hands every minute or so. Underwater it sounded like both of us scraping a heavy coat of snow and ice off of a car’s windows. We were really attacking it with force.
Then Lindsay comes to the surface and asks me to get her some gloves, she had cut her fingers and knuckles on the sharp barnacles. So I take off my fins and climb on board to get her gloves and my dive gear just to notice I’ve cut my knuckles as well. My hand is dripping blood on the deck so I just keep wiping it on my board shorts to keep it from staining the fiberglass. I quickly got my gear on and jumped back in to continue the cleaning process. My arms got used to it and stopped aching. We both kept going without a break until we drained our air tanks over the course of TWO HOURS. The bottom is now clean and the propellers open fully in forward and reverse directions. Dinner is going to be well deserved today, and Neosporin will be needed just before bed.
This is surely going to make us go faster tomorrow! I wonder what else I forgot to check.
We started our tour by meeting our operator, “Everglades River of Grass Adventures” at a gas station with a wonderous selection of tourist crap, random weaponry, live bait and redneck costumes. It was awesome.
Here’s a fun music video I put together of our fan boat ride. By the way, fan boats are really loud and sound awesome, like a Harley with ten thousand bees chasing it.
Having already sailed across the Atlantic, all the way down the wild coast of Western Ireland, and across the English Channel, we were in search of some short day sails, but that wasn’t always easy. A lot of the Atlantic coast of Portugal is famous for it’s surfing, which means there aren’t always as many safe harbours for sailors. Nevertheless, we found some amazing spots.
After a whole day of wonderful sailing and calm seas, things started to pick up during the hour before we arrived at the rather narrow entrance to São Martinho do Porto.
With the sun setting behind us, we squeezed in through the headlands, surfing slightly on the back of 6 foot roller. Safely inside, we anchored up with the local boats and relaxed for the night.
From here it was another day sail to the Islas Berlengas. Situated 10km west of the fishing town of Peniche, the stunning and secluded Berlengas Islands are home to the Arquipélago das Berlengas nature reserve.
The Berlengas Islands form part of a dramatic natural landscape, and contain Portugal’s most scenic fort, while the crystal-clear waters are teeming with sea life.
The islands were an amazing stopover, if somewhat tricky anchoring.
Just a day sail south of Porto was the surprising town of Aveiro. So small we almost missed it, and that would have been a great shame. Beyond the coast lies a maze of canals and lagoons, alongside an industrial port. But if you persist inland, you reach a colourful town where the Portuguese version of gondolas, moliceiros, would have traditionally carried the local harvests of salt and seaweed, but now carry visitor along the canals to explore the city.
We found the perfect place for lunch with the local speciality of roasted piglet. Yum!! The set lunch menu came with a mini jug of wine… not too shabby!
We were very sad to leave Galicia and all the wonderful food and wine, but it was time to start moving south again. Vana de Castelo, just across the border into Portugal, was a wonderful first stop with it’s flower-filled streets, leafy boulevards and imposing hilltop church.
The church at the top of the hill has it’s own funicular!
Amazing views of the Rio Lima estuary
Not a bad place to catch the sunset
The Templo do Sagrado Coração de Jesus
So many flowers adorning the buildings of the old town
The uber-modern swing bridge / boardwalk closing off the marina from the river
Our early morning departure from the marina gave a hint of what awaited us…
Hours sitting on the bow looking for fishing boats and crab pots!
As soon as we emerged from the river’s mouth Makara was engulfed in crazy thick fog. I ventured up front to keep watch, while Tadd set the obnoxious, but oh-so-important fog horn on automatic. This is how we spent the whole day!
The fog was so thick that the moisture condensed on my eyelashes and made it seem like I was crying…. all the way to Porto!
We had been warned by friends and the books that the Costa da Morte (Coast of Death) should be given a wide berth, so we planned to sail past it and beyond.
Even staying well offshore to avoid the rocks, we never really knew what we could expect from one moment to the next.
Calming winds… take the reefs out the main sail.
Sudden, crazy gusts… put all 3 reefs back into the main sail! You can see the wind coming!
OK that’s just uncool!
Just sitting, watching, waiting and hoping that nothing will break with the next gust.
We finally made around the last headland, Fisterra, and into our chosen anchorage in Sardiñeiro de Abaixo. But while we were relaxing with a cocktail, we spotted a huge plume of smoke… followed by wonderful flying circus of firefighting planes as they killed the fire.
Galicia was just filled with little bays for us to explore.