4th ~ 6th October
We left Figuera da Foz on this beautiful morning! Not a breath of wind to sail but we are quite used to this now and so off we went on the motor to patiently await the arrival of the wind which it did after lunch! We then had a very pleasant sail to Nazaré covering the the 37 nautical miles in 6 hours!
Our arrival at the harbour entrance at Nazaré proved to be more interesting than it appeared at the time……!
As we approached the entrance to the harbour there was another boat coming up from the south which looked familiar? This was because as we got close we recognised the beautiful lines of a Halberg Rassy, the make of our previous boat! The skipper appeared to be trying to get into the harbour before us but sadly for him we had the edge and without changing our pace we went in in front of him!!
We have subsequently come across this boat in Cascais, not that we recognised it or it’s owner immediately, that is another story though! However, we soon realised why there was the rush to get in….!
There are two marinas in this amazingly well sheltered harbour. One was run by the municipality which was basically the fishing port! It looked completely derelict but it actually wasn’t? The pontoons were falling apart, covered with the gulls excrement and mussel shells, broken fishing nets and odd bits of rope just dumped and abandoned? It was truly dreadful! We had read that the private club marina was the one to go for and so we were very grateful to have found our peaceful spot there for the two nights we spent in Nazaré! Things will change as the private club is wanting to expand and take over the running and management of the fishing port! It will then be able to accommodate more than the seven visiting yachts it is currently able to, we were the seventh!! The harbour master couldn’t have been more friendly or helpful. We subsequently discovered that our rival for this last place had to spend the night on the fuel berth!!
It is amazing how one’s view of a place is coloured by A. the weather. B. the condition of the marina and C. the welcome you receive! We have since met several people who really didn’t like Nazaré at all? When we asked which marina they were in it was always the Fishing port!! If the redevelopment of the marina goes ahead, it will be a great stopover for all!
5th October ~ A day out in Nazaré!
Nazaré is renowned as one of the most popular seaside resorts on the Atlantic Costa da Praia, the Silver Coast, with its long sandy beaches which are considered to be some of the best in Portugal.
The North beach on the other side of the headland we passed to enter the port is very long with golden sand and is famous for its mountainous surf!
We assembled our bikes and set off to see the town of Nazaré. The South beach was equally as stunning as the North beach but had much more going on along it. We came across these amazing racks of drying fish, a very ancient Portuguese tradition! The men do the fishing and the women do the drying!
Quite a sight and all carefully laid out to dry!
We kept going along the beach with the bikes. They were a bit of an incumbrance as we hopped on and off looking at everything but we needed them as we had to do some shopping before returning to Musetta!
Next came the brightly painted small fishing boats which were part of an exhibition about the tradition of fishing in Nazaré. They came in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colours and were displayed on the beach to great effect!
Another sight that we saw several times were couples dressed in traditional Portuguese costume. The wives were the most attractive, wearing colourful blouses and headscarves and the most amazing skirts ~ plural because they wear seven of them, layered one on top of the other! The whole outfit is finished off with brightly patterned socks. Why seven skirts? They apparently represent the seven days of the week, the seven colours of the rainbow and many other biblical and mythical references associated with the number seven ~ legend tells us! The men in contrast, seem quite dull with their flat hats and generally beige coloured shirts and brown trousers!
Traditional dress still worn in Nazaré
After lunch we continued our delving into Nazaré as it is today and some of its history! The streets were incredibly busy, many people making the most of the late summer sunshine. Here we can see a plaza with various stalls, many selling bags, purses and satchels in fact all things you would expect to find on a stall selling leather goods but these were made of cork! Note the typical Portuguese paving in tiny squares, imagine the amount of time it would take to do this?! Onward….
By now we were at the end of the walkable beach road where we came across this little chapel with it’s west face completely covered with blue tiles, it was so pretty!
Looking up to see where we were going next was breath-taking! The journey to the top involved another ride on a funicular railway! We found our way to the ticket office at the bottom only to discover that there was quite a queue! It did move fairly quickly and we were able to find out how the bikes would travel as we shuffled along! The railway was originally run by steam engines but after several incarnations it is now electrically driven with a three tier system of braking to prevent a repeat of an accident which killed two people and injured 50 more in February 1963. The railway remained closed then for five years!
The Nazaré Funicular Railway!
It eventually came to our turn and with the bikes safely stowed up we went. There is a 15 minute turn around for the two trains running and of course they always meet at the ‘loop’ or passing place!
Needless to say, the views at the top were stunning….! We were blessed with a beautiful clear blue sky which made our trip to the top so much more enjoyable!
Look at these views!
At the top of the funicular we arrived at Sitio, a small village with a square and
bandstand and a beautiful Baroque style church, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Nazaré which forms the central focus of the village. The interior of the church was extremely ornate with fabulously tiled side chapels!
The very impressive church, Our Lady of Nazaré
The church was first built in to commemorate a miracle which is now called The Legend of Nazaré. Hence its very grand interior!
The legend says that….in 1182 the Blessed Virgin Mary intervened when a Portuguese knight, Dom Fuas Roupinho, who was hunting deer in dense fog was saved from certain death by the virgin Mary as he and his horse were about to go over the edge of the cliff. The horse stopped in it’s tracks and the knight was saved!
The Nazaré Canyon
After the square we cycled out to the ancient fort at the end of the cliff which now has a lighthouse and an exhibition of the surfing activities which have taken place and continue to take place at the North beach. This was a ‘must see’ place for us as cruising friends Isabelle and Olivier had told us about it when they visited the harbour a few years ago!
The Nazaré Canyon is an undersea canyon lying just off the North beach and is said to be the largest canyon in Europe with a depth of at least 5,000 metres and is approximately 230 kilometres long. In the winter months when the ‘surf is up’ the effects of this canyon are almost beyond belief creating the most mountainous waves!
An activity which is definitely not for the faint hearted!! Would I embark on such an escapade, no I don’t think so!!!
Several records have been set, notably by an Hawaiian surfer Garrett McNamara in January 2013 when he successfully rode a wave which measured a maximum estimate of 100 feet, 30 metres beating his previous record of 78 feet, 24 metres! He holds the current Guinness Book of Records title! However, in January this year one Hugo Vau has potentially surpassed this to set a new world record and claim his place in the Guinness Book of Records by surfing one of the biggest waves ever seen at Nazaré! The wave, named ‘Big Mama’ was reported to have been up to 35 metres high?! As I said, not for the faint hearted!! The photo here is taken a little closer to the edge of the cliff from the one above on the day we visited. It doesn’t seem possible that the sea could whip itself up to such heights!!
That was the end of our day in Nazaré and so we returned to Musetta and stowed our bikes on board. We had decided to eat out that night so we walked back into the town again and found a lovely little restaurant which looked very popular. Although some people seemed to have been waiting a long time our waiter was very attentive and we had a delicious meal!
6th October Nazaré ~ Péniche!
We had a very exciting sail to Péniche with lots of wind and fairly big following seas! Musetta fairly skipping along in the lively conditions! The passage was relatively short, only 24 nautical miles which we covered in 4 hours. We surfed down one wave at 15.8kts!!
Having arrived in Péniche we tidied up Musetta and then set off into the town where we met a young French couple, Élise and Fabien who had arrived a little after us! They showed us how to escape from the pontoon’s locked gate, there was no friendly harbour master here to greet us and tell us what was what! The four of us wanted to stretch our legs and so we walked into the town and then stopped at a bar for a beer and a chat! As usual, their English was excellent which made it very easy for us!
Élise and Fabien, both accountants from Paris, have taken a year out of work to achieve their dream of sailing an Atlantic circuit to the Caribbean and returning to France via the Azores by July next year! They have a tiny, but lovely yacht, just 7.7metres long called Petit Goustan. She is a well ‘found’ boat but with very little comfort and shelter but they are young and hardy so they will manage! We are full of admiration for them!
The owners & crew of Petit Goustan
We are off to Cascais next………! We wanted to complete our passage of 50 nautical miles the following day with enough daylight left for our arrival which meant that we needed to turn in for an early start!
Until the next time………