Plodding North

Saturday 9th July

Saturday morning all three of us are up early. We’d had a great meal of local dishes in the really friendly family run CaRRoSSel restaurant the night before. If you ever find yourself in Figuiera da Foz we recommend you eat there. Two big pans one of a seafood and rice soupy stew and the other of garlic laden acorda, basically bread and olive oil with the consistency of mashed potato, hearty and filling. A couple of bottles of vino verde and a dessert left us replete.

There is a short list of tasks to complete before we depart; shopping for a few fresh supplies like yoghurt and bread, return the gate fob and if the office is open attempt to clear Erica & Susie out of Schengen. We tackle the latter first. It’s a long walk up the pontoon in the already warm sunshine, the marina in Figuiera is in a long rectangular basin separated by a long wall from the river on its southern side with the entrance about midway along. The main pontoon runs east west from the middle to the western end where the yacht club is located.

Beyond is the port office and that’s where the SEF office is located. It looks closed, indeed the door is locked but there’s a bell which summons not one but two staff, curious to see who is wanting their services on a Saturday morning. The friendly pair are a bit surprised by our request but know of our boat from their records, presumably via the marina’s computer entry of yesterday. After a few questions they disappear into a back office with our passports and ten minutes later we have our stamps, the Schengen clock has stopped.

The local market supplies mushrooms, apples and beautifully sweet fresh figs, we also manage to buy a few bottles of port. A nearby tightly packed supermarket has yoghurt, granola and a Bimbo loaf. No point in buying local made fresh bread as it is only edible the day it’s baked. We return via the marina office and get ready to leave.

The day is spent motoring along the coast. Fresh figs and yoghurt for lunch, vegetable curry with the first mates version of Bombay potatoes for supper. The crew fill the times between reading, chatting and snoozing. The watermaker rumbles softly away topping up the tank most of the time too. Temptress has a couple of spells with enough wind to sail for an hour or two but the resulting course sets us too close to the coast. The sunset during the first watch is spectacular.

Sunday 10th July

Watches with three of us are easy, two hours on, four off but somehow the skipper got confused. He relieved the first mate at 04:00 on Sunday then tried an hour later to wake her up for her next watch. Sleepily she refused as did Erica. Somehow it sorted itself out. From a gorgeous sunset to thick fog – everything was dripping at nine am. There was a light breeze but on the nose. Temptress has now reached Spanish waters again, we change courtesy flags despite not being able to see any land. In fact the visibility is down to a few hundred metres. Fortunately it’s Sunday so there are no fishing boats but we hope the fog clears as we near the shipping lanes at the north west corner of Spain. Radar and AIS are examined from time to time just in case, but just one southbound yacht mid-morning heading south is seen on the screens, we never made any eyeball contact despite it passing a mile away. At midday it was still foggy, we assume it’s not going to burn off today.

In the afternoon as we closed the coast at Finisterre the fog lifted just enough that we could see the foot of the cliffs, beaches and a few yachts heading south, all a couple of miles or so way to starboard. Then it even thinned enough to give us tantalising glimpses of blue sky before closing in again. We used our close proximity to the coast to download a forecast including info about the extent of the fog. Alarmingly it stretches along the northern or Biscay coast of Spain too, joining the band along the western side and forming a huge triangle pluming off into the Atlantic as the Biscay coast curves southward.

I estimated on the chart that where we might cross the northern boundary of the fog would be close to a pecked circle marking an explosives dumping ground. It was still some twenty or thirty miles north. The skipper expected the easterly winds to kick in there. As Temptress plodded on in the almost windless conditions, the fog closed in again. The thought of crossing the shipping that was exiting or entering the lanes off this corner of Biscay in thick fog was daunting but maybe we would be through the band before our path crossed that of the commercial traffic we could see on the AIS.

Supper was not as planned, spanish mackerel it seems does not freeze well. On defrosting the flesh had turn to an unappealing mush. Ah well time for plan b, how about tomorrow’s creamy mushroom pasta? The crew enjoyed it, sun downers were had despite not having seen the sun at all. Temptress motored on in the closed, unearthly room that is thick fog. The skipper took the first watch, Erica the second. Temptress had moved unseeing out into Biscay. Our landfall, Dunmore East in Ireland lays some 520 nautical miles on a course of 010 degrees northwards.


  1. Reading your wonderful posts keeps me sane on the commute to work in London. We did the Gib to Lagos leg with Jim Edge from Dosc and the Coruna to Baion with Donald from Dosc so can relate to the sights sounds smells and mist! Safe voyage onwards!


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