|Winter in Cascais, 2005-2006|
|Cascais is a small village on the north shore of the mouth
of the Rio Tejo, about 20nm from Lisboa. The village combines a mixture of
fishermen, wealthy Europeans, tourists and yachtsmen. This is where I
decided to spend the winter of 2005/2006 after crossing the Atlantic Ocean
on Sarah. Shown on the right and below is Sarah in her berth at the Cascais
While wintering in Cascais I was joined by friends Jack & Nikki Goodman and together we did a lot of land cruising around Portugal. Some of the land cruises are documented through the menu links on the left.
Beyond the massive breakwater in the Cascais Marina is the North Atlantic Ocean. When off-shore storms are kicking up wind ands sea the spray from the waves striking the seawall can go more than 10' above wall. Still we are well protected from the seas in the marina, There is a lot of surge in the marina, primarily from the tides. The yacht basins are very large and the 8' - 10' tides have to go in and out through the narrow marina entrance. The tidal current can swirl in this basin causing boats to move back and forth causing lines to creak and groan. I have already (December, 2005) had to replace two mooring lines because of chafe. Another will have to be replaced before the end of the month.
Sarah berthed in Caiscais, Pt.
Photo by Jack Goodman
|My neighbors, Chris and Dora on Morild (Bavarian 43 to right of Sarah in the picture on the right) told me that one night while I was back in the states they had winds in excess of 60 knots and the seas were actually breaking over the top of the seawall. No boats were damaged, but it was not a very comfortable night for those living on their boats. Dora now checks herself into a hotel when high winds are forecast. We have experienced nothing close to those conditions since I returned in Nov, 2005.||
Sarah and Morild on K-Dock.
Photo by Jack Goodman
|On the right and below are a few pictures of the seas spray above the seawall. These are fairly mild examples. When a big sea is running the spray is much higher and covers more of the seawall. These seas were from a storm off Trafalgar, several hundred miles to the south east.||
Breakers striking the seawall that protects the Marina de Cascais.
|For pictures of when a big sea is running against this seawall go to the 2006 Winter Storm page.||
More breakers on the sewall. These were very mild seas compared to those produced by the 2006 winter storm.
|The Cascais Marina is a first class facility, as it should
be for the price they are charging. However it is clearly oriented toward
the local boat owners, much more so than transient cruising
sailors such as myself. Therefore the amenities are oriented toward weekend
sailors not live-a-boards and cruisers. There are many restaurants and
shops, but only a single washer and dryer at the marina office about 1 km
from Sarah's berth. It also costs 5€ per load each in the washer and dryer
(10€ total). There is no TV or Internet access at the docks, something most
marinas of this class that cater to cruising sailors provide either at an
extra charge or included in the basic slip fee. The fact that the transient
area of the marina is about half full this winter is at least partially due
to the less than tropical weather during winter (average high temp around
15º C or 59º F), but I believe it also due to the high fees and low
amenities for cruisers.
On the right you can see that Internet Access at the Marina is an outdoor sport. I have signed up with a local WIFI provider, but the closest hotspot is at an outdoor coffee shop on the Marina grounds.
Nikki and I download the boarding passes for their return flight to the USA from the WIFI ($$) access at a coffe shop in the Cascais Marina.
Phot by Jack Goodman
Still the marina and the village of Cascais are a pleasant place to be and I don't regret my choice of a winter home. I just wish the marina would go the extra step and make it the obvious choice for most cruisers (and make themselves a little more money at the same time).
There is a lighthouse right next to the Marina. It also has a very loud fog horn that seems to only sound at 3:00 AM.
Photo by Jack Goodman.
|Before the wealthy, the yachtsmen, and the tourists arrived Cascais was primarily a fishing village. It still is, as the fishing fleet fills up most of the protected part of the anchorage off the town. Fisherman store and maintain their pots and nets on the quay that runs from the main beach to the Club Naval de Cascais.||
Fishermen preparing their Polvo (Octopuss) traps.
Photo by Jack Goodman.
Moored fishing fleet off Cascais.
Photo by Jack Goodman.
|Now for the truly different. Just before the gale force winds hit today (Jan 25, 2006) this German sailboat put into the dock. The strange thing about this boat (in addition to the color choice) is the mast. I haven't had a chance to talk the owners (the name is "2 Capitans"), but I assume they get lots of questions about the rig. I don't know how to describe it except as an Erector Set Mast. It's hard to see in the pictures on the right, but the mast is constructed our of welded metal plates. Looks like something I might have constructed as a kid with my Erector Set.||
The mast on this yellow sailboat appears to have been constructed from an Erector Set Kit.
A closer view of this mast.
|Before I took off for the Med I wanted to
have Sarah hauled and the bottom prepped and re-painted. This would also be
an opportunity for me to go over the underwater parts and insure there were
no problems. Cascais is probably the most expensive place to haul a boat I
have yet found. There are less expensive places in Portugal. I could have
gone up the Rio Tejo to Seixal, where Whoosh is currently hauled. It would
have been considerably cheaper. It would also have been cheaper in Lagos in
the Algarve. However I was anxious to get the job done and I didn't want to
take off on a 100 nm journey to Lagos without at least inspecting the
bottom. So I bit the bullet and contracted for the work to be done in
Here things work different than at any other marina I have encountered. The marina owns the yard and operates the travel lift, but they do not do any of the work in the yard. There are four or five boat service shops in what is called the Technical Building on the marina grounds. To have a boat hauled and worked on you must contract with one of these businesses. Ideally that should provide for some competition and reduce prices, but that does not appear to be the case. I requested estimates from two of the businesses and they were within €100.00 of each other. I went with Tutamania as they were the first ones I contacted and they were providing my gas tank refills.
Sarah being picked up in the boat yard at the Marina de Cascais, after the bottom was cleaned, sanded and re-painted.
|The boat was hauled on Monday, March 6. The marina did a
professional job of hauling the boat with the Travel-lift and blocking it up
in the yard. I was impressed that they did not use portable stands to
block up Sarah but a very substantial cradle. This appears to be very
common in Europe or at least in the Portuguese yards. Every yard in
the U.S. that I have done business with uses portable stands. I much
prefer to have Sarah blocked in a cradle rather than the stands.
Once Sarah had been blocked up we discovered that there was a prominent gouge in the hull on the forward starboard quarter. The gouge had penetrated the gel coat into the laminate. We must have stuck something hard on the sail across the Atlantic, although I don't remember such an incident.
The gouge was ground out, filled with epoxy, and faired before the bottom paint was applied.
Sarah back in the slings before being re-launched.
|In the picture on the right Sarah has been lifted off the cradle in
preparation for re-launching. The cradle is in front of Sarah.
Sarah was re-launched on Friday, March 12 and returned to her berth on K-Pontoon.
The total bill for the haul out and bottom work was €2.200,00. About twice what I normally paid in the U.S. I'll probably consider this reasonable after I've been in the Med for awhile.
The marina blocks most boats with these very substantial cradles, rather than the block stands that are common in the USA.