5th to 8th December 2017
We set off from Sao Martinho do Porto intending to stop at Berlinga for the night – it’s an island nature reserve with several interesting historical features which looked well worth a visit. But when we got there we found a small swell from the South, to which the anchorage is exposed, that would have made the anchorage uncomfortable. Another reminder that the forecasts only cover the predominant swell direction and size, often ignoring secondary swells which have a significant impact on how comfortable an anchorage is. So, we carried on to Peniche.
Arrival was… interesting. We were mulling over whether to anchor within the harbour or outside, and while scoping out spaces in the harbour, managed to get a rope which was attached to a tiny mooring buoy wrapped around our port propeller – we hadn’t seen it until it was too late. Hoping it was the rudder, rather than the prop, Charlotte tried to free the line with a boat hook and I put the engine back in gear – it stalled, and pulled us more tightly into the buoy, which confirmed that it was the prop. We were safe, but drifting in fairly close proximity to two other boats and without an easy way to secure the bow (dropping the anchor would still have left too much swing). So, staying there overnight wasn’t an option and I was starting to wonder where the underwater torch was.
Thankfully after a bit more fiddling with the boat hook by Charlotte, she found the line that was between our prop and the buoy, and it was accessible from the stern ladder. So, out with a knife, chop through the rope, and we were free again. We presumed the line was still wrapped around the prop so were unable to use the port engine, which makes manoeuvring in close confines under engine challenging. So, we motored 100m or so to the edge of the mooring field and dropped anchor in what looked like (and was) a safe position out of the way of the harbour traffic. For fellow catamaran owners, what I did was use full-lock rudder towards the engine you are using (so in this case to starboard) and bursts of power – that moves you forwards and sideways a little, but very controllably and without getting up too much momentum.
Next morning, I got my underwater survey kit – a Go Pro in a waterproof case taped to a boat hook – to take a look at what I’d be cutting away when I went for a nice swim. And found there was nothing left around the propeller. Which was lucky and saved me having to go for a swim. Still, another reminder that I need a wetsuit!
The following day we went into town, tying up at the back of a small pontoon which is also used as a waiting pontoon for the lock into the sluice that leads to town. It was a short walk from here to the sixteenth-century fort which has a museum which we wanted to visit – but unfortunately it was closed for maintenance. Arthur had a crying tantrum at that, which I thought was rather cute. So, playground, December ice cream, and a general wander around was as far as we got. While out, our anchor alarm went off (sending Charlotte’s phone an SMS), fortunately while we were somewhere in-sight of the boat so we could see it was just a shift of the wind and the boat wasn’t moving!