9th to 10th December 2017
We only spent one night here, arriving in the afternoon and expecting a small sleepy village with a near-empty anchorage we found row upon row of mooring buoys and what looked like a lively town. We found an anchorage out of the main channel past the town – although we were advised later in the afternoon that we were not meant to anchor there, by the very helpful and chatty gentleman who was looking after the municipal moorings. Given they were only 7 euros a night, we would have moved onto one the next day if there was one with sufficient swinging room (the only available buoys were close together). There is very limited room for shallow-draft anchoring beyond the moorings outside the channel – and given the continued unsettled weather we didn’t fancy the dinghy trip with the kids when we had a pontoon waiting for us in Lisbon!
Anyway, it was an interesting evening, to say the least. We were expecting some heavy weather so set out plenty of chain and used a 20kg weight as a Kellet on the end of our bridle rope which runs from each of our boys to the chain; both the weight and bridle help stop “jerking” when the chain gets tight, and seems to stop us from swinging around too much at anchor most of the time. As it turned out, until the wind got over 25 knots I am pretty sure we were swinging on the weight, which was acting as an anchor – the water depth was only 3m or so.
Around 11pm the wind got up a bit and we moved about 20m, which set off my anchor alarm and given the wind was gusting at 35 knots or so had us a little worried – we both went on deck and started the engines just in case we were dragging. Various things were discussed, from letting out more chain (which we decided against as there wasn’t enough room if the wind swung as forecast) to throwing the second anchor over as an insurance, to re-anchoring. But we waited a while, and the boat didn’t move, so we decided to stay where we were but set a tight anchor alarm and for me to sit up “on watch” (reading books) until the wind died down. The wind continued to increase, gusting to 57 knots which was a little, erm, interesting – I spent a while watching the emergency services trying to secure some Christmas lights, and several other temporary structures which didn’t stand up to the wind, and counted three dinghies floating past at speed. But we were fine, the boat hardly moving at all, so when the wind dropped, and stayed down, more-or-less as forecast around 2am I went to bed.
Then, the anchor alarm went off again, around 2:30 – the tide, pushing against the new wind direction, was drifting us towards the moored boats. So, sit up and check that we were not going to hit. Good. Back to bed.
Anchor alarm rings again – the tide had dropped and we had swung to the opposite end of our chain. Back up on deck, happy to report we were sitting on a sandbank, get 2 hours solid sleep. Meanwhile Charlotte is sleeping fitfully and dreaming of anchor alarms.
Then, I wake up because the anchor alarm went off again, as the tide had returned and swung us closer to some other moored boats. By this point the kids, being our kids, were wide awake, and after breakfast we decided to try and either find a mooring buoy closer to town for the following couple of days (so we could avail ourselves of the free water taxi service) or go over to Lisbon. As there were no mooring buoys with sufficient room for me to sleep comfortably available, we went over to Lisbon!