Sunseeker Chapter 20
We took advantage of the fleeting slack tide to manoeuvre Sunseeker out of her berth and into the river ready for the ride under the bridge. Bathed in the afternoon sunshine the many busy ferries jostled each other for a berth at the terminal; allowing their passengers only just enough time to disgorge and be replenished by dozens more before toot-tooting and pulling away from the shore. We had a light breeze across the river and after passing the ferries set the genoa to waft us gently downriver; past the other docks and under the gigantic bridge; its traffic buzzing as loudly as before. As the river widened the tower of Belem and Prince Henry’s monument slipped past Sunseeker and the wind backed and headed us, increasing in strength as it rounded the corner at Santa Juliao. With the wind against the ebb tide the going became rough with short steep waves bucking and tossing Sunseeker this way and that in a most uncomfortable way. The genoa was hastily rolled away and the engine fired up to push us through the rip tides and eddies until we were around the corner into more open water out of the strong river current. Closer to Cascais we benefited from the shelter, which the surrounding hills. afforded. The sea calmed as the wind eased and the anchor was dropped off the beach in a flat calm with just a long, lazy swell making its way shoreward.
On the following day Catnap and her family from Devon joined us. They too were heading south but unlike us they planned to leave their boat in Lagos on the Algarve and return home to England for a while. We decided to travel down the coast with them until we had a fair wind for Madeira.
The balmy sunshine and lazy swell made it difficult to believe the weather predictions from Catnap. Bad weather and strong winds from the south! No, that seemed too unlikely. Besides if there were a strong southerly we would be caught on a lee shore with no place to shelter. We would have to move from this lovely place! It seemed unthinkable and yet, maybe, maybe. We’ve played safe up ’till now so why should that change? Catnap was making plans to move further down the coast and we decided to follow.
Early next morning the weather was just as before; if anything calmer; not a breath of wind – from any direction! However, we were up and about making our preparations for departure and could see Catnap’s crew going about the same business. We weighed anchor together and because of the lack of wind motored due south away from Cascais and across the mouth of the Rio Tejo.
Our destination was planned to be Sesimbra, a small fishing village about twenty five miles away. It also is south facing but has a sturdy seawall to protect its fleet of fishing boats from bad weather. The course is simple and in two legs. First we must sail for the distant headland, Cabo Espichel. On rounding the light, some 460 metres above us atop the cape, we must sail east close in to the steep-to coastline rising sheer from the seafloor. Conifer trees, their foliage dark green in sharp contrast to the sandstone crags, cling to every nook and cranny along this rugged shore of age-old crumbling rock. The relentless sea undercuts the lonely cliffs as if intent upon toppling the giants into its watery depths.
As Sunseeker lay to her new, easterly course, Sesimbra’s seawall hove into view in the afternoon sunlight. With still not a breath of wind, Sunseeker’s diesel pushed her along at five knots, rising to the still lazy swell. Catnap led us into the harbour and made fast in the inner harbour alongside a trot of smaller workboats.
“Over here, Sunseeker. Tie up alongside us. We should be safe here when that southerly arrives.” Graham and his pretty, Austrian wife Ushi welcomed us as they took our lines to make us fast.
When, a little while later, we were joined by Kylie, who tied up alongside Sunseeker, we took a long line ashore and tied it to a handrail by a set of seasteps on the harbourwall. The trot of boats was being pulled well out of line because of the extra weight of three more boats.
Kylie is an attractive twenty-six feet Contessa sailed single-handed by her owner Nick from East Dock in London. He had spent a number of years fitting her out before setting sail on his adventure.
End of Sunseeker Chapter 20