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APRIL 25TH BRIDGE
This is what you see as you sail up the river into Lisbon. April 25th is Independence Day in Portugal. We arrived during the night of the 12th November, with strong currents running against us. Anna went to sleep while Malcolm was on watch and when she awoke 4 hours later she was surprised to see that we were in exactly the same place as when she went below. Once the tide turned it took no time at all to get up river and into the marina!
Parts of the centre of the city are old; the streets are narrow and cobbled and they always seem to wind uphill. They are full of charm and there's a pub on every corner to help you cope with the thirsty work of exploring!
UP THE MAST
Malcolm up the mast trying to fix the radar... best view in town. In the background you can see the Vasco da Gama Tower and the Vasco da Gama Bridge (an impressive 17km. long structure over the River Tejo). The radar cable suffered some damage when it got tangled (and mangled) in some big seas. \r\n\r\nWe were also waiting for post to arrive. The Christmas period had started and everything is taking longer than we expected. \r\n\r\nOur stay in Lisbon was getting longer and longer so we decided to spend Christmas and New Year ine the Portugese capital. There was plenty to do and several other live-aboard crews meant we had good company, but the weather was not on our side. We had chosen the wettest December in years in the Lisbon area. Some days there was little else to do but sit inside the boat and watch rainwater find the tiniest chinks in our seals and leak down inside our window frames. (Another repair we hope to do when better weather comes.) \r\n\r\nWe ventured out to listen to some Portuguese music. Wolfgang and Barbara, from the German boat "Momo", knew of a little restaurant where we could hear "Fado" - a kind of Portuguese blues, performed largely by amateur musicians. At one point in the evening the waitress removed her apron and took centre stage. She sung several songs (very impressive and all the kitchen staff joined in the choruses) then she changed back into her other uniform and came and took our dishes away. People seemed to drop in and sing one or two songs, have a glass of wine and then move on (to the next Fado House). The two guitar players (combined ages at least 150 years) needed a prod every now and then to keep the tempo steady and the beat even. Altogether it was a really pleasant and cosy musical evening.
A violent storm blew up on the 21st of December. We woke up to find everything shaking and rocking to and fro as if we were back in Biscay. We closed lockers and put away everything that was loose. We were sure it would pass over and we deciding to just sit it out. We were wrong. The wind blew stronger and the waves grew higher on the other side of the harbour wall. \r\n\r\nAfter a while we got into wet-weather gear and went out to double up our mooring-lines. It was then that we saw the marina employees dashing around with all the extra ropes and fenders they coud find, racing to protect boats from the increasing storm. The pontoons rose and fell and twisted with the waves that were working their way into the harbour. The marina was protected by a substantial floating wave break of steel and concrete but the force of the storm was too much and it started to break up. Some sections sunk and others looked like they might break off and be blown onto the boats. At last, two large tugboats forced there way through the waves into the harbour and stationed themselves up against the wall, supporting it against the ferocious winds and surf. We were very pleased that we had bought new mooring lines just a few days earlier. With these and just about every other line on board, we managed to tie the yatch securely to every possible fixing point around us. Many boats suffered damage that day, though thankfully not too serious. However, the harbour was badly damaged and between Christmas and New Year we were asked to leave.