First week at sailboat Salacia (09-16 September)

A week ago on the 9th September, we hopped on Salacia. It has been a week of getting to know the life at sea.

We were greeted by Margus at the Leixous harbor. It’s a yacht marina and commercial port next to Porto. We had a quick coffee at the harbor so we could briefly get to know each other and we managed to hear both of our stories why we are currently doing what we do. Margus is a cool guy, he gave us in 10 minutes he’s life story, which indeed has been full of action.

The first day on the boat was nice. For the first couple of days, we also had Riho on the boat who was helping Margus with sailing over Biscaia. Kaija cooked a quick lunch for everybody. Later, we went to buy some additional groceries. In the store, we met a really nice Estonian girl who just recognized us speaking Estonian. She was helping us to find the right things we needed from the store because a lot of the food labels are just in Portuguese. She seemed to be very happy to see Estonians. She had lived overseas already for a long time and her Estonian was a little bit rusty, but it still is just amazing how you can randomly meet Estonians all over the world, although there is just 1,3 million of us.

In the evening Kaija made dinner and we had a first very educational movie night. We had not seen a TV or movies for quite a long time, so it was almost a little awkward to watch TV. The movie was selected by Margus – All is Lost. It thought us basically everything that can go wrong at sea.

The first morning at sea Jaanus woke up seasick. And because Jaanus was puking, Kaija started as well. This is like an infectious disease at sea. Both of us spent the day laying down. Jaanus helped out a little with sailing and Kaija tried to do some cooking, but it was quite challenging to go inside. So we were the whole day out on the deck and took turned sleeping. It was an extremely foggy day. The fog has been following us for a long time by the coastline of Portugal.

All in all, we still thought the first day at sea went quite well. We were at sea for about 10 hours and we docked in Figueira de Foz harbor. The next day we had some time to adjust ourselves with new conditions. We spent the day in the harbor trying to catch some fish because there were plenty of them swimming around the harbor. Kaija even managed to catch one and when we were about to put the fish into the soup, some local told us that these fish are not eatable. These fish live in the harbor and they basically eat all the trash that is there, so they are called the shitfish. So we did not have fish soup this evening, but we were happy that this fish worked well as a bait for crabs and we managed to catch four crabs the following morning.

Our next destination was Lisbon. It was an overnight sailing, so we started early in the morning and were at sea until 6 am the following morning, so about 24 hours in a row. We moored in a port called Cascais , which is close to Lisbon. 

Although we arrived in Cascais early morning, we decided to take the train to Lisbon. The train connection between Cascais and Lisbon is really well organized and the ticket is also surprisingly cheap, only 2,5 euros per person. Despite we had heard a lot of great things about Lisbon, somehow both of us could not feel the vibe that this is quite our city. Maybe we were too hungry or too tired from the previous day trip, but somehow we felt that Porto was much nicer. There were fewer tourists in Porto and people were more chilled than in the 2 million city of Lisbon.

We had a quick lunch in a random cafeteria near the train station. The food was extremely good and the portions were huge. Kaija tried the first time Portuguese national sandwich, which is basically a regular sandwich with some extra meat and it is covered with cheese with an egg on the top and it is served with a traditional spicy sauce. This was so far one of the best national food experience in Portugal.

Following, we walked around the Lisbon old town and took pictures from the main sights. Since our friend Annika asked us to send her a puzzle of Portugal, we took this as our mission to be accomplished during the day. So we were going through tourist shops and looked for a post office. We were quite happy managed to send the package. It was our first package to send back to Estonia.

We had a short break by the seaside to look at the 25 de Abril bridge and the National Sanctuary of Christ the King, which are both the most known symbols of Lisbon.

It was an area for young people to hang around and you could smell the weed in the air. We also saw several police officers looking through some dealers pockets and finding hashish. It seemed to be all everyday business and no one around was bothered by these things. We had heard from locals that it is not illegal to smoke weed, but it is illegal to sell. We do not know for sure, but certainly, a lot of youngsters were enjoying the opportunity to smoke weed in the public.

Besides seeing the big city rush and nervousness, we were also disappointed that the trams were all too crowded. We were hoping to get a tram tour like in Porto, but in most stops, the trams even did not open the doors, because they were too crowded. This is probably the reason why most of the tourists are driven around by the tuk-tuks. You could see there every kind of tuk-tuk you can possibly imagine.

On the way back to Cascais, we both had a little nap. It seemed that we still were tired from the overnight sailing.

The next day we took the time to do some shopping and some tiny repairs on the boat. Kaija was also playing hairdresser and cut the guys hair. Later we discovered that the whole ship is now filled with small pieces of hair. Now we are waiting for a storm to clean it up 🙂 

In the evening we anchored in the bay, next to Marina to save some port costs. We had enough time to take a short walk in Cascais. We did visit the citadel and enjoyed the view from a bar by the seaside. Cascais is a pretty little town and perfect for a getaway for a week or so.

Next morning we started to sail toward Sines, the birthplace of Vasco da Gama. It was the first time so far when we had excellent wind for sailing for the whole day. Although it was still extremely foggy. Until the very end, we were sailing quite close to the mainland, but we did not see it.

We stayed at anchorage in Sines. During the day we did again some shopping and decent preparations for the next days sailing. We needed to buy food for at least a week ahead, so we came back from Lidl like camels. During the day, we once again had some time to do some small maintenance works on the boat and in the evening we explored the city. Sines, again, is a beautiful small town with a wonderful beach called after the world-famous, explorer. The small cities by the coast of the Atlantic Ocean have all been very authentic, but somehow this small town stood out from the others.

The next stop for us will be the last one in the mainland Europe. We will stay somewhere next to Sagres to wait for the right winds to sail over to Africa, Marocco.

All in all, sailing in Portugal has been as exciting as discovering the country by driving through it. It has taken some time to get used to the life at sea. We now need to take into account really minor things, like that there is not a lot fresh water, so one needs to manage washing dishes and clothes or also sometimes yourself with sea water whenever possible. Wet things do not really dry at sea, unless there is sun directly shining on them and thereby everything is a little bit moist most of the time. When at sea, everything must be put away securely. Nothing can just lie around, especially dangerous things like forks and knives. Constantly you can bang your head or toe against something on the deck. When cooking, you need to take into account not to spend too much gas, all the food you buy needs to have a long expiration period etc. So there are many things to get used to. For an Estonian, it is especially hard to get used to having no WiFi or phone connection all the time 🙂 …. But still, it has been fun so far. Every day at sea we are accompanied by the dolphins. You can just relax, enjoy the sound of waves, look at the endless sea… and the piece of mind that you can forget your phone for days… sailing in the middle of nothing but the sea has probably been the most rewarding feeling so far.

And we are also sorry that the posts are not that frequent anymore, but we try our best to keep on track. The biggest reason for this is, that we have also worked on translating our website to Estonian. The second reason is, that there is constantly something to fix on the boat. And the third reason is that there is also not much to write about when we are days and days in a row at sea 🙂

But let’s see what Africa will bring to us.

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