Street Party in Sines

7 Aug

There is much to tell about goings-on in Portosin with Berni and Barb, and about our zoom down the coast of Portugal. I promise that I will very soon use up my remaining few brain cells to compose something relevant. However, I’m acutely aware that my procrastination skills are being honed by this liveaboard lifestyle and this blog is getting less and less current…not good!

So, for now, I’ll tell you a little bit about Sines. For this is where we currently are hanging out.

Today is Friday and we arrived here on Wednesday from Cascais, after 50 or so miles of motor sailing, alot of it in thick fog with an hour or two of proper sailing thrown in.

Cabo Espichel just before the fog arrived

Cabo Espichel just before the fog arrived

We had an exciting time arriving on the pontoon, with winds gusting up to 30 knots. But, hey, we’re getting better at this mooring lark (bow thrusters are wonderful bits of kit!), and with a little help from our new neighbours, we managed to tame the boat and get tied up stern-to without injury or embarrassment. Booking in and completing all the bureaucracy* that goes with it was easy, all the marina staff speak good English and they do all the paperwork without any necessity for the skipper to trail to different offices.

(*at every Portugese port, the boat and crew are tracked in triplicate by customs, maritime police, immigration and possibly even the local priest and cake shop!)

After a good night’s sleep and then a morning on domestic chores i.e. cleaning the boat from stem to stern, we set off to explore Sines. It is a small town and the nearest safe stopover on the Atlantic coast before heading round the Cabo Sao Vicente to the Algarve and the Med.

On the approach from offshore all that can be seen are massive cranes, towering red and white chimneys and monster ships at anchor. It gives the impression of being a rather grim commercial port. However, once you’re in the small marina alongside a pretty sandy beach and with the white pantiled houses perched on the hillside above, the feel of the place is very different.

We liked Sines right from the start (not least because, at €26.21 a night, it is exactly half the price of Marina de Cascais!). Once you’ve climbed the steep steps up to the Our Lady of Salas Church, you find yourself in the narrow cobbled streets of the old town, with cafés and tiny shops dotted all over the place. We found our way to the establishment that the friendly security man at the marina had recommended and consumed our cake and beer quota while watching Sinienses go by. Suitably refreshed, we had a wander round the Castle, where there is an exhibition about the town and its history and its most famous export, Vasco da Gama. We left knowing more about the development of Sines as a commercial port but are still pretty unenlightened on Dom Vasco – the exhibition was all in Portuguese, but he does seem like a mighty fine fellow!

An early pioneer of the electronic chartplotter....

An early pioneer of the electronic chartplotter....

After a very late evening meal ashore, we headed for the promenade to check out the sound of live music. We found stalls selling food and drink and a large stage set out. By the time we got there at 11pm, the good townsfolk of Sines were well into party-mode, dancing to the vocals and accordion of Vanda Isabel and Maria de Fatima. When I write that it sounds a bit dire but, honestly, it wasn’t. Young and old alike were out, all just having a good time – dancing, singing and drinking. The notable difference from any similar event in the UK was that there was no brawling, no lurching or spewing drunks and the place felt completely safe. It was brilliant and we couldn’t NOT join in, we had a ball and then danced all the way back to the boat! (Think all this sun must be getting to the skipper!) And NO hangover this morning either!

Yesterday’s good day was made even better by a quick phone call that PT got from Aberdeen…he doesn’t have to go back to work next week as scheduled. The platform is having a scheduled shutdown so he won’t have to go back until September 17th and we can, hopefully slow down a bit and get a taste of what it’s like to be proper cruisers.

The weather forecast says wind, wind and more wind for the next couple of days. So, we’ll probably be here for a little while longer before we head round the dreaded Cabo Sao Vicente where the swell can pile up and the wind increases creating nasty conditions – sounds a bit like Rattray Head!

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