Taka Trois is one of many boats in marinas along the coast of Portugal who are waiting; waiting for the right weather to cross over to Madeira or The Canaries. There are several boats who have already gone either out of necessity or impatience, but the rest of us don’t want to take the risk with such a big passage. We’re fortunate as our ultimate deadline for being in Grand Palma is 6 weeks from now when we fly back to France to close the sale on Patrice’s parents’ home. We’re also fortunate to be waiting in such a lovely place and so for the moment, we’re content to linger here and explore this beautiful city.
Last Friday we took the train to Belem, one of Lisbon's historical areas. It was from here that many of the great Portuguese explorers embarked on their voyages of discovery including Ferdinand Magellan and Vasco de Gama and this was where Christopher Columbus stopped on his way back to Europe after discovering the New World. The area, situated just west of the city along the Tagus River is famous for several things notably: The Jeronimo Monastery, built it in 1502 which has an impressive cathedral and the largest and most beautiful cloister I have ever seen; the Belem Tower, built in 1515 as a fortress to guard the entrance to Lisbon's harbor and was the starting point for many historical voyages, the Discovery Monument (see photos below) and finally the pastéis de Belém, a delectable little flan pie with a crunchy crust sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar. The crowds at the Antiga Confeitaria de Belem where these are made testify to the popularity of this delicacy, but personally, we found that it does not beat the Travesseiro from Sintra which we have now discovered are also called “heavenly pillows.” You see, I just knew they were Divine!
To work off the calories, we walked along the Tagus River admiring the view of the 25 de Abril suspension bridge which has an overall length of 2278m (approx. 1.5 miles) and the longest central span in Europe (1013m/3323ft), longer than its twin, The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. It is over looked by "The Monument to Christ," a 28m (90ft) figure of Christ built in 1959 in thanks to God for having spared Portugal during WWII and was inspired by the famous statue in Rio de Janeiro. Not simply content to gaze at it from afar, the next day we decided to give Taka Trois some exercise and sail up the river under the bridge and past the monument as far as the city itself.
Photo courtesy of Fabienne Cabridroit.
It was a perfect late afternoon and we invited some ex-work colleagues of Patrice’s who live here to come along for a sunset cruise. Perfect, that is until our engine began to make a funny noise on the way home, just in front of the entrance to the marina--this is never a good sign! We had been on high alert for those pesky fishing buoys and feared that we may have snagged one, especially as it was dark at this point and they were very difficult to spot. Upon inspection there was no evidence of this and when we reduced the engine speed the noise stopped. We reassured ourselves that there surely would not be a buoy so close to the marina. Once at a standstill back in our berth however, up popped a buoy on the side of our hull! Apparently our keel had picked up one of those devils and we had dragged it back with us.
As it was too late and too dark to do anything at this point, we sent up a prayer to God, opened a bottle of wine and enjoyed the rest of our evening. The next morning, we alerted and complained to an official at the marina office who shrugged apologetically saying that this was certainly an illegal buoy. As we debated the best course of action, Marco, our Finnish boat neighbor came to the rescue. In no time, he donned his personal dry suit and fins and jumped in to have a look from below. The good news is that the rope had only been caught by our keel and not the engine’s propellor and there appeared to be no damage. He untangled the buoy and rope which was weighed down by a large stone (!) and all was well again. We tested the engine and the noise was gone. Whew! Thank you Marco and thank you Lord for taking care of us, once again!
Debbie is first mate of Taka Trois as well as head cook and chief provisioning officer.