I think the nudists shrivelled up in retreat at the news of our arrival. Only one small minority remained in one corner of the beach.

Not that I was deliberately looking of course… merely scanning the beach for a safe dinghy landing.

Fortunately the rest of the beach contained more swimwear.

Ons is an island in one of the Galician national parks. It is lightly inhabited and carefully managed.  So much so that you need permission to navigate around its waters. This can be obtained online and when it’s granted, you can reserve an anchoring slot at one of the islands. Originally we planned to go to another island, Cies, but as no places were left, Ons was the only choice. And probably a better one given the wind direction.

From ons to portugal

Ons from afar

The sun was beating down, so we spent a lazy afternoon on Lady Jane gently rolling at anchor close to the nudists. Sunbathing for the first time since leaving Mupe Bay in England, just sat in the cockpit reading.

Later in the day, the tourist boats sounded their horns and the beach goers responded by dragging their belongings and their tomato-coloured bodies back to their respective ferries. And slowly, the local boats sharing our anchorage upped and left until just three of us remained to enjoy the late evening sun.

And just in time for bed, along came the swell.

Maria seems impervious to this, and sleeps like deadwood throughout. Wish I could. The next morning I couldn’t tell if I had slept or not, until several mugs of coffee had been consumed.

Until now the winds have been a bit fickle, so we hoped the Portuguese trade winds would bring a touch of reliability – and some respite for the engine. So the downwind rig was set ready for the sail down the Portuguese coast. Northerly winds were forecast, and we wanted to extract the most out of them.

Hours later, the saying ‘be careful of what you wish for’ clanged in my ears as we approached Viana do Castelo in 30 knots of wind. The sailing might be fun while you are out with the wind behind you. It certainly isn’t when you turn to face it.

Getting behind the breakwater didn’t bring the immediate relief we hoped for. The wind increased to 34 knots… partly because we were motoring into it, and partly because there is an acceleration zone caused by the local topography.

The rigging was screaming. And crash-helmeted windsurfers were hurtling past us at incredible speeds.

Deeper into the harbour, the wind slowed to a more modest 24 knots – then back up to 28 again. Mooring the boat in that wind speed definitely isn’t fun, and can only be attempted with gritted teeth, clenched buttocks, and several fingers crossed.

Eventually, however, shelter was found in the lee of a large building a couple of hundred metres from the marina so we could stow the spinnaker pole and get the warps and fenders out ready to moor up.

Then, just to add to the character building, we found the waiting pontoon for the marina to be full. So we had hover around until someone left. No one seemed to be particularly keen on us rafting up next to them. 

The word must be out.

Fortunately a boat left about 10 minutes later, creating a handy space at the end of the pontoon. And helped by someone on the boat in front – who had both a vested interest and the ability to take instruction – we parked up.

As a reward for our endeavours, a concert evening was arranged. Of course this was a complete surprise to the crew of Lady Jane, but we are very grateful. The unseen bands in the distance belted out folk music from all over the world. It was a lovely gift to us to mark our arrival.

There’ll be more about Viana do Costelo in our next post.