We were fortunate on Thursday in that for the remainder of our trip to Oeiras we had the wind behind us and were finally able to return to ‘proper’ sailing.
Half way or so through the journey there was a burst of excitement when 6 naval vessels appeared on the horizon followed by F16 aircraft overhead. We hastily checked all our flags to make sure we were not committing some sort of international sailing faux pas that would lead to our arrest, radio transmissions to other ARC boats indicated that we were on the fringes of a naval exercise. Judging by the aircraft manoeuvres we got the distinct impression we were being watched.
The naval vessels drifted away and the rest of the voyage passed without incident, we sailed into Oeiras shortly after 6pm. One of the first crews we came across were Carole, Peter and Ian from Lyonie. They were wearing the kind of look that suggested all was not well and recounted how their spinnaker halyard had snapped mid voyage, leaving Peter and Ian to drag the spinnaker out of the sea.
Friday was spent in celebratory mode. There was a birthday aboard Girolle, more about that shortly... I set off on the morning organised tour, leaving Dave and Andy behind to do boat tinkering stuff. A large group of us visited a gunpowder factory museum, followed by Poets Park and a wine house where we learned about the production of a niche fortified wine. Of course no tour would be complete without wine tasting and most of us came away having made a purchase!
On return to the boat, Dave and Andy were seemingly still in boat tinkering mode and carried on pottering as I walked into a cabin containing balloons, a banner, birthday cards and gifts that they’d set up in my absence. The two sea dogs gave the impression they’d forgotten but underneath they are clearly soft at heart.
Grateful thanks also to Judy and Steve on Fair Isle for their kind invitation to pre-dinner drinks and their generous hospitality. I provided a birthday cake that I found in the local supermarket, having caused chaos by picking the only item in the shop with no price ticket. We had a small candle blowing out ceremony, the wind did all the hard work for me before we got all of the candles lit, so my worries about setting fire to their beautiful boat were short lived. Afterwards, we all gathered at a local restaurant in the marina. Firstly prize giving and after 3 weeks Girolle finally got a trophy! We came 3rd on the Peniche to Oeiras leg. Dave proudly went to receive the award and I was also called up, ARC rally control had kindly organised a birthday card, having done a great job with covert secret squirrel tactics during the morning tour. I was overwhelmed with birthday well wishes all morning and wondered how people knew about the birthday. Don’t think I will make a detective or be joining the secret service anytime soon. The evening entertainment was great fun, after a wonderful meal the restaurant manager turned DJ and started to play music. A handful of us started dancing and within a short time a handful became a group which then became almost the entire crews of ARC Portugal dancing away, crammed into a tiny space. Made my day, was such a pleasure to see everyone enjoying themselves and having fun. I think ‘Dancing Diva’ award has to go to Dave for entertaining us with his eclectic mix of dance moves. Tough call though as everyone was putting in 100% dance effort.
For me this was such a memorable day, I am truly humbled by and grateful for all the lovely birthday well wishes from a group of people I’d never met before this trip but who helped make the day truly special.
Today there were no pre-planned excursions. The Girolle team had considered exploring Lisbon but the excitement of winning awards and celebrating a birthday kind of left us needing to recharge the batteries! Somewhat disappointingly, the Lisbon experience will have to be consigned to the bucket list for another time.
Tomorrow we set sail for the penultimate time, this time to Sines. Hard to believe there are only two sails left on our journey.
Signing off for now. Until next time.
Photo: View from the tower, Poets Park image1.