We keep meaning to continue our headlong rush south … but the Portuguese weather has been basking us in sunlight that has proved irresistible after the long Arctic summer. While we are still moving a little further south each day (tomorrow we plan to cross the 40 degree mark which is the halfway point between our furthest North – 80 degrees – and the equator!) we have been adopting a more relaxed pace to fit in with the locals. Thus we have opted to spend at least a few of these beautiful days enjoying the endless beaches, tawny sunsets and sparkling waters of the Atlantic coast rather than rushing forward blindly.
Mind you, the relaxed pace of life on land does not seem to extend to the ocean itself… Lazy days on the beach are a little too much to hope for when you are a fisherman struggling to feed your family, and with less fish in the ocean the Portuguese solution seems to be to simply lay as many nets as possible to ensure a better catch. Sailing from these Atlantic ports is quite a challenge simply due to the constant dodging and duckling and weaving required to avoid the hundreds of buoys and other fishing paraphernalia which are often hard to see during the day and invisible at night. Running the gauntlet as we head for deep water I start to feel a little like a fish myself as we struggle to move more than a few minutes without a close call with yet another net. For us a close shave would be a nuisance at worse, but the fish seem to be facing a maze of invisible nets that can only spell doom. Even the dolphins which occasionally keep us company are not immune to these death-traps and the sight of a drowned short-beaked common dolphin bobbing just below the surface was one of the most horrific sights of our journey thus far.
We love our seafood – but surely we need a little more restraint if we hope to be able to feed our children from the bounty of the ocean?