I really did not have time to celebrate as we were entering the inlet to Ilha de Coulatra.
Conditions were far from ideal: a two knot current against us, 20 knot winds behind us and ocean depths shallowing from 400 feet to less than 20’; it was not the time to get the cake out.
But Dauntless handled the conditions like she always does with a nonchalance that says, if this is what you want me to do, I’ll get it done.
As you can see from our inbound track, we waggled a bit, but that was the extent of it. We then proceeded to head up the well-marked river channel, only to discover that the marina was full. Now in the USA, we are accustomed to a marina being full. Making reservations, calling ahead are sometimes critical and done pretty routinely.
Instead in Europe, at least in Northern Europe, first talked about in the Cruising Forum and later confirmed by experience over last two years, is that there is always space. And if space is not readily available space will be found. Sometimes that means sailboats will be rafted together two or three deep. For the most part this Krogen escaped that inconvenience because of our large bow rise.
I think this difference in marina culture is more about the culture than anything else. I mean in the north, there is a very evident culture of the sea. Thus seafarers are accommodated pretty much no matter what. It carries over to prices also. Throughout the North and Baltic Seas, marina prices were in the $20 to $35 range; with only Helsinki being out of the normal at $50. Even with the two weeks I was in Helsinki last year, the average marina cost was only $25 averaged over the four months for our 42 foot (12.7m) Kadey Krogen.
This year, as we came south, I expected prices to rise. Prices in the west coast of France were in the $30 to $40 range and that continued into Northwest Spain, Galicia.
But as we turned south, as the temperatures got higher so did the prices. $40 becomes the going rate and other than the little gem of Vila Franca de Xira up the river from Lisbon or the Marina do Freixo, upriver from Porto, everything costs more.
The bigger disappointment however is not so much the prices, but that’s to be expected. Similar to what I noticed along the east coast of the Untitled States, the seafaring culture is alive and well in New England, but every place else it’s simply a commercial venture.
And that seems to be the attitude here.
Certainly I have always shown a preference for the cooler, off the beaten track places, Maine instead of the Bahamas, for instance, but none the less, the No Room in the Inn sign is a disappointment, especially since I must turn around in a small distance in a 20 knot wind.