Portugal is an uncomfortable coast to navigate. With rollers on the beam, you get the feeling of coming down a ladder head first. I put in for six hours each at Figueira da Foz and the sandstone fortification of Peniche, before reaching the superyacht transit hub of Cascais., whose club buzzes with classic car showrooms, boutique shops and a familiar design of crew quarters which, considered quaintly dilapidated when I was at prep school, now passes for glamorously retro.
Once the centre of an empire, Lisbon retains a drowsily cosmopolitan feel which summons the musky aromas of Macau and the bright Renaissance of Rio de Janeiro. There is a furtive satisfaction in finally meeting the grandmother of a dozen curious cousins.
Under the bridge and into the naval dockyard, I parked Granny till mid October, while I worked in Central Europe.
The final leg to Gibraltar I did almost in one, stopping just short of Europa Strait to wait for the wind to turn and avoid using the motor (to this point, I hadn’t tanked up on diesel since leaving Lowestoft). After three days at sea since Lisbon, the sun beat down on the dusty Andalucian port of Valdevaqueros. I wandered into town and ordered a burger and chips with a pile of vegetables and pint of beer. And the same again. And a third time.
I eventually made Queensway Marina, Gibraltar, in late October, and stayed a while, making a couple of brief excursions to the Spanish exclave of Cueta, North Africa.
There is less to say about sailing now. I haven’t made any dangerous mistakes for several months, so the 2020 season – I hope – will be a chronicle of islands and echoes of Classical and Norman history around the Mediterranean, with a few crusades, slave raids and bouts of Bubonic Plague thrown in.
Watching the blue flag lowered over the Governor’s house for the last time, I headed back to Granny and sailed at first light. My cupboards and bilges are packed with duty free from The Rock and it only remains for me to head to the Golden Horn, via Melilla, the Balearics, Sardinia, Naples, Sicily, Malta, Corfu, Athens, and Mount Athos,. There, I intend to take back Constantinople from the Saracen (calling in a bit of help from Russia). If my efforts fail to come to the attention of CNN, then you can receive blow by blow updates from my instagram @Godkingandempire.