In the days before GPS and electronic charts it was essential to have navigation skills. We learned our position lines, fixes, transits and dead reckoning at evening classes where our teacher, Jim, fondly laced his lessons with memorable descriptives and mnemonics. Who could ever forget ‘Can Dead Men Vote Twice’ and ‘True Virgins Make Dull Companions’ to ensure the correct order in converting compass to true or the other way around? One cold and rainy November evening Jim said, “Being at sea on a night like tonight will mean zero visibility … you might as well stick your head up a cow’s backside!” He went on to teach us about lighthouses and their characteristics … no wonder we have such a fondness for these structures.
Cabo de Roca is the furthest point west of Portugal and of the European continent. Steep, rocky cliffs, 168m high form the perfect base for the lighthouse that warns and comforts mariners navigating the Iberian coast. We sailed by that lighthouse, high-tailing it before a storm to our north, rounded Cape Raso in heavy seas and headed for the protection of Cascais bay where we anchored in the lee of Cascais, relieved and grateful to sit out the Atlantic depression in safety and comfort.