The long sail to Berlenga that got us all the way to Cascais

One of the goals with taking on crew on Mouni was to sail longer stretches without stopping. As we left Leixões we wanted to make an attempt of reaching Berlenga islands outside Peniche, a journey of 112 nautical miles. The islands are represented on a list of the top natural wonders of the world, and is a national park of Portugal so we were pretty excited! The start was slow, but at least we could sail. After a while however, we could not. The sun was hot, the sea was calm and the sails flapping. Time for some motor sailing. The advantage of going slow is that it´s perfect conditions for fishing mackerel, and we had the line hanging after the boat the whole afternoon. When we got too hot and bored, I suggested a swim. Jens was up for it, Stine gave in from “peer pressure” and I was the responsible “someone has to stay on-board”-person 😉 We threw in a line that they could grab after the boat and turned off the engine. After a chilly first swim they actually decided to jump in again and Stine took some great shots of Mouni out alone at sea.  There was no other boats or land in sight.


After lunch we caught fish after fish and decided four mackerels were enough for dinner. It really gives another dimension to sailing to catch your own dinner, and it has made a lot of slow passages a lot more fun. The fish was served with home-made potato mash and lemon and life was good! Sitting out at sea, listening to music and keeping watch-out for all the Portuguese fishing buoys and boats. We all established our own style of sitting by the helm and protecting ourselves from the sun.


The night offered very little wind but a clear sky of stars to guide us. Out on the big sea we often wonder how come it always happens that you have to give way to other boats when there is so much room to play with? When Jens took over for the first night watch he had to quickly start the engine since a fishing boat was coming in high speed on collision course with us, probably they just turned on the autopilot and went back taking care of the fish thinking no one would be in their way…?

When the new day dawns there is finally a bit of wind and I take over the helm by sunrise, steering south in 3-4 knots as the night watch troopers try to get some sleep down below. Also the second day is calm, and we are starting to long for arrival at Berlenga. At last the wind picks up and we sail with the Genua on the spinnaker boom in 5-6 knots. When we reach a valley of really deep sea, about 2500 meters, Stine finally get to sail with dolphins for the first time. It’s a big pod that comes and goes for a couple of hours, racing in the waves by the bow, jumping in the distance and providing a lot of entertainment.

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Finally we could see the steep neighbouring islands of Berlengha in a distance and are looking forward to drop the anchor. We got an anchoring permit (the islands belong to a national park) but when we got closer we could see that the bay where you are allowed to anchor isn’t very sheltered and since the wind was picking up it didn’t feel safe to stay. As the sun begun to set and without having had any dinner yet we made the decision to continue sailing (you can clearly see the frustration on the picture below). Before dark we managed to finish cooking the dinner – “svensk pölserätt” which Stine introduced on the menu (but that we have never heard of in Sweden). It consists of potatoes, sausage, tomatoes and onions in some type of stew.


We continued south to Cascais through the night, only with the Genua up but still cruising between 4-9 knots. And so the sail to Berlengha islands turned into the sail to Cascais. After 180 miles we dropped the anchor and got some rest.


We woke up to a sunny warm day in Cascais, which lies just north of the river mouth that goes into Lisbon. It is popular among tourists and also a popular anchorage among cruisers passing by (e.g. the German boat on the picture above with a very unusual mast). We spent a couple of nights here, enjoying the sunsets, scrubbing the water line and waiting out some gale force winds before it was time to head into Lisbon and explore the big city. We would have used the dinghy to go into shore in Cascais, but I managed to make a scratch that made a hole in one of the inflatable pontoons when I was trying to scrub the waterline…

Oh well, it gave us the push to continue to Lisbon, which is probably one of my favourite European cities from now on. More about that next time!

Hope you all are enjoying the warm weather back home!?

– Petra



To get an anchoring permit to visit Berlenga islands you need to contact the Port Authority in Peniche. But there really isn’t much space or shelter to be found there, so probably more suitable for a day visit.
Cascais is a really exclusive harbour which we were not willing to pay the price for, but the anchorage outside is decent enough. The marina police gets a bit fuzzy if you put your anchor down closer than 200 meters to a beach, so keep the distance. From Cascais there are excellent transport to Lisbon and Sintra.


Author: sailingforharmony

Cruising the oceans, exploring the world

2 thoughts on “The long sail to Berlenga that got us all the way to Cascais”

  1. Hi
    Great see how far you both have travelled , looks like you having a wonderful time .
    We will keep reading your emails
    Sandra & Norman


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