We were at Joao’s workshop. The place was crammed with buoys, lines, tools, all kind of fishing-equipment, a little TV-set humming away in the corner, a sweet little puppy and both neighbor’s cats and somehow there was still some space for a set of tables and something to sit on.
As it happens between fellow fishermen from time to time, Joao had been given heaps of fresh Sardines from a friend, so many that even our joint car-mechanic Paolo from the village up on the clifftops came to join us with his son. Carlos was dealing with the Barbecue, 2 car-wheels modified for the purpose, making sure the Sardines are perfect before he allowed each set to reach the table. There was fresh salad with lettuce, tomato and onion, red wine and not to forget bread so we could eat them the proper Portuguese way. Which is: you lay the Sardine on a piece of bread you’re holding in your hand, place the thumb on top of the head so she won’t accidentally slip away, and then either pick the flesh with your fingers or take it out directly with your teeth. When one side is eaten you flip her over and do the same to the other side. All the juices end up in the bread and that comes next. There are people out there who love the bread with the juices even more than the Sardines. I like it too, but I re-use my bread for several Sardines before I eat it, I’m just too fond of fresh Sardines to miss any as long as my tummy is still capable to manage.
We were all sitting there making a hearty lunch of it, everyone happily chatting away when Joao told me they are going to the Festa in Peniche next Saturday and if I would like to join them? Of course, I would love to come, when are you leaving from here? Around midday. Only thing you’ve got to know: we’re gonna stay there overnight, if you need to get back to Nazaré you’ve got to sort out some transport. Alright, thanks, no worries, awesome!!!
Every year in August Peniche is organizing a Festa in Honour of Nossa Senhora de Boa Viagem. While this Saint of “safe voyages” is honored by many, she became mainly the Saint of the Seafarers and the connection is especially strong with the fishing-community. Peniche is one of the major fishing-ports in Portugal. Although I’m only 25 Nautical Miles away from Peniche I haven’t been once in all these years. Sure, I’ve been to Peniche, many times, but never for the Festa.
Saturday came and it turned out to be something very special I really enjoyed. It wasn’t only the fact that I was able to be out there on the sea again, the whole thing was just awesome and overwhelming, even though I’m not religious.
Nothing happens here without a proper meal and while the cook was ready with his part we were waiting for something, this time at Joaquim’s workshop. A “surprise” said Joaquim but didn’t tell me more. And then Joao turned up with his Ute and Nossa Senhora da Nazaré on the back
Sure, I’ve heard that these Saints do travel, a lot apparently, but I didn’t know that they could just come with us like that! It felt very special I must say!
We would go with 2 boats: Joao Floripes and Companheiro de Deus, Nossa Senhora da Nazaré would sail on Companheiro de Deus. It was lunch and loading
and when everything was lashed down safely we took off. First for a little round in the bay before heading south.
Nossa Senhora da Nazaré is the very special saint of Nazaré. With every Saint there comes a story and the same is true for Nossa Senhora da Nazaré. The saying goes that a prince was hunting a deer on horseback in bad visibility when the deer lost it’s footing and fell off the cliff. The prince not being aware of the danger got saved from the same fate by Nossa Senhora de Nazaré. She’s got a little chapel up on the cliff where it happened and it’s located on the clifftop more or less in front of her in the photo.
Now, I know that the Townhall has a proper knight’s room with old armour, wooden floors and an open firestead, that Nazaré has it’s own TV- and Radio-station but I didn’t know that Nazaré has it’s own flag:
The closer we got to Cabo Carvoeiro, the Cape one has to go around to get to Peniche when coming from the North, the worse the visibility got and we were down to depending on the Radar
Just around the cape, on the southern side, we had an appointment: the Fishing-Boats from the people living on Berlinga-Island, an Island a few Nautical Miles to the NW of Cabo Carvoeiro, and us were planned to meet here and then join (nearly) all the Fishing-Boats from Peniche who had come out to welcome and accompany us into the port. All boats nicely dressed up with flags, but we couldn’t see a thing if it wasn’t for the Radar.
Bit by bit the visibility got better and we started to actually see them
Together with all the other boats we headed to the port of Peniche. Entering the port we found a huge amount of people everywhere, cheering and welcoming the boats
Nossa Senhora de Nazaré was unloaded and brought to a church nearby. We docked the boats in the fishing-port and walked over to a place where the town of Peniche had prepared a meal for the crews. Several of these boats come to Nazaré for their yearly maintenance, so I knew some of the people which was extra-nice.
After that we walked a little bit around Peniche, had a drink here and there and some of us ended up at the church they had taken Nossa Senhora da Nazaré and all the saints from the other boats. For some reason then somehow we all got separated. Hm. And now what?
I knew there was a procession in the bay planned for tonight and I really wanted to get back on board to take part in it. But with all the security-stuff going on one couldn’t just walk over and step into the boat. So I thought the easiest would be to just wait for Nossa Senhora da Nazaré to come out of the church and walk with the people carrying her down to the water where she’ll be loaded on the boat again.
The bells were ringing, one saint after another was carried out, but Nossa Senhora de Nazaré didn’t show up.
Finally, as number 17, there she was and 2 of the guys who were on Companheiro de Deus also, so off we went …
… all the way down to the water’s edge where the boat was waiting to bring us back on board
I helped holding one of the lights when one of us had to go for a wee and was quite surprised how heavy this thing was! With every Saint who got loaded to be taken to her proper boat the whole story got told via the microphone.
Now it was our turn. The story of Nossa Senhora da Nazaré got told and then there were suddenly huge cheers when the guy on the microphone explained that we were the ones who had the longest voyage to get there (hm, yes, well, 25 Nautical Miles …) and that she even has international accompaniment (which meant me as a foreigner, no idea who told them).
Unfortunately my camera is not very good with capturing stuff at night, it was so awesome to see all these colored lights on the ships, something like 60 boats. We went for a huge round in the bay in the dark, it was impressive!
I found a family heading back to Martingança, a place some 20 or so kilometers to the north of Nazaré, who were so nice to give me a lift to the entrance of the port and thus managed to get back home for the night.
The plan was to go to Peniche with Joao Floripes this year, but, because of COVID-19 this year’s Festa got cancelled. Well, maybe next year 😀 ?