Cruising - So we were finally off cruising. Portimao
was our first night at anchor alone onboard Samarang. Actually we weren't
strictly alone there were probably another 20 or so boats anchored in the same
bay. None the less it felt like quite a big step to us, so to celebrate
and to escape from the terrible isolation of nearly a whole day on our own we
decided to go out to lunch.
Into the dinghy and up the river to Portimao's small town quay
where we could leave the dinghy whilst we were in the restaurant. A major
obstacle however was that although we could get off the town quay we wouldn't be
able to get back through the automatic gates and a key to open them would not be
available until the following day. So, with the aroma of food wafting
towards us we retreated to the dinghy and thence to Portimao's large and
unpleasant marina (same gates) where we agreed with the marina hotel staff that
if we ate lunch with them, they would open the gates to allow us back to our
dinghy. An OK lunch, but not quite the quaint little fisherman's restaurant
on the town quay that we'd had in mind.
Into the dinghy once more only to come to a standstill half
way between the shore and Samarang as the throttle linkage
disintegrated. Jury rigged a replacement using my finger, lying over
the stern with my nose touching the water and Lindy steering.
Anchor up the following day and back to Lagos - you can have
too much of this cruising business you know. Actually, we had planned to
go back and sort out a few things which weren't possible whilst in the boat
yard. Stayed a few days, said a few goodbyes and then off east again.
|Proper Cruising - Anchored behind the small island of
Culetra in what is almost a lagoon, with channels leading through the reed beds
to Faro and Olhão.
Culetra had once been a thriving fishing community, but most of that was gone now
and it was only really kept going by day trippers from the mainland. For us
though it was a beautiful, peaceful anchorage with the most spectacular sunsets.
||On our way
into Culetra we'd managed to pick up a lobsterpot in our prop. After
a few burst of astern it was duly spat out again by our Stripper prop
protector, but not as immediately as we'd expected. So whilst in the calm
waters of the lagoon I snorkeled under the boat to have a look. The
fixed blade of the Stripper had dropped out of its locating lug and was
able to rotate through about 350º
instead of being held rigid. It still sort of worked, but not as
effectively as it should. It had presumably dropped out whilst the
engine was being realigned for the second time. Nobody could have
guessed and the question now was how to get it back in, if possible,
without lifting the boat! We would give that some thought and have a
few conversations, but in the meantime keep an even closer look out than
normal for lobster pots and the like, often unmarked.
Next Stop was Vila Real de Santo Antonio
at the bottom of the river Guardiana separating Portugal from España.
Quite a nice town which seems to be the towel capital of Portugal.
The Portuguese seem to come from all over the country for a fortnights
holiday and a towel - strange but true. It also has a small marina with
the only draw back of having 3 knots of current running through it, which
makes manouvring "interesting". I had a go here at sorting
prop stripper by snorkeling under the boat and trying to undo the Allen
keys holding it in place. Big mistake! Firstly, I'm not the
strongest swimmer in the world - actually I sink. Then the water was
virtually opaque and very cold. Finally, the current meant that as soon
as I let go of the side to dive I was dragged to the other end of the
marina. So, with chattering teeth and a thin covering of blue
antifouling from being dragged along the hull I gave it up and went off
into town to buy a wet suit for next time. It's red and black and I
have to say rather fetching (we don't have much of a mirror on board).
One of the reasons
for coming to Vila Real was to see if we could make it up the
river. There was a new suspension bridge the clearance beneath - our
pilot said "was thought to be 20m". We're 19.2m + our
antenna so "was thought to be 20m" didn't fill us with
confidence. The nice lady in the marina office however assured us
that the clearance was at least 23m so off we went. We crept under
the bridge with our hearts in our mouths - it just didn't look possible
that we could get under it. Actually, I whimpered and gibbered until we
were through, whilst Lindy remained stoic and confident. "It is
their bridge, they ought to know how high they built it, for
goodness sake and it is low water!"
It was right at this moment
that Steve called to tell us that he'd sold our car for an excellent
price. What he deserved and I'm sure expected was warm thanks, much
congratulations, etc. What he got was "Have you?
Great. Can't talk now, we're going under a bridge! Call us
The Guardiana is unspoiled and truly
beautiful. We motored about 20 miles up stream and anchored between
the two villages of Alcoutim and San Lucar. Only separated by a couple of
hundred yards, but in different countries and different time zones!
It's interesting being woken by church bells striking different
There was music coming from Alcoutim so as
it seemed the livelier of the two we decided to go there to eat. In
fact Alcoutim was deserted. There were speakers strapped to just
about every lamp post playing shopping music at maximum volume, but no
people. There was only one drab and practically empty restaurant
open, so we had a quick and decidedly chewy meal and returned to the boat
for an early night.
|We were woken after midnight by an enormous
fireworks display. We learned later that it had been Alcoutim's annual
festival. All the residents had gone to the castle on top of the
hill for a giant paella party and fireworks. All that is, with the
exception of the restauranteur who saw an opportunity to get shot of some
tough meat to a few yachties. We'd just been in the wrong place at
the wrong time - but only just!
We'd have loved to stay longer up the Guardiana, but we
were concerned that we still hadn't found anywhere we liked to stay for
the winter and marinas seemed to be filling up fast, so we really
needed to press on. We had actually reserved a place at the
Club Nautico in Sevilla, thanks to much persistence and use of the
dictionary by Lindy. It was horribly expensive, but after much
debate we decided it was worth it to stay in the centre of such a
beautiful city. There was however a small issue of some power cables
that we weren't sure we could get under, sound familiar?