The Algarve

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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 Olho.  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.

wpe21.jpg (23960 bytes) 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 350 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 Espaa.  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 out the 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 later! Click!!!"

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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 times.  

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?

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Last updated 18th March 2018