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Deep Blue
Living The Dream
Algarve Arrival!
09/27/2007, Lagos

After several weeks of heading south, we have now turned left and are heading east towards the med. We arrived in Lagos a week ago and have been staying in the marina in the centre of the town. Dave and Elaine have had family visiting them this past week and we have used the time to catch up some jobs such as re-sealing the teak decks, dinghy maintenance and planning the next stage of our passage from Lagos to Gibraltar.

The marina is very busy as it is a popular place for yachts to over-winter. We are moored at the opposite end of the marina to the shower/laundry unit and shops and restaurants, so we are being kept fit with all the walking we are doing. It is the first touristy place that we have visited and, after the initial shock and being touted for dolphin/fishing/grotto trips, we have enjoyed our visit very much. Highlights this week have been attending a 40th birthday party for Stephan, one of our boat buddies. His wife, Tanya, organised a great party by the pool in the marina where 20 of us enjoyed good wine, tapas, champagne and birthday cake. It was a lovely afternoon and provided a good opportunity for us all to get to know one another better. We have been lucky to meet some lovely people on our trip and it is very common for you to arrive in a marina and see yachts that you met at a previous marina. We tend to leap-frog along, just catching each other briefly so it was good to spend some time to meet our fellow travellers in such a nice setting.

When Chris was in Gibraltar a couple of years ago, he met Rob Clark, who was doing the same thing but in a different group. Rob's dream was to have a sailing school in Lagos with his wife, Jules. On our first day, we were walking along the quay and who should Chris bump in to but Rob and Jules, who had realised their dream. The school is going really well with Rob instructing novices through to Yachtmaster. He told us that the cruising ground here is perfect and they have many customers who come back several times a year to improve their sailing skills. They are really nice, laid-back people who obviously do an excellent job. If anyone is interested in taking some lessons, or you know of anyone who needs tuition on their own boat, then Rob and Jules are the people to contact on: - Rob Clark, RU Sailing, Tel: +44 07747 100030 / +351 918828085, Email: rob@rusailing.com, Web: www.rusailing.com.

I had my first 'girls night out' this week with Tanya and Mary. If you have never tried sangria made with white wine, I can thoroughly recommend it, from what I remember! We had a lot of laughs whilst the guys stayed at home, babysitting and putting the world to right.

We have heard that some of you have had to put the heating on at home. If this is the case, you may not wish to read the next bit, so please look away. The weather is fantastic here. It is so hot in the middle of the day that we have all the blinds and curtains closed to keep us cool. It does get chilly though (down to about 20?) when the sun goes down and the wind is blowing.

We are heading off to Portimao tomorrow to start the next part of our journey. There is some powerboat racing there this weekend and we are not sure if we will get the chance to see any of it or not. We will also be saying goodbye to Tanya, Stephan, Connor & Anneke on Beyzano and Mary, Paul, Kate & Molly on Jigsaw who are off to the Canaries from where they will take part in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) to the Caribbean. We wish them well and look forward to meeting up again. After that, we will be visiting Albufeira, Vilamoura, Ayamonte (back into Spain from here), El Rompido, Chipiona, Cadiz, Barbate and will finally arrive in Gibraltar in about 2 weeks time.

For those of you who have tried to call us recently and haven't been able to get through, we have had some connection problems whilst in Portugal and hope that once we are back in Spain, things will revert back to normal. As usual, please bear with us!

Birthplace of Vasco da Gama, halfway between Lisbon and the Algarve
09/19/2007, Sines

Pronounced 'cinch', this is the birthplace of Vasco da Gama who discovered the sea route to India and later became a Viceroy of India. It is a small, but excellent marina with the best showers on route so far! Chris did a great job of shoehorning us into the last available mooring where we have spent a couple of days.

On route here, we tried out a 'hot tip' for washing your clothes. Put them into a black bin bag or similar, add water and washing liquid, tie to boat securely and place in the sunshine. For a coloured wash, you need about 5 hours at medium sun with a slight breeze. Worked a treat!

We had our first real leisure moment yesterday when we went onto the beach and had a drink on the way back from shopping and trying to find internet. You may find this hard to believe, but since we have arrived in mainland Europe, we have probably only had 3 x 3 hours slots when we have had the chance to put our feet up without having something to do. The rest of the time is mostly spent shopping, washing, looking for internet access and cleaning the boat. You don't realise how long things take. Just mooring into a marina and getting yourself sorted, and then visiting the various authorities to fill in paperwork and show them the ships papers and passports can easily take an hour. It has made us realise just how much rushing about we did back in England and we weren't rushers!

We are looking forward to a more relaxing week ahead next week when we get to Lagos as Dave and Elaine have family arriving for a week and, whilst we won't be we them all of the time, we will hang around to wait for them for the next part of our journey. We will be on the Algarve where, I hope, the water is warm because until now, the Atlantic Sea has been too cold to dip your toe into never mind anything else.


Cascais & Lisbon
09/12/2007, Open top bus tour of Portugal's capital city, great marina at Cascais

Having spent longer than we anticipated in Nazare due to being fog bound, we were eager to arrive at Cascais, a suburb of Lisbon, some 15 miles west of the city. The marina is fabulous with great facilities, lots of restaurants with a backdrop of the town's fortified walls. However, this comes at a price as it is the most expensive place that we have stayed at since the UK.

Took a train for the 30 minute journey into Lisbon (15 miles and only £2.25 return for both of us, why can't the UK sort out its trains like this and everybody would use them) and decided to do an open-top bus tour where you can hop on and off as you like. Mike and Elaine will remember a similar trip in Vancouver some time ago. It is a great way to see a city as big as Lisbon when time is short. We spent the afternoon discovering some of the highlights of the capital city, built upon seven hills and which, in medieval times, was once one of Europe's most important ports. It is hard to believe that it is only just over 30 years since the country became independent from a dictatorship. We finished off the day's visit, and ourselves, by climbing to Castelo de Sao Jorge, that was one of the most intact and impressive castle's that we have ever seen. Located on the highest hill in Lisbon, offering magnificent views across the city, the oldest remains date back to the 6th century. Check out the photos of our day in the Gallery.

To make you feel better, thought you'd like to know that we had a big thunderstorm last night with LOTS OF RAIN. The light show above us filled the whole of the sky. Thank goodness it is back to normal and it is sunny again today. So we enjoyed bacon rolls on deck for breakfast. We know how to live.

If you do get the chance to visit Lisbon, we would recommend that you consider staying in Cascais because it is beautiful, has its own beach, is full of character, a lot cheaper than the city and only half an hour away.

Fog on the coast....
09/04/2007, Nazare

Left Leixoes in full sunshine for an overnight passage to Nazare and enjoyed calm seas, light winds and dolphins until dark.

At about 1am, we started noticing that the navigation lights on our friends boat, with Dave & Elaine onboard, kept disappearing from view for a few minutes even though they were less than 1/2 mile away. Within an hour, we were in the thickest fog you can imagine which is apparently a known hazard in this area in the summer, although we had no warning of it in the forecast before we left. Had we known, we would have stayed put.

Anyway, thank goodness for radar and chart plotters (how the ancient mariners managed without our electronic stuff, we cannot imagine!). Visibility was down to under 50m all the way into Nazare where we arrived at about midday tired but relieved to be here safe and sound.

It's a beautiful day here today and it's been a real surprise to see where we are! Tall cliffs with lovely old buildings on the top and a big beach full of local tourists.

Have just tried out our fold-up bikes and will add a photo to the website shortly. Plan to be here for another 24hrs before heading for Cascais, a suburb of Lisbon where we also intend to spend a few days at.

Communication Update
09/04/2007

Just an update for those of you who are trying to get hold of us on Skype. We have not been able to get a wi-fi connection in any marina yet, apart from one, and have been using either coin-operated computers in bars or in marina offices. These computers do not allow Skype communication. We hope this will change when we get into the Algarve and Mediterranean but there is nothing we can do about it right now. We are looking into getting a wi-fi phone that will work with Skype so that we can take it with us when we are out and about in the hope of connecting to a wi-fi connection more easily. Will let you know how we get on. In the meantime, our mobile is on 24 hours and it only costs the same as calling a UK mobile (BT 13p peak and 8p off peak when we last checked).

First visitors, Red Bull Air Race, Port Caves
09/04/2007, Porto

Arrived in Portugal at Leixoes (pronounced 'layshoinsh'), a suburb of Porto, to be met by Deb and Joe who arrived at the marina at the same time, loaded down with our shopping request of Tesco's Bombay Mix and Oatcakes, and who stayed with us for a few days.

We were expecting the language to be similar to Spanish however it is completely different with, what sounds like, an eastern European accent. Surprisingly, we reverted back to UK time although we had only dropped south, down the coast. There is a distinctive Englishness about the place with most people speaking the language, signs and transport info in English, red post boxes and similarities with UK architecture. We took the metro into Porto which was one of the best public transport systems we have ever used being very cheap and easy to navigate around. The city is very clean, the setting on the wide River Douro is beautiful with lots of old, terraced buildings. The port cellars are on the south bank and all offer free tours with a tasting at the end. Unfortuately, we were too late to visit the Taylor's cellar but our perseverance paid off at another cellar where we were lucky to have a private tour and tasting. During our stay, the Red Bull Air Race was taking place. 13 pilots and planes from all over the world were taking part in a slalom course down the main river in the centre of the city. The planes were about 60 feet above the water and we had waterfront seats along the river banks to watch from. It was very exciting and heats have taken place in London, Rio de Janiero, Istanbul, USA etc. The weather here is more like what we were expecting - hot, so we are now turning brown at last. If you have never visited Porto, or rather Oporto as it is known locally, we can thoroughly recommend it. You have to be fit though as most of the city is on a hill with lots of steep streets. Check out the photos of Porto in the 'Portgual' album in the Gallery.

Waved goodbye to Deb and Joe and then found a Lidl's store nearby where we did a re-stock for the next journey.

Off today (Sunday) for an overnight trip to Navare before the next destination of Lisbon where we should be able to give you a further update later in the week.

Baiona
08/26/2007

Hello from sunny Baiona where we have spent the last 3 days.

Managed to get the TV working on the laptop today so that Chris could watch the Grand Prix. We then visited a replica of ´Pinta´ the boat that Christopher Columbus sailed on and were brought back to earth with a bump when seeing the conditions that the sailors had to endure.

Off to Lexioes tomorrow on the outskirts of Porto. Debra, my sister, and her boyfriend Joe are arriving tomorrow for a few days which we are really looking forward to.

Bookings are now being taken.

Santiago de Compostela
08/22/2007, 42 45.0'N:08 56.0'W

This was our first day trip since arriving in Spain. It took two buses to get to the cathedral at Santiago which was fun in itself as we do not speak Spanish but are quickly learning.

Santiago was only an hour away and is where the tomb of St. James was discovered at the beginning of the 9th Century. It has been the focus for thousands of pilgrims and is now the most important place after Jersualem and Rome for them.

The cathedral is magnificent and the town very olde worlde. The only down side for us that there were hundreds of people visiting and it didn't seem quite right they so many should be allowed in at the same time to trample around.

After a lovely day, it was back to the usual priorities of shopping, washing and finding wi-fi.

Hunter Gatherers in Camarinas
08/22/2007, 43 07'N:09 10'W

Arrived in the fishing town of Camarinas on Saturday night and squeezed Deep Blue into the sliver of space that they allocated to us.

On Sunday, we went onto the beach to look for some dinner! The pilot book said that it was a good place to find shellfish and they were right. Between we found enough mussels and cockles for a starter and a main course. Only Chris had done this before so we followed his instructions. It was really easy and with a little white wine, garlic, onions and cream the mussels slipped down a treat followed by Spaghetti a la Vongole.

It was a great sense of achievement finding your own food and much better than a trip to Sainsbury's anyday.

Corme
08/22/2007

After a busy few days in La Coruna, we headed for the quiet anchorage of Corme. It was only a one street place but a good place to test out our new anchor, that held beautifully.

In a candlelit cave on the beach that night was a music show provided by local bands. It started at about 9pm, with pipes and drums and lots of local people came to watch and took photos. We went over with Dave & Elaine in the dinghy. By the time we got there, the music style had changed slightly to heavy metal and so it continued to 9am THE NEXT MORNING!

With slight headaches and lack of sleep, we then headed for Camarinas.....................

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