06/14/2012, Camaret France
We woke up on Tuesday morning at 5.30am to the familiar sound of rain beating down on the boat. Quick discussion followed - do we go or not? The northerly and then westerly winds promised by the weather forecast would get us down to France in one hop without the usual stops in Cherbourg and Guernsey so we both agreed that we should go despite the rain.
What followed was a 40 hour sail down the English Channel past Portland, Plymouth and then across to Northern France and then on to Camaret. The weather forecast got the wind strength about right but not the direction - it turned to the south west- so we ended up bashing our way down through the rain and rough seas but nothing too bad. We missed the tide for the Chenal du Four but by that time we were going through regardless. Fortunately we are on neaps so the tide slowed us but didn`t stop us.
Anyway here we are in Camaret on a mooring buoy and ,of course, it is raining. We are holed up on the boat and Martyn is looking for things to do so he has found everything we might need in an emergency and has velcroed it to the boat in an accessible place. I think he may have had too much time on his hands today...
The weather for the next couple of days isn`t good so we are staying here until Sunday when it looks there might be a weather window for us to set sail for Spain and the sunshine. Ever hopeful .....
06/11/2012, Elkins Boatyard Christchurch
After 6 weeks of preparations and constant delays by rain and more rain Gemini is finally launched, loaded with everything we will need and weighed down with much stuff that we probably won`t but are taking just in case. We are amazed that she floats at all! She is berthed in the small dock at Elkins and we plan to leave on the morning tide.
In the lashing rain the rigging had its final tune and then Martyn was happy to find that the furling gear on the head sail had jammed and needed to be taken apart and adjusted. As Jane said from the comfort of the boat to Martyn outside on the dock in the rain and dark better here than at sea. Martyn`s reply was lost in the howling wind.
At least we know why we are taking the boat to warmer climes.
As ever another day or better still another week would have meant we were completely ready to go but the weather looks worse at the end of the week and the best chance of getting west and to Camaret in one go is to leave tomorrow. Let`s hope at least it stops raining ....
Lifted the anchor and set off for Alvor despite wind blowing 15 and getting stronger all the time. Alvor has been our destination since we left the UK 10 weeks ago and now we are only 20 miles away we can`t wait even another day to get there. Also the wind has blown at 15 - 25 knots all the time since we arrived on the Algarve so there doesn`t seem any point in waiting for it to calm down.
We flew along at 6 knots plus with just the headsail up. As always with sailing downwind it felt very calm and controlled - that is, of course, until you have to change direction which we did when we saw the entrance to Alvor and had to head towards it. Interesting to say the least....
The entrance to Alvor is through a channel of unforgiving concrete. We shot down the middle and were spat out into a wider area where there were several other boats anchored. We had a quick look at the way up to the main anchorage - shallow, difficult navigation and sandbanks everwhere so made the split second decision to anchor. We were only going to get one go at it otherwise it was going to be at best embarrassing and at worst very expensive. One thing we do well (lots of practice) is anchoring fast in near panic mode. Martyn dropped the anchor very quickly and it held first time as ever. We then sauntered nonchalently around the deck checking ropes etc for the benefit of the watching audience on the other boats.
Having got away with it once we decided to stay where we were for the night and go up to the anchorage at Alvor the next day. The book suggests going at half tide as the sandbanks are visible. Great!! We settled in for the day and watched the kite surfers - good spot for them - very windy and shallow. Not so good for yachts. we shall see...
Next day navigated the river up to Alvor itself. Heartstopping at times as quite shallow and sandbanks on both sides but so worth it when we got there. Such a pretty town and lovely anchorage. We dropped anchor just off the jetty where we could dinghy ashore. Spent lovely few days here. We went cockling on the sandbanks at low tide and met Davbe and Carole on Blue Horizon who are kindred spirits.
Also we were able to walk to the Hotel Praia Pestana to check wedding reservations. Predictably there was a problem with the booking ie hotel did not have the booking! Big panic as all guests were coming to that hotel and the wedding plans ie hairdresser, makeup lady, flowers, cars also all coming to the hotel. Finally it was all sorted thanks to the very helpful hotel manager but it was a stressful day. Usual wedding panics re flowers etc but all will be fine. The wedding is only a week away now and these are the first panics so must be much less stress than a wedding in UK.
We need to move the boat to Portimao to meet Char and Chris but decided to stay as long as possible in Alvor as it is so lovely here and Portimao will be just another marina.
We lifted the anchor to head for Alvor despite winds of 15 knots and getting stronger all the time. Alvor has been our destination since leaving the UK 10 weeks ago and we are only 20 miles away now so we can`t wait another day to get there. Also since we got to the Algarve the wind has been blowing at 15 to 25 knots constantly so maybe that is how it always is. If so not point in waiting for it to calm down.
We flew along at over 6 knots with just the head sail. As always when sailing downwind it feels so calm and under control - until you have to change direction to head for where you want to go. Like now when we saw the entrance to Alvor and had to head towards it. Interesting to say the least....
The entrance to Alvor is through a channel made of unforgiving concrete - we shot through and were spat out in to a wider area where several other boats were anchored. We had a quick look at the way up the river - looked shallow and sandbanks everywhere so we made a split second decision to anchor. There wasn`t much room and we were not really in full control so there was only going to be one go at this otherwise it was going to be at best embarrassing or at worst very expensive. Fortunately one thing we do well is anchor fast in near panic mode (lots of practice!). Martyn dropped the anchor and it held first time as ever. We then sauntered around the deck nonchalently checking ropes etc for the benefit of the watching audience on the other boats.
As we had got away with it once and the wind was still screaming we decided to stay where we were for the night and ateempgt the river tomorrow. The book suggests going at half tide so the sandbanks are more visible.