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Navigation Doubts...
15/08/2008, Mazagon, Spain

Having left Ayamonte as soon as there was enough water to cross the sand bar at the entrance to the river, we set off towards Mazagon about 35 Nm away. With a flat sea, 15 knots of wind, auto pilot on, and feet up, we had a fantastic sail all the way today in what can only be described as ideal conditions. We had been going some time when Tracey mentioned the subject of the large land mass which had appeared to the south of us. This was somewhat confusing as the only land I was aware of was Africa, and that should have been about 130 miles away unless there had been a severe navigational hiccup and the boat speed had increased twenty-fold ! No, it was definitely there. Looks like we have seen our first mirage at sea today - quite an add experience. Within about 10 minutes, the entire image had gone. Anchored here off Mazagon, we are next to a glorious beach with some very impressive looking houses up on the hill above. There are trees lining the river banks and it is certainly more picturesque than we imagined from the description in the almanac and pilot guides. There is plenty of room to anchor, in sand, and there are no beach bars blasting music at us tonight!

Breakfast in Portugal, Lunch in Spain
14/08/2008, Ayamonte, Ria Guadiana, Spain

The water surface was like a mirror when we departed Faro Lagoon at 6-30am this morning. It was very enjoyable being anchored in a nature reserve for a while, and last night, we were treated to a fantastic air show by a stork as we sat down to dinner on deck. This morning's early start enabled us to reach the Ria Guadiana, the river dividing Portugal and Spain, with an incoming and high tide, both of which were required to get to our planned anchorage off Ayamonte on the Spanish side of the river. The scenery on the river here is not great, but we are only stopping one night before heading towards Mazagon tomorrow. We have all really enjoyed visiting Portugal; friendly people, interesting buildings, well-kept towns, and a great climate. The pace of life seems much slower than Spain and we found the country very relaxing. Well worth a holiday trip. Oh yes, and fantastic sandy beaches! Lunch on anchor today was very pleasant and is about to precede this afternoon's siesta following the early start. It feels particularly hot today at 29 degC both out and in the boat, despite the breeze blowing, so sleeping should not be a problem!

And to the next lagoon....
09/08/2008, Faro Lagoon

After all the day cruisers had left Alvor Lagoon, the place transformed into a tranquil, idyllic anchorage overnight. After our late night of star gazing, we departed this morning at 9am and headed east along the Algarve coast towards Faro, about 45 miles way. The sea was as flat as a pancake and there was no wind at all; this always comes as a slight surprise when the forecast predicts Force 5 increasing to 6! In fact, no wind ever came today at all. The Algarve coast appears to be full of fantastic sandy beaches, numerous caves in steep cliffs by the sea, and a backdrop of a deep blue sky against the brightly light white and multi-coloured buildings. The construction industry has obviously been doing well here over the past few years, as most of the towns now appear as concrete jungles rather than the traditional villages we have now left behind on Portugal's Atlantic coast and Northern Spain. Still, quite interesting anyway, and now we know where Lagos, Portimao, Albufeira and Faro are on the map! Arriving in Faro Lagoon reminded me of Poole Harbour in Dorset. Low, flat marshland, very picturesque, and very shallow in places. Navigation involved all three of us and a chart plotter, almanac, pencil, binoculars and some careful steering. We found a spare mooring buoy and have tied up on it for now. Tomorrow's plan is to get the dinghy out, explore the lagoon and Faro town, and perhaps have a beach BBQ on the beach about 50 metres from where we are tied up, picture to follow!

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