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Across the River
Sue
08/29/2008, Ayamonte

Vila Real is on the River Guadiana which forms the border with Spain and there is a regular ferry between there and Ayamonte. We had heard that Ayamonte was a good place to over- winter so we decided to investigate by popping over by ferry for lunch and a wander. The town was very pretty and very importantly there were 2 supermarkets within 100m of the marina great for provisioning.

We had lunch in one of the picturesque squares, Steve had a steak and I ordered a Crab Salad, feeling very healthy and sensible. I was somewhat shocked when I was presented with some bread and a huge pile of flaked crabmeat drowning in mayonnaise, where was the lettuce, tomatoes etc I pondered. I quickly ordered a tomato salad as well but was not impressed. The waiter was so surly I wondered if he had perhaps not brought everything! Steve only had chips with his steak I noted. However, as we wondered around the town we saw many folk eating huge mounds of Russian salad with just bread so that must be the Spanish style. We made a mental note to order a salad as well next time we ate out.


Up the Guadiana
08/28/2008, Vila Real

One night was enough in Vilamoura and we set off again the next day, motoring as usual as there was negligible wind and Kaivalya needs at least a 3 to get moving in. We decided to go up the River Guadiana to Vila Real. We timed our arrival carefully as the chart warns of sandbanks at the entrance and in the river. We radioed the marina as we got close and they directed us to a berth we could only have for a few days as they were very busy.

The marinaros were very helpful assisting berthing. Steve returned somewhat unimpressed by the showers as they were relatively new but very small and hot as there was little ventilation so you came out hotter than you went in! The following day we met Stu who stopped to admire Kaivalya and then invite us for drinks on his boat which he had built himself. Apparently he had come to the Algarve about 7 years ago intending to go further but after some time in the Med and Gibraltar he had come back here and settled, buying a flat also. His wife Carol and their friends we met were a mine of helpful tips and they suggested we over-wintered there.

The town is built on a grid plan and you can take a pleasant walk along the promenade dotted with sculptures and fountains which are lit up at night. We also found a free Wifi centre down one of the side streets. I think it might well be the Towel capital of Portugal as every other shop seems to sell them along with bed linen and table cloths.

An expensive stop
Sue
08/25/2008, Vilamoura

We stayed in Lagos for 3 days, Steve had booked some cheap flights home from Almeria in September so we needed to press on to get there in time. The next stop was Vilamoura which turned out to be even more touristy and of course pricey. I was getting quite proficient at berthing now without the help of my son Alex who had been with us when we sailed the boat home from Corfu where we bought her but paled when I saw the pontoon here. As we turned in I took it in - very short and pointed, Steve warned "Watch out - it'll bounce" and it did, several times! I carefully and quickly turned on the narrow point and gave the line a turn round the cleat and then looked for somewhere to put it down as I went forward to the bow to take another line as there was no midships cleat but the pontoon was so narrow there was little space. Of course I need not have worried as Steve had the whole situation under control, as I reached the bow an American guy was rushing up to hold off the bow to stop it hitting the quay but the boat just stopped moving as Steve had judged it brilliantly.

The showers were very plush but hidden under the restaurants in the main street and you had to walk about 100m to get to them through hordes of people back from the beach or off for a night out - weird. You also had to dodge the posse of men handing out flyers for the many, nearby Indian restaurants.

A short stop
08/23/2008, Lagos

Lagos

Lagos strikes me as very commercialised and reminded me a bit of Almerimar with apartments and shops and cafes/restaurants overlooking the marina but not quite so much of a fish bowl affect as said bars etc are not quite so close, towering above you. To access the marina you have to call the marina office so they can open the pedestrian bridge to let you out so if you want an early start you need to stay on the visitors/check-in pontoon outside the marina as the bridge didn't open till 8am in the summer and later in the off season.

Cascais to Lagos
08/19/2008, Lagos

Cascais to Lagos

We left Cascais and set off for Sines which came highly recommended. Sines is in the same bay as an oil terminal, can't say more as we didn't moor. It was a Bank Holiday and we quickly saw that the anchorage and marina were full so we decided to go overnight for Lagos. As we set off Tim and Bev came alongside and asked if we could sail together as their radio was on the blink. We decided that they should take the lead as they were a bigger boat and we didn't want them accidentally bumping into us in the fog which was developing.

Fog, what a bonus for my first night watch alone (of course Steve was below and not likely to fall asleep very deeply!) It is quite eerie in the fog and I saw nothing except the pinprick light from Emerald ahead of us until that too disappeared. There were a few craft on the radar but nothing came near.

I was on watch when we rounded Cape St Vincent, the most westerly point of Europe with its light house guarding one of the world's busiest shipping lanes. It is one of the most powerful in Europe and can be seen as far as 60 kilometres away. The sea was like a mill pond and despite it being a dolphin hotspot not one was in sight. We motored past the red sandstone cliffs, pock-marked with caves eroded by the sea. As we neared Lagos around midday we saw a tiny armada of little craft scurrying around the coast taking tourists on grotto or fishing trips. Large ribs powered out to sea taking excited holiday goers on a dolphin safari and colourful kites towed wind surfers across the bay.

We checked into the marina but having made no arrangements to contact Tim and Bev we never managed to find them in the packed marina but hope they were there somewhere.

Cascais
Sue
08/16/2008, Cascais

Cascais

We spent a week in Cascais enjoying the sunshine and the town but not paying 45e a night in the marina. However on the plus side there was a Raymarine agent who arranged for the auto-helm to be looked at. It turned out that the course computer was corroded where some sea water had dripped on it so we found a better place to house the new one. All the money we saved from getting a lot of work done, very reasonably in Povoa, went on the computer - typical. However we had a pleasant sociable time and met up with the couple from Nazare again and Tim and Bev from Povao. A hilarious, late evening/morning meant we all set off for Sines a day later than planned.

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