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Barbate
09/18/2010

We have finally arrived in Barbate having been delayed by the Levanter in Chipiona. On the way we passed Cape Trafalgar and theTrafalgar bank. It was here in 1805 that the Royal navy commanded by Nelson defeated Napoleon's combined Spanish and French fleet.

The marina here has improved since our last visit, there are new showers and there is a café/bar on site but the drinks are rather expensive so there will be no return visit from us, shame as there is a nice view out to sea. The restaurant next door is rather too pricey for poor sailors like us as well.

The walk into town is quite long and not really pleasant, especially in hot weather, so we walked through the fish dock area to avoid the dusty and busy main road where the traffic races past dangerously. Halfway between the marina and town is a Super Sol supermarket. We had a look at the bar/restaurant that has opened just outside the marina but the staff did not seem to be very keen on serving anyone so we left. To make matters worse the Wifi was down as well - typical!

There is no working Wifi on the marina either so we are relying on the forecast from the marina office.

Chipiona
09/09/2010

We arrived here two days ago after motoring from Rota as the wind disappeared leaving us sweltering in the heat.

We were in Rota for 3 nights looking around to see if it might be a suitable place to over-winter as several people we have met raved about how good it was but we were not particularly impressed. It is largely a seaside resort but despite many walks around we only found a couple of restaurants and no decent shops nearby. There was a tapas festival one night with music and another night we had a long thunder storm with spectacular forked lightning out at sea which thankfully didn't come our way.

I like the feel of Chipiona more. Like many Spanish towns you cannot really judge what sorts of shops there are if you go at lunchtime as they are shuttered up. The marina was very quiet after the weekend and although WIFI is available it was not working so we found the local library and used a machine there. We had some good tapas overlooking the sea and then went shopping. There is a good range of food shops including a small supermarket in the town.

On our last night while I was dumping the rubbish I bumped into a couple from our old pontoon in Lagos so we had a pleasant hour or so catching up over a beer or in my case a glass of wine.

Ayamonte
08/31/2010

We are here for a couple of days while I locate a dentist. I was enjoying a brie and smoked salmon baguette when I had a particularly crunchy mouthful ........ the edge of one of my molars broke off, oh joy! There is not an English-speaking dentist here but the couple that own the chandlery recommended a Spanish one who was also suggested by Jane from the Lotita. My Spanish is almost nil so I was a bit worried about how to get my problem across. I did not want a temporary filling because we are not planning to return home for a while so in the end I typed up a note for the dentist and then used Babel Fish to translate it into Spanish. This worked well and I was given a white composite filling costing 52e. It took about 30 minutes with me having to keep my mouth open all that time while the dentist used ultraviolet light to set the filling. This was all new to me as thankfully I have not had any dental work for years.

Off to Magazon tomorrow.

Anchor away
07/10/2010, Olhao

We are safely installed in the boatyard in Ria Formosa after a hairy experience off Culatra. It was the day before we were due to be lifted out and we were resting in bed after a windy night with forked lightning in the distance but thankfully not coming our way. Steve and I got up just before 7am as the wind seemed to be strengthening he popped his head out of the main hatch and decided to get dressed quickly, then check the anchor. I sensed all was not well and put on some shorts and crocs. The wind went from 12 to 37 knots in about 20 minutes. During that time I rapidly secured anything loose and got out our Snugs jackets, life jackets and safety harnesses out into the cockpit.

Steve let out more chain and had to use the engine to take some of the load off while all around us everyone else was up top as well. The wind was blowing in through the anchorage from the east and our anchor started to drag and just as he was making his way forward to let out more rope the chain broke. It was hard work on the wheel keeping her away from other boats as it was now about a 7 gusting to an 8 so we took turns while we decided whether to stay and try to drop another anchor or go. We decided to go into Olhao and try to moor up in the small harbour. A couple of other yachts were also in trouble and heading off. We headed up the channel to Olhao with the wind on the nose and water coming over the bow while I tried to read the buoy numbers on the small chartlet. In the end we anchored on the new visitors pontoon near the ferry stop. True to form we had an Olhao welcome in 10 minutes when 2 marinairos turned up to send us away. We explained we had lost our anchor and needed to stay only for one night and I tried to look exhausted, old and vulnerable but no luck. They said we could stay for an hour or so while Steve rigged the other anchor and I went for a quick shop.

I suggested we try being lifted early so we rang Ria Formosa but there is a fairly small window for lift-outs and we had missed it but they told us to moor outside the boatyard on their buoy. I was very pleased that I picked up the buoy first time having never had cause to do this before but then we had to redo it a couple of times or was Steve deliberately getting me to have more practise? To mark the occasion I took a snap of the buoy!

It was such a relief to be out of the wind and we enjoyed a nice cuppa. As we moved around at anchor we realised that at times we would be partly sticking into the channel, along which the ferry for Coco Island steamed every half-hour and a few of fishing boats too. We considered moving but decided that we would tough it out, the ferry stopped but from about 4am onwards there was a steady stream of fishing boats heading out to sea through a channel behind the island.

It was quite unnerving as the fishermen turned to port coming out of the harbour and began to head straight for us initially then altered their course - not good for the nerves. We made sure we were well lit up and we were not really in danger! At dawn I looked towards the shore and watched as ghost-like figures waded out silently in the gloom to small boats which they rowed to their sand banks to the south where they busied themselves digging for clams. One of the best known Portuguese specialities is Pork and Clams. The scene had an eerie quality and would have made a great picture but my camera was not up to the job.

Around 10:25 we left the buoy and circled outside the yard a few minutes before we were due to be lifted as the tractor thingy was in position. Then we waited and waited, going round and round in circles and were starting to be a little concerned as the tide was going out so we phoned the yard. We were told to moor up to the skinny, blue, floating pontoon, very wobbly when you land on it. To test your ability to hop off other small boats can be moored to it which have nothing to do with the yard at all. Next to the pontoon is a slipway used by the general public and fishermen so they see the dock for the lift as theirs as well - very helpful. Anyway I leapt off and tied us up then headed into the yard to tell them we had arrived.

Before we could be lifted a fishing boat was being put back into the water, I couldn't see how it could be launched without hitting us but after some cool manoeuvring by the tractor operator the job was done and we were out. Of course it was now lunch time so the men all went off in search of food and we were left, with a ladder, to wait.

Who turned off the light?
07/09/2010, Culatra - Olhao

We are back anchored off Culatra waiting to be lifted out while we go home for a while and resting after an overnight sail back from Sines. By the time we approached Cape St Vincent conditions had developed into a lively 6, gusting to a 7 and to make things more interesting the lighthouse beam was not shinning. Steve was on watch while we went round the cape and although we have GPS, his chart calculations and radar it would have been reassuring to see the rocks lit up and know you are nowhere near them!


This is an ideal place to try out the new dingy and outboard and also to get me used to using it. We have been over to the island several times and tied up in the small fishing harbour which smells vile. The quays are heavily encrusted with shellfish, barnacles and weed and we have seen our first sea slugs in the wild. After looking on the Interent I am pretty certain it is Aplysia fasciata, a dark black-brown sea hare which moves as if jet-propelled.

The island is very long and thin (6 km x 0.9 km approx) with lovely, golden beaches on its southerly, seaward side. There are a number of fishermen's cottages, holiday homes and a hotel with a handy small shop and several cafes/restaurants. It lies on the flight path to Faro Airport but we did not find it especially noisy. It is served by a ferry from Olhao and lots of water taxis scurrying about. The inhabitants number about 1000. You have to be careful leaving a dinghy there, we have heard of a guy from Lagos who has had his dinghy stolen two years in a row!

Disappointment
07/01/2010, Sines

Sines is a friendly marina but it is a bit of a hike to the shops up the hill in the blistering heat, good job we have already bought a lot of provisions. We had one of the local specialities Secreto de porco at a nice restaurant near the castle ruins and on another day a very good value lunchtime dish of rabbit and chips.

Unfortunately family issues mean we will have to go home for 6 weeks or so and the desired trip to the Azores and then south to the Canaries will have to wait. We were late setting off from Lagos anyway waiting for completion of the survey and other boat maintenance which was delayed due to the wet winter so it is probably just as well as we wouldn't have wanted to rush the journey and not have enough time in the Azores. A shame though not to catch up with Andy and Lesley and see Sue and Andy before they go on the ARC. Next year............

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