The last few days, nothing much have happened worth sharing. Some little jobs on the boat together with being together with interesting people we have met along the route.
We went to see an english sailor who came down here 6 years ago. Since he's now going to sell his boat in favour of our plans, he had placed an 'ad' at the marina with a list of boat-related stuf he had for sale. We bought some bits and pieces from him, the most notably probably a pure sine wave inverter (12 to 230 Volts) and a book on celestial navigation. we carry a sextant, though a cheap one, onboard, a´nd I am looking forward to learning how to use it. Not so much because I think I would ever have to use it 'for real' but for fun. It's an interesting procedure that has made it possible for navigators to fix their position for centuries.
We are still waiting for the sailmaker to come back from the UK. Apparently there has been really rough weather on the Bay of Biscay (not that surprising in November) that has kept them in port. Hopefully we'll be seeing him next week.
No problems we are not in a hurry and furthermore, we enjoy it here.
We took the train to Silves, 19 km to the north of Portimao. silves was a ery important stronghold for the Moors during centuries and is called the Capital of the Far West of the Moor's emoire.
A very large, and surprisingly well kept fort is the main attraction here. they started to build it in the 10th century and was used by the Moors well into the 13th century. Since the Moors hold mst part of the Peninsula Iberica for almost seven hundred years, they naturally made a great impact both on the language, the culture and the science borth in Spain and Portugal.
Surely, some people consider what we are presently doing as a great andventure. for others, it might be something like climbing Mount Everest, or diving or maybe parachuting.
In retrospect, there is nothing in our cruise until now that really felt adventurous or dangerous. Maybe the close encounter with the French carferry in dense fog at the entrance to Dover's busy port.
The Ultimate Adventure can be something much more surprising and just out of an ordinary day. Like what happened to me today...
When we returned to the boat in the afternoon after a several hour walk through Ferragudo and to the shore and back, I decided to row the inflatable dinghy the 200 meters or so across the Channel to the Marina at the Western side of thei Ria. I wanted to leave some books we finished reading in return for the ones Isabelle found in their office a couple of days ago. At the same time I checked e-mails and weather forecasts on the internet.
I knew it would be a bit tougher to row back, since it was slack water when I left the boat, and the tide turned to ebb while I was in the Marina. The wind would be against me too, gusting to 25 knots from North. A little challenging but definetely manageable.
When I was done in the Marina office and came out on the pontoon again I glanced downstream the Ria (my sight was blocked by a wharf and a Navy building upstream). I was glad enough to see that the wind had come down a bit and jumped in the dinghy to row back swiftly... As soon as I left the pontoon I realized that I could barely make progress against the 3-4 knots tidal stream and the headwind acompanied by small choppy wavelets.
Nothing serious- all it would take was a good physical work out for maybe ten minutes, and then dinner aboard 'Röde Orm'. This little trip quckly changed into a 'steeple chase' in the wet though. Within a few seconds I discovered that a really nasty gust approached and with a power boat for company that would obviosly make some steep wakes. Needless to say he drove at 15 knots or so in the channel! Two fishing vssels around fifty foot each came the other way. Still manageable but a bit less pleasent. Then I looked toward the sea and started to laugh out loud by myself. First a tug boat, then a HUGE ferry from Madeira and last in this little procession the Pilot boat.
Fine, first row like my life was depending on it, look right-look left- stand by for a few seconds while one of them passed and then ROW again for all I could to cross the channel BEFORE the Ferry.... Don't get me wrong here, I LOVE to row, I love physical activity, in fact the only drawback with saiing in my mind is that it can be a bit too little physical action for my taste.
Well, now I got some action allright. I just about made it before the ferry, I could see a few people on deck - some seven floors up- watching me, a little guy in a miniature dinghy fighting his way against the tide and the wind.
Then one of the oars came loose from the oarlock. The nut had unwinded at the absolutely least agreeable time.
All of a sudden I moved downstream at what seemed like a speedboat. With the loose oar I started to paddle canoe style while I kneeled on the bottom of the dinghy. Simultaneously I considered the whole situation and how ridiculous it appeared and started to laugh.... but I still kept paddling like a maniac. It took me a couple of minutes to make it to a mooring bouy a mere 5 meters upstream. I tied a bowline to it and then I was able to reinstall the oar properly and breath for a few seconds. Now I noticed that Isabelle, probably when she heard the big ferry coming, had gone out itno the cockpit of 'Röde Orm', where she now with keen interest followed my proceedings. From this distance I couldn't tell if she was worried for me, or just amused by the absurdity of the whole scene.
I safely made it back to the Mothership and very much appreciated to tie the dinghy up to the swim ladder.
Of course there was never any real danger in all this except maybe a cold swim to safety on the shore if I hadn't been able to make it back rowing/paddling.
An Ultimate Adventure in the smaller format, wasn't it? ;-)
The Algarve Coast (al Gharab= the arab coast from the days of the moor's occupation of the major part of the Iberian Peninsula) is not that long. Approxiamately 50 miles of a rocky shore, dented by caves and usually quite steep. Consisting mostly of limestone, this coast is very rich in fossils. From Cabo San Vincente in the West, via Lagos, Portimao, Vilamoura, Faro/Olhao to the River Guadiana at the Spanish Border. At 37 degrees north, these waters are safely navigable for small craft all year around. The gales are few, and shelter are to be found in marinas and anchorages.
For several reasons we are planning to stay in this area and the Guadalquivir river in Spain - navigable over 50 miles to the city of Sevilla- for at leat some part of the winter. Firstly, we will have a sprayhood made here in Portimao, then finish some small projects on the boat again. Having mail forwarded from Sweden and France and other practical matters such as routine medical check-ups too.
No problems at all, there is a lot to be explored and we are by no means in a hurry. Admittingly it was a bit sad to see 'Zephyr' with Steve, Colin and Giselle leave for Marocco and the Canaries, but we are convinced we'll meet again somewhere in the future. One of the beautiful things crusing provides are all the interesting people you meet. Other sailors of course, but also the people you encounter in the places you anchor.
As for the Portuguese, they must be the most friendly and helpful people in Europe! Wonderful experience for us, it is just too bad that we don't speak decent enough Portuguese to be able to communicate better. Both Isabelle and I speak some Spanish, but even if the both languages obviously are closely related, we find it dificult to understand Portuguese. In writing it is less of a mystery though.
Yesterday we were just relaxing onboard without even going on shore. -Zephyr- left in the morning for Lagos, where they are to meet some friends. We just wanted to be at peace, by ourselves, in this remote and beautiful place another night. Most of the night and the day was windy. Around 25 knots probably a bit more in the gusts. Nortjerlies though, so we were well sheltered and snug at the anchorage.
A clear blue sky was the first thing I saw when I looked out the companiinway hatch in the morning. 14 degrees outside after a full moon night. Soon enough the sun warmed our little world to above 20 degrees. Still No rtherly wind around 25 knots and very gusty.
We took off after morning coffee and the other 'rituals'. Double-reefed main and full jib flying but the mizzen stayed furled. We were heading 77 degrees towards Punta do Piedade 14,5 miles to east, and then some 7 miles more to Portimao. Splendid close-hauled sailing, with some spray flying over the cockpit now and then. Since we sailed under land (about 40-50 meters high shoreline) the sea was almost flat. Quite much like crossing a large 'Fjärd' in the Stockholm Archipelago in Sweden.
Just before we arrived at Punta do Piedade, the wind decreased. We shook the reefs out and hoisted the mizzen and kept speeding towards Portimao. We anchored just opposite the marina in the quite narrow Ria.
Portimao is a quite big town, or even a city. I would guess the biggest one at the Algarve Coast. We have made an arrangement here to have a sprayhood/dodger made for Röde Orm, and also order some 'bits and pieces' i e spares over the interneet and have them shipped here. So, we will probably stay in the area for at least a couple of weeks. After that, we'll see. We still like to take it one day at a time, and improvise along the way. we are in no hurry, and we want to explore as long as it is interesting at the places we arrive.
11/01/2009, Enseada de Sagres//Cabo de Vincente
As said before, one morning one just wakes up knowing that it is time to heave anchor. Today was such a morning. Southbound for the Algarve coast, 60 miles around Portugals SW point - Cabo Sao Vincente- and then into the sheltered anchorage at Enseada de Sagres. The only thing we knew about the town of Sagres before arrival was that the name of it has been lent to one of the biggest beer-brands in the country.
After several windless days, we were naturally hoping for a decent breeze to sail south, and the forecast suggested around 10 knots of wind from the Northerly quarter which seemed fine.
We took off just after dawn after a quick breakfast. Soon enough the skies became totally overcast, dispite the mighty high pressure system, and I started to suspect that the calm we experienced in the morning was going to sustain during most of the day. It did. Around 3 PM a blue 'hole' between the gray skies showed up, and provided just enough wind for us to be able to hoist sail and move along at around four knots, allowing the engine to rest a while. Shortly after, the wind decreased and the boat speed dropped to just above 2 knots. going dead downwind, with some 3-4 meter swells and all of you who have been at sea in a sailing boat know exactly what I am talking about. We fired up the iron genny again to posssibly arrive before dusk. Not to long after this, a dense big cloud passed further offshore. A typical squall, that made the wind pick up again and allowed the engine to rest and 'Röde Orm' to move along at 5-ish knots despite the fact that we - out of sheer lazyness- flew too little canvas, since there were a mere 5 miles left to our waypoint.
We entered the anchorage a little less than an hour after dark, together with 'Zephyr', with whom we mad company all day along. The picture of 'Röde Orm' under sail is taken by Steve on 'Zephyr'. They got some really nice wind from the cloud by the way, and came rocketing under their spinnaker shortly before we passed cabo Sao Vincente. Well done!