Sunny and warm today after a few cold (7-10 C) niights and a bit of rain. In fact it was so warm in the morning I was preparing our departure on deck dressed in nothing but shorts. Not bad at all compared to late November in Sweden!
It was almost dead calm, and we were low on power in our batteries after two-three days with gray skies. Hence we motered the 5,5 miles to Alvor in around an hour. A narrow entrance between two moles leads to a very shallow but also very protected lagoon just outside the fishing town of Alvor. Mostly catamarans and cnterboards in this anchorage but we made it without touching the sand of the sea bed. In the entrance we passed a large dredge at work and our echo sounder showed 7 feet t some point so a bit thrilling to enter. According to the piot book one shall enter on the young flood to be able to see the sandbars. Doing so also has the added advantage of providing more water within short in case of having one's speed unintentionally reduced to zero knots.
This once very nice and picturesque fishing village, has been literally invaded by tourists, mostlu Brits, it seems. Time sharing apartments and condos galore and about ten signs for 'Guiness' for every 'Sagres' or 'Super Bock'
Quite a few of the boats on moorings have got that long time live-aboard look over them and I guess that more than one mosttly is used as a flaoting vacation house. Very nice never the less and we are looking forward to exploring theis area before returning to Portimao/Ferragudo again.
Before we came here, we met Kurt, a German gentleman on a catamaran who has a permanent mooring here that we are borrowing now. He is at anchor in Ferragudo, waiting to receive some parts with the mail. Since he has been cruising between here and teh Bay of Cadiz in Spain for the last couple of years, he gave us most useful information about the places we are going to from here.
At last the long awaited sailmaker came back to his shop. Then to Röde Orm. The bad news was that upon his visit onboard, he raised the price wanted for making a sprayhood for our boat. As a matter of fact he raisedhis asking price more than 60% compared to the median value of the estimate we got from him some weeks ago.
Yes, the estimate that had us come here in the first place.
This made me really disappointed. Then upset, and finally plain angry. That kind of behaviour is not meant to be encouraged.
As one of many coinsidences in life, I just happened to talk to a couple of other cruising sailors over in the marina a few days ago who strongly recommended Jerry - another English sailmaker who has set up a little shop here.
I gave hin a ring, he sounded nice and positive. Also, he told me right away that he needed 2-3 weeks to do this job since otherwise 'he would have to make a few other customers disspointed'. That's an explanation I ccan understand very well, so we made an appointment for him to come on board and give us a price.
He did that, and also came up with some rather nice ideas, when we told him of our plans for a combined awning and rainwater catcher ffor the cockpit. All this at a price that was well under hs colleague (read competitor) and not a all much over what I had estimated it at myself. Fne, we made a deal on the spot.
He doesn't keep the stainless pipes and the fabric on stock so it will take him about a week to get it delivered. In the meantime, we'll move to Alvor, 5 M to the west of here, for a change of scenery. Then the sprayhood job is supposed to be finished in a couple of days or so during which we can get Isabelle's laptop back from the repir shop plus a few other little thngs on the agenda.
We haven't seen Jerry's work yet, but ave got good recommendations from several of his customers so we hope for the best.
The fall has arrived now. Crispy and cold at night. 7-9 C in the morning a few days in a row. we're still comfy during the night under our covers in the V-berth so the diesel heater is still waitng for the real winter to come(?).
A month to Christmas, tomorrow the Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving. We are 'celebrating' 3 weeks at anchor here. It's amazing how fast time goes. We got a good news today. Mike, the Sailmaker came back and payed us a visit in t´´his little RIB to do some measuring for the Sprayhood. He will come back with a quotation tonight or tomorrow.
Fine! Ferragudo is a charming little town and we have enjoyed our stay. That said, we are getting a bit itchy to get uner sail again, if only for 30 miles to Olhao/Culatra. One of the beauties of cruising is to be able to get a new view from the 'living-room window' whenever one wishes to.
Had a 'paseo' - a walk - on the dock as usual. the local fishermen are mending there nets and pots every morning and their capture is sold at the local market together with very fresh vegetables and fruit. All at very competitive prices compared to France or Sweden.
This is a very nice spot for a few weeks for sailors who choose to spend a winter season here before turning 'left' to the Meditteranean or 'right' for the Canaries
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? ;-)