...to all family and friends wherever you are during the holiday period.
The weather has been far from good lately. This seems to be the case 'all-over the place' though. Snowstrorms in Florida and India (!) Most of continental Europe snow-covered and freezing too, is what we see on the news during one of our quick visits in the village. Provisioning, checking e-mails and weather forecasts while enjoying a beer in the internet bar. The rest of the time we're staying put on the boat. For over two weeks now, we have experienced strong winds and heavy rains. Only one full gale, as told before - just before christmas - but winds between 25-30 knots most of the time making it hazardous to row ashore in our little dinghy. Once in a while, i's calm for few hours and we are quick to get our stuff ready and go ashore.
Almost every morning I bail some 20-30 liters of rainwater out of the dinghy. Great for washing sheets and towels and more. It's just that it is a true challenge to get the laundry to dry again.
Apart from these minor issues we are fine, reading a lot of course, talking and enjoying food and some wine.
The 'small' pleasures of life, teaching us patience and humbleness before powers so infinetely more powerful than ourselves.
First of all, we would like to wish everyone out there, family, friends, fellow cruisers, and whoever might be reading the blog by now....
A very Merry Christmas ! Joyeux Noël! God Jul!
We already got a Christmas present of sorts. Last night we had a gale in the anchorage. First a steady 30-35 knots of wind all night long with stronger gusts,then during 2,5 hours and together with a magnificent thunder storm, we experienced winds of (my moderate guess) 50-55 knots, probably more in the strongest gusts.
Thunder and lightning galore it was a true spectacle. I have never seen anything liike it in the northern waters I am used to, and it was awesome and a bit scary at the same time. When the thunder storm was at it's most ferrocious part, it suddenly calmed down completely, and a few minutes later came back but veered 180 degrees! Like a 'mini-hurricane' i f might use such an expression.
Those of our friends here who are not on moorings are riding on two anchors. I've considered it too but would feel at unease with doing so.
Lying to two anchors obviously makes the boat swing around less, and thus takes less room in the anchorage. This is a huge advantage here, especially in the summer when it's reported over 55 sailing boats. Add to this multihulls, centre-boarders and power boats, and believe me, it's difficult to imagine what it would look like here.
Simply put, we would not want to be around here during high season.
What I hold against the practice of dual anchors is the followiing:
First of all- after turning at least four times a day (tides) for a few weeks, the chains and/or rodes from those anchors would be tangled beyond imagination for someone who hasn't seen it. This is the part that makes me feel at unease with the idea....
IF, God forbid, the anchors would not hold in a severe blow, it would as I see it be very tricky (at least) to retrieve those anchors to be able to manouver. Of course one could cut or release the chains with a bouy or fender attached to reetrive them after the blow. That means that you would need a third and ideally heavier and stronger anchor to deploy after this.... Why not deploy your heavy and strong anchor from the start then and as a result not have to deal with the hassle of tangled chains?
My plan B, IF we would drag anchor (riding to a single bow anchor) is to simply re-anchor, and if that wouldn't work out, sort of 'heave to' with the help of the anchor and the engine for those hours until the (worst part of) blow has passed. Bear in mind that i 'ts VERY unusual woith storm force winds for more than 12-20 hours.
Obviously this is a personal choice, but for what it's worth, I feel better with only one (but a heavy) anchor. This blow is definitely the strongest I have ever experienced at anchor and since we stayed put, it strengthens my opinion of course.
The good old CQR 35 pounds with 9 mm chain has now kept the boat safely anchored during more than 350 nights on different types of bottoms and in tidal waters, swells up to 2 meters and wind strength up til full gale force since I bought the boat in december 2006, so I will definitely stick to it until proven wrong.
There is a lot said, and a lot to be said, about anchoring and anchors, and maybe I will share my 2 cents worth in another blog entry.
For now I just want to enjoy the x-mas holidays despite teh fact the forecast tells us of more strong winds (not gale force though) and rain 'en masse'.
Can mean a lot of things. We are obviously planning for the winter season that we'll spend around here. We are also planning for the trip back to, respectively, Sweden and France in the spring/summer next year. Families are to be visited, some business to be cleared and routine medical check-ups and such to be taken care of.
Further on, one of the things we both are looking forward to most - is to snorkle, skindive and spearfish in warm, tropical waters. Isabelle has been working as a snorkling guide in the Caribbean, so it's well known activities for her. With me, it's another story. The water in the Baltic Sea hardly ever get warm enough, or clear enouh for that matter, to encourage anyone to to persecute these kind of activities. In my early 20's I spent a few weeks island-hopping in Greece and that is about all my experience in the 'great blue'. I have got quite a bit more experience ON the water than IN it.
So much better then, that we found a very nice municipal swimming pool here, sadly enough without a Sauna
;-D, and we are going there 2-3 times a week now. Some 1500 meters of regular swimming and then a few lenghts with the flippers on our feet and a fair bit of swimming underwater does wonders for the overall psysical well-being and much to my surprise, I actually remember how it's supposed to be done. Hooray! Pretty much like riding a bicycle, once you'e learnt it you know it!
Yesterday we walked about 20 km around the nearby villages and towns. Walking does wonders with the lower body and cardiovascular system on sailors. Actually, for me the only big con with sailing is that it's not very physiclally demanding. Talking of cruising sailing here of course, dinghy racing is another beast completely.
So, to stay fit, one has to really take every opportunity to work out when on shore. Walking, biking, jogging is excellent complementary activities for cruisers and adds so much in terms of experiences when discovering 'new worlds' even if they are more or less just a few blocks away.
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.