At last. After a long, and for Algarve, very wet and cold winter, we took off at low tide ( 2 PM) to go to Ferragudo. We motored the 4 miles since the engine could well need to be ran under load after it's winter sleep. During the winter months we have ran it 3-4 times to charge our batteries when we had no su at all for several days. Our battery bank works very well otherwise together with the solar panels. Normally we have all the power we could ask for without resorting to running the engine.
The sea was lumpy with 2-3 meter swells from a Levante wind down at the Gibraltar Strait.
We felt good about seeing Ferragudo once again, we left it in mid November for Alvor. A ggod decision that was, since Alvor definitely is the best protected anchorage at the Algarve coast, even if iit's relatively shallow draught makes it difficult to enter for yachts deeper than around 2 meters.
We stayed on the boat all evening to get underway tomorrow for the 40 miles sail to Culatra where we plan to stay at least a few days to explore the marshlands and the towns Olhao and Faro. The latter with the only international airport in the Algarve.
On the picture is the lovely little watercolour painting of 'Röde Orm' that Ludo made in our guest book after having dinner with us a few days ago.
Yesterday we were invited to Ludo's boat for farewell dinner for Jaques, who will fly back to Belgium for a week or so.
A delicious meal consisting of Lamb, roasted in the oven with potatoes and veggies together with a wine from the Alentejo region here in Portugal.
Yummy! We had a great time and all the laughter still echoed in my head when we late at night rowed back to Röde Orm. Or was it due to the wine?
It's Jaques's Ted Brewer designed 47' classical lines ketch on the picture.
Today it had to be done.
While I was still back in Sweden in Febbruary, the storm that was afterwards to be known as Xynthia approached the Algarve and Isa moved the boat from being riding to her anchor, to a mooring bouy. Since she couldn't get the status of the mooring verified, she set our main anchor too, just in case the mooring would turn out to not be good enough.
After a few weeks of tidal shifts and windshifts the anchor chain was firmly 'stuck' to something on the sea-bed.
We had already tried untaangling it by hand (at slack water and becalmed) a couple or times and with the engine too, so nothing left but to dive on it.
This morning, it was Spring tide low water and close to the equinox this means a VERY low tide. Around 2,5 meters under the keel and not much wind. So what's the problem? Well, the water temp. is no more than 14 degrees so even with the wetsuit I was less than happy to dive, especially since the visbility was close to none.
Well, two of our good neighbours came to help us with this little mission. The Belgians, Jaques and Ludo. Jaques having encouraged me with this diving business for weeks and also sold me a surplus lead belt, and a spear gun from his onboard stock. He even promised to go down there with me to help me overcome my reluctance. That was yesterday though, today he showed no intentions of leaving the relative comfort of his dinghy. Who could blame him?
I have no problems skin diving and snorkling as long as the water is reasonably warm and CLEAR. Clear is a key word here, I feel quite bad when I have to feel my way in complete darkness. Good to have the confession done.
Anyway, Ludo and Jaques stayed in the dinghy on top of the mooring. Isabelle on board Röde Orm to operate the windlass and if needed the engine.
I went down by the chain to try and figure out what it 'looked like' down there.
Of course I couldn't see anything at all, and I found a 'birds-nest' -like mess of thick line the size of e medicine ball. For anyone who are not familiar with those balls, they are a LOT bigger than basket balls. After several dives I could still not find out where the chain went trom that nest, just that it was tangled around it.
Just about when I was ready to give up, Ludo came up with a bright idea. He untied the line that goes from the bouy to the concrete block on the seabed, and then pulled as much as possible of it into the dinghy together with mussels, and LOTS of mud. After this it was easier for me to dive again and figure out which way the the chain was tangled around the line.
And from there on, it was just a matter of me, with my large fins, acting like a tug boat dragging the dinghy around the chain in an anti-clockwise motion.
After some 6 or 7 turns, Voilá! the chain was free!
Now we are free to leave Alvor as soon as the weather and our plans go along those llines.
Thanks a lot guys! Vive la Belgique!
I am glad we decided to raise the waterline last spring when we did a paint job on the hull. The purpose of doing so was because it makes it poosible to polish the topsides while the boat is in the water.
Well, as all cruisers know, 'stuff' tends to be brought on board at a steady pace. Thus; unless one carries other 'stuff' ashore at a similar pace, the painted waterline seem to reach the 'real waterline' (where the water ACTUALLY meets the hull) over time.
This in turn leaves the crew with 3 alternatives.
1) Simply accept that the boat is in a very slow, but steady process of sinking...
2) Buy a larger boat.... or
3) Take a full day, or whatever needed, to go through every storage locker on board and discard/sell/ give away every item we find that has NOT been in use for 2 years, AND is not likely to hazard the overall safety onboard.
After lenghty considering, and negotiating, we have come to a consensus decision in the matter.
We'll settle with alternative 3. But not now of course....but soon.... or at least well before taking of on a longer passage..... or.....
A lot of self irony in the text above.... but it's SO TRUE, and in itself a safety matter at the end.
Anyway- We just made a SO good deal and found an *almost new' inflatable dinghy with an inflatable floor board together with a 2 hp outboard at a very reasonable price. This deal came through thanks to Joe, one of many nice neighbours here in the achorage.
Posting a pic of the dink here and the OB in the Photo Gallery.
The grey 'pillow' is from our old dinghy. Why a new one?
When we spend months on end at anchor like this, the dinghy is SO important since it is, in effect, our 'daily driver'. At least trip ashore daily, with water jugs, food and other necessities plus the crew and occassionally a guest too.
The dinghy needs to be sturdy enough to take those loads and keep us at least reasonably dry and comfy while rowing ashore as well as being capable of taking quite a bit of beating against concrete walls, pontoons, other tenders and smaller fishing boats etcetera AND yet be light enough to be manageable for one man to get up on deck.... and last but not least, be small enough to, when deflated, be snugly stowed on the cabin top without hampering the vision from the cockpit too much.
Obviously, every one of us comes up with their own answer to this issue.
For us, at this point at least, it's a 2,30 m dinghy at 15 kg and a light 2 hp engine. The engine makes it possible to move against a >25 knots wind AND tide, which is virtually impoosible when rowing.
Still prefer rowing as long as it's at all possible for sure.
Believe i or not..... the Sprayhood is made and installed on board.
Looks awesome, and does wonders for the overall existance in the cockpit.
It has an opening window at the front for the HOT climaates we hope to encounter soon enough, and a cover for the 'windows' to be used at anchor.
Jerry from Southern Sails made a very good job once he finally got started.
we've also had an awning/raincatcher combo for the cockpit made from him and a cover from the main mast to the mizzen to be used in really hot climates.
New pictures in the Gallery