Or... boat work.
Some wise person has said that 'crusing is doing boat maintenance in exotic places' and there is certainly a lot of truth in it.
Our 'to do' -list is an everlasting reality in our lifes. For every thing we tick off, there is two others popping up.
So, this sunny and wonderful day was entirely dedicated to small projects on board. (It was quite windy and over a mile to shore too so a bit hard to row.)
First, I took our old 'state of the art' Taylor kerosene/paraffin stove apart for a major over-haul. It is a beutiful piece in solid brass, stainless steel and cast iron with two burners and an oven. One of the stove-top burners has been 'non-working' quite a while now after some 'gooey' in the old fuel accidentally (due to a somewhat clumsy captain) clogged the fine copper pipe leading the pressurised kerosene to the burner. Then, the last few days, the other stove top burner started to act up a bit. This made a virtual firework when we where preparing tea a couple of days ago when Ludo was having dinner with us. The black smoke associated with badly combusted kerosene probably vaccinated him from kerosene stoves for the rest of his life...
Personally I have always had Primus /Optimus stoves on my previous boats, and when I bought 'Röde Orm' I was more than happy to find that she was equipped with a beautiful (and expensive!) Taylor stove. Kerosene needs preheating a minute or so before one can start cooking. This is no problem since one does it while preparing the food. Then it burns with a VERY hot blue flame, approximately twice as effective as a propane/butane stove. As an added benefit, kerosene stowes well in jerry cans. 5 Liter of kerosene is enough for our cooing and three oil lamps in the cabin for around a month, thus making it easy to store 4-6 months supply on board.
That said, Isabelle is less happy with the stove, and admittingly it needs a sensitive attentative hand to function well..
After taking it apart, doing some cleaning and tuning it was ready for another year (?) of problem-free cooking. Incidentally, we kept driving around Alvor a couple of days ago, when a Canadian crew wanted to fill there Amercan standard propane bottles. We didn't have much success, and I guess they had to buy a Portugeuse bottle for Euro 50 to get by.
Otherwise, propane is available everywhere here at very affordable price compared to northern Europe, mostluy due to the fact that many Potuguese use it for cooking in there houses and appartments.
Next project on the list was the Wind vane, A K A 'Helmer' our Aries self steering gear. I discovered yesteday that the ratchet one adjusts accordig to the wind direction had seized. This turned out to because the grease I had (wrongly) used for lubrication last year, had mixed with dust during the blows last winter and hardened the grease. A thourough cleansing with kerosene (what else?, try popane ;./) and then lubricating it with oil made it work like a wonder again.
After that the 'old' dinghy had a long expected service. One of the valves for inflatiing it, needed to be ressealed. I did this last time a year ago in Sweden, and lately we had to give it a couple of pump strokes daily to keep it from deflating. Regular Sikaflex works fine for this, so I expect it to keep the air for another year from now on.
After all this 'hard' work we celebrated with having dinner in the cockpit, on the nice little cockpit table Isabelle made for us.
see the picture...
tomorrow we will start exploring this place
Anchored safely just north of Culatra at 19.00 today.
A wonderful day at sea...not too much wind to start with, so motored a couple of hours to arrive before sunset. The wind picked up from SSW after a while and with 10-12 knots of wind we made >7 knots on a broad reach without even bothering to hoist the spinnaker. :-D
The sea was flat, and I guess those 44 miles cleaned the slime off the bottom too.
The anchorage is a lot wider than we expected, so quite choppy with 20-25 knots of wind against the tide. Once in a while the planes landing and taking off the airport shows over us, but otherwise a peaceful and beautiful place.
Picture from svsolstice.com
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!