Looks like an extended stay in Sines for a few days due to the persistent northerly winds, so I can probably get a job in the future as a tour guide explaining how Vasco Da Gama was born here in 1469, a fact gleaned from an extended trip around the museum, various statutes and the fact that every road seems in some way to be named after him. The old town is understandably built around the castle, coincidentally where a very young Vasco was born. The whole area is a mass of construction relaying all the cobbled streets and repointing the castle, the project board seems to indicate EU funding, what a surprise.
Health and Safety has not reached this part of the EU with the old cobbles ripped up as people walk by and shoppers competing with diggers for pavement space. There is also a project to drop a lift from the top level down to beach level, the downside is that they are driving piles into the cliff side with the associated noise involved but it is providing entertainment for the flat capped locals overseeing the work.
The fold up bikes have been a big plus to explore the area and get farther afield although the traffic seems to work to finer tolerances when it comes to overtaking. We are certainly getting practice at pedalling up steep hills and Kaye got a standing applause from a flat capped local on the climb up to the castle.
At present the winds are at 30kts and the boat is rocking to Pirates of the Caribean on the CD player, I hope these winds die down soon so we can get some sail time.
I used to think that getting the met and making a decision to call on or cancel balloon flights was stressful but the last couple of days confirmed sailing is no different. Portimao to Sines is 85 miles with no port of refuge between so getting the weather right is critical. In England it is quite straightforward that you generally get weather systems moving west to east but the Iberian Peninsular has a habit of spawning low pressure systems that massively affect the weather.
Over the last few days every forecast differs from the preceding one with little areas of low pressure appearing from nowhere.
We moved to Lagos with the idea of waiting for a favourable wind (anything but northerly) to get to Sines and on Friday morning it looked like Saturday would be OK, we arranged for a night outside the marina on the waiting pontoon for an early start on Saturday (the marina is only open 9am to 6pm) By 8pm Friday the latest met update showed northerly winds on Saturday so we abandoned our plans. Saturday mornings met did not show any real opportunities until Tuesday so we took the decision to move back to Portimao where the marina costs 14€ a night against 38€ a night for Lagos. We got back to Portimao, checked in and paid for two nights, I checked the Met with the mid day update and to my horror Sunday now looked OK, Kaye went back to reception got a refund for 1 day and we decided on a 4am start on Sunday morning.
So it is now 7-15 pm and Kaye has cooked the evening meal and I am awaiting the next update and it confirms the predicted Easterly winds but now switching to the north and F5 on Sunday afternoon grrrrrrrr!! . The only other option is to leave now so that is what we did, boat ready and away by 8pm just as the sun is setting.
Leaving Portimao and the forecast Easterly wind was a North Westerly but this gave us a nice run down to Cape St Vincent as well as the sight of a very large orange moon rising to light the sea.
We rounded the cape at 1-30am and as we turned onto our new northerly course the wind died to nothing so it was on with the engine for a couple of hours motoring before the Easterly wind picked up which gave us a cracking sail to within an hour or Sines when the wind turned Northerly, quite light until we got to Sines marina at 1pm when the Northerly F5 really kicked in.
Lady luck had been with us and this was proven when Kaye got an e-mail to say we had a lottery win and before you all get any ideas about a share of the spoils it was for £2.50
Our first sail was a short hop to Vilamoura with a light southerly wind giving us a beam reach all the way to the marina entrance. It was really strange touring around Vilamoura and returning to the boat rather than the apartment but life moves on.
The tricky bit of our early journey is to get the timing right from Lagos to Sines and try and get some helpful breeze rather than the prevailing northerly so studying the weather charts is getting to be an obsession. With the constant low pressure around at the moment it is difficult to get an accurate forecast too far ahead so we decided to head to Lagos and await the Weather Gods.
Thursday saw a leisurely start as we head West to Lagos, the forecast of north, north west winds of F4 was ideal and I visualised a one tack sail all the way but somebody must have programmed in the wrong forecast as it was on the nose, a true Westerly, so after taking the sailing angle for a couple of hours we had to resort to Mr Volvo otherwise we would still be out there now.
We entered Lagos at 16.00 and after the formalities at reception we are now safely berthed as the wind has now increased to a F6 and I am realising it is already past beer o'clock.......cheers
We are now back on the boat and a big thank you to Tim and Sue for running us about to collect shopping and the newly serviced liferaft. After five days the "list of jobs" to be done has been completed with the final task of servicing the WC.
The fold up bikes are a definite plus enabling us to get about and collect essential supplies of wine and beer but it seems somewhat self defeating as after conquering the steep hills on the bike you need a beer to recover.
We also made the journey to the Maritime Police to pay the "Lighthouse Dues" tax which is still collected in Portugal, this took some twenty minutes to complete the formalities with several bits of paper stamped to death and apologies for the time it takes for their computer to wake up. Oh yes the cost of this is 2€, a priceless lesson in time management efficiency!!
After entertaining Tim and Sue on board on Wednesday the favour was returned and we went to Casamitus at Paderne on Saturday evening for a delightful meal and several carafes of red, this was followed by a Sunday walk in the countryside near Messines which resulted in a thorough soaking as the heavy showers followed us, needless to say on our return to Paderne they had not seen any rain BUT the whole purpose of this walk was to try and see a Bee Eater, a very colourful Kingfisher like bird that had managed to elude us on all our visits to Portugal so to our surprise we were rewarded as we returned to Tim and Sues and there were two sitting on the power cables at the entrance to Casamitus waiting for us, this coupled with the first Cuckoo song of the year made it worth the soaking.
So the boat is now ready and we are going to go the short distance to Vilamoura to spend a couple of days and ease back into the sailing, hopefully the return leg to UK will involve more sailing and less motoring than the outward journey.
A quick visit to the boat to complete a few maintenance items and bring the car back to the UK before we resume our summer sailing. We are returning via Santander so a Biscay crossing albeit a bit quicker than the time Ruby will be taking.
Arriving in the rain is not what was planned but at least the boat was intact, a bit different to the last time we visited when we found the new Rocna anchor had been stolen.
Within an hour of arriving the sun was back out, normal service was resumed.
The "To do" list was actioned and after delivering the liferaft to Orey in Alcantrhilla for a service we raided the new Iceland store at Guia to start stocking the boat with tins and long life products.
Back on board the diesel filters were next on the list and after a fair of swearing at the French for making them so inaccessible we eventually got them replaced, the system bled and a sigh of relief as Mr Volvo burst into life.
Wednesday dawned With a clear blue sky and a F3 it seemed too good not to go sailing but on the other hand I still had to service the WC so a tough choice had to be made and on the basis that we have a bucket on board should the WC play up we went sailing!!
Thursday saw a trip up the mast in the bosuns chair to check the rigging and nav lights, fortunately all in good order so another tick on the list.
Time certainly flies on the boat and all too soon it was the appointed hour to load the car and set off on the 650 mile drive to Santander and back to the cold UK.
Every once in a while you stumble across a tradesman whose work is more about pride and enjoyment rather than trying to wring every pound from your pocket.
A couple of years ago in the RTIR we had a bit of a ding which resulted in a gouged and creased stainless steel bow protector. Now given that Dufour wanted £400 for a replacement I was in no hurry and thought I would get some prices to get a new one manufactured. After a few phone calls a friend recommended a fabricator in Olhao, so with the damaged one as a pattern we went to see Antonio Baiao.
My request for a price for a new one met with a firm "No" , " I will remove the crease and the gouge, polish up and it will be like new"
Now, being a bit on the fussy side I voiced my reservations but Antonios offer of €60, if you are not happy you do not pay saw a deal struck.
We returned a couple of days later and he presented us with a bow protector that appeared new, the guy is a true tradesman. The photo shows the repair.