In search of paradise.....

....final destination, Ikaria - the island of youth.

19 November 2017
19 November 2017
19 November 2017 | L - R Neil, Tim and Capt. Eric
19 November 2017 | Our approach to Sines with the castle to the right (Castelo de Sines)
19 November 2017 | Part of the castle wall - and there she is! THAT woman !!
19 November 2017 | The other half of the bay with some brightly coloured beach huts. Just a shame about the graffiti.
19 November 2017 | The road to......... nowhere? !
19 November 2017 | Delightful narrow streets. Totally unspoilt.
19 November 2017 | A lovely sweeping bay with the marina in the background
19 November 2017 | Stiletto no mates!!!
19 November 2017 | Todays selfie
19 November 2017 | Todays bench shot
19 November 2017 | Birthday Boy
19 November 2017 | Todays moody shot
19 November 2017 | I thought this was Henry VIII ..........
19 November 2017 | It is Dom Vasco Da Game - Portuguese explorer & the 1st European to reach India by sea
17 November 2017
17 November 2017 | A fascinating phenomenon- the swell pushed through into one of these caves and then burst with huge force and a loud bang out of another!
17 November 2017 | Sesimbra has a large shipyard for maintaining and repairing fishing boats. We thought these looked particularly sad

The Big Adventure - Part 1. The Epilogue

27 November 2017
With the decision made to spend the winter here in Lagos we can now relax . We do have a list of jobs to do while we are here – we have driven our old girl hard these 8 months. A thorough deep clean above and below decks is the priority. We will get her out of the water before departing for Part 2 of our Big Adventure and wash off her copper coated bottom and anti foul the prop and sail drive leg. She will also be due her annual engine service – something we have never skimped on so will get the professionals in for that. We will pick a nice quiet day and hose the sails down and allow them time to dry in the sun. There will be much planning too for our next leg.
We are looking forward to day sailing and exploring this coastline - there are some beautiful bays and estuaries where we will drop the hook and dinghy ashore. With the railway station so close we also want to explore inland. It is my intention that the blog will continue but it won’t be quite so full on. Please stay with us and add the odd comment every now and then !!! In the meantime, here are a few factoids:
Since leaving Gosport on 7th April this year, we have sailed a grand total of 2,006 nautical miles.
We have visited 64 ports.
Pissy moments – we have had a few!!
Loved up moments – plenty
Mechanical problems along the way – Alice the autohelm breaking a tooth and the fuel cut off tap clogging up and starving the engine of fuel. Both were easily fixable
Dramas – engine failure in a 5m swell.
Highlights – there are many - the lovely people that we have met and the friendships formed. Finding our dear departed friend Robert's boat Chookapa in Roscoff with its new owners Adrian and Jane. The festival at Hondaribbia – a memory we will always cherish. The dolphins that come and play with Stiletto. Navigating some challenging areas successfully. The beautiful Atlantic coastline of France and Spain – in particular the Basque region of northern Spain - that you can only appreciate from the sea. And finally – we are still talking!!!!
Our top ten absolute favourite places that we would highly recommend:-
St. Cast, Trieguier, Port Louis, Les Sables, Rochefort, Biarritz, Hondarribia, San Sebastian, Cascais, Sisembra,
It has been incredibly difficult to choose. A lot of people have asked us which are our favourite places – too be honest every port we have been to has been lovely, but these ten stand out.



Lagos

19 November 2017
Current Position
37 86 56N
008 40 51
Lagos marina
11th November
We left Sines at midnight and settled ourselves for a long passage. We had reckoned on 16 hours which would get us in to Lagos at about 4pm. We didn't want to arrive in the dark but were quite happy leaving Sines at night as the exit was straight forward, and we didn't mind doing the first 7 hours in darkness. When you get out to really deep water there is very Iittle to worry about other than the dreaded pots. The illegal ones are the worst - just a small ball in the water which is incredibly hard to spot, especially in a swell, so you can never totally relax. We picked up a couple of fishing boats on the radar but they were about 6 miles away. Once the moon showed his sleepy face at about 1.30am we had some light and when the sun rose at about 6.30 it was fully light by 7. It was a long passage to be endured and we were keen for it to be over and once we arrived on the Algarve we would feel the pressure was off. By the time we got to Cape St Vincent there was quite a swell running, a choppy sea and strong tide so Andreas switched to hand steering and we whizzed around doing 9.5 knots over the ground, which is not bad considering our old gel has a dirty bum and is fully laden. Our lightweight racing days in the Solent are over! It was uncanny how everything changed once we rounded the Cape. The swell disappeared immediately as did the choppy sea and all became calm, and the best bit? - we had arrived on the Algarve as planned for mid November - a good feeling. We sailed along the coastline, passing several of the restaurants that Andreas had visited over the last 10 years on his golf trips. Where, he would sit looking out at the sea, thinking of the day he would be here on his own boat. That day had arrived and he was just a little emotional.
We continued to Lagos (pronounced Legosh) and the entrance was very similar to Le Sables - a long quayside dotted with mature palm trees and the bars, restaurants and shops of the old town. First impressions ? Very very nice. The marina had an 80m reception pontoon just before a pedestrian bridge that linked the old town to the other side of the river and most importantly the railway station. The pontoon was full so we tied up on the fuel berth as we were required to check in at the office, be allocated a berth and then the bridge would open and we could go through. Paperwork completed, the bridge opened and we found our berth which is lovely as we look out over the old town and the palm trees.
I have a spreadsheet listing all the things we would like and that we consider important for our winter stay. The plan was to stay 2 days, have a good look around and score each item out of 5. We intended to visit Portimāo and Albufeira as well and do the same exercise. Lagos ticked all our boxes with most items scoring 5, and we felt very comfortable here. As the railway station was less than 10 minutes from the boat, we decided to get the train to Albufeira, stay for the day and hit it hard. It was a direct journey of just over an hour and on arrival involved a taxi ride to the marina which was a couple of kilometres away. Within 2 minutes of arriving at the marina we looked at each other and said NO. It was soul less. It was just too quiet with many boats obviously left for the winter so there were very few people around on the pontoons. In the middle of the marina was a huge crane. I had no idea why but closer inspection revealed it was for bungy jumping! In the marina? Really?. On the cliff behind the marina was a development that had clearly stopped construction before completion and was not at all attractive. The apartments surrounding the marina were painted in different pastel colours and were looking very tired. It was also open to lots of holiday makers and whilst we don't have a problem with that, it is nice to meet and form friendships with fellow yachties as well. We didn't like it at all and didn't even bother to put scores on my list despite it being the cheapest of the 3.
Next day we got the train to Portimāo. A new marina just 5 miles along the coast from Lagos and 15 minutes on the train. Again it was a taxi ride to the marina and we later discovered, a taxi ride to the shops and supermarket. Beautiful, spectacular surroundings which we were both taken with, a lovely marina with exceptionally helpful staff who gave us the gate security codes so we could see the pontoon we would be allocated and also look at the shower facility. The shower cubicles were tiny unlike Lagos where you could hold a party! The pontoons very quiet and lifeless. Most of the bars and restaurants were closed. After a good look around we took a taxi back to the station and the driver, who was very chatty, said that Lagos was by far the best marina with everything close to hand - confirming our thoughts exactly.
Lagos scored 101 on my list. Portimāo 82. Albufeira 0.
Lagos was the most expensive for a 3 month stay. Portimāo was €219 cheaper. Albufeira €500.
Lagos has won. After a team talk we concluded that the decision was not all about cost. The railway, supermarket, swimming pool, town with its bars and restaurants were all 10 minutes away without exception. All the marina bars were open, there was life on the pontoons and it was quiet in a buzzy kind of way. We also had a great berth, enjoying full sun all day with a lovely outlook, so well sheltered that Stiletto does not move. The bridge is not a problem and opens on demand. We couldn't fault it. SOLD!!.
Song for this post: Feeling Good by Nina Simone
Thought for this post : Time to chill, re-group, do some maintenance, enjoy this beautiful coastline and plan Part 2 of our Big Adventure
Highlight for this post : Arriving on schedule - there were the odd moments when we wondered if we would!!











Sines

19 November 2017
Current Position
37 57 05N
008 51 96W
Sines Marina
10th November
We had 26 miles to go to Sines and the winds started very light so we started by flying 50 shades of pink but then the wind picked up to a F4/5 and became gusty. One big gust heeled us over and the shackle connecting the chute to the sheet snapped open and 50 shades was let loose. A scramble on to the bow deck and I struggled to get it under control and at one point thought it was going to pull me over the side. Thank goodness the chute is within a snuffer, but even so, pulling the snuffer down over the chute was bloomin' hard work but I eventually got it put away. If not for the snuffer we would have been in serious trouble. So with the chute packed away, and with wind from NNE, up went the white sails and we managed a very respectable sail until eventually the wind died and on went the engine.
I heard on the radio a Portuguese Naval Vessel giving out a navigational warning. It was given initially in Portuguese and then in English. The problem is, the Portuguese speak English very quickly, therefore it is very hard to understand. To be honest, I didn’t take much notice until about an hour later, the same message came across the radio and this time I picked up on the co-ordinates given out realising that we were quite close . When I plotted them on my chart we were well out of the way of the firing practice range just a few miles from Sesimbra, but still close to the co-ordinates given out. So, in my best radio voice, I called up the Portuguese Naval Vessel giving their call sign CTLD on Channel 16, and was immediately requested to go to channel 13. I explained I had heard their warning but needed to clarify that we were safe. They then explained that the warning was for 5 nautical miles from the co-ordinates they had given and when I checked again on my chart we were just slightly out of the 5 mile zone and were safe. They then requested our position, speed and heading which I duly gave and we continued on our way, safe in the knowledge we weren't going to be blown out of the water!!!!
A short while later, Andreas suddenly jumped up and shouted “dolphins”. As you know, we become very childlike at a sighting but this time we were positively ecstatic. I counted 7 and they were having an absolute ball. On the bow, under the boat, alongside, and then, 3 of them, in a line off the rudder!! It was fantastic and they stayed with us for about 10 minutes before disappearing. Sadly, the Master Photographer had the camera set to video instead of “burst” mode to take photos, so we have lovely video footage of these truly captivating creatures which I cannot post.
On our arrival at Sines Marina, I called the office and requested a berth for one night. A member of staff came down and took our lines and we found ourselves next to a Westsail 42 called Fiona. The marina was very empty with just a couple of visiting yachts. No sooner had we tied up than a gentleman popped up on deck and invited us aboard Fiona for rum cocktails. He was Capt. Eric, skipper, from New York, and his crew Tim was from Alabama, and Neil from Nashville.
Eric has been cruising some 40 years and having lost his wife 26 years ago he now cruises with different crew. He has sailed around the world single handed and he built Fiona himself. The three of them left the States in August and sailed via the Azores and Madeira to the Algarve. He returns to the USA for a short visit after leaving Fiona in Cascais and comes back in January. He is originally from Bolton but has spent most of his life based in the USA when he is not cruising. Tim, who lives aboard his boat in Alabama and has sailed with Eric before, made us rum cocktails, (one part rum, two parts apple juice and a wedge of lemon – very nice). Neil was vacating Fiona at Cascais and was going to tour Europe for a couple of months. We enjoyed a fabulous hour with these lovely guys, exchanging stories, before we all needed to eat. When we got up the next morning they were gone.
Eric is 85. Respect.
Next day we explored Sines and as it was Andreas' birthday, we had a gorgeous leisurely lunch in a restaurant under the castle walls where I enjoyed Sea Bream, cooked over a charcoal grill and Andreas had half a cow!

Song for this post: Respect by Aretha Franklin
Thought for this post: as daunting as it was calling up the Portuguese Navy it was absolutely the right thing to do. If in doubt, check it out, never assume.
Highlight for this post: there are 2 today: firstly, meeting Capt. Eric of yacht Fiona. On leaving him, I shook his hand but actually wanted to give him a very big hug. Secondly, the most exciting, spectacular dolphin display we have had to date.

Sines

19 November 2017 | L - R Neil, Tim and Capt. Eric

Sines

19 November 2017 | Our approach to Sines with the castle to the right (Castelo de Sines)

Sines

19 November 2017 | Part of the castle wall - and there she is! THAT woman !!
Vessel Name: Stiletto
Vessel Make/Model: Bavaria 33 Cruiser
Hailing Port: Gosport, UK
Crew: Andreas Giles & Jane Paulson
About:
We have been sailing together for 11 years and have owned Stiletto for 10 of them. We have exhausted the Solent and the South Coast and all the other usual passages: West Country, France, Channel Islands etc. that are available from our home port of Gosport. [...]
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Stiletto's Photos -

One life, love it, live it!

Who: Andreas Giles & Jane Paulson
Port: Gosport, UK