19 April 2022 | Mindelo
In praise of Mindelo
While autumn refitting Aqua Blue in Portimao during our second Covid lost season, I was able to visit Sam Coles at anchor off Ferragudo on his 44ft cat Ramprasad. Our re-acquaintance, many years after we both worked at Sussex uni, led to Sam offering me a berth heading south and west.
Accordingly I flew to Gran Canaria on Sun 14th November to join the crew at anchor off Playa Alcaravaneras at Las Palmas . Jan a young Dutchman and Joel a Catalan and keen photographer, made me most welcome. Within 48hrs we were bobbing about in a fresh westerly off Pasito Blanco marina, indifferently sheltered by the bulk of Punta Maspalomas. Augustin Martin made time to greet us though, as he does with all OCC visitors.
In the calmer morning we recovered the substantial ground tackle, raised the massive mainsail, and pointed the bows SSW, parallel to the African coast basically. The low which had been sitting to the west of the Canaries initially provided a good shove in the right direction, but it’s influence then countered the NE trades and as it slowly filled we were mostly broad reaching in light airs. Very pleasant although rather slow!
However you’re never bored once the watch system starts. Jan, Joel and I repeated our regular three hours each, while Sam remained on supervisory call at any time. Navigation was displayed on an iPad, and posns recorded manually (just in case!). We all had our own cabins with heads, an unaccustomed luxury. And the cat’s motion was so slight, sleep was easy.
I was surprised at the cold night time wind off the Sahara desert, I had barely brought enough clothes. But the days slowly warmed. There was very little visible traffic on this coast, altho many yachts must have been accompanying us. The light winds meant we were only just managing 100nm daily. A few dolphin visits brought out the cameras. Then the flying fish arrived, a sure sign of our progress south. Some manage long distances over the waves, with “tail boosts” leading to much discussion as to whether they are “flying” or “gliding”! They must have fascinated Darwin on the Beagle.
It took eight days for the Cape Verdes to pop out of the haze. With the wind so light we had to motor the last few miles down the Canal de Sao Vicente, with San Antao towering to our starboard, before turning east into Porto Grande, Mindelo. We joined the many other yachts at anchor south of the marina, and toasted our safe arrival.
Morning exploring with fellow crew Jan was eye opening, we were in Africa! The colourful clothes in the central market, the yellow finned tuna in the fish market, so much tropical fruit and veg for sale, inc on the pavements. Atms provided Cape Verdean escudos. And after dire warnings from Vodaphone, Jan helped me obtain a local SIM card. Nominally the locals speak Portuguese but it’s Creole and very hard to understand. Fortunately many of the islanders who deal with visitors do speak some English. I am always in awe of others’ language abilities. Jan speaks Dutch, English, Spanish, and (Brazilian) Portuguese!! I was taught schoolboy French which I rarely seem to use!
Initially and unusually for Mindelo the wind stayed very light. But the trades soon returned and blasted down from the heights to the North. Ramprasad’s ground tackle was up the the job though, and the holding seems quite good. There are also various wrecks to avoid. Dinghy rides could be wet affairs though. And walking the pontoons during the gusts was challenging! Sam often stayed onboard, organising the sheeting for a parachute sail, which he then successfully used on his Atlantic crossing with Jan and Joel. All three would then remain in the Americas.
The floating marina bar was great for morning OJ and coffee.. And they serve basic meals too, Further ashore I particularly liked Casa Cafe Mindelo. Seared, or even raw yellow finned tuna, was very affordable for lunch. I made a point of finding Kai Brossman who developed the marina and now provides a chandlery and yacht services, to pass on the OCC’s compliments. He has also produced an online pilot to the CVs now. In fact Mike Westin has also produced an online guide to Mindelo itself. But of course any skipper venturing into these waters should have the RCC Atlantic Islands onboard!
I was watching the developing Covid situation with interest and some alarm. During my travels, South Africa then Nigeria were made “red list” countries by the UK. And the last time this happened the CVs were soon added to the red list too. I faced the prospect of being trapped abroad, waiting for an unwanted two week place in a government hotel in the UK! As Richard E Grant was bitterly complaining about after visiting his mother in South Africa! In addition our slow progress in the light trades threatened my expensive Xmas flight from Grenada. Then Sam told me we would be confined to a quarantine buoy in Grenada for an unknown period!!
I exchanged my BA Grenada flight for a voucher and moved ashore into the Cafe Royal hotel. The TAP app on my iPhone was very clunky. But Ro Teixeira the young receptionist at Cafe Royal took me to a local travel agent who booked me on a flight to Lisbon on Friday 3rd Dec. The agent also pointed me to a local clinic for for a Covid test. And booked a taxi for 5am!!
I really enjoyed my remaining days in Mindelo, it’s a great spot. Good cheap restaurants esp Casa, Nautilus and Taverna, as well as Cafe Royal. A wonderful beach just to the northwest, and so much local colour. One can sometimes be hassled on darker streets, but I never felt physically threatened, in fact the lads are grateful for one’s small change. And walking the pontoons chatting to the yachties is most informative. The “Belem tower” is worth a visit too.
When the taxi took me to the full Airbus at 5am, I then realised most of my fellow passengers were wearing serious walking boots, which they’d been using hiking over the mountains of San Antao. The final bonus was I lost nearly a stone in three weeks. Living aboard is like non stop Pilates, esp combined with a vegetarian diet!
11 February 2019 | Portimao
El Rompido to Lisbon, then back to Portimao.
Stella and I drove out to El Rompido in April, pausing at Jessica's house near Ronda. And visiting Italica outside Seville b4 continuing to Aqua Blue moored in the Rio Pedras. Delivering some heavy items such as repaired sails and a new giant 180Ah battery, which we struggled to lug onboard! After some modest fitting out we returned via Merida. I particularly wanted to see the many Roman buildings again, such as the town centre temple, plus the Roman bridge, it must be the longest ever! And the Theatre /Amphitheatre were as impressive as I remembered!
I returned to AB by EasyJet in late May. And Wolfgang the marina proprietor arranged for AB to be hauled by rail sled at a fishing boat yard in Punta Umbria. Where the staff very thoroughly cleaned AB's bottom and applied 8 litres of bright red Hempel antifouling, for a modest price. I was well pleased with the result, and managed to service the finicky KiwiProp too.
Back at Rompido I spent several days sanding & glassing the stbd foredeck, then non slip painting the whole float deck. I'd been meaning to do it for years, and it was easily accomplished working from the pontoon. I was even complimented on my handiwork!! I also further improved the cockpit seats.
On Wed 13th June approaching midday I span AB round and reversed off the pontoon, Wolfgang having to jump off his bike and throw onboard one rope I'd forgotten! By teatime I was anchored in the Guadiana outside Ayamonte marina. A reasonable shallow anchorage altho it gets popply with chain noise when the tide floods against the overnight land breeze. It was still N20kts, and only 60F at 9am in mid June!! But the land breeze dies by 11am and we motorsailed slowly to anchor inside Faro lagoon at Culatra. A bit of a multihull graveyard, but they're interesting to me. RedandWhite an ex racing tri, now seemingly a fishing platform, and Swingalong a Westell tri I'd known in Andrews Boatyard Emsworth in the early eighties were still moored. Plus a much newer Harry Proa which had been built in Sagres. I stayed onboard, grateful for M&S tinned food. Now on Portuguese time I was up at dawn, struggling to extract the Rocna from the weed, and by 8am the spring ebb was flushing AB out over the bouncy Faro bar. Normally it can be a bit of a slog in a fresh seabreeze from Faro to Portimao, but this time the wind stayed light and off the land, so a pleasant sail along the coast had us anchored off Praia Grande in Portimao by mid afternoon. I'd also seen strange horizon effects, double images of boats and beaches!
I surprised myself by sleeping for 12hrs, I suppose I'd worked non stop for well over two weeks! The weekend 16/17th June was spent tackling the afloat job list. And on Sun morn it was 78F by 9am, tempting me into my first cockpit shower. I also met my brother and his wife for lunch at one of the beachside restos, then walked the length of the beach and had a siesta. Plus returning ashore for Frango PiriPiri, I was also on holiday now!
On the Mon morning I took AB up to the town fuel quay, altho singlehanded mooring in the current is not easy. Paul Wells working on the 50ft tri Trinity in RCS spotted me. I returned briefly to the Praia Grande anchorage to stow everything securely and consult fcsts, then by midday headed out west again. Motoring over a calm sea we arrived in Sagres bay before 5pm. I thought about continuing but decided rest was better. However by midnight a SE swell was rolling into the bay and sleep was fitful. I rose and dressed at 4am, but it was so dark I couldn't make out the headlands so lay down again! I recovered the Rocna at first light and motored over the Atlantic swell, rounding Cape St Vincent, by 6.30am, under very low cloud since a shallow low had formed over the Cape! But on the west side of the Vicentine promontory an easterly blew down from the towering cliffs and AB reached north under genoa alone. 3hrs later we were passing Arrifana, a very open anchorage where AB had spent one night the year before. The sky cleared and wind dropped for a blue afternoon and I motored up to Sines to anchor off the fishing boats in the west side of the harbour after 12hrs progress north.
The calm night was very welcome and in the morning I ascended the mast to unravel the genny halliard, caught on the very top fitting of the 20yr old Profurl, which is designed to prevent it! I then motored AB over to the marina visitor pontoon and managed to lassoo a cleat, with a slight wind off the pontoon. It rained all afternoon, and there were thunderstorms all night to herald the summer solstice, Thurs 21st June. I spent several days here, Sines grows on you. The marina has very good facilities and is not expensive, esp for a multihull. Plus the weather was not kind, with hail keeping the tourists off the beach one day! I also enjoy the screeching Swifts nesting below Vasco da Gama's stern statue. He's revered as the first european to round the Cape of Good Hope, altho Herodotus tells us the Phoenicians from Tyre may have beaten him to it in 600BC!
On Sun 24th June the normal summer weather returned and I motored towards Cabo Espichel till the NW wind enabled raising of the genoa and main. I was interested to see what AB could do into a modest Nortada (up to 22kts apparent) and with the windward rig trimmed tight we could indeed sail fast enough, due north parallel to the coast. In fact with a bit of a lift approaching the Cabo, AB sailed straight up to anchor off the beach at Sesimbra. The pilot book warns of very poor holding. And indeed AB sailed back out of the anchorage towing 80ft of chain plus a bridle. It was a good job I'd stayed onboard despite the tempting dinghy pontoon. It's a pretty town to observe and was used by Portuguese royalty. The katabatic winds blowing off the hills subsided by midnight and I slept surprisingly well. Repeating the process on Monday we managed to sail close hauled north again to reach Fort Bugio, before I started the Yannie to enter the anchorage off Cascais by mid afternoon.
I rowed the considerable distance to the fishing pontoon in the morning to admire the many fine houses along the seafront. The afternoon was spent puzzling over why Henry Honda would not start. I dismantled, cleaned and re-assembled the carb to no avail. A relaxed departure the following morning led to a slow sail and motor up the Tagus. Camera at the ready for the monuments and the spectacular bridge. We then turned right and followed the channel buoys to Seixal. There was one free mooring which I eventually managed to secure AB to. Why do I think I can use a boathook to hold 4tons against the tidal current!? The marinero soon arrived and towed the Honwave dinghy to the town quay where I paid for a week, at 7euros/night for the buoy!! I finally had a plate of Sardinhas and rowed back to AB, happy to have reached Lisbon.
I had another go at the Honda outboard carb in the morning. This time I removed the main jet, which does not have a needle. And cleaned through the row of tiny holes along it's side with hairs from a washing up brush! This had the desired effect and I was independent again. Although the mooring fee includes a marinero taxi service!
I called Igor at 9am and he came immediately to ferry me ashore leaving the Honwave perched on the stbd float. The fast catamaran to Cais de Soudre was only 5euros return, with good views of approaching Lisbon. I then walked up to Chiado, back down and up again to Fort de Sao Jorge, then returned via Praco Commercial. All most interesting, despite the pavement tiles being "slippery when dry"! Back onboard by 5pm it started raining and the weekend was bouncy with 20kts blowing against the flood tide. AB was towing a tyre to keep her off the buoy. I alternated days of maintenance with days in Lisbon. After visiting the Oceanarium I walked down to the Marina Nacoes. They had refused me a berth by email. And I was able to photograph the reason, a huge sandbank lifting pontoons high and dry!! I also found the anchor chain bar taut one morning, after hearing an unexplained bang hours before. The windlass had moved slightly! I then spent most of the day replacing corroded wires to and from the now faulty Lofrans control box. At least it operated up, if not down!!
On Tues 3rd July I took a metro to the airport to meet my wife Stella. And then simply wheeled her luggage from the cat ferry to the marinero's runabout in Seixal. Three more day walking tours of Lisbon followed, combined with evening restaurant sampling in Seixal, which really is a convenient and very affordable base for exploring the Portuguese capital. And the Tagus boatyard further up the channel will store and indeed repair your boat if nec. The Chandlers were using it while we were there. I had enquired, but they couldn't accommodate AB's 25ft beam. In Lisbon we walked though Alfama and re-found Catherine of Braganza's tomb, which used to declare "here lies the Queen of England", in St Vincent church which has great views once you've persevered in reaching the roof! There were also giant screens in both towns for communal watching of the World Cup.
On Sat 7th July we untangled the mooring ropes attaching us to the heavy chain to motor back down the Tagus. With Stella taking many photographs of Christ the King and the Belem tower. We even managed to sail to Cascais, where we were intercepted by a RIB guarding the GP32 racecourse. After motoring round to the anchorage, we could watch the hydrofoiling cats whizz by. Next morning Henry was now able to speed us to the fisherman's pontoon for sightseeing and walking in Cascais, the botanical gardens are pleasantly shaded.
On Monday we recovered the Rocna and motored then drifted under MPG back towards Cabo Espichel. The continuous furler is a huge improvement. The sedimentary layers north of the Cabo have been turned through 90 degrees! Bypassing Sesimbra we put the hook down in Portinho Arrabida and surprisingly had a quiet night free of katabatic winds. Just west of the entrance the Baixo Alpertuche seems to be reaching across towards Praia Alpertuche. Only 5ft of clearance at half tide in one spot! Thick morning mist burnt off slowly as we threaded our way directly across the sandbanks into the Rio Sado. Eyes glued to the echo sounder!
We eschewed Setubal this time and followed the coast round to anchor off the endless beach inside the Troia peninsula, and anchored off the moorings at the new development of SolTria, past the naval quay and car ferry terminal. Ashore it was like Florida. The second night ominous clouds appeared to the north over the hills behind Setubal and we had an uncomfortable night with quite a long fetch. But it is a great spot in settled weather. The Romans were here and exported salted fish.
Early the following morning we shot over the Rio Sado barra with the last of the ebb behind us, initially wearing oilskins! By midday the Yannie was off and we were broad reaching down the coast at good speed with the occasional dolphin, and Stella identifying seabirds. The sea got up a bit and I was keen to identify the covered breakwater. Anchored in Sines by 3pm, we were then able to move to the visitor pontoon, after a French boat moved up for us. Long hot soft water showers were enjoyed for some time. Sines marina is so welcoming.
A morning ashore, those seafront cliff steps exercise sailing leg muscles! Pm I bought diesel but it's quite a price, 1.4 euros/litre. Ask at the dive shop. There was a very modern cat moored alongside, a Marsaudon TS42 "Moea" sailed by a Brit in a wheelchair no less. Lots of very good practical ideas to simplify fast sailing. A good evening meal in restaurant O Castello, but the cheaper Sines Grill is fine too.
The Blackwell's Aleria was anchored in the harbour, and we followed them out at 7.30am. They were headed north to Galicia and were grateful for the absence of the Nortada. While we resented motoring south into a very light southerly for 12 hrs, although we were entertained twice by lengthy dolphin visits, I'm convinced they like multihulls. We rounded Cape St Vincent to re-anchor in Sagres bay. This time well occupied, including by Moea who had somehow overtaken us, probably by sailing offshore then back inshore at speeds unattainable by Aqua Blue. We'd been trying to photograph the well named Pedro do Gigante off the Cape, it really does look like a gorilla standing waist deep in water from the north!
A quiet night as Sagres should be in settled weather, but on 15th July it was still only 63F at 7am! The seasons seem to be trailing the sun by more every year! We had a lazy start and ran downwind under MPG alone to enter Alvor, anchoring just west of the moorings, by the villa with blue pontoons, a favourite spot. Ashore we noted the many Irish pubs and then found a quiet restaurant courtyard for a good Cataplana. Ashore again in the morning for convenient shopping and ATMs, we then motored out of Alvor at low tide, just rolling the centreboard up at the shallowest spot near the green buoy (3ft under the hull), which can't be in it's original position. There is an anchoring pool near the entrance if your draft requires it. We ran east along the coast under MPG alone, past an Aussie Crowther Spindrift of AB's age I'm sure, anchored off Praia de Rocha. We re-anchored off Praia Grande Portimao for a late lunch, rather more crowded than a month before!
AB's crew spent over a week here enjoying a beach holiday. There's a couple of reasonable beachside restaurants, plus shopping in Ferragudo within dinghy reach. Stella flew home, Paul Wells kindly taking her to Faro airport. And I arranged a haul out for AB at RCS. One more day sail encouraged yet more dolphins to do acrobatics between the hulls. Then AB was hauled by the giant 9mtr wide travel hoist for hull cleaning and winter storage. I escaped the late arriving summer heat to spend August in Brighton. But Portimao always beckons for the never ending refit! In fact I flew back in October and have just booked the Santander ferry for April.
Wild West Coast
18 November 2017 | Portugal
I returned to Aqua Blue, wintering again in El Rompido, SW Spain, by late May 2017.
And after a rapid fit out, I single handed her to Portimao over three days. The last day from Culatra to Portimao was 11hrs into a freshening headwind, touching F6 apparent by late afternoon. I was minimising tacks by heading offshore, tacking back in when short 2mtr seas started to crest over the bows. But with a reef in the main, and some rolls in the genoa, the old bus crashed her way west. To finally shoot past Portimao breakwater at 8pm on the 2nd June, having seen not a single other yacht!
After a couple of days anchored off Ferragudo, AB was hauled by the giant travel hoist and propped ashore, high enough to fully lower the centreboard. I spent a week (during an early heatwave!), wearing old clothes and protective gear, while carrying out epoxy repairs to the main hull skeg, plus CB and trim board, with the encouragement of Paul Wells, who is rebuilding a 60ft tri here. A thorough cleaning and greasing of the excellent Kiwi prop ensured three point turns would still be possible! Finally a good coat of antifouling completed the work, for this year anyway!
On Monday 12th of June I walked up to Parchal station to meet Stella arriving by train from Faro airport. We dragged her case back to the yard admiring the profusion of large Stork nests, most with one or two young, already as big as their attentive parents. I like Portimao, a working town with good restaurants, and a riverfront to stroll by and sit at in the evenings.
Relaunched 48hrs later, AB was refuelled and watered at the marina, b4 anchoring off Praia Grande in the outer harbour for some R&R , altho I can never stop pottering onboard. It's a great beach with clean water and a couple of restaurants. Altho we alternate with Ferragudo for easier access to the shops.
It was now time to select a window for "going round the corner" . I was determined to tackle the first part of the west coast of Portugal which means waiting for a pause in the Nortada, the relentless summer north wind created by the Azores high pushing up against the thermal low over Spain. After a couple of days we moved the few miles further west to enjoy the great anchorage of Alvor. Quite windy but with less movement than Portimao, and still good shopping and eating out. The easterly Levanters seem more frequent than previous years to me, altho I'm no climate historian.
So when the wind clocked round we ran down to Sagres, but found the easterly seaway making the bay uncomfortable, if not untenable for overnighting. After another night in Alvor we made a much earlier start and were rounding Cape St Vincent by mid morning on Sunday 18th June, with a favourable fresh wind. And were able to broad reach up the west coast for few hours till the wind died. I'd already identified Arrifana bay as a possible overnight stop and we motored in behind the headland at tea time. There was only a very slight Atlantic swell and we had a relatively quiet night in this rather open anchorage, despite some katabatic blasts finding their way over the peninsula. Under way again by 7am, (the two hundred foot cliffs don't exactly encourage you to hang around!), we had to motor up the coast all day. We paused outside Milfontes, knowing it was low tide and an unmarked very shallow entrance, but keen to observe for a future visit. In fact I had crossed the bar for one night exactly 30yrs ago in Freedom of Norwich, another Kelsall trimaran.
By the evening we pulled into Sines and anchored initially on the east side of the inner harbour, just outside the marina. But the close presence of two other yachts plus an annoying swell, made me move west to anchor just outside the fishing boat moorings. Just below the free lift which ascends the yellow concrete cliffs, towards Vasco da Gama's stern statue. There's a long staircase as well, if you fancy the exercise after dragging your dinghy up the beach! We spent several days here. I think Sines old town is charming. Seemingly only reluctantly tolerating a few bijou hotels and tourists. A few moderately priced restaurants and bars help while away the time. And there's a very healthy Swift population occupying the drainage holes in the yellow cliffs. They continually screech and do low flybys as one attempts to capture them on "film"!
On the grey morning of the longest day we motored round the Sines sunken breakwater buoy and headed north. Later managing to sail in "mizzle" up to the Setubal entrance channel, altho we just continued, to anchor outside the small craft moorings at Portinho de Arrabida for a catch up siesta. By 6pm the wind was howling off the mountains and we stayed onboard, to start a Coen Brothers box set, particularly enjoying "Burn After Reading". Before a rather disturbed night, good ground tackle needed here!
During a quite chilly pre brekkie swim I managed to unwrap a stray mooring rope from the prop. Then ashore to visit Fort Arrabida which surprisingly contains a small maritime museum. There are also rooms to let at one of the restos, in this most pleasant anchorage. We then rode the tide up to Setubal and anchored as advised by the pilot in the filthy water off the Yacht Club. Shortly a RIB skipper informed us we risked a hefty fine if we remained within 300mtrs of the wall! We moved SE to Castello San Phillipe but it seems a rough area. So we crossed to Troia and the marina there informed us over the VHF they had no room for multis!! So back north to anchor off Albarquel beach west of Setubal. And this is a pleasant spot with no overnight katabatic blasts. Altho the beach bars basically close by 7pm. Still we caught up on sleep!
In the morning we beached the dinghy and walked and hitched into Setubal. Which is really worth it for the huge mercado and especially the 15thC Igreja Jesus, with it's spiral columns in local stone. I also walked down to the Club Nautico who confirmed anchoring off not now permitted and indeed they recommended we continue to use the Albarquel beach. A taxi from outside the Mercado sped us back to the Praia for a coldie. Back on board by 12.30 we plugged the tide down channel and re-anchored at Arribida for a good fish meal in A Faro resto, b4 another windy night demonstrated the holding power of the Rocna. In fact with F7 fcst in the morning we spent another day at Arrabida, maintaining AB. Even changing the Yannie water pump impellor, and finally connecting the waterproof cockpit speakers to my new toy, an eBay 24volt Brennan, basically a giant iPod! Stella, a Radio 3 aficionado, will tolerate some of the blues and fusion I prefer.
More violent blasts overnight but I did sleep from 2am, you can get used to anything! Unbelievably on 25th June in southern Portugal we awoke to rain! I sorted oilies after brekkie and raised the Rocna between williwaws. We were motoring south in zero wind by late morning. With two huge bumblebees in the cockpit, no doubt blown off the Sierra overnight. We eventually sailed the last few miles back to Sines and released the bees. It was very quiet in town on a Sunday eve.
We appreciated the quiet night at anchor, but apparently blasts off the cliffs are not unknown in Sines either. In the morning we moved AB onto the Cais Recepcao to fill with diesel and water. Then transferred her onto the outside visitor quay , helped by a Brit yottie who's been here for 12 years. After signing up to good wifi Stella easily booked her return flight, who's B Pass the marina office printed. I appreciated the very soft water, in the brilliant showers. The air temp was only 70F!
The morning of the 27th June brought the return of the Nortada. So a late morning investigation of the unmarked Milfontes entrance bar was abandoned for this year. Instead we left at 9am for Cape St Vincent. And a long day's run in increasing wind ensued. With several long displays by dolphins under the bows. I'm convinced they like multihulls! We rounded the Cape after exactly 10hrs as the sun set, great views brought the cameras out! Hook down in a calm Sagres bay inside an alloy cat by 8pm. M&S tinned curries are so good!
A very quiet night, altho some slight swell does refract round Pt Sagres. We beached the dinghy and walked round Henry's Fortaleza on the headland. Again exactly 30yrs since the last time. Altho Sue Keane and I had previously driven here in a TR2 in 1970!! We then ran east to Cape Piedade in a rising nor westerly, which we rounded just inside the fish farm, accompanied by a couple of large Bottlenose dolphins. Later re-anchoring in Alvor in the slight shelter of the villa with blue pontoons, for a good meal ashore. The place is a bit of a multihull graveyard, but of course to me they're interesting!
After three windy nights in Alvor we transfered AB east back to Portimao on the 1st July, which was surprisingly cool in the early morning, only 63F at 7am. As usual we alternated between Praia Grande for loafing and swimming, and Ferragudo for shopping and eating out. Then into the marina to ease Stella's journey home, which she managed in 8hrs on the 5th. I booked my EZY flight too via the marina wifi. And also dinghied up to RCS and begged a lift out, but Paulo was still "doing his places"!
So on Sat 8th July I hauled the Rocna and singlehanded back to Faro, anchoring at Culatra by 3.45pm. Ashore later for a good Corvino, I got a fishbone stuck in my throat which bothered me for 36hrs or so. Henry Honda was behaving much better after the simple expedient of applying some Contralube to the plug connection! I use it on every electrical terminal now, esp the windlass connections in the focsle.
Only 2.6ft under AB's hull on Sun morning, I do exploit the shallow draft! By 11am I was sailing east along the southern side of the huge fish farm when I noticed splashes from what I initially assumed were dolphins. But shortly sickle fins made me realise I was looking at very large Tuna! Later I was slowly overhauled by a large green Spanish yacht under spinnaker. They came very close for pics and interrogated me, "are you alone?". I then ran into Ayamonte with a fresh seabreeze on the last of the flood tide, and the heavy old bus twice touched 9.9kts! There were seven yachts anchored outside the marina and I joined them, not going ashore, it's not obvious where to leave a dinghy here. We bounced around with current against wind till 3am.
Finally I ran back to El Rompido's shallow winding entrance under MPG, to reclaim AB's very comfortable and convenient winter berth on the inside "cat quay". Francisco and the marineros are very welcoming.