12 November 2018 | Serra de Monchique
03 September 2018 | Porto Santo
23 August 2018 | Vila do Porto
Winter preparations in Albufeira and a cruising pause
12 November 2018 | Serra de Monchique
Minnie B sailed and motor-sailed the 24nm to Albufeira where she will stay until March next year – we plan to have the boat ready to go before 29th March, the date of the madness that is Brexit.
She is in the water at the marina so that we can fly back for a few weeks in the New Year.
The trip to Albufeira included a first for us. On the way to Culatra we saw a yacht motor-sailing with its day mark visible, the inverted black cone – we felt a bit ashamed that we had never used ours and determined to be proper, so after hoisting the mainsail up went the cone. It felt better.
We arrived at the marina on 25th October and did the usual winterising of watermaker, engine, outboards, interior and removed the sails and much of the running rigging.
There are a few other folks wintering their boats there and we fell in with some very nice folks for a bit of socialising, watching rugby and getting up to speed on facilities and services.
A hire car for a couple of days took us to Portimao and Lagos, as well as a drive through the Serra de Monchique where the wildfire devastation from summer was extensive (nearly 800 square miles) and quite shocking, and an afternoon in lovely Silves with its castle, cathedral and archetypal cafes. Despite the extensive tourism development in the Algarve there are places to seek out and gems to find.
So back to the UK for a while and time with family and friends. It has been a superb year starting in Trinidad and having sailed 6232nm through the eastern Caribbean, Virgin Is, Bahamas, Bermuda, Azores, and Morocco to Spain and Portugal. We continue to be very fortunate and hope to be again in 2019 with the prospect of cruising in the Mediterranean.
Back on here when we get under way again.
Chillin' in Culatra
12 November 2018
Hm. To Chill: to relax … and … to cool down. Well, Culatra provided both.
There is a huge anchoring area off the island of Culatra, in the Ria Formosa lagoon. The island has a lot of fisherfolk and is also a busy destination for day trippers wanting to enjoy the beautiful beaches on the Atlantic side. There are a few bars/restaurants with very reasonably priced drinks and food.
The weather was mixed and we experienced the fringes of Hurricane Leslie which brought us sustained wind of >35kts while central and northern Portugal experienced loss of electrical power, uprooted trees and extensive flooding. We were anchored in just over 4 metres at HW with 40 metres of chain out. All was well.
Friends Donal and Anne from Northern Ireland were having a week’s break at a nearby resort and we met them for a very nice Portuguese lunch in Olhau. The trip in is short at HW (straight over the drying marsh) and long (>3nm via the channels around the drying marsh). However, it was a fine day and we could enjoy sitting out.
We also joined some 50 people from the Culatra community for an afternoon trip to Faro and the fair where we bought much needed replacement slippers … really, really chillin’.
The hull needed a bit of a clean before we headed for our winter berth at Albufeira, so we donned our wet suits to give the hull a bit of a scrub. With the scuba gear the anode at the end of the propeller shaft was also changed. An hour in the water was enough.
Towards Rio Guadiana
12 November 2018
Timing is quite critical for entering the Rio Guadiana because of the strong tidal flow, so a combination of weather forecast, tides and a desire to reach somewhere we could anchor for a couple of weeks kept us moving and on Sunday 7th October we motor-sailed in light winds the 31nm to Mazagon for an overnight anchoring stop just outside the marina.
We were off again the next day for the 33nm to Ayamonte – no wind so motoring. We had three days of exploring Ayamonte … er … no, it does not take three days to explore Ayamonte … an afternoon would suffice … However, there is a reasonable chandlery, ‘Ayamar’, and we had a few maintenance jobs to perform, then it rained a bit, and there are a couple of squares to sit for an evening drink and watch the world go by …
The river forms the border between Spain and Portugal and has a splendid bridge ... and ridiculously a one-hour time difference (Franco aligned Spanish time with Germany and Italy) which may change soon.
12 November 2018
We left Cadiz on Friday 5th October for the 19nm to Chipiona. We managed to sail for two hours in an ESE wind of 10-12kts. Then the wind died away. The marina was OK albeit from our pontoon berth it was a bit of a hike to the showers.
This is a jumping off point for anyone wishing to head up the Rio Guadalquivir to Seville. The land is all very flat but the town is home to the tallest lighthouse in Spain at 69 metres and the fifth tallest in the world.
The weather was kind and we spent Saturday 6th October exploring. It is quite a nice town, with a castle/monastery, imposing churches and some intriguing fish traps, which are expertly built stone walls that begin at the coast and become higher as they stretch out to sea. The fish come in with the rising tide and are trapped by the falling tide.
The area is famous for Moscatel grapes and we sampled the wines at the Catholic Agricultural Co-operative – they are so cheap but make a good aperitif or even to be drunk with a dessert. The Co-op has a charming outdoor area where folks sit at tables under a canopy of vines.
All our Chipiona photos appear to have disappeared into the ether so we will have to return – no hardship that.
Europe’s oldest city – Cadiz
04 October 2018
They say it is Europe's oldest city - legend has Hercules as its founder, but more prosaically the Phoenicians were here in 1100BCE. It is also famous in England for Sir Francis Drake sacking the city in 1587. We have not been in search of a monument to Sir FD.
It is simply lovely - wandering the city walls, strolling in the shade of the parks and squares, visiting the Castillo Santa Catalina (built after Sir FD called in), getting lost in the warren of streets, climbing the Torre Tavira (the main watchtower of the city) for splendid views, being overwhelmed in a claustrophic kind of way by the Catholic art and sculpture exhibited in the Cathedral (as well as seeing the silver and gold ornamentation from Spain's pillaging of South America), being delighted by the architecture of the narrow streets with their enclosed balconies, being charmed by the liveliness of families gathering in the plazas in the early evening and of course enjoying the food and drink on offer in the thousands of cafes, bars and restaurants.
We are likely to return next year but in the meantime we will keep meandering west.
Passage to Europe
04 October 2018
The arrangement for clearing out of Rabat, Morocco is that you notify the marina and the authorities in advance because once clearance has completed you must leave. So good cruisers that we are we paid our bill on Friday afternoon 27th September and told all and sundry we wanted to leave by 0730 as that would be 2 hours after HW with a falling tide – we left some slack in our timing to allow for delays.
We were at the Customs and Police pontoon before 0730 but the Customs guy got in a bit of a tizz as no-one had passed on the messages. Once we confirmed we had given the required advance notice he calmed down, sent me to get the police (guy fast asleep) and he called for the sniffer dog and handler. Eventually it all happened and we were under way at 0840 (mid-tide) with the marina pilot boat leading us out. This was a good thing because there was a dredger in the middle of the channel and we would not have been sure which side to pass it. The depths were fine and the lowest we saw was 3.8m and the tidal range was 2.1m.
As anticipated, and indeed planned when we decided to go to Rabat, the sea off the coast of Morocco heading north does not get much wind at this time of year. This was better than the prospect of beating into a northerly wind further offshore which is part of the easterly wind pattern coming out of the Straits of Gibraltar. So we had just 5-6kts wind and often less until 0830 on Sunday morning when we managed to sail for an hour or so.
We were surprised to see some pot markers a long way offshore – the photo shows one at 17.6nm off the coast at 34 48.89’N:006 41.10’W – it appears to have a solar activated light (ubiquitous in Indonesia) but who knows if the batteries are working … not something you want to run into at night …
Needless to say as we approached the traffic separation zone for the Gibraltar Strait (our course was 13nm to the west) the number of cargo ships around increased substantially. We had our Sea-me radar transponder on, the AIS and our own radar sweeps on constantly. All was good – no-one calling on the VHF about intentions, and vessels were making course adjustments including us for one cargo ship. So that was all good then.
We arrived in Puerto America marina, Cadiz at 0735 so the trip had taken 23 hours for the 154nm.
One of the supremely ironic things about MINNIE B’s arrival back in continental Europe after just over nine years has been that we have recently joked about being in Europe over the winter when the risks of colds and flu are greatly increased, and sure enough two days after arriving in Cadiz Phil has a full-blown cold. He is bearing up manfully and ensuring that Norma has a great time in Cadiz despite his severe illness [Enough, stop being pathetic. Ed].