Emerald Tales

Currently in Portugal after 7 years in the Mediterranean

23 February 2024 | Porto Santo
22 January 2024 | Madeira
15 December 2023 | Porto Santo
13 October 2023 | Porto Santo
15 September 2023 | Porto Santo
09 August 2023 | Porto Santo, Madeira
28 July 2023 | Porto Santo, Madeira
23 June 2023 | Porto Santo
15 January 2023 | Porto Santo
15 September 2022 | Porto Santo
19 August 2022 | Porto Santo
29 July 2022 | Porto Santo, Madeira
02 October 2021 | Faro, Portugal
06 June 2021 | Alcoutim


15 October 2013 | Alvor, Portugal
Nichola / mostly warm and sunny
The boardwalk and Emerald amongst the sandbanks  

7th October to 16th October
At high tide Alvor looks like a huge lagoon and you might wonder why all the boats are crowded in a small area. As the tide goes out you see why - sand banks begin to appear not long after high water and by low water a large expanse of sand is on show. We are anchored at the end of the entrance channel which is less than 100m bank to bank. This has made for some nervous moments when the wind blows from  a different direction to the tide and pushes us closer to the banks, but the anchor has held firm and we've kept enough water under the keel.  

sand banks
The sand banks aren't far from where we're anchored  

Alvor is a fishing town into which tourism has arrived and combined reasonably tastefully. By the waterfront are the fishermens huts with heaps of pots and nets lying around outside. Next to these a boardwalk takes you out into the dunes and back along the soft, sandy beach for a 3 mile round trip walk. A promenade lines the waterfront with restaurants and some nice sculptures. Then there is the old fish market where fishermen still clean their catch and in front of this the main tourist road runs up the hill which is lined with more restaurants, bars and cafes. Down the other side of the hill are the remains of the castle, now a childrens' park, and an indoor market has fruit and veg stalls and the local catch for sale. For food shopping there are pastelerias, corner shops and 10 minutes walk away is a Pingo Doce.  

fish sculpture
Fisherman sculpture  

Ok so the touristy bit increases away from the water front with typical seaside shops selling souvenirs and seaside tat. Plus lots of booze shops selling good, cheap wine and cheap spirits. And the bars... lots of big screens showing many different sports and on Saturday night it was hard to avoid the X Factor blaring out from every place we passed. We have heard lots of British accents and our Saturday night out in one of the Irish bars (there are SIX! Three of them next door to each other!) was a bit Brits abroad.  

Dotted amongst the bars and in the side streets are older houses where the local people live and there are plenty of Portuguese people living here. Further out and around the beaches come the villa resorts and hotels but not too many, so it doesn't feel over developed.  I'm sure it gets very busy here in the summer but now it's not crowded at all.  

For landing the dinghy there are two pontoons connected to shore. There are signs saying 'no articles of fishing or dinghies to be left' but no one takes any notice as there are nets all over the end of one pontoon and lots of dinghies tied up. On the south pontoon there is even a wreck! You can't see it at high water so avoid the southern half of the outside of this pontoon if you don't want a popped dinghy.  

Pontoon wreck  

The fishermen in their little boats zoom in and out at full speed and very close to the anchored boats. But as they pass so close their wash has little effect other than a quick, sharp wobble and then all is calm again.  At night they anchor briefly next to us and you can hear a muffled conversation in Portuguese, along the sand banks too they are out digging for worms and clams. There are a couple of bigger fishing boats, but they are more sedate when passing us.  

The first few days we were here were really hot, up near 30C and cloudless skies. The last few were a bit cooler with more cloud but still plenty warm. As dusk arrives each night we feel like we've really arrived to warmth as the crickets start chirruping loudly in the surrounding scrub land. The sea temperature is warmer here than on the Atlantic coast  as I was able to paddle without my feet screaming in pain after a few seconds. In fact walking along the edge of the tiny waves was lovely.  

On the beach looking east  

The west end of the beach is open and clear, towards the east, nearer the hotels, the regimented ranks of loungers begin. Further east the beach ends as a sandstone headland pushes out into the sea with crumbling cliffs, caves and pinacles dotted about. Climb up the cliffs, keep heading east through a villa park and across some scrubland (you have to make your own route here as there are many paths criss crossing) and then onto the road and 2 hours later you arrive at Portimao marina, a walk we took on Monday with friends.  

We had coffee and cakes (huge cake portions) in Portimao and went in search of a Payshop to top up our Vodafone data SIM. We found by chance a refridgeration shop set in a long,  narrow garage like building; Colin went in to talk to them and they have the gas and equipment to buy so we can refil our fridge compressor after we rebuild the fridge box this winter. Then lunch of soup, sardines (or chicken), wine (very large glass) and coffee all for €8.50 in a little restaurant with very friendly staff. Energy restored it was a slightly shorter walk back along the Alvor road. A great and successful (due to fridge shop find)  day out!  

Alvor swim
Today I went for a swim, it was quite pleasant once you were in!  
Vessel Name: Emerald
Vessel Make/Model: Kelly Peterson 44
Hailing Port: No fixed abode
Crew: Colin 'Skip' Wright, Nichola Wright
About: One from Northern Ireland, one from Yorkshire, UK
Extra: Emerald has been our home since 2004. We've sailed around the UK, the western Baltic and have spent 7 years in the Med. We're currently in Portugal, planning a refit. Lot's more information about us and the boat can be found at www.yachtemerald.com
Home Page: https://www.yachtemerald.com/