Emerald Tales

Mediterranean Adventures - currently in the western Med

16 April 2021 | Rio Guadiana
31 March 2021 | The Balearic Isles
20 March 2021 | Ayamonte
05 March 2021 | Alcoutim
17 February 2021 | Ayamonte
05 February 2021 | Culatra
27 January 2021 | Alcoutim
19 January 2021 | Larenjeiras, Portugal
08 December 2020 | Puerto Sherry
17 November 2020 | Playa de Bolonia
14 October 2020 | Gibraltar
27 September 2020 | La Linea
18 September 2020
04 September 2020 | Menorca, Spain
13 August 2020 | Pollença, Mallorca
31 July 2020 | Cala Tuent, Mallorca
20 July 2020 | Soller, Mallorca
11 July 2020 | Cala Deia, Mallorca
04 July 2020 | Santa Ponça

A week in Culatra

11 April 2014 | Isla Culatra anchorage, Portugal
Nichola / dry, mostly sunny, bit of cloud
Emerald at sunset anchored off Culatra

Saturday 5th to Friday 11th April

It's been a good week here in Culatra getting back into the swing of life on the hook with mostly warm and sunny weather. Only one day were we kept aboard by strongish winds. It's been sociable too with friends from Lagos also anchored here

Tuesday we took the first ferry (7:45am so an early start but the next one wasn't until 13:00 which would be too late for the markets) to Olhao for some shopping, but not before we'd had a breakfast of huge buns. There are two market buildings side by side along the waterfront; one selling veggies, meat and cheese, the second for fish. We bought 2 decent sized mackerel (and the lady gutted them for me) along with some sardines for only €2.30. The streets of Olhao are good for a wander around; mazes of narrow alleyways and cobbled streets that wound off in different directions.

The ferry back was at 11:00am, it cost €1.85 each way, taking about 20 minutes. Both directions were busy - from Culatra there were children heading to the mainland for school and lots of ladies with their trolly bags off for their shopping. The return trip was equally busy but with tourists replacing school children and the ladies with bulging trolley bags which the ferrymen made them put on top of the ferry secured with a chain. Some of the ladies weren't very happy to be separated from their bags!

We managed to meet up with a friend of Colin's from his time with British Antarctic Survey who was in the area on holiday with his parents. Twice they came across on the ferry to Culatra and after lots of trips in our dinky dinghy we got them aboard. If you're reading this John it was lovely to meet you all and Colin asks if you've booked your flight back yet!

Culatra ferry
The ferry between Olhao, Culatra and Farol

We've had lots of walks along the beach on the south of the island. To the west is another little town which is called Farol (meaning lighthouse and guess what, there's a lighthouse there as this is the entrance way from the sea into the river). It has the single story little houses as in Culatra but most of them were empty. Unlike Culatra with it's year round residents Farol is seasonal with holiday makers making up most of it's population. It felt a bit like a ghost town until we came across a cafe that was open and preparing lots of tables for lunch - maybe a trip boat brings them all in.

Farol
The farol at Farol

Walk east along the beach and its sand and more sand, we didn't get anywhere near the eastern end of the island even after 40 minutes of walking. The waves were breaking up on the shallows well offshore so we'll be keeping well out to sea when we pass by here.

There are lots of plants and flowers that manage to grow in this island made of sand. This one caught my eye - all around growing dead straight out of the sand are these single sturdy stalks with no leaves at all, just a mass of yellow bells growing around the top. They were only growing in the channels carved through the dunes where the sea finds it's way in on spring high tides.

yellow sand plant
Yellow flowers

Walking along the boardwalk all you can hear in the gaps between the planes passing overhead is birdsong and the gentle swishing of the waves on the beach. There are the usual gulls but we also saw a hawk like bird hovering in search of prey and a small brown bird with a pointy top to it's head. I've looked in my British Birds book but can't find it there. Better get myself a European birds book!

Culatra boardwalk
On the boardwalk

In the anchorage there have been around 10 boats anchored this week, plenty of room for everyone. We've had good holding in 5m of water in both west and easterly winds gusting up to 35 kts. It gets a bit lumpy in the stronger winds as a short chop builds up but it wasn't uncomfortable, just made the dinghy trip ashore a bit wet. We tied the dinghy up in the fishing harbour, pick anywhere that isn't in anyones way to leave it. It's a bit stinky in there with dead fish floating around and nets piled high on some of the pontoons but it's free and no one bothered us about leaving the dinghy there.

There is also a community of liveaboards in the drying lagoon next to Culatra with around 20 or so catermerans and bilge keelers sitting on the sand. Some have been here so long they've built gardens and enclosed sections of sand to make private areas for themselves.

In Culatra around 600 people live year round, many working as fishermen. There are bars and cafes and a couple of grocery shops with fresh fruit, bread and packaged goods. We failed to find any wifi that we could get connected to so relied on our Portuguese Vodafone data SIM for internet.

fishermen
Fishermen tending their nets
Comments
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
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