Emerald Tales

Currently sailing the eastern Atlantic visiting Maderia, the Canary Islands and the Azores

13 July 2024 | Santa Maria, Azores
22 March 2024 | Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
01 March 2024 | Porto Santo
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

To our winter home - Portimao to Lagos; 6nm travelled

01 November 2013 | Lagos, Portugal
Nichola / sunshine all week
A Thames barge (least we think it is) a long way from home in Portimao

Monday 28th October
We were expecting a short, easy trip for the 6nm from Portimao to Lagos but the weather had a sting in it's tail. We up-anchored on a windless morning and motored out into Lagos Bay. As we passed the entrance to Alvor the wind increased a little, nothing more than F3. Then suddenly it was F5 from the north, then a steady F6. The sea chopped up and we had a few waves spray salt over us and our speed dropped. We only had 2.5nm to go, if the wind had come 30 mins later we'd have been in.

Once into the harbour entrance the wind eased as we got into the shelter. We got checked in, requested a bridge lift and motored on through to the marina when the wind was much lighter. The first berth we were given turned out to be a bit small - the finger pontoon was narrow and wobbly and ended about 2/3 of the way down Emerald's hull and we couldn't get her pulled in very securely. A strong wind from the south-west could have hefalump-Em pulling the pontoon away. We were also sticking out a bit into the fairway behind.

We called up the office to see if we could go round the other side where the fingers were longer and wider; a space was available so we moved around. This berth feels much more secure and we have a wide finger pontoon next to us which helps for getting heavy stuff on and off the boat as we can get the trolleys up to the side.

A quick walk around the town before settling down for the first night in our winter home.

Now begins the winter boat jobs! There are the regular jobs such as engine sevicing, cleaning and protecting the boat and canvas. A few areas of mould have appeared on the internal headlining but nothing like as bad as the growth we had in the UK. They'll be cleaned and then we'll paint the headlining to freshen it up (I'd love to replace all the headlining but that's a job for another year). Then a few little repairs to make, such as to the Coelan along the toerail. More major jobs are:
1. The fridge - it hasn't been working properly for most of this year. Having searched on the internet for boats with the same problem we're thinking it's the insulation that has gone. We could build a new inner layer of insulation into the existing fridge space but really we should remove all the old stuff and replace it. This would be the doing it properly way but it won't be easy as access is a mare. We had some insulation left over from another job last year which we've brought with us, but we'll most likely need more and some thin plastic panels to make a new inner box.
2. Sunshades and dinghy chaps - I'll be busy on the sewing machine making sun covers for the dinghy (they call them chaps, I think like what cowboys wear) and shades to try and keep the boat as cool as possible.
3. The arch - Colin is going to price up the building of a stainless steel arch to go over the back deck, the solar panels that are on the rails along the guardwires will then go on it. If we think we can afford it then we'll build it.
4. Finish plumbing and wiring in the watermaker, ready for commissioning next spring.
5. Finish building and installing the solar water heater. This will go in the middle of the bimini where we currently have a solar panel. If we have an arch the solar panel will move to there, otherwise it will sit above the dinghy davits.
6. All our porthole seals have perished, we can't open some of them without black rubbery lumps flying off everywhere. Some of ports we can't even open as the seals have melted shut.
7. Replace the engine starter battery and upgrade the wiring.
8. Painting the deck if we still have any time left after all the above.

And amongst all that we're going to have some fun :-)

Albufeira to Portimao; 16nm travelled

27 October 2013 | Portimao, Portugal
Nichola / welcome back to sun
Thunder clouds were brewing out at sea all day

Saturday 26th October
With the welcome return of the sun ww left Albufeira for a short trip to Portimao. There wasn't enough wind to sail but we did put the main up to give it a dry after the rain of the last few days and to conteract the swell.

This was our first trip for a long time heading into swell and my stomach wasn't too happy. At least it was a short trip and we were close inshore so I could distract myself a bit with looking at the scenery and playing 'guess which is Cliff's villa'.

It was also interesting watching the thunder clouds brewing out to sea. 3 or 4 were bubbling up along a thermal line, luckily heading east rather than north.

Only 5 boats in the anchorage at Portimao, maybe the swell had put most others off. We decided to slog it out and as the evening went on it began to die down.

Ilha Culatra to Albufeira; 25nm travelled

26 October 2013 | Albufeira, Portugal
Nichola / rain, thunder
Albufeira marina, or Legoland

Monday 21st October
We took the ebb tide out from Culatra, leaving around 2 hours before low water. Once the anchor was up we were soon being taken by the tide down towards the exit. Following the leading lines gave us at least 2m under the keel at all times. When we turned south towards the exit the tide increased a little with a few swirls of unsettled water but nothing bad and a short stretch of chop at the exit as the incoming swell met the outgoing tide.

There wasn't much wind so we motored on, the wind was just increasing as we arrived at Albufeira and tied up to the reception pontoon. A bit of faff getting a berth; we decided to go and check the one being given having been warned that the spaces were quite tight. Lucky we did as there was a boat in it with their dinghy tied on the side blocking the space next to them too. If we'd come straight here with Emerald we'd have been stuck with so little room to turn in a boat that just doesn't do tight spaces.

So a new berth, we went to check this one first too but it was better than the first with more roomfor manoeuvre. However when we tried to make the turn into the finger berth we couldn't get the bow around; our friend Rene appeared and after a bit of rubbish line throwing from me, we got a bow line to him to give us a pull around so we could then motor forward.

Monday to Friday 25th October
The weather has gone a little down hill with a few days of rain, some thunder and a bit of stronger wind, although there has been dryer spells where we've been able to get out and explore the town.

Albufeira is the most popular resort in the Algarve so we weren't sure what to expect. The marina is surrounded by 'Legoland', apartment blocks in different pastel shades; they're certainly colourful! Beyond them the effects of the slump can be seen with rows of unfinished building work lining the hillside. There are lots of empty shop units lining the marina as well as a handful of bars and cafes, the rain not really helping business at the moment.

It's a 15 minute walk into the town past traditional Portuguese cottages then along a walkway high above the sea. Seating areas and viewing platforms dot the route and bars and restaurants take over from houses the nearer to town you get. The buildings are all low rise with most of the package holiday hotels outside the town. There are plenty of Brits (and other nationalities) here but out of the main season the place isn't too crowded. There are plenty of tourist tat shops lining the cobbled pedestrian streets through the town, more restaurants and rows of bars blasting out music. The old town is a complete contrast with narrow winding roads between older houses and free from tourist trappings.

old town
Old town streets

In between the rain we had a good walk along the beach heading east towards Praia da Oura. The beach ends at a rocky bluff with footpaths leading over it to some interesting rock formations - arches, blowholes and overhangs. The path gets narrow in places and there are points where there is only a thin bridge of rock underneath your feet, with the sea doing its best to wear that away too.

beach walk
Walk to Praia da Oura

We had a night out with friends starting with good, straight forward food, €10.50 for the tourist menu of soup, main and pudding with half a bottle of wine and coffee. Colin got a huge portion of creme brulee! Then we checked out the bars looking for some music and found a street lined with bars with lots of people sat outside listening to an Irish guy playing acoustic guitar and singing using a wireless mike so he could wander around us all. We managed to find some seats and were well entertained, he really knew how to work the crowd and seemed to enjoy what he was doing even though he does it night after night.

Cliff road
The Portuguese name a lot of their streets after people - this one made me giggle (he has a villa near here).

More Culatra

25 October 2013 | Ilha Culatra, Portugal
Nichola / sun, rain, thunder
Emerald anchored in the lagoon beyond the small boat harbour

More Culatra - Sunday 20th October
Until recently Culatra didn't have many facilities; in the last few years there has been some investment with the building of the fishing boat harbour, water supplies and community facilities such as a library and an astro turf football pitch. Unfortunately when building the harbour they didn't think of providing somewhere to tie up dinghies so we left it tied to the bridge down to the pontoon even though there was a no parking sign.

Saturday was wet with thunder and a moderate south westerly that built up a small chop, enough to prevent us getting ashore to listen to some Fado music that evening. Well we could have gone but would have been soaked by the time we got there. Sunday was back to warm and sunny and as we'd walked along the beach to the town of Farol at the far end of the island on Friday we had a longer wander around Culatra town in the sun.

Culatra dunes
Tide in along the boardwalk to the beach

We headed out to the lagoon next to the town where around 20 boats were moored, mostly cats and those able to take the ground as the lagoon dries. We assume they winter here or even spend the whole year here. When the tide comes in it spills over into the creeks and gullies coming right up to the sand dunes that back the ocean side of the island.

Culatra church
Culatra church

As we passed the little church we heard some beautiful singing coming through the open doors. It being the weekend there were plenty of locals out in the bars or strolling the paths. Most people we met were friendly and traded smiles and 'boa tardes' but there were times when we passed groups of people that we felt like we'd wandered into the outdoors equivalent of The Slaughtered Lamb and were waiting for someone to tell us not to stray off the path!

Ilha Culatra

19 October 2013 | Ilha Culatra, Portugal
Nichola / dry, cloudy
Culatra's lovely old tractors

Friday 18th October - Ilha Culatra
There are no cars on this island made of sand, instead a mottley collection of old tractors (I have so many photos to add to my tractor porn collection) help move boats around and deliver goods to the bars and restaurants when the ferry brings in supplies. Outside the school the mode of transport was obviously bikes and we saw a couple of Piaggio Ape three wheeler vans that just about fit on the narrow paved walkways. I wonder if one would fit on the back deck?

school bikes
No need for bike sheds at this school

The village of Culatra is a maze of low level cottages with flagstone paths winding around them. A handful of bars and cafes service the locals and tourists who come in on the ferries. Many houses have managed to eke out a garden in the sand with old fishing nets used as fences and flotsam and jetsam for decoration.

Sand garden
Sand garden

From the village a boardwalk heads south across the dunes to the beach, crossing creeks where the sea finds a way in at high tide. It was a warm day but not many people were taking advantage of the sands. We could see to the east the lagoon where the multihulls and boats able to take the ground make their home and we've just heard that some boats spend the winter out at anchor where we are.

We did think about spending the winter somewhere like this or maybe up the Guadiana but dismissed it. We would save lots of money but we're ready for some marina life where we can get some urgent jobs done in ease, have a social life and go exploring and not have to worry about leaving the boat when we visit home.

Culatra street
Culatra street

The anchorage is not quite as peaceful as we'd expected what with the planes from Faro passing right overhead and the occasional fishing boat wizzing by playing at slalom between the anchored boats or how-close-can-we-go-to-a-boat-without-hitting-it even though there are acres of space. Being rolled awake at 6am is not as fun as it sounds. But it's not so bad; there weren't as many planes today as yesterday and I'm filtering them out already just like I did when I lived near Gatwick. There is loads of space to anchor and the holding seems good so far. And who are we to complain about the fishermen trying to make a living in the place where they live, we are just temporary visitors after all. But it would be nice if they showed us a teeny bit of consideration.
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/