| ||Monday 07-11 to Tuesday 15-11-2016|
We have by now spent a month in Portimão and more than one month in Lagos and it is high time to travel on.
The last two days we stocked all the supplies, cleaned up a little and calculated the route for leaving Lagos. We fill up water and Fred goes to the harbour office to pay the last bills. The footbridge doesn’t open until 9:00, so we can’t leave before that time. We say goodbye to our neighbours, Brendan and Serena and promise them to stay in touch. We also say goodbye exuberantly to Antoinette and Maarten, who return to the Netherlands for a few weeks. Their boat stays in Lagos and will be occupied by their daughter and her friend.
A little after 9 o’clock we leave Lagos Marina, sent off by our new sailing friends Antoinette and Maarten on the “White Bear”. The neighbours from across, Trevor and Irene wave us goodbye too. The weather is less pretty than the day before, but not too bad. We have a nice north wind and at last can sail away happily (see film clip). There are very few boats around us, you can see that the summer season is over. We see the landscape changing slowly. The jagged high rocks make way for long broad beaches with here and there a little piece of rock. The colour of the rocks changed from brown/yellow to red and the sun glistens on the water. We are in our element!
Because we left rather late, we were a little afraid to arrive in the dark in Faro and so decided to stay over in the harbour of Vilamoura. We don’t, after all, want to arrive after dark ánd try out our new anchor at the same time! We berth at the waiting pier and are directly assisted by two of the harbour personnel, very friendly and utterly helpful.
Fred walks up to the reception and is gone for half an hour. Just when I begin to wonder where he is, he materializes. Heaps and heaps of paper had to be filled out and that for just one night. A dinghy sails along to help us at the berthing place. Super! Not at all what we are used to. Turns out they are competing for the best marina/harbour of Portugal! We can only say that they are doing their utmost. The harbour lies in a bay with round about shops, bars and restaurants. We are going for a pint, now that the sun is still out. A soon as it hides behind a building, it feels chilly. Back to the boat, dinner and a lazy night in front of the tv. Tomorrow on to Faro.
He has to get rid of his superfluous energy, after a day under the saloon table (during the sailing). As soon as he gets the chance, he jumps on the neighbouring boat! Just you wait, you rascal, tomorrow we will be anchored and then the fun is over!
The next day we sail on the engine to Faro Bay.
We want to anchor at Faro before the famous “dream Breaker Island”, a.k.a. Ilha de Culatra. They say about this spot that when you have dropped anchor here, you won’t want to leave. We‘ll see!
The ‘Ria Formosa’ is a national park and is considered one of the most fantastic places on the Algarve. It is a lagoon that consists of a labyrinth of salty marshes, shallows, tidal muds, sand islands and canals, it looks a bit like the Dutch Waddenzee. A series of sandy islands and peninsula’s with low dunes protect the lagoon from the ocean. It is an oasis of quiet, if you don’t count the planes that come and go into Faro Airport. There are a lot of shallows, so watch where you go, is the motto! We plan it thus, that we arrive at low water, but at upcoming tide. Maarten from the “White Bear” tipped us for the best places to anchor. Now, with our new radar, we can see even more around us. We find a nice spot at a proper distance of a couple of boats. There are about 18 boats at anchor in this large area. But we heard it say that in the summer that could be over 100 boats! The anchoring with our new ROCNA anchor goes right first time and not long after that we still can enjoy a little sunshine. Then it gets colder and we hop into the saloon. We are busy making dinner and enjoying the wonderful red sunset, as a WhatsApp from Maarten comes in. “Are you also enjoying the beautiful sunset?” After dinner we get another message: ”We are about 100 metres away from you two!” We look in amazement to the WhatsApp and subsequently on the screen at AIS. Darn, they really are! We get contact through the VHF radio and SSB and it turns out that they sailed here together with their daughter + friend to take the plain to Holland from Faro. They didn’t tell us!!
What did we do this week?
We went to the Ilha de Culatra by dinghy a few times and took a walk around this very special island. On this island you’ll only see a few tractors and sometimes a small car with three wheels. There live about 900 people, mostly fishermen and you can see them at the harbour, busy repairing their fishing nets. Every now and then there arrives a ferry with a few tourists that swarm about the small island or a boat that comes in with supplies for the island. When we have a beer at a little café we see a man drive in a truckload of beers, which, according to him is the “water of the island”. So a lot of boozing going on here! The houses are mostly painted white, with an edge of brightly coloured paint.
Above the doors they hang tiles with saints on them. The sand piles up in between the houses, but some people have achieved to create some sort of little garden. You see a lot of plants in pots, succulent plants and cactuses. There are some restaurants and cafes, mostly occupied by the locals. In one of the by-roads we see a wooden sign with “mini mercado” on it, a supermarket! We follow the signs, zigzagging through the streets, because we want to know what they have in store. We find fresh fruit there and a pot with red sauce for spaghetti! Not much later we find the second mini mercado the island has. When you wander straight through the village, over the concrete boards they call the “main road”, you suddenly hit on a pole with all kinds of road signs. To a cash dispenser, a first-aid post and even a library, which we haven’t found, by the way. There is a primary school, a day-nursery and a community centre on the island. Walking along, you see the road changing to wooden plank bridges, winding over the shallows and ending on the deserted beach. It is a beautiful natural area and we hear all kinds of - to us - unknown birdsong. Close to the beach there is a small wooden house with WC written on it, but the door is firmly closed, with a padlock. I say jokingly to Fred:” For the key you have to report to the harbour”. You wouldn’t want to be in the situation that you gotta go now….
The islanders are a wee bit surly and reserved, they don’t always greet you first, but when you say “bon dia”, you always get a hello back. We lunch at a restaurant “A Taska” and have a chat with the owner, who comes from Lisbon and has bought this restaurant a year ago. He recommends us “Cataplana”, a real Portuguese fish dish for two. We have to be patient though, but it is worth the wait. And there it comes: a Cataplan-pan ( sort of a wok, with a lid), filled with “fruit of the sea”(Fruits de Mer), like whitebait, cockles, oysters, lobster, shrimps, paprika, onions, potatoes, broth, tomato puree, wine and herbs and spices. We get a side dish of fries, and toast that is poured richly over with olive oil. Nice wine to go with it, enjoying us doubly! We tell the owner we are at anchor here and are exploring the world. For dessert we have one chocolate mousse together and the owner pours us a tasty liquor. He says goodbye cordially, wishes us a safe journey and hopes we will come back some day.
We also go to Olhao once with the dinghy, to supplement our stocks at the supermarket there. Unfortunately it lies in an industrial area, close to the Doca de Pesco, so we see very little of the town. To be able to berth, we have to wriggle in between the other boats to get ashore. We walk along all kinds of dusty streets and tiled houses over the area to the supermarket. It is high time for a bite. We find, close to the harbour a, at first sight, very simple small eatery, where we sit outside, almost on the road. Later on it turns out to be a very popular restaurant with both locals and tourists. A friendly waiter provides us with a good and decent meal, Fred has beans and pork and I have fries and beef. We both have a drink to go with it and all that for less than € 9,00!! Now that are nice prices!
The rest of the week we stay on board.
We make two windscreens of a sort of PVC cloth, which we span along the railing at the sides of the cockpit. This keeps the rain and - partly - the wind out, so that we are better sheltered.
Because the last days are rather cloudy, the batteries don’t charge up to 100%. We start the generator as support. There is quite some wind the past few days, force 5, a good test case for our new anchor. We lie here at a 30 metres chain, solid and sound! We are very happy with our new anchor. The French have a habit of getting in the way and berthing close to you with their boat and when it’s blowing hard, like now, that is not a very comforting idea. We see one of the boats shifting slowly. At first we think there is no one on board, but then somebody appears on deck. Some moments later we see them anchor anew. These Frenchies are crazy!
At the end of the week the “White Bear” (with the children) is back in the lagoon. Maarten calls us from Holland. He was a bit worried, because we were there already for one week and he hadn’t heard from us. We reassure him and tell him that we will be leaving Wednesday for Morocco, when the wind has decreased. We appreciated it very much that he called us!
We check the oil and the coolant and fill up.
Stocklist touched up and printed.
The route, to come to and alongside the coast of Morocco, planned and checked. Gathered information and printed.
We do a few chores and Fred takes up a little work.
Finally the grab-bag and the SOS-watertight barrel are checked and filled up. For the laymen: this is a bag, filled with all the necessities in case we suddenly have to abandon ship.
On the 14th November there is a super full moon and we can enjoy it extensively. The sky is clear and the moon gigantic! This phenomenon only comes once every so - and so - many years and according to NASA the next one will be in 2034. How lucky we are that we can see this, in Holland it is so cloudy that they have to miss this over there.
Wednesday 16 November 2016 we will leave in the course of the afternoon, for Morocco. Exciting, a new continent with a completely different culture. There are so much prejudices about Moroccans in our country that I very much want to experience how the people are and how their culture is in their own country. We go there with an ‘open mind’. Morocco here we come!