We managed to get a really good deal on a liftout in Albufeira, so we sailed along the beautiful Algarve coastline, stopping for a couple of days at anchor in Portimao on the way. Sun shining, shorts on and slip slap slop at last. The staff at Albufeira Marina were superb, luckily for us they spoke very good English and we got a discount as we are doing the ARC. All the staff and fellow boaters in the marina were so helpful and friendly, so we enjoyed our couple of days tied to a pontoon despite this being our first marina berth since Beaucette in Guernsey a few weeks ago. Joy was lifted very carefully, only just fitting into their 70 tonne travel hoist. A couple of hours later and with a hired pressure washer, Joy was sporting a clean bottom and she was gently lowered back in.
The next day we waved goodbye to Albufeira and with a hop skip and jump, or the nautical equivalent, Joy slid through the water with ease, achieving at least an extra knot and a half of speed. Smiles all round.
We anchored for a couple of days in a beautiful little spot back up the coast towards Portimao where we were sheltered by surrounding cliffs. The first night we arrived we had a strange noise suddenly appear that sounded like fire crackling. It was echoing through the hull and as we frantically hunted in the bilges, engine room, cupboards, we came to the conclusion amongst the mess of lifted floor boards that we didn’t have a raging fire in the boat, it must be something echoing through our steel hull. This is where Google comes in handy, a quick question “ What’s that crackling noise I can hear through my boat?” soon revealed we had shrimps popping bubbles in their big claw! We then had visions of angry fisherman arriving in the morning, perhaps we may have anchored among their shrimp nets. Anyway, no fisherman came near for the next two days, as we sunbathed and fished (nothing caught) and the crackling noises continued pretty much day and night. I managed to get some dorade vent covers sanded down, all the old varnish removed so that they look a bit tidier ready for our arrival in Vilamoura to collect Jez’s parents who are coming to stay for a few days.
We part motored, part sailed the 15 miles or so to Vilamoura on Sunday 23rd June, scorchio hot again (sorry you guys in UK). We arrived at 2pm and spent quite a while in the marina office checking in, not as friendly and efficient as Albufeira and double the price! We made the most of our berth by using every electrical appliance on board to get our moneys worth, as the washing machine went wild we topped up our water tanks and gave Joy a wash down. It’s even hotter in this concrete jungle, and a late afternoon/early evening trip around the shops and stock up at the supermarket left me sunburnt, well my feet anyway. My feet were actually blistered all across the top, the sun is so fierce and my feet must have been so white. Jez’s parents arrived that evening and we indulged in a meal out at a superb buzzing restaurant just outside the marina away from the tourists.
The following day we motored on eastwards heading for our planned anchorage inside the Faro/Olhao lagoon and as we approached at HW-2 the waves were crashing against the outer breakwaters and the water in the entrance was literally alive and bubbling as the waves hit the sand bar across the entrance and went into shallow water. We watched our speed through the water increase from 6 knots to over 11 as the incoming tide carried us through, brilliant fun.
We anchored by Ilha da Culatra and went ashore to explore. This is a very quaint island, no roads or cars, just tractors bringing supplies up from the beach. A path winds its way through the sand and individual houses onto a board walk which takes you across the sand dunes and water inlets over to the Atlantic beach. Red flag flying and only brave surfers in the crashing waves, the noise was incredible.
The following day was Jez’s birthday. We made our way back out to the Atlantic to get a few hours sailing in before returning for a meal out in the evening. Our exit through the breakwaters was once more exciting, the tide was going out and taking us with it but the Atlantic rollers were still crashing in against the entrance making it a very confused and angry sea. With a shout from the Captain for everyone to hold on tight, Joy pushed her way through the waves with ease and we couldn’t believe how well she handled it, good old lady. She is such a strong little ship, we are so proud of her.
We managed to get a few hours sailing in, but unfortunately with a rolly sea and dying winds we calculated our entrance back through the breakwaters could be done a little earlier than advised. We knew we had plenty of water over the bar at about 2pm so headed back by motor, another interesting entrance but not at such high speeds as the previous day.
Once back in our anchorage, we took the dingy about 20 minutes back up towards the entrance later that afternoon to explore the other end of this sand dune island, Farol. A bit more of a touristy venue as the beach is not so far across the dunes, and it has a fantastic bar on the beach. We enjoyed a birthday meal of local fish, and when we arrived back at our dinghy later that evening, the tide was racing out with great force and our dinghy was pinned against the floating pontoon. Jez manhandled the boat to a position where he could hold on to the pontoon whilst we all hesitantly clambered down, once in we had a job to get the dinghy away from the pontoon, and as the water started to rush over the side of the boat Jez opened the throttle and we made our getaway. The currents are so strong here, but with a 15hp engine we had no trouble punching against it back to the mother ship.
We explored the Island once more the following day, at low tide all the sand islands appear and the locals all go out to collect shellfish to sell to the local restaurants. It looks strange seeing people ‘walking on water’ in shallows alongside the channel where we are anchored. It seems that the women do the back breaking digging and collecting, the men ferry them to and fro in their little fishing boats. The view constantly changes with the tide, lots of wading birds can be seen and heard and we even saw quite a few storks here. Thursday was time for Jane and Geoff to return home, so we caught the local ferry from Culatra to Olhao for a last meal together before their flight later that evening, and we caught the last ferry back at 7.30pm. A great few days of chilling, exploring, and tending to sun burn which we all had in different places!
The wind is unfortunately not in our favour for continuing to Gibraltar, easterlies with a swell in the same direction so we aren’t going to bash against it, but what a beautiful and peaceful place to be stuck! 29 degrees according to the local forecast. We have therefore spent the last couple of days taking off various shrouds (the wires that hold the main mast and mizzen up!) so that we can sand down and repaint the chain plates that they secure to, they were so desperate for some TLC. We have also taken the Genoa sail down to do some various repairs to it, we are waiting for the sun to go down now before we continue as it’s so hot today with no wind. AAhhhh I could get used to this!! Oh, and Jez has just caught his first fish since we left home!! It took a bit of googling to find out it was a Needlefish and quite edible, it’s got a long needle like beak with little razor teeth inside, very strange looking and apparently it has green bones!
Adeus meus amigos!