Portimao

30 August – 9 September 2016

 Sines N37° 57.04′  W08° 52.11′  to Portimao N37° 06.51′  W08° 31.71′ 

85nm, 16 hours

Getting to Portimao felt like another milestone on this trip. Not only had we heard much about it from Jon, the Burnham Ferryman, who keeps his boat there but being on the Algarve coast reaching it would mean that we had completed the Atlantic coast and rounded Cabo Sao Vincente. The absence of any ports of refuge between Sines and the cape also meant a passage of about 90nm and some night sailing.

After so many short day hops down the coast this suddenly seemed like serious sailing again and we set about digging out lifelines (1), clips and lifejackets. We were made slightly more anxious by the fact that Faith had encountered fog during their passage a couple of days earlier. When we left at 2.45am however it was pitch dark but clear enough for a sky full of stars and even the milky way. We had deliberately chosen a day with some strong wind to help us on our way but this meant accompanying swell and having run out of seasickness tablets, half the crew was sick. By daylight and 9am he was obviously feeling better because he declared that he was looking forward to the Algarve, a pint of Kronenberg and a chicken vindaloo. Before I had time to feel sick at the thought we were distracted by dolphins!

The sail to Portimao was without doubt the best sail we have had with Pintail on this trip or ever. The strong wind gave us an incredible downwind sail which helped us plough through the swell. As we approached Cabo Sao Vincente the sea state was very definitely moderate. Attempts to capture sea state on film are useless but I did manage to unexpectedly capture a dolphin and this sea bird seemed entirely unfazed by the size of the waves!

The wind kept building until we had up to 30 knots as we passed Lagos and started our approach into Portimao. After such a brilliant day and with the promise of a marina berth in sight we started to get the sails in. The mainsail furled in happily. The genoa stuck and even our newly perfected riding hitch (2) trick did nothing to budge it. Much to the confusion of those watching us on Boatwatch, we turned around and headed away from the harbour entrance to work out a way to fix it. In the middle of not the calmest sea Stefan managed to dismantle the furlex (3) and get the sail in. An hour later than we should have we arrived in Portimao marina and determined not to let that “small” blip eclipse the memory of such a fantastic day on the water.

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We were in Portimao for nearly two weeks and spent a week of that at anchor just inside the harbour wall. Plenty of time for exploring the local area and a bit further afield on our Roadtrip with the Munichingers.

The marina at Portimao is just in between the tourist resort of Praia da Rocha, well named after all the rust coloured rocks and cliffs around.

Praia da Rocha delivered English breakfasts, Irish pubs and something for the morning after!

Much prettier was the fishing village across the river from Portimao. Going out for dinner meant tying the tenders up amongst the tiny fishing boats on the town quay and climbing the ladder up. We were joined by Britt and Erik, a Norweigan couple also anchored nearby.

Before eating we had a wander around the tiny streets at sunset and up to the church at the top of the village.

On our way home we found the streets decorated with ties – we have no idea why!

Our time was filled with very important meetings – here Stefan is discussing the urgent issues of the day with Ursula, Alex and Erik – and trips to the nearby beach where we made a madeshift beach umbrella with a CBRE umbrella and an oar. The water was even warm enough and free of jellyfish enough for me to swim.

We explored the spectacular cliffs

and caves of the coastline in the tender

and by foot.

In a quest to understand a bit more about the fishing industry which has been such a close neighbour on our travels down this coast we visited the Portimao museum.  Situated in an original cannery it gave a brilliant insight into life particularly for the women who worked there. We were just very grateful that it didn’t come with the accompanying smell!

Our last few days in Portimao were marked by some very serious forest fires in the hills above the town in Monchique. The ash clouds were spectacular and the boat was soon covered in it. These fires have been an ever present danger since we arrived in Baiona.

Leaving Portimao meant really saying goodbye to the Faiths. They had decided to stay there for winter, tempted by good winter temperatures, cheap marina prices and a gym. They tried very hard to stay and it was very tempting but we had plans for Spain and a space at Gibraltar booked so the time had come to go our separate ways. We marked the occasion with breakfast at the Irish bar in Praia da Rocha and wished them Merry Christmas and Happy New Year for about the fourth time. We know they will catch up with us in the Mediterranean somewhere….

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Anchored in the River Arade.

Fen-notes

(1)    A stretch of line clipped to both sides of the boat bow to stern to enable us to clip on a move up and down the boat on deck if necessary in the dark or bad conditions

(2)    A knot which enables us to take the tension off the furling line to undo the tangle stopping the sail from furling in

(3)    The casing which contains the furling mechanism for the genoa

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