After a tiring 24 hour passage, we’re finally on the Algarve.
We had mixed feelings about this part of Portugal. For one, it’s one of the most popular holiday destinations for Brits- never a good sign. Secondly, it’s mid-August, and we assumed that would mean it would be absolutely steaming down here, something we weren’t necessarily looking forward to. On the first point, we were spot on. But, surprisingly, the weather is pretty moderate. It’s warm, yes, but not baking hot, and there’s almost always a fresh breeze which makes everything much more bearable. Our first day in Lagos was actually overcast, and I swear I felt a drop or two of rain. In short, the weather is much the same here as it’s been in the rest of the country so far, perhaps just a few degrees warmer.
Anyway, enough about the weather. Let’s talk about our sail down here! We left Oieras (the marina we were staying at near Lisbon) mid-morning, and John and Sandra soon followed. Needless to say, they zipped past us almost immediately and were soon barely a dot on the horizon. One of the many advantages of having a much larger boat!
In anticipation of a day of down-wind sailing, we had unpacked our trusty Parasailor and left it on the foredeck. Nick had even rigged all its lines. We were ready to get that thing in the air! However, on departing Oeiras, it was questionable whether this was actually the right sail for the job. The wind was a westerly, not a north-westerly as predicted, and blowing quite strongly. How strongly we didn’t know, because our anemometer had packed up. But we decided to launch it anyway and fly it asymmetrically. Well, it was far too windy as it turned out and one of the lines snapped off the bottom corner because it was flogging so violently. Nick was almost lifted off the deck trying to snuff the sail, and by the time we had the sail down and back in it’s bag, he could barely use his arms, they were so tired. It was a valuable lesson for us, and we were foolish to try and put that thing up in those conditions to start with.
Anyway, up went the main and out came the jib, and before long we were cruising along at a constant 7 knots, which is pretty speedy for us. It was a cracking sail, and even though the wind was cool, the sunshine kept us reasonably warm and happy. After a casserole for dinner, we settled into our watch system. I did 10pm- 2am, and Nick did 2am- 6am, and so forth. The stars were out in force, and I spent my time looking for shooting stars. It was a beautiful night. But of course, as soon as I went to bed, I couldn’t sleep- despite having to stop myself from nodding off in the cockpit several times. There’s something incredibly soporific about lying under a blanket, watching the stars shift with the motion of the boat above you, being rocked back and forth like a baby. But, somehow, the movement becomes less comfortable when you go down to your own bed! Something I’m just going to have to get used to, I’m afraid.
So we arrived into Lagos about 9am the next morning. We berthed up quickly and easily, and then Nick and I went straight back to bed. The only one who had gotten any sleep had been Kelly, who reported that she slept surprisingly well despite having never been on a sailing boat before, let alone overnight. I was actually really impressed that she dealt with the passage so well. So, she was bright eyed and bushy tailed as we made our way towards Lagos marina, in considerable contrast to Nick and me.
The next day we all headed into town for a walk. We were underwhelmed. What can I say, obviously Lagos appeals to a vast number of people, because practically everyone there was on holiday. But it’s not for us.
Today we had a job to do. Fix the anemometer, the wind speed indicator, which is located at the top of the mast. Of course it is. So I volunteered to go up and show that thing who’s boss. Let me just tell you, it’s a long way up, but the height wasn’t the worst part. The halyard (the line I was attached to) is connected to the other side of the mast to the anemometer, which meant I had to swing myself around the mast and grip it with my legs to stop myself from swinging back. Boy, my thighs have never had such a workout. And this evening I found an impressive series of bruises along my inner thigh, from holding on so tightly.
So, that done, Kelly and I did one last trip to the large supermarket behind the marina and stocked up on all the important stuff. Wine, beer and spirits were obviously at the top of our list. Then we were ready to rock and roll and off we went down the short river that leads to the Algarve coast. Kelly took the helm, Nick had a beer, and I took some happy snaps. Life is good.