Saturday, June 28, 2014

Summer 2014--The First Installment

23 June
In Alvor:  we left Lagos on Sunday the 22nd and made the none-hour trip to Alvor, a wide bay at the mouth of the Alvor river. We didn't leave until about 6:00, so we arrived around 7:00 and anchored. Max decided he was going to check the anchor, but then decided against it. He swam for a few minutes and then came in. The rest of us--Frank, Frank's golf buddy Rogger who is sailing with us to Gibraltar, and I--decided it was too cold.

Last weekend--before we got our bimini back--it was 35 degrees Celsius (in the 90s Farenheit)--but the weather broke last Monday and the whole week has been unseasonable cool and cloudy. Today there is not much wind for our trip up the coast to Ferraguda. It's only about 5 miles from Alvor, so we were serious when we said we are not rushing things this year!

In Ferraguda we will inflate the dinghy and hopefully find an internet cafe; the three soccer-obssessed men I am currently travelling with are feeling out of the loop. There's not much wind at the moment so we will stay here for a little bit.

24 June
We left Ferraguda at 6:00 to charge the batteries and are heading to Culatra, near Faro. We saw some dolphins early, pretty close to shore, which seemed a bit odd. They were pretty small, so I wonder if they aren't young ones. The sea is quite calm--no waves after some rolling this morning.

28 June
We have pretty decent wind today after two days in Ayamonte, Spain. After Ferraguda the fun really began. We were sailing and when it came time to bring the jiub in it got caught in the wind and didn't furl correctly so we decided we would fix it when we anchored. The problem was that the wind was still strong, which made it very difficult but we were lucky because one of our neighbours from Lagos was also in Culatra and he helped us get the sail under control. The annoying thing was that our spinnaker halyard disappeared up the mast in our efforts to fix the sail, so Max was going to have to go up the mast and get it in the morning. He was ecstatic; he loves going up the mast.

The morning brought all kinds of excitement. Where we had originally anchored was a bit too shallow with the tide, and the anchor roller had come off the night before, so moving was going to be a challenge. David helped us pull up the anchor by hand and we were able to move to a better place. Bringing up the anchor was a bit nerve-wracking because David pulled the chain up and then I had to press the button so the windlass could take up the slack of the chain. I did not like the proximity of his fingers to the chain!

Before we moved, though, Max went up the mast in the bosun's chair for the halyard, but overnight it had worked its way to a spat he couldn't reach, so we let him down and David and Co. winched me up. It's a beautiful view from up there, but it's a little scary. Anyway, I was able to reach the halyard, so there was much rejoicing…

After we got moved, we took the dinghy across to the island of Culatra, where we got the ferry to Olhao, where we looked for boatyard to ask about fixing the anchor roller. No luck, so we decided to head for Ayamonte the next day.

All of this coming and going is complicated by the tides. Culatra is up a river, so you need to go in and out on the rising tide or your fighting the current.

Culatra itself--the tiny village on the island--is beautiful. It's only about 25 houses, I thin, and there are no cars. They do have a primary school, though, and a couple of restaurants, cafes, and a grocery store, but for pretty much everything else the people have to take the ferry to the mainland. They've also got a gorgeous, uncrowded beach there, but the weather for our whole trip so far has been too cool to spend much time at the beach.

Once we got to Ayamonte--home of the chandlery that we've ordered from before--we found the proprietor, John, who advised Frank and Rogger about how to fix the anchor roller. We watched Germany beat the US and Portugal beat Ghana and then headed back to the boat.

Friday was the most productive day yet. Frank and Rogger fixed the anchor roller and installed a crane for the outboard motor. Max and I thoroughly cleaned and organised his cabin. I put the line on our little second anchor.

The schedule here in Spain is weird because nothing except a couple of cafes open before 9 or 10 in the morning and the Spaniards don't eat breakfast before 11, lunch before 2 or 3, and restaurants don't open in the evening until about 8 or 8:30. It amazed me yesterday to realise that it was 5:00 already when I did not think it was later than 2!

Max was thrilled to go into town at 9:00PM to see the bullring, although they don't use it any longer. It was a "Sun Also Rises" moment, although I am not nearly as glamorous or as ruthless as Lady Brett Ashley, I think.

Photographically at least so far, it seems to be the summer of the phone. My camera is too big to fit in the dry bag when we go in the dinghy and I won't take the
risk of it getting wet, but I've also discovered that my charger may be a dud, so I can't charge the battery until I get a new one.

Here is Max about the go up the mast; David is just adjusting his straps.

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