12 Sept – A week in the Algarve


September 12th, 2017


North Atlantic 2017 – 2019, Portugal

Written by

Richard Farrington

No comments
By Richard. Posted on September 12th, 2017 in North Atlantic 2017 – 2019, Portugal.


37:06.6N  008:31.4W

We stayed at anchor at Alvor until the Spring tides meant that low tide was a bit too low for us.  We moved a few miles east to the outer harbour at Portimao where we came across our Irish friends in Celtic Spirit.

Thursday was Gosport Book Club day.  Our friend Rachel Dunn has an apartment nearby in the Algarve so a select group have formed the Portugal Chapter (see what I did there…?) and came aboard for a busy day discussing all that is up and coming in the world of
letters.  Well, that’s what I thought Book Clubs were all about but now I’ve been let into a huge secret!  There wasn’t much wind, sadly, so we motored east along the coast inspecting the caves, cliffs and beaches along the way.

What’s our ‘air draft’, Navs?

I’ve been in smaller cathedrals than this…

We anchored and put a landing party ashore in the surf onto one of those beaches you can only reach by boat (plenty of ‘grockle’ boats, mind) had a look in some spectacular caves and grottos and a couple of less committed bookworms even went for a swim… but
actually it was quite rough at anchor so we headed west to Alvor for afternoon tea (with lunch on the way).  Great to catch up on the news from home and Julie and I really enjoyed the banter and gossip!

Not a book (or a glass of wine) in sight…

We woke early on Friday morning when the automatic bilge pump kicked in twice in four hours (once a fortnight is par for the course).  A full blanket search revealed that the engine bilges were full and there was a pin hole in the salt water cooling pipe from
the gearbox to the pump.  Shutting the seacock and pumping the bilges removed the water from the People Tank so I set about effecting a repair after breakfast.  The main section of pipe is copper with rubber connections at either end and an hour later the
offending piece of metalwork was in the rubber boat going up harbour to find a chap to make a new one.  Unfortunately it was a Bank Holiday on that side of the rive in Portimao, so we had to get across to Lagos to the big repair yard at Sopramar.  We had a
hire car booked for later in the day to collect Julie’s Mother Anne and sister Susan, so once the office reopened after lunch (3pm) we attempted an early start.  Things were looking up when they responded with an upgrade and we shot off in a smart BMW affair
to see if our luck could hold.  My new friend Uriel at Sopramar found the last remaining gasket on his shelf for the water pump, but the conversation with the Perkins agents in Lisbon did not go quite so well.  They were keen to sell me a fuel pipe, not a
water pipe, but I came away with a length of extra strong toilet hose which ought to provide a temporary solution – after all, it’s on the ‘supply’ side of the engine so doesn’t get especially hot… Uriel rang as we headed towards Faro airport with better news
on pipes, but we will have to wait until Wednesday for the horse and cart to come over the mountains from Lisbon carrying a new pipe… in the meantime, we’ll fit the toilet hose and monitor closely.

Granny and Susan arrived in good order (bringing Red Cross parcels containing Earl Grey teabags and Caribbean charts) and we managed dinner onboard before taking Anne to her hotel room (which overlooked the boat, now in the marina at Portimao).  By mid-morning
on Saturday, the engine repairs were complete and a successful basin trial conducted, so off we all went.  No shortage of wind this time – a steady 25 knots from the north west with gusts up to 35 knots gave the boat a good work out and Granny and Susan had
a chance to check that Julie and I were reasonably competent!

Checking out the golf courses in a near gale!

Susan, Ann and Julie at Alvor

We anchored in Alvor for a late (light) lunch on a rising tide watching the kite surfers getting airborne and then screamed back to Portimao in order to go out to dinner  in the Casa do Rio restaurant where we’d been with Nick and Beverly the week before –
overlooking the anchorage we’d been in just a few hours earlier. I nearly came to blows with some bumptious little lobster-red Brit who was just behind us waiting for our table and couldn’t wait his turn, but fortunately he backed down before I told him that
his brassy wife looked older than my Mother in Law…

Sunday promised lighter winds so we headed west to Ponta de Piedade, just south of Lagos, to anchor for lunch and explore the caves and cliffs there.  They really are brilliant and I think that short stretch around the headland is probably the best section
of the whole coastline.  I wonder how different the local geology is, to have produced the headland and then turned it into such an intricate honeycomb of cliffs, stacks, caves, blow holes and hidden sandy beaches?  Must dig out my Physical Geography textbook
from school…

Typical rock formations off Lagos

There is a steady stream of tourists in a variety of craft, mostly well handled by the local boatmen, but I think that kayaking must be the best of the options on offer to explore this little wonderland.  Sunday evening was designated as Julie’s BIRTHDAY (actually
it was Monday but Susan was flying home on Monday morning) so we returned to the marina at Portimao for an Escapade Seafood Risotto with a guest appearance from some razor clams on deck on a gloriously warm evening with a gentle breeze and a first outing for
the Christmas fairy lights!

On Monday the Birthday girl enjoyed breakfast in the hotel and some serious chilling by the pool whilst Susan and I headed to Faro airport.  On my return we headed off in the car round the top of the harbour to the fishing village of Ferragudo where we destroyed
a fine Red Snapper in a waterfront restaurant looking across the harbour towards Escapade, sitting patiently in the Marina.  In the evening, we stepped ashore to the hotel bar on the waterside, where we watched the sunset and listened to jazz with the help
of a couple of cocktails.  Tough life, but nothing less than Julie deserves for putting up with Mr Grumpy!

Today we took Granny to the airport first thing, stopped off at a vast Anglophile retail park near Albufeira on the way back to the boat and then spent the rest of the day doing chores.  Tonight we are at anchor in the outer harbour at Portimao listening to
Ella Fitzgerald and polishing off the last of the risotto. Tomorrow (God Willing) the horse and cart from Lisbon will arrive with a water pipe (not a fuel pipe) and we can head east towards Spain and Gibraltar!

Ferragudo in the evening sun