18 August - Punta Umbria 37 12.04N 06 58.24W
After two nights in Lagos (Lagosh) it was time to move on once again; our water tanks were filled up, the fridge and freezer were replenished (courtesy of a "Spar" supermarket) and the fuel tanks were topped off at the Marina fuel station (€1.41/litre).
Plan A was to anchor outside the river entrance on 15 August before moving on early the following morning. However, as evening approached the swell was encouraging ALKIRA to roll and a last-minute decision was made to move on to Portamao, 10 miles up the coast. We arrived just before dusk where we joined a large contingent of international yachts anchored off the main channel inside the breakwater.
We sat down to a late dinner congratulating ourselves on a good move as this anchorage was very calm and we were looking forward to a peaceful night. At midnight an open-air disco on the oposite waterfront started up and continued at full volume until five o'clock in the morning, by which time we were truly desperate for some sleep. Not for the first time we found a beautiful anchorage ruined by loud "music.".
16 August - We sailed the following morning bound for a series of creaks lying to seaward of Faro and protected by an off-line shingle bank - somewhat like Hurst Beach and enclosing a vast area of land water with numerous anchorages. We found a pleasant spot off the fishing town of Olhao and spent a comfortable night surrounded by another international fleet of some 50 yachts. The creek system is shallow, as Charlie found out the following morning after trying to leave by the eastern entrance. As we were heading for Ayamonte on the Spanish/Portuguese border, which is also a port with a shallow entrance, we were obliged to turn back and leave by the main western entrance. There followed a pleasant motor sail in calm seas and a light wind before arriving at Ayamonte, just in time for lunch. We found more water than charted and made our way in with a comfortable 2m under the keel UKC.
Exploring ashore at lunchtime revealed a pleasant and fairly pretty non-touristic town with narrow winding streets and attractive buildings, squares and streets. Following a good plate of tapas and cold beer we returned to the boat well satisfied.
17 August - we left early, on foot, bound for the bus station having decided to visit Seville some 2 1/2 hours distant by road. We were warned it would be hot and decided against taking ALKIRA up the river to Seville on this basis.
Seville was, sadly, a disappointment. A city with a struggling economy is very much evident with many closed shops and vacant lots, graffiti and rundown public amenities. The highlight was the old government buildings comprising the Plaza D'Espanol - a truly splendid sight, beautifully designed and built in the last century.
We arrived back in Ayamonte shortly after 10 o'clock tired and footsore. To our amazement we found the waterfront plaza in full swing with a vibrant crowd of families and young people out enjoying themselves, seeing more people here than we had seen in the whole of Seville - we kid you not! With no hint of trouble or aggravation and no loud music! We found an excellent pizza restaurant, where they were still queuing for tables at 11pm, enjoyed a pizza washed down with a brave young bottle of Merlot before enjoying a further brief wander around to savour the wonderful vibrant family atmosphere together with a late night market (midnight) before heading back to the boat and bed!
Back on board, we enjoyed a quiet night and slept well!
18 August - A leisurely start this morning as we had to wait for the tide but then had a pleasant motor sail eastwards to Punta Umbria. The vista as we approached was not encouraging with an oil refinery and associated port industries of nearby Huelva very much in evidence. However having negotiated the tortuous and extremely shallow entrance (minimum UKC of 0.3 m this time some 2 hours after HW) we found ourselves in a very fast flowing river with a pleasant town on the west bank and with the industrial hinterland hidden by sandbanks and Islands to the east. There is a huge fishing and trawling fleet here. We passed three marinas, two private and one public before leaving the moorings and busy river behind us to anchor in a peaceful stretch, very reminiscent of a deserted Newtown on the Isle of Wight with farm land and derelict farm buildings on the adjacent shore. We found a spot out on the main current some 30 m from the west shore where waders and various seabirds are going about their business. It all looks quite promising for a peaceful night thus far!