Lagos, Algarve

Mike and Liz Downing
Thu 18 Sep 2008 16:28
We've turned the 3rd corner! - round Cape St Vincent at the bottom of Portugal to take us to the Algarve. As it says in the pilot book, rounding Cap St Vincent (Cabo de Sao Vicente) is a significant milestone on any voyage south. We have now achieved our first 2 objectives - the first and primary objective, to get somewhere warm. So far we've had blue skies and temperatures around 25c - that will do for starters! The second objective was to get to the Algarve where Jonathan could come out to see us and where we are away from the influence of the Atlantic autumn gales that hit the UK. If we were further north these gales could delay/prevent our next step south.

We arrived here, Lagos, on Monday afternoon. We'd taken 24 hours to sail from Cascais, a total of 132 miles and another overnighter. This one is not so bad for sailing over night as the trip to Cascais as the coast is more remote and there are a lot less fishermen and pot buoys to dodge. The sail down the west coast of Portugal wasn't the best we've had, the wind was Force 5 - 6, with gusts to F7, but that wasn't the problem, it was the seas - very lumpy, 2 to 3 metre swells with quite regular rogue waves causing the boat to corkscrew quite violently at times. It meant moving around was difficult and everything that could rattle did, but at least we sailed and with the wind behind us for a change. We also had the benefit of the full moon throughout the whole night which makes a huge difference. It was like having floodlights and for a period we were literally sailing down a moon beam. Once around Cape St Vincent the seas started to drop in the lee of the land and after an hour or so the swell disappeared - what a difference a flat sea makes! On the passage we encountered a number of big ships and started calling them up to check their intentions (after one had come a bit too close). This worked remarkably well with all ships responding and changing directions when requested - even a tanker that was just under 1000ft long. (Michael puts on his most official sounding voice when calling and it seems to work!) As we approached Lagos we had some common dolphins bow-riding for 10 minutes. We never tire of dolphins and Liz is always the first to get to the bow with the camera. We motored into Lagos (pronounced Lar-gosh) and settled into the marina.

It's a lovely place and the marina is one of the best we have found. Being about 0.7 of a mile up a channel away from the sea, there is no movement inside, so we don't have to worry about leaving the boat for any time. We will be here for 3 weeks as Jonathan is coming out to see us at the end of September and we have some maintenance to do. We made a list yesterday and stopped when we got to 66, deciding that would probably keep us busy enough! The next trip will be to Porto Santo/Madeira which is a 3 to 4 day passage out into the Atlantic, so now is an ideal time to get those necessary jobs done.

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