MOD 70s and getting to Portimåo

Mon 17 Sep 2012 10:49
37:06.85n 08:31.39w

Firstly, I am losing faith in human nature. How can there be so many unbelieving skeptics out there? So, to end all disputes over the matter, here is a picture of tuna number one, actually on the line:

Do you see his colouring? Do you see the splatters on the cockpit locker from where he's struggling? Does that look like a long-dead-from-the-market tuna to you? I don't think so!

Having cleared up that little matter, I return to the important stuff: the day to day trivia of our lives on board! 

The day before we left Cascais we woke to a splendid sight with the sunrise. Huge trimarans, (MOD 70s, that's Multi (hull)  One Design 70, they're about 21m long and 17m wide, the 70 is because they are 70 feet high) came sailing in with the sunrise. 

It was the end of one leg of a European race, they'd just come 1215 miles from Dublin, in one go, at speeds of over 30 knots. There were 5 in the race and, amazingly, they all arrived with an hour of each other. We had a grandstand view sitting in our cockpit as we were on the outside of the anchorage and there was nothing between us and them. In the afternoon we got an even better view as the Omani team came out to do some exercises: going in circles around the red buoy you see in the pic above, tacking and gybing round, then going a little further out to do some sail changes.

On our way down the coast the dolphins we saw didn't hang around; a few came and played for a short while at the bow, but mostly they just came alongside for a minute then scooted off in a purposeful manner. They were busy. After a while we found out why. A mass of sea birds, mostly gannets, where gathered on the water and streaking down from the sky, with explosive splashes where they entered the sea. All around we could see dolphins streaking in. There was a bait ball, a big school of fish, probably sardines, that the dolphins had herded up towards the surface and the sea birds were helping themselves to. It was hard to photograph from the boat, and we didn't want to disturb things by coming in too close, but in this shot you can see the concentration of activity, along with a dolphin in the left foreground.

Once around Cabo de Sao Vicente we could see why the Algarve is such a popular holiday destination. Red and gold cliffs, carved by the sea into arches and pillars and canyons, line the shore, interspersed by gorgeous sandy beaches.

We were pleased to get to Lagos, it was an easy entrance with a wide channel taking you up the river past the apartment buildings and beaches, to the marina. The anchorage outside isn't sheltered for the Easterly wind we had just then, so we were heading in. There's always a certain amount of trepidation coming into a new marina: will it be obvious where to go? Will there be room to moor? If not, will there be room to turn around and get back out again!? But the reception pontoon was roomy and and empty, easy to jump down to, just before a lifting pedestrian bridge so all was fine. The lady in the office was friendly; we got the form filling over quickly and she directed us to a berth. However, when we got there we found that the pontoon finger was ridiculously small for us, less than half our length, so we manoeuvred into a nearby larger one and set off on the trek right round the outside of the Marina back to the office, It must have been at least half a mile, and we noticed the toilets and showers where a good quarter of a mile from where they'd put us. They weren't exactly apologetic in the office when we explained, but they weren't unfriendly either, and directed us to a hammerhead, on the end of a pontoon. As we walked back to the boat we checked it out: it was the pontoon deepest into the marina, it would be quite hard to get into and was very shallow should we get there, and, what's more, there was a boat on it already. Back to the office again. This time they were almost rude. No apology, just complaining that the boat shouldn't have been there, they hadn't been told. We were left just standing there. At which point, we started to ask ourselves why we were coming in this hot, unhelpful marina anyway. 

What we'd seen as we walked had quite put us off: loads and loads of British and Irish out of season holiday makers in bars and cafes all around the marina, which advertised 'Happy Hours' and 'Roast Lamb with mint sauce'. OK, I admit, that did sound rather attractive after a diet of mostly squirmy sea food and sardines, interspersed by amazingly delicious and beautifully caught tuna, of course. Don't get me wrong, I like the sea food, it's great, but a good British roast would have made a nice change. However, it was the atmosphere of the ones advertising 'British' food that I didn't like, not the food. You know what I mean! The marina staff had boasted that they were the most expensive marina in Portugal and we started to ask ourselves what we would be getting for our cash: electricity, water, loos, showers, security, wi-fi. We had diesel: we could run the generator, use the water maker and use our own showers and heads without walking for a quarter of a mile. We had radio that we could get basic email through on, we didn't really need internet. We were secure enough at anchorage, could always lock up when we left the boat. I realised that the reason we had gone to Lagos was because we originally planned to go there when Matthew might have still been with us, in which case that's the place to be as the train station is just next to the marina which takes you directly to Faro for the  airport, we'd not updated our plans when the circumstances changed.

So we up and left. I was all for stealing their water before we went but Phil just wanted to be out of there, so we moved on up the coast to Portimåo and happily dropped the hook.