Ria Gaudiana, Ayamonte. 37,08.15N 7,23.83W

Saro's Gyda
Derrick Thorrington
Sun 24 Oct 2010 18:02

We enjoyed staying at Lagos marina but after a while, decided that we were pining for a nice quiet anchorage.  As the weather still wasn’t complying to expectations, (hot and sunny but the WRONG wind), we headed out of Lagos to the quiet little estuary of Alvor, just 3 miles away. The estuary is generally very shallow with large sand banks but a deep enough channel is to be found winding it’s way inwards. We had a few anxious moments where the echo sounder rapidly decreased but eventually came up to anchor opposite an old quinta . Very quiet and very scenic.







Whilst here we enjoyed the little town and a lovely walk over the marshes. Lots of wading birds including storks and also 2 kingfishers. After 2 nights we headed out and once again nearly ran aground! (no channel markers to be seen). We headed, on recommendation, to the next port along the coast, a mere 3 miles away again.

We had not intended to visit Portimao as it seemed to be just a very large tourist resort and marina,but opposite the town was a little picturesque village with a castle and a calm sandy beach, Feraguda.








We crept as far into the beach as possible, dropped anchor and launched the dinghy.The village was quaint, built on a steep hill with the church at the top and a little fishing quay at the bottom. Small cafes lined the quay, barbeques ablaze. All vying for our custom. We had however been told that the best sardines were to be had from Rouie’s shack on the beach. We caused comments from two Austrian sailors as we made our way back to the boat, the skipper rowing and the crew swimming! We returned to the beach that evening and after socialising with two other crews, also on the beach (one Dane, one Aus, two Swedes and two German kite-surfers), walked bare foot to the café. It was very quiet but we were treated like family. We just asked for sardines and a bottle of Vinho Verde and Rouie obliged by going out the back to get cooking. He returned and started to chat then suddenly realised that he had left the sardines so, with a very English expletive, he dashed out to finish cooking. The sardines WERE the best in Portugal.

We had just heard from Conor and Marion, friends from Christchurch Sailing Club, that they had flown into Faro to be reunited with their boat, Toucan. This naturally decided the next destination, 25M along the coast.

Faro itself is situated on the edge of a national park, the Ria Formosa. This is a huge area of sand and mudflats with long sand dune islands forming the boundary between the estuary and the sea. We followed the long channel up to Faro and anchored off the channel. It was very peaceful except when aircraft came into land where they passed directly overhead to land about 1 mile away!







We enjoyed the company of Conor and Marion whilst exploring the old walled town and environs of Faro. After 2 nights, we all motored down the long channel to anchor off the little sandy village of Culatra. That evening we entertained the crew of Toucan, now numbering four, to dinner. Conor brought along his guitar and we enjoyed a musical soiree.







Toucan left the following morning and we went ashore to explore the island. It had an atmosphere all to itself. A very bustling little harbour full of small fishing boats, nets, seagulls etc. We walked into the village which seemed to be a large version of Hengistbury Head – long sand streets with a single line paving slabs laid along the middle.

No cars, just a couple of tractors for transport. We walked through the main street over a board walk and along the long sandy beach. An ideal spot to relax.







After a night up another channel at the town of Olhao, (where I braved a haircut at a non English speaking hairdressers), we sailed gently along to the border of Spain and Portugal, The Ria Gaudiana where we hastily changed the courtesy flag to Spain and headed into Ayamonte.