On our way to the Med

We spent several days in Lagos getting jobs done on the boat. We now have speakers on the mast but can't find the plug to go in the VHF radio, marine band not BBC! We also have some bright lights shining down on the deck, more to repel invaders than to provide a working light because they would wreck your night vision. John spent a long time up the mast, first of all fixing the bits on then connecting them up. The final job was to feed the cables through lockers from the forward heads to the switch panel by the navigator's seat, no easy job. We removed the spray hood so that I could sew the zips back on as all the stitching had started to pop. On closer inspection I found that a lot of the seams had started to go so I renewed a lot of it. Once repaired I gave it a good scrub with some canvas cleaner followed by a thorough rinse. I was worried about refitting it as it was extremely taut, however if you fit it wet then allow it to dry the fabric shrinks back beautifully! We also had quite a sociable time. Thursday evening we had a pontoon party for those who were still in the marina then eight of us ate at a steakhouse where the fillet was extremely good and quite reasonably priced. Friday evening Annemarie and Steve from Freebooter came on board for a drink, we'll try to meet up with them in Gran Canaria when they prepare to leave on ARC + Cape Verdes two weeks before the ARC. Saturday evening we went out for dinner with Lynda and Steve from Nina which was very good, Spanish style tapas for starters then Portuguese main courses except for John who opted for spare ribs. Nina left Sunday but I'm sure we'll meet up with them again. Sunday evening Karen and Gary from Abraxas came on board for drinks. The next time we meet them will probably be in Gran Canaria for the ARC. Enough of the name dropping, now for the sailing. We left Lagos as intended on Monday and headed for Portimao where, apart from a huge marina, there is a large, sheltered anchorage with very good holding. We did sail as we were in no hurry and only had about six miles to go, there was very little wind and it took a most relaxing two and a half hours! The anchor dug in beautifully first time, the first time we have used that anchor, only the second time we have anchored Starblazer. It is quite a mixed up area, let me explain. The western bank of the river has a large tourist town, Praia da Rocha, which merges into Portimao about two miles up river. The east bank has a very pretty old village called Ferragudo which is riddled by very steep, narrow roads fit only for donkeys and the odd motor scooter. Removal men must find the place a nightmare! Between the two banks, just past Ferragudo, where the river becomes narrower is quite a large fishing harbour. We spent two very peaceful nights at anchor then set off Wednesday morning for Faro and Olhao. The intention had been to set out on an overnighter and make for Cadiz but unfortunately I tweaked my back restowing the dinghy on board so we decided to have an easy day sail of about 35 miles. Technically the word 'sail' is incorrect, there was no wind to speak of so the iron topsail did a grand job until about 8 miles out when the wind perked up a bit and we sailed slowly towards the Ilha Culatra. The entrance is 'interesting', thank goodness for the cockpit chart plotter. We anchored in a large anchorage between Culatra and Olhao, again the anchor set solidly first time. I'm really impressed with the Delta. Early next morning, well early for us, we upped anchor and were heading out of the anchorage by 0730. We motored the whole 75 miles to the Bay of Cadiz, first of all with next to no wind, but what there was came straight from Cadiz. Mid afternoon the wind started building and the last two hours were particularly unpleasant. As we closed in on the bay the wind was a force 5 gusting 6 and we reviewed our decision to anchor. Discretion is the better part of valour, they say, so we went into the Puerto Sherry Marina and tied up on the reception pontoon. By this time the gusts were reaching force 7, blowing us into the marina. It was not a comfortable night, the wind howling and a short chop constantly attacking the hull. Given the fetch was less than half a mile, between the training wall guarding the river entrance and the marina, it was really rather violent. Three days on, we are still tied up in the marina, it is still windy and very hot. The wind is a Levante or Levanter, a strong easterly originating east of Gibraltar and accelerating though the straits before fanning out, giving us strong south easterlies. The forecast for the straits was for gale force 8 for several days, not the sort of wind a yacht wants to beat into. The prediction is for the winds to finally go lightish on Wednesday so we are finding lots of jobs to do on Starlazer. Who knows, we might even go to the beach tomorrow. Yesterday we walked into Puerto Santa Maria, past the beach where the very strong winds whipped the sand up making it very uncomfortable.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *