Portugal, Madiera and Tenerife

Lagos Marina, Portugal

Wines of the Moment: Grao Vasco (white and red) 3 euros a bottle. Mateus Rose 3 euros 50 cents a bottle

Beer: Cristal 5%, 25 cents for a 33cl bottle

Temperature: 30 – 35C.

Callum Dornan, James DornanBill and Joyce Stratton settled well on the boat. They brought us lots of mail and other things we have been struggling to find in Portuguese shops.

We have a really friendly pontoon. Some English and Portuguese liveaboards. A couple of them have booked in for a year. James is getting obsessed about fishing as one of the boats fishes to feed its cat. Callum is enjoying card games and inevitably Allan is forced to set up a couple of PC games when they get bored of their Gameboys. They manage to trash their room every night but at least they sleep to a reasonable time because they are so active during the day and up late.

Callum decided to spend his birthday money on a mobile phone so Allan ordered him a Ericcson t68i over the web. James had some money too, so he decided to buy a fishing rod. We didn’t think he has the patience for it but by the end of the trip he caught a fish which was gutted and fed to next doors cat.

 James First Fish

We did a couple of day trips, to empty the holding tanks, to Portimao. Nice sheltered anchorage. We met a couple of ARC boats in there, they had moved from Lagos because of the cost. We explored the sea caves and built sand castles on the beach.

We couldn’t get the Magma BBQ working as some bits are missing from the box, which was a big disappointment as Allan had carried it all the way back from Seattle.

Highlight of the fortnight was a trip to the water park. Boys went on everything, including the Black Hole and Kamikaze slides. Even Bev went on the Kamikaze but her cozzie got stuck near the top and eventually she came down with one hand on the side of the slide, presumably to slow her down :) Bill went on all of the slides too. Top place for a day out.

We found a great Indian restaurant in town and had decent meal in a Chinese and couple of trips to Pizza Hut.

We did a day trip Albefuira on the train. No-one told us the train station is miles from the actual town. Nice, but crowded, beach and quite "British-touristy". On the plus side, that meant we got quite a cheap kid friendly meal though. Glad we are not staying there for the whole fortnight.

Joyce and Bill made the long bus trek to Lisbon but had a good time there. They also went to Villamoura on another day.

I made my first trip up the mast, on this occasion to fit a radar reflector I had ordered from the UK. Bev and Bill pulling on the ropes. It took hours to drill the holes and rivet on the brackets, particularly as I couldn’t get the right tool for the stainless steel rivets. I'm not in a hurry to go back up there again!

Showers, facilities and town of Lagos are great but it’s very expensive and hot compared with other places we’ve been, but its easy to see why so many British yotties stay here for an extended period.

Callum and James in Portugal

13th July

The big forest fires we had been reading about have cast a black shadow over the whole coast line. You can really smell the burning wood. Apparently a state of emergency has been called. We moved the boat up to Alvor where we plan to beach it and change the engine saildrive oil.

While we are waiting we noticed that the bay is filling up with other boats. The reason was that the whole skyline was ablaze and people had come to watch the fires. The smoke was choking though and the whole boat got covered in a thick layer of ash and charcoal.

We beach the boat late afternoon and wait for the tide to go out. It seems to take forever. Then I noticed that the back of the boat was sinking in more than the front, threatening to bury the rudders and props in the sand. I spent a manic couple of hours digging under the front of the boat with an oar to try to balance out the boat. It seemed to help but we were worried that we might have bent the rudder stocks.

In the dark and covered in sand I emptied the sail drives into some 5 litres bottles. The cheap 1 million candlepower rechargeable torch gave up in no time and we resolved to consign it to the bin. It seemed almost impossible to keep sand out of the gearboxes and this stressed me out more that the rudders, last thing we needed is a gearbox seizure with a five day sail to Madeira ahead. Refilling the gearboxes was also a trial but by 2am we had managed to refloat and anchor in deeper water again. By 4am the tide turned and at last I was able to sleep.

It seems a bit of a design defect with the Yanmar SD20 saildrives. You need to replace the oil after 50 hours initially and ever 100 hours after that, but it can only be done with the boat out of the water. The larger and more expensive SD40 units can have the oil changed whilst in the water using an oil suction device.

 

14th July

It took several hours to clean the boat down from all the ash using buckets of salt water and cleaning cloths. We were both really tired as we set off on the 500 mile trip to Madeira but at least the weather forecast is good.

We motored out just after lunch. A slight oil slick behind the boat did nothing to calm our fears about the gearboxes.

15th July

Damned forecast. Northerly force 7 going on 8 with 4m waves. The boat is crashing like crazy and we have full reefs in the sails. Bev feeling  sick and not sleeping.

Saturday 16th July

Winded died down, relatively speaking, but waves still pretty big.

Making good speed but feels more like an endurance test than sailing. Not had much hot food, boat is a tip and personal hygiene is out the window. Bev really suffering from sea sickness but still managing to do her evening watches. No crisps to help.

Sunday  17th July Madeira

Arrived Madeira in the Marina Quinta Do Lordes. We had selected this new marina as apparently the main harbour at Funchal is always full. Do Lordes is at the extreme south east of the island and is very new. We get a great spot on the visitors pontoon, but then only a dozen or so of the 250 berths are occupied. The water is beautifully clear you can see right down to the bottom of the berths, 6 or 7 metres below. The facilities are a bit primitive though, the marina office and restaurant are hardly ever open and there are two small and very basic portacabins for toilet and showers. The toilets are the stand up variety so we will probably be making use of those on the boat.

Monday 18th July

Temperature 25C

Great to meet up with Ray Dutton and his wife Ed on their new Rassy 43. We first met Ray on an SSB radio course about a year ago down at Universal Marina in the Hamble.

Francesca Rapacioli arrived late in the afternoon for a week’s holiday with us. She brought Bev a stack of hair conditioner which was badly needed. Francesca is looking forward to some sunbathing and relaxation.

Tuesday 19th

Wine of the Moment : Madeira Sercial (between 5 and 10 euros for a 5 year vintage)

Beer : Coral 5.3%

Go into Funchal on the bus to pick up the hire car. It’s an hour and a half on the bus and about the same to walk to the Europcar office. Booking is a shambles, 6 hours after our pickup they give us an upgraded car but they have lumbered us with a few extra charges – I just know it will be hassle when we return it too.

Madeira is a beautiful place, surprisingly colder than the Algarve and even a few dark clouds around. Funchal has a great colonial charm. Very much looking forward to exploring the place.

Wednesday 20th

We took a trip up to Santana to see the famous A shaped house. I was learning to cope with the twisty road and crazy local drivers, Bev and Francesca are thankful they are not on the insurance to drive. The thatched A shape houses are fascinating, even more so because some of the literally shed size houses are still occupied. It’s cheap at this end of the island too. Two coffees and a soft drink in a café was just over 2 euros.

 

 

On the way back stopped at Pico Alto a famous viewpoint, but it was above the clouds and we could not see anything. Lot cooler at Altitude too. Six hours of driving and we hardly got round one quarter of the island.

We bumped into Warren and Judy, two experienced American sailors, from La Contenta. We last saw them in Lagos, they stopped in Puerto Santo on the way down.

Thursday 21st

Day trip to Funchal. Traffic was light and easy to park. It’s a public holiday in Funchal and everything is closed – doh !

In fact looking at shop opening hours everything seemed to be closed just about all of the time. We had a great three course meal at a restaurant at Funchal Marina for just 6 euro 50 – amazing !

Friday – Sunday 22nd

Chilling, sunbathing and drinking. Turns our Francesca is a bit of a card shark. Just as well we haven’t been playing for money. Various excursions to the shops finds them always to be closed.

We have a couple of drinks in a restaurant on the front. Its in the shape of a dinghy alongside a yacht called Vagrant that used to belong to the Beatles. Cool idea.

 

 

Francesca in Madeira

Monday 23rd

Its Francescas last day so we resolved to pack in as much as we can. We took a trip up to Funchal in the morning and got the cable car up to Monte. We stopped at the first hotel behind the cable car terminal for lunch and had a pleasant but expensive lunch. Next stop was the famous Madiera tobaggans where two guys push and steer you down the hill on a wooden sledge. All good fun for 10 euros a head but after the 2km ride there was still a long walk down to town.

Sledging in Madeira

We managed to get into the famous Blandys Maderia wine lodge for a quick tasting session. For 40 euros you can taste vintages back to 1908 and in other shops in town I saw bottles from the 1870’s. We went for the free samples of 3,5 and 10 years sweet, medium and dry and decided that the dry 5 year stuff at 10 euros was the best buy. To really savour it though, you need to drink it alongside some of the heavy ginger cake that they make, so we picked up half a dozen cakes as well.

Francesca departs, Bev is topped up on gossip and has enjoyed a weeks worth of romantic comedy movies.

Tuesday 26th

Took the car back. It was a nightmare, as predicted. I had an hour long argument with the lacky behind the desk. They wanted to charge us over 100 euros more than we had agreed. “Eventually” they found the rate they should have been using and accepted that I had indeed already paid the deposit. I wouldn’t be surprised to find they have stuffed some other charges on my card behind my back to be spiteful.

Wednesday 27th

Early start at 07:00 for Tenerife in the company of La Contenta. No wind right from the start so consigned to motoring. Under power we only run one engine to save fuel and wear, which gives us about 5-6 knots. La Contenta powered away at 7kts so by later that day we had lost sight of them. Quite a rolly trip so Bev feeling a little queezy despite sea sickness tablets and first outing for the seasickness travel bands that colleagues at work had so kindly provided us with.

Thursday 28th

We tried sailing for a few hours but the winds were light and in an unfavourable direction. It seemed to take forever to get clear of the Salvage Islands. Eventually, we threw in the towel and decide to motor but it was clear that we wouldn't make it in that night so we slowed down for a daylight landfall Friday.

Friday 29th Tenerife

As usual winds picks up just when you don’t need it. Lots of traffic into Santa Cruz but we made it into the marina unscathed.

It’s a bit of a commercial harbour and facilities are a bit grim despite the fact that they have been “building” it for over 5 years. We need a rest though so this is likely to be home for a while.

Saturday 30th

Temperature 35C

Bev has never been to the Canaries and its more that 10 years since I had been to Tenerife. I didn't remember much of Santa Cruz because I spent most of my time down in the cheesy tourist haunt of Play De Las Americas. No doubt we will need to go back to reminisce at some point :)

Town seems nice enough, all the essentials – McDonalds and literally hundreds of consumer electronics shops selling duty free watches, radios and camcorders. We are sure to have some fun here.

Bev did my second haircut of the trip. Nice job but a little short at the back, I will persevere.

Bev flew back to London for a few days and I committed to tidy up the boat, do some maintenance and not eat any McDonalds. Success has only been partially realised thus far.

As Bevs not here I got to watch Spaghetti westerns on DVD tonight. "Fistfull of Dollars" I think..

Sunday 31st August

Very quiet on the boat without Bev but I did sleep well. Beer for breakfast, lunch and dinner, no just kidding….

I decided to spend a few hours updating the website. It takes a lot longer than you imagine…