Archive for August, 2010

Going to…Madeira?

Posted in the Atlantic Ocean with tags on August 31, 2010 by maidofmettle

We are hoping to leave for either Madeira or the Canary Islands tommorow afternoon or evening. The idea is to go out and see how it feels heading for Madeira for a couple of days then either carry on that way or turn left a bit and go to the Canaries. Prevailing wave direction and our reactions to it will dictate where we end up.

Funnily enough…we were intending to leave this afternoon but another look at the forecast made us think twice. No, not too much wind but not enough this time! We didn’t really fancy bobbing up and down for a day or so before the wind came later in the most promising forecast for weeks . Frustrated at not being able to face the demons of ‘what is it going to be like out there for a week or so?’ we will have to wait a little longer…

It’s ok though, we are all pretty tired from packing away, buying food, scraping barnacles off of things (I thought that was only a punishment people had to do in the old days!) and fixing things we’d been putting off until the last minute, so a bit more time will be good. Also, the todo list had “nap” on it yesterday and I didn’t have time for that so maybe today 🙂 Also there will be time to watch the last 20 mins of the film we started before I got too sleepy so that’s good.

On the front line…

Posted in Fun, Photographs with tags , , on August 20, 2010 by maidofmettle

Yes Clare, we have been here for quite a long time, though not forever as you might think 😉 In fact we’ve been hanging around Faro, Culatra and Olhao (all in the same estuary) for nearly a month…unbelievable!

Don’t worry, we’ve not been short of things to do…not only have we been able to look at the weather forecast and go “euw, what’s that all about?!”, but also things have been breaking again so we have been chasing up various companies to try and sort things out.

First things first. Apparently Chris’ uncle suggested it might be an el nino year weather-wise, which would explain a bit why we don’t seem to have found our ‘perfect conditions’ to cross to Madeira yet. Of course it might be that we have been unlucky for the last few weeks but that doesn’t make us feel any better when we look at the weather and wave forecasts that show confusion, confusion, confusion.

Our lovely and un-ideal weather forecast (thanks Zygrib)

The main problem is that when waves travelling in different directions meet they can pyramid and become larger – sometimes becoming as high as the total of their heights. Unfortunately it appears that passageweather.com’s wave forecast does not take this into account. What it does show though is lots of confused waves colliding in and around the area we would want to be in for our passage to Madeira.

Same time and place waves forecast – doesn’t look good.

The weather continues to be a psychological struggle with a constant unknown factor – ‘will we leave next week or won’t we?’. Getting psyched up to leave, not to mention the practicalities of filling up with water and food (when you’re not in a marina and you don’t have running water less than a row away), tidying etc then …’oh! Forecast says no’. The worst bit (and I suppose the best) is that the actual weather (i.e. is it warm, sunny, raining or whatever) is still really nice so when you see a forecast that puts you off leaving it seems a bit frustrating. Equally frustrating is deciding not to go then seeing a couple of days later that it didn’t turn out to be as bad as the initial forecast suggested it would be. Then you’re thinking ‘we could have gone after-all!’ Maybe life before forecasts was a bit simpler in a way…

The list of broken things has grown along with Chris’ list of companies he dislikes. The poor customer service list now includes Plastimo who have fallen down in our estimation, after a good performance replacing our broken water tanks back in Reims. Our Plastimo outboard bracket has a nasty crack in the plastic of the mounting pad which they are unwilling to do anything about without us returning it to England. Given that the outboard is our only engine we are powerless if we were to take the outboard bracket off and send it away. It looks like we may have to repair it ourselves instead.

Other broken things include the pendants that come with our man overboard Lifetag system – all three have started to crack. We are in the process of getting these sorted out so will let you know how that goes.

Our Adventures around Faro, Culatra and Olhao

Unless you’ve seen it, geography is a bit confusing round here so here’s a map…

Despite our troubles with broken things and annoying weather forecasts it’s not all doom and gloom. In our travels around the estuary we have explored lots of places, met up with some people for lovely food (thanks Gail and Steve for your hospitality, books and BBQ tongs)

Nice BBQ at Culatra beach with Gail and Steve from “Gone Troppo”

Also, I have been teaching Chris to dive. We now have two diving platforms made out of our fender boards from the canals. One low down at the side of the boat, the other higher at the back of one side boat. The second diving plank would also be useful should we have a mutiny.

The mandolin, guitar (and occasionally the Guinness themed harmonica when Pete joins us) ensemble is going from strength to strength. We are getting a good number of songs together in our repertoire and learning chords quickly. Oasis’ Wonderwall can often be heard across the water.

The kayak has had several outings, most interestingly taking the chance to see a channel at Culatra that is only navigable with an exceedingly high tide and a bit of squeezing under a boardwalk.

Kayak up the channel at Culatra at high tide
– this was dried out for the majority of our time there

We briefly visited Olhao to stock up with water (via lots of trips in the dinghy to collect water from a tap on shore) and food from the local market. The market was impressive for its fresh fruit and veg, honey and more fish than is imaginable. These people really like sea food, so much so in fact they have a big party to celebrate fishing. We saw them carrying a statue of Mary in procession through Olhao town (accompanied by a marching band) to the port and then onto fishing boats which went across the water to Culatra in a convoy of flags and noise. They seemed to be enjoying the organised chaos…We decided leaving Olhao at that point to go back to Culatra would have been unwise.

Unusual vegetables in Olhao market

Woo fish! The parade from Olhao to Culatra

Yesterday we all went for a meal in Faro. On the way back Chris and I hired a couple of Segways to try for 10 mins. They are brilliant and surprisingly quick to get the hang of. I felt like someone in the Jetsons (children’s cartoon show set in the future) I would have to sell my car to buy one though!

Chris and Caroline “Jetsons eat your heart out. We love Segways!”