Archive for Tavira

On to Faro!

Posted in Fun, Photographs, Sailing, Wildlife with tags , , on July 23, 2010 by maidofmettle

So we actually left the river!  Some people there said it couldn’t be done.  A Dutch couple Pete met arrived intending only stay a while and they are still there 4 years later…

Anyway, we left the river and have done a couple of day sails.  The first took us to Tavira which is along the Portugese coast.  The sail was nice and flat and the coastline looked wonderful with its golden sandy beaches stretching for miles.

looking back

parasol- thanks to the Australians on "Gone Troppo"

We had an hour or so to practise man-overboard drills with a fender and a bucket.  Once again, I was surprised how difficult things can be in boats.  I’m sure with more practise we will get better at turning round and then sailing close to something as we all took a few attempts to get close enough to our target.  Still, it highlighted some important things about how we would deal with a man-overboard situation and showed us just how important it is not to fall in.  We are generally quite good at clipping on and intend to stay so.

Chris keeping an eye on our 'man overboard'

After a very quiet time in the river we have become unacustomed to busyness so it was a bit of a culture shock to find lots of motor boats and ferries full of people speeding about making big waves and getting angry with us for anchoring in their way despite what we thought were careful calculations to make sure we didn’t.

We tried some snorkelling there but there were no fish, it was murky and it was a bit too cold to try for long…

crazy little motor boats

We only stayed one night near Tavira before moving up the narrow channel at low water to Santa Luzia a couple of miles away.  It was much quieter there and the ferrymen didn’t seem bothered by us either so that was good.

Santa Luzia and some chairs

We lost a couple of things that day.  On the way up, my towel flew away from where it was hanging to dry.  It landed behind us whilst motoring up the channel.  After a swift turn-around we just saw it sinking before it disappeared completely.  Then, after anchoring, at some point whilst getting the portabote out to go ashore we realised we’d lost a bike lock wire and 2 padlocks overboard – well we assume that’s where they went.  We haven’t found them yet.  Pete and I tried to have a look underwater at low tide in about the area where we suspected but with no luck.  It was still a fairly long way down to the bottom.  We had to pull ourselves down a rope to get to the bottom which was quite muddy so you could barely see beyond about 30 cm.  Also by this time there wasn’t much time to look about because you were aware of the swim back up for air taking a while.

diving for locks

An added bonus to the quietness of Santa Luzia was that there was much more wildlife.  Pete was the first to spot flamingos


and there were loads of crabs on the beaches at low tide, though we needed to photograph them through binoculars.

waving crab

From our anchorage we were able to easily get to a beach for a bbq with a little bit of rowing and a short walk to a lovely sandy beach.

driftwood bbq

The next day sail took us to Faro.  This one was fairly smooth most of the time but involved sailing into the wind most of the time.  Still, our tacking has probably improved as a result but meant that we had to cover twice as many miles as we might have with the wind in a better direction.

Our zig zagging route to Faro

A combination of sailing into the wind and our time away from the sea meant that Chris and I weren’t too keen on the bumpy couple of hours experience at the end of that sail.  We managed a bit of time in the cabin with our trusty Biodramina but I think we noticed the effects of the sea a little more than we had before.  We’ll hopefully get a bit more used to it again though.

After one night spent a little way away from the main town of  Faro sleeping off the effects of Biodramina and our day of sailing, we have motored nearer now though there are a lot of boats and some interesting underwater sand spits to worry about on the way up.  We will just have to see whether this anchorage looks ok to stay in.  Despite it looking like a big expanse of water, there are lots of shallow patches so lots of boats in a small space.

That's us that is...the little red blob

Pete’s marvellous adventures

Posted in Fun, Photographs, Sailing, Walking with tags , , on June 5, 2010 by maidofmettle

This blog come courtesy of Pete who has been left to his own devices in Portugal whilst Chris and I have been having fun (and sorting dull stuff) in England…. 

The World According to Pete…

Pete has been a fair way up the river and then down again, mainly in short hops when wind and tide coincide suitably. The tides are very strong at the moment but it’s not too much of a problem as it’s fairly easy to find somewhere to anchor.

There are lots of boats around now, so plenty of people to meet, though it’s also very easy to slip away and find a different anchorage with only a couple of boats or houses in sight.

There are a lot of English and Dutch people living ashore as well, on both sides of the river. In Spain, Pete had a lovely time visiting Peter and Rozy, who’d kindly invited him and Chris in for coffee a couple of weeks ago, and their son Nigel. Peter and Nigel kindly took me with them on an expedition to the Rio Tinto mines, where mining had been carried out by the Romans, Spanish, British (well, British bossing the Spanish around) and eventually multinational firms for 5000 years or so, up until 2002.
It’s an incredible place – the local geology that’s been exploited is fascinating, and the more recent open-cast workings are staggering in their scale. The rock is so rich in minerals that the Rio Tinto itself (pictured) is naturally (since well before larges-scale mining) red and acid (ph2.2), while the Rio Odiel is yellow. NASA and a Spanish agency have been studying the area to figure out how best to hunt for life on Mars, and have tested their little robots in one of the excavations they visited.
 On the Portuguese side, Pete found what might be the smallest blue-flag beach in the world in the village of Alcoutim – but there’s decent room for swimming, golden sand and thatched parasols – it’s a great place to go on a hot afternoon, especially when he’d been doing work on the boat in the morning. But enough of the w-word…

Alcoutim beach - Pete kicking water in the air to distract from the way he really doesn't tan very well

Some of the sailing has been fantastic, especially coming back down the river over a couple of days in company with a couple of other boats. This was great fun, especially at some of the more awkward bends where the wind changes direction suddenly – a bit like watching the skier in front of you hit some ice…
 Pete just made it to the bottom before the wind died and the tide turned, albeit somewhat late for the ‘rapid painting’ event he was aiming for in Vila Real de Santo Antonio. He had to complete his picture especially fast having arrived several hours late with less than two hours to go. He was pretty happy with it, and especially glad that he’d succeeded in obliterating all pointers to the origins of the ‘paint by numbers’ canvas he’d hurriedly obtained in a local tat shop.
Afterwards the 40 or 50 or so painters seemed to all pick up their work and head off in the same direction, accompanied by 30-40 or so supporters. Pete decided to follow suit and was very glad he had when everybody filed into a local restaurant, propped their canvases up around the walls, and were treated to a delicious three-course meal. Conversation was a little difficult but entertaining, especially about half an hour in when it turned out the people he’d been conversing with in hesitant Portuguese were in fact Spanish. Oops.

The post painting party and Pete's efforts

 Pete’s not sure on the next move yet, probably a bit of a rest and then either more sailing on the river or a short hop or two along the coast.

View of the Rio Tinto from the steam train (choo! choo!)

 Back to Caroline….

Chris has been getting stressed with World Sim again this week, trying to sort out getting us another Sim card with the same number as we had before.  World Sim are number one in Chris’ most hated companies because they are infuriatingly slow at doing anything, and even then they may not do it correctly.  Added to this is the fact that he has had to tell the same story to about 100 people (all called David incidentally)  because they do not log calls…It’s soooo annoying. 

Meanwhile in the list of the best companies in the world I must sing the praises of Henri Lloyd (Darling…) who kindly took back my waterproof that had worn a little during all the use it has had, and replaced it with a brand new one saying “we’re very sorry but we had to replace it with the new season’s jacket I’m that ok?” !!  Well, yes….why wouldn’t it be you wonderful people…

Henri Lloyd now join the list which also features Baltic who made our lifejackets and very nicely sent us some new re-arming kits.

Anyway, it hasn’t been all sorting out things and tidying up.  Despite the big projects of tidying up and freecycling lots of stuff – well done Chris for waving goodbye to a lot of things vowing that he will be more careful around skips in future 😉  we have managed to have some fun in England. 

Kirsty and Rich’s wedding was lovely…Kirsty, you looked wonderful and the party was excellent.  As always the McGills did us proud with the food!  Thank you. 

Chris and I have had some relaxation time before we head back to Portugal on Tuesday, enjoying a couple of mini-breaks in Midhurst and the New Forest.  I for one have got used to having considerably more space than we have on the boat so it might take a bit of getting used to again to adapt to 3 of us all being there together again.