After a night of music filling the air in the Vilamoura marina, ear plugs are highly recommended if you want any sleep. We set sail again on route to Ayamonte, leaving Portugal and moving into southern Spain. The weather is now sunny on a daily basis and warm. Our sail started as they all do in this area, on engine in the morning and sail in the afternoon. Today Mark finally got to tick one of his wishes of his list and he went swimming off the back of the boat. However, this was not planned and not for pleasure, we were checking the engine and noticed a rope streaming out the back of the boat, our initial thoughts were it was rapped around the prop. On investigation it was caught around the keel. So Mark dived in and after a bit of work and lots of luck he was able to remove it from the keel and out popped the crab marker. Unfortunately the crab pot was not attached any more so no crab for dinner.
As we headed up the Rio Guadiana heading for the Spanish village of Ayamonte, the 4m depth in the marina turned out to be 2m, so with a quick U turn we changed countries and headed over the other side of the river back to Portugal to a lovely marina in Vila Real de Santo Antonio just 5 mins away. Currently sitting in the pretty town square having our arrival drink watching life go by, the great thing here so far we have heard no English voices, this seems to be a local Portuguese holiday place as some of the shops are tat (although ok tat). Life appears to revolve around the square with local music and bars/restaurants. We plan to stay for a few days and get the bikes out to explore.
Following a short hop from Lagos, we have arrived in the tourist center of Vilamoura for the night. It was a pleasant sail down with little wind in the morning so Mark went fishing and caught a Mackerel. In this area the wind increases in the afternoon so we sailed the final way to Vilamoura. The resort area is large and seems to be full of hotels and apartments, so all around the marina area is bars and restaurants and so far the only voices we have heard are all English. The marina is mainly motor boats, probably 95% motor, with some very big ones, as you can see below, most are 45 ft plus.
Had our customary arrival beer on shore and then headed off to the beach, with the aim of Hudson having a run and Mark a swim, its too cold for Hudson and I to go in the water. However, dogs are only allowed on the beach after 7 pm so we were a bit early. Never mind at least we had a walk and Mark will have to wait for that swim until tomorrow in Ayamonte.
ARC Final Destination Lagos – Friday 27th June 2014
The final Leg of the ARC Portugal began with a very early start from Sines; we left in the dark at 5.25 am. With not enough wind behind us we all had to motor most of the way, so as you can see from the photos below Hudson and I did some sun bathing on route. We were advised to watch out at Cape St Vincent as the winds can treble in the acceleration zone, but as we reached the Cape, with some yachts reefed, there was still no wind. Finally as we reached the next headland close to Lagos the winds really got up so with 1 reef we sailed the final part and across the finish line into Lagos. We finished again in 2nd place behind the J46.
It’s hard to believe Phase 1 of our journey is now completed; with us leaving Hamble on 15th May, and arriving in Lagos on Tuesday 24th June, covering 1250 miles, experiencing off-shore sailing, the Bay of Biscay with its reputation, which it lived up to with a storm on day 3, then for the first time the ARC had the fleet split across 7 ports rather than in Bayona as per the plan. The storm did give us the opportunity to see Coruna and Muxia as extra ports. We had 2 great friends with us (Phillip & Debby) enjoying the first 2 weeks, and have met some new great friends on route, which we hope we will see along the coast-line as most are travelling into the Mediterranean.
On the Wednesday evening we had the final prize giving and supper in a local restaurant and last night the boats all got together and had a BBQ, it was a brilliant evening. It was the perfect opportunity to say farewell to all for now as this morning Porcellum left heading for Gibraltar and we left starting our journey. Most of the others (our new friends) will follow in the next few days; it looks like we will all meet again in Gibraltar, if not before. We have decided to stop on route for lunch at a local anchorage and then spend this evening in Vilamoura. Mark has now planned out our trip and Phase 2 begins.
Below are a few pictures of the Yachts we got very friendly with:-
Orion – Jane & Greg with their crew John & Keith
Shiraz – Tina & Tim with their crew Peter and Terry
The sail from Oeiras to Sines will be remembered as a very wet one, the race started at 10 am, with 51 miles to travel. It was a cloudy day to start but we had wind and were able to sail. However, an hour into the race the heavens opened, so those heavy duty all-weather oilies were dragged back out and put to good use, as even my socks were dripping wet. Having given the impression of a miserable day, other than the rain which final finished about 3 pm, we had an amazing sail with us in 2nd place most of the way just behind the J46 (Garretty), although to add we did overtake them at one point with a neat short tack, which the J46 then judged wrongly putting us ahead for a while. It was very exciting and the competitive side of us came out, it made the sail fun and time went quickly.
We finished the race in 2nd place just behind the J46, but won the award for the day’s racing. Sines is a small village with a lovely beach, we met the village Major for welcome drinks Port at 11 am (even a bit early for us), then Mark and I went walking with Hudson around the village, which did not take long.
The evening was a night to remember (for those that can remember) a few bottles of Whisky later for a number of the guys, mentioning no names …. It was such a fun night, with music and singing, Mark, Brent and Jane playing the Guitars and Mia singing. The usual gang was present – Orion, Spirit 3, Shiraz and Porcellum. Mark and Brent had everyone in stitches they were hysterical …. and hysterically drunk.
As part of the ARC’s tradition in coming to the Oeiras Marina over the last few years, is for each boat to paint a mural reflecting their boat on the harbor wall. As always its a competition and the best mural wins a prize. So as you all know Mark and I are not natural artists, in fact we are terrible at drawing just like our singing. But we had to have a go and as Hudson is such a key part of the team and it’s how everyone knows Hapatoni, he was to be the focus of our creation.
The painting started yesterday, with a few keen boats getting a head start and using up a selection of the few colours available. So when collecting the paints this morning, the paint bag was leaking with lids not sealed properly and paint brushes covered in paint, so with the equipment provided minimal colours and dirty brushes – i think we did an excellent job. We think we should win.
I have added some photos of a few other murals for your review. The Spirit 111 one is good and the Orion, some people are better artists, however i still think we should win the cartoon version 🙂
A bright sunny start this morning, although it seems most people did not sleep well with lots of slosh, slosh noise due to the passing fishing boats all night. We left Peniche crossing the start line at 8.20am; it was a different start today with a gate approach your time was noted as you crossed the line between the assigned 30 minute window. The wind was very low today never reaching above 10 knots, so we had to motor 95% of the way. But it enabled us to catch up on some sleep, Mark played the guitar and I read my book, in between look out for lobster pots and Hudson slept.
We arrived earlier than expected at 4pm, so we will not win the arrival time prize. Each leg of the journey the ARC team run prizes, (1) 1st boats to arrive in their race class, (2) smiley Miley – the team who guesses the closest distance the ARC team drive to get to the next port and (3) we have to estimate our arrival time. So far we have one no prizes.
We finished our time at Figueira with an invite to a drinks party at the Major of Figueira residents, a lovely old Portuguese house. Following various speeches and presentations we then enjoyed the evening in the garden with canapes and port.
The race started at 9am, with the weather forecast stating low winds of 5-10 knots in the morning with the wind “growing” in the afternoon. In fact as we came out to the start line the winds were good at 15 knots and in the right direction so we could pull out the sails and race to the start line. So when the horn blew we were ready, in fact we were nearly too fast we had to spill some wind but we did cross the line 1st , as noted on the ARC website; so we have been 1st at something.
The race started well, but as per forecast the wind dropped, giving us the chance to try the cruising chute, which took us a little while to deploy as it was the first time Mark and I have deployed it on our own, but it went up and down not long after as we did not have enough wind, but we did it with no issues we just need to get quicker. We headed along the coast line and as we sailed the wind increased to a lovely blow, we caught up with the Orion Yacht and spent the next couple of hours trying to overtake them it was great fun, with lots of radio banter and it kept us very busy adjusting the sails and improving our point of sail.
Yesterday will go down as one of my favorite sailing days, as we started the race first with me at the helm & mark on the sails), then we sailed for about 8 hours close-hauled – great sailing, we were quite tilted over and I was relaxed. We arrived in about 6.30pm so a long day and with all that fresh air and sailing we were tired, so a quick dinner and a beer in the village then bed.
Today the sun is having a rest, it’s a bit cloudy but still warm. We are taking advantage of the cooler weather and took Hudson for a long walk to the Lighthouse and in the afternoon a tour of the fort and crew dinner tonight. The Fort was built in the 17th Century and was made into a prison during the Portuguese dictatorship period, with high profile political prisoners kept here.
Today the weather is lovely and hot, with a nice breeze. I went to the local market this morning, it was brilliant, fresh meat, fish and veg – I bought some great fresh prawns for lunch and local fish for dinner, although I am not sure what fish it is. But my sign language skills worked well as I got it prepared and filleted. The Town is small but pretty. When it got cooler late afternoon took Hudson for a walk, we went to the local beach, and it’s the widest beach I have ever seen.
Walking around the town it was empty as it was a Sunday but its quite pretty with the houses painted different colours and some are in the typical tiles.
We found one unusual building with house numbers over windows – odd. Tonight will be a quiet one with our fresh fish, glass of wine and a film as we are out again tomorrow at the Major’s reception. Its such a hard life 🙂
Sardine Delights in Figueira da Foz – Saturday 14th June
After a quiet night, we awoke to Fog, not the ideal sailing conditions. The plan was for the race to start at 9am and we had a 55 mile sail to Figueira da Foz, which we expected could take about 8-10 hours, but with the fog it was to be delayed. However at 9am it lifted (well it seemed to), so we all left but it was not going to be an official race. Then 30 mins out of the bay and the fog comes back thick and decides to stay for the next 4 hours. When the fog finally lifted there was not much wind so we motor sailed. It was gorgeous sunshine and hot. I took advantage of the calm conditions and did my housework and the washing, all done ready for arrival. We arrived at about 5pm, in the first group and got sorted and ready for the Sardine Supper at a local restaurant.
The Sardine supper was lovely, fresh BBQ’d Sardines, lots of wine and Port and great social. I had a few too many glasses of wine (what a surprise), and the restaurant sold its own local Port, which was rather nice so we all stocked up as it was 4E, dirt cheap.
Porto is a pretty city, its has some old charming buildings, many converted for official purposes and some remain tourist sites, 56 church’s, some character filled streets with cobble stones plus its a modern thriving city. I like the Gaia district, for its cafe culture, great smelling restaurants and its where all the Port houses are, due to the cooler winds. In the afternoon we took the tuc tuc trip around Porto town, we visited 2 famous churches, an amazing book store, it had wooden sweeping staircase and we were told it’s famous as the bases for the Harry Potter bookshop.
The trip finished off at the Churchill Port House. We went round their cellar and then tasted some lovely ports; we bought 2 different bottles a Ruby and Tawny.
Following a great day, the sad news was Phillip and Debby left us, they packed their bags, we had a final supper together then they headed off to their Hotel in Porto. They decided to have a couple of days rest in luxury before they had to fly home on Monday, can’t blame them. Buts it so sad as we had such a wonderful time together, no major issues, shared some life events together (and lived to tell the tale), we all got on so well. Mark and I both felt Phillip and Debby were the perfect team mates for this trip to the Mediterranean. Thank you guys xxx. However on the positive side, the boat is now significantly lighter, for those who do not know Phillip and Debby it’s nothing to do with their weight but their luggage and goodies supplies. I donated all the left over cake and chocolate on your behalf Phillip to a number of the other boats, it was very much appreciated.