Passage to Algarve and Culatra Island by Lochlann

Passage Sines, Portugal to Culatra Island November 2014

On the 29th of September we sailed serenely out of Sines with our friend Nick Skeates in front of us on Wylo II. Down below I was doing my piano :) and maths:(. We were surrounded by huge tankers as we passed the outer breakwater and because they were not moving we could sail very close to them. Up close these behemoths look absolutely mountainous.
Simon happy sailing.

As we got further down the coast we slowly crept past Wylo II and soon they were left in our wake. As we rounded Cabo Sáo Vicente we saw another familiar boat. We had met the owners of Garibaldi in Bayona, and it was amazing that we were rounding the headland at the same time having not seen them for two weeks!
Cabo Sao Vincente
We put in at Sagres for the night. It is an amazing bay tucked into the huge cliffs of the headland. It is well known due because it is the first safe anchorage after rounding Cabo Sáo Vicente. It was once thought that Henri the Navigator founded a school of navigation there, although this has now been proved incorrect!
The next morning we got up early, raised anchor and set off east along the Algarve coast. Unfortunately, we hit a dead calm after only two hours and floated in a detached sort of way until I asked mum if I could go for a swim. She (to my amazement) said yes, so I swam for the first time out at sea. It was blue, deep blue!
Lochlann swimming at sea.
When the evening came we anchored inside a breakwater opposite a town called Portimao and another town called Ferragudo. Over the next few days in Ferragudo we were walking round the town when we saw a Nutshell dinghy propped against a wall with a large ‘FOR SALE’ sign hanging from it. We investigated and wondered whether we should buy it. Having two dinghies would be useful because when one of us (usually dad) wants to go for a walk or run they either take our dinghy Swiftlet, leaving the rest of us stranded on the boat, or else get someone else to row them ashore. The problem with the second option is that when dad wants to come back to the boat and we have to go and get him, how does he contact us when there is no signal on his phone? (or more likely, he forgets to take his phone!)
Finbar happy to be going south.

After lots of ‘Mighty Thinks’ we eventually decided to keep Swiftlet and not buy the Nutshell, as there was no room for it as well as Swiftlet, and we didn’t want to replace her.
One day Fin and I persuaded Mum and Dad to let us push Island Swift’s boom out over the water and jump off the end. We did it, but the problem was that the boom bent alarmingly if you got too far out, so we will not be doing that again. Before Fin had the chance to say he was too cold to stay in the water Mum organized a diving competition between him and me. It was fun. I won, but only just.
Soon afterwards we set course for Faro. It was a lovely day sail and we got to the entrance to the lagoon in quick time. I had a chart and piloted us through the channels up to Faro.  We managed to get there by early evening so we just had enough light to see where we were going. The next day we had a very hard row ashore against the spring tide and wind.
After tying the dinghy to the slippery wharf we walked towards the boatyard where our friends Humph and Maggie were temporarily keeping their boat, Miracle (another Wylo like Island Swift).
Miracle was out of the water being painted. She was held up by straps and we had to climb up a ladder to get on deck. We had some grapes and freshly squeezed orange juice and then went out to lunch in a restaurant. When it was time to home, we had to row against the tide again! Bad planning. It was even harder the second time!!!
Miracle and Island Swift anchored side by side.
The next morning they put Miracle into the water and sailed out to join us. Together we sailed down the lagoon to an island called Culatra. The island is a long sandbank so the streets in the village are sand with paving stone paths. There are no cars on the island, only a few tractors and three-wheeled motor carts. There is a wreck on the far side and we went snorkeling there, but the visibility was poor because of the large swell. People told us that you can often find dried seahorses thrown up at the high water mark. We looked hard, but we never saw any. Humph and Maggie showed us a beautiful specimen that hangs from the lead to their echo sounder.
Walking the island of Culatra
We were stuck on the boat for one whole day because the wind was strong and the sea was so rough. We spent the time drawing, reading and learnt how to play bridge. This is now our family game.
While there we met Hans, a Swiss sailor who had just arrived back from the Carribean on an amazing Polynesian-type catamaran (one hull was longer than the other). He gave us two coconuts that he had brought back with him. The outer husks were still in place.
Han's Polynesian catamaran
On the Saturday we took the ferry to Olhao to go shopping because there was a huge produce market with loads of outdoor stalls selling yummy stuff. We bought some absolutely delicious satsumas, very fresh eggs and loads of other important stores.
We stayed at Culatra for about a week waiting for a good wind to take us to Madeira. But the winds were set from the west, so when Humph and Maggie decided to sail to the Rio Guadiana, we decided to join them.
Witten by Lochlann

1 comment:

  1. Reading this with our boat laid up for the winter, has made me feel strangely relaxed and tranquil. Thank you! Dave