Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Exploring the Algarve

Gosh I have no idea where the time has gone - we have been hanging out in the heat of the Algarve for the last couple of weeks - 10 days in Lagos where we did a few boats jobs, provisioned and did some exploring.
Lagos Square - midday without the crowds
Lagos is a fabulous marina at the top of the canal away from the touristy town and we got a really lovely spacious quiet berth in the north part of the marina. We were able to drop in our dinghy and explore the rocks and caves out in the bay and it was really handy for the supermarket just across the road. Sadly just after we arrived our fresh water pump failed again - this is not funny any more. This was the Chinese one that went back in when our second beautiful Italian pump failed - this time we had no spare so option one was to stick a hose pipe through the window and option two was to connect the hose directly to our water supply - that worked brilliantly after a bit of tweaking but it meant we couldn't leave the dock. The new pump was on it's way to the marina as was the new air-conditioning unit so we decided to stay a while. We met lots of people who kept their boats in Lagos, including Faith & Joe who had an Oyster 46 that was ten years old and we enjoyed sharing lots of experiences with them - they said they went for the matte version as Askari did look at bit shiney in comparison.... A bit swell set in while we were there - a good day for the beach as so much entertainment.
Big swell - note yacht coming in!!
The second night we were in Lagos Yoshi from Crows Nest 7 messaged us to say he had arrived in the Marina - he promised us Sushi when we met in A Coruna and wondered if we fancied popping over later that night. Who could refuse homemade sushi on a Japanese yacht?? We had one of the best evenings - Yoshi had Yama and Naomi on board as his crew for the next part of the trip - Yama an retired Rocket Scientist who had worked on the Japanese Space Program, Naomi a sailing writer who currently lives in Burma. Also the fabulous McIntyre family who were Yoshi neighbours in Japan until recently who had been sailing with him for the last week. When we arrived the table was covered in food and drink and then it was a total feast of handrolls - which we made ourselves, marinated bonito that Yoshi caught the day before, nigiri with fish from Lisbon fish market, fermented beans, soup and so much more. Yama produced rice wine and we ate and drank so much while exchanging sailing and travel stories with so much laughter - fabulous people and a really treat.

Yoshi with his homemade nigiri on Crow's Nest 7
Sushi night with Yoshi (at the bottom) and friends
Us with Yama

Trying Yoshi's Sushi

On a Saturday morning Lagos has a fabulous farmers market - a real one where the farmers come in to town in there three wheeler trucks with their flat caps and sell their goods next to the bus station - there is everything from fruit and veg to homemade cakes and live chickens and ducklings.

Andrew's son James arrived to spend a week with us at the end of his break from college - he was ready for some relaxation but we did manage to drag him into town and to explore the cliffs at Sagres. We hired a car to collect him from Faro and took the chance to explore inland at Loule and Sao Bras de Alportel - Loule has a fabulous market and castle which we loved however the long walk in 30 degrees of heat to find the roman road in Sao Bras de Alportel probably wasn't one of smartest moves - no water and in silly shoes.

Louie Castle - rebuilt in 13th century has a nice archaeological museum and nice view to.

Guitars of the World created by Children in Loule

Loule - lovely covered streets
Market at Loule

Roman Road - nice but along walk in the heat

The Katherine arrived in time for our last night in Lagos - so we booked into the fabulous tapas bar in the boat yard. Yes seriously this has to be one of the best restaurants in Lagos and it's under the chandlers with a view of the boat yard. Jim & Kathy had flown in from Texas to join the Katherine for a couple of weeks and we had a brilliant night that started with all sorts of gin and ended with Mondrango liquor!

Liquor time with Lee and Andrew
Sailing down the Algarve
Entering the Lagoon at Faro - a little bit exciting

We got the pump installed but it still wasn't working right so an accumulator tank was promptly shipped. The air-con unit arrived but the engineer had to go off to a funeral so we decided to leave the marina and sail down the Algarve with James. We did have one night at anchor in Lagos bay and then sailed east. The plan was to anchor a little further down the coast but the wind ended up being far stronger than forecast and westerly creating fairly big seas. So we didn't really have much choice but to go directly to Faro. By the time we arrived at the entrance to the lagoon it was blowing nearly 30 knots and the seas were >2m so it was with some caution, locked hatches and life jackets on that we entered the pass at mid ebb (tide was running out at 4 knots). It was only a short distance and we could have opted to run off and wait in the lee of the breakwater but Askari managed to make 3 knots through the worse of it and that flat water was calling us. A little bit exciting and then total happiness to arrive in the gorgeous flat calm Ria Formosa. We anchored out in the middle of the lagoon with a view of Isla Deserta and not another boat for miles.

Boys exploring Isla Deserta

James takes a dip

Swimming on the outside of the island - much calmer today

Friday, August 19, 2016

Arrival in Lagos

We had a leisurely breackfast in Sagres before pulling the anchor and having a fun sail along the coast in flat water to Lagos - Sarah helmed all the way and coped really well with the gusty conditions. After months of being in the swell of the Atlantic Andrew and I were delighted to be in the Algarve even though we could see high rises on the horizon..... 

Askari loves these calm seas and just flew

Sarah on the helm - a natural

Powering along

Pinacles at Lagos

Interesting kayak tour!

Entrance to Lagos

On the waiting pontoon for Lagos Marina
We got a great berth at Lagos in what we have called Oyster ally as there are 6 other Oysters all around us. We asked Rui one of the marineros where we should eat for Fish for Sarah's last night - surprisingly (not) his brother had a restaurant so that's where we went and we totally treated, including getting to sample grandmas homemade fig desert and local moonshine called Medronho, which is a fruit brandy not commercialyl made, it was surprisingly delicious. It is apparently an honour to share with friends and cannot be bought.

Trying Medronho and grandma's desert

Sarah's off back to Lisbon -6.30am!!
Sarah left us early the next morning - the train station is just behind the marina so it's very handy.

Now onto boat jobs and a bit of exploring before the next visit - Andrew's son James arrives at the end of the week.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Sines to Sagres around Cabo de Sao Vicente and Ponta de Sagres

Oh gosh an early start - we upped anchor at 7am after a calm night at anchor in Sines. The route today would take us into the Algarve around Cabo de Sao Vicente -the jumping off point for many of the Portuguese Discoverers and the south west corner of Europe. We knew the wind would pick up at this corner so the plan was to aim to get there by 3pm before the sea breeze got too strong - we didn't want to scare our crew today....

There was a little bit of wind and a 2m swell today but not a cloud in the sky; the route to the Cape was about 60 miles so we motor sailed at first but then got full sails up before poling out the jib. Then in the afternoon we gave Sarah a taste of what it's really like sailing in the Atlantic as the seas picked up to 2.5/3m and the wind settled at a steady force 5. Just after we got poled out and the sails set, we decided that we might have a fish - 2 minutes later the rod went crazy. We quickly set about our first every fish drill on Askari. This meant a bit of rushing around by me - arghhh do we slow down or get the gaff  and bucket ready..... run, run, run.... I put the main away while Andrew pulled in a small skipjack tuna. After advice from Andrew on the Katherine we were anxious not to get any blood on our teak deck, so Andrew carefully bled the fish and cut the fillets off in a bucket on the stern steps; which was interesting with such a big sea running. Yay our first fish.

Fish Drill
Here it comes
First fish
Sailing resumed and we had a great sail down to the cape, gybed around the point having put the pole away and had a lovely reach for the short distance to Ponta de Sagres before the swell dropped away and we saw the beautiful calm bay at Sagres. We all immediately agreed we should go and take a look and it was stunning so down went the anchor and we all had a swim....

Interesting rock formations around Cabo Sardao
Cabo de Sao Vicente from the West
Cabo de Sao Vicente from the South West 
Cabo de Sao Vicente from the South
Ponta de Sagres
View from our anchorage at Sagres

This bay reminded us of the Kimberley in Western Australia with red cliffs and caves, there was only 3 other boats at anchor but as the evening went on plenty more arrived, we didn't mind it was calm and the wind dropped as the evening went on. We seared the tuna in sesame seeds for a starter and then lit the BBQ - great evening to end a great day. Sarah really enjoyed the sail and never flinched at the fairly big seas -what a star!

Beer to celebrate arrival in the Algarve (note fish injury on finger) 
Carolyn and Sarah swimming in Sagres

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Oeiras to Sines

Sarah had joined us two days ago and had said she was keen for a sail.... The sail south from Oeiras to the Algarve would take two long days out in the Atlantic with an overnight stop in Sines (pronounced Sinch) which didn't look terribly glamorous for a Sydneysider princess (ha ha - that's luckily so not Sarah). So Andrew briefed her on possible conditions and she agreed to the adventure!

We left mid morning with the hope of a bit of wind from the seabreeze, we motor sailed around Cabo Espechel (which looked just like a crocodile to me) and it wasn't until after lunch the wind kicked in and the seafog lifted. Then we had a totally amazing afternoon on a gently rolling Atlantic; pilot whales came to visit, the sun shone and we put up the assy - so a true champagne sailing day fit for a princess after all!

Relaxed skipper and crew

Cabo Espechel - crocodile??
Champagne Sailing

Pilot whales - right alongside Askari
We approached Sines about 5pm and all we could see was oil refinery buildings and huge ships, then we passed the breakwater and the sea calmed again and we entered the inner harbour to find a gorgeous bay - you did have to fix you gaze away from the oil tankers and I didn't really fancy a swim but it was so much nicer than we expected.

Anchorage at Sines
Andrew dropped Sarah and I ashore to explore Vasco de Gama's birthplace.....

Our taxi driver heading back to Askari

Exploring Sines

Selfie with Vasco
Not sure about this cannon pointing right at Askari....
We managed to buy a mobile phone sim card and have a bit of a wander - although we have to admit to forgetting our shoes so we didn't walk too far! Then we returned to Askari for champagne provided buy our fabulous crew - such a treat!

Pink Champagne to celebrate a perfect day.