23rd October 2008, Lagos, S Portugal
Well - where was I! Actually sitting in a warm bath in the hotel in La Coruña and I found one of those lumps a lady dreads most. So stop everything, flight home, get checked out, everything ok, flight back to Lisbon, upwards and onwards. Phew!
Thank goodness Murray (fellow sailor and friend from Port Edgar) was able to leap into the breach and help Gordon round from La Coruña to Lisbon.
Huge thanks to everyone who lent support during that worrying couple of weeks.
Oh - by the way, Gordon found a crack on the auto pilot actuator support bracket which will have to be dealt with.
Took the open top bus tour thingy around Lisbon. So hot at 30ºC. Lisbon doesn't seem as white and sparkly as I remember from my last visit, which was pre democracy in 1963. Mind you that could be more to do with me being a wee 13 year old Glasgow lassie who had never been further than Ireland, so it all seemed pretty impressive.
I met John, Selma, Jacobus and Ella as previously introduced. We had a very late night, laughed like drains, especially when it came time (well long past time actually) for me to leave the boat. Brain in gear, legs in neutral - Oh dear!
We sailed back up to Cascais which has the most beautiful microclimate. They don't seem to have a Grand Prix here anymore but there's a lot of evidence of the very wealthy infrastructure which resulted from it. On Tuesday 30th we went out for dinner, Gordon had chicken piri piri, me prawns. Within 8 hours it became apparent the chicken would have been a better choice. Next 3 days a bit of a haze but it gave Gordon the chance to design and fit a new bracket on the autopilot and place the order for a replacement spinnaker pole (the one lost at sea). (techy bits:The GRP support for the inboard end of the autopilot actuator was completely cracked- see photo. It was the pin at the other end of the actuator that broke in Biscay. We got a 5mm stainless steel backing plate made and bonded it in place, making it much stronger than the original arrangement. Gordon )
We found a lovely little Café / Restaurant perched on the cliff near the marina. Spent a couple of happy afternoons there looking over the sea. [see pics] Have realised now that its day 100 of our trip (Friday 3rd October).
Have decided to leave for Sines tomorrow and then push onto Lagos since we are about one week behind schedule at the moment what with one thing and another.
We left Cascais at 0915 and arrived at Sines at 1830 hrs. This is a pretty strange place - we've lost 10ºC between Cascais and here and the local population live in an old town perched on the top of a cliff but the area around the marina is either very heavily industrialised or it feels a bit barren. Large amounts of money have been invested in paving the walkways and installing elaborate lighting but there's nowhere to walk to and the lighting doesn't work.
Another interesting thing is that when sitting below deck one can hear very loud crackling, which from past experience we found to be the sound of prawns!
Had a very bizarre meal in said old town in a Russian restaurant. I had cuttlefish, which was actually just two big pieces of bone, and nothing edible. Then drinks in a bar where Gordon and I were the only non-Africans! As I said - strange place.
We left Sines at 05.00am on a pitch-black moonless morning. First two thirds of the journey light north winds with NW swell. However as we rounded Cape St Vincent the wind picked up to a lively 25 knots, which scooted us along the Algarve coast. We came close to shore to see Salema, a village where we spent 9 or 10 summers when Rachel and Chris were children. Lovely to see it from this point of view. It was getting on for 5.00pm so we called Lagos marina to learn that they closed at 6.30pm, so still having 9 miles to go we put the engine on and did a 'stinkpot' impersonation, arriving at Lagos at 6.00pm.
Next day Gordon went straight to the chandlery to order a new PLB battery, then we went off to explore Lagos. It is very similar to 10 years ago with loads of pavement cafes and restaurants and shop, some good and some awful, but a very festive town. When we arrived I said "we will never find 'Grand Slam' (a fellow Port Edgar boat owned by Andy and Pam Burns)". However next morning we discovered the boat next but one to us, sadly though no Andy or Pam. They are back in Scotland at the moment.
Met interesting chap called Paul who is MD of Blue Ocean in Portimao, plus several flotsam and jetsam people who come to Portugal and never leave. A common occurrence in these parts.
Monday 13th October - Our 35th Wedding Anniversary. Since we celebrated last night at 'Lazy Jacks', (marina side pub which has become our regular) in some good company, we had a low key day which began with Pam and Andy knocking on the boat to say "hi we're back". Apparently Anna and Bob, another couple we know from Port Edgar, are coming out tomorrow to spend a week with them, so it should be fun. (It was see photo.)
The last 10 days have been hectic. Gordon has had a load of jobs to do on the boat and we have decided to give up on the towed watermaker which simply does not work and have a proper big job installed instead. This of course has set up another mañana situation, with one week becoming two etc.
'Grand Slam' have been doing lots of day sailing but we can't really join in due to said jobs on the boat. We have managed to get together though for example at a BBQ in the boatyard, drinks at 'Lazy Jacks' etc.
We also had the arrival of our son Chris and his cameraman plus one aid worker from Morocco where they had been filming a documentary about aid tourism. They had also gone travelled into the desert with the Berber people to record their music- a great experience apparently. On Saturday cameraman left and on Sunday Rachel our daughter arrived. So it will be great to have some time with them both.
A word of warning, if you ever see meat on a Portuguese menu described as 'Brazilian Style' - avoid at all costs, since it means "stinks to high heavens and tastes like dog food".
We love our daughter dearly but on Tuesday morning somehow a wet wipe got down the heads (toilet) entailing a 3 hour session of dismantling and reassembly, details of which will not be gone into.
We eventually made it to Salema where we indulged in a day of nostalgia. As with many going back situations one can come away feeling a little sad. There were many familiar faces in restaurants doing the same job serving the same obnoxious tourists so many years later.
Still no sign of the replacement spinnaker pole that was ordered in Cascais.
Chris joined an open mike session on Thursday night at 'Lazy Jacks' performing a couple of solos which went down very well, then backing other musicians for the rest of the night. After 12.00 o'clock Chris's birthday was well toasted. Incidentally, Chris and Rachel have discovered a new sport -- extreme dinghying --definitely made possible by having an 8hp outboard: resulted in injuries to toes from hanging on.
We had great excitement in the marina this morning. The boat next to us was about to come out when they spotted buoys on the water and came back in. It was quickly realised that it was a full fishing net which had somehow been brought into the marina, perhaps hooked on someone's rudder. As a helpful guy was trying to bring in the net unbeknownst to him 'Grand Slam' decided to come out. The first we knew of this was Andy calling out to Gordon since he had sensibly cut his engine, but was now in danger of drifting into other boats. Gordon went out in the dinghy but by this time the marina people had been alerted and gave him a tow past the nets. It took about an hour to drag in the remaining net. Apparently this is not a rare occurrence here but certainly one to watch out for. Comments were made to Andy about taking up trawling.
Lagos is in the midst of a multicultural fiesta with staging in the square and much music and dancing. There were stands representing all countries taking part including the UK but for some reason it was the only one that was shut!
Have now confirmed Martin´s arrival date and now preparing for the next leg to Madiera.
We have been very busy over the last few weeks hence the lengthy silence. But keep in touch folks and don't let the winter get you down too much.