Monday, 19 October 2009





Sunday, 19 July 2009


I had a nice peaceful night at anchor on the Spanish side, just south of a wreck of an old fishing boat, whose jagged edges looked rough and intimidating if you got too close, and in the morning it was time to head west and explore new ground. I had kept to my task of not going into a marina since I arrived, except for one occasion, and I think that was mentioned in my last posting, I was going to head for a little place called Tavira.

I left about three hours before low water, with the aim of going into Tavira on a rising tide. The distance I suppose was about 15 miles. My plan worked, and when I went in through the breakwaters, there was plenty of the salty liquid, even though it looked a little bit disturbed. I slowly motored around to the left, keeping my eye on the sounder and slowly motored past all the boats until I was the last one. I dropped the hook in about ten feet of water and settled down to a pleasant evening, and of course the big decision . . . . what was for dinner? Boiled potatoes and cold corned beef came to mind, and with a can of peas thrown in, I was eating happily in the cockpit by 7 pm.

Still on Spanish time, something I never changed during my spell in Portugese waters, I was up early the following morning, and decided to try and get an internet connection to call Jackie. But, it was too far, so the only option was to row ashore and get the bus into town and find the library where there is free access to wi-fi. It was a fair row and I was glad I had the tide with me. I pulled the dinghy up the hard, and met a man named George who had a little boat with some nice blue smudges down one side. He told me a story of woe and gave me a lift into town where he showed me where the supermarket was, and a few other things. I gave him a card and he promised to look at my blog. Nice guy, shame I was not staying longer, because he could be a real asset. George, if you are reading this, please email me.


I found the library, and continued with some blog and called up Jackie on skype. I checked the blog and was surprised that there had been no comments. I also checked my e-mails, and was really heartened to receive an e-mail from a very famous yachting journelist, telling me what he was up to, and giving me a little advice. Fantastic, I thought, so people are reading it and enjoying it.


I did not stay too long in Tavira, but had some great walks. By chance, I met and was chatting with an architects' assistant, and apparently, there are big plans to spoil this place in the next couple of years with money making ideas, like marinas and so forth.


I spent a couple of nights in Tavira, but I was hankering after a good old sail, even a bit on the wind (not too much), so I decided to strike out and sail west to a little town called Portimao. I left early, and by 11.00 am the wind was about 15 knots coming from the west, so to make progress, it was a couple of hours on one tack, and then a couple hours on the other. When the sun went down, I still had three hours to go, and suddenly without so much as a warning, a very strong breeze came off the land mass, and heeled me over a tad. It was time for my coat as it turned a bit chilly. The breeze was just on the beam, and suddenly we were flying along at 6 knots. We entered the breakwaters at Portimao a little after midnight and found a peacful spot to drop the hook.

Before I go on, let me tell you of two exciting events that happened to me during the sail from port to port. Firstly, I was trolling a couple of lures, and as usual nothing was happening, until a sudden screeching of the ratchet on the reel told me that things they were a changing. I looked back, and there was a heaving mass, but wait, not only have I caught a big fish, but a seagull had attacked the fish and would not let go! I started to reel in as quick as I could, and kept glancing back at my quarry. No more than seconds had passed by, when I took a good long look and stopped reeling, no fish, but the seagull was trapped in the line! He was nowhere near the lure, and must have got his wing caught in the line. "OH MY GOODNESS!" I realised that I had to save the bird, but in doing so, the bird (as big as an eagle!) was going to peck me to death, just for saving it`s life. I pulled it aboard and it didn't have a go at me, so I unravelled the line from it`s wing and took a couple of pictures for my mates, you know, the ones that say I can't catch anything, just show 'em "LOOK WHAT I CAUGHT!". I then picked him up and put him back in the sea. He fluttered his wings, said "many thanks" and off he flew. I did not get pecked once, but I bet if I had had a hamburger in my hand, I would have lost it.

The next thing was, I had decided to keep the two lines out with the lures on, and ended up tacking into about 15 knots of breeze, so my progress to Portimao was not as quick as it should have been, but there was no rush, and my e.t.a. was about 1.00 am the next morning. As the sun was going down, it got difficult to see in front of the boat, (a bit like driving a car into a low sun), and especially on port tack. We were averaging about 4 knots when suddenly, I saw a lobster pot rubbing down my starboard side. My first thought was would it foul the propeller? But as I watched it go astern, it was obvious we had got away with it. Then it struck me that both my lures were going to get snagged around the pot because of our leeway. I didn't have to wait long, and you can't suddenly stop 5 tons of wooden yacht. Both lines went taut, and the pot started following me. One of the lines started screeching out until I tightened it right up, and then, within about 30 seconds, first one, then the other line snapped at the business end. When I reeled them in, there was nothing on the ends. I had lost about £20 worth of lures! I'd had enough fishing for the day and put the kit away. Yeah, a cup of tea would console me.

The sun went down, and although I was in Portugal, I had left my watch on Spanish time and it was gone 10.00pm but still light. About an hour later, the wind started to mess about a little, and eventually came in with a bang from the land side. Suddenly, we were rocking along at six knots with twenty knots of wind on our starboard quarter. The wind was behind and pushing us. This was going to help us get to Portimao a little quicker, and we entered the breakwaters, turned right and found a nice little spot in ten feet of water. I made a quick cuppa and got into my cosy bunk for a well earned sleep.

I woke up at about 8 am, as a very large ferry was coming into Portimao. No harm to me but interesting. It looked like it was coming from Madeira, but who knows. The decks were lined with people, and not one of them was being seasick.

There were also quite a few fishing boats coming back from a night at sea, heading to land their catch and get the best possible price. It made the anchorage a little uncomfortable with the continuous wakes from these boats.

I folded and put away the sails, got myself some weetabix and a banana, and got the dinghy pumped up ready for a trip ashore. I needed a few bits and bobs, and it would be nice to get a couple of bags of ice for my coolbox. The row ashore was quite long, and when I got there, it was a mass of holiday makers heading for the beaches with their sun tan lotions, lunch and parasols. It was a nightmare, you could even smell the oil on the bodies. It was just like they had been oiled up and were now heading on their own accord to the barbecue. I made my way to what I thought was the town centre, but just kept passing ready oiled bodies, and the type of shops associated with seaside resorts. I needed some money from the cash point but the first two I tried were not working, after a bit of asking, a lady told me where a decent mini market was located with a cash machine nearby. It was about midday and so hot, the sweat was starting to roll, and I had formed an opinion on this place. . . . I didn't like it, and wanted OUT. I found the cash point and also the little mini market which was quite well stocked. I got the bits I needed, bearing in mind it was a fair old walk back to the dinghy in 90 degrees of heat, and asked for a couple of bags of ice for my coolbag. She didn't have that kind of ice, but in the bottom of her freezer she had some large freezer bags with solid ice in. I got two, paid up, and started my weary walk back to the dinghy. When I got there, I had a quick look round to see if I could fill up my 2 gallon water container, but no luck, water is like gold, and I had to get the ice back on the boat, and into the coolbox proper. I must say I was fed up with the place, and apparently the town is two miles from where I was anchored, so without an outboard, it is a bit of a slap, especially if you don't sort the tides out right, and end up rowing against the flow.

I decided to just chill out and have a washing day instead, and clear out first thing in the morning to go to Faro.


The next day I was up bright and early and ready to go, but just before I went, I had a little look further up to the head of the river, to see what was what. It only took an hour, there and back, and it is where all the fishing boats are and there is an interesting old boatyard with a few yachts moored alongside other old boats. It would have been interesting to explore further, but I had made my mind up to leave, and that was that.

I just knew with the westerly winds, I was going to have a cracking sail back down the coast, and so it was to be for most part a three sail reach, getting to the entrance to Faro two hours into the flood at about 4.30 pm. It was my first time here, and I decided to go to a nice anchorage that had been recommended to me. called Culatra. I went in through the narrow buoyed channel, and then missing the extended sand spit that juts out, hung a right, and a couple of miles further on, just dropped the hook in 15 feet of sand, a perfect day.

I liked the look of this place and it was hot, but a nice fresh westerly was blowing through keeping things cool.

I stayed here for a couple of weeks, doing different things. I motored up the canals to Olhao, a super little town with a fantastic market every day. There is room for half a dozen boats to anchor, and you can fill your cool box with ice for one euro. All I am going to say is that I enjoyed the whole experience. I had been on the boat for quite a while, met some fantastic people, people like Humph and Maggie, who have a Wylo II that they built themselves.



This will be the last of the blog, and for personal reasons I am thinking of selling SIMO. Don't be shocked, it has been a long thought out thing, so don't be asking why or wherefore. I am going to close the blog by showing you lots of pictures of what I see as a wonderful place.

I am now back home in France, and Simo is resting peacefully somewhere along the Algarve, after having yet another coat of varnish to her coachworks. She has been a wonderful boat to me, and I am sure for the previous owners as well. She has looked after me when times were grim, and in many, many other ways, and when she goes to a new owner, it will be like losing a long term friend. I have had fantastic memories of sailing her, and she is in the finest condition for her 46 years. If by any chance she is still with me come May or June next year, 2010, I may sail her to Madeira and back, as I had planned this year, and I will take one crew member with me, who, I dont know yet.

For all you people out there who have been reading the blog, I do hope you have enjoyed it, and especially all you people who have left comments and e-mailed me, thank you very much. This is Micky Boy signing off, so enjoy the pictures.....

john, wendys other half