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And so to the Algarve….

September 2, 2009

Let me start by thanking a young man by the name of Rafael, who mends boats for a living.  He was the man contacted by the marina staff to help fix our recalcitrant water pump.  He appeared on board about 6pm, looked at the pump, agreed it was terminally ill and that he could probably get a replacement to us that evening.  He was as good as his word, departing into Lisbon to pick up a new pump and returning to us at about 10pm, apologising profusely for his lateness, which had been caused by bad traffic as Lisbon came back to life after a holiday weekend.  He had the new pump fitted in about 10 minutes and was gone, having presented what was a very reasonable bill considering how much trouble he’d been to for us.  A credit to Portugal!

We left the following morning (yesterday) having topped off the water tanks; the new pump has a higher capacity than the old one and can empty one of our 2 tanks in about 10 minutes if a tap is left on! 

Our aim was to sail for about 24 hours to reach a place called Portimao, just round Cape St Vincent on the Algarve.  In the event, the wind was working with us to such an extent that we changed our minds about middle day and decided to run on to Vilamoura, which is about 30 miles further on.  This then makes our next leg to Cadiz that much shorter and easier.

The only real excitement of the day was mid afternoon, when it became necessary to put the third reef into the mainsail.  The third reef is the only one which requires you to leave the cockpit; the first 2 reefs work off single lines from the cockpit.

David was on watch and brought the boat into the wind whilst I went up to the mast to fix the reefing point at the mast.  This meant that we were heading into the wind for the first time that day and the movement of the boat was quite exciting.  Anyhow, all was going well and I’d just attached the reefing point and was preparing to move back to the cockpit when a large wave broke over the bow of the boat.  Result; soaked Duncan and David, cockpit full of water and much giggling.  However, J then appeared from below and gave us the news that one of the hatches in the saloon and those in David’s cabin had not been shut.  Result: loads of water on David’s bed and quite a bit in the saloon.  Nothing too disastrous but it meant David had to sleep in the other cabin for the night whilst things dried out.

We continued to make good time and rounded Cape St Vincent in the small hours of the morning.  Julia brought the boat on to the new course for Vilamoura and then had to start the motor and put the sails away when the wind went on strike.  We got the wind back again after an hour and cracked on at about 6 – 7 knots for the remainder of the trip, arriving in Vilamoura about middle day.

Having said the Oieras was a posh place,  it’s as nothing compared to this marina.  It’s at the heart of a tourist development, with bars, cafes and little shops surrounding it.  The facilities are quite good and it’s nice to be in the centre of town.  Have to see how noisy it is tonight!

J has conducted a recce of the laundromat and has left to wash a load of things that got soaked in our excitements yesterday.  I’m writing this offline as David has left on a mission to find cheap/free internet access.  If the marina doesn’t provide, we’re usually forced to drink beer in a bar which offers a wifi zone – it’s terrible the things you’re forced to do just to keep your reader’s curiosity satisfied.

Our plan is to leave for Cadiz tomorrow, arriving the following day.  We’ll then spend a night there before leaving to move on to Gibraltar, where we’ll refuel and replen with things British before heading onwards to Barcelona.  It is great to be approaching the next of our goals; entering the Med.  In many ways it still doesn’t seem quite real.  It isn’t until you sit and read through the log book or look at the charts with the hourly positions marked on them that you realise just how far we’ve come.  Equally, there’s still quite a bit still left; it’s just over 700 miles to Barcelona.  If we really wanted to we could do that in under a week (we can do 120 miles a day if we’re lucky).  Realistically, we’re aiming to get there late September, taking our time and mainly day sailing once we drop David in Malaga.

Anyhow, that’s all from us for now.  We’ll try and post again when we get to Cadiz and of course from Gibraltar.

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