three hulls, two people, one trip around the world…

Portimão and the Algarve Coast

As the weather was good for a week, we booked a boat tour along the coast. Sounds odd, doesn’t it? But it was the right decision. The tour boats are small speedboats with powerful engines that travel along the coast of the Algarve from Pontimão to Benagil, entering the small caves that can be found there. Even in good weather, the surf there is so strong that our dinghy would not be able to handle it. Even with the powerful engines of the tour boats, you still need a skipper who knows the area. Our skipper looked very tough, he was almost bare-chested as the sun was shining. We on the other hand had wrapped up well, as it is always chillier than you think in the wind on the water.

This is the route along the coast.

The caves and some of the passages between the rocks made me feel a little queasy. Definitely not an excursion for your own dinghy. But great pictures:

February braught the next bad weather. This time the harbour police went to the moorers and warned them. As our engine was not operational at the time, we still wanted to stay on site. We prepared emergency measures: We carried the second anchor with its 20 metre chain lead and around 60 metre rope onto the foredeck and also attached the large bridle. The harbour ontrol had said we could stay, but at our own risk. One day before the announced wind started, another boat from the harbour authority arrived, this time with a bad-tempered official. He wasn’t impressed by the fact that we were unable to manoeuvre. It was already 5 p.m. and yet he only gave us until the evening to either go to the marina or anchor further up the river. He was convinced that the marina could assist us with driving in and that we just didn’t want to pay. He obviously had no experience of manoeuvring a wind-sensitive giant boat without using the engine and bow thruster. As we were guests here, we didn’t want to start an argument and decided to anchor in the river.

There were several obstacles to overcome. One is that the anchor windlass is connected in such a way that it can only be used when the engine is running and there is no hand crank function. We got round this by using an extra rope, which we led to one of the other winches. Initially we used the hand winch for the parasailor, and later a winch at the helm, which is powered by our batteries. A claw was hooked into the chain, pulled up a little, the stopper fixed, the claw moved and the chain pulled up yet a little more. This method was no longer efficient enough for the last section and we used the spi halyard to pull the chain together with the anchor out of the water until the anchor was hanging just under the bow. Once the anchor was loose, we had to manoeuvre somehow only with the sails. With jib and genoa we manoeuvred up the river and against the tidal fall (approx. 2 knots counter current). In the meantime, several lines were in use at the bow and we had to make sure that nothing got tangled up when we furled the genoa. The small bridle got into the drum of the genoa furling system and had to be cut. But I made sure that the chain hanging from the halyard next to the genoa was kept out of the furling area. Mathias had chosen a position to anchor and by the time we got there it was already dark.

There was nothing left to do but quickly take away the sails, drop the anchor and chain as quickly as possible and then hope that it would take hold. We pulled the SAN backwards a little with the dinghy hoping this would bury the anchor better. Usually we would use the motor to pull on the chain and the anchor until we were sure that the anchor was holding. But as we had no use of the engine, that was not possible. We didn’t exactly feel comfortable during the whole operation, too much could have gone wrong. But Mathias kept his cool on the outside and therefor I was fine too. Don’t think so much, concentrate on the action.

Because there were other boats anchored next to us in the river, we could only pay out 70 metres of chain. We hoped to be safer now than at our old anchorage.

In fact, the waves were much less this far up the river than in the estuary and we weathered the Gale well. A two-master next to us had more problems. It slipped about 30 metres. Luckily there was enough room. The boat only has a total of 40 metres of chain and a 60 kg heavy but simply shaped anchor.

We didn’t know how we were going to get away from this spot. The wind and current would have to be favourable. But in the meantime, our engine has been repaired and we’re ready to go. Mathias is still tinkering with the lightning protection and I’m using the time that his (faster) computer is free to finally get on with the YouTube films.

So far, we are planning to sail on sometime in March. If one waits too long, the Strait of Gibraltar will fill up with orcas and fishing nets.

The weather changes frequently, and on sunny days you can lie in the sun in a windless spot. It’s around 20°C, which makes Portugal a great place to spend the winter.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Annette Wallace

    I’m enjoying your journey as usual – the caves look amazing. Probably it was best you were out of the gale in the river, even with the difficulties of anchoring.

    1. trimaran-san

      Yes, it was safer there, even with poorer holding capabilities of the seabed there…

      best, Mathias

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