Category Archives: 2017 Portugal

Hola Spain, Again – October 2017

1st – 10th October 2017

We had our final few days in Praia de Faro and had some amazing sunsets.  We took another trip into Faro and actually saw a stork in one of the nests, we’d only seen empty nests previously.

John and Primrose were joining us and we were planning on going from Faro along to Gibraltar.  We spent a night anchored at the entrance so that we could get off fairly easily in the morning.  We sat on the front of boat on that evening 3rd October, appreciating what we had and made a special toast to Ian’s brother Steve on which would have been his 54th birthday, who sadly passed away earlier this year.

We spent the following night at a marina on the Portuguese side of the Portuguese/Spanish border and left swiftly the following morning for Mazagon.  On arrival in the marina at Mazagon we were surprised at home many empty berths there were, one side of the marina was completely empty.  The only ones pleased about this were the birds and there were plenty of them and the mess they make too!

We walked into town which was very quiet and found a very Spanish restaurant.  John was feeling rather smug as he asked the owner if he could put some Flamenco music on and he did!

Christopher Columbus and the New World

We took a trip to Monasterio de Santa María de La Rábida (Monastery of Santa María de la Rábida) which is where Christopher Columbus spent a year putting his case with the help and influence of two of the friars,  Fray Antonio de Marchena and Fray Juan Pérez  for funding for a voyage to discover a western route to Asia which he didn’t get to as America was in the way.  Columbus set sail on 3rd August 1492.

Also here are replicas of the three boats that sailed the voyage the PintaNiña, and Santa María.  They are very small!

Cadiz, Moron de la Frontere and Jerez (7-10 October 2017)

We crammed a lot into our four nights here.  Cadiz is a lovely city, lots of small streets with tall buildings, a little similar to the Old Town of San Sebastian.  There are also a number of squares with bars and restaurants on each side. We visited the Cathedral here.

Cadiz isn’t far from Moron de la Frontere, which is where John regularly goes to play flamenco with his gypsy friends.  So we hired a car and took the two hour journey staying at the Gran Hotel Moron which we had heard so much about.  It was better than expected albeit a little outside of town.  We took a drive in and I was pleasantly surprised at how nice it was.  It had a lovely square which we sat in and had a beer and some tapas.  The town was home to Deigo Del Gastor who is a renowned flamenco guitarist.  He played a very personal style of flamenco guitar. He referred to it as “toca gitano” (to play gypsy).  There is a memorial to him in Moron de la Frontere.

C3. Penya - Moron 9.10.17.John was hoping to be able to take us to the Peña, which is where people meet to eat, drink and play flamenco.  Unfortunately it wasn’t open, hence the look of Ian and John.  Obviously Primrose and I were devastated.

We went back to the hotel for a freshen up and then went back into town to the Bar Alemán.  John made a couple of phone calls to his gypsy friends inviting them for a drink.  Obviously they were somewhat surprised to discover that he was in town.  We had a great evening with Alberto and Paco and his wife Poppy.  Even though Ian, Prim and I speak no Spanish, Poppy no English, Alberto and Paco can speak some English and John who says his Spanish isn’t that good, (but it absolutely is) we managed to chat all evening and more or less understand each other.

Andalusion Horse Show, Jerez

Prim loves horses and we had been told by a couple we met in Cadiz, Marie and Dave, that there was a horse show in Jerez.  The Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art is devoted to conserving the ancestral abilities of the Andalusian horse, maintaining the classical traditions of Spanish baroque horsemanship, preparing horses and riders for international dressage competitions, and providing education in all aspects of horsemanship, coachdriving, blacksmithing, the care and breeding of horses, saddlery, and the manufacture and care of horse harness.  Unfortunately we weren’t able to take photos of the show.

Jerez is also home to a number of sherry houses.  A well known one, (I’ve only heard of it because John drinks it from time to time) Tio Pepe is based here which is produced by González Byass.  So we next made a visit here where we took a tour.  Not as good as other tours we’ve been on, we felt we were on a bit of a sales pitch.

We had an early start the following morning as we were leaving for our first hop to get down to Gibraltar, more about that in the next blog!

23rd October 2017

The Algarve – September 2017

We arrived in the Algarve at the beginning of September and have stayed for the whole of the month as we’ve had various visitors and this was a good place for people to fly in and out of.

We arrived in Vilamoura where Gary and Shelley left us (as I mentioned in the last blog).  We set off from Vilamoura back up the coast to Portimao, in south westerly winds of 14-16knots and so it took us five hours as it was on the nose.  We anchored off the beach at Ferragudo a very busy anchorage but not that comfortable a night as the fishing boats were backwards and forwards so lots of wash rocking us about.

A2. Ferragudo village 12.9.17.The following day we ventured up the river to the old town of Portimao which was much calmer.  We anchored up and the following day went ashore to be met by a guy from the marina there who told us we couldn’t anchor there even though the chart said we could.  After a bit of a discussion we decided to move back to Ferragudo but nearer to the village.  There is a Lidl’s just a 10/15 minute walk so gave us the opportunity to stock up.

Wednesday 13th September we headed back to Vilamoura to meet up with Paula and Paul.  Paul having already been in Vilamoura for a week playing golf, showed us where there were more restaurants and bars away from the marina, which we hadn’t found on our previous visit.  After a lovely meal Paul insisted (obviously he tied our hands behind our back and dragged us there) we visit an Irish bar which had a live band.  We left there at 2am, the band still in full swing to a packed bar with quite a lot of people still dancing on tables, something we definitely did not participate in.

B4. Paella - Faro - 14.9.17.

The following day back to our main base in the Algarve, Praia de Faro where we spent the night on anchor and Ian cooked his speciality “Paella”.  On Friday morning (15th Sept) we waved Paula and Paul goodbye literally as we are next to the runway.

We had a week before our next visitors would be arriving so we took the opportunity to move the boat to a shallower part of the river where it dried out so that we could have a look at the bottom of the boat.  We’d had Coppercoat put on before we left in May and wanted to see what was on the bottom of the boat.  The Coppercoat had done its job as there were no barnacles just a light covering of weed.  It was mainly sand here but we managed to settle in one of the two spots that was mud which you sank into very quickly.  The other spot our Mahe Mates, Karen and Ronnie found.  We both decided to put our stern anchors out so that we didn’t swing round so Ian and Ronnie walked out to dig the anchor in.  Ian and I decided to go ashore for dinner so we walked ashore through the mud and weed walking quickly so didn’t sink too far in and thankfully it was only knee deep.

The next day we decided to move along the channel so that we were in sand.  So we now have a nice clean bottom!

Dave and Deb arrived on Thursday 21st September and we spent a lovely few days with them mooching around the Faro area on anchor.

Dave is a keen West Ham fan and Ian is also a supporter, so wanted to watch the West Ham vs Tottenham game.  Vilamoura is full of sports bars but Faro is somewhat limited but we managed to find one, although the result of the game was not what he nor Ian wanted but they still managed a smile!  We finally ended up back in Vilamoura where Dave and Deb left us (Monday 25th Sept) and Jessica arrived later that day.

We ventured back to our “home spot” of Praia de Faro with Jessica and had a lovely few days with her.  All over so quickly before she was gone again.

Praia de Faro

Praia de Faro is our favourite spot on the Algarve.  It’s a little like home with little creeks but with the sun.  The river one side and then across a small strip of land a few hundred yards away is the beach and the Atlantic Ocean.  There are a few cafes, bars and restaurants.  It is very convenient for the airport.  We’ve been able to pickup/drop off people on the jetty that the ferry uses and then it’s a short five minute taxi ride to the airport.

The river is most suited for boats with a maximum 2m draft hence why very few boats come round to here.  The ferry runs into Faro at regular intervals during the day up to 11th September when it runs just twice a day.  There is a bus from the bridge but on the occasions we wanted to go into Faro we took Cuffysark and anchored up nearby to the town and went ashore in the dinghy.  We didn’t stay here overnight as the planes are directly overhead so we went back to our usual spot.  When the tide goes out the wildlife is more noticeable with storks, herons and various other birds.  This is also when people come out and dig for clams we think.


30TH September 2017

Sesimbra – Faro

28th August to 10th September 2017

We left Lisbon for our trip down to the Algarve in cloudy skies but very light winds.  First stop was Sesimbra where we anchored for the night which was quite rolly.  Next stop was Sines, which was a lovely sheltered harbour.  We anchored then spent a couple of nights in the marina.  There was a lovely beach but very few tourists.  We met up again here with our Mahe mates, Karen and Ronnie and had a lovely lunch where the locals ate.

A1. Sines - 31.8.17.

Next was our trip around Cape St Vincent and to an anchorage at Enseda de Sagra, a fairly long trip of nine hours.  Ronnie and Karen invited us for a BBQ off the back of their boat.  Typically it ended up quite windy so lighting the BBQ was quite a feat but Karen and Ronnie managed it.

We left the anchorage the following morning and headed to Alvor.  It was a hot sunny day with very little wind and as result when the dolphins arrived I managed to get the best video ever as the water so clear and calm.  (unfortunately I can’t post videos on this site but have posted a couple of stills).  On the way are some stunning rock formations and grottos.

Alvor is on a beautiful river which is sheltered by twin breakwaters, with many sand banks.  The town is quite touristy but quaint.  We only had one night here as we had people (Gary and Shelley) arriving later in the week and wanted to check out an anchorage in Faro and a place to pick them up.

D1. Sunset - Faro 3.9.17.We left Alvor for Faro at about 2.15pm, we couldn’t leave much earlier as we had to go in the entrance with the tide as the current is strong.  We didn’t get there until 8.30pm and it was nearly dark.  We only ventured a short way into the bay and dropped anchor for the night.


The following morning (Monday 4th September) we took ourselves off along the Canal de Faro to Praia de Faro.  We decided the anchorage nearest to Faro was quite busy with ferries and quite a way by dinghy to Faro itself plus it was directly underneath the flight path.  Praia de Faro was a small strip of land with the Canal on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other.  A lot of the Canal dried out so there was only a small channel where it stayed afloat and not very deep but we only draw 1.1m so this was fine.  Not many yachts ventured down here but we followed a ferry so we knew there had to be water all the time.

The runway at Faro airport was visible from the boat and we could see the planes landing but it didn’t cause us any problems with noise.

D4. Faro - airport runway - planes taking off 4.9.17.

Here there was a small jetty where the ferries picked up and dropped off passengers.  Gary and Shelley were arriving on Wednesday morning so we took the boat over to the jetty and they hopped on.  We had a nice day with a visit to the beach and we would be reminded of our visit over the next few days as, as you know, you can never give rid of the sand, but it was worth it.  On Thursday we had a trip on the ferry into Faro which was only 20 minutes.

Faro’s walled Cidade Velha, the old town has real character.  It is well known for the storks that nest in the buildings.  Below you can see the nests on the Arco de Vila.

We spent the following day mooching along the canal so that we would be nearer the entrance on Saturday when we were going off to Vilamoura.  We were hoping to see some dolphins on our trip to Vilamoura but it wasn’t to be.  We spent the night anchored at Ilha de Culatra, where I’ve never seen so many boats at anchor.

Vilamoura is a major purpose built tourist complex full of bars and restaurants much like any other big tourist development.  Visitors here appear to be in the main groups of guys who come for the golf.  We managed to find a Portuguese restaurant which was as far away from the boat as we could possibly be (on the other side of the marina) but it was worth it as the food was very good.  Sunday morning and Gary and Shelley left us for their flight back home.  It had been great to see people from home and we’d had a really good time.

We’d had plenty of jollity and fun over the last four days so now it was chores, cleaning, washing and shopping.  Yes I bet your hearts bleed for us.  We are not complaining it’s a pretty good life so far, this retirement lark!  Then setting sail again going back this time to Ferragudo which is opposite Portimao on the Rio Arade.

10th September 2017


Lisbon – 18th to 27th August 2017

We left Peniche yet again in fog for our passage to Lisbon.  On reaching the most westerly part of Europe, Cabo da Roca, the wind started to pick up 25-30 knots and the fog clearing. As we went around the headland the wind dropped off a little and we left the bank of fog sitting behind us.  We had decided to go on the opposite side of the River Tejo from Lisbon to a place called Seixal.  Very calm and peaceful away from the hub of the city. It took us a bit longer than it should have to get up the river as we were going against the tide which was running at 2knots. So it was three steps forward and one back! However it was late afternoon and decided we would prefer to get to Seixal that evening. The sun was shining and a good breeze so it wasn’t unpleasant.

A2. Cabo Raso, Nr Lisbon leaving fog behind 18.8.17.

On our way down the Rio Tejo we passed various sights including the Torre de Belem, the Padrao dos Descobrementos and the statue of Christ standing on one side of the 25th April bridge.  The noise as we went under the bridge was loud with the cars and trains running along it.

Seixal is a small town with a lot of development going on. There is a riverside promenade being laid. We stayed here for 10 nights. There’s a ferry across to Lisbon which takes about 15/20 mins for just €2.85 each way. We bought a Viva card which is like an Oystercard.

We spent the first couple of days on the boat and then ventured into Lisbon on Monday (21st August). We took a trip on the Yellow Tour Bus, as this would give us an idea of what places we wanted to visit.  So first of all we thought we’d go to the Torre de Belem, closed on Mondays!

Tuesday, first on our list was the Gulbenkian Museum, closed on Tuesdays! A pattern is beginning to form.  Next was to pop down to the Volvo Ocean centre. Try as much as Ian could, we couldn’t get access. This is as near as we could get but we did see one of the boats practising on our way out of the river.

We finally got into the Jeronimos monastery. It is quite spectacular.  The tomb of Vasco Da Gama is in the church here.  Gama was a navigator and explorer who discovered the sea route to India from Europe.

Gas and fish

D2. Fish eating at the surface - Seixal 21.8.17.Gas and fish you ask????  There we were Ian just about to dish up dinner and the gas goes out. No it wouldn’t relight, must be the bottle needs changing. Now we had three bottles when we left and we exchanged an empty one so by our reckoning we had a spare. Well no we didn’t. What we’d forgotten to factor in was that we changed the first bottle two days after leaving in May, so we only had two full and a little gas in one. There was a shop in town that sold gas but no not camping gas. It was looking more like we would have to go to Lisbon, which is a ferry ride away. There’s a large yacht Centre a 15 min dinghy ride away that we were sure didn’t sell gas but we were desperate! So off we go. Fish, yes a fish jumped out of the water into the boat, about 8inches long. It wasn’t easy trying to pick it up as it was flipping itself all over the place. We managed to scoop it out of the boat with the water baler only after we’d gone aground.  We were so busy trying to get the fish back in the water that we weren’t paying attention. We arrived at Tagus Yacht Centre and there wasn’t anyone in the office. A really helpful guy who was on his boat spoke to one of the guys working on the boats for us and we discovered there was a place 2km away. Anyway one of the guys agreed to taxi us to the shop for €10. The fare and the two bottles of gas came to €35, which is less than two at home or in France. So that really was a result. I waited with the dinghy and saw quite a group of fish (yes back to fish again) coming up to the top of the water feeding. Not seen anything like that before.

Ian to the rescue.  The boat behind had lost their dinghy, so Ian set off to retrieve it.

C1. Seixal - Ian rescuing someones dinghy 20.8.17.


The Castelo de S Jorge, is high on the hilltop and so gave great views of the city.


We’d met up with our Mahe Mates, Karen and Ronnie and we decided to take a trip up to the Royal Palaces.  We took the train which was 40 minutes from Lisbon, and just €4.40 return.  There are various places to go but we decided to go to the Pena Palace which is like visiting something at Disney, very brightly coloured.  It was a very steep bus ride to reach the palace.  The bus driver had quite a task trying to get through very narrow gaps, particularly where people had parked on the side of the road.

Views from the Palace



30th August 2017

Portugal – Leixoes to Peniche

10th to 18th August 2017



We arrived in Leixoes which is not the prettiest of marinas as it is situated in a large commercial port.  It was quite windy on arrival and the wind was pushing us off the pontoon as we tried to moor up, this is where two engines come into their own.

A2. Beach at Leixoes 11.8.17.As I’ve mentioned in various blogs the weather has been quite unsettled to this point (was assuming that would be the end of it and we would be in for more settled weather – more on that later) but the forecast for the next day was hot so it had to be a beach day.  It may have been hot but the ocean was freezing and I do mean freezing.


A1. 49ers World championship - Leixoes 11.8.17.Whilst sitting on the boat looking out we saw 49er dinghies on the pontoon opposite all with different national flags on their sails.  It appears that the World Championships is being held there at the end of August.




We were not far from Porto, the home of Port, so on Saturday 12th August 2107 we took a walk 20 minutes over the bridge into the next town where we took the tram into Porto.  Porto is the second city of Portugal.

We visited the Sao Francisco Church which is completed covered in gold and very elaborate.

The Cemetery is in the vaults of the church these are known as catacombs.  From what we could make out the graves are numbered on the floor and these are doorways down to the lower burial tombs and along the walls relates to who the graves belongs to, generally those who were well off.  There is also a large number of bones which can be seen through a grate these are of common people.

Porto as well as the home of Port is also the economic/financial city of Portugal. The Palasol de Bolsa is the old Stock Exchange.  It was built to impress and to earn credibility with European investors.  It has an “Arab Room” which is very ornate.  One of the rooms looks like it is wood panelling when in fact it is plaster painted to look like wood.

We had a stroll around the streets of Porto and we came across a barbeque in one of the narrow back streets which had fish and potatoes being grilled.  As we walked along we realised it belonged to a restaurant just along the way.  They had a menu of two courses for 10€, which was soup and a meat or fish dish.  We wandered further on, as we have a habit of jumping straight into the first place we see.  Further on was so crowded so we decided to go back.  The food was delicious.


There are so many port houses to visit here which are on the other side of the river.  We decided to visit the oldest port house, Taylor’s.  Very interesting tour followed by a taster of white and red port. It was suggested for a long drink to mix white port with tonic and we can vouch it’s very nice!


This is a fishing port and the town of Aveiro is about six miles down the river, so we went on down to the pontoon in the Canal de Veia which is run by a local association.  The moorings are all alongside so we don’t take up any more space than a boat the same length.  However, as soon as they see you are a catamaran they add extra on the price, so as a result we only stayed the one night here.  The surrounding area was quite flat and is made up of salt marshes so it was reminiscent of the East coast of England.  Would you have thought this was Portugal?

It was an overcast day (another one) and the local town of Aveiro was just five minutes on the bike.  This was a lovely little town that had a canals running through it, the “Venice of Portugal”.  We decided not to take a gondolier ride.

We visited the Cathedral and a church as you do in these place and they are not as ornate as those we’ve seen before.

We spent the next night in an anchorage in the Bao de Sao Jacinto which was nearer to the entrance as we had a long journey to our next stop which was Nazare about 65 miles, so nearly 11 hours journey.  We set off in the fog and apart from about an hour it stayed with us for the rest of the day.  The fog didn’t put off the small boats fishing in the entrance.  We did eventually get some wind to enable us to sail but it didn’t last all day.  We did get to see dolphins twice this day.  The second time we saw them there were lots of them, so much so we saw dolphins for half an hour, we couldn’t see anything else with the fog though!  As we approached the harbour entrance to Nazare the fog started to lift and we saw the sun.


P1. Nazare 16.8.17.We only stayed overnight in Nazare, a big tourist beach resort.  In Portugal you have to pay light dues and if you don’t have the relevant piece of paper you can be fined.  So off we went to find the local Maritime Police and pay our dues.  The tax was 2€.  The cost of the administration doesn’t seem worth it but I guess it could be worse the tax could be higher.


The following day was a lovely hot sunny day so we decided to go to Sao Martinho do Porto which is Portugal’s answer to Lulworth Cove albeit bigger which was about six miles along the coast.  There wasn’t much wind but we weren’t in any rush so we sailed round averaging about 3 knots.

We thought we would stay a second day here but, yes you’ve guessed it, we got up the following day (17th August 2017) and it was foggy!  So off we went to Peniche, which was just 18 miles along the coast.

We left Peniche the next day (18th August 2017) for Lisbon.  Another lovely foggy and rainy day too.

22nd August 2017