Time to go? Err, what’s the weather doing? Seems okay, but it’s getting windier. Let’s go now then!
“Marina Lagos, Marina Lagos, this is Gianti”, it’s time to lift that bridge and set us free. Obrigado. Ha! and as for you Chaplin, you’re history, we’re off.
Eight nautical miles later the first mate and I anchored inside the breakwater at Portimao. A rolly anchorage but during the winter I’d built a mighty flopper stopper so we’d soon have that pitching under control. Flopper stopper deployed, now just wait for things to settle. “Is it doing anything Bog face” (Captain). “Give it a minute to settle first mate, it’ll be fine”. “Not helping much is it!”. Damn it first mate, wind your neck in and do some boaty jobs like a real crew member. And no, just because you’ve been given a tee shirt with “Captain” on it doesn’t make you the gaffer.
After a very rolly, sleepless night we were off to Culatra. We were just out of Portimao harbour when the first issue unveiled itself. The headsail jammed as it was being unfurled. It wouldn’t budge, despite excessive brute force and shouting expletives at it! Eventually, we managed to resolve it by untying the sheets and unwinding the sail, turn by turn, around the furler. Now with both main and headsail set we turned the engine off. Wind is directly behind us on a dead run, so the mainsail is snaffling the headsails wind.
Okay, we’ll pole out the headsail on the opposite side to the main. Now the Whisker pole is jamming as I try to extend it. Probably because salt water has been trapped between the extending sections all over winter and has started to corrode the aluminium. Dhoo!! After much harrumphing the headsail was poled out and the main properly set with its newly fitted preventer.
Wind is starting to build and the swell seems to be increasing, was this forecast? Let’s drop the main and reef the headsail. It looked very impressive as the first mate helmed and a wall of water built up behind her then disappeared as we surfed down each wave.
We made it into the lagoon between Culatra and the main land and anchored between two very different catamarans.
Next day we were boat bound. The wind had built up and it would be impossible to get over to the island on the Hannibal (the tender) (dinghy). Its considerable 2.5hp outboard was no match for the mighty tornado enveloping us. Well it was very windy.
The following day was warm, still and sunny, so we made the most of exploring Culatra. Its not very big, which makes it an ideal destination for day trippers, who arrived on the ferry in significant numbers. There are many fishermen who’s fishing nets and paraphernalia extend along the beach at the side of the small harbour. This, coupled with tourism form the main income for the island and European funding is helping improve access around the island, but for god’s sake don’t mention it to Farage.
It was time to move on and time to get back into Spain. We left the lagoon and started to head along the Portuguese coast, our objective the Guadiana river where we’d anchor for a night before heading into Ayamonte on the Spanish side of the river.
The journey involved every combination of sail configuration coupled with motoring, but was incident free. Access to the Guadiana needs care as tides and depths are key to getting in unscathed. The most unnerving thing was sailing beneath the suspension bridge spanning Spain and Portugal, which has sufficient clearance to accommodate Gianti but still doesn’t stop me from putting her into reverse as the mast starts to pass beneath. Its unnerving, even though everything tells you you’ll be okay. Worth saying that there is nothing stated about the actual full height of a 2003 Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 37, so it’s your best calculation with a bit of wiggle room added on!!
After a quiet night at anchor we headed to the marina at Ayamonte. All good, we were heading into berth F23 and as luck would have it there was nobody occupying F24. Chuffing disaster!! If there had been another boat next to us it would have at least prevented the total debacle that was to beset us. First Mate, your job will be to step onto the finger pontoon and secure the forward spring to the cleat and stop Gianti from hitting the main pontoon. I will lasso the cleat at the end to stop Gianti being blown across the berth. Oh dear, what an arse. Nope, not happening. First mate all sorted and secure, but the stern is being blown across the berth to at 90° to where she should be, wedging us into the snug gap. Is anyone looking? Yes of course they are, they always are. A commotion like this doesn’t go unnoticed!!!
All sorted eventually, just keep a low profile for 10 minutes and all will be forgotten.
Off in the distance we hear music. It sounded like the kind of music in an old western, heard in a Mexican village during a festival just before the banditos arrive in force and start shooting everyone. Thankfully everyone was okay and it just so happened we’d arrived just as Semana Santa was starting. Processions would be happening each day, with an accompanying marching band and lots of people wearing pointy hoods and cloaks, which represented the various brotherhoods taking part in each procession. It’s quite a spectacle and worth watching even if you’re not religious. Take a look at the footage if you want to see more …… https://youtu.be/gNlLxn_EYrs
Next time we’ll be off to Seville and exploring further up the Guadiana river.