Showing posts from July, 2018

Book review - Murder at the Marina

While in Portugal, I downloaded and read Ellen Jacobson's debut novel.  I 'met' Ellen online on the Facebook group Women Who Sail Who Write. It's a wonderfully informative and supportive group for writers who mostly live aboard their boats. I have been very impressed with Ellen's contributions to the group and was very excited for her when she announced completion of her first novel.

I posted a review on Goodreads. I tried to share that review directly to my blog but couldn't get it to work. So here it is, with 5 stars. I loved it!  Well done, Ellen. And thanks for the entertaining read.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We're set to go

Well they got us into our berth first thing this morning and we've been tidying up ever since. Alex has the lines tied and chafe protectors secured. The fridge is cleaned out, the bicycles are stowed. All the prep work that goes with putting a boat to bed for a bit has been done.

Last night, we decided to have dinner at the RCNP yacht club which has a beautiful club house. Shortly after we were seated, Alex and Tatiana stopped by and joined us for drinks as we ate tapas. We had a delightful conversation about crossing oceans and everything else in Russian and Ukrainian, which unfortunately Alex couldn't take part in. I periodically stopped to translate something funny or important, and every once in a while, Alex added some bit of information in English having semi followed the flow. It was an enjoyable dinner.

The final days

We sailed lazily at least part of the way from the Ria Arousa to the Ria Muros y Noia. It was a beautiful day again, and there were loads of fishing boats out. Lazy relaxing sail.

We arrived at Muros in the late afternoon and spotted a yacht with an OCC Associates burgee. After wandering around the town, stopping for a beer, and finding a stall selling bread on this holiday feast day, we headed back and stopped by to meet Ian Moors, Caroline and Charlotte on the Beneteau Silhouette. They are new members of OCC en route to the Caribbean with the ARC this year. They were so excited to be qualifying as full members of the OCC. Nice bunch.

An official visit

We were anchored alone in Salvora last evening. The other two boats had departed a short while before. When suddenly, the Customs boat made a bee line to Aleria. They pulled alongside and asked to board. We quickly deployed fenders and two men hopped across. Pretty good as it was blowing about 20-25 at the time, and kicking up quite a chop.

Back to our favourite places

We’ve been to Combarro a few times now, Once anchored off the marina, once in the marina, once anchored off Ilha Tambo, and once anchored off the mole. We’ve loved it every time.  So when we raised anchor in Aldan, we chose to return again. Lots of birds were fishing as the fish rose all around us. Dolphins were feeding and porpoises jumping for joy at their find. Fishermen were actually catching lots of mackerel not just fishing. It was the most wildlife we had seen in our time underway and it was encouraging.

Seamanship on display

We were treated to an unusual sight yesterday. As we cruised from Ria de Aldan to Combarro in the Ria de Pontevedra, we noticed a helicopter hovering over a boat in the distance. We wondered if the chopper was chasing a drug runner. But it turned out to be the Policia Maritima practicing dropping a crew member onto a vessel at sea and then retrieving a person from a boat in a basket. Cool. They did this right in front of us as we sailed slowly along the Ria. The maneuver was perfectly executed. It's nice to know that there is such skill and bravery out there.

Out to anchor

Enough of marinas. Our next few days are meant to be swinging on a hook. On our way out, we buzzed by the Ilhas de Cies and saw Celtic Spirit anchored there. Michael hailed us on the radio and Alex chatted for a while. They were on their way to Porto in Portugal and would be back in September. We vowed to meet up then.

Friends in Baiona

The weather forecast had suggested that it would be flat calm for two more days, after which time the Nortada – northerlies blowing 20-25 knots – would set in making any northern progress difficult and uncomfortable. So we bit the bullet and decided to push north from Cascais to Baiona, a distance of about 220 NM. If we left in the morning, we’d arrive the next day in the evening before sundown. We thought that would be perfect. We calculated the fuel it would take to motor all the way and concluded that we had enough to go all the way with enough to spare to make it a comfortable margin. We did not refuel in Cascais where it is very expensive.

Playing tourists

We were anchored in Portimao again. The last time we were sorry we had not availed of the tour boat trips to see the sea caves along this section of the Algarve. It's apparently one of the most extensive cave systems in Europe. We saw the way the tour boats went in and out of the caves as we had sailed along the coast. We knew it wasn't something we could do in our own dinghy. So we went ashore and signed up with a small boat operator, one that did not take a whole busload o f tourists at once. Okay, so we were in Portugal and our operator turned out to be a German from Berlin named Capt. Reiner, but he was married to a Portuguese woman, had a grown Portuguese son and had lived here for 27 years. And he was entertaining. I think we actually had the best experience.

Change of plans

So what are we doing back in Lagos instead of heading toward Gibralter? In Culatra, I dropped a bomb on Alex. I asked, “How would you feel if we forgot about the Med and sailed back home to Ireland? It’s hot, it’s crowded, and it’s expensive."

Lovely Windswept Culatra

We pulled up our anchor at 9 am yesterday morning and were underway by 9:30. Hecuba had left long before us – they were gone by 7:30 when we got up. We set our sails close to shore and opted to follow the coast so we could get a look at some of the places we hadn’t had a chance to explore, places like Carvoeiro, Benagil and Albufeira. It was a beautiful morning and we had a nice land breeze filling our sails on a port tack heading down the coast.

Portimao – a bit past its due date

After having vegetated aboard yesterday, we were up for shore leave today. Yesterday, we just needed a day off. We hadn’t stopped moving since we’d come down to Aleria. I was exhausted and no amount of sleep seemed to be redeeming. So we stopped for one day. Did nothing much but read, and wrote and played on the internet, and hung out. Lunch was excellent with fish cakes I’d made with leftover fish from the Marisco in Cascais. Alex out up the awning and it cooled things down.

Exploring Ferragudo

The morning started off heavily overcast and cool, with sprinkles from the sky wetting the deck just before breakfast. The anchorage was calm; there had been a slight swell overnight which rocked the cradle pleasantly all night long. Aleria doesn't mind a bit of swell. At 30 tons, she rocks gently, pointing into the wind and swinging with the current. Some of the other boats weren't faring as well, rocking more energetically as the tide turned against the wind and kept the boats aligned beam to the incoming swell. We slept well as we always do at anchor.

Next stop: Portimao and the Algarve

We left Cascais after 28 days in the marina, staring at the harbour wall every evening. We are finally in Portimao at anchor, the place I love most. We plan to anchor out a lot from now on. Hopefully go into marinas only when we need to take on water and fuel.

Birthday Celebration

Alex decided we did not want to be at sea on my birthday so we delayed leaving Cascais until Saturday. What’s one more day when you’ve already been there 27?
After a lovely breakfast that I made for myself – eggs, smoked salmon, cheese – my style, we jumped on the bikes and headed out toward the beach I’d read about where all the surfers and kite surfers go. It was out the western end on the bike trail we’d ridden to the Fortalesa da Jorge. It was quite a long way out, about 10 km from Cascais. It was the perfect day for it. Overcast – not hot and not windy. We rode out past the inferno and the big house, now full of shops and restaurants, and past the Fortaleza. That road is lined with mansions on one side and rocky coast along the other. Beautiful. We kept going until we got to a block of buildings nestled around a converted fort that is now a hotel. Just beyond that was the beach – Guincho Surf Beach. Beautiful, backed by high dunes and rocky promontories on either side. From the…