Friday, November 27, 2009

nosing around...

The sign that we have over prolonged our stay here is that today the leader of the village mutt band a.k.a "the rag" allowed us to pet his bushy rasta coat. He had ignored us totally before. In his little dog mind, he just thinks he gave us today resident status...

There is always half a dozen of mutts from the village trotting back and forth down to the waterfront where action is.

Small, result of endless mixture of breeds, gentle and pacific there are part of the village life as much as the fishermen mending their nets on the pier or the elderly men who sit at the terrasse of the cafés. I could even say irreverently that they look alike : husky, skin of hair seasoned by wind and sun, sociable, modest, they enjoy life at peace with their surroundings and neighbors.

Locals, dogs, cats and humans live in a fragile harmony since generations but will that be compromised by an ugly project of resort/marina on Ferragudo shores ? Where will go our little mutts do their mishief or the elderlies for their daily walk if not on the marshy shores which are menaced by the project ?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Chilly mornings in Algarve....

Silves and its fortress

Portimaõ was a premeditated long stop as we plan to have a dodger (spray hood) made, but it became longer than predicted as the sailmaker who is supposed to make it is now delivering a boat from the UK and has been delayed by bad weather in Biscay.
By avoiding the marina and the sterile and tacky touristic resort of Las Rochas, we find the area pleasant especially where we are anchored in front of the charming genuine little fishing village of Ferragudo on the east side of the river Arade.
Zephyr left for the Canary islands and as we wait for our canvas guy we plan to go on to Olhaõ and Faro, then to the Guadiana river. Though the nights are getting colder (9-7 celsius) and we almost regret our decision to stay around for winter, decision dictated by the logistic of going back North beginning of summer and leaving the boat somewhere around here for a few weeks. But the sun is still shinning and warm, and the region worth while discovering.
The Algarve, poor region of Portugal discovered a new gold mine with tourism. The northerners, mostly Bristish, German and Dutch are invading the region bringing inflation, bad taste and a certain arrogance in big contrast to the gentleness and low profile of the natives. But here, the excesses of tourism are not too obvious and the spectacular coast is preserved and the off season calm.
We pay a visit to Silves a former important urban center for the ancien islamic Gharb Al-Andalus during the 10th to the 13th century. Surrounded by orange groves the city is dominated by the Almohad forteress built in rusty red colored adobe bricks. The ruins of the Almohad palace, its gardens, baths and impressive water cistern give us an idea of how this mighty palace must have looked. The charming city nowdays indicates that the Algarve was never a rich region even under the Arab dominance who imported the art of growing citrus and irrigation system to this bare and arid land.

Ferragudo at dawn from the cockpit

Monday, November 2, 2009

toward the Algarve coast

Röde Orm and Cape Saõ Vincente

One always have preconceptions about commercial harbors, especially when looking at a chart. They do not incite you to prolong your stay. But Sines is worth knowing. It is a petro chimical harbor but also a very charming city which is the birth place of Vasco de Gama. It kept its authenticity without the touristic glittering part. It is modest, simple and sympathic. The walled old city on the waterfront is a place where we like to wander. Its people are very laid back and nice and always helpfull.

The anchorage in front of the beach between the two jetties is often rolly with those southerly winds that bring the swells in pass the long outer jetty of the comercial harbor. We wait three days before the northerlies winds come back. We leave with a cloudy sky and very weak winds despite a high pressure. We have to motor three quarter of the 63 miles. We pass the mighty Cap Sao Vincente under sail before turning at right angle east toward the Algarve coast. We pass the second point, Sagres where we anchor in a wide bay in company of Zephyr. The capes and cliffs are impressive vertical walls, becoming shadows of black forteresses and mighty castles under the moon light. We dine in the cockpit as soon as anchored, the air is warm and Magnus cannot keep marvelling at the wonder of dining outside on november 2....

entrance of Rio Arade, Portimaõ