Portimao farewells......and to Ria Guadiana
The last month in Portimao seemed to whizz by with a visit by Patricia and Frank from Belgium (long-time skydiving friends), preparing for departure and saying farewells to others leaving before us..........but we have now met up with most of them again on the Guadiana River!
Patricia and Frank have friends who live north of Faro on a fruit farm so we visited them for a few days, taking in a tour round Albufeira and Vilamoura.
Back on board, Sally from Ron Glas had found out from the lady at the post office that it was a good time, being equinox tides, to hunt for cockles on Rocha Beach (amazing what you can find out at the post office). Next morning, at the crack of sparrows, Chris, Sally and Sue were on the beach. After 2 hours they had little to show for their efforts but they had learnt the subtle art of how to do the cockle hunt shuffle (something akin to a Micheal Jackson moonwalk).
The cockle shuffle
Inspired, Allan and I joined them the next morning. Needless to say, with the added skill, the haul after 2 hours was respectable and after a third mornings hunt we actually had enough for a lunch snack.
After lunch, Sally and Sue set up their art stall on the marina quay.
But, for whatever reason along with every other female in the marina, they were easily distracted by the talents of the Olympic Gold sailing crew of Ian Percy and Andrew Simpson who were using Portimao Marina as a training base. Sadly, for us chaps, the Yngling girls never turned up.
Ian Percy and Andrew Simpson.
After an 6 enjoyable months in Portimao, it was time to sail on - but not before a final haircut.
With a forecast for unsettled weather for a week, we decided to head east straight for Ayamonte, only stopping for one night to anchor in the lagoon off Culatra, near Faro. As we slipped our lines at Portimao, the nerves were undoubtedly tingling with the thought of leaving the security of the harbour. They always are, but not having been to sea for 6 months the tension was even more so. By the time we dropped the hook in the anchorage off Ayamonte, we felt back in the groove.....but the 'awareness' is ever present.
Not wanting to go up the River Guadiana in duff weather we stayed at anchor off Ayamonte for a week - along with Jolli Jumper and Ron Glas. Fortunately we liked Ayamonte.
Whilst in Ayamonte, Sue had to visit a dentist...... but as Sue spoke little Spanish..... and the dentist even less English, Chris with a little more Spanish was nominated 'la torra' ('the translator') by the dentist. All must have gone well as Sue is smiling once again :-).
The rain gone, we weighed anchor and headed up under the Guadiana Bridge. Bridges are always nerve racking as it appears that the mast is going to hit the bridge....but in reality....
River Guadiana Bridge - Jolli Jumper ahead
Not wanting to rush going up the Guadiana, we anchored after about 4 miles in a remote but tranquil stretch of the river - in time for spot of lunch - and to relax.
As dusk approached the wildlife seemed to burst into life. For a twitcher, this place must be close to heaven. The following morning, nursing a head that was suffering from a bottle of fizz that must have been not quite right, we continued upriver.......with the added bonus of actually having the wind up our chuff so we could sail all the way to Laranjeiras - pure magic.