Friday, November 5, 2004

Log 28 - Portugal's Algarve and Southwest Spain

Log 28 covers October  6 - 25th, 2004 where we sail along Portual's Algarve and the south of Spain.  Eventually we motor up the Rio Guadalquivir to spend the winter in Seville, Spain. 

Wednesday, October 6th - Cabo de Sao Vincente (Cape St Vincent)

We depart Lisbon on the afternoon of October 5th for an overnight sail south to the town of Lagos, located in the Algarve region, which encompasses basically the entire south coast of Portugal. We rounded this point on Tioga in the early morning of October 6th, but we took this photo a week or so later while actually standing next to the huge lighthouse on the end of the cape.   This cape is Europe's south-westernmost point.  Awesome is the only word for this barren, throne-like headland, which was the last piece of home that Portuguese explorers would have seen as they headed out into the unknown sea! 

Cabo San Vincente - SW corner of Europe

Thursday, October 7th - The Algarve (south end of Portugal)

Once safely settled into the marina at Lagos, we set out in the dinghy to explore the coast line known as The Algarve.  The name Algarve comes from the days of Moorish occupation from the 7th to the 12th centuries,  though its warm coastline has attracted foreigners since the time of the Phoenicians, some 3000 years ago.   The rock colors and formations are exquisite and some arches high enough to drive the dinghy through .    We spend the afternoon on this beach and climb the steep steps up to the view point for this great shot.  (Wide view picture)

Popular beaches of the Algarve

Sunday, October 10th  - Ponta de Sagres

Just a few kilometers from Lagos, is the Ponta de Sagres promontory.  It is continually blasted by a steady, cutting wind and huge Atlantic waves on three sides, thus the steep, sheer cliffs.  The areas age of importance occurred in the 15th century when Prince Henry the Navigator chose it for a pioneering effort to extend the field knowledge in cartography, navigation and ship design.  He had his ships built, equipped and staffed in Lagos for the daring expeditions that soon followed to Africa and Asia, setting Portugal on course for the Age of Discoveries.  (Wide view picture)

More classic beaches

Wednesday, October 13th - Hopping the south coast of Portugal

The Algarve is a very popular destination with the British as a get-away from the gloom and gray of winters.  The crowds of people are coming in as winter looms ever closer.    We enjoy the last few times swimming for the season as this water is much, much colder than we are used to and we know we won't be braving it over the winter.    Tomorrow we are on our way with a few quick stops planned before entering the Rio Guadiana, a river that forms part of the border between Spain and Portugal. 

Our boys are growing up - this is a composite picture if you look carefully.

Friday, October 15th - Rio Guadiana Bridge

We decide a great way to see Portugal and Spain at the same time is to take the boat up the Rio Guadiana, which serves as a border for some 50 kilometers between the two countries.    The river has a current to be reckoned with so we enter the river on a rising tide in order to clear the hazardous bar at the entrance, and make it up the 20 or so miles to the Portuguese town of Alcoutim and the Spanish town of Sanlucar de Guadiana on one tide.    After passing under the rather elegant suspension bridge shown here, the route upstream is quiet, pretty and deep in the centre as well as on the outside of bends.

Heading up the Guadiana river between Spain and Portugal

Saturday, October 16th - Portugal (far side)- Spain (this side)

We anchor on the Spanish side and quickly discover just how strong the current is.  On a rising tide, our chain is stretched out as Tioga is pushed upstream.  Obviously a 180 degree shift in Tioga's position occurs on a falling tide.  We climb up to the fort on the edge of  Sanlucar de Guadiana, and enjoy the views across to Alcoutim.  Like dozens of other fortified villages that face each other across the Rio Guadiana, it is a reminder of centuries of mutual distrust. (Wide view picture)

High on a cliff in a fort overlooking Sanlucar (ES) and Alcoutim (PT)

The trees are brimming with fresh oranges that are dropping to the ground everywhere.  The guys delight in picking the oranges and squeezing us fresh OJ.  As Nik would say, 'It's like tasting the sunshine!' 

Making fresh orange juice

Monday, October 18th - Fortified Castle in Alcoutim

This evening we decide to explore the town of Alcoutim at night.  There is always a certain air of mystery at night time and it is certainly prevalent walking about castles that would probably have many horror stories to tell if they could talk!  The mood is lightened by the boys picking up rocks and recreating scenes from Monty Pythons, "The Holy Grail".  Can't you see their horses and hear the sound of their hooves as their rocks click together?? 

King Arthur's Knights in search for the Holy Grail

Tuesday, October 19th - Town of Puerto de La Laja

This day we decide to explore a little farther upstream and find this town with its now defunct iron ore storage and shipping dock.  The holding compartments for the ore are clearly visible with steep slants for it to slide down into the cargo ships holding tanks for outbound shipment.  The old train tracks for trains whom once hauled in the ore from the nearby mines are now removed and we enjoy a nice hike along the beautifully maintained trail.  This is as far upstream as we dare to venture as the river becomes narrow and unnavigable only a few miles farther up. 

Old iron ore mine - long gone industry

Stitches out

While in Lagos on the Algarve, Gerrit took an off balance step in the cockpit and crashed into the winch.  He ended up with 3 stitches in his forehead and 4 stitches in his chin. Ouch!  A doctor on the dock in Lagos showed Sheila how to remove stitches when the wound was healed.  The job went well, despite shaking hands!  We are just so glad the accident happened with a hospital just down the street.  

Sheila removing Gerrit's stitches

Wednesday, October 20th - San Lucar de Guadiana, Spain

After a few peaceful days up the river, we decide to move on as we are all anticipating Seville!   With an ebb tide to help us down the river, we make it out in one go, and anchor for the night just off the Spanish city of Ayamonte, where the mouth of the river meets the ocean.   Now we are in position to head out tomorrow for small hops along the south coast of Spain and to the mouth of the Rio Guadalquivir. 

Sunset at Sanlucar de Guadiana

Friday, October 22nd, - Halloween approaching!

Some of you folks may wonder what we do when there is no wind?  Are we purists who sit for days on end waiting for wind or do they motor?   Well, we find a good balance.   We are patient and will go down to 2 knots before the engine, but in these dead flat calm seas, no question, on comes the engine.  Gerrit even manages to get some exercise while underway as he tries out his Halloween costume.

Ninja boy can't wait for Halloween.

Saturday, October 23rd - Entrance to the Rio Guadalquivir - Seville here we come!

Well, we have finally made it to the river that will take us about 90 kilometers inland to the city of Seville.  We arrive late in the day with about an hour of sunlight left and it is just before high tide so we can once again safely clear the entrance bar.  The safe channel is clearly marked with red and green buoys and it is very narrow with no room for error.   We continue upstream a few kilometers and then anchor for the night out of the channel just off a red buoy.  Now we are in position to begin early tomorrow morning at the beginning of a rising tide and take full advantage of the upstream current to try to make it to Seville in one day. 

Approaching the entrance of the Guadalquivir - many underwater hazards.

10:26 am - Sunday, October 24th - Upriver climb to Seville

We are underway by 7 am with a slight falling tide still against us.  After about an hour, a thick, pea soup fog descends upon us.  On the radar we can see huge ships approaching but don't actually see them until they are less than 2 boat lengths away!   Feeling out of our comfort zone navigating new waters with no visual, we decide to drop the anchor outside of the channel, right beside a green buoy.  After breakfast, the fog has lifted and we get underway feeling much better about being able to see the shipping traffic!  The current is very strong in our favour and we are cruising along at 10 knots in some sections. 

Heading up river with the tide pushing us along.

3:32 pm - Lock at Seville

We seem to make it upstream in record time and are happy to find the lock, allowing us to enter the tide-controlled Port of Seville, still operating.  It is a mini Panama Canal with a whole lot less organization. 

Port of Sevilla locks - the port is tide controlled

 After numerous calls on the VHF radio to request proper procedures, we are finally waved into the lock.  After slowly maneuvering into the lock just in front of the container ship shown here, the canal handlers lower us down a 'waiver of liability' form to sign before they will even take a line from our boat.  With their release of all faults in hand, we are tied to the canal wall and raised a whopping 4-5 centimeters before the lock opens on the other end. 

Tied to the canal wall

7:55 pm - Puente de las Delicias - Our final bridge

Once clear of the lock, we pass under a huge spanning bridge and are in the heart of the Port of Seville shipping area.  Our final bridge into Seville is a lifting bridge and it does not open until 8 pm.  We tie to a cement dock just before it to wait the 3 or so hours.   Just before 8pm we pull back into the channel with every one of our navigation lights blazing, call the bridge tower on the VHF radio to arrange definite opening, and Voila...traffic bows before Tioga as we clear the bridge. 

Lights of Sevilla - we're just about "home"

Monday, October 25th - Sevilla - Our City for the next 6 months!

Tioga is now securely tied to the dock at Club Nautico Sevilla.  We have traveled a long way since leaving the west coast of Canada and are all very excited about being stopped in one place for a long time.  

Sevilla! for the winter - a break!

Check out Log 29.  We plan to take Spanish lessons, explore the area, enjoy a regular school schedule, get boat projects done and find some time to meet new friends and relax...finally!