Setting Sail for Vilamoura

Well the first passage of the season went very well. St Monday saved us from having to do battle with the dredger; the crew go home for Sunday and have to travel from Faro on Monday morning. As soon as the Marina opened John was there to settle our account. The good news was there was nothing to pay, they had very kindly deducted the time the boat was out of the water having work done, which we had not expected and thought was very decent of them. When he arrived back from this foray we cast off the lines, radioed to ask them to open the swing bridge and were off down the channel, passing several yachts eager to come in on our way out. I managed to stow all the fenders and lines before we were at sea proper, though the fenders seemed to take up a lot more space than I remembered. I rammed them into the rear locker, which set the scene for a bit of a drama later. We were finally off, granted into a flat calm, but definitely on our way again.

Leaving Lagos

We motored on with the coastline to port and felt it all coming back as we followed our waypoints, made log entries and kept an eye out for lobster pots. We pulled the mainsail out and, after a little initial reluctance, that all went smoothly and John strapped her tight, ready to sail if the wind came up. Then all of a sudden a force four was blowing from the shore and we were sailing along at a fast clip in exactly the right line for our plotted route to Vilamoura. Just as quickly as it had arrived the wind dropped. John used the lull to go below and make lunch and mugs of tea. Then we motored again as we picnicked. After lunch the wind picked back up and we let the sails back out.The combination of lunch and sea sickness tablets made me very drowsy, so John suggested I have a half hour nap in the shade of the sail. When I woke forty minutes later, the sail was on the other side and we were rocketing along, with the water singing along the hull. John said the wind had completely turned round, so we were still bang on course and what was more, we had been going so well that we were only half an hour or so away. I sat up to enjoy the rest of the sail.

Twenty minutes later we set up our ropes and fenders on the port side, ready to tie up to the reception pontoon at Vilamoura.

Reception Pontoon, Vilamoura

This next part was the bit I felt worried about. All was well. As we arrived at the pontoon a silent man came to take our ropes, one at a time, calmly tying each one up and then reaching for the next. The whole process went like clockwork. He helped again when we moved over to the refuelling station, where he served us and took exceptional care to make sure nothing spilled on our precious new deck. He cast us off and John motored towards our berth on pontoon P. We scanned the line of craft there looking for our space. Horror struck I realised I had forgotten to put fenders on the starboard side, where another boat could be laying. John held the boat in reverse as I sped to put out the fenders. Yank as I might, I could not prise one from the packed locker. John and I swapped places and he managed to free one, after which he had to rescue me from the wheel and I scampered around tying on fenders, which in the event we did not need as the berth next to ours was vacant. I redeemed myself by managing to jump down onto the narrow, very wobbly jetty and attach the centre line and to sprint forward to make fast the front. We overhang the length of the pontoon quite a bit and so needed to tie both the centre line and the stern line to the same end cleat. John came off to help and we sorted the lines out with the pontoon flexing like a springboard, with both of us on the end. We set up the shore power, tidied up the boat and ourselves and set off to explore.

Emma had recommended we try the Irish bar and we found one in short order. The Captain managed to lower two pints of Guinness with impressive speed, particularly as they took such a while to pour. Not surprisingly there were quite a few Irish accents about. We went for a walk a bit further round the marina only to find another Irish bar, closely followed by a third and fourth. The place abounds with Irish folk in the way that Lagos is full of the English and the Guinness flows at every third bar. We will need to check with our source to find out which one she meant.   That evening we had a lovely meal from a Swedish style restaurant near our berth. We sat in the open front of the place with a view across to the water watching the world go by as we ate. About half way through dinner the ambient music of the restaurant was swamped by the sound of a male vocalist in the bar next door. During the rest of our meal he serenaded, giving the Karaoke treatment to Roy Orbison, Elvis and that guy with an achey, breakey heart, with scant pause for audience reaction. We emerged at the end of our meal to hear the strains of another Elvis competing from across the water along with the more general disco throb of the music of the night. It promised to be quite a lively evening, but we were both too tired for any of it to keep us awake. It might be a different story as the week goes on, for with high winds forecast this time the girl is going to stay.

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