The Algarve, the end of phase 1

The 45 mile passage from Lagos to Faro passes without much drama - temperature in the high twenties, low thirties and a lot of sun. Faro is a natural inland sea, through a narrow gap with the flood tide with me - travelling at 10 knots may seem fast, but not as fast as entering Strangford at the right time. I swing a right and anchor in 4m of  heavy solid gloopy mud off the island of Culatra, there are over a hundred boats at anchor, the holding is superb, I sleep well.

The weather is superb for the next couple of days - I struggle to get jobs done as it is really hot - I run the fans below decks and drink 3L of cool water every day. On the third day Simon arrives on Sylvana and we have a beer ashore and then a bb'q onboard Sylvana - thanks Simon! I row the inflatable back to Shadowmere after dark thankful that I have good night vision - I had forgotten to set the anchor light before going ashore (in daylight) Darkness falls quickly here, as it will in the Carribean.

Not much wind then...

I have arranged to get lifted out at "Bruce's boatyard" in Faro - now properly known as Nave Pegos. This is cheaper than staying afloat in an expensive marina and I will go home for two months before returning in the third week in October - to sail to Seville for a weeks holiday with Shirley and then departing from Seville to the Canaries or Madeira after November 1st with Ken Walsh from Donaghadee and Eileen.

The arrangement for Bruce's yard is interesting - I am to navigate to buoy 23 about 6 miles away near Faro and then radio to get guided by boat over the shallows! it is tide dependent so I must be in position by 10:30.

The lower red arrow is pointing at buoy 23 and I find a couple of boats at anchor and a few mooring buoys there. I arrive 30 minutes early and "borrow" a mooring buoy. The upper arrow is the boatyard. (the marina on the right is full of local boats and takes no visitors). The extreme left of the photo is showing the end of the runway at Faro airport and there is a blue symbol near the yard showing Faro train station so it is really all very "handy" - the train station has taxis queued outside it so I take a taxi at 7:30 am on the day I leave and get to the airport for 8 Euro.

The yard is really really clean and tidy, after getting led to the dock, 6 people lift out Shadowmere in short notice - the secretary from the office is down tending one of the lines, one line and one person at each corner. Really good setup. Then I get placed into my spot. No painting or wet work is allowed unless at the marina dock which is a nusiance, but I think all marinas will be adopting this rule soon - to control toxic antifouling runoff. There are a number of people living aboard and the showers have a book swop area. Good security too - I get a card to allow me to exit the gates. There is a "Jumbo" supermarket/shopping centre nearby and a Lidl and Decathalon too. I also walk for 45 minutes to a bicycle repair shop to get a puncture mended. All mod cons!

I get a little work done cleaning the hull, it will need polished/waxed before going back in the water and I have left a few jobs that I had hoped to finish.

I have an uneventful flight home, and it is good to be home - it seems as if I am only now coming to terms with being truly retired, when I left work a year ago I went straight to hospital and got a new knee - which focused my mind to a single minded mission of doing lots of exercises to get it sorted - (thanks Christine for being my physio-terrorist) it seemed like I was spending 6 hours a day on exercise or rest and recovery was all consuming so I didn't have time to think about retirement. The knee ended up superbly - I have climbed the mast half a dozen times and sometimes I forget which knee was replaced. Full movement and no pain whatsoever. 100% success.

Post-Knee, the next phase of my life was getting Shadowmere sorted and again this became a bit all-consuming, and totally frantic in the last month or so before departure so again I had little time to reflect on retirement. Once I left, the execution of "The Shadowmere Adventure" has also stopped me from reflecting on retirement and how I will live. I will be back in 2 years and will probably sell Shadowmere - maybe get a wee small boat, or a barge, or a camper van, or nothing when I do return. Or maybe move her into the Med, we shall see. Important not to overplan I suppose.

The last couple of months have been strange - the boat is now a thousand miles from Belfast and I have been through many stages to get her there. At times it has seemed like a delivery trip, going back over places I had been before, parts were holidays, parts were just getting from one place to another. France was nice but rushed - sorry John. The scenery of North Spain was an eyeopener - superb Donegal at its best, but much warmer! Again a bit of a rush.  Northwest Spain was good too - everything was big and I can see how people just cruise this area and stay a while.  I also liked the Portuguese places were I stopped and apart from lobster pots and not enough wind often, or too much wind occasionally the sailing was ok. Coping with the singlehanded sailing was an adventure and I was pleased to survive and succeed.

I think the next phase will be much different from previous experiences, I must learn to slow down and enjoy the moment more. You save diesel if you wait for the wind to carry you along. You save mooring costs by finding anchorages too.

I return to the boat on October 17th 2017. More then.



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