Unbelievably its now the beginning of Febuary 2016 and this is the first posting I have done in six months. I have kept putting it off and have always used the excuse, ‘I will do it one day when its raining’. To be honest rainy days here in Lagos this winter have been very few and far between. Infact I would go as far and say the weather has been brilliant…most days sunny and temperatures high teens to twenty. Shorts and tee-shirts are the order of the day. It goes a little chilly at night but not bad. Anyway today it is a rare rainy day hence I’m actually sat writing this.
My last post had us arriving in Alvor just a couple of miles down from Lagos…well to tell you we stayed there at anchor for six weeks says it all. It was brilliant. The town itself is ace…one touristy street with umpteen bars and restaurants…(great for watching my football). Plenty of other high quality and fantastic value restaurants throughout the town. Easy access to supermarkets and a few hundred yards over the dunes to some of the best beaches on the Algarve. Along with us our friends Niel and Gail on Gleda spent a great time here. Other friends Jackie & Ian (Rivalady) and Pam & Roger (Deja Vu)arrived a few weeks after us.
We anchored up the estuary in a narrow and in places shallow channel…This meant two things, firstly you had to be careful navigating up in to the anchorage. Secondly it was not over crowded as a lot of the larger monohulls did not or could not risk going up there due to the low depth. This amongst others is one of the advantages of a catamaran. It was great waking up in the morning only yards from the bank with all manner of water birds walking by as you sat supping your cuppa in beautiful morning sunshine.
Whilst here we had a visit from my sister Kate and her partner Gary for a few days which they informed me they thoroughly enjoyed. Gary even caught the supper off the back of the boat with some Sea bream. We also met up with our friends Bill & Margaret who live in the same village (Lower Moor) as us back home and have a holiday apartment out here, infact we have met up a couple of times and gone for great meals out.
We met people in Alvor who have been coming there on holiday from the UK for the last 7 or 8 years and we can certainly see why.
On the first of October we lifted the anchor and made the short journey back up the coast to Lagos, our home for the next 6 months. We were assigned our berth on C pontoon which happened to be right next door to Neil & Gail on Gleda and attached all our mooring lines. It was a bit of a rush as we had a scheduled flight back to the UK the next day but everything was sorted and secured in good time.
We had booked in to Lagos even before we had left Falmouth last spring. Not only did this give us a target but it turned in to a wise choice. We both love Lagos and the marina. Ok the marina is a bit more expensive than some but it really does have everything you need. The facilities are great, though as everywhere the internet could always be a bit faster. The staff are great and very helpful and the bars and restaurants located in the marina are top notch. June says as I spend so much time watching football in them I should know. To be fair she does have a point. I admit I am now on first name terms with many locals and the bar staff put my drink on the bar as soon as I walk in without me asking !!
The Pingo supermarket is 200 yds away, the local sports centre and swimming pool 400 yds and the train station only 50 yds . June actually says she gets a little embarrassed at just how little some of the produce at the supermarkets cost. Chicken and Steak is extremely cheap compared to back home. We have also been making use of the local sports centre (although not as much as my waistline says I should). Again this is very cheap compared to the UK. To use the centre all day which includes Swim, Gym, and any classes that day is 4eu (£3) !! They are fanatical about water quality over here, which is a good thing in my opinion and as such you are not allowed shorts to go swimming in it has to be trunks , budgie smugglers and you also have to wear a swim cap.. you don’t feel too bad as everyone is the same..
If we want any large supplies or June needs some retail therapy we take a tip in to Portimao on the train..like I said it is 50yds behind the Marina and cost 2eu each way. We get off in Portimao about 300yds from the Aqua Shopping Centre which has pretty much everything you need, Jumbo supermarket, Huge Aki which is like B&Q, Primark, Phone shops, Electrical stores etc etc Oh and a huge food court where we go for a McDonalds lunch.. I still cant get my head around ordering a McDonalds and a draft beer….nice but strange !
Back to Lagos itself we have found it a lovely town. The people are great and very friendly. Nearly everyone speaks English and the are extremely keen to talk in English to show how good they are. Indeed a lot of signs you see around the town are usually posted in English alongside Portuguese or often just in English, the only trouble with this is that it makes you very lazy in learning the local language so we often make a point of asking ‘How would you say that in Portuguese’. The town itself has surprised me in that many places do stay open during the winter months. Being a holiday town I assumed everything shut down for winter, and whilst there are those that do many stay open which is great. The weather also has surprised us in just how good it has been throughout the winter months..high teens and occasional twenty’s being the norm with sunshine and very few days of rain. It is still shorts and t-shirt weather during the day and only goes a little chilly when the sun goes down.
The marina itself has quite an active liveaboard community and twice a week broadcast over the VHF, activities and news from around the marina. They also do regular activities such as Yoga, Darts, weekly long distance walks, sailing days, learn Portuguese lessons and many others. I must admit I find I am usually too busy but June has been taking part in the Yoga classes. We also spent a great day down on the beach on an afternoon of firing distress flares, organised by the Marina and the local Maritimo Police. June was very enthusiastic with her impression of the ‘Statue of Liberte’.
Just along from the marina is Sopromar boat yard and they have recently opened a new and constantly expanding Chandlery. Every time I go in here they seem to have more and more stock, pretty much anything you need they have on a shelf somewhere or if not can source it for you. Admittedly it is a little more expensive than other places but if you need something there and then its only a short walk up the road. The other liveaboards around us are also a nice friendly bunch and we have enjoyed some great meals out as a group. Most of the local restaurants serve fantastic food at seriously good prices. It is extremely rare to spend more than 30-40eu for a meal out with drinks for the both of us. One more thing I almost forgot to mention is the weekly farmers market which is just across from the marina every Saturday morning. A great place to buy all your fresh fruit & veg at silly cheap prices.
One thing that I have been doing is a Scuba course at the local Dive Centre. I am about halfway through as I write this but when finished will have my PADI Open Water diver certificate, which is something I have always wanted to do. It also means I have been investing in buying all the kit to carry with us on the boat and finding somewhere to store it all. We enjoy walking around Lagos and have come across some very good street art/murals which we have photographed and reproduced here for you to see.
One thing that I have invested in is a heavy duty sewing machine for June and over the past few months she has proved very good at making things. One of the largest projects was making covers/chaps that go over the tubes on the dinghy to protect it from the harsh summer sunlight and UV which eventually wears them out. I helped with the measuring and attaching them to the dinghy and June did a great job of stitching it all together with a little help from Jackie on ‘Rivalady’..I think the end result is pretty awesome. She hasn’t stopped there however and has been making hatch covers and sun shades so we should be well protected come the hot summer months.
So You Want A Challenge ?
This past week or so has seen a lot of activity with the arrival of some British forces lads who are taking on a cross Atlantic rowing challenge. In a small ocean rowing boat 5 of them (without any assistance) are taking on the amazing feat of rowing non stop from Lagos Portugal to Venezuela, 3,807 miles. We were chatting to them in a local bar and they say they have so far raised over £100,000 for the NSPCC which I think is brilliant. They estimate the row will take them approx. 45 days, but they have enough dry rations aboard for 2 months. That amount of time at sea in all weathers on a small boat like that is both scary and awe inspiring. We waved them off from the marina on Sunday the 7th. Wish you all the best guys !! If you wish to donate or just track their progress you can find all the info on their website…www.team-essence.com or facebook Team Essence.
Our next thing to look forward to will be flying home in April for the big event of the year..ie our sons wedding. I am looking forward to this not just because of the wedding itself but also because it will mean whenever we are in the company of our future daughter-in-law Hannah’s presence it will mean she will not be constantly talking about the wedding/plans/reception/guests etc etc etc….you get the picture. We do love her to bits though..she will obviously be very lucky and honoured to be joining the Walden clan…something I will no doubt constantly remind her of.
Well that’s brought us up to date I promise I wont be so slack with future updates…………Garry.
Oh one more thing….if anyone would like to come over for a holiday or short break we can accommodate you on ‘Friendship’ no problem ..we have 2 spare cabins. Easy and cheap flights throughout the year with Ryanair to Faro . We are planning to stay around the Algarve for 2016 so give me a message on here or through Facebook and we will see what we can do..