Captain Hugh and the Reluctant Navigator
The Voyage of Vega

The Island

Sunday 30th August to Wednesday 2nd September

Leaving Lagos late Sunday morning we only got as far as Portimao, a resort some seven miles along the coast, as there was so little wind and Hugh has an aversion to motoring unless absolutely necessary. So we just drifted along at 2 knots until we reached Portimao. We dropped anchor in the bay and were too lazy to get out the tender (aka dinghy by landlubbers) to go into the village, but admired the fort on the headland, the Forte de Sao Joao, whilst relaxing on deck in the sunshine. I would have liked a swim but the water in the bay was filthy. So Hugh cooked the sardines we’d bought in Faro fish market for supper on the boat and then….. more in Hugh’s blog about the perils of anchoring!

The next day we sailed along the coast of the Algarve, initially past limestone cliffs and little bays with boats of day trippers, past the built up modern resorts of Albufeira and Vilamoura, and past the village Olhos de Agua, where Judy and I spent a weeks holiday in the 1980s, on the pretext of improving our tennis in the sun. We had a great sail in the sun with force 4 to 5 winds for the 30 miles to the Cabo de Santa Maria, near Faro, where a couple of low lying sandy islands are separated from the mainland by a lagoon, narrow channels and marshland which is covered at high tide. We anchored in the lagoon off the Isla de Culatra, directly under the flight path of the planes to Faro, gateway to the Algarve.

The next day Hugh inflated our tender and we motored over to the harbour on the Isla du Culatra, a small island which survives on fishing and more recently tourism. The village was a delight, a street of simple white houses with a concrete path leading through the sand to a wooden walkway over the island and marshes which are a nature reserve, and to a long beach on Atlantic, where I swam.

On the following day we walked the length of the island along a sandy tractor track, no roads, to get the ferry to Faro. The island’s foreshore is divided up to allow for shellfish farms and on the boat ride to Faro there were little boats drawn up with people scraping the banks for clams. From the ferry we saw a stork, heron, terns and egret in the marshes. Faro was surprising. Few tourists and a very pretty shady Cidade Velha. We went up the bell tower in the cathedral for views of the channels through the marshes and looked at the rather macabre chapel of bones made from the skulls and bones of monks.

Back to the Island and we walked back along the beach and swam. We had fresh clams for supper that night, cooked in white wine, butter and garlic with simple grilled fish (red snapper and sea bass). Delicious.



  1. Peter Bayls

    September 8, 2015 - 1:45 pm

    Love the blog Annie – please keep it up.

    • annie

      September 8, 2015 - 11:46 pm

      Thanks Pete. It would be great if you could join us somewhere. Hope you’ve had a good summer sailing x

  2. Jerry

    September 8, 2015 - 3:40 pm

    My Trip to Stoke Bishop

    I decided to wait until conditions were perfect before setting off, and Monday seemed to be ideal: an amber sun rising over the dew-soaked grass of Canford Park, an autumnal crispness to the air, and a slight north-westerly breeze.

    I motored along Canford Lane, turned left into Coombe Lane and again into Parry’s Lane, and then prepared to turn right into Kewstoke Road. Never an easy manoeuvre, but on this occasion accomplished without mishap. This took me to the centre of Stoke Bishop, and after a couple of times round the block I managed to find a parking space.

    There seemed to be few, if any, tourists, so I was able to mingle with the local people. They seemed friendly enough, and of course language was not a problem, as I put on a posh accent.

    I was there to see the famous village hall, and after a short walk found myself admiring its traditional architecture. I was unfortunately unable to gain access to the interior, but the notice board outside offered an intriguing insight into the cultural diversity of the area – the Bridge society, Zumba classes, ladies choir and a dog training club were just some of the activities available.

    I returned home, exhausted but happy, and reflected on the day’s events over a hearty British meal of beans on toast, my thoughts turning to planning another trip – Henleaze perhaps?

    • annie

      September 8, 2015 - 11:49 pm

      Dear Jerry. What a delightful day out you’ve had. It makes me quite nostalgic for Bristol. Maybe I could join you on an outing when we get back in October. I haven’t visited Shirehampton for ages x

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