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.