Altwasser sailing diary

Monday, September 22, 2003

Sines to Cadiz
September 11th – September 21st 2003. 220 nautical miles.

Bristol to Sines to Punta da Arrifana September 11th

We greatly enjoyed visiting friends and relatives in the UK, with so much news to catch up on and stories to share. The highlights were a first ride in brother Stephen’s kit car and Ben’s 21st birthday. Although Ben was the star for a day, his friend Joh’ made a bold play for the limelight when she ate a third of his birthday cake in one sitting.

Having spent all day Wednesday 10th travelling from Bristol to Sines and Thursday morning provisioning and cleaning the boat and fixing a few things, the remaining daylight hours enabled 42 miles to the dramatic cliffs of Punta da Arrifana. Night sailing around the Portuguese and Spanish coasts with lobster pots and tunny nets is too hazardous. Approaching the isolated bay around 7pm we counted twenty surfers, typically a sign of swell and an uncomfortable anchorage, but we anchored deep enough not to be troubled. Of greater concern were the smoke clouds from forest fires which were clearly visible in the evening, blotted out the new moon and delayed daybreak by almost an hour. When daylight appeared the decks were strewn with ash including whole leaves charred and blown with the smoke.

Punta da Arrifana to Albufeira September 12th

Like Cap de la Hague, Chenal du Four and Finnesterre, Cabo St Vicente, the southwest tip of the Iberian peninsula was much gentler than its fearsome reputation. The famous strong winds and massive waves were not to be seen.
We arrived at the shiny sparkling spanking brand new Albufeira marina around 6pm.
It was so tidy I felt obliged to put a shirt on. The staff were extremely polite, apologised that everything was absolutely new and the marina almost empty of yachts, charged us half price for the inconvenience and sent a smartly dressed official to tie our mooring lines for us. (Perhaps they thought we would rather have things worn out, broken down and with no space?) We left at daybreak and that was all we saw ashore of the Algarve.

Albufeira to Isla Christina September 12th

Winds from the East were now building and with one massive tack down to many miles south of Faro, we crossed the border back into Spain.

Isla Christina to Cadiz September 13th

Another dawn to dusk day of sailing reached the bay of Cadiz. Approaching a west facing coast in the evening sun is always a pleasure, the Cathedral at Cadiz with its twin towers stands out attractively in the setting sunlight. Both the Cadiz Marina (Puerto America) and Royal sailing club refused us access, with shortage of berths and so we anchored in the bay.
By two in the morning (Monday) the wind was blowing hard, our anchor was
dragging and we were approaching a harbour wall, so Liz raised the hook (well done Liz! How many women could do that at two in the morning when its blowing a
hooley?) We then went into the more protected Fisherman's harbour and tied up against a fishing vessel. The “Levante” gale blew from East to West through the Gibralta straits for four days, removing any chance of our reaching Malaga by Friday for Ruth’s arrival.
The wall against which the fishing boat was tied had no ladder, so access ashore was only possible by scaling the wall at high tide with the aid of a rope we rigged. Absailing with groceries was fun.

Cadiz bay September 16th to 25th

On Wednesday morning we left the Cadiz fishing harbour and sailed 4 miles
accross Cadiz bay to Puerto Santa Maria Royal Sailing club. The club has a marble tiled terrace bar, shaded by palm trees and overlooking the yachts. It has a basketball court, several tennis courts, a gymnasium, two freshwater swimming pools, internet access, an affordable restaurant and all to a good standard.

Puerto Santa Maria is a small city built on the sherry trade from Jerez, it has a 15th C priory Church, the largest Bullring in Andalucia, some pleasant green areas, several nice shopping streets with the usual high quality, modestly priced Spanish leather goods, and plenty of street cafes and Tappas bars. Cadiz, 30 mins away by bus or 1 hour by Bingo, is an historic city with narrow streets, many attractive monuments,
squares, churches and more shops.

Cadiz bay is about 7 miles by 4 and is hosting the world olympic sailing
championships until September 25th. No shortage of wind!!

We collected Ruth and friend Gemma by hire car from Malaga airport on Friday evening, enjoying a stop at Ronda on the way.