Chapter Sixteen  Spring, 2005

 

Our first winter in Europe is certainly one of  cherished memories. Lagos has been a wonderful stop and we’re not terribly anxious to move on but there’s a lot of world to see so off we go.

 

All is (almost) in readiness for an early-April departure.  The last half of February and all of March have been spent preparing for our departure. And getting the boat back to

sparkling after all the winter grime has been chipped away. Varnishing is just about completed, the dinghy has been repaired (towing it at night in the Azores was not the smartest decision we made) and things too numerous to mention have been checked off the list.  Our “Winter 2004/5 To Do List” actually had 35 items on it, and we have but a couple to go, and most of those are underway. Even the cove stripe has been refreshed. That was fully Sharon’s job while John went off “to the office.” That's what became the pet name for varnishing at the boatyard nearby. Going to the office. Briefcase was filled with sandpaper, tape, chisels, a screwdriver and a bagged lunch. A full 9 coats of varnish went on the wheel and we think that’ll do it for the next sailing season.

 

The Marina de Lagos has 460 pontoon berths and this winter was inhabited with 40 livaboards. We actually know just about every boat and occupant. We have made many friends here and expect to meet up again with several boats enroute to Italy. The

camaraderie amongst neighboring yachties is quite extraordinary. Everyone helps each other. Spare parts are discussed and exchanged on a daily basis. The “how to” part is also an ongoing dialogue. The conclusion of the project is often cause for celebration and afternoon “high tea” which has become a ritual on Pontoon “D”.

 

Across the pontoon is a young family of five including a set of twins and their older sister, Kelsey. Our friends, Imca and Uli, in a desperate attempt to bring sunshine to an otherwise dark dank day, orchestrated an International Dinghy Race. Contestants came from around the world, including America (Us), South Africa (The family) and Germany (Them). South Africa took the medal and the celebration concluded with a bowl of popcorn, tea and scones. We had a ton of fun. 

Our first guest, Ken Feldstein, visited us for a mere 24 hours late February. We had a blast but it was a bit short. He stayed across the street at the Marina Rio Hotel, where he could actually see “Seraphim.” We picked him up at the airport at 4 PM, checked him into his hotel and came back to the boat for a snack. We went out for an extraordinary Mediterranean dinner. Then we strolled through town around midnight and made a plan to meet at 9 in the morning. We woke up to rain, fog and heavy winds, the first foul weather in months. So our “cliff walk” became a “drive,” but at least he got a feel for Lagos in all of two hours. Lunch on the boat and back to the airport. That's it. The good news is, as usual, we laughed like crazy and made the best of the time and weather. We're really touched he made the effort to visit. Besides, his visit pushed all our deadlines ahead and eliminated the ability to procrastinate.

We woke to blue skies and sunshine this morning. While enroute to the chandlery a horse and artfully decorated buggy passed by. There were two small children sitting in back on top of a bale of hay waving to us and they were certainly having a grand time.  We talked about the beauty of simple living. This is certainly one of the most intriguing aspects of our lives. Yesterday the "scissor sharpener" was circulating the neighborhoods on his bicycle playing his harmonica (com amplifier!) to announce his presence. It was so great. It must be what our parents once lived and remember well.

Our friends and neighbors on “Toujours” are replacing their water boiler. As usual, there have been a series of complications including the wrong size boiler ordered, for starters. Once the correct one was delivered, the valves had to be replaced because the ones supplied were for the original size. Chip suspected this was going to be a lengthy exercise to and from the chandlery. So on his fourth journey he paced with his GPS in hand. In the end, nine-tenths of a mile times seventeen trips made him a thinner man and he was quite pleased that he not only replaced his boiler but had gotten more exercise than usual. Ahhh, the joys of being a boat owner!

We’ve just said farewell to our french friends, Annie and Baudouin. This is the hard part. We’ve spent three months with them and developed a warm friendship. Parting ways is difficult but we hope to see them again along the coast. Annie is an avid swimmer and needs the exercise to keep her going. She says “I am going mad for the warm water.” So yesterday she swam in the ocean at 16 degrees C, 61 F. They are headed east to find warmer water and we have set up a radio watch to catch up with them, a softer method of avoiding goodbyes.

 

Well, we're scheduled to depart on April 1st but the engine is not cooperating so our departure will most likely be delayed. We're trusting that all will work out. Nothing a bit of cash can’t fix. Or perhaps hoards of it.  Ah well, it's only money. Our lightheartedness came as a result of spending a glorious weekend in Lisbon. What a fabulous city. It's kind of "bohemian romantic." It's a bit tattered around the edges but once you see beyond the graffiti, the beggars and the crumbling foundations (oh and the dog poo as the Brits call it) it's pretty spectacular. The architecture is predominately stucco in Easter egg colors. The fruit trees, pink buds and warm, promising, spring air were magic. We had an all day walking tour on Saturday, interrupted by two tram rides up very steep hills. The trams have museum-type character with gorgeous varnished wood and lots of old brassy hardware, leather seats and big red wheels. We felt like we were being featured in a Disney movie when we were aboard. Great fun. We had a typical Portuguese lunch followed by more afternoon strolling. We only caught a glimpse of the city, really. We'd love to go back. Sunday we went to our friend's church and that was certainly a highlight of the trip. All in all, it was a wonderful weekend.

Our plans for the next year are sketchy at the moment, mostly because of the uncertainty of Italy as a place to winter. What is definite is this: we will leave Lagos as soon as we can and head for Gibraltar, then on to Morocco for a short visit.  Next is the Balearic Islands. We'll spend about six weeks there. Then we intend to stop in Sardinia and Corsica, (July-August) ending up on the west coast of Italy at the end of September, early October. Of course, not included in those brackets is the travel in between. It's thousands of miles!

Taped to John’s office door for months before we left was the following:

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did.

So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.

Explore.  Dream.  Discover."

     Mark Twain

 

We’re doing it and loving every minute.

 More from the Balearics.

A Bientot.