Chapter Nineteen May 21 – June 17, 2005

 

Where did we leave off?  Oh, yes.  We were “repaired” and getting prepared to depart.  All was in order, but we wanted to stop off in Portimao to say “Goodbye” to our friends from church, Mike and Jackie Lynch.

Enough suspense; I’ll tell you now, and get it out of the way.  We have broken down two more times since we last wrote.  Both times we were able to sail into port, drop the anchor, and sort out the mess in fine order.  One breakdown occurred a few hours out of Portimao; the other as we approached Gibraltar.  Believe me, the practice we gained anchoring under sail in Portimao (where there’s no traffic to speak of, and what there is is small) sure made the entry into Gibraltar that much easier (MUCH traffic, and BIG).  All is well, and John continues climbing the mechanical learning curve.

Being delayed in Portimao for a few days gave us the opportunity to have another “Dinghy Discovery Day,” this time with Mike and Jackie.  We putt-putted up the river to the town of Silves.  Everything went quite well, except that we miscalculated the tide a bit and arrived :25 too early.  We were marooned 200 yards from the town quay and mired in the mud. 

But the tide always rises, and soon we were sitting in the sidewalk café enjoying a cool drink. 

The town is dominated by a 13th Century castle at the top of the hill, and is rather charming.  We enjoyed a fine luncheon in the “Café Inglise,” took some photos, and headed home before the tide stranded us for the night.

Also in Portimao, we were reunited with our friends from Brittany, Annie and Baudouin.  We had spent so much wonderful time with Annie and Baudouin in Lagos over the winter, to find them again, and in Portimao, was a real treat.  While we got our repairs in order, we managed two “Farewell Dinners” with them.  Not just one, but two!

We did manage to get going, of course, and made a quick run to Cadiz.  We stayed in the marina in Rota, across the bay from Cadiz, and did our touring by bus.  In Cadiz, the siesta did us in.  We left Rota on the “early” bus, and had a quick look around the city, visiting a few of the sights.  Then, siesta.  Everything was closed from 1:30 to about 6:00 pm.  We sat and enjoyed a very long lunch.  Very long.  Then we sat some more.  On a lark, and as our behinds were getting cramped, we left the old city and walked across town to the modern shopping center.  That walk, in the middle of the day’s heat, confirmed the wisdom of Siesta!

At about 7:00 pm, the city came alive.  We stopped in a plaza for a cool drink, and watched as families poured out of their apartments and came into the plaza for the afternoon social hour.  The activity was great!  But, the last bus left at 8:00, so we dragged ourselves away, and headed home.

A short window in the weather convinced us we should get underway, or get caught in Rota for a long time, so we headed out to Barbate, our next and last stop before Gibraltar.  Getting to Barbate was not so simple, as we were pounded by headwinds and cross currents going around Cape Trafalgar.  Trafalgar!  Here, in 1805, Admiral Nelson and the British fleet defeated the combined fleets of France and Spain in one of the most famous naval battles of all time.  And we’re here, too!  What a thrill!  A few days later we hiked up the cliffs for an “up close and personal” view of the famous cape.

Barbate, the town we were moored in, is a small fishing harbor.  It has very little to offer the tourist, but it provided shelter from some very strong winds while we were there.

Soon, the weather broke again, and we dashed off for Gibraltar.  First Trafalgar, and now Gibraltar.  These are places we have heard about, read about, and now we’re here!  This is a bit of what “the adventure” is all about.  Our first few days in “Gib” were consumed with finding the bits to repair the engine.  That worked out just fine, and we were then free to tour “The Rock.”

Gibraltar is difficult to describe.  It has been an important place since the Phoenicians, and is so steeped with history that we just had to visit.  But the city itself is drab and uninteresting, and the Gibraltarians nondescript.  It is a city without charm; we were unable to find a restaurant that tempted us in the least, and saw nothing resembling a “first class” residential area.  But the history is impressive, as is the geography.

To look out and see the Atlas Mountains of Morocco just across the Straights is Impressive.  Just imagine what the ancients must have thought as they sailed through here thousands of years ago.

What can we do to top Trafalgar and Gibraltar?  Well, how about Africa?!  This is the one continent John had yet to visit (save Antarctica, which you can keep; it’s cold there!).  And now we’re here!  We sailed to Smir, Morocco (not on any map, sorry) just to the south of Ceuta.  We are just here for a few days as we “leave the European Union” to avoid the taxman.  Don’t fret, the tax story is too long, convoluted and boring to tell, just accept that this stop was necessary.