Friday 26 October 2018


Wednesday 3 October to Saturday 6 October 2018

After the journey we had, coming from Sines to southern Portugal, it was with relief that we headed in to Vilamoura.  We were both exhausted from the long night of screen watching and boat dodging in the fog and I was slightly disappointed that we had rounded Cape St Vincent in the fog as it was quite a momentous moment, it felt like being at the start of the home straight. Anyways, disappointment put aside, the sun was shining and boy was it hot!

Arriving at Vilamoura,  we moored at the waiting pontoon and I went to book us in and do the paperwork whilst Mark filled up with diesel.  That way we could leave at anytime and not wait for the fuelling station to open.

Boarding back on Offbeat with jobs done, we slipped our lines to head for our berth.  “Do you need help” the kind Marinero offered (it’s common practice for staff to catch your lines and help you into your berth). “No” says Mark who had already sussed that the pontoons were not stern to mooring, “we can manage”. Hmm, famous last words!

Off we motored to find our berth, passing all the superyachts along the way.  I could already feel my credit card melting!

We found our berth and Mark duly headed into it.  Hooray, it was a finger pontoon.  Boo, it was only half the length of the boat and tapered into a narrow point at the end.  Shit I thought, there was me dutifully waiting mid ship with my line, but I had to drop it and run to the bow before we crashed into the pontoon.

I managed to get the line round the front cleat but we were swinging around. Mark was trying to lasso the stern line over the cleat at the end of the finger pontoon and control the boat but wasn’t having much luck.  So, I jumped off the boat and onto the pontoon to go and retrieve the line and pass it over the cleat.  Not that simple.  The finger pontoon by the side of the boat tapered to about six inches.  For those that know me they will know that I would be freaked out by this – six inches of wood suspended in the air, surrounded by water and nothing to hold onto!  Only one thing for it, crawl to the end of the pontoon on my hands and knees muttering something about next time we take the bloody offer of help!

In the end we managed to get Offbeat securely tied up.  I’m sure to this day the Marineros were watching and having a bit of a laugh at the English people too proud to take help. Since then, we’ve taken up the offer every time.

We stayed in Vilamoura for a few days, mainly to catch our breath and relax. We didn't do much, other than stroll along the beach, walk around the marina and surrounding streets and go out for dinner.

The marina itself was lively and pleasant enough, a big sprawling marina about the same size as Ipswich waterfront, full of bars and restaurants with waiters and music trying to entice you in.  But, after the unspoilt charm of Sines, Vilamora was a bit too soulless for us. It's quite clearly a place to be seen at and have bragging rights about having a boat in the Algarve.  I dont think I've ever seen so many large motor boats and super yachts in one marina, but very few of them in use, although it's probably heaving in summer!

So, well stocked with food and water and with the weather forecast promising wind, we set sail on Saturday and headed towards Barbate, our last stop in the Atlantic ocean before heading into the Mediterranean.

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