Anchored To The Spot
6am, first light. It’s raining again.
‘Gleda’ is bobbing about like a plastic duck in the bath water.
The sloppy chop splashes and knocks against the hull a few inches away from my right ear. 9mm of plywood is all that’s stopping my warm cosy bed from sinking into the cold salty water just the other side of it.
It’s been another disturbed night, a squall rattled through about 1am. A flash of lightning, wind moaning in the shrouds, rain hitting the cabin tops like buckshot.
I got up and wiped the condensation from the cabin portlight. I could just make out the lights from the villa up on the hill. I knew we were still anchored in our spot.
Yes, you guessed it. We’re still in Alvor.
Last night was our 26th anchored here. Add on the 51 nights we spent here last Summer and you can see how we’ve come to think of it as our spot.
It’s been a different experience this time round though. For the last 5 days the wind has hardly dropped below 15-20 knots. Saturday into Sunday saw us riding out the strongest winds we’ve yet experienced on anchor.
It blew steadily from the South or South West at around 25-30knots for the best part of 24hrs. On Saturday morning my hand held anenometer told me it was blowing 35knots across the deck with a maximum gust of 47knots.
Alvor is one of the few safe anchorages along this Algarve coast. We’re tucked up a dog leg estuary protected by a sandbanks and over a mile away from the entrance so sea swell can’t reach us.
With the Spring tides we have now there is some fetch at high water, but at most it creates waves of 1-2ft.
My 20kg Manson anchor is by now buried deep in the thick mud below our keels.With a 4m tide we float in 2-6m of water. It’s attached to the boat by 15m of chain. We don’t have swinging room for more, so before the strongest winds arrived I shackled the spare 20kg Bruce to the chain and slid it a couple of metres down. It’s worked well, better angle of pull on the Manson, no jerking on the bridle, less veering.
There were 3 other boats anchored with us during the worst winds. One of them dragged and took several attempts to get secure.One of the resident boats broke her mooring and ended up on shore.
If we’d dragged we’d have been ashore as well, even if we’d spotted it was happening straight away there wouldn’t have been time to do anything about it. We’re only about 15m off in a Southerly. The sloping mud would have stopped us at anything other than high water, but after that it would have been a rocky sea wall.
I bought that big old Manson anchor a couple of years before ‘Gleda’ was launched. I wondered if it was too big………. It’s not.
Before the wind and rain arrived we had four days of 100% cloud cover.
My single 100W solar panel became next to useless and I’ve been having to run the outboards for a couple of hours a day to keep the batteries charged.
I’ve ordered another panel which we’ll collect when we get to the Guadiana but at some point I’m going to have to get the Rutland wind generator repaired or replaced.
All we can do for now is minimise our consumption and use expensive petrol.
So, when will we escape ‘Port Velcro’?
Truth be told we could probably have made a break for it in the week following our drying out work. Problem was that all the wind that week came out of the East, the direction we needed to go. At one point I was tempted, but not for long. We have no timetable, we’re here to enjoy life, beating into wind and waves is something to avoid if a there’s a choice. I made the choice.
So, if the forecasts are right it looks as if this unseasonal and unreasonable weather might finally be clearing off this weekend. I do hope so, we haven’t done any proper sailing since last August when we made the passage from Sagres. Eight months ago, that’s crazy.
A few decent days with the right winds is all we want. It’s a 70nm passage from here to Ayamonte at the entrance to the Guadiana river. Culatra lies 40nm away and offers a possible overnight stop.
Both have potentially dangerous approaches, sand bars, strong tides, navigational hazards. I’ll need to be alive and alert.
Looking forward to it.
Oh, and one last thing.
Steve over at The Sailing Rode.com has just posted Part 2 of the podcast interview he did with me a while back.
You can listen using the links below: