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Algarve: amongst old and new friends

Written by Renato Matiolli

A month has passed by and we were “stuck” in the Algarve waiting for some good weather to sail south to the Canaries. Portimão was a fantastic place to stay for a month. We worked on the boat, relaxed, surfed, kite surfed, spearfished, visited old friends, made new friends for life and Feijão broke his leg. What an unforgettable month for all of us.

So, the trip to Faro (in Portugal) started in Cadiz (Spain) with great wind at the beginning, but it soon died down and we had motor a good portion of the way. Again the great news about it was that a series of dolphins came to pay us a visit and lead us the way to Portugal. I could not have asked for a better welcoming committee and Feijão got all excited about it.

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We arrived at dusk in Faro and we decided to spend the first night on anchor. It was probably our worst night on anchor as there was some wind pushing us sideways to the beach and at the same time there was some big waves, which were hitting us from the side and rocking the boat through the night, so it was not a pleasant sleep at all.

Next day there was some good wind, so we decided to move away from Faro and follow the recommendation of our local godfather, Mr. Paulo Bronze, to stay on anchor at Praia Grande in Portimão. So we sailed away.

Dinghy_FotorOn the first morning at Portimão, we took our dinghy to the marina during high tide and tied it to a wall while we went for supermarket, finding a local mobile and cooking gas. Well, the quest took us a lot longer than expected and when we came back it was already low tide and our dinghy was hanging two meters up on the wall just like a contemporary art work at the Tate gallery. We couldn’t do anything but laugh about it. We are such amateurs and we bet we made the day for the locals to see the tide coming down and watch our dinghy hang higher and higher by the minute. To solve the situation we had to get a ferry taxi ride to the boat and then at 3am (on high tide) come back to the wall on our SUP to recover our dinghy. Good thing was that at 3am there was no one there to laugh at us.

The reason we came to Portugal in the first place was for Sarah to visit her friends from when she grew up around Cascais and Lisbon and when she lived in the Algarve. It was great for her to meet all her great friends and for me to finally put a face and personality on the names she had always mentioned to me. We spent a weekend in Cascais, visited a lot of friends, ate a lot of great food and drove around the city. Her friends from the Algarve came to the boat for dinner a couple of days. It is such a good group and Sarah was trilled to meet them all together again.

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We were expected to stay in the Algarve for ten days and since the wind did not show up for a while we ended up staying a month. We could not have imagined a better place to be “stuck” for such a long period. This place had good anchorage, the marina in Portimão had a really reasonable price, we got a lot of stuff done on the boat, I was able to surf some really good waves and got some spearfishing action, we ate a lot of great seafood, Sarah saw all her old friends and more important, we were adopted by two new local families (the Bronze and the Saldanha Lopes). We had so many dinners and get togethers with them that it is hard to describe how they took us under their wings and showed us how to be a host in Portugal. Being in the Algarve felt like being at home.

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And can you imagine just how we meet them? Through Feijão… believe it or not! Paulo Bronze has the coolest Bull Terrier ever (Bart) and he started to follow us on Instagram and vice versa. Soon we realize that they were also part of the boat community and were always in the Algarve. It did not take too long for Bart to come pay Feijão a visit and become really good friends. At the same these dogs became great friends we were sort of adopted by the Bronze family.

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To get things better Paulo’s oldest son (Pedro), is a super cool dude who is very similar to us, got tired of leaving in a big city, ran away from the rat race and now does a lot of stuff including been a surf guide in the region. So we were surfing really good waves (Praia da Rocha, Arrifana, Cordoama, Carrapateira…) all the time. I was amazed how many good surfing one can find in the Algarvian south and west coast. Surfing in Portugal was a lot more pristine than I though it would be. The country has a great surfing culture, there is not much development around the coast line (it felt like Africa/Morocco at times) as one does not see many people or buildings around while you are searching for the perfect wave. I could not have asked anything else for this month, surfing perfect waves with a good friend is even more than we signed up for when we embarked in this journey around the world.

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Bacalhoada 2_FotorPedro’s girlfriend (Sara) is super sweet and quickly became Sarah’s best friend. She would always bring super good energy to the boat during her innumerous visits, which usually happened during her lunch breaks from work and at night. Her super nice family also adopted us and invited us many times for these most amazing dinners. We keep wondering why people are so nice to us… we already miss them a lot and we hope to see these two amazing families in the future at some point.

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Another cool thing was that Pedro and his friend Rui took me spearfishing at Monte Clerico on one of the weekends, so I got some more experience to hopefully, one day, be able provide food for myself, Sarah and guests. As expected… I got no fish, but they got a lot and at that same night we did some serious fishing barbecue on the boat for everyone! We had a full house! Really tasty stuff I am talking about. We had of course, Sara and Pedro over, Rui and his super nice girlfriend Daniela (who by the way, brought some delicious local deserts), Sara’s parents, the lovely Alexandra and Pedro, Pedro’s dad (Paulo) and his super nice younger brother, Nuno, us and our “permanent” crew member, João!

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To add to the adventure a few days before we left, our little rascal Feijão was walking on the pier, saw a dog running at the beach, decide to chase him, jumped 30-40 centimeter down to the sand, landed in a weird way, and broke his leg. He showed such an amazing athleticism (NOT) at that moment… so we quickly took him to the vet , to discover he actually needed to go through surgery, believe it or not. Thank god our great friends Pedro and Sara came again to the rescue, and recommended this great clinic where they also take their own dogs, and Feijão was really well looked after, so now he has a metal plate and screws on his back right leg. His x-ray is super cool and makes him look like such a bad ass! The reality is that he is a clumsy, sweet, non-athletic dog, which loves to be doing stupid stuff around the boat. Now he needs to rest and not move much for a month to recover from his injury… but it looks like it will be a long 30 days, as just after 24hs after surgery Feijão was already walking normally and not long will he be wanting to run around and play again.

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Well, the forecast finally shows some wind coming our way, unfortunately some huge waves (5-6 meters) are also expected… but it is now time to face the Atlantic and sail south to the Canaries. Our time in the Algarve has come to an end. The days we have spent here will always be in our memories.

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Renato Matiolli

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