Alba Voyager's winter berth Olhao 2005/06
We have spent the whole of October and the first week of November cruising the Algarve, from Sagres in the west to Vila Real de St Antonio on the border between Portugal and Spain. We even ventured 20 miles up the River Guadiana that marks the border. Here we visited the small village of Alcoutim (Portugal) and on the opposite bank Sanlucar (Spain) both of which have ancient castles guarding the once important river crossing between the two countries (Portugal and Spain have not always been the best of pals, a bit like Scotland and England) and even today there are still a number of differences e.g. Spain is one hour ahead of Portugal in time difference.
Looking across the river to Sanlucar (Spain) The castle on the hill guarding the river crossing
The marina and water front at Olhao
Our winter berth for 2005/2006 is in the marina at Olhao about 6 miles east of Faro. The marina is new (not shown in the pilot book) and is adjacent to the town. Olhao is off the main tourist trail and depends mainly on fishing for its livelihood. The old town architecture is very Moorish with very narrow streets running between white flat roofed buildings, many with minarets. The facilities within the town are excellent with Supermarkets, Internet Cafe, Banks, Post Office etc. all within five minutes walking distance from the marina. There is also an excellent street market on a Saturday morning where local farmers and traders bring their produce to sell. We have visited other markets in other towns but the market in Olhao is by far the best we have come across yet, both price and selection, there is even a non-food section and in total there must be well over 100 stalls.
The weather remains good. This is of course a relative statement and the comparison is made with the weather in Scotland, the winter so far in the Algarve is comparable with a Scottish summer ( and long may it continue). We are using the stopover to finish many of the jobs left uncompleted on our departure from Rhu. With the weather being so much better it allows us to paint outside on the pontoon, so we dismantle what we can from inside the boat and work outside. The thing we missed most on our journey down was a cockpit table, so we are in the process of making one. This will allow us to eat most of our meals next summer outside which is much more preferable than being stuck down in the saloon or trying to balance a plate on your knee while sitting in the cockpit. Our minds are also working on next years cruising plan and at the moment is formulating around Gilbraltar, Ceuta (Morocco, but belonging to Spain) Baleares Islas, Sardinia, Southern Italy and Croatia, so watch this space we are hoping to set off sometime in April 2006.
For everybody reading this and especially to those we know personally may we wish you a Happy New Year and all the very best for 2006.
Olhao shopping street at Christmas
Tom and Anne
Alba Voyager 2005