Albufeira to Gibraltar

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August 20th 2013
Published: August 20th 2013
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We have neglected the blog for a few stop overs, this has been mainly because there has been no internet available !! We left Lagos on Thursday 8th August and spent a very pleasant day sailing to Albufeira. The marina is surrounded by holiday apartments and is a little way from the town. It must be said that If I was paying for a holiday to Albufeira I think I would be disappointed. We left there on Saturday 10th August for a short days sail across the bay to Vilamoura, which is a far more civilised place to be. We left Vilamoura late afternoon on Monday intending to have an overnight sail to Gibraltar. We made better headway than I had expected and it soon became clear that if we continued we would arrive at Gibraltar at about 01.30 Wednesday morning so we decided to stop at Barbate for the night. This turned into two nights because of a gale warning for the next afternoon. We left Barbate on Thursday 15th August and headed straight into force 5/6 South Easterly winds. This produced quite heavy seas and forced me to tack all the way to Gibraltar, even got shouted at by Tarifa Radio station to keep out of the shipping lane !! arrived at Marina Bay Gibraltar, a bit knackered and in a hurry to get moored up and into a shower. As I reversed into the berth the rudder caught the mooring line of the boat next door and promptly fed it into the propeller. Deep joy. Fortunately one of the guys helping us in was a diver and for a fee got kitted up and freed us. There was no damage to mooring line or prop so everyone was happy. I shall not be in so much of a rush next time. Gibraltar is a lovely place to be and I am sure we will enjoy our stay here.


I think we have been spoilt so far for stunning views and beautiful sites to take photos of. It is no surprise that at some point the style and taste fairy would run out of dust to scatter ,It just so happens the fairy dust ran dry at Albufiera which will explain why we never felt moved to take a photo. The marina was sheltered by hills full of unfinished flats and buildings, which made the mooring relentlessly hot with no breeze to take away the burn of the sun reflected off the multi coloured concrete holiday homes that surrounded the marina. I exaggerate not when I describe the surrounding holiday flats as being ‘at home on the set of Balamory and crafted by the family in the 1970s cartoon Barbapapa’. They were made up of different shaped sections painted in bright chalky colours, each building had 7 different coloured sections. I love colour as you know the more colour the better but I really felt if you painted them white they would look like quite an interesting contemporary home instead of making your brain hurt every time you looked at them . Because of the heat we used the showers a lot which took a while to find as they were behind a random door situated in the underground section of the multi-storey car park – both spooky and random.

To take our minds off the stifling heat the Marina was the home to several party boats with a sound system louder than if every boy racer in Essex decided to simultaneously turn up their basses.

We went into town on the first night and were overwhelmed by the seas of red sweaty inebriated British holiday makers in search of the cheapest bucket of Sangria with a side order of batatas fritas. Andy appeared to develop xenophobia as the unyielding crowd threatened to suck us into a karaoke bar so we forget dinner in one of the many heaving restaurants. The crowd sensed we were leaving and we were swamped by a series of bold waiters and Shirley Valentines who blocked your path to desperately verbally solicit you in the hope that you will enter their already overcrowded eatery. Rrrrrunnnnnnnn!!!!

Wonderful World Wino

On the way to the town I saw a middle aged white guy on a bench opposite a lone Karaoke restaurant nursing a bottle of rose. On our return we heard Mr Rose and his surreal but stunningly authentic rendition of ‘What a wonderful world’ in the style of Louis Armstrong but without his trumpet. On the bench opposite the restaurant his backpack waited for him with his empties.


We had been reliably informed that Vilamoura would be more picturesque and less touristy. The berthing was a bit hairy because the pontoon was way too short and had nothing to tie the ropes to, my internal panic was overheard by 3 gentlemen who helped us into our tight space.

Albufeira was a sweaty tourist trap where you can procure a blister encrusted tan, purchase hand painted numb chucks and consume your body weight in alcohol every night with all the English trimmings. Vilamoura was again a Tourist trap but full of rich people who can afford to pay someone else to sweat. The marina was heaving every day and night full of tourists walking around in designer clothes, spray tans, with hair that remains unaffected by the furnace like temperature. I on the other hand are fashioning frizzy caveman hair that I can’t tame, a very uneven tan, a tummy that is still disturbingly white and a comedy red nose.

I made friends with a stray cat which I thought was dead until I put a pile of cat biscuits next to it and it came back to life. My hand bag contains a bottle of water, a bowl, some dog treats, some cat biscuits and crackers for the birds – nothing else!

I saw a bikini in one of the marina shops, thankfully it was the cheapest one - 245 Euros!?

On one of our evening walks we found 2 strip clubs behind the marina, one with a night crèche complete with mini bouncy castle and a lady selling bubbles– oh the irony.

Because a lot of my sickness is brought on by us bobbing and rocking in very light winds we had decided to look into purchasing one of those big beautiful, colourful balloony sails you see at the front of boats. Andy enquired with a sail maker and this was going to cost 4 grand. God is great, Andy decided to look in the spare sail bag that was in his tool cupboard and he found a ‘genneker’ which is perfect for our boat! No I didn’t go and buy 10 bikinis.


We had very little wind for our 165 mile journey to Gibraltar so we ended up stopping off at Babate. We still don’t know how to pronounce the name of this town. Andy has fallen on the boat and hurt his good knee so he is limping everywhere at the moment so the 2 mile walk to town from the port was a bit of an issue. The marina and port is full of stray cats that are beautiful with blue eyes. Andy and I spent most of our time feeding and watering them. I wish I had an ark and I would just travel the world adopting all the stray animals and nursing them back to health.

The trees really look like Broccoli (please see picture). Andy discovered an anchor graveyard.

We got served in the Supermarket by Jesus and he doesn’t have a beard or long hair. I bought a scrubbing brush called ‘Lava con asa’!!

Andy asked for mankini instead of mantequilla (butter) and my pronunciation was so appalling the waiter bought us everything to put on our toast because our miming was getting us nowhere.


Windy bumpy trip and nausea free until the last 3 hours, my thighs got spectacularly wind burnt. When we finally got to the correct marina situated 20 yards from the runway of the airport it was 2030, we had been sailing since 1000 and neither of us had eaten. I just wanted to hide, not speak to anyone, put a pint of aloe vera on each thigh and clear up the bottle of soya sauce that had been emptied all over the kitchen and walls. For the next 2 hours we experienced a very ‘Horrible Entrance’ accompanied by the normal crowd of onlookers (probably like to watch car accidents in there free time) but on the flip side there were about 6 guys who helped us for two hours trying to find a solution to our dilemma.

Discovered Mavis my cat prefers cheap cat food that I have kept for the strays and is now turning her nose up at the expensive stuff.

Dudie my ‘self harming’ cat is wearing a funnel collar so she stops licking her tummy until she is sore. She has a new nickname ‘alopecia’ because she is finally losing her winter coat on her back. She will soon be nicknamed ‘Factor 50’ because that is what she will soon be covered in if she loses anymore hair.

Have been bitten to smithereens again, my shins are running a temperature and are swollen which meant I had to loosen every buckle on my knee high centurion sandals to get them on.

Within the city walls are beautiful old town properties with shutters and ornate ironwork balconies. Outside these walls there is a contrast between substandard high rises in dog dirt smeared streets and expensive high rises near the marina with million dollar apartments. There are no signs or red bins to encourage dog owners to be respectful of their home. The dirty streets and cheap high rises looked like Edmonton N9 where I patrolled. It is the first time since the UK that we have seen takeaways; fish and chips, burger king, kebab houses. With this English tradition comes dirty streets, the air smelt greasy and the shop fascia’s were gaudy and unkempt. In Portugal and Spain the streets are kept clean and manicured but the streets in Gibraltar seemed neglected (outside of the town). And in this British colony we found dirty deformed greasy pigeons - just like the ones in N9. I have always been haunted by deformed toeless pigeons, it breaks my heart, I can’t bear seeing the poor things and they are still following me.

We didn’t go up to see the apes as we weighed up the odds of me being attacked as being high to inevitable owing to the fact I now smell of animal feed and have open wounds on my legs from the bastard mosquitos we thought I am a prime candidate for being gang pillaged by a team of militant primates.

There is a large Morrison’s here so I was elated to get a stock of Mcvities Chocolate digestives, kettle chips, humus and bleach. Cigarettes are £2 a pack and spirits are really cheap, nothing I like was cheap, darn it. There is the usual café in Morrisons but a Gibraltar addition is a bar – yep you read it right – beer consumed on draught in the supermarket, this already happens in the UK in supermarkets but people are arrested for it and banned from the store.

They have a better class of British street drinker here, there is a group of Males who look like they left Woodstock to come to Gibraltar and haven’t left the 70s behind, they are dressed like the cast of ‘We will rock you’ and sit there making no mess or noise, they just look like they are in deep thought reminiscing about better times.


20th August 2013

Take care. Hope the sunburn, mozzie bites and Andy's knee improve. Hoping to have a better Skype signal at your next stop. Love you lots. Deb xx

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