Yacht Pipit


Haggis, herons, hiking and new ground tackle, Lagos, 3rd February 2012

Terry giving the Address to the Haggis.

Life here is Lagos is busier than ever as we spend our days and evenings either doing jobs on the boat or partaking of the active social scene which has included more ropework classes, a Burns Night celebration, music sessions and of course the weekly walks along the Algarve coast or in the hills and valleys.

There have now been three ropework classes given by Fred from Dream On. As a member of the International Guild of Knot Tyers, an organisation which works to promote, preserve and teach knotting and ropework, Fred has been a superb teacher and we've learned some new and very useful knots, varieties of whipping and seizing, emergency lashings plus a decorative Turk's Head. Next week's session will include some more decorative knots. Whilst we may not remember everything by the next day, practice is helping and having been taught so patiently by Fred makes it easy to use the web for a quick refresher on any particular knot.

We celebrated Burns Night, organised by Terry and Barbara, in style at the Marina Bar. The finest Haggii (Macsween's of course) were imported for the evening, along with the neeps. The haggis, which followed a delicious bowl of cock-a-leekie soup, got the full address from Terry and the traditional toast from the diners. It was served as a rather enormous starter portion with the mashed neeps and tatties (swede and potatoes to those southern Sassenachs who don't know what neeps and tatties are!). The main course was then roast beef, potatoes, parsnips and carrots. We could barely finish this and there was dessert of Tipsy Laird trifle to follow! The courses were interspersed with some fine verses courtesy of the man himself (Rabbie Burns) read by Terry - oh, and a few more whisky toasts. We tried some Scottish country dancing after our meal - well one of us did anyway - as Andy wouldn't get his dancing shoes on, I had to resort to dancing with a bloke in a skirt!

First time in a shirt and tie since we moved aboard! Not just any tie though - the MacKellar tartan!

Yes, I know the fleece doesn't go with my lacy skirt, but it was cold!

More of our Burns Night revelry:

We've been joining all the weekly Wednesday walks which we hope is helping to keep us fit and healthy as well as allowing us to appreciate our stunning surroundings here in the Algarve. The week before last, we did an additional walk on Friday, clocking up an additional 13km. This second walk was just us and Pat accompanying Chip to reconnoitre and map out a new walk to the north of Raposeira. There is stunning scenery on this one through some valleys and up onto the plateau with views for miles (or kilometres as they say in these parts) towards the Aljezur coast. It included a bit of challenge crossing a small gully where the track has collapsed from heavy rainfall at some stage, but when we walked it with the group last Wednesday, Chip brought along a rope to help everyone climb back up from the bottom of the gully.

An earlier walk from Sagres to Raposeira.

Chip rigging the rope for the ascent out of the gully. Jura the dog assisting.

From the plateau, looking across the valleys towards the Aljezur coast.

Several of those who took part in the Christmas Carol singing are now getting together on Monday evenings for some music sessions and we're attempting not to murder a few classic 60's or traditional folk songs. I'm trying to play the violin for some songs and sing others. Jak from Quo Vadis who plays the harmonica called us 'Freddie and the Dream Ons' (Fred from Dream On plays guitar and his wife Gail sings) the other day... I think she'd have been nearer the truth if she'd said 'Freddie and the Nightmares' but it's all a bit of fun and good craic. Anyway, our little 'band' is a great mix of singers, instruments and nationalities.

As well as the 'wild' social life, we see other wildlife in or near the marina. Egrets fish along the edges of the marina basin and we also get a surprise from shags (!) frequently as they dive and pop up close to the boat. Storks, whose nests are on a number of chimneys nearby, fly overhead and there is often a heron on the pontoons early in the morning (it's obviously Harry, TKO) and one of his choice fishing spots seems to be the empty finger pontoon just behind us.

Harry the heron on the finger pontoon behind us.

In preparation for more anchoring this coming year, and for the increased depths of anchorages, particularly when we reach the eastern Med, we've now got all new ground tackle. We originally had the standard issue Bavaria CQR copy anchor and 45 metres of chain. Our decision on which anchor and just as importantly which chain supplier was aided by talking to other sailors, reading tests and doing other research on the web, particularly on the Cruising Association and the YBW forums. Although anchor threads are undoubtedly one of the most contentious issues to put it mildly and there are as many strong opinions as types of coffee at Starbucks, there is also a wealth of experience, some sensible debate and reasoned argument. Thanks again Tony and Dave (two other Bavaria 36 owners who we've 'met' only via emails, but who have helped with photos and information about upgrading their tackle (!) and how it fits on their boats).

So - what did we choose? A new Manson Supreme 16kg anchor and 70 metres of 8mm calibrated Grade 40 DIN 766 galvanised chain. We had prompt and helpful email replies from Manson in New Zealand including an anchor template to print off to check for fit. Bradney Chain also provided excellent and knowledgeable service and we would highly recommend them to anyone sourcing new chain. Both the anchor and chain were delivered from the UK within days of ordering. Ultimately, only time will tell whether or not we have made the right choice - watch this space for future reports. We'll use some of the old chain for the FOB kedge anchor.

Two chains, the new and the old...

...and two anchors, if you'll pardon our Portuguese. The new and the old.

We turned Pipit around in our berth so we'd be bows-to in order to carry out the anchor and chain changeover. Obviously as soon as we got ready to do this, the wind piped up to 18-25 knots but neighbours on our pontoon, Allan and Pauline from Ladyhawk and Roger from Aimee appeared at an opportune moment to take our lines. It then took us a surprisingly long time, typically with the freshest and coldest wind we've had for months, to remove the old anchor chain, clean the locker out, mark and fit the new chain and anchor. We stopped only for a couple of quick coffee breaks to warm up (perhaps Andy should have put trousers on...), so were cold and hungry by the time we finished late in the afternoon but are well pleased with the result. Hot showers were very welcome before firing up the diesel heating to boost the temperature below and making a quick but filling pasta supper.

All shiny and new - even the pin fits.

Andy has serviced the engine and we've replaced the engine start battery which, unbeknown to us, had failed in between starting the engine two weeks ago and changing the fuel filters last week. We now need to service the winches, but obviously at only 13° C with fresh northerly winds making it feel even colder, they'll have to wait! Normal service (the usual balmy 16°-17° C) is due to resume early next week, when we hope to complete this and a few other jobs before lifting out in a couple of weeks' time. We hear it's slightly colder in the UK & elsewhere currently...

Fellow Cruising Association members, John and Mo of Fuga are giving two evening talks in the next fortnight about their 7 years of experience cruising the Med, and there is plenty of interest in these as there are a number of us here in Lagos who are all heading in that direction. We are looking forward to these and it will be good to hear first hand experience and information about our next cruising ground, where we plan to spend a number of years.