Never judge a book by its cover.

Our first experience of cork.

29th September 2020

Sesimbra, Portugal – Sagres, Portugal via Sines, Portugal

Appearances can be deceptive. Some anchorages can be a hidden delight behind a facade of industry, while others which on paper, look perfect in every way can turn out to have a bite much worse than their bark. Sometimes the forecast looks perfect and Ruffian can scoot along, other times the forecast looks perfect and we’re forced to use the iron sail.

Sailing south from Sesimbra the forecast was perfect and we were given perfect sailing conditions. While Clare sat on the bow under unfurled sails screaming in delight as dolphins flew by us, Iain and Fiona sat resolutely at the back of Ruffian thoroughly unimpressed that they only wanted to fish and didn’t want to play.

As we pushed south our destination was slowly appearing. Gas silo’s covered the shoreline, big container ships littered the approach and the industrial scale breakwater overshadowed everything. Turning the corner the cranes then came into view and the container port made itself known. Industrial landscape can only go some way to describe the appearance. As our little anchorage opened up, a welcoming white sandy crescent beach with flat water appeared and we’d left all the industry behind. In Sines appearances were deceptive.

The deception that Sines bought was not limited to the port. As Fiona, Clare and Kia took to Yoga on the beach Iain took to the chore of laundry. With weeks and weeks worth of dirty clothes strapped to his back he scaled the hills and found the laundrette. As the clothes spinned he found that this laundrette was actually masquerading as the fastest internet café (without coffee) in the whole of mainland Europe. Data flew down at untold speeds, internet chores were completed with aplomb and once again Sines was found to be holding secrets.

The secrets of Sines were not limited to the laundrette. Behind the little cafes where we ate and drank, the beach where Ruffian rested, and the castle that looked over everything, hid fascinating ancient crafts. As we walked the backstreets we happened upon a yard full of unprocessed cork. You could see where the tree’s had once been, where the branches poked out and even which way faced the sun. It was almost as if we’d got into a time machine.

We waved goodbye to Atea as they headed south and we waited one more day for the perfect forecast. The reality of the forecast however didn’t live up to the dream. The next day, with the sun rising behind the cranes Ruffian rocked and rolled, the air being constantly pushed out of her sails with them limp one moment and crashing full of air the next. This was not ideal, but we continued to push on south, however the dolphins who seem to permanently patrol this coastline lifted our spirits.

Finally rounding the most south west corner of Portugal, Cape Saint Vincent, which sits on top of colourful cliffs interspersed with caves that undermined them, we finally anchored in what was anther perfect beach. We’d finally arrived on the Algarve coastline and it was spectacular. The beach went on forever, the water was clear blue, the cliffs shone in the sun and ashore we had a fort to explore. Here appearances were not deceptive. It looked sensational and it was.

Venturing ashore on the Algarve coast things just got better and better. The fort was no ordinary fort. We marvelled as we looked down on the compass rose built for the world’s first ever school of navigation, we giggled as our voices were blown away by the torrent or air streaming up through the blow holes and then there were the cliffs then just plunged into the sea around us. The Algarve coast really was growing on us.

The Algarve coast is known for its surf and as Ruffian rocked and rolled its way through the night we knew why. Overnight our perfect anchorage had changed into into a surfer’s paradise. Donning their wetsuits and riding their boards the surfers paddled out and caught the white water that was rolling in just in front of us. The appearance of our perfect anchorage had been deceptive, the Algarve coast is littered with other prefect beaches just waiting for us.

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Author: Iain & Fiona Lewis

2 thoughts on “Never judge a book by its cover.

  1. What an amazing 12 days onboard in the Ruffian ‘bubble’. An absolute pleasure to be part of the Ruffian-Atea extended cruising family. Beach Yoga Club is still going and I can’t wait for the next instalment. Still wondering what the cliff top fisherman at Sagress were catching from a 60 ft drop (mystery) and I’m still buzzing from the dolphins. Speaking of which, I hope Fiona has finally stop buzzing from my European standard morning coffees (sorry Fi! Cracked it in the end with coffee 10/ water 90 ratio..) xx

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