1st January 2021
Portimão Marina, Portugal
The king is dead, long live the new king. For every end there is a beginning and for every beginning there has been an end. On Ruffian this cycle is repeating itself in everything we do from exploring new worlds to hiking to the end of the earth, from finishing a painful boat jobs to welcoming a new year in.
The cycles of new beginnings started with an exploration in Ferragudo. We’d spied an abandoned factory complete with chimneys, a dangerous roof and walls that could topple at any moment that we needed to explore. As we landed, we sought an entrance and every time we thought a way in presented itself, we were either thwarted by barred gates, uncrossable chasms or the homes of the destitute who’d setup home in its shadow. Finally, exiting the wasteland huge signs presented themselves and the factory’s life (and the dwelling of those who surrounded it) were numbered. The whole place was to be recycled into a luxury complex. Industrial factories are dead, long live the new factories of wealth (sadly).
As the hike around the factory was slightly unsuccessful, the next day we teamed up with Calista for a full-on hike that was going to turn into a walk of multiple beginnings. With the sun low over the horizon and slowly waking the inhabitants of the Algarve we hiked. We stared down on perfect bay after perfect bay, marvelling at the endless sea caves and blue water that filled them. Finally, with the sun now high in the sky we reached the end of the walk. In the middle of nowhere, with no sustenance or sign of civilisation anywhere to be seen. The walking began again as we tagged on just another couple of kilometres to make a new ‘end’.
Our hike was rewarded by cold beers while sitting the sun as our ‘plates of the day’ were being prepared by attentive staff. It was then time to find a cab back to the car at the start of the walk. Cabs seemed to be a rarity and Ubers non-existent, there was nothing for it but to start the walking again. Hills that we’d previously descended we ascended, gorges that we’d forded were reforded and the bay’s we’d spied in the rising sun were marvelled at again in the setting sun. The hiking had finished, let’s start the hike again (painfully).
While we’d been out walking and having fun poor Ruffian, and more importantly Ruffian’s job list, was feeling neglected. Day after day we toiled ticking off jobs, finding that as soon as one was ticked off another came to replace it. Fiona sewed impossibly complicated sewing projects and fed wires through painfully tight holes; Iain installed electrics and finally got a green light on the SSB. The big job however was to be found upstairs on deck.
A job that has been unending, going on forever and that has been painful in the extreme had reached its climax. The last piece of treadmaster had been chipped off, the final layer of thick paint had been sanded away and we could now marvel at the acres of bare, shiny, smooth gelcoat that had been exposed. The joy of finishing overwhelmed us, there’d be no more dust, no more mess, and no more chip chip chipping. The scraping is done, now where is the paintbrush (the cycle of job after job continues).
There are some cycles that are celebrated every year and that is the passing of a yet another year. As the clocks struck midnight the skies became awash with fireworks. The church overlooking Ferragudo erupted in light and the beaches provided a great space for random rockets to be sent skyward, in the marina however here was a whole different level of pyrotechnic.
Smoke flares filled the air with acrid orange smoke, parachute flares flew skyward and slowly drifted down and hand-held flares burnt the retinas of anyone who dared look at them. In some parts of the world the coastguard would have scrambled boats and emergency services would have been on high alert. In Portugal however this just seemed like a jolly good way to say goodbye to 2020 and hello to 2021. A year is gone, lets live another year.
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