Deterministic chaos.

Ruffian sits under the white houses of town.

7th March 2021

Portimão Inner Hbr, Portugal  – Isla Culatra, Portugal

Chaos theory suggests that the flap of a single butterfly’s wing can have a huge impact*. It is said that if a butterfly flaps its wings in Tokyo then you can get a tornado in Tennessee. As we have moved out to anchor on Ruffian we’ve had our own Butterfly effect of sorts. The impact of the anchor into mud has manifested itself in feelings of great freedoms, great privilege and huge adventures.

As we were now bobbing at anchor in the harbour of Portimão we felt able to find freedom in the cliffs to the east of us. Gone were the big town signs forbidding walking, forbidding entry and forbidding loitering. We were left unencumbered to stretch our legs away from the anchorage where our only company were flocks of gulls sunning themselves on the beaches below.

This landscape leant itself to flying and Iain was brimming with confidence as he launched his new toy (help us find a name for the drone …) out over the cliffs, over the sea and just about out of sight. The aspect was remarkable with blue waves breaking far below into the sheer yellow cliffs.  The seagulls however were not happy with their new company.

Like a squadron of spitfires taking off they quickly gained altitude and made for their drone target. The spindly propellors and flashing lights of the drone were no match for their powerful wings and sharp beaks. Racing against time and inevitable watery destruction the drone was instructed to head for home. With Iain’s heart pounding it safely landed ready for another day with a lesson learnt.

As we walked and turned left inland the hike was in for a big change. The natural red sandstone cliffs were replaced by fascinating multimillion-pound villas with their infinity pools, glass walls and Range Rovers. Heading further inland away from the views we meandered through wild flower meadows and soft fruit groves where butterflies fluttered, cows lazily mood and farmers leaned on gateposts literally watching the grass grow. The impact of the butterfly effect was stark.

The entertainment was not confined to just daytime activities. We also had an intellectual evening planned on Calista. We were to be amazed at the daring doo of an OCC couple as they sailed through the pacific to New Zealand. Following their adventures, we had adventures of our own as we braved pelting rain and howling winds for our dinghy trip home.

With our heads down, our speed increased and we were out into the harbour.  Suddenly the outboard choked, died and all we could hear was the freezing rain soaking us through and bouncing off Brock. In the time it took to refuel, reset and restart, our clothes were sodden, our bodies freezing and with Brock at full speed through the harbour we just got us wetter and colder. Ruffian provided sanctuary but it was a cold sanctuary. Oh the joys and privilege of being at anchor!

After months of waiting, months of jobs and months of uncertainty we were finally given the right weather and the go ahead by the authorities to set sail. Slipping out of Portimão felt like a huge adventure. We bid goodbye to the scene to which we have grown so accustomed, to the boats that we have found solace in, and to the harbour that has provided protection.

Ruffian slipped along effortlessly, the sails were hoisted and the engine silenced. As sailing days went this was the Heineken of days. Water beaded off of the newly polished hull, while the reconfigured watermaker clunked away filling the tanks, but most importantly of all this movement felt free. Ruffian had officially left Portimão to new adventures and we felt privileged to be able to move again.

* Also known as deterministic chaos.

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Author: Iain & Fiona Lewis

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