Who are Dave & Patsy?
When Jill went on the crossing from Vanuatu to Bundaberg in October 2017, while crewing for Ron & Toni Borret on SV Cruising Kitty, she met Dave & Patsy Mitchell.
Dave & Patsy are very experienced sailors. As a young family, they had circumnavigated the world on a 32 ft Phantom monohull – “Mr Walker” during 1985-1994. And they had continued to sail ever since.
Part of their travels were serialised in Cruising Helmsman, during 1986. https://phantomyachts.wordpress.com/phantom-32/mr-walker/mr-walker-in-the-red-sea/. This article is part two and available electronically.
They also had quite an adventure further along in their journey, having survived a terrorist attack while in Cyprus, as described by their friends in Cruising World in 1985, Vol 11 ( 7) Diana and Kellogg Fleming, “Siege at Larnaca”, pp 94- 97. ( Anyone can find this article at Google books with these search terms). So with over 30 years sailing under their belts, we were anticipating a great time with these seasoned sailors.
We had last seen them in Iluka in NSW, in December 2018 when we partook of the famous Clarence River prawns for dinner on their boat. They were anchored in Iluka Bay and Dave rowed us out in their trusty dinghy. It was my first meeting with them and I found them to be as lovely as Jill had told me. We were very excited when we heard later that they would join us in our first year of sailing.
Dave and Patsy found us settled comfortably in Sines. The marina is located in a lovely bay. High above stands a statue of Vasco da Gamma, who stares across the waters of the working port and the people on the beach- Praia de Vasco Gamma. Sines is the birthplace of Vasco Da Gamma. Pronounced Sin-esh.
The Portuguese are very proud of Vasco da Gamma’s legacy. “da Gamma was the 1st Count of Vidigueira, a Portuguese explorer and the first European to reach India by sea. His initial voyage to India was the first to link Europe and Asia by an ocean route, connecting the Atlantic and the Indian oceans and therefore, the West and the Orient ( Wikipedia) “. This set Portugal up to control a monopoly of spices from the orient for many years before the Dutch took over the spice trade.
Sines Food Festival
The first day we ventured to the Sines Food Festival there were very few people around. As the day progressed more and more turned up and it was almost impossible to find a seat. Many stalls appeared to be fundraisers for various organisations. Volunteers provided home cooking that reflected the area. The aroma of barbequed sardines reminded us of a couple cooking them on their little BBQ’s in their front yard when we wandered the back streets of Sines. I was excited to enjoy freshly cooked sardines here in the pavillions. The days were hot and invited drinking pots of cold beer. What a refreshing accompaniment to the never-ending supply of chips, whatever the meal.
The view from the pavilions portrayed the beauty of the azure waters on the bay. What a magnificent place to dive into Portuguese food tasting! We were fortuitous to be here for the festival.
Sines World Music Festival – every July
Did I mention that we were located below the town? There was a music festival playing each night, accompanying the food festival by the seaside during our stay. Sound carried easily over the still waters. On the first night, we are serenaded to some Latin sounding opera around 10 pm for a couple of hours. The next night I quite enjoyed old country and pop songs sung in English. It continued each night for the five nights we were there. The ‘doof doof’ thudded through our hulls and it was harder to tolerate when the music style was not so pleasant. I have excerpted information from the official website, for anyone interested in World music.
“The festival was created in 1999 with the aim of promoting Sines Castle – associated with the biography of the explorer Vasco da Gama –, in the form of an event which illustrated the diversity of the musical genres in the world. Today, the festival stretches beyond the physical boundaries of the castle and discovery is its philosophy.
The programme embraces and transcends the scope of world music. It is open to folk, jazz, alternative music, fusion and urban music. More than just a world music or traditional roots music festival, FMM Sines strives to discover the music of the real world as it is made and experienced in our times: music marked by associations between performers from different geographic and cultural origins, arising from the movements of ideas and people which define contemporary society.http://en.fmmsines.pt/pages/982
(The event is canceled in 2020, because of the Covid19 pandemic).
Caravela Vera Cruz – sail training
A Caravel replica pulled up one afternoon in front of us on the pontoon. I was surprised how nimble it seemed to be while docking. No wonder I noticed this, as it’s design was to be a fast vessel that was easy to maneuver. It was even possible to row using oars if needed. First thing off the caravel was a speeding dog, which immediately peed on every post it could find. On ours and all the surrounding pontoons!
“The caravel was a vessel invented and used by the Portuguese during the period of the Discoveries in the 15th and 16th centuries. [This] one was built in 2000 at the Vila do Conde shipyard as part of the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Discovery of Brazil.
It aims to enable sailing training and sea experiences, especially for young people, to participate in tests and other nautical events, to investigate the behavior and maneuver of the old caravels and to conduct study visits with schools in Lisbon and other ports”. https://www.aporvela.pt/caravela-vera-cruz/ .
We cast off from the marina nice and early at 6.15 am. It was quite calm and the breeze was light. A few dolphins came out to play early in the day, and later the same morning, the fishing pots to avoid were far fewer. We put the main up briefly yet struggled to get it down. Despite our new Dyneema halyard, this surprised us. Given Patsy and Dave’s experience, we realised our inexperience wasn’t the only limiting factor that was a problem with the mainsail. The genoa got a better run- out and back in from time to time, over a period of 5 hours while the winds were suitable. Even rounding Cabo Sao Vincente provided no mention of adverse conditions in the log. Otherwise, we gave the engines a good run and arrived 75 nautical miles later at a beautiful anchorage opposite Portimao.
Surrounded by sea caves, steep cliffs, and some small sandy beaches, the anchorage is very pretty. The western side displayed some of the Portimao city buildings. It is such a beautiful anchorage. The changing light was very spectacular. When we pulled up, there were still quite a few day boats at play. These disappeared as the evening settled in.
We also had a chance to catch up with our British friends on SV Saviour.
In the video at the end of this page, you will notice Patsy & Dave trying out our tender. They headed over to Rob & Paulyne’s boat, SV Saviour, to borrow some screws. It’s a great show of how well the OC Tender planes quickly and handles easily.
Jill’s version of this trip
Shelley Beer 23 July 2019, editing by Jill de Vos