Portimao: The Lotus-eating City

Portimao is a convenient stop for many yachts, as it is an ideal location to either enter the Med or cross the Atlantic towards Madeira or Canary islands. However, most of the people going there, despite having many grand sailing plans, tend to just stay in the beautiful marina, bedazzled by the good weather, fresh food and several events…People wished to stop for a week or a month and end up staying there for years..like eating the mythical fruit lotus, they tend to forget their original plans and just enjoy Algarve’s beauties and vacation vibes. That is what makes Portimao such as unique place; although a Portuguese city you barely meet any Portuguese people but you are rather surrounded by English, Dutch and other Europeans.

Jelle’s aunt, Anita, lives for many years now in Portimao and naturally we stopped there not only to rest but also to visit family! Luckily, we managed to “escape” Portimao but not without a considerate delay! Our stop there was slightly extended; from one week to 3 weeks! Nonetheless, in the meantime and due to Anita’s impeccable organizational plans we managed to attend three different parties, taste all different delicacies, and even celebrate Jelle’s parents’ 40 -year wedding anniversary!!

Jelle and myself have been toying with the idea of a dog for the last two years, but we wanted first to start our sailing trip and if everything went well, then we could add a new crew member. And so we did. We adopted Chica, a beautiful, highly energetic, very smart and loving little street dog from a shelter in Albufeira. The first 4 days, everything went perfectly! Chica was so comfortable on the boat and on the dinghy, like she has been living on board all her life! She also learned her name, the commands “No”, “Sit” and “Come” in not time at all! She was a full ball of energy, however, which meant long walks twice a day, fetch with the ball, play with other dogs, a full day planned with activities! This was no problem for us, as we enjoyed every moment with her, being so playful and smart!

The problems started on day 5th, when we noticed a small injury on her neck, probably caused by her leash. Following the advice of the kennel, I tried to smear an ointment on her injury, but she growled at me, snapped and tried to bite me! We brushed the incident off, as she was half asleep and was probably my fault. A few hours later, she woke up and when she laid down again, Jelle tried to smear the ointment and the exact same thing happened! Worried, the next day we drove up to the kennel to discuss the incident. Our friend there said that Chica is 95% perfect dog but 5% aggressive and we should be the “pack leader”. Chica looked fine and she let us put the cream on, however she attacked another dog while we were in the kennel. We returned to the boat, spend the rest of the day with her and at night, because Jelle’s parents had just arrived from Holland, we left Chica with a friendly couple which had dogs for over 40 years. We had a nice dinner with Jelle’s family, but when we returned to our boat, things turned sour. Chica immediately got aggressive and started barking and growling and snapping at the man which had just pet-sat her and when the lovely couple left, Chica tried to bite Jelle when he tried to pet her. That was the line for me. I completely freaked out, and we decided at that moment that we should better return Chica to the kennel. Trust me, it was a very difficult decision to make, as we had fallen in love with her, but a highly energetic and aggressive-when stressed- dog is not a good companion on board, especially when we were planning to sail 600 miles! Chica had not sailed before in her life, and having a dog trying to bite you while you are in the middle of the sea did not feel like the right idea. So, with lots of pain, we returned Chica to the kennel. She is a great dog and if we had more time or we were living on shore, we would have definitely have kept her. But it was the wrong timing. We hope she finds a good home soon!

After our heartbreak with Chica, we focused on getting Libra ready for the biggest-so far- crossing! Jelle’s dad would be coming with us, which meant better night shifts, a true blessing! Leaving Portimao was a bittersweet feeling; we had made some many friends there and had such a great time and felt sad to leave them, but on the other hand, sailing towards Canaries was an adventure we simply could not miss! So, we did our final preparations and set sail to Lanzarote!

Make sure you stay tuned for our trip and stay in Lanzarote!! It is worth the wait!