Faro, Portugal

The Algarve is the southern coastal region of Portugal and is a place that most people have never visited and probably never will. That is both a huge shame and a blessing. A shame because people are missing out on perhaps the most scenic coastline in the world, and a blessing because it could easily become spoiled if too many tourists found out about it. When tourists take over a place, what follows is always the same: crowed beaches, impossible parking, colorful souvenir shops selling worthless trinkets, and excessive amounts of English breakfasts and German beer gardens, none of which are problems in the Algarve. We’ve also noticed a fairly direct relationship between the number of tourists in a place and the number of rules that exist to protect those tourists and keep things organized. Here you can park anywhere, climb on the rocks, swim wherever you want, hike around on the stunning cliffs… all without breaking a single law, rule, or ordinance. We highly suggest you come here to check it out for yourself… wait… no, actually maybe we don’t.

We’re now in Faro because that’s where the Algarve’s airport is located. We’re doing a crew change here as we get ready to launch off the European continent and head south towards the Canary islands, via Morocco, which is where our Atlantic crossing will start from. In Faro we gain my uncle Chris for the trip to the Canaries, and my father Richard from Los Angeles is joining for the ride all the way to the Caribbean. The penalty for this is that we lose Piers for a few weeks, who needs to return to San Diego for business reasons.

The distances we’re about to sail will now get bigger, as our focus shifts away from seeing things ashore to moving the ship westward and southward. It is not a coincidence that this is also where the Summer is now heading, which clearly has already made its departure from Europe for 2012. We’re looking at the weather forecast now because conditions here vary greatly at this time of year, and the seas can get hairy without any protection from land like you get inside the Med. We need about 30 hours of decent weather to get to Rabat in Morocco and it looks like our window will open on Monday evening…. but like everything else in sailing, there are no guarantees.