Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tides and how not to anchor in Faro, Portugal

Coming from the Adriatic sea I never cared much about tides. Half a meter up or down - who cares.
Atlantic is different.
Faro have a tidal range of more then 3 m and a large lagoon which empties and fills via two narrow channels. This is a good mix to experience strong tidal streams on its own, but adding to this relatively shallow ocean in front, swell, waves and wind and you get a nice playground.

Here is how a pier looks from a dinghy at low tide:
And this is same view just a few hours later: 

This is the view from Heron towards Faro airport at low water. You can't really see the airport.

 And later with flood the "island" disappears and the airport is visible in the background.

This tidal changes creates strong currents and form channels and ever moving sand bars. One needs  some skill to navigate and anchor there. There is a good write-up about anchoring in Faro in anything sailing forum -  see this thread:

I recommend this forum to all sailors - it is packed with useful information, lively discussions and some healthy arguments.

Here is example of what can happen if you are not careful. This boat was anchored in the narrow channel and they were fine for a day or more. They stayed inside the channel as they were riding on water, not on wind. The wind was E anyway, so they were fine. Last night the wind was N and when the tide changed there was no current just long enough to allow wind to push them over a sand bar.
With water going down they had no other chance but to wait for next high water.
You can see someone picking clamps in the background. The water was knee deep at the boat at low tide. With no swell and soft bottom the boat was not at risk.

All went well on the next tide, they were afloat again. I went over to ask if they have closed all sea-cocks - after all one does not want the boat to go down as the water is coming in through a galley (kitchen) sink or or head (toilet) ... They did close them all and everything was OK.

The life was back to normal:

Evening was better then normal:
This is how we celebrated my (captains) 50th birthday - with fresh fish, cataplana and nice bottle of wine.

1 comment:

  1. A nice write up. What's the state of the houses on the Faro Island. They look pretty precarious to me, what with shifting sands and all.
    Best regards,