February 12, 2012
No, not the beans but the Tramontana, the wind that sometimes blows in this part of the world. It blew continuously for five days. It comes from the north west and brings with it fairly cold (max. 8â€“11 deg. C.) temperatures. Our wind instruments recorded a maximum gust of just over 48 knots and a fairly steady F6-8. The noise in the boatyard had to be heard to be believed, with frapping halyards and wind howling through rigging for days on end â€“ very wearing. Carole thought it sounded like an approaching express train.
The crews from two ketches lying at anchor outside the marina had been confined to their boats but at least their anchors held. Another, smaller yacht, has been left at anchor with nobody on board for months. We think it may be owned by one of the yard staff but even so it seems a bit risky. Mind you, we met someone in Nazare last year who had left his 55â€™ ketch at anchor for two years unattended but he did admit he was surprised to find it where heâ€™d left it!
Unlike in England, windy weather doesnâ€™t seem to stop boat lifts. The manager said thatâ€™s because the boats belong to fishermen who are used to handling them in all winds. Also, there is no requirement to remove sails from boats on the hard and they had to secure some that had started to come loose. I hate to think what might have happened if a watchful eye had not been kept.
Although bright and sunny, due to the wind and chilly weather, weâ€™ve not progressed the jobs much. However, we have reassembled most of that weâ€™d dismantled before Christmas, having brought back the necessary spare parts.
Around the outskirts of the town, we saw plenty of birdlife including a lovely pair of kingfishers by one of the many streams. The almond trees are in blossom and the orange and lemon trees are still laden with fruit. Large areas of land are devoted to fruit and vegetable market gardening.
Walking into town from the north, we passed blocks of mainly empty flats and some that had been abandoned at various stages of construction. Some with just the frame and external walls completed, others more advanced with windows and balcony screens installed. The standard of construction was generally poor with badly poured concrete frames and floors, uneven and loose brickwork and on one block the thick tile cladding was falling off and shattering on the pavement below, having been fixed in some cases with just a single blob of mortar. The pavement was not cordoned off as a safety precaution.
People are beginning to return to their boats and itâ€™s even rumoured that the Thursday afternoon boules will be starting again soon. However, some of the restaurants and many of the bars are still closed, some for good because of the state of the economy.