Monday, 26 September 2011

Rowing in Portugal

So Anders Eliasson took his new Thames skiff over the border to Portugal for a short holiday. As promised, he reports:
Lago Alqueva is an artificial lake in Portugal. Its in the south in the Alentejo province and part of the lake is on the border with Spain. It’s the biggest artificial lake in Western Europe and its more than 80km (50 miles) long. The region is also considered to be the least populated part of western Europe.I was there for 4 days with my 12´ Selway-Fisher Thames skiff and my dog, rowing some 3 to 4 hours a day.The place was a very pleasant surprise. It's late summer here and everything is very dry, but the feeling was fresh and lush. The water is not clear but it seems to be very clean with a lot of plants and fish. The whole zone is pretty deserted and accomodation is scarce. No campsite, very few hotels or B&Bs. I slept in the back of my Ford Focus van and enjoyed the loneliness. That was what I was looking for.I could imagine that the lake would be a really great place to do some serious dinghy cruising. There are an endless amount of small islands and hidden bays where you can camp wild. There´s no need for sleeping in the boat. The weather was warm but not overly hot, a maximum of some 32 degrees celsius. Most days there were a stable wind of some 6 to10 knots, in the afternoon a little stronger and in the morning less.The little skiff did great. Its not the ultimate rowing machine. Its too short and fat for that (12 x 3´8) but it is a dedicated rowing craft and you reach max hull speed with little effort. I´m looking forward to going back. Its only a two hours drive from where I live.
Thanks Anders - the HBBR folk have been discussing more far-flung cruising grounds and I think this one is now on my personal list.


Anders Eliasson said...

Thanks for posting this.
The lake would be a perfect place for a raid. Even a big one.
BUT not in summer... Its way to hot. Normally around 35 celicius, but 40 celcius is not strange. I went there during a couple of days where it was cooler. Its just 2 hours from where I live, so I can choose my period.
A good time of the year would be start June. It´ll all be a lot fresher, the water a bit cooler and more light as well.
There are a couple of small villages where you can buy the most fundamental things like bread and wine. And the Black Bass is around a kilo and there are plenty of them. I saw Portugese fishermen with 10 - 15 after a days fishing.
The center photo is my favorite. Its poor quality because it was taken with my mobile phone but it has the feel of the lake. The white house in the background is on an island in a bay and the lake extends many kilometers behind that island.

Carlos Henriques said...


Portugal is a good country for rowing, we have a lot of beautifull places to put a boat in water and have a nice time watching our wonderfull landscape,

Carlos Henriques

Gavin Atkin said...

I'd argue for the river Vilaine in Brittany - it's dammed not far from the sea, so isn't tidal, and goes through some gorgeous country.


Aerial shots:

Anders Eliasson said...

That looks like a nice spot Gavin.
I dont know if I can make it, but I would sure like to participate.