Celebrations in the Velebit Mountains – Feast of the Assumption

juronnie:

Hi Dan,

Your adventure sounds amazing.

Yeah – the overnights are quite tough. We do 3 hour watches at night and catch up during the day which seems to work. Unless something goes wrong and you both have to be up at night for some reason. But there’s no denying that you basically feel knackered.

Ju

Originally posted on At Sea:

Every year on the 15th August high in the Velebit mountains the death of the Virgin Mary and her acceptance into Heaven is commemorated. The local Tourist Office in Starigrad tell us about the festival and we are keen to visit, lured by a trip into the hills and the opportunity to watch a local festival.

We are without transport and the location is approximately 20 kilometres away and 900 metres up in the mountains.  We try our luck at hitching a lift, an easier option to walking!  Almost immediately a car pulls over and a young couple inside agree to give us a ride.  We hop in and exchange names.  It turns out by chance that Goran and Anna and their Jack Russell Tara are heading to the same festival, they have an invite from the campsite owner they are staying with.

As we get chatting we find out that we…

View original 1,192 more words

Into Africa

Welcome back Boatbloggers,

Alan is getting very concerned that we haven’t crossed The Atlantic yet, so we decided to do as he suggested in his comment, and sail back down the river from Ayamonte and turn right. Westward ho! as us sailors would say. Towards The Atlantic and across to the New World.

Unfortunately, after about a day of sailing, the wind dropped, and once again we found ourselves becalmed. This time in a bar just outside Portimao…

Bar

BECALMED

…which would have been fine. Apart from the singer. Oh dear… the singer. She howled Tina Turner and Gloria Gaynor covers well into the early hours, making it impossible to sleep even at anchor over a mile away. Not so much a Siren luring unwary sailors onto the rocks, as a banshee making them throw themselves over the cliff, so the result was about the same.

We were planning on sailing to Madiera m’dears, but the wind was completely against us, and the forecast showed no sign of it changing for at least a week. We simply couldn’t take any more God-awful renditions of “You’re Simply The Best,”  and “I will Survive,” so we decided to weigh anchor and head for Rabat on the North coast of Africa instead.

It’s about a two day sail, and was memorable for us for a few reasons. The main one being that we got our cruising chute up for the first time. That might not sound a big deal to you, but for us it takes us onto a whole new level.

For those of you landlubbers that don’t know, a cruising chute is basically a spinnaker for dummies. (And a spinnaker is that great big colourful sail that they always put up when they’re taking photos of racing boats.) We’ve had this cruising chute for over a year now, and never been able to hoist it before. We’ve tried, but the wind conditions have never been right. They have to be just so. Light and slightly behind you. 

So it was with some trepidation that we pulled it out of the bag. The opportunities for comedy with a cruising chute are limitless, as a trip down to The Solent any weekend will show you. We tried to remember what our instructor Clive had told us about putting it up. Which rope got tied to what and so on. We rigged it all up, gingerly pulled on the snuffer, and….

Chute 1

BINGO!

Up it went.

This is so momentous, it’s got to be worth another photo.

Chute 4

BINGO AGAIN!

One more…

Chute 5

And for those of you interested in these sort of statistics, it added about 2 knots to our speed. Which given how much it cost, works out at about a thousand pounds a knot. 

And so, looking like an oversized Liquorice Allsort we sailed on, at times dangling our feet over the bathing platform to cool down. 

Feet

FEET (Ju’s on the left, Lyn’s on the right – just In case you weren’t sure.)

The colour of the water out in The Atlantic is amazing. You won’t find that on the Dulux paint chart. And at night the stars have to be seen to be believed. Living in London the light pollution is so bad that you can barely see the moon, let alone the stars, but we have become quite dab hands at spotting Cassiopeia, The Square of Pegasus, Vega, Arcturus and the rest.

It was about five in the morning. Lyn had just gone on watch, and we were about 25 miles off the coast of Africa. The moon had set, the sun was an hour or so away from coming over the horizon, and it had clouded over, so it was completely pitch black.

And that was when we ran into the Moroccan fishing fleet.

I should just explain. When you start sailing, they give you a book called, “The Rules of the Road.” This contains everything you need to know about the Collregs, or ‘International Rules for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea,’ and deals with such matters as who has the right of way in any given situation, what lights you should show at night and so on. It is a weighty tome. Now I could be wrong, but my guess is that the average Moroccan fisherman sat in his little wooden boat has not read this book. Some were lit up like a Big Fat Gypsy wedding, but most had no lights at all.

Fishing Vessel At Night

MOROCCAN FISHING VESSEL AT NIGHT

And all of them laid out nets. Long nets. Nets-without-buoys-attached-to-show-you-where-they-are type of nets. Nets that are the perfect shape to wrap around your keel and tangle up your propellor type of nets.

Ju sat at the front of the boat with the searchlight, and Lyn steered as we wove our way through this labyrinthine mess as slowly as we could. We did run over one net, but fortunately Lyn was able to stop the propellor in time, and with the boat hooks we managed to untangle the keel and drift off it again. Even once the sun had come up they were impossible to see lying about six inches below the surface. It took over three hours to go just a couple of miles, and was a very tense time. 

Eventually we picked our way through, and shortly after got our first sight of Africa.

Africa

MOROCCO

The river up to Rabat, the Moroccan capital, is quite hard to navigate, so they sent out a pilot boat which guided us in. It was great fun going along the river because of the fantastic welcome from the Moroccan people. It was like being visiting royalty. They were waving, shouting greetings and we had to dodge people in the water as they swam alongside us. We almost ran over one little boy in his armbands.

Rabat 2

VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE

Eventually we reached the harbour. Morocco used to be ruled by the French, and the combination of Arabic bureaucracy and French organisation means that getting through immigration is a pretty lengthy process. But here we are. We’ve sailed to a brand new continent! It’s not crossing the Atlantic Al, but pretty good all the same.

We’ve only been here a day, but we love it. It’s so very different from Europe, and would be impossible to overstate how friendly and welcoming the people are. Though if I’m going to have a proper conversation with a Moroccan I’ll to need to learn a bit more about Manchester United. They are all big fans. (Where are you Adam, when we need you?) When they hear my surname they are convinced that I must be Wayne Rooney’s dad, though how they can think I’m related to some short ugly red-headed bloke from up North is beyond me.

Rabat 3

UP THE KASBAH

Tomorrow we go to Casablanca. I’m going to find Rick’s bar, tell them my name’s Sam, and ask what time the gig starts.

A Bientôt nos amis

 

Ju & Lyn

 

 

GRATUITOUS PHOTO OF THE WEEK…

Sweeney Todd

LE SWEENEY TODD DE MAROC

Action & Adventure on the High Seas

Hello again Boatblog®  Fans,

First of all, we would like to apologise to out regular readers for the late publication of this week’s edition of The Boatblog®. This is due to the temporary unavailability of the writers.

Under Arrest

HELPING THE POLICIA WITH THEIR ENQUIRIES

Yes, we had a visit from the Policia Maritima, but I am pleased to report that with time off for good behaviour we can now resume normal service.

We have called this episode, “Action & Adventure on the High Seas.” This is in fact a little bit misleading, but if we called it, “More Holiday Snaps,” no one would read it. So “Action & Adventure on the High Seas,” it is. (I’ve worked in advertising, so these things come naturally.)

The main thing that happened this week is that Rory and Joe turned up. Which has certainly livened things up.

R  J Swimming

SWIMMING…

Joe Fishing

FISHING…

We’ve still not caught anything. We did get a bite, but the fish escaped with the lure. So the score at the moment is 

FISH                   1

FISHERMEN     0

Rory Dive 2

DIVING…

Kayak

KAYAKING…

Cocktails

…and of course, DRINKING.

But the highlight of the week had to be diving with tuna. If you are in The Algarve and do nothing else, make sure you do this. It’s organised by Tuna Dive Tours (www.tunadivetours.com) and it is fantastic. You get driven out to the tuna farm in a super fast speedboat, then you pop on your SCUBA gear and get in with the fish.

Of course, at all times it is imperative that you look good.

 Lyn getting into diving suit

WETSUIT WITH MATCHING LIPSTICK

We got there at feeding time…

Mackerel Gun

That bazooka type thing underneath the crane is actually a Mackerel Gun. Apparently it’s based on an Australian pub game, and it actually fires out mackerel. 

Fish fed, it was time to get into the water. You don’t want to go swimming with a thousand hungry tunas.

Lyn’s Dive.mov

YOU’VE BEEN FRAMED

Now I’m not one to exaggerate, but there were literally millions of them, and they are huge.

Tuna 2

They weigh up to 350kg, which is like five of Ju. Ok maybe four, but whatever it is, they are awesome. 

And delicious.

Rory had to go back home on Friday, but Joe stayed with us as we sailed into uncharted waters, up to The Rio Guadiana which is the river that marks the border with Portugal and Spain.

It was on this voyage that disaster struck…

What the

DISASTER STRIKING (reconstruction)

…and we went over a pot buoy.

We came to a very sudden halt, the engine cut out and we were stranded in the middle of the ocean. With complete disregard for her own personal safety, Lyn told Ju to put on the diving mask and flippers and go over the side to see what it was.

Once in the water, he immediately saw the problem.

Prop caught

The propellor was well and truly embedded into the pot buoy, and the rope was wrapped tightly round the prop shaft anchoring us to the bottom. Even if we could free ourselves from the rope, there was no wind, so we couldn’t sail back to port. Somehow, we had to release the propellor. it really was quite a problem.

Not to worry. Super-Ju to the rescue…

Mr Incredible

Mr INCREDIBLE

With his knife between his teeth he dived into the shark infested waters,  sawed through the tangled rope, and somehow manage to wrestle the pot buoy away from the propellor. All those years in the SAS* weren’t wasted.

Exhausted, but triumphant, he clambered back on board. With bated breath, he tried the engine. 

It worked.

What a hero!

And were were able to sail (well, motor technically)  on our merry way, accompanied by our friends, the dolphins

Dolphins1.mov

And this weeks arty farty photo prize goes to Rory, for his work called simply, “Boat.”

Arty boat

BOAT

And this is a cool picture of our boat too…

Sunset Domini

Adios Amigos

Ju & Lyn

Ayamonte (Spain – but only just)

* South Acton Scouts

Sea Gypsies

Hello Boatblog fans, and welcome back for this week’s thrilling instalment of adventures on the high seas. Actually, it’s not going to be that thrilling because we haven’t left anchor since last week. So it’s going to be more like the average set of holiday snaps. But hey ho. Even Admiral Nelson had days off.

And thank you again for all those who have made comments or sent feedback, and for the likes on Facebook.

This week’s episode is called “Sea Gypsies, which is probably not very politically correct.  However, most yachting books refer to the type of  sailing that we are doing as cruising, but we thought if we called the blog “Middle Aged Cruisers,” it may attract the wrong sort of reader. So “Sea Gypsies” it is. And in it, we will try to give you some sort of an idea of what it is like to live on a boat day to day.

Mostly life at sea is very similar to life on land. You still take a taxi…

Taxi

…and just like London, they go way too fast and frighten the passengers. (Sorry Danny)

Taxi Ride

You still need bread…(and this is boat baked bread – by a Frenchman, so you can imagine how good that is)

Bread Delivery

OCADO

…go shopping

Shopping

SUPER MARKET

…visit Toni & Guy

Toni  Guy

…and do the laundry…

Laundry 2

…before popping over to see the neighbours for drinks in the evening.

Nighbours

With TIM & GAIL on their ketch, “WILD BIRD.”

Which is all very tiring, so it’s a good job that Lyn finally found a use for the spinnaker pole.

Hammock

But it’s not all hard work. We were lucky this week, because our visit to Olhao happened to coincide with the Festival du Marisco, which bills itself as the WORLD’S LARGEST Shellfish and Music Festival. 

Ready to Rock

READY TO ROCK…AND EAT

Now we haven’t been to that many Shellfish and Music Festivals, but it looked pretty big to us.

Seafood  Music Festival

LIVE AT THE SHELLFISH & MUSIC FESTIVAL

They said it was going to be Sole Music, but I thought it was more Clam Rock. (Ha ha ha!  Genius!)

And this week’s Arty Farty Photoprize goes once again to Lyn for her work entitled “Street.” This is in Faro, which you thought was a horrible Benidorm sort of place, but in fact is a delightful old Portuguese town. And we’ve got hundreds of photos to prove it. But we thought we would spare you all that.

Arty Farty Faro

STREET

And now we are getting the boat ready to move upriver to Faro town itself, to meet Rory and Joe who are arriving at midnight tonight for a week of intrepid sailing. Or lying on the beach. We haven’t quite decided yet.

Adeus for now amigos,

 

Ju & Lyn

Visitors

Welcome back Boatbloggers,

Apologies to Alan, and any of our other readers who are expecting exciting tales of derring-do and action-filled adventure on the high seas, as I’m afraid that once again this week’s episode is going to be less Robin Knox-Johnson and more Ronnie Knox-Drinksover.

This is because all this week, we have been joined on board by visitors from the Old Country. Firstly Paul Martin who came out at the start of the week, and then Nicho Shaw who joined us for the weekend.

Paul was expecting more of a super-yacht experience than we were able to offer, which is why he turned up dressed in his Gucci outfit and Louis Vuitton suitcase.

Gucci ManGUCCI MAN

Those of you who know Paul will not be surprised to discover that his Hermes shoes cost more than our dinghy.

Nicho on the other hand, refuses to be sucked in by the designer labels, and prefers to dress more practically.

Nicho

MODELLING ITEMS FROM THE LATEST NY HEADWEAR COLLECTION

Once Paul had settled in, we cast off and set sail to secret anchorage that we had been told about by our friends Julie & Andy Skentelbery.  

Nice Legs

NICE LEGS (btw – that isn’t a garter; it’s a lifejacket strap)

Somewhere near Vilamoura, its exact location cannot be revealed here, as it is known to just a few seasoned Old Salts.

Arty Beach 

SECRET DESERT ISLAND

Fortunately, it isn’t completely deserted, and it is possible to get hold of emergency supplies.

Ice Cream

 

While we were there, Paul was keen for us to develop our nautical skills, and so very kindly bought us a fishing rod.

Paul Fishing

SERIOUS ANGLER

He was more than happy to share his many year’s experience of fishing at Roger Daltrey’s trout farm, and soon we were casting away like old pros. Unfortunately our first day was not as successful as we had hoped, as all we caught was a piece of rope and an old sandal.

The Catch

CATCH OF THE DAY

Undeterred, and with an enthusiasm that only other anglers will understand, Paul got up early next morning to try again. This time we caught a rusty can.

Can

In fact, to date we haven’t actually caught anything remotely fish-like, but this is probably a good thing. We subsequently found out that we were in a marine nature conservation area, and if we had actually got something would have been liable to arrest.

Lyn thought our lack of fishing success was caused by us being rubbish, but fortunately Paul was able to explain that it was in fact because we were using lures and not spinners, the water was the wrong temperature, and there was a full moon.

Not to worry, at least we knew that there were no dangerous fish in the sea, so it was safe to go swimming.

Swimming

A QUICK DIP

Night at Anchor

NIGHT AT ANCHOR

Back in Vilamoura, a moment of history that needs trumpeting is that JU REPAIRED AN ENGINE. That may not sound like much, but I promise you this is something that has never ever happened before. The generator had inexplicably stopped working, and Ju managed to get it going!!! OK, it needed some talking through by our yachting expert in the UK, Chris Warwick (chris@universalyachting.com), plus many hours with the manual, but eventually he found the breaker that had tripped, reset it, all by himself, and BINGO! It started working again. Woo Woo!

Handyman Ju

MR MECHANIC

…while Lyn & Paul swabbed the decks. 

Swabbing the decks

Just in time for some hard earned cocktails…

Cocktails

RELAXING AFTER A HARD WEEK AT SEA

And this week’s arty farty photo prize goes to Lyn, for her work entitled simply, “Bush.”

Arty Bush

BUSH

Adeus for now, amigos.

 

Ju & Lyn

More from The Algarve

Welcome back boatbloggers,

I’m afraid that our voyage half way round the world hasn’t got very far this week. About 21 miles in fact. That’s because it’s just so nice here, that we haven’t wanted to rush on. And we have really bought into the concept of mañana, although that gives a sense of urgency that doesn’t really exist over here.

There have however been a few firsts. In particular, we have spent most of the week at anchor, rather than berthing in a marina. Which has many advantages. Most notable of which is that it is free! It also meant that we got the dinghy out for the first time. Unfortunately, as we were getting out of the locker Ju dropped vital parts of the electric inflator overboard, Grrrrrr, which meant that we had to pump it up by hand. It wasn’t too much of a problem because Lyn likes the exercise, and soon we were off exploring the local caves and grottoes.

Grottos

A GROTTO

A great thing about the dinghy is that you can get to beaches that aren’t accessible by land. There was one particularly pretty one with only a few people on it, so we thought that we would land there for a quiet lunch by the gently lapping shore. Unfortunately as we got closer, we realised that the Germans had got there first.

The Germans had got here first

GETTING BACK TO NATURE

With everyone else being totally naked, we felt rather overdressed in our swimming costumes, so Ju decided if you can’t beat them, join them. (Sorry girls – no photos on the grounds of public decency) It was as he was striding down the beach for a refreshing dip au naturelle, that we found out that the nudist beach was part of the tourist trail. Hundreds of boats suddenly came round the corner, cameras flashing, children laughing, and the Captain bellowing  “Nude-y! Nude-y!” over the loudhailer.

Tourist Boats

BEING A TOURIST ATTRACTION

The dinghy by the way, is now our new car.

Shopping

DOING THE SHOPPING – MORE BOOT SPACE THAN A PRIUS

By happy coincidence it turned out that two of Lyn’s friends, Ann & Heather, were holidaying in Praia, about five miles away from where we were anchored. Don’t bother to look it up, everywhere in Portugal is called Praia. They braved the dinghy ride and we all had a very pleasant lunch on deck.

The Girls

SHIP’S MATES

Our next anchorage was in Ferragudo, near Portimao, where they put the flags out for our arrival…

They put the flags out for our arrival

…and last night we arrived in Vilamoura, where we are looking forward to our friend Paul Martin arriving in an hour or two for a week’s sailing.

Or fishing.

Or sunbathing.

And it wouldn’t be a true boatblog without an arty farty picture of some sardines.

Sardines

SARDINES

Adeus for now Amigoes

 

Ju & Lyn

 

 

Gosh – We’re in Lagos!

(You will only realise quite how brilliant that title is, if you know that Lagos is not pronounced Lay-Goss, but Luh-Gosh).

And yes…as I write, we are in Lagos, on The Algarve.

The Blogger

HARD AT WORK, REPORTING BACK FOR OUR READERS

Welcome back boatblog fans, and once again thank you to everyone who has left comments, or liked us on Facebook.

Unfortunately, this week’s instalment is going to be quite short because the truth is…we haven’t done very much! As Alan pointed out, our intrepid Voyage of Discovery – à la Marco Polo or Columbus, has become something of a Vacation – à la Marco Warner or Cosmos. And even though the ship’s log has just clocked 1,000 Nautical Miles, it has been more Thomas Cook than Captain Cook. (This is good stuff isn’t it. You don’t get this quality on the average boatblog.)

But enough waffle. We spent the best part of a week in Cascais, going for cycle rides eating too much and generally having a very nice time.

Tour de Portugal

TOUR DE PORTUGAL

(PS – I do have a much funnier picture of Lyn on the bike, but she has refused to let me put it up on the internet on the grounds it might go viral. Private viewings can be arranged on application).

But eventually our wanderlust returned, and we set sail for Sines (pronounced Cinch). It took the best part of a day to get there, and we were surprised to sail into this sweet little Portuguese town to the sound of pounding African drums and terrifying native chanting. I thought my navigation had gone all wrong and we were about to be taken by Somalian  pirates, but it turned out this was the start of the Sines World Music Festival. The WOMAD of Portugal.

World Music Festival

GRANDSTAND VIEW OF THE SINES WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL

It was fantastic. Never mind that it didn’t start each evening until way past our bedtime and carried on till six in the morning.

The first concert was by a famous Fado singer. Fado is a passionate style of Portuguese singing.  If you think a Latino Edith Piaf but with all the happy bits taken out, you won’t be far off. 

We were there

WE WERE THERE!

She was great. The next concert was by an Armenian Jazz Funk band. I think it would be fair to say that Armenian Jazz Funk is an acquired taste, and there is probably a reason it hasn’t gone global. We stayed for as much as we could bear, but eventually had to leave. After the first tune. Which lasted twenty five minutes.

But it was a fantastic atmosphere, and it’s been a long time since we’ve been somewhere that you needed a bracelet to get in. 

The revellers return

NOT TOO OLD TO PARTY

But it was time to move on. We left Sines just as the sun was coming up, this time to the sound of heavy Moroccan  Dubstep, and headed towards Lagos. We rounded the treacherous Cape St Vincent on the South Western tip of Portugal (that’s the bottom left hand corner to our landlubber friends) in a flat calm and arrived in Lagos in time for cocktails overlooking the marina. Just as Vasco Da Gama did all those years ago.

Cape St Vincent

ROUNDING CAPE ST VINCENT

And of course, it wouldn’t be boatblog.com if we didn’t include a gratuitous selfie. So here it is, outside the Boca Inferno near Cascais.

 

Aaaah

Aaaaaaaaah!

 

 

Adeus for now.

 

Ju & Lyn

A Postcard From Portugal

Welcome back Boatbloggers,

We spent a fabulous few days in Baiona. It is a charming little town, full of cobbled streets too small to get a car down, though somehow the Spanish manage, and we spent the days wandering from one tapas bar to the next. Our regular readers will probably notice us getting bigger and bigger in the photos as the journey progresses. The puddings in particular are something to write home about (which is what I’m doing) and the hot chocolate is quite literally, well… hot chocolate.

Pudding

THE DIET’S GOING WELL

But first let me tell you about lobster pots. They are the bane of the cruising boat’s life along the Spanish and Portuguese coast, turning what should be a nice easy sail into a slow motion slalom. They carpet the whole area, up to ten miles off the coast, and if one got caught in your propellor that would really spoil your day.

PotBouys

BLOODY LOBSTER POTS

…so Ju decided to get his own back. Now those of you who know how much he doesn’t like sea food will appreciate what a rare piece of footage this next photo is.

Lobster

REVENGE ON THE LOBSTER

Before long we were ready to head off to Portugal. Which we did on Tuesday.

It wasn’t long before we crossed the Spanish & Portuguese border, raising the courtesy flag as required by naval tradition.

Raising The Portuguese Flag

HOISTING THE FLAG

IMG 0076

Just for the record, and for those of you who are big on naval etiquette, (I have since been told by a French Euro-commissioner who happens to be moored up next to us right now, and knows about these things) that I am hoisting it on the wrong side. Apparently courtesy flags must go to starboard. Owner’s flags go to port.

There wasn’t much wind, so we motored most of the way, and by the evening arrived in Povoa de Varzim. We planned to spend the night there, and head further south in the morning.

But we hadn’t allowed for THE FOG!!!

Overnight, the fog came in. And this isn’t fog like we get in England. This is proper Jack the Ripper fog. The first we knew about it was when the foghorn went off. Not the usual BRRRRRRRR! BRRRRRRRR! that we get back home. This was more like a World War II air raid siren. And LOUD! The nice Swedish couple in the boat next to us thought it was some sort of industrial accident, and came on deck in military gas masks. I am not kidding. Unfortunately, it seems that the gas mask has a filter inside, and they hadn’t taken the protective paper off the filter, so they both started to suffocate and had to take them off again. It was like watching Buzz Lightyear remove his helmet for the first time. Anyway, it all calmed down once they realised it was just fog, and that the Russians hadn’t in fact invaded.

It’s hard to get a good photo of fog. It just looks like you’ve breathed on the lens, but here it is anyway. It doesn’t really do it justice. You could barely see about ten yards, and it completely drenches everything.

Fog

FOG!

And so we were fogbound in Povoa de Varzim. Which may sound romantic, but Povoa de Varzim is a bit like Acton without the posh shops.  Very nice, but a day is enough.

We mooched about, and the next day the fog was gone, the forecast was good, and so we set sail for Nazare, just over a hundred miles down the coast.

Coastal Fog smaller file

STILL FOGGY OVER THE LAND

It was a nice sunny day, so time to get the washing dry.

The New Flag

NEW COURTESY FLAGS

The night watch was busy on this leg of our journey, and we were dodging fishing boats as well as the omnipresent lobster pots. It was about 2am that The Fog came down again. It only lasted about three hours, but even with radar and AIS it’s still a pretty nerve-racking experience, peering into the gloom, only just able to see the front of the boat.

We arrived in Nazare just as the sun came up. We spent a pleasant enough day there, though the town is a bit like a Portuguese Margate, and the marina is a little bleak. We were berthed opposite the fish processing plant. 

So the next day (Saturday) it was onwards to Cascais, arriving just after dark because the wind wasn’t as strong as had been predicted. Cascais is absolutely delightful.Very different from our other stops. The place is full of super yachts, and millionaire playboys with their pretty young girlfriends. So we fit in pretty well.

All in all, a great place to spend Lyn’s birthday.

 Happy Birthday Lyn

HAPPY BIRTHDAY LYN

 

Champagne On Deck

CHEERS!

Beach Poser

POSING BY THE BEACH

Well, that’s it for now. We’ll probably spend a few days here, and then head on to the Algarve.

Adios for now, boatbloggers.

 

Ju & Lyn

 

 

Grafiti Cascais

EVEN THE GRAFFITI IS CLASSY IN CASCAIS

Y Viva Espana

Welcome back Boatbloggers,

Thank you for all your comments and likes from our last blog, though first of all I would like to put an end to the rumour started by someone who shall remain nameless (but his name rhymes with “Wave,” and he looks a bit like me) that the damage to the halyard sheave was somehow connected to my first visit to the top of the mast. I know that in the past my DIY attempts have not always been entirely successful, but this this time the damage was entirely coincidental

And particular thanks to Chris from Universal (www.universalyachting.com) who has put up a link with photos of us racing down the Solent. 

https://flic.kr/s/aHsjYH4XWX

…but if you can’t get to that, here’s a couple of them to give you an idea…

DominiDomini 2

So, a lot has happened since we last blogged, waiting it out in Camaret-Sur-Mer for the weather to improve.

Our last night there was interrupted by the French RNLI, coastguard, ambulances and gendarmes all charging up and down the marina. It seems that the skipper of one of the British boats moored alongside us had been out drinking with his friend. On the way back, the friend fell asleep on the pontoon and couldn’t be roused, so the skipper went off to find someone to help carry him back to the boat. When he returned with the rest of the crew, the unconscious man was nowhere to be seen. Fearing the worst he ran back to his boat, and desperate to save his friend used the boat’s loud hailer to wake everyone up, shouting, “Man Overboard! Man Overboard!”  at full volume. Not wanting to leave any stone unturned, he sent out a Mayday call to the French Coastguard on the VHF. Soon the whole marina was awake, and with the coastguard’s RIB’s, they scoured the midnight waters for sight of the drowning man. Alas, there was no sight of him, and after an hour or so hopes were beginning to fade.

Fortunately however, it turned out the man had woken up, and gone back to the bar for a few more drinks. He was later found unconscious outside the lavatories.

It makes you proud to be British.

But the next morning, the weather was fine, the forecast was good and so we decided to set sail across the Bay of Biscay for A Coruna on the North West coast of Spain. At a little less than 400 miles it would take about three days to cross and was our longest voyage to date. We filled up to the gunnels with provisions, fuel and water and cast off mid-morning on Sunday.

We were soon out of sight of land, and as the sun went down we were surrounded by a school of dolphins. (is that the right collective noun? Or is it a pod of dolphins? There were so many it should be called a swarm. A swarm of dolphins. Anyway, there were loads of them.) We tried to get some photos, but dolphins are very quick, and all we managed to get was lots of pictures of the splashes that they make just after they’ve jumped.

Here is a small selection…

 Dolphin Splash 1.

DOLPHIN JUMPING

Dolphin Splash 2

SIX DOLPHINS JUMPING TOGETHER

So we gave up with the photos and here is a video

My First Project – Mobile.m4v

We certainly eat fantastically well. Lyn is in charge of provisioning and if we’re honest, she cooks better at sea. Even in a Force 6, we were getting Chicken au vin blanc with mash lyonaise. 

Galley Slave 2

CHEF DE LA MER

And we did see some pretty strong winds. Up to Force 7 one night, which is officially a “Near Gale.” Clive, using official Yachtmaster terminology called it “..a bit of a hooley.”

But we got through it all, and eventually caught our first sight of Spain.

Clive in Action

LAND AHOY!

According to Clive, it’s a naval tradition that the first person to shout, “Land Ahoy!” buys all the drinks. He didn’t tell me that till after I’d said it.

Land Ahoy  Spain

GETTING CLOSER

Biscay Selfie

BISCAY SELFIE

We arrived in A Coruna late on Tuesday, and were staggered to find that the lady who came out to help us tie up was a friend of my brother ,Dave. Julie Skentelbery was on her way back to Falmouth with her husband Andy in their yacht Blue Iguana. Andy built his yacht from scratch, actually starting with a tree, which to someone like me who wants a round of applause if I wire up a plug without blowing something up, is an incredible achievement.  He’s rather dismissive of boats made of fibreglass, describing our pride and joy as a “plant pot.”

Andy  Julie  Blue Iguana

ANDY & JULIE IN FRONT OF THEIR HAND-BUILT BOAT

We bid adios to Clive who was off to Liverpool to deliver another boat somewhere else. Such is the lot of the professional sailor. And spent a fun few days mooching about.

Peter  Nicki  Melisande

A CORONA IN A CORUNA – Drinks with our boat neighbours Peter & Nicki on Melisande.

Though it wasn’t all fun and games. Someone needed some music writing for a TV ad…

Another Hard Day At The Office

ANOTHER HARD DAY AT THE OFFICE

By the weekend, a weather window opened up for us to round Cape Finisterre, another notorious bit of sea, certain to strike fear into the hearts of the stoutest of mariners. Not quite Cape Horn, but enough for us. Early Saturday morning we set off, once more bound for Baiona.

It was a quick run down. We even managed to get out our spinnaker pole, which to the experienced sailors among you will not sound like too much of a big deal. But it took us an hour and a half. But we got there in the end, and were soon racing past other boats that didn’t have one, with their miserable jibs flogging uselessly in the lee of their mains’ls. (Notice how good we’re getting with the jargon.)

Poled Out Headsail

POLED OUT HEADSAIL

60 s Glam

LOOKING GLAMOUROUS

You see some great sunsets on a boat…

The Sun

THE SUN

The Moon

THE MOON

But as usual, just when you think it’s all going to plan….

The wind was starting to build, so we furled the jib and turned to port so we could head back into wind to put a reef in the main.

Which was when the lazyjacks broke.

Now for those of you that only know port as a type of fortified wine, the lazyjacks are the bits of rope that hold up the sail bag which the main sail drops into when you drop it down. What this meant was that when we lowered the sail it didn’t go into the bag, which was now only half hanging on, but went all over the deck. Bouncing around, heading to windward in what were now pretty strong winds, with a bloody big sail flapping about all over the place it took an age to get it all back into the bag. But somehow we managed it, and were able to carry on just with the jib.

And at last we arrived in Baiona, a week later than planned. Which in sailing, is ahead of schedule.

Adios for now

 

Ju & Lyn

Next stop  The World

NEXT STOP – PORTUGAL

The First Leg

Welcome back, boatblog fans!

First of all we’d like to thank everyone for all the messages of support and “Bon Voyages!”  and send our apologies for not replying individually. As you might expect, our ability to pick up and send messages is somewhat erratic at the moment, but it was always good to hear from you, so keep on sending them and keep on liking us on Facebook.

At the moment we are moored up in a little marina called Camaret-Sur-Mer, just outside Brest. The rain is beating down on the roof, the wind is howling through the rigging, and all in all we could have saved a lot of money by renting a caravan in Anglesey.

This was an unscheduled stop. We had intended to be in Baiona on the NW coast of Spain by now. But as they say, very few passage plans survive contact with the water.

It all began well enough. We left our berth in Hamble on time, didn’t hit anything on the way out of the marina, which is always a good start, and soon the wind was behind us as we raced down the Solent towards the Needles. Chris and Paul from Universal Yachting (www.universalyachting.com) followed us out in a rib taking photos, and drenching us as they buzzed past at 30 knots. 

We must give these boys a mention. They helped us to prepare our boat for our epic voyage, and were beyond fantastic. We absolutely wouldn’t have been able to do this without them. There is nothing they don’t know about boats and sailing and if anyone is reading this and is thinking of doing the ARC, or any other sailing escapade, give them a call. They are brilliant!

And we were speeding along. The weather was perfect; the wind behind us, the sun warm, the tide in our favour and we were averaging 10 knots over the ground.

But before we go any further, let me introduce you to our crew. This is Clive. He’s a Yachtmaster Instructor and has come with us on this first leg to make sure we get over the notorious Bay of Biscay safely. 

Clive

CLIVE

Clive is a quietly spoken Irishman, who has sailed every one of the seven seas. He is ex-Royal Navy, and was in Argentina just a day before the Falklands conflict began, but his courage and stamina knows no bounds as he also ran Sunsail in Lanzarotte for twelve years. A totally accomplished sailor and the most unflappable man you could hope to meet, he has been our sailing instructor for the last couple of years. It’s faintly ridiculous that I am the skipper with someone like Clive on board, but it’s the same as when I was a kid and used to be the captain of the football team because it was my ball.

And here is my mate!

Lyn

BEST MATE

 

It wasn’t long before we were out into the English Channel. 

Last View Of England

LAST VIEW OF ENGLAND

Night fell, and we went onto two hour watches. The sky was clear, and the stars brighter than we’ve ever seen before, and we crossed the main Shipping Channels without causing an international incident.

The next morning, we continued our run towards Ushant, speeding along with our brand new sail. 

The Volkswagen

It was all going fine, apart from by now it had got quite rough and Lyn was starting to feel a bit seasick and needed to stay below for a while. We were much further across the Channel than we had expected, and were looking forward to a trouble free run all the way down to Baiona.

But as they say in sailing, if it’s all going right, there’s something wrong. 

At about lunchtime on Wednesday, the wind dropped and we tried to take out the reef in the mainsail. For you landlubbers, that means raise the sail a bit higher up the mast. It wouldn’t budge. We tried to lower it instead. Again it wouldn’t move. It was jammed fast. Now Houston, we have a problem. If you can’t lower the sail, and the wind picks up, things can get pretty hairy. At this point, even the totally unflappable Clive was heard to mutter things under his breath. Things that he can have only picked up in the navy. Or maybe Sunsail in Lanzarotte.

Even winching down the reefing lines made no difference. Ju bravely suggested that Clive went up the mast to see what was wrong, and we learnt some more nautical language. We decided to head for more sheltered waters, and see what we could do there, when after one final last winch on the 2nd reef, the halyard released itself and the main came down.

That was quite a relief, but although the immediate problem was over, we couldn’t pull the sail up again until we found out what had caused the problem. We suspected it was the Masthead Sheave which is the little wheel at the top of the mast which the main halyard (rope that holds the sail up) goes through. At this point we were about four hours of motoring away from Roscoff, so we decided to head there and look at it properly back on dry land.

Which is what we did. In the shelter of the marina, Clive went up the mast (thank heaven for the invention of the electric winch,) and found it was the sheave as we suspected. But now what? 6pm in a small French marina. What is the likelihood of getting this fixed quickly?

Pas bon, as they say over here.

But then things turned back in our favour. By happy chance we met a rigger, and he happened to have exactly the right sheave in his bag. “Bingo!” as the French friend put it, “It is even the same colour.” 

The Offending Item

THE OFFENDING ITEM

And an hour later, he’d replaced it and we were ready to go.

However, the weather window across Biscay was closing in. The time we had lost by diverting to Roscoff meant that by the time we reached Spain, we would be facing F6 south westerlies. (To our landlubber friends – that’s bad). So we decided to stay in Roscoff overnight and re-assess in the morning.

The weather forecast was no better when we woke up, so we decided to just go round the corner to Camaret-Sur-Mer, where we are now, waiting for the weather to settle. If the current forecast stays the same, we will leave at the crack of dawn tomorrow (Sunday) and head across the Bay to La Coruna.

Biscay

OUR FIRST VIEW OF BISCAY – not quite the raging tempest we’d been led to expect.

So hopefully boatblog fans, our next dispatch will be from Northern Spain.

 

Bye for now

 

Ju & Lyn

 

Le Four Lighthouse

LE FOUR LIGHTHOUSE (North East Biscay – sort of)