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)

From the Crow’s Nest

Hello boatblog fans,

Well we’ve spent the last week making last minute preparations to the boat. Including adding a spinnaker pole which alas entailed me climbing the mast. Something that so far, I have skilfully managed to avoid.

To the untrained sailor, being sixty feet up in the air in a flimsy canvas chair, with nothing but an absurdly  thin piece of rope between you and eternity, can seem rather daunting. However, so long as you approach the whole operation in a professional and seamanlike manner, taking it all slowly and carefully, you can have every confidence that your crew will not let you drop.

 

 

At the top

 

 

A view from above….

 

 

From The Top

The plan is still to leave on Tuesday, but this is subject to the weather forecasts over Biscay. We’ll keep you updated.

If you want to follow the journey go to…

http://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/details/ships/235096901

…and you should get to this page, which will let you follow the trip live. 

 

Screen Shot 2014 06 29 at 18 57 31

Sorry about the advert for Mature Dating. I can’t get rid of it. (I’ve tried. Honest I have. It alternates between that and and one for curing baldness.)

If you don’t want it, when it asks put your age in as 21.

Bye for now.

 

Ju & Lyn

 

 

Captain’s Blog

It’s just over a week to go before we set sail for Baiona. Then the world. Wind and tides permitting, we set off on July 1st, so I thought it was time I started a blog.

We’ve got a mad busy week ahead, getting the boat finally kitted out, provisioned up, and sorting out everything that you need to sort out when you’re going away for a year (or more!)

So, if you want to follow our travels, come back to this page every so often to see what we’re up to.

Domini