Only kidding. We loved Morocco really.
Only kidding. We loved Morocco really.
Welcome back Boatbloggers,
This week’s report is going to be very short, because we haven’t done much boating to blog about. In fact – er….none. We’ve been stuck in Rabat waiting for an area of low pressure to move away and for the Azores High to re-establish itself. Which is a posh way of saying we’ve been waiting for the winds to be right. Sailors and wind are a bit like farmers and rain. It’s never quite the right sort of wind.
Which has not been a bad thing. We’ve had a great time in Morocco. We went to Casablanca and made a pilgrimage to Rick’s Bar.
INGRID BERGMAN with SAM
Spent a few days in Fez…
A FEZ IN FEZ
And we’ve met some great people from all over the world, from far flung places such as Chile and North Wales. John & Janine on Orca Joss have sailed all the way from New Zealand just to be with us. John is an ace guitarist, so we decided to compete with the Call to Prayer and got a band together…
WE COULD DO THE SHOW RIGHT HERE
(Bootleg recordings will be available shortly on iTunes – watch this space)
Lyn went native..
…and particularly likes Morroco because it’s one of the few places left in the world where the smoking fascists haven’t taken over You can still smoke inside!!!!
YOU CAN’T DO THIS BACK HOME
And this week’s gratuitous photo is actually a short series taken by Lyn, and is entitled “THE SORRY TALE OF A PLATE OF BISCUITS.”
(Ju had left the room briefly, so missed the event that these pictures record.)
A bientôt nos amis
Ju & Lyn
PS…Tomorrow we weigh anchor, hoist the sails, splice the mainbrace and set sail for Agadir. And all being well, will fly back to the UK for a week.
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.
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
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…
…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….
Up it went.
This is so momentous, it’s got to be worth another photo.
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 (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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
LE SWEENEY TODD DE MAROC
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.
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.
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
…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.
WETSUIT WITH MATCHING LIPSTICK
We got there at feeding time…
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.
YOU’VE BEEN FRAMED
Now I’m not one to exaggerate, but there were literally millions of them, and they are huge.
They weigh up to 350kg, which is like five of Ju. Ok maybe four, but whatever it is, they are awesome.
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…
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.
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…
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.
What a hero!
And were were able to sail (well, motor technically) on our merry way, accompanied by our friends, the dolphins
And this weeks arty farty photo prize goes to Rory, for his work called simply, “Boat.”
And this is a cool picture of our boat too…
Ju & Lyn
Ayamonte (Spain – but only just)
* South Acton Scouts
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…
…and just like London, they go way too fast and frighten the passengers. (Sorry Danny)
You still need bread…(and this is boat baked bread – by a Frenchman, so you can imagine how good that is)
…visit Toni & Guy
…and do the laundry…
…before popping over to see the neighbours for drinks in the evening.
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.
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…AND EAT
Now we haven’t been to that many Shellfish and Music Festivals, but it looked pretty big to us.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 (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.
SECRET DESERT ISLAND
Fortunately, it isn’t completely deserted, and it is possible to get hold of emergency supplies.
While we were there, Paul was keen for us to develop our nautical skills, and so very kindly bought us a fishing rod.
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.
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.
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.
A QUICK DIP
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org), 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!
…while Lyn & Paul swabbed the decks.
Just in time for some hard earned 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.”
Adeus for now, amigos.
Ju & Lyn
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.
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.
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.
BEING A TOURIST ATTRACTION
The dinghy by the way, is now our new car.
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.
Our next anchorage was in Ferragudo, near Portimao, where 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.
And it wouldn’t be a true boatblog without an arty farty picture of some sardines.
Adeus for now Amigoes
Ju & Lyn
(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.
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
(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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Adeus for now.
Ju & Lyn
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.
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.
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.
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.
HOISTING THE FLAG
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.
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.
STILL FOGGY OVER THE LAND
It was a nice sunny day, so time to get the washing dry.
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
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
EVEN THE GRAFFITI IS CLASSY IN CASCAIS