Until now we have been spoiled with good, reliable wifi access. Last couple of days though we have experienced the amount of dependence to internet access today’s sailors (and land based humans) have. A couple of days abstinence makes you wonder how leisure sailing was done 20 years ago. Actually, we remember those days. Weather reports from short wave stations (BBC ch4), cash by exchange of traveler’s checks, comms to family by postcards etc. We experienced a hiccup using our fixed fee 3g roaming service by vodafone.it. Now sorted but interesting how stress levels was raised. One reason being income tax declaration deadline in a couple of weeks. Funny how most problems are either a result of technology dependence or synthetic, man made challenges, like declaring your taxes. Concrete problems like how to get something to eat or to manage bad weather is usually more in your control Below are some pictures, mostly from Culatra, the fascinating island where we’ve spent 7 days at anchor plus a couple from Lagos where we are now completing a number of final must do’s projects and stocking up before heading to Madeira. We hope to be able to find a nice weather window mid next week to get some pleasant following winds for the 500 nm passage we hope to make in about 3 days.
Finally, we are back at Faro, at an anchorage we really enjoyed August last year. We have tried our new dinghy and outboard motor. Works well, even though we have some strange issues with the external tank. Great to be able to get up to 10-15 knots speed and manage 20 knots headwind without to much water spray. From Gibraltar we managed, or rather planned for sailing wind. We had a “performance sail”, 25-40 knots downwind sail to Cadiz. Due to wind against current, plenty of overfalls. On the bright side we were accompanied by dolphins most of the time, sometimes of more than 20 individuals. At Cadiz we spent 5 days enjoying this magnificent city that we enjoyed so much last year. Great food / marketplace, fantastic botanical gardens, lot of history, etc. Finally we managed to cast off, due to weather (rain) we stopped at Mazagon, thereafter we headed to Faro. We spent a couple of nights at anchor here last summer, but didn’t go all the way to the anchorage outside of Ponte Cais. Now we are here, we have a feeling this is an anchorage that will manage all kind of weather. Closer to the Island of Culatra there a number of “serious liveaboards” anchored. According to our pilot book some of them have been here more than a decade. As we have been liveaboards since 1996, guess we qualify :-)
Last couple of days at Queensway Quay Marina in Gibraltar has been “interesting”. We have a F7 easterly gale, meaning, in theory, Gibraltar should be a perfect shelter with a huge 400+ meter Rock just a couple of hundred meters to windward. After two sleepless nights we got a very physical demonstration to “surge”. We have 28mm polypropylene mooring lines that have served us well during the last 20 years (yes we change them every 4-5 years due to UV degradation and wear). After 48 hours the lines were almost broken due to the extreme surge. Surge is the phenomenon where water movements accelerates the boat to a dangerous level, it feels like you are crashing in to a harbour wall at 2 knots every 30 sec. Apparently very difficult to avoid when designing a harbor, I would guess it is the combination of very deep water (300+ meters just outside the breakwater), tides, right now 5 meters waves east of the Rock and katabatic wind gusts from the hill tops that creates this feeling of being in a washing machine. In August last year we considered this marina as our winter quarter. In hindsight, we made a very good choice in selecting Almerimar Marina as our base.
You know the feeling when you’ve been at a tourist destination for a while, and start to feel “native”, i.e. you have spent more time than the average, pale, newly arrived tourist, so you are in fact able to give advice and directions to newcomers. Well, can’t say we are full breed Gibraltarians yet, but we have now spent about three weeks in total during the last two years here in Gibraltar. This place gives us mixed feelings, in one way we enjoy the mix between 200% british culture and the role modelling of multicultural integration. On the other hand this is VERY touristic and besides some places in south east asia we have never experienced more traffic on a extremely small area of land. Should be a no-brainer to make 95% of this tiny country/city free of traffic. But, all in all, we like Gibraltar and for the sailor this is a perfect spot to have a break.
Ok, got a bit upset – let’s go back to our principle of neutral blogging, no politics, religions, etc. Plenty of that available elsewhere. Since arrival Thursday we have been busy with ordering a new 5hp outboard engine and some other things on our wish list. Good opportunity to use our “yacht in transit” status and avoid the VAT tax. As one of our yachty friends phrased it, Gibraltar is great if you are into Booze, Cigars and Yacht equipment. As he was a Canadian heart surgeon, he obviously included a joke about the very extreme diet at offer; fish and chips, pies, full english breakfast available 24×7, etc. Great to be able to take a 30 mins walk over to Spain and enjoy non-fried sea food….
Last month of our winter stay in Almerimar is gone. We left harbor March 31 and are now April 1 in Gibraltar. This chapter will act as a sum up of our experiences as well as the March letter.
Staying put in one single harbor without being able to do weekend trips with the boat (except twice), was a new experience for us. On one hand it was most likely necessary in order for us to calm down and get some kind of home-like surroundings; on the other hand we might not choose to do that again. Winter 2015 we have planned to stay in Canary Island, where we will be able to combine our” home-harbor” with weekend sailing.
We have had time to read a lot of books, take walks and be out in the sun, which is not possible in Sweden during the dark season, when you are working. We have also understood (almost) that it is not necessary to do more than 1-2 things at the same day, if you can leave some of the tasks for “tomorrow”. Taking care of the ship, ourselves and buying and preparing food has also been given more time than before. A nice experience. A specific sign (smile) of us calming down is that when we are traveling by car and miss the right exit, Peter just takes a second round in the roundabout. (There are LOTS of roundabouts in Andalucia)
Spending half a year in one place also makes it possible to follow the seasons changes. When we arrived in September it was still summer, with 30+ degrees and all trees still green. We had almost the same weather conditions up till beginning mid-January, when “autumn/winter” came. Weather started to be colder, more clouds and wind, and after the influence of a severe storm which sprayed the trees with salt, the green gave way for brown. Now in the last weeks of March we started to see green leaves again and flowers everywhere.
The 6 months in Almerimar has given us a pretty good knowledge of one part of Spain – Andalusia. We are very fond of the nature, the friendly people and all small and big places that we have explored. We will never forget the snow covered Sierra Nevada view from our boat. The village Felix, where we filled water every 10-th day, will always be special for us. So will Roquetas del Mar with our tapas place by the sea and good shops for tools and other “stuff” necessary for our boat projects. For Almerimar we will remember all new and old friends, some we might meet again and some not, the beautiful weather, the sea and all nice tapas bars and good grocery stores which have given us good experiences of the food here in Andalucia.
When we visited Cadiz last autumn, we reported in the blog about the brass and drum orchestras that were exercising almost every evening. Now last Sunday being Palm Sunday we learnt what this training was aiming for. We were in Malaga to return the rental car and found ourselves in the middle of the processions held with all the fantastically ornate Saints that were carried around in the narrow streets, followed by the brass bands. The whole week of “Semana Santa” (Easter week) this is happening daily in all towns and villages, reported on TV and people following it with Apps or in the streets. It makes us understand that it is one of the major feasts, maybe the biggest, for this catholic country. In the pictures attached to this letter, you will see some Saints, but also the, for us Swedes, strange clothing with top hats in all different colors looking like KKK. You will also see the beautiful ladies with their black mantillas, for mourning. Makes us wonder why we in Sweden great each other with “Glad Påsk” = happy Eastern, when this is a week of sorrow for the catholic world.
- All stainless steel jobs are done: prolongation of the davits and extra fasteners for the solar panels.
- All four bilge keel pumps now in good working order.
- Eva planted a new batch of spices: rosemary and greek (?) Basil
- The frogs starting to make noise in a dam Eva has been following since we came here. It is spring!
- The birds are fighting for their mates and in Malaga, where there are parrots; we saw them build their nests by actually cutting branches from the nearby trees.
- Leaving harbor we had beautiful weather with bikini-sailing. We anchored outside marina del Este and were able to take the first dip in the sea. Water temperature +18 degrees. On our way there we saw a flock of approx. 30 Flamingoes moving east, maybe to the Salinas in Almerimar.
- We were surrounded by dolphins as we came closer to Gibraltar straits. As always that makes us happy.
We are now looking forward to new places, new experiences and new adventures. Closest is a visit to Ceuta (the Spanish enclave in Morocco) and thereafter most likely Lagos in Portugal before we take the jump over to Madeira and Canary Islands. But, as always plans can be changed…
Until next time – see you later…
BR Eva, Peter
We left as planned Monday morning after “checking out” at the marina office. Last couple of days have been filled with social events, dinners, drinks, lunches and farewells. Unfortunately no wind so we anchored just outside the lovely area of Marina del Este after 6 hours motoring. Wonderful views of high cliffs with the beaches starting to be used by locals and tourists again. We took a short swim in the water that is 18-19 C. Hopefully tomorrow will bring some easterly winds so we can set sail.
We have enjoyed Almerimar and the surrounding areas during the 6 months we have stayed here. But frankly, we are now more than ready to see new horizons. When we came here late September last year our main route plan was to go east into the Med in April, starting with the Balearics followed by Sardinia, Italy and maybe all the way to Turkey. With a sailing boat and plenty of time we have used the opportunity to change plans. Our outline route now is to head (back) to Algarve, Portugal, maybe with a stop at the Spanish enclaves Melilla a/o Ceuta on the Moroccan north Med shore. On our way we also need to buy a outboard engine, preferably at Gibraltar. From south Portugal our plan is to sail over to Madeira and spend a couple of weeks there as we haven’t been on these islands before. Then we head south to the Canaries. We plan to spend plenty of time checking out the 7 major islands before we tuck in at Gran Canaria, Puerto de Mogan. We have reserved a mooring for 6 months, after which we either extend our stay or head further south to Cape Verde.
So much for planning :-)
Last week(s) we have spent in
- project mode; 2-3 days fixing bilge pumps, shower pump, gangway, etc
- social mode; dinners with our german neighbours @ Blue Moon, with our home marina (GKSS) pals
Peter & Siv, with Ann-Sophie and Anders (from Gävle, east coast of Sweden) who spoiled us with freshly baked bread and a sour dough kit
- filling up the ship stores. Experience from the south coast of spain is long distance to shopping so we have made good use of our rental car.
Today we have finally got some really nice weather after 7 days of Burrasca (low pressure), meaning about 25 C with next 7 days promising more of the same. We are really sorry for our Scandinavian friends and relatives who today got a setback with snowfall. But, from own experience, we know than once Eastern holidays comes, the weather settles.
We plan to leave Tuesday next week, when Windfinder promises Easterly winds and a pleasant 24 C temps.
Clever marketing folks usually put “probably” before such bold statements (like Carlsberg the Danish brewery giant).Yesterday we spent a couple of hours walking through three wonderful beaches close to San Jose at the SE coast of Spain. Playa Genovese, Playa Monsul and Playa Medio Luna. Playa Monsul was the one claiming to be the best in Spain. Can’t argue against it even though we have only been around half of mainland Spain coast line. Harrison Ford & Sean Connery shot a Indiana Jones scene here. Lovely beaches, this time of year we had them almost to ourselves, at high season there is probably busloads of tourists here.
This has been a cold and windy month compared to what is usual in Almerimar. Some nights without sleep due to waves and howling winds! In the middle of February we got so much rain that it flooded the streets.
We have used the time to do projects onboard and also taken time for excursions in the neighborhood. We had to go to Malaga to change the rental car, which we only could rent for 3 months. We took the opportunity to visit IKEA to buy some stuff, like Swedish caviar and candles. Otherwise we manage without problems with what we can get in Spain.
21:st we picked up family and friend at the Malaga airport for a week’s holiday. We went to Sierra Nevada for a couple of days of skiing. Fantastic surroundings, blue sky, sunshine and +4 degrees at 2600-3100 meters. Peter and I were not really trained (due to flue (Peter) and hurt leg (Eva)) but managed to enjoy ourselves anyway. Our friends who are more experienced, expressed that Sierra Nevada was well worth a visit. The views are marvelous and occasionally you can see the Mediterranean sea from the top. Since you are well above tree level all slopes are visible so it is easy to find where to go.
On our way home to Almerimar, we stopped at the Guadix cave hotel “Tio Tobas”, where Peter and I have been once before. We had booked a 2 story cave for the 4 of us, where we enjoyed a good dinner with open fire, after a nice bath. The cave held the normal temperature of +18 degrees, which does not change over the year and gives a healthy indoor climate. Surroundings were a bit different compared to October. Now we could see the Sierra Nevada in the distance, glazed with snow.
Back in Almerimar, the spring had arrivedJ, so we could give our guests a couple of days with sunshine and more than 20 C. All in all a very pleasant week.
Last day of February we prepared our boat for taking her out of the water, to check the conditions of the anti fouling (cupper coat) and the anodes, so right now we are “on the hard” and will spend the first week of March here.
- Varnished interior details
- Ordered new dinghy (Plastimo)
- Chalking the deck
- Ordered spare anchor (fortress) that will be used together with 5 m chain and a line in the aft, to keep us in the right direction for the swell.
- Bought new bed sets (in Spanish, without knowing the proper words for it, but it worked). In Sweden we have always used fleece bed sets in winter time to keep the humidity away. Those I have had to make myself. Here in Spain synthetic bed sets are very common so we found some micro fibers that work fantastic.
- It has been cold and windy, with some rain. This has given the start for spring. Feb-march is supposed to be the green season in this desert climate and we start to see trees getting their leaves back.
- A tree with yellow “fluffy balls”: no clue what it is
- Ginst flowering here and there (most flowers around Almerimar/Andalucia are yellow)
- A cactus-succulent that is common in all parks have now showed us its pink or yellow flowers
- We are following the season when preparing our dinners. Now we get Cauliflowers, big beans, small artichokes and some unfamiliar mushrooms. Otherwise most vegetables are fresh all year, since they are harvesting most of them 4 times a year.
Until next time – hasta luego
BR Eva, Peter
9 am Monday we had an appointment with the boat yard to lift Tina P on the hard and work a couple of days to get her in shape. We where impressed by the professional staff, no fuss about lifting slings (marina office asked for drawings well in advance) and an extremely thorough (but gentle) pressure wash. We were very nervous about how the “Copper Coat” treatment worked but we could not find any barnacles except on the prop and between rudder and skeg and very little algaes. Good news as we plan to lift out no more than every two to three years. Tomorrow we hope to be in the water again, living on a boat on land is not very comfortable…