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Count down to departure

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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.

Cheers

Peter&Eva

Playa Monsul – the best beach in Spain?

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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.

Sailing Letter February 2015

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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.

Boat projects.

  • 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.

Nature

  • 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

Gastronomy

  • 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

Tina P on land

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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…

Sierra Nevada

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After three months looking at the impressive Sierra Nevada mountains from a 100 km distance, this week we spent two days skiing with family who we picked up from Malaga last weekend.  We were lucky with plenty of snow and blue, sunny skies. 120 ski slopes between 2000-3100 meters.  Me and Eva felt a bit “rusty” but managed to enjoy ourselves. From the top lift station we could see the Mediterranean sea, and with ideal condition the Moroccan coast some 160km to the south.

Sailing Letter January 2015

Wave heights 8+ meters

January, 2015  Almerimar

Now January has passed. The coldest month in Almerimar, so far. Snow on the mountains surrounding us, but 14-20 degrees at the coast. We have had a couple of cold nights, +2 degrees, where the water based heating has been working perfectly. The water temperature is now, end January, down to +15 degrees, but still necessary to keep the beer in the fridge. We have also survived a major storm with 74 knots gusts (Force 12 or 38 m/s). Not nice. We calculated the number of times we have endured the same magnitude during our almost 19 years onboard and that is 4-5. 3 in the home harbor of Långedrag, Sweden. All went well but we crashed one fender and so did the neighboring boat. We are placed too close to one another in this harbor, to my opinion, but the piers makes good shelter so it is the violent gusts that are consuming fenders and mooring lines rather than waves from swell or wind.

January has also been a time for some social events, visiting and having visits from neighboring boats. In early January, the 6’th, the 3 Kings came to visit all children in Almerimar. Big hullabaloo in the harbor area since the Kings came by boat. The transport on land was arranged with horses and nice carriages with people dressed according to the Kings, spreading candies to all children (and boats) in the area.

We have made trips by car to some close by areas, among other things visiting Spain Hollywood, the place where all “spaghetti westerns” are made. Besides famous Spanish and Italian actors, Clint Eastwood has made this region famous. On the way, we passed Nijar, with a nice market, one of Spain’s biggest solar parks and the village Lucainena where the movie “3 came to town” was made.

This first month of 2015 has been spent on small and big projects on the boat. We have:

  • Installed a deck outlet for one of our toilette tanks. A heavy and difficult task which has to be done before entering some of the countries in East Med.
  • Varnishing of 2 port hole wood garnish and some other wooden parts in the galley/kitchen
  • Changed shower equipment
  • Painting of anchor chain
  • Installed wireless control to anchor windlass
  • Changing and painting of hoses/drainpipes from deck, and sea water pump
  • Replaced glycol to water heating system
  • Mending of clothes: everything is worn, especially shorts since we now use them 11 months a year instead of 2 (as in Sweden).
  • Plugging and caulking deck

During one of the exercises, the chain painting, Eva went overboard. We had taken away the ladder and the anchor to climb on, so when Eva was trying (!!) to get onboard she slipped and fell into the water (temp +16 degrees). On the way down she had a close encounter with the anchor and then jetty, resulting in huge black marks and scrape marks on one leg and the back. “Grounded” with long trousers for 2 weeks to avoid suspicion of woman abuse (smile). We are glad that all went well and now she (Eva) is up and running as usual. A bit worrying though
that the marina is almost without ladders.

Nature

  • We are still enjoying the mountain scenarios that we see when traveling from the coast to the villages inland. The closest mountains are now snowcapped, and we follow the expansion daily, having booked a ski-tour end February.
  • We start to see some new flowers, since this is regarded as the green season. One of them is a very bright yellow small 4 petal flower, found almost on every slope, like our wood anemone (Sw. Vitsippa) that we find at home in beginning May.
  • Also worth reporting is that the White Wagtails (Sw. Sädesärla) are ready to take off for Sweden. They are now so well fed that their ground clearance is at the minimum (smile).
  • Peter just reported that the amount of snow and cold weather is the coldest for the last 3 years. We are so happy to have been choosing Almerimar!

Gastronomy

  • We brought along Hans, who has been living in Spain 40+ years, originally from Stockholm, to Arroyo de Celin, a countryside restaurant, famous for its “Choto”, goat kid stews. Fantastic, tender meat.
  • Chris and Aggie, our boat neighbors’, hosted a curry dinner on their ship Driké. Great food and company!
  • We have invested in an “orange squeezer”, so every morning we enjoy fresh juice.
  • This area is called the “Mar de Plastic”, due to the many greenhouses covered with a plastic roof. The last 30-40 years this area has grown rapidly, now supporting most of Europe with vegetables. Mainly tomatoes and pepper fruits. We enjoy fresh salad, fantastic peppers in all colours and sizes, lemon not like anything you get “back home”, beans in all shapes and forms etc. This gives us the opportunity to eat good food, mostly onboard. We tend to take a tapa (a beer with some small snacks) at lunch and make our own dinner with all the nice things we find in the supermarket.

Until next time – hasta luego

BR Eva, Peter

Costa del Viento


Screenshot_2015-01-30-09-05-51Apparently, this coast, before being named “Costa del Sol”, was named “Costa del Viento”, ie the coast of winds. Forecasts for this weekend is a fresh gale. Luckily, we are moored ideally for the expected wind direction, “Poniente” meaning Westerly. Here is a clip of a 2008 violent storm (courtesy Chris Southwood, our neighbour). For comfort and sound sleep we will add a couple of 38 mm Polyprop lines tomorrow before the blow.

Solar Power and Spaghetti Western

Part of the solar power plant. Ondulation of the panels  (we think) is to avoid wind damage

Our ambition with todays country side drive was to check out Nijar, a very typical Andalusian mountain village about 80 km from the Marina. By coincidence, it was the Nijar market day, with a lot of tempting produce like local wine, olive oil, homemade chorizo, etc. After some tasting, we ended up buying local wine from Lucar, Almeria. We had some vague information about Lucainena de las Torres. A mountain village further north about 40 mins drive from Nijar. The road was a bit scary with very few fences and a rather steep and narrow cliff road in places. We managed to make it all the way in one piece. On the way we came close to a very impressing solar power plant. It seems Andalusia, with Europes most optimal location re days of sunshine, is a hot spot when it comes to solar power research. We passed several plants of 10-30 MW conventional solar panels arrays and also concentrating solar power systems that demonstrates sophisticated storage of energy  in molten salt mixture. Anyway – after a lot of “wow, gosh” etc, we found our nice mountain village. Very beautiful!

Almond tree blossom

Almond flower

Today we made our regular trip to Felix, the mountain village where we get our fresh mountain water from a public well. We were joined by Ann-Sofie and Anders, Swedish marina neighbours. Last night had brought a fresh snow cap covering the mountains down to about 800 meters. We have heard about the Almond trees starting their blossom period in January and today we could see the first trees with white / pink flowers. We have been told that in a couple of weeks, whole valleys will be coated in white / pink as Andalucia is a major region of Almond production in Spain.

ISO 8099:2000

Deck fitting mounted,  finally done!

Deck fitting mounted, finally done!

Finally done. A project we didn’t look forward to. Since a number of years, in parts of the Med and from this year in Sweden, recreational boats have to be able to retain and dispose of “black water” (toilet waste) at pump out facilities. Certainly I believe this is the way to go, even though I am sceptic to the apparent lack of planning from legislators. Many marinas have in excess of 1000 moorings. Majority of boat use is concentrated to weekends and holiday periods. Imagine 100 boats waiting “in queue” Sunday afternoon. Also, authorities, at least in Baltic waters, appear to exclude cruising ferries from this law, meaning 20 cubic meters of sewage content emptied in these waters, per mega ferry per day. Please correct me if I am wrong! Anyway – project completed. About  20 hours of work, due to changing mounts, through deck fitting, welding hose outlet on top of tank, changing vent pipe, hose etc. The headline refers to the applicable ISO / EN standard. Strangely you have to pay twice to get hold of this ISO Standard, once through paying tax, secondly when you need to get hold of specific standards. Think this is deemed illegal in US, thus free sea charts covering all US waters. Here is a link (sorry in Swedish) covering this standard and different ways to implement.

Cheers

Peter&Eva

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