September 30, 2011
We finally decided that Almerimar was to be our wintering home for Silver Cloud. During the year we researched and spoke to many skippers regarding the choice of marina making the decision very hard as each have their pluses and minuses. At least now we can look forward to having winter sunshine breaks as Almerimar is said to have the warmest winter temperatures in Spain. Whilst here we can, if we wish, to involve in the radio net, updating us on events such as Ti-chi, Spanish classes, book swops and weekly walks in the Sierra Navarda, to name but a few. Read on . . .
No sooner had we been allocated our mooring spot when Pepe knocked the hull to invite us to join Almerimar’s Regatta Weekend. For an entrance fee of only 10€ we were given the tee-shirts, a tapas and drinks evening, a post race BBQ with excellent live music, an A4 colour printout of Silver Cloud rounding the last buoy of the course and finally a CD with pictures taken by a professional photographer of the whole weekend. A fabulous time was had by all nationalities. Our race position of ‘first over the line’ was 15th out of thirty cruiser yatchs, ranging between small cruisers to fifty footers was highly respectable and very pleased to be 1st out of the six British contenders J.
We will be in the UK for a while and have decided to make this our last blogg for the foreseeable future. From its onset in 2009 we have overall had a fabulous time with many ‘highs’ alongside a few ‘lows’, but what a way to start a retirement! We have had some great sailing with time to ‘stop and stare’ on our way. The journey has opened our eyes to other places, nationalities and how they live, some packing so much into their lives, some that we can now call friends to whom we will carry on keeping in touch via e-mail. We will carry on cruising further afield but for now we have no set plan. So from Silver Cloud and in line with how we might say on the ships VHF radio “Listening at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org . . . “Out”.
PS – Thank you to all who have been watching us – we hope you enjoyed the journey.
September 08, 2011
Back again at San Antonio Chris and Gareth arrived for a ten-day holiday. By chance (via Facebook) Chris saw that a long-term friend from our sailing days in North Wales was also holidaying in San Antonio. A few texts later and a call to us from her mum (Anne), Joanne Smith and her three friends were heading out to our boat for the day. We had a great time visiting the ‘up-market’ resort of Cala Basa, swimming in azure blue water, eating lunch and walking the golden sands. Ron was in his element attracting attention with so many young girls draped over the decks! The day was to end anchoring outside the Café Mambo, famous for its sunset location and Ibiza music. Unfortunately the evening clouds spoilt the view but nevertheless, it didn’t stop the bottle of bubbly being opened to toast the memory of ‘happy days’.
Wanting to show Chris and Gareth more of the island before heading back to the mainland we again visited Cala San Miguel, then onto the south of Ibiza to Puerto Roig. In the evening whilst here we watched a large customs boat prowl through the anchorage, where about twenty boats were spending the night. Having nothing to declare I gave them a friendly wave; it was totally unacknowledged. That is the last time I’ll do the same as all eyes were on us when they launched their inflatable rib and chose to board JUST US – one of the smallest boats at anchor. After about half an hour of paper scrutiny and form filling they returning to their mother ship satisfied all was in order enabling us to move on to the Isla of Espalmador and Formentera the next day. After a visit ashore we had an evening BBQ before heading for Morayra on mainland Spain. It was a good trip but arriving so late in the evening we anchored outside Morayra with the intention of spending the next day in the marina; it didn’t happen as the weather told us to quickly move on whilst we could, down to Torrevieja, in good time for the lads flight home, from Alicante. Once inside Torrevieja marina we met up with Ann and Colin, friends we first met in Lagos aboard their boat Pride of Nordeast. More celebrations were in order! We ate out and BBQ’d. I (Sue) especially enjoyed Chris being chef over the BBQ and Gareth’s curry cooking skills during their stay – yum yum – thanks from this chef’s nights off!
September 01, 2011
On our return to Ibiza and after weeks of enforced idleness due to the heat of August we revisited Cala San Miguel on the north of the island where we decided to get up very early one morning to take a walk to one of the many Torre’s dotted all around the Spanish coastlines, usually found teetering on cliff tops. Underfoot the ground was extremely dusty. Ron was being very watchful for snakes, which he cannot abide, whilst both of us being careful to avoid lizards scurrying all around! Despite the dryness the scenery was surprisingly very green. We arrived at the Torre, hot and sweaty, but were rewarded when we found it’s gate unlocked, allowing access to explore inside and climb up the narrow steps, enabling us to take the view from its high advantage point.
At the entrance to San Miguel there is a large rock towering out of the water. See the photograph we’ve posted and with a little imagination you may agree that it has a likeness to Queen Victoria sitting on her throne!
August 28, 2011
Our trip across to Mallorca was quite eventful. An unpredicted storm was brewing in the skies so we tried to skirt around the black clouds, but to no avail. The rain was torrential but most worrying was the lightening all around us. We have all heard of the man who was struck down just because he had keys in his pocket or sheltering under an umbrella. Well there we were with a 40 ft of metal mast beckoning a strike – it was pretty scary with the wind changing direction and the need to constantly adjustment the sail. That was until we noted a long tear in the jib (front sail). Fortunately Mallorca was just about looming out of the gloom, the engine was put on to replace the momentum of the sail as we, and three other boats around us arrived at our destination, lived to tell the tale!
Santa Ponsa was our first port of call. We previously visited the town some 40 years ago and were please to find the hotel we stayed in looking much the same but now under the management of the Western Hotel chain. Apart from the hotel and the beach Santa Ponsa was pretty unrecognisable due to the many developments around the cala occupied by German, Spanish and English.
Whilst cruising we have come across many boats flying the British Ensign, assuming to have UK crew aboard, only to hear German speaking occupants. Correct me if I am wrong but we have been told that due to Germany’s stringent qualification requirements for skippering within their home country many opt to fly under the British ensign, taking advantage of only requiring to hold the ICC (International Competence Certificate) as means of getting on the water. We have now learnt to recognise this scenario from the distance as they just love to sail and strut boldly about absolutely stark naked. Well I hope you don’t think us prude but ‘it just isn’t British’ is it !!
It was at Santa Ponsa that we came across a boat call ‘Criss Cross’. Although we had never met the crew we knew them to be Eugene and Julie by reading the blog of cruising friends Mel and Carl. After introducing ourselves we invited them onboard for a Paella lunch. There followed a BBQ evening and other impromptu events that all went towards such an enjoyable and memorable time. We hope that by the time this is posted that Ron’s electrical expertise has solved Eugene’s charging problems. You have our number if not!
We explored most of the south of Mallorca by sea but with such high temperatures site seeing was not a priority. Another year we hope to return earlier when it should be a little cooler. As marinas couldn’t possibly accommodate all the visiting yachts it is the norm to be allowed to stay at anchor where if there was any breeze, it was the most likely place to find it. The marinas are the domain of the multi-millionaire mega yachts with their air conditioning and fees to match! The downside was the almost constant roll in some areas. We were always glad of a calm night for a good nights sleep. With very little tide the water seems to slop around without any direction and not enough wind to straighten the boat into the roll, which would have made it more comfortable.
At Porto Colom on the east coast of Mallorca with our farewells said to Geoff, Lin, Frank, Judy and dogs Meg and Ziggy and then again to Julie and Eugene in Santa Ponsa, it was time to part, heading back to Ibiza. We had a superb sail south with our repaired sail and now in San Antonio anticipating the arrival of Chris and Gareth, visiting for 10 days to holiday and experience the return passage to mainland Spain.
PS – I am really struggling to add photographs to this blog, please take a look at our album for updates.
July 28, 2011
In San Antonio Bay at anchor, on our first morning whilst eating breakfast a young teenager on a lilo came drifting by. He was obviously asleep, becoming quite sunburnt and unaware he was heading to seaward. We called over, waking him with a start. As he came to too he revealed a half drunk bottle of wine. In his stupor he couldn’t recall if he had been afloat all night or not! Well – we have all heard about the young ‘Brit Abroad’ but we hadn’t expected to encounter it quite so soon! Fortunately for him someone ashore must have alerted the rescue services arriving to take him back ashore, saving us from the rescue and embarrassment of the situation!
Not soon after our arrival we were lucky to meet Geoff, an ex roof Thatcher but now a live-aboard on a boat call ‘Dry White’ with his wife Lin and dog Meg. Geoff became known as the Social Secretary as he was often the instigator of many outings, along with other fellow sailors he had previously met on his travels. We hired a car to take a look at Old Ibiza Town and the interior of the island; a lovely lush green countryside, along with restaurant visits, walks, shared meals aboard and sailing in company to other Cala’s including San Miquel and Portinax on the west coast. Ron and Frank (skipper of Shalaini) became known as ‘The Salvagers’. One afternoon Frank saw a family on the peddelo drop their hotel key overboard and distressed that they couldn’t find it. It wasn’t until the evening that Frank, spotted the key through the crystal clear water on the seabed, but due to an ear problem and unable to dive Ron was called upon to retrieve the find. The key returned to the hotel was rewarded with a round of drinks and a happy family no longer having to forfeit their key deposit. Later Ron lost his watch whilst diving overboard. If it wasn’t for Frank’s determination it was found two days later (in full working order), Frank the spotter again and Ron the diver!
We had been warned about the Balearics’ being hot, so as the temperatures rose so too did our ‘Man Yana’ malaise, hence my lack of blogging. We recorded temperatures of 32 degrees at 7 p.m. and over 40 degrees in the sunshine which we saw every day. Swimming off the boat, 2 – 3 times a day was the best way to cool down.
Go to our photo album for more photos.
June 17, 2011
After a 10-day stay in Almerimar, waiting for favourable wind and weather, Cartagena was the next planned destination. Leaving at 7:00 on Friday 10th June we rounded Cabo de Gata, turning northwards in pleasant conditions. As we were not in a hurry, by lunchtime we opted to stay in the anchorage of Puerto Genoves where it was great just to relax onboard in the sunshine and swim in crystal clear water. Had we known the winds the next day would turn against us, our decision might have been to press on; so instead of a day’s sail beating against the wind we headed for yet another anchorage just a few miles further north at Cala De San Pedro, a small beach surrounded by high hills protecting us from the northerly winds. There was nothing ashore except for an array of small tents and the hillside dotted with make-shift shacks around the ruins of a castle and its buildings. Families and friends of all ages were enjoying the natural surroundings. By sundown beach fires were lit, as guitarists played Spanish style music that resounded around the cove. Come the end of the weekend most packed away to be transported by small taxi style motorboats back for another working week, leaving behind a community of summer inhabitants living on the hillside. A real secret getaway!
Continuing on with stop-over’s of two nights each at Aquilas and then Mazarron; leaving the latter a little earlier than planned due to a constant roll keeping us from our slumbers, we up-anchored at 4 a.m. heading for Cartagena to arrive on Friday 17th June. We had been told it was a nice place and so it is . . . but time to catch up on the chores!
May 31, 2011
On Sunday 29th May we moved out of the marina to anchorage at La Linea just across the bay to enable an early start the next morning. Our next destination was Almerimar, approximately 135 miles eastwards across ‘The Costas’ with a forecast of westerly F2-3. We weaved our way out of Gibraltar Bay through over twenty cargo ships awaiting at anchor and ‘Eclipse’, a huge super yacht, Eclipse, owned by Abramovich, the Russian billionaire and owner of one of UK’s football clubs. Wow what a yacht. Looking it up on the web it has James Bond type security gismos, including a reputed laser to thwart paparazzi photographers! We left under escort, or should I say in company of the UK Warship No.67 for a trip taking an estimated 24 hours. We made it in 20, sailing most of the way goose-winged (the wind behind us) in gusts of up 28 knots (F6) – ok, but maybe a little more white horses than we would have liked for the wee small hours of darkness! To enter the unfamiliar harbour we hove-too for a while, waiting for the dawn light to see us through the entrance where we were warmly welcomed by local fishermen taking our lines.
After a snooze we made contact with Elizabeth Hughes, a fellow sailor going back to the 1980’s during our time in Cardigan Bay. Elizabeth and her husband Mike were members of Portmadog Sailing Club having boats called ‘Skipper’, then ‘Catmando’, to later purchasing a Colvic design boat ‘to sail off into the sunset’. They liked Almerimar so much so, they stayed, eventually selling their boat and becoming owners of a property up in the hills. Sadly Mike has since passed away but Liz continues her links with yachtsmen and the thriving community here. Again we had a helpful and friendly face on our travels, treating each other to lunchtime wine and tapas at the typically Spanish cafes. During our relatively short time here I was welcomed into a Ti-Chi class, then both Ron and I were invited to various social events but the most stunning was our trip into the hills of the Sierra Nevada with ‘the strollers’ of the marina. The area is so vast but very beautiful. We were told to take carrier bags with us to enable us to go ‘scrumping’, the fruit in question was cherries – thousands of them, delicious and juicy!
May 30, 2011
On the 18th May the weather forecast gave a window of two days before the next Laventa winds kicked in again. The forecast was not great; we would really have liked a west wind but instead settled for light easterly to make our next jump to Gibraltar. We stowed and secured everything tight for the reputed strong winds off Traveria (a notorious headland giving very strong gusts that hundreds of kite boarders from all over Europe love and flock to. All went well until Ron thought he heard a change in the engine tone and then noted too much steam exiting the exhaust system, indicating an overheating engine, in use to help push us against the unfavourable wind direction. Thankfully Ron knows his stuff whilst we ‘hove-to’ and immediately identified a failing water impeller that feeds sea water around to cool the engine. Fortunately we had a spare replacement and all was well in the end.
I felt that the backdrop of the area was very reminiscent of the North Lyn Peninsular mountains and the actual Straights, a much larger area than I had imagined. We are now all tucked up in Marina Bay to spend a week or so with Maggie, Angie and Colin, albeit under a huge grey cloud over the Rock at the moment – Gibraltar certainly seems to have it’s own localised weather pattern!
Angie and Colin gave us a tour giving us a real insight into living on ‘The Rock’. They have lived here for many years and therefore a mind of information. The residents really value their connections with the UK, never more so than after any talk of ‘The Rock’ ever being handed back to the Spanish. Even the Spanish residents value the fair and stable political situation that is encompassed under British sovereignty as opposed to the uncertainties and motives presented by a future Spanish ruling. It could also be said that judging from the queues at the Tabac stores it may have a lot to do with cigarettes sold without tax at only £1.82 per packet!
We watched The Ceremony of Guard Mounting, Gibraltar’s own version of the ‘Last Night of the Proms’ in the park, an air display by four ex RAF Red Arrow pilots, celebrating the Festival of the Seas and visited Gibraltar’s highly acclaimed Museum. We walked up The Rock to view The Moorish Castle, The World War II tunnels, The Great Siege Tunnels and the Apes’ Den. Due to either an unclear map or our map reading, we must have walked the whole of The Rock, having started at 10:00 a.m. and returning by 17:00 p.m, feeling quite exhausted but in ore of all the history that Gibraltar has seen dating back to the 11th century.
May 13, 2011
The old town of Rota is a ‘little gem’ giving a true feel of ‘Espanola’. Attractive stone archways spanning narrow streets best explored on foot. We started to put our Spanish to test, tasting tapas and sherry at only 60 cents for a glass served straight from the barrel. Two playas (beaches) of fine golden sand, lush parks and woodland walkways makes it a popular holiday destination.
While we waited for good conditions to continue we took a ferry across to Cadiz. For me the name Cadiz, has always conjured up thoughts of history, both political and travel wise; founded by the Phoenicians over 3000 years ago and still a major trading port. The city was buzzing with the sound of motor scooters, crammed buses and lovely individual shops. A visit to the cathedral was like climbing a mountain. Instead of the usual steps a helter-skelter style slope took us to the top of the tower giving us a wonderful view over the city. Unlike Portugal buildings in need of TLC were being renovated or updated giving a feeling of pride in the surroundings.
On 14th May we had a short weather window to move on. My sister Maggie was due in Gibraltar soon so we made for Barbate (pronounced Barbartay), which if necessary was a bus ride away from Gibraltar. True to the pilot book Cabo Trafalgar was to form, with breaking seas, we battled and like Nelson, we won only to be faced with a windward bash to avoid the huge tuna nets set from the entrance of the harbour. On arrival you wouldn’t believe it was the same day as weekenders basked on the beach and swam in the calm, azure blue waters!
Six days later we were still in Barbate. We eventually accessed wi-fi enabling BBC radio (which was the best received in two years) – the pilot says ‘a place of no great appeal’. In desperation, as the laventa winds continued, we dug out a digital box we had stored in the bilge, linked it to TV screen used for DVD’s and now have enough English programs (Columbo for example) to pass away an evening or two – a change from all the reading I’ve been doing! We did however take a walk into the National Park and have to say it was lovely, along with the fact that it was quiet from the howling wind. I found out here that Ron has an aversion to snakes as one slithered across the footpath!
Just an observation on TV – so far we have seen Portuguese, Spanish, Algerian and Moroccan. It seems we are all watching programs in the same styles and formats. We can generally follow the news in whatever language from the film footage; each seem to have the Lorraine Kelly, political interview, cooking and game show style programs. You can be glad to have the BBC as the advertising breaks are so long you can easily forget that you were ever watching a program of interest. Many of the advertisements are familiar from UK TV such as Direct Line Insurance. However one morning I was left feeling quite traumatised when an explicit footage of a annual Spanish event where bulls run amok down streets lined with tormentors’ showed the full horror of a mans awful death – yes I know I should have turned it off but I was hoping for a better outcome for him! Watershed timing is obvious not an issue here.
May 12, 2011
We had hoped to be on the water before now but for the gearbox holdup, then high winds along with torrential rain arrived, albeit whilst the UK were basking in glorious sunshine running up to the Easter holiday. In consequence the boat yard were behind with their launchings so we had to wait until the next tide high enough to accommodate our keel depth.
Faro has a long history but is now mainly a working city with people passing through from the airport. We had to walk close to the local prison on our visits to the shops but whilst we waited we did a little more exploring of places we had missed on our previous visit, including Carmo Church and the Chapel of Bones. You will see a picture of the chapel with the pattern on the walls made up of placed bones and skulls of deceased monks. We had the offer of a car trip from Rob and Cherill of ‘Desert Dream’ to visit Sao Bras De Alportel, a town due north of Faro, where we attend ‘The Festival of the Flower Torches’. It is the most important tradition of the town every Easter Sunday to celebrated with a procession of flower-adorned torches borne by men singing in chorus the refrain “He returned to life as he said! Hellelujah! Hellelujah! Hellelujah!”. People hang their bedspreads over garlanded balconies and a carpet of flowers cover a kilometre of street. The aroma of the flowers was amazing.
As Rob and Cherill are from Stoke and will be returning by car to the UK during August they kindly offered to transport some of our unused items that would not otherwise fit as aircraft baggage. We are happy to release the space on board and even happier to be meeting them again when we return to the UK.
Our launch date was to be 29th April – William and Kate’s wedding day! We did however manage to watch on board in quite a unique way. We gathered a few other Brits together and before our electric was disconnected managed to see up to the point of the register being signed, whilst the boat was suspended in launching slings. Our TV was tuned into a Portuguese channel (who surprisingly gave it full coverage) with a wi-fi link to BBC radio gaving us a full English commentary!
Once launched we spent a few days at anchor, close to the boat yard in case of any unexpected problems, then on 3rd May we set off for Ayamonte where it was lovely to meet up again with Lin and Geoff (Lady Lin), Sharn and Ken (Fair Joanda) and Margot & Harry (No Agenda). Three days later and being the only ones at that time moving on we left Ayomonte for Roto, approximately 65 nm away.
For our first ‘longish’ trip of the season all was well until the compass alarm went off – we were off course! After puzzlement we found a fishing marker with its rope, trailing behind, caught on the rudder! Thankfully the calm conditions enabled us to clear the problem easily. Whilst scanning the horizon we were passing yachts mainly going westward but recognising one as a yacht from North Wales. A call on the VHF radio confirmed it to be Pauline and Alan of Lady Hawk returning from Barcelona to Lagos for some boat maintenance.
Now in Rota we will explore the town as we wait for the notorious Lavanta winds to pass over, albeit as the sun shines. Our next destination will be Gibraltar where my sister Maggie is flying to meet up with her friend Angie who, as a resident of ‘The Rock’, has promised us a knowledgeable conducted tour!