It's a steep learning curve this sailing malarky. Reading GRIB files for weather looks straight forward enough but we have subsequently learnt that on a weather report, red arrows are not good. In fact they are positively bad. Apparently, they mean strong winds. We knew that of course, but we didn't think they would be THAT strong. And relentless. For 11 hours. Then the winds died down to a respectable 20 (even that's quite strong) and we could put up a bit of sail and enjoy the rest of the sail to Ibiza. Mark and I were exhausted. When we asked the kids what they thought of the trip, they replied "great Mum" so clearly, they didn't experience any of the feelings I had had. But then they had been cosy inside, watching star wars and didn't see the ropes securing the dinghy snap and have to recover it, like we did! It was interesting to note that the power of communication was completely lost to me as I tried to tell him what had happened. "THE.......THE.......THE.........THE.........DINGHY" was about all I could manage. Anyway, we still have the dinghy, so it was all alright after all. But we did learn that we don't like red arrows.
Luckily the wind died down in time for us to pick up a buoy and the sun was only just setting, so that was uneventful, and we are parked just next to a large black boat with a helicopter and speed boat on top of it. Ibiza seems to be made of money. There are lots of expensive looking clothes boutiques in the marina, but no one sells cooking gas. And there are no big dogs, only little lap dogs. But it's a pretty town, although a LONG walk from where we are moored.
We are waiting for less strong winds so we can head onto Spain. In the meantime, we have had fun exploring caves, playing on the beach, and learning Spanish, so Adios for now xx
It's hard to get internet here - we didn't realise how much we were addicted to it until we couldn't get it (actually we did have a fair idea!!) Thanks to Cath's mum chatting to someone at a wedding who had a mooring buoy in D'Andratx, we are now here which is on the West Coast of Mallorca. We couldn't go straight away as the owner said it was not very sheltered on a Westerly wind which was what it was most of last week, but on Thursday we decided to go. We learnt a few lessons about the trip. Firstly, we thought it was a little jaunt around the corner, but it took us 6 hours and we arrived in dark. However, we were really pleased that our navigational skills were put to the test at night and we succeeded in coming into a harbour using lights to guide us and we found the mooring buoy first time (well, actually it's two buoys down, but none of them are being used and this one seems a safer one!)
Apart from the fact that there is an uncanny number of 'dead' tenders half floating in the harbour (and a ship wrecked yacht) it's pretty here and we are getting a taste of what it is like to be out at anchor rather than in the shelter of a marina. It's fine, the wind generator is whizzing around and if we are careful, we can keep the fridge going and use lights/have music etc with just wind and solar panel - cool!!
So, tomorrow we are heading to Ibiza - it should take between 11 and 14 hours and we have decided to leave at midnight tomorrow so the kids will be asleep for some of it and the winds will be best. We will probably be in Ibiza main town on the East coast, again on mooring buoy.
The kids have been excited about the nature here - Lochy set up a bird hide - we spotted a Grey heron, Small egret and cormorant. Also, we saw loads of jellyfish of which we managed to catch one and the kids enjoyed inspecting it, writing about it and drawing it. We later found out it was a Mauve stinger, so pleased that we didn't let Lochy touch it when he asked to prod it with his finger!!
I cut Mark and the kids' hair today and none of them will need a trip to the hairdressers to rectify the damage, so that's a success, although Mark was not instilled with confidence when my first comment was "oh **** I didn't realise it would be that short!!" Mia's was the easiest, straight cut across the back.
After Ibiza for a couple of days, we will head along the coast of Spain, hopping as we go, but if the winds are good, we will head asap to Gib as we really need to avoid Westerlys which would be on our nose, so if we get anything else, we will go as far as we can.
We'll probably be in Gib for a while from 28nd November, and then we are really hoping to be Madeira for Christmas and New Year as it is supposed to be lovely there.
So, that's our plan for the time being - as you know, it may well change, but we need to push on so won't be staying in Ibiza for long.
11/06/2010, Lefkas to Palma
Yeeehaaaa! We made it!! We can sail. Pegasus can float. The kids can find their sea legs. And all the other concerns I may have had before we left have been dispelled in a wonderful 8 day sail across the Med. Don't ask about the bit before we set sail - the stress of getting ready for the off/ customs - (don't know why I bothered - it's a story within itself but luckily it's now out of my mind) misplacing Mark's passport / connecting the nav lights five minutes before we leave. All that is out of my mind and I will concentrate on the first leg of our journey.
We left Lefkas just before 2pm so we could pass through the bridge on the hour. Didn't get the chance to say goodbye and thank you to everyone we wanted to, especially Kevan, Mark and Sharkey and everyone else who helped us on our boat before we left (what a friendly marina!), but in the end we just had to go or we were at risk of getting marina rot! Waving us off were Milly and Will who had been wonderful friends for Mia and Lochy in the week before we left, their parents, and Carol of Wild Bird and I felt strangely emotional; I suppose not surprising as we had been in Lefkas for 8 weeks.
Through the bridge and everyone is excited. Half an hour into being in the open sea and Mia gets seasick - as I expected. Lochy did too. I didn't see that one coming which would explain why I was clearing up projectile vomit in the cabin an hour into the trip, whilst Mia was being sick neatly into the bucket. Two hours into the trip and one of the engines makes a very funny noise as though a bag has wrapped around its propellor. A bag has wrapped around its propellor. Mark gets into the dinghy in an attempt to clear it with a stick, but it's clear that someone has to go in. Phill isn't offering (and why should he as it's not his boat?!!). So Mark strips to his boxers and snorkel and mask and goes in to unwrap the offending item. I am so proud of him. Diving under a boat in the ocean isn't on his list of top 10 things to do. I would be shouting words of encouragement to him only by this time I am chucking up into a bucket and I don't even get sea sick!
But then the kids fall asleep though general excitement/ exhaustion / seasickness and I feel better and Phill, Mark and I get into a routine of a watch system. I really did get the easy part. Phill and Mark did 3 hours on 3 hours off through the night and I came on at 7am to do mother watch - basically allow the guys to sleep and getting food ready.
Before you report me to social services, can I say that the kids found their sea legs very quickly. Lochy the next day and Mia a bit longer as we then went though a bit of a rough 48 hours of force 7/8. We were really pleased that Pegasus saw us through with no bother at all - she made us feel very safe and solid - though we had to get used to being slapped between the hulls with waves - something monohulls wouldn't know about!
Mia soon learnt that being outside on the helm was the best place to be and both she and Lochy were happy to wear their harness and lifelines to keep safe. When the swell was particularly large (about 3 metres?) Mia was singing "I can ride my boat with no handlebars" and we were surfing down the waves with our hands in the air.
Highlights of this passage:
1)Two little sparrows landing on the boat (and one on my head!!) and coming into the cabin to shelter - we called them Milly and Will!
2)Amazing nightskies. The kids would wake up at about 7am and it would still be dark so we would all huddle outside and look at the constellations and see shooting stars. There was also phosphorescence off the stern of the boat - glowing algae. So on bonfire night we had shooting stars, phosphorescence, and a lightening storm in the distance so we had the fireworks covered!
Wonderful sunrises and sunsets and a moonrise.
3)Dolphins on four of our 8 days, sometimes for half an hour at a time. We would lie on the trampoline and watch them dance on our bow.
4)On day 5 of our trip when I was beginning to wonder what to cook, Lochy asked if he could fish, we put out a lure (Thanks Tom of Monstertackle.com!!!!)at 11am and by 6pm had caught a gigantic yellow finned tuna - no idea how much it weighed but it was 90cm long!!! Mark cut it up with a hacksaw into 14 thick steaks which I vacuum sealed immediately and we've been eating ever since!!! We even recovered Lochy's lucky lure but wouldn't let him put it in again!!!
5)baking the best loaf of bread I have ever made and mark baking fantastic shortbread
So that is pretty much it!! Phill was great in whipping us into shape and getting the boat ready; in giving us confidence to make us realise we CAN do this. Although Mark bought her into Palma this morning, it was still great to have Phill guiding us and reassuring us and tutoring us as we went, even doing a man overboard practise on a fender and bucket whilst in the middle of the Med.
I am on such a high. So proud of us as a family. So proud of the kids settling so easily into a routine of life at sea. Reassured to know that I could have kept going for another 3 weeks if I had to (but I know Phill's wife and kids wouldn't have been too happy with us if we had!!) It feels quite surreal actually as Phill left for the airport within an hour of us arriving and it's back to just us, the Jackson Four. He's told us we should buy some more of those paper things that have pretty pictures of the sea and land - charts, I think they're called. We didn't have any when he arrived and I suppose they were quite useful!!
So, a few days in Palma with a huge list of things we need to do but some can wait til we get to Gibralter. Tuna for dinner I think. Night all. Love Catherine xxx
I don't know where the time goes to but it's over 10 days since the last blog, but now that Phill has arrived we haven't had time to sit in an internet cafe and chat chat chat. Phill is from Jersey and is going to take us through our yachtsmaster practical whilst we bomb out of the med.
I don't want you to think I'm obsessed about the mast but I have been up again, this time repairing the AIS arial and heh presto it now works - so if you go onto http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/ and look at Lefkada, Greece, you'll see our position when we are at sea (it only works if we have it turned on!). It's cool as you can see how we track through the Med. It doesn't work all the way across oceans but we can see big boats and more importantly big boats can see us. So, putting a VHS antennnae connector is another string to my bow.
Mark has been busy making fibreglass shelves to put batteries on and connecting up the chartplotter, VHF remote and other electrical things.
The kids were delighted that it has been half term and so there have been some British children around the marina. They spent all day playing with new friends yesterday, only popping back for food which meant we could crack on.
So, back to Phill. He has really given us a shake up regarding the sailing aspect of our trip. Taking us through our storm jib and nav lights (er, I think you might need to get some tomorrow!) planning passages (er, I think you might need some charts for Malta tomorrow) etc etc. It's great to really have the pressure on to get sailing because I think there was a risk of us all getting marina rot!
I'm not sure I wanted the kids' first experience to be 7 or 8 days at sea in October weather, but we don't really have much choice and having had 2 weeks of thunder lightening and rain we seem to be facing a calm window of weather. At least they have had a bath (see photo!) So, I have been planning 7 days of menus (anyone who really knows me knows that cooking is not my thing but I am learning to add more seasoning and double my portions!) and today's jobs is to take the bike trailer to the supermarket and stock up whilst Mark and Phill get the sails back from the repair shop, hopefully with a cruising chute bought too. Then it's off to the Port police to check out and we'll be off the blog for a little while (but on AIS!!) Hope you are all well, love Catherine x
10/14/2010, the mast
OK, so it was only because I had gone up the mast that morning - picking the 1 hour of sun we had between several hours of thunder and lightening - but a combination of me being a lefty and generally being quite lacking in the biceps department, I couldn't do the task at hand, so I had no choice but to winch Mark up the big pole. So to the mantra of "I must, I must, I must improve my bust" I winched him up and Mark managed to finish off my poor job. Aching all over now (from the winching, not from the beating I received from Mark from not doing the job in the first place!)
Mia Lochy and I did some good drilling - that counted as school work - them with their protective googles drilling away quite happily, then after with their ear defenders using the rivet gun - "oh look mummy, smoke came out then!!" We now have our carving and marking notice on the hull of our boat, courtesey of Mia and Lochy. Mia also helped me change the two compasses over so the good one is on the helm and the not so good one is on the other side - she's getting the hang of the rachet screwdriver now. Lochy loves washing the boat down with the hosepipe " I'm pretending I am shooting all the baddies"- you'd think with all the rain we'd had that it wouldn't need it, but the rain has been dirty red from some desert somewhere and is horrible and stainy - on my nice clean boat too.
Have I told you it has rained alot recently? It doesn't just rain here though. At least we get a nice show of lightening and thunder at the same time. As quickly as the rain comes, it goes and then it's 24 degrees again.
Things I am missing right now?? My mates - I am positively a youngster amongst the cruising population here - my dishwasher, though I'll get over that - the choice you have in a Jersey supermarket - and that is saying something!! The sun that was here when I arrived - getting a little bit of cabin fever when it is stormy, although I am halfway through the 5th Harry Potter book having read all the others in quick succession. Night all, Catherine xxx
10/09/2010, Lefkada, greece
You're probably wondering if we will ever actually sail or if we are going to stay in Greece for a year and just pretend that we went round the world! But we have been busy, honest. Well, Mark moreso than me. Today he had me in the tiny compartment behind the engine trying to find a hidden cable run for different electrical wires and all I managed to do was lose another of his rods - so there are now 3 metres of rod loose in the depths of the boat thanks to me. Mark has asked Santa for another set of rods for his stocking. At least I escaaped going all the way to the top of the mast today - that job has been saved 'til tomorrow.
We have booked for Phill to come and join us on the 24th October and we will (fingers crossed) be leaving soon after then.
We are really sad that are next plank neighbours have winterised their boat and are off on Monday back to the UK. They have been amazingly tolerant of the Jackson Four and so to thank them, we had them for dinner and the kids put on a little play that they had rehearsed about the Greek Gods which was fun. School work is altogether a much more relaxed atmosphere than it was three weeks ago and I have put on hold the search for boarding schools who took kids from the age of 6!!
The weather is much chillier than when we arrived - trousers in the evening, and apparently we have THE storm of the century heading our way, so that will be fun!
Our final delivery arrived from Jersey - minus the SSB ariel - which is still in customs somewhere, but we now have solar panels so we can get cracking with that!
If we stay long enough here, we'll get to see the flamingos that arrive - they will be arriving for the winter soon, so that will be a lovely sight. Anyways, love to everyone from the Jackson Four xx