I expect you have all seen the news of the tornado hitting southern Spain? ten people died at a fairground, others in flash floods, two dirty great container ships washed up on the beach 5 miles from Valencia?
We were there, Rosalyn and I.
We weren't in the epicentre though, just a mere forty miles away, five miles from the container ships. I can safely say though that it was probably the worst night of my life so far. Tied up in the shelter of the Juan Carlos Marina in Valencia I spent four hours fighting with ropes and lines on Rosalyn and a neighbour's boat. We had 54 knots of wind (That's Storm force for the land lubbers) and one meter swell actually in the marina. Being on the boat felt like being at sea in a storm. I had to take sea sick pills. Many boats were left damaged including ours.
I am stuck here now for a few days waiting for parts to be manufactured and sent from uk. I hope to then sail eighty miles north to the boatyard where Rosalyn will be lifted out for the winter.
Still, people lost their lives and others lost their homes, I just lost a few hours sleep and a few hundred Euros so I'm quite thankful really.
Now the sun is out, there is more beach now as well. Under the cover of darkness and strong winds, the beach sneaked up over the walls and extended itself along the roads and pavements along the coastline, burying fallen palm trees, hedges, deck chairs alike. Palm sun canopies poking out haphazardly like some first word war battlefield.
Ironic really that there are no holiday makers left here to make use of the extra beach space. No, they weren't all swept out to sea. Its October. Even in the Med, holiday season is over. There is only me left. I haven't quite got the hang of it yet.
Our New Zealand friends have had it just as bad over in the islands. There is no such thing as shelter when the wind is that strong.
I am looking forward to getting on that plane next Friday now. I need a holiday!
Well, we are still in Eivissa, we are going to stay here now for the week until time to fly home.
I am writing this whilst eating a traditional Spanish breakfast in a lovely little cafe overlooking a beautiful golden beach and blue water cove.
There is still plenty to do here and still more quiet coves to anchor in. We have met up again with another cruising couple whom we really like and socialise with. They are Americans from New Zealand, and sail a beautiful yacht named Namir.
As for the diving, we are in paradise. Ibiza is a volcanic island which means just about any place you get in the water there is something of interest. We have found underwater caves and caverns, swim throughs and arches. Loads of fish that we haven't seen before and lots of Moray Eels. The rocky sea bed and ledges are like giant honey combs which make a perfect habitat for Moray Eels and other things with claws and pincers and stings.
Yesterday we spotted a few small boats just on the far corner of our bay, we couldn't see what was going on but found out later that some Dolphins had come in and the locals went out to swim with them.
It seems to be spawning season for a new-to-us species of stinging Jellyfish. Over the last few days hoards of babies have appeared which means keeping a keen eye out when snorkelling and playing dodge the Jellyfish. I got stung by one yesterday. Once is enough.
It's not all fun, you might like to know. We had some strong wind a few nights ago along with some heavy swell. We went to bed surrounded by ten other boats, and not many people know how to anchor properly here, so we had a restless night watching out for drifting yachts and rolling from side to side in bed. By the morning there was only us and Namir left. Then it rained. We haven't had rain since we left France four months ago. It was shocking, and we got wet.
Yesterday morning we woke up cold! it was 16oC in the boat. It was horrible. I had to put socks on. Socks!! And a sweater. It didn't last long though. As soon as the sun came up the deck was nearly too hot to walk on and we had to dive in the sea to cool down. The sea is 27oC first thing in the morning.
We will miss this when we leave but we are looking forward to seeing the kids and friends again, we do actually miss them all.
Next week we go back to Valencia where Jan will catch her flight home and I will sail 80 miles North East to Rosalyn's winter home, where I will have two weeks of essential maintenance to carry out before heading home for winter. Yuk!
Oh, and did you know that that before Eibessa (Ibeza) became famous for being home to the worst holiday resorts in this part of the galaxy, it was the holiday destination and home of the international hippy community? They are still very much in evidence today with thier street markets and performances. Some still wear the old traditional hippy atire whilst others just wear Animal T shirts and live on yachts.
We have reached Ibiza, land of the party. With some of the best clubs in the world, this small island is awash with youngsters, tattooed or body painted, high heeled, dolled up to the nines, dressed in very little or "I love Ibiza" t-shirts.
We have anchored in Sant Antoni bay for the last couple of nights, the town here hosts two of the major clubs so the landscape after dark is quite something. A huge white, glowing, gas filled balloon takes people up and down to skyscraper height until the early hours and sitting next to that is an equally tall, neon-lit frame where you can partake of the dubious pleasure of being hurled on bungy cord into the sky, strapped into what look like rollercoaster seats. Makes my palms sweaty just writing about it! Music starts before the crowd flock to photograph the stunning sunset until long after this particular old fogey has gone to bed. So no, we have not gone clubbing!
That said, Ibiza is probably the best cruising area in the Western Med. The holiday resorts take up a very small part of the island which leaves the rest to us! And the other yachties.
We hired a car yesterday to do a road trip of the island which has some truly stunning scenery. Small, rocky calas (coves) which we are itching to dive in, massive cliff faces, enormous aloe vera and cacti, tiny beaches with parasols and silver sands. With Eivissa (Ibiza) city itself close at hand, which has everything you need a city to have, this is quite a lovely place.
We will head off today to find one of those calas and get the dive gear out....
We have just spent the last few days sailing up the coast (only 30 miles) to Castellon to meet up with some friends, Bev and Martin.
Our initial plan was to sail over to the Islas Columbretes, a small volcanic, archipelago about 25 miles offshore and do some diving. But the islands are a nature reserve and diving requires a dive leader, a special permit and everyone who dives to have a certain level of experience - to make sure the divers are competent enough to avoid wreaking havoc on the wildlife!
We have a dive leader (Rick), we all have enough experience. However, getting the permit from the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture proved beyond our abilities in the time we had. We tried phone calls, faxes, emails and a visit to the Island Conservation office. Everyone was extremely helpful but time constraints, office moves and language barriers meant we didn't quite get there. Something to do next year...
Instead we trundled a few miles down the coast, found a charted wreck and Rick and Martin had a good dive, seeing a large conga eel.
Diving is always like this, hours of preparation and clearing up for 30 minutes in the water.....the conga eel made it worth it though. And even eel-less it would have been worth it to spend some time with friends!
The weather is now too windy for a few days to make a trip to Ibiza so we have come back to Valencia to visit the city and the huge aquarium here which we went to yesterday. The Oceanographic is the largest aquarium in Europe and has the most enormous tanks I have ever seen. Along with dolphins, seals, an aviary and stunning modern architecture. Followed up by a sample of Valencian nightlife, which kicks off around midnight, today is a now day for lazing around....
08/25/2012, La Pobla de Farnals
Since our last blog from the Mar Menor.....
• The WiFi aerial fell off the top of the mast and banged around all night before we noticed, and the foresail ripped. Both a result of being under sail in a force 8.
• I ran us into an uncharted, submerged rock
• The rudder has developed a wobble
• The frame for the sprayhood broke
• We realised we forgot to order more water maker filters so can't replace a very nasty slimy green one....
• The marina we were heading for after a 25hr passage didn't have the right equipment
• We each have about another thousand mozzie bites
• The aerial, amazingly, still works and is now back at the top of the mast
• The foresail rip is minor and easy to fix
• The rock did no major damage other than to my pride
• The rudder wobble was fixed within 24hrs by the local engineer
• Rick has fixed the sprayhood frame with spare bits dug out from one of many boxes of bits and bobs which he keeps for just such occasions
• The local chandlery had a reusable filter for the water maker in stock - first I have seen anywhere. Result!
• The marina we ended up in, 5miles down the coast, is much, much nicer, the boatswain in charge speaks good English and the little town of Pobla de Farnals is a small local Spanish holiday resort with a lovely beach, pleasant bars and a good supermarket. Temperatures are over 30 degrees, we are both well tanned. There is a local boat which collects up the jellyfish and dumps them out to sea so swimming is back on. The bus goes every half hour into Valencia which has lots of interesting things to see.
OK, so it wasn't a blog of doom. I have just finished Lord of the Rings and it seemed like a good title!
Not much can be done about the mozzie bites though......that's pretty doom like.
The photo is of the central market in Valencia which is in an enourmous and gorgeous building. Like all Spanish central markets is sells meat, fish and veggies mostly. But this one also has souvenir T-shirts you can buy!
08/13/2012, Mar Menor, Mediteranean Spain
Fried Egg Jellyfish
Well, guess what? We left Gibraltar at last. We had a lovely time there. Our original plan was to stop for two days, but as it happened we stopped for two weeks!
A few days before we left we met a lovely American couple from New Zealand. Confusing? Yes, I know, but cruising is like that. Bob and Joanie in their lovely ketch, which they have had for 25 years, and have done a lot of miles (nautical) in.
The forecast situation was becoming direr by the day, no wind and more no wind. We all came to the conclusion that we would have to motor if we were going to get anywhere, but we are used to that now, So first thing Friday morning (first thing being when Jan eventually gets up), we set off Eastwards.
Expecting a lovely, leisurely sail along the scenic coastlines of the Costas del Sol, Blanca and Brava, what we actually got was fog! Not just any old fog but thick fog. The sort of fog where you expect the Marie Celeste to suddenly loom into view and glide across your bows. Bob and Joanie were only a few miles away the whole time, couldn't see them of course, but we kept in touch via our SSB radios.
We split into watches and for the next 24 hours we took 2 hour stints on watch. We didn't have much to watch, just fog.
Fortunately, the next morning the fog cleared and we were able to spend our watches watching sea instead. Another 23 hours passed, 250 miles of fog and sea, and we found ourselves sliding into an anchorage at first light just outside the Mar Menor. We dropped anchor, had a few hour's kip then braved the manic entrance into the Mar Menor itself.
The Mar Menor is a very interesting inland sea. 12 miles by 6 miles, with a scattering of lovely islands and anchorages. Fairly well sheltered and perfect for a leisurely sail. Which is what we did.
If you have had any experience of cruising sailing, you will know that very rarely, if ever, it is a pleasure. The wind is never in the right direction, if at all, much of the time the engine is on or you're doing battle with an unfriendly sea.
We entered the Mar Menor, hove too, turned the engine off then left it off. Hoisted the sails and set off on a perfect reach, only stopping when we sailed into a fantastic little bay in the lee of a small island. Bliss.
You may have seen on the news that the coasts of the Med are currently being plagued by jellyfish. Evident by the thousands of holidaymakers sitting on the beach looking wistfully at the invitingly cool waters.
When we look over the side of Rosalyn there seems to be more jellyfish than water. Every square nautical foot has a jellyfish in it! It took us some time to identify the species as they don't seem to be listed in any of our jellyfish identification books, but we eventually found them on Google. Fried Egg Jellyfish they are called. We should have known really. Obvious when you see them.
Anyway, that's enough for now, Its 35 nautical degrees C here so we are going to go out and sit and look at the invitingly cool water!