Slow Sailing

11 September 2017 | Cadiz, Spain
27 August 2017 | Faro, Portugal
11 August 2017 | Guadiana River, Portugal
04 August 2017 | La Linea, Spain
31 July 2017 | Marina Smir, Morocco
18 July 2017 | Granada, Spain
29 June 2017 | Pollenca, Mallorca
19 June 2017 | Mahon, Menorca
08 June 2017 | Ciudadela, Menorca
26 May 2017 | Soller, Mallorca
06 May 2017 | San Antonio Harbor, Ibiza
24 April 2017 | Ibiza, Balearic Islands
02 April 2017 | Valencia, Spain
21 March 2017 | Brittany, France
22 February 2017 | England
03 February 2017 | Valencia, Spain
22 December 2016 | Vero Beach, Florida
23 October 2016 | Real Club Nautico, Valencia
07 October 2016 | Valencia, Spain
26 September 2016 | Valencia, Spain

Gypsy Genes

11 September 2017 | Cadiz, Spain
Heather
It was about all I could do to concentrate on anything other than windspeed and storm surge for all those being affected by ol' Irma and I'm sad at all the loss and work ahead to make things whole again. So this entry is more for me to think about something else and also to record where we've been than anything else. I wish the word hurricane only described the cocktail!

We've been exploring the Algarve coast of Portugal while dealing with the issues of our new sail that wasn't right. We did find a sailmaker who would work on it after some concern since there are hardly any sailmakers on this coast and this one said no at first since he didn't want to get involved . Thankfully he listened to our situation and helped us out. Thanks Dune Sails! We got it back a couple of days ago. Far East Sails is covering the cost for changes which is reassuring. But we have just sailed 2 long days with it and the fittings for our mast track that go on the sail weren't re-installed properly so Jon already had to repair one today because it came apart. It seems never ending. They did try. Right now we are working our way back to Gibraltar quickly as we'd like to do final checks and provision there and then head on to Atlantic Morocco. We pulled in to Cadiz late last night, so easy because we'd been in here before and knew the way. We both really like this city. The marina has lots of open slips so you can just glide right in. We biked much of the day today which was good to shake out some of the rigor mortis from 2 days underway. We both keep asking each other how we are going to manage a long passage since we stiffen up after a few hours of sitting. Now tomorrow we're off for the last 75 miles to Gibraltar.

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When we pulled in to Portimao Marina to meet with the sailmaker, I went into the marina office to sign in while Jon was getting fuel. They said I had to present to immigration and the lady walked me over to the desk. The friendly officer took the passports and right away started flicking the pages. We know page flicking is bad. Then more flicking and out comes the paper and pen to start recording dates. Oh here we go! I had the tears ready at the floodgates as I was already stressed out about the sail. He walks back to me and starts with a few questions, like when are we leaving, can't find the stamp, I show it to him and he says it isn't the right "kind" of stamp... I thought a stamp was a stamp but no. Jon comes in and joins me. The officer says we'd overstayed the total days of 90 out of 180 in Europe and I said yes, our boat is our home, what are we supposed to do, we are trying to sail home this Fall. He says he understands. Then he said, look I can pretend I didn't see these stamps and give you the extra time but I need to ask you one question, did you vote for Trump? We said no, we didn't. And then he said, good, now we can move forward. We chatted a bit, then were given a new "correct" stamp and were on our way. Phew! We are not asking to get these questions, they are just coming at us.
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During the waiting time we visited a few anchorages, all of which were on the coast full of sun & surf and interesting rock formations. Even though we were dying for trees and a mountain or two, this is not what this coast is about. We walked beaches, meandered beside pretty rock arches and looked out over steep cliffs. We increased our seafood intake because Portugal is all about fish & shellfish. Everyone is fishing or clamming and the water boils with fish like we've never seen before. We are too squeamish to eat octopus but it is interesting how they fish for them- lower a clay pot into the water on a float, the octopus swims in to make a den and then stays there when they pick it up so not too hard to get them. Old pots become yard decorations like conch shells on a Bahama island. This pic is a sculpture showing evidence of the method. The water isn't as cold as we'd thought it would be but when we get in we don't see much of anything at all. And it isn't that clear so swimming has not been a draw other than to cool off. We need to clean the hull but I get creeped out in cloudy water at what I don't know. We'll do it in Gib. We did get our poles out from being put away since Indonesia, or was it before? We never had the heart to fish in the Med and were pretty sure we wouldn't get anything anyway.
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We had our fill of the train to Lisbon so tried the bus to the SW tip Cabo de Sao Vicente where the coast starts running straight northward and the Algarve ends. Since the swell was up and there aren't great anchorages, we decided to leave the boat safe (always worry about the boat) and take the bus. Good grief! Portugal's public transit isn't what you'd call zippy! In this case we could have sailed there in the same time it took the bus- 3 hours each way. Its not that far. There were high cliffs and we got some delicious fish soup, a trademark for this area, and we stayed in motion for all the time we had till re-boarding the bus again; what a long day that was. Done with the bus!
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Then one day we were in this current ridden anchorage that was really nice as long as there wasn't much wind but that night it picked up and the boat that we were anchored next to started sailing all over on his anchor because he was on rope rode. It was like he was underway but with no one at the wheel. At 11pm in 30 kts, we had to pick up and move because we were nearly pushing him off of us and we couldn't raise anyone on the boat to come out and see what was happening even though the companionway was wide open. It took 3 tries to get ourselves re-situated again outside the other boats but with enough room to swing without hitting the breakwaters as it is a tight anchorage for depths. Then we set the anchor drag alarm and got into bed with the wind howling and the chain clunking as we sat sideways to the current. We are lying there resting when we hear a knock on the hull and "you gotta get up, you're drifting out to sea!" We come tearing out to see that we were just as we'd left ourselves a few minutes before but this nice man hadn't seen us move and so was alarmed that we were now in a different spot. When he found out, he said "you've got to get back to sleep!" Sleep? Who can sleep? The next day the wind had abated and we were getting ready to leave for someplace nicer and we see the owner of the rope rode boat get dropped off on his boat from shore- he wasn't even there! What an odd night that was.

Portugal is known for its pottery and they had lots for sale all over and even nailed to the walls of the stores to draw you in. Best used in homes that don't heel 45 degrees though.

There were nice boardwalks crossing the dunes to get to the oceanside beaches.
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Quaint fishing towns with some tourist infrastructure made for some pleasant walks down narrow streets with typical tiled houses and the ubiquitous bougainvillea draped here & there. And large, sealed bottles of water in people's doorways or adjacent. They are thought to keep bugs away, but I also read that a water bottle on your doorstep will keep dogs from urinating there (and then scores of others) but we never got brave enough to ask a local which is correct.
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It was interesting to walk on some of the barrier islands where the only roads are made of sand.

We saw loads more stork nests perched on interesting fixtures such as the stadium lighting, and we saw a little owl, some local dogs enjoying the rough doormat of a clothing store and lots of sand with the usual number of oiled up bodies laying everywhere. And that really is about it.
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We are anxious to get moving toward Morocco and the Canaries. Jon said to me the other day that we must have a gypsy gene in both of us that keeps us looking forward to new places & new experiences. So that means I don't just have ants in my pants. Phew.
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Hurry Up And Wait

27 August 2017 | Faro, Portugal
Heather
Our wanderings the past couple of weeks have revolved around receiving a new mainsail and all the hassle that goes with it but we have managed to do a few other things. It has been a bit of hurry up & wait though, several times over.

The few days we spent 20 miles up the Guadiana River that separates Spain from Portugal were fun and a change of scenery. It was nice to be on the hook again after so many marinas. We explored the towns on either side- Sanlucar in Spain where they had a 4 day town party going on while we were there and Alcoutim on the Portugal side which probably wished the river was wider so they could get some sleep! They whooped it up all night each night with a beer garden and several foosball tables (foosball is seriously big in these parts for some reason) and even managed a parade one morning.
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We did a lot of biking- 3 days in a row, on both sides of the river. Being so far inland, the temps were really up there- over 100 again and it seemed like this is the closest you could get to knowing what its like to be in a convection oven. Any breeze would feel like it cooked you more and we are feeling a bit too sunkissed at this point but don't feel like sitting on our duffs either. Who would have known there was a great rail trail that went on forever and in these parts, train tracks have lots of curves and inclines too. Red faced, but happy!
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Since the guts of our BBQ rusted out we have been really missing it this season but Portuguese tradition is to have a Sunday BBQ so we finally got some. We visited one of the old castles that looks down on the anchorage, a museum, an old windmill, that sort of thing. On the last day of biking, we got an update that the sail had shipped from China and was expected in Spain the next day, to be delivered the following day. They had warned us that we absolutely had to be able to get a phone call from customs to accept the duty charges and if we missed that call, customs was likely to return the sail at our expense. So we turned our bikes around and got back aboard to head down the river and pull into a marina to be ready. After we got there, we got a note from the broker that the sail had really just moved from the loft to the shipper and it would be a few days yet before it would go out. Oh great! Why the tracking info saying it had gone? Since we were now in the marina, paying high season rates, we decided to use the wait time to take the train to Lisbon, Portugal's capitol since we knew we wouldn't feel like sailing up there.
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The train worked out to be about 5 hours to get to Lisbon on two different trains and we could walk to our place. It was nothing fancy but it had a nice big window with table and chairs so you could look out onto an old plaza. We'd no sooner gotten checked in and sat down for a minute to enjoy the view and we get a tracking message that the sail had shipped (again). Except this time it really did and the phone number on the outside of the box that customs would call would be our Spain number. We felt sure this would happen. Jon had to scramble to be sure we could get a roaming call in Portugal or else we'd have to go back the very next day but luckily, we could. This is unusual for roaming calls to work with prepaid chips, so we really did feel lucky. So we toured around the next few days seeing the sights of the old city. In 1775, Lisbon had a devastating earthquake that caused a huge fire and then a tidal wave and much of the city was destroyed. We actually had a tremor that first morning as we sat in bed having coffee. We read that some of the larger, more plain tiled buildings were born of this need to rebuild fast as Azulejo tile work was already famous to Portuguese architecture. Whole buildings covered in tile. We tried the local Vinho verde green wine which we really liked along with Ginja, a cherry liqueur served in a shot cup made of chocolate and strolled the streets looking at colorful pottery and clay fish. We got the customs call while sitting in a botanical garden watching baby peacocks. We were going to have to pay VAT tax after all- dam!
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A local told us we had to take the train a little north to visit the fairy tale town Sintra, so we took a day to do this and were pleasantly surprised at how green and lush it was not to mention cool for a change! Sintra became a popular place for Portugal's elite nobility and it is known for its 19th century Romantic architecture. Another world heritage site, it is full of whimsical castles and actually really pretty scenery. We toured one mobbed castle (tourism is booming in Lisbon area) and endured a lunch on a bench with 3 strollers circling us before heading out onto the streets to get some space.
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I loved this painting from a wall in the castle we visited. Not sure who did it.

We enjoyed Lisbon but it is too bad there is so much graffiti. It seems like it is almost revered and we found the city to be a little rough around the edges, but still nice. I went to take a picture of one of the many beautiful fountains in a square only to find more graffiti marring it. You could see that there was a difference of opinion on tourism in general. Some of the graffiti read: Mass Tourism = Human Pollution. Understandable, although no one forced Lisbon to be a cruise ship port...

The train ride back was a real doozie. The AC in our car broke and every seat was full so there was no switching your assigned seat. The cars are meant to be air conditioned so there are basically no windows, just a few slits up high. You could see people starting to sort of panic and all the Portuguese ladies were using their hand fans flapping away at their chests. Jon was looking at me with that "I love public transport" look before he started panicking too. It was no longer funny. The conductor came in and opened up the slit windows before moving on to a cooler car and we were all left to bake for the 4 hour ride. The bathrooms on the whole train had no water at all so they were disgusting. It was a miserable ride back and we were not impressed! We are DONE with trains for now! And we aren't moving to Portugal either!

When we got back to the boat, the arrival of the sail was delayed for 2 more days because of the weekend and then Monday slowness so we busied ourselves with waxing the hull, re-sewing all the stitching on the ailing dodger and similar projects. Then on Tuesday, the day DHL came to deliver the package, he just dropped off a bill in the marina office rather than call us or have the marina call us and we had no idea what time it would arrive from the tracking info. So we couldn't get him to come back till 5pm- another day lost. We finally get the box, pay $500 in customs fees, get it back to the boat and open it up to find that there are grommets all up the sail where our sail track hardware is supposed to go, the battens don't fit in the pockets and the headboard is too small with only one hole for the two cars that need to attach to it! Which goes to show you, you cannot win! No amount of communication, Jon's detailed order write-up, bold red capitalized letters & pictures indicating important points for the sail details makes a hill of beans difference if you can't get someone's focus. Otherwise the sail looks nice and is much lighter. Hopefully we will get to use it! The sail broker has been really nice, admits it is their mistake and will "move heaven and earth to make it right" which is reassuring although it doesn't make it easy to have to find a local sailmaker in the month of August when everyone is on vacation anyway, in Portugal, with high season marina rates to fix your brand new sail. Uhh!
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We moved out of the marina and on up the Algarve coast to explore some of Portugal to clear our heads and we have visited a couple of spots so far. It is nice but not knocking our socks off. There is 9 feet of tide and all of the river inlets have swift moving currents and shallows which we haven't had to deal with in a long time. The beaches are wide and beautiful and there are some cute historic fishing towns that have been interesting to explore. This area of the coast is known for its storks. They build huge nests everywhere. On phone poles, churches, towers, wherever they can make it work. They used to migrate to Africa but now with global warming they don't bother. Today we biked a part of the Eco Via bike path which runs the whole length of the Argarve. We passed a lot of salt pans filled with birds, seaside towns, farm fields and pomegranate trees. Ever wonder what is in your sea salt? Well, plenty of bird doo for one! We had fun making up the wording for Gourmet Portuguese Algarve Sea Salt "Kissed by the sun with essential minerals provided by bird poop".
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Our plan is to continue along this coast for a few more stops until we get to the edge of the Algarve and then turn around. In there we will figure out the new sail repair. While we had thought we might replace the jib too since it is old, we might not have it in us to endure another order. Maybe a blow out at sea is easier! We'll pack along plenty of ginja liqueur and chocolate and go slow....

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Did Gib

11 August 2017 | Guadiana River, Portugal
Heather
We let our boat have a week's rest in La Linea, Spain while we checked out Gibraltar and did a little land travel. Marina Alcaidesa is up in the bay so while all the wind is happening most days in the Straits, it is calm and hot inside. It was a 10 minute walk to the border of Spain & Gibraltar and crossing is easy to say the least. You have to show your passport as you walk by the officials who may or may not look at it. Then you walk a little further to the airport runway, most likely wait for a plane to land or take off, then the gates open and you can continue on to the rock! It wasn't too unfamiliar to hear British accents as Spain is full of British people especially in the Baleares and along the east coast of Spain where all the sun is. But it did seem odd to see signs in English. We spent a couple days seeing the sights and trying to absorb a bit of all the history. And in the grocery stores there we skipped out with several jars of peanut butter & decent crackers since the Spanish aren't into these items but we are.
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We spent all of one day on the upper rock visiting several interesting places. These included an old Moorish castle that was built in the 1300's & a very large and beautiful cave called St Michael's. I think it is one of the largest caves we've ever been in and was apparently used for a hospital during WWII. It is now periodically used for concerts and of course daily tourists. They had parts of it lit up with colored lights.
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Our favorite parts were the Great Siege Tunnels, the Mediterranean Steps and of course the macaques (tailless monkeys) which helped us (or at least me) get over our bad memories of monkeys chasing and baring their teeth at us on trails in Malaysia! We met some really mean ones (there were a lot of sweet ones too though) that scared the crap out of us. But these were very nice and one even used my shoulder as a springboard to get from one wall to another and it felt light as a feather. Many were nursing babies and doing that nit picking that monkeys seem to love to do. I think Jon is still a little scarred though from past events. There is a potential fine of 4000 pounds for feeding a macaque but this doesn't apply to tour operators who feed them peanuts for pictures.
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I hadn't realized that the Rock of Gibraltar isn't solid rock as it is filled with some 70km of tunnels! A lot of them were built in 1779 by the British during the Great Siege to protect themselves from Spanish & French attacks. It seems unfathomable that a whole garrison of men could live in these tunnels for up to a year with all supplies. And later on, more were built during WWII. Dwight Eisenhower was even holed up down in the tunnels in 1942 while organizing forces to go into N. Africa. We certainly have never been in any tunnels as long as these, except in cars or trains and they were very interesting to stroll through and read all the exhibits.
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There were some trails that linked the sights but the best one was on the SE side of the rock where there was a steep, winding stone staircase that no one was on. It was the only place you could get away from the crowds and see something of what Gib would have looked like before all the stone and concrete were laid. It was a hazy day and we were quite happy to have a break from the sun & heat and we still got some good views of the Straits. It was a really fun day and another milestone in our travels. I have thought about visiting this place for YEARS! At night the rock was all lit up right off our bow in the slip.
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I had decided that I wanted to visit the mountaintop town of Ronda, about 45 miles north of Gib as it was spoken highly of in tourist info and looked to be a beautiful setting. We took a bus and then a train up into the mountains to see it and are really glad we did. Jon loved it there! Set on a steep cliffy canyon with a very dry landscape falling away on both sides and a great midevil village with lots of pretty spots, it was very picturesque and felt really old too. It dates to Moorish rule like everything around here. There were several old bridges that spanned the canyon but the most impressive is the Puente Nuevo bridge. Once again, our hotel was right in the center of everything and had an AC that worked really hard to keep us cool. During the day it was 115 degrees and any breeze would glue my contact lenses to my eyeballs. But even so we got out there for some hikes trying to beat the worst of the sun and later we would try to stay in the shade of the buildings ambling along the streets each with our own big bottle of water. For some reason, there was a sports store chain there called Intersport that stocked a lot of good shoes. And there were a LOT of stores- like CVS pharmacies in the US- one on every corner! Since our shoes have completely worn out from being new in January (the sun!) we were worried they wouldn't last much longer, so we both got a fresh pair. The town had such a thriving, picked up, cared for feel that was kind of missing in Gibraltar and rates as one of our favorite places in Spain although I have quite a few of them now! I read that Michelle Obama visited here in 2014 on a family trip so it can't be too shabby. The train worked out well.
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We scurried around the night we got back to get ready to leave the slip and head out of the Med and around the corner to head up the Atlantic coast of Spain & Portugal so we could see some of it. I was feeling a little sad about leaving the Med in the first place because it is so nice and the water is so clear, blue and warm and the weather so mild! And wouldn't you know that first day out we had to round and then anchor at Tarifa point, mainland Europe's southernmost city which is one of the windiest places in the area and gets minimum 30 kts for over 300 days a year. Yippee! Our anchorage was full of swell and wind that gives you that creeped out feel and you are trapped aboard because there is no way you could even get a dinghy ashore without capsizing on a breaker. That night neither of us could sleep a wink and we finally just got up and had a long coffee session waiting for it to get light enough to leave and head northward. We discussed that the wind generator gives us heartburn. While it made over 50 amps that night, it also served to make us more stressed out because it was roaring in the wind gusts and then braking so it wouldn't self destruct. It makes it all sound worse than it is. We like the solar panels a lot better. Jon says he has grown to hate wind. I think he might feel differently in the coming months when he is trying to get somewhere under sail! But as you would expect, as soon as we got away from Tarifa and its reputation for being a great place to kite board and get your hair blown to bits, it settled down and we actually had a nice, albeit long trip to Cadiz. We're starting to see more sea life now on the Atlantic side like different types of dolphin, sunfish, lots of fish jumping and more sea birds. The water is greenish and the air is cooler (much to Jon's approval) and the places we're visiting have been great.

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The seaside city of Cadiz is supposedly one of Europe's oldest. It is nice to approach by boat and has a long entrance around a peninsula that the city sits on. We checked into a marina there because there is no anchorage and it was a 20 minute walk to the old town on a promenade. Everything was so ship shape and pretty with old trees, fountains everywhere and lovely plazas. We both just loved this place. Most of the museums didn't even charge a fee and had interesting collections such as one being devoted to puppets and it was located inside the old gateway wall to the city. There were puppets from all over the world including Indonesia, Burma, Russia, China- who knew? And the city museum had this massive model of 18th century Cadiz made of mahogany, ivory and silver. The seaside promenade ran along the shore past forts, parks, beaches and nearing the end, the cathedral. It was a great couple days touring this city. And the cooler weather was welcome.
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Then yesterday, we cast off at 5am and made our way 66 miles further to the mouth of the Guadiana River which forms the boundary between Portugal and Spain. Along the way, we gave a warbler a ride and it reminded me of all the times in the distant past when birds took a rest on our deck underway. It's been awhile since we've had a visitor like that. The river is really interesting and it was fun to take a walk in Portugal this morning and then in Spain this afternoon!
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Our sail is on it's way and so we took the opportunity while it is being shipped to head up the river 20 miles to see some popular old river towns before going back down for the hopeful meet & greet with DHL. We've left the cool of the Atlantic for the next couple days as we are inland now and it was 101 degrees today. Jon is panting, my eyes are dry again and the air smells like dry rocks. But the towns are set right across from one another, each with its own fort looking down on us. It is both lively but peaceful here not to mention unique.
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Vessel Name: EVERGREEN
Vessel Make/Model: Tashiba 40 Hull #158
Hailing Port: E. Thetford Vermont
Crew: Heather and Jon Turgeon
Extra:
Over the years, we've explored much of the Caribbean Sea & Atlantic East coast on 3 different long term trips. In January 2012, we left the USA and headed for the Pacific. We visited the Galapagos, French Polynesia, Samoa, Cook Islands & Tonga before heading to New Zealand. We've enjoyed thousands [...]
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