Slow Sailing

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
18 September 2016 | Toulon, France
01 September 2016 | Corsica, France
24 August 2016 | Porto Turistico Di Roma
09 August 2016 | Underway to Rome
29 July 2016 | Thomas Bay, Malta
16 July 2016 | Siracusa, Sicily
08 July 2016 | Anti Paxos, Ionian
30 June 2016 | Paxi, Ionian Islands
16 June 2016 | Syros, Cyclades
05 June 2016 | Poros Island, Greece
05 April 2016 | Aegina Island, Greece
31 March 2016 | Aegina Island, Greece
11 March 2016 | Lavrio, Greece

On The Fly

21 March 2017 | Brittany, France
Heather
All is well, even if you haven't heard anything from us. We've been traveling around Europe by plane trying to see a few spots before the sailing season starts but the more we see the more we want to do so I don't think we've gotten anywhere really! We left our boat hopefully safe in Valencia after finding out that insurance would cover the things that were stolen, less the $2500 deductible. Ouch! Spring was in full swing in Valencia, it had warmed up to short sleeved shirts in the daytime and there was a lot of bustle getting the city spiffed up for summer so we decided to say goodbye to the sun and head to England to spend some time in our foul weather gear!

Flying around Europe is simple and cheap, especially if you pick your days. Because we have a Spain marina address rather than having to use our USA address, things are automatically substantially less. Like the car rental was 2/3 less! Odd how that works. So far we've visited the UK, Netherlands, Prague in the Czech Republic and we are now in Normandy. What a trip it has been.
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We spent a couple of weeks in England, the land of tea & cake, tidy hedges and wooden toilet seats. We had a rented car and really covered some ground and met up with friends along the way who added a lot of insight to what we saw. The first stop was York, where we walked the old city walls and went to a great train museum. They had a cutaway of a steam engine and a guide to explain it all which was very interesting. England really values its train network and during WWI it carried soldiers to & from the front lines, the latter in hospital trains.
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We felt there was only time to visit Edinburgh for Scotland but we know we want to return to get into the highlands for some hiking- but in summer! We had fun walking the canals and touring the city there. Two days wasn't enough to begin to understand the Scottish accent!
We walked Hadrian's wall and marveled at the history & the pretty, rolling hillsides dotted with sheep. I find that driving around England is a little like being in a fairy tale landscape. And all the houses & farms have been around nearly twice as long as the US has. Jon thinks that in England you just take care of a house rather than own it, before passing it on to the next caretaker. I love the picturesque old farmhouses and we stayed in a couple of them too. We also loved the real food available in the grocery stores. We move around a lot and don't want to eat out all the time so we have gotten to know a thing or two about Europe's grocery stores!
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Then we headed to the Lakes District to do some hiking and meet up with David and Tamsin from the boat Twice Eleven, who we crossed the Pacific with. It was great to get together and catch up, to meet their cat named Crunch (he liked to sleep the day away in the closet that housed the water heater) and do some hiking together. But on the day we hiked the Green Gable, it poured and we couldn't see a thing so David sent a pic at the summit where we stood the previous day so we could see the views we missed. But because of the rain, we never got any decent pictures of our get together which bothers me because I don't know when we're going to see them again! We were already off on another hike in a different area of the Lakes District park, which was great too. It alternated between gentrified, rolling, carriage paths and windy grass ridges. A British lady told me that there is no such thing as bad weather in England, you just have to have the right gear. And we did, once we replaced our rainpants, so we were pretty much impervious to it.We found that the British people walk all the time and they have greenways all over.
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Then we headed to Conwy, Wales to visit Richard & Ali. I shared a great birthday in Spain hiking with them the week before and now we were going to do some more on their home turf. We walked right off the boat, through the lovely castle dominated town and onto the hillsides that make up Snowdonia National Park. Beautiful weather and great company. Then we came back to the boat for a great British meal that Ali whipped up and local beers. Richard told me that he has sailed around the world and his favorite place is Conwy, right where they started. It's a great spot, I agree.
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Once we were on our way again we stopped to explore the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct at Richard's suggestion. Completed in 1805, it is the longest and highest aqueduct in Britain and there is a pedestrian path beside it on one side and nothing but the metal edge on the other! Narrow canal boats can transit it at any time. We also looked at the elaborate lock systems for navigating the canals. A lot of them are self operated and stacked all in a row one after another. And then to top it off, we stayed aboard a large version of one on the Thames River that night because it was convenient to Oxford. While we were pretty interested in doing the canals someday, we have cooled somewhat as it seems even slower than ocean passagemaking. At 3kts, that would be half speed and I think we would go bananas. Plus, there is the freedom of being at sea on a go-anywhere boat; that freedom doesn't come in any other form. So we accomplished something on this day- probably not going to do the canals!
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We got up early the next morning to catch a tour of the Mini Plant Oxford because I've been dying to tour a car factory and this was the perfect place & timing. We weren't allowed to take any pics but the tour was amazing. There were more than 1000 robots, 40 people to operate them in one of the major parts of the facility and we got to see nearly every step of the car making process except the paint area. Watching the robots at work making each car with a "just in time manufacturing" concept was amazing. Literally each car in the line has a different combination of options so the robots know which parts they need for each car, and everything is organized and ready to go. The robots simply pull the parts from one moving line, turn and then install them in the cars as they move along in another line. It is surreal, watching them move. We both had a great time and learned so much.
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We explored downtown Oxford, went to beautiful museums, visited the old college grounds. Then we checked in with friends Julie & Geoffrey who we met last Fall at our marina. They have the cutest cottage with a thick, thatched roof in the Cotswolds and a lovely garden filled with flowers. We spent a day touring Bath, where Julie grew up and it was one of those days where you pack in so many things it felt like 2 days. We started out with a fancy homemade breakfast, drove to Bath, walked the town, had a classy lunch at the Pump Room, coffee overlooking the river, went to a local art museum, went to a neighboring town famous for antiques with an exchange market that went on forever, stopped at an old pub, and then topped off the night with a great dinner sitting in the welcome warmth of the fireplace. It was a great day.

Driving around in England was funny in that we felt like we were always on narrowish roads whipping by hedges on both sides. We visited Avebury, a quieter place not far from Stonehenge. This site is one of the largest of Britain's surviving Neolithic henge monuments. It's hard to contemplate how an ancient civilization could make such a thing. We scored an unexpected parking ticket at the trailhead but I contested it and won. Never had that kind of success in Boston! We made our way to Salisbury cathedral since it's one of the largest in England and got there in time for Evensong. Even though we aren't religious, we can appreciate this massive cathedral for all the architecture and work that went into it and witnessing the church alive with choir song and candlelight was really nice. In this cathedral, you sit right in with the choir in that special section of the cathedral that I don't know the name of so you have a close up view of which choir boys are singing the strongest, who is yawning, who forgot to bring their music and who doesn't know the words.
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Then we moved to London and did the usual tourist things. The art gallery was excellent and the landscapes a welcome change from all the Renaissance art we've seen this past year. I used to think Game of Thrones was violent.... I really enjoyed this museum. We joined in for another Evensong at St Paul's Cathedral since the timing was right. I saw a picture of this cathedral today, while in the D-Day museum. It was peeking out of a swarm of smoke from WWII bombings by the Nazis. I don't know how it survived. We did a lot of walking and enjoyed all the pretty buildings and things that London is famous for. After just over two weeks and over 300 roundabouts, we drove to the airport and headed off to Amsterdam.
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We had a week in the Netherlands that wasn't nearly enough. In Amsterdam we stayed on a river hostel boat right in the middle of downtown since it is parked there for the winter and for some reason I loved that place. It was called the Vita Nova, we got a great room and the morning breakfast spread included making whatever you wanted in the griddle so of course it was bacon, eggs & crepes and the works every morning we were there. And Jon was in heaven. Amsterdam had a great vibe and reminded me of Venice but it is more vast. And it is ship shape clean. The red light district was interesting and we never did get used to walking past all the ladies in the windows. The Rijksmuseum could be the best museum I've ever been to and the vastness of their collection was admirable. We've never seen so many bikes, ever! We joined the crowd and rented them on 3 of the days. The first time we biked out to the windmills. There are paths going every which way, all intersections well marked with ferries crossing the canals to connect them. There are as many canals as there are bike paths and we found the whole scene so unique in the places we've been to. Everything was green and spotless and so organized. Dutch houses have huge windows and it seemed every one was filled with vases of blooming bulbs. We missed the tulip fields by about 3 weeks but we still saw a lot blooming bulbs in people's yards and in the markets. We'd really like to come back and bike the country. Given what we spent on trains in the week we were there, it is probably the best way to do it!
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We took the train north to the town of Dronten to stay with friends Gerrit & Anne-Mieke from Fruit de Mer and had a great visit. We learned a ton about the polders & dikes and the history of Holland through their eyes as well as museums in their area. Gerrit's father participated in the extensive government project of cultivation of land following the reclamation and diking of Zuiderzee Bay in the north of Holland. The creation of these polders is what makes up a big chunk of the Netherlands and a lot of the farming is done here. In return, he was provided with the farm that Gerrit grew up on. It was this farm that Gerrit sold many years later and the money was used to buy their boat to sail around the world, Fruit De Mer. Nice story. We rented bikes and toured a beautiful old residential & farm area together with numerous picturesque canals that you can skate on in the winter if it gets cold enough to freeze. I would like to do that someday. We ate as much Dutch food as we could including herring & eel along with Anne-Mieke's great homemade cooking and got a good feel for what it would be like to live in a land that is lower than sea level. We had such a nice time with these guys and picked their brains with all of our Dutch questions but I still have some more! I did see a lot of wooden clogs, they are the steel toed boot of the country- we saw construction guys wearing them. It used to be that you could tell which part of the country a person was from just by looking at their clogs because each region was different.
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Amsterdam, and then there is pizza with great company
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Then we headed south of Amsterdam to Utrecht to see that city. It is smaller than Amsterdam with no famous red light district but it had a great downtown with canals set below the streets which makes it unique. We spent our last evening back on the Vita Nova and got together with Jan Bart & Monique from Victory. Even though they have traded two boats since we last saw them, they will always be Victory to me. We hadn't seen them since Vanuatu, or at least that is what we all came up with. We popped some champagne on the top deck and then went out for pizza. It was a great evening and a good topper for our time in Amsterdam. We both really enjoyed our time in the Netherlands and can't wait to go back.
It was an easy hop to Prague and yet it felt like a completely different world. It seemed like you could still feel the effects of communism on the people. The are a bit stern and reserved. It reminded me of Greece in that everybody smokes and there is a lot of graffiti but littering is frowned upon. We had a brand new apt close to downtown (these are plentiful here) which was lovely but there was only one odd thing about it. The windows (all two of them) were completely covered by this massive billboard that was lit up with floodlights at night. So we were darkness deprived at night and never knew what was going on outside but other than that, it was a great place to stay!
We toured the Jewish area for a day which was moving but painful. Not that we wanted to re-live the events of Nazi Germany, but we are right in the heart of it here. To have that nightmare end and then launch right into communism is overwhelming to consider. And you know that most of the adults you see have witnessed communism themselves and might very well have had a relative who was exterminated. No wonder there seems to be a seriousness to life here.
We also toured Prague Castle which was much less well done in our opinion as there was very little to explain it. We got goulash, tried multiple brands of their famous beer and spent as much time in the old town as we could. We also did the zoo on a perfect sunny day which is set on a hillside with fantastic views. Then our time was once again up and we made our way back to the airport to leave for Paris. But we got delayed 7 hours because of the shooting at the airport where we were to land. I've never seen so many military men in an airport. I feel bad for Paris. We finally got there, but lost much of the day. Bummer!
We have a car rented and are traveling some of the Normandy & Brittany coast and doing the Normandy beaches and D-Day history. It is once again very moving because the story is so intense and evokes such emotion and the scenery surrounding it all is just beautiful. I wish I had a sense of pride about my home country at this point in time but neither of us do. I saw a small framed picture of our frowning president today looking very un-presidential on the wall of the Battlefield Memorial. It shouldn't be in a place where Americans gave so much.
We've had a wonderful time exploring these places and learning all we can. And we've been met with so much generosity from both friends and new people we've met. They've made this trip in many ways. This is a great place to be.
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Clicking on any pic except the top one should take you to the album for that country. I haven't done Prague or Normandy yet.

Whatever The Weather

22 February 2017 | England
Heather
Blog post coming soon! We are touring around England and Scotland right now which has been great because our skin is so well protected under the clouds! Beautiful though. Will buckle down and share it with you in words when we get some more spare time.

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Perspective

03 February 2017 | Valencia, Spain
Heather
We've been back in Spain for a week and a half now and are finally settling in to life aboard again. Its been so sunny and nice. And the food and wine is awesome!!!! Everything was going really well with the return trip until we arrived in Lisbon, along with another plane, and the immigration staff were so shorthanded that they couldn't get everyone stamped in a timely manner so we missed our connecting flight to Valencia. The next plane didn't leave for 14 hours so we enjoyed all that time sitting around in various chairs in the airport because there was no safe place to leave our carry-ons to go into the city for the day. We were well fed during that time though because the airline gave us 54 Euros worth of food coupons to use! If they'd have known how little we paid for our tickets, they might've been a little stingier. But we did finally get in and rented a car so we could easily get all of our luggage down to the boat. After 36 hours of wakefulness, we slept like the dead for the rest of the night and into the next day.

When we were preparing Evergreen to leave it for 3 months, we had the usual concerns for secure lines, removing sails, putting out rat poison, guarding against moisture and mold, etc and then locking everything up tight like lockers and the interior. But upon starting to wash the boat off the following day, Jon noticed that the head to our radar unit was gone & wires cut (even though they easily unscrew from the back of the unit) and the wires that run through the arch to the scanner up above had been pulled up through the tubing but not cut. Then one of the cockpit lockers had been broken into, and it was clear that the kind person who was stealing our radar was looking to follow the wire run so he could get the dome with the head. In busting off the lock, he'd broken the latch and chipped the fiberglass but was otherwise neat & tidy. We felt so uneasy knowing someone had been aboard our boat & in our cockpit. It ruined our mood. The next day, I was out there washing down the boom & mast (a lot of fallout here from the very busy port) and I noticed some open spots on the mast where we'd once had mast steps. Upon looking upward, wow, all the mast steps going up to the spreaders had been carefully removed! Who in the world steals mast steps? And why are they ballsy enough to climb onto our boat to do it but too wimpy to climb above the spreaders to get the second half? For 10 steps that is 40 screws they had to undo and then carefully pocket and move down the mast to the next one. It would have taken well over an hour, probably more. Why not just work to earn the money to buy them like we did. Instead of Evergreen, our boat should be named "Insteada House & Kids!" You give up one to have the other. So, that narrows it down to a cruiser wanna be who is fitting out their boat using other people's stuff. That's lame. And yes, this marina has security. But in general, security keeps honest people out.

To make a long story short, our marina, Club Nautico Valencia, is very sympathetic and said that over Christmas, there was a rash of 3 thefts or more, mostly of electronics and even a sail and that the suspect who was on a dreg boat from a neighboring country, had been confronted by the coast guard already and has since split. Undoubtedly with a bunch of new stuff- if he was indeed the robber. We can only hope he was because it is quite a bad situation when you don't know if the robber is done swiping things off your boat or just getting going. And while we do know enough Spanish to get our needs met, it is something else to try to file a police report and incident reports and get estimates for an insurance claim (our first ever in 22 years of sailing) in Spanish. We spent the first few days back here in a dark frame of mind trying to figure out what to do- should we stay or go- and dealing with this, that we had no interest in dealing with. We were also just plain creeped out. But we've talked to others here and to the marina and we made a decision to stay put in hopes that it was an isolated event because we have no other place we really want to go at this point anyway. We'll suck it up and move on and the marina will look at their CCTV tapes for the period we were gone but what does it matter anyway? Upon looking back at photos a friend of ours sent of our boat sitting pretty on Dec 9th, the mast steps were still on then!
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We'd rented a car for a week to do some touring around in Spain but we only managed (dared) to leave for one night to go to Barcelona. I'd been wanting to visit that city for the last dozen years and finally we got there. We did a couple of history museums, toured the old Gothic part of the city and walked all over, got our favorite 3 course menu del dia and scoped out whether we wanted to take the boat there. We enjoyed the city but decided we still like Valencia better because it is smaller but still has a great old town and more centralized parks not to mention 3 great bike paths. We're glad we went though because it was a great city and getting away helped improve our mood & our attitude. On the way back down the coast we took the toll free roads and passed through a major wine growing area before getting back to Valencia where there are huge citrus orchards. We returned the car the next day and then biked back from the airport. It was a nice ride.

We continue to work on getting the last of the estimates and on catching up with boat projects but we're taking a few hours each day to get some exercise and just be outside. We're back to feeding the hungry cats and they seem appreciative. Its good for the mind. Jon has been installing some of the small items we brought back like a new bilge pump and I think he might have fixed our oven which was acting up. Fingers crossed.
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The time we spent back in the US was great fun. Since the last time I updated the blog, we were in Vero Beach, FL for Christmas with Jon's parents, then right afterward his brother Brad and family came to visit which made it a party and it had been so long since we'd been all together. Too bad we never bothered to get any pictures of it! I did get a picture of the pretty counted cross stitch Jon's mom made for each daughter in law that has all of our names on it. Mine is even in my favorite color green!
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Then Jon & I headed to west coast Florida to spend New Years with old Boston marina friends Tom & Barbara who we hadn't seen in years. We ate like kings, did some metal detecting (Tom has 4 of these!), took a bike ride and jabbered a lot to catch up. Way back when on the docks at Shipyard Quarters, Barbara gave us a jar of homemade hot fudge for Christmas and the label had a picture of their boat, aptly named "Perspective", and it was on its side because it had floated over a shoal at anchor and the tide had gone out. It made it through fine and floated up as the water rose again. I still have the label somewhere. And now I also have the recipe for the hot fudge...
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Then it was off to Punta Gorda to see old cruising friends Bob & Maggie and John & Cindy. We talked & laughed the days away as usual and managed to get up again the next morning without big hangovers which is progress! We designed a few versions of "dirty pizza", since dirty rice & dirty martinis are in but it is kind of X-rated. We also went to a place called Babcock Ranch, an old Florida ranch that is now part of the state park system in Punta Gorda. You pay $25 and get an awesome tour on a converted school bus turned safari vehicle all through the park seeing cracker cattle, alligators, a tiny fawn, deer, armadillos, turkeys, loads of birds and a Florida panther. The lady doing the tour holds the license for the panther and is its caregiver. It was purring when we visited it. Beautiful cat.
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On the way back from Indiantown we stopped to see Frank & Deb from our very first cruise to the Bahamas in 1997. Frank basically taught Jon how to spearfish and we got ciguatera food poisoning for the first time with Frank too! But this visit we stuck to beer & wings topped off with a piece of chocolate cake.
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It was nice to have an extended amount of time to hang out with Jon's parents. We took long walks with our favorite dog, made some good grub together and did some shopping. Jon & I got into a routine taking bike rides and working out at the gym. Sometimes we'd nip off for the evening to catch up with other couples we know from the area. Its funny how many people are retiring to Florida!
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Then it was time to head back up to Vermont. We broke up the drive to get some exercise each day to save my back. We walked the beach in St Augustine, did a bike ride on an old tow path in North Carolina and stopped in Gettysburg to see the battlefield and Eisenhower's old farm. The park ranger who led the tour of Eisenhower's house said that he was a very typical American of the time. He & his wife Mamie often had TV dinners on a TV table in the TV room of their house. Nice! Then we drove through a snowstorm on the last day to get across New York & Vermont. Just to make sure we still knew how to drive in snow...

The weather didn't cooperate to give us any decent snow to play in with my parents, but we still found plenty to do and it was good to be together again. Ann came up, we celebrated my mom's birthday along with an early one for me (yippee!) and we made paella way better than any we've had here in Valencia.
When we first arrived in the US, it felt like we had all this time ahead of us, 3 months in fact, but in the end, the time flew. We couldn't fit in all we wanted to do or all of the people we had wanted to see. But we had a lot of fun. It felt so sad putting our car away and losing the freedom of having our own wheels. And then it was time to say goodbye to my parents and head back to Europe.

When I think about it, the only negative part about our trip back was the state of our country at the moment. The nauseating campaign, the mindbending election, the bad politics, the media coverage and the general vibe that's going. It feels like the USA is a simmering pot of anger about to boil over. And for whatever reason or no reason, it seems unwarranted. What an embarrassment. We're not flying our flag here!

The singlemost important thing world cruising has taught us is perspective. Seeing how the rest of the world lives gives you perspective. We sometimes get caught up in the nitty gritty of our individual lives and stumbling blocks but we know these are nothing compared to what others have to endure. Or that some other countries are doing things better than we are. If we hadn't gotten out to see how the rest of the world lives we wouldn't truly know this. I wish America would get some perspective and toss in some respect too. I saw this on a sign: "Be humbly grateful, not grumbly hateful!" America was already great, but other countries are great too. One of Eisenhower's quotes was: A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.

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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. 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 of miles of beautiful sailing, [...]
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