Slow Sailing

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
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

Sea To Summit

18 July 2017 | Granada, Spain
Hi! This is us on the summit of Mt Mulhacen in the Sierra Nevada's, mainland Spain's highest mountain- the overall highest being in the Canary Islands. We climbed it a couple days ago from one of the highest mountain villages in Spain- Trevelez, in a region called the Alpujarras. These whitewashed villages were settled by the Berbers in the 10th century. They have narrow streets and white walls all in an effort to keep cool. We couldn't believe how good we felt in the cooler mountain temps despite the still strong sun. There was even snow up there! Although my heart was pounding near the top as we are used to living at sea level! We are doing a roadtrip of southern Spain right now. We first visited the mountains to get a breather from the heat and then we went to Granada where we are now to see the Alhambra. We'll do Seville and Cordoba and then head back to the boat.
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Trevelez is the place where the famous Serrano Jamon is made and the entire village smells like ham. In every window there are hams hanging and I think the locals live on ham too. When we went to dinner to get pizza, you could get anything on it as long as it was ham. We stayed in this cute little hiker's hostel right in the village among all the potted flower plants and curvy cemented streets. It seems like everything in Spain is made of cement. If you are a carpenter, you have a jackhammer for breaking up old cement and a mixer for the new stuff you're putting down. In the old construction though, which you can see in these villages, the roofs and ceilings were made with a layer of wood, followed by a layer of slate and then maybe cement on top of that. It is very interesting to walk the little streets and take in something so different to what we've seen. You can see the Moorish influence here. After a couple days in Trevelez, we moved to another white village named Capileira. It had a more touristy feel but we did another great hike into alpine scenery. We met a shepherd up there tending his flock of 400 sheep who said in Spanish that if the world shared one language we could all understand each other a lot better. It sure would be easier for us!
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We've been having a really hard time getting any sleep on this trip because essentially, the Spaniards stay under cover by day and then are out all night whooping it up when the temps are cooler. Our rooms have been front & center in the old towns and thus, full of activity all night long. Last night we got desperate and Jon installed a white noise app on our phone so we listened to a rainstorm all night long and actually got some rest. What a great idea! Tonight we might run the simulated fan!
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I feel like I have gotten really behind on this blog. I think I left off when we were still in Mallorca. We had a couple of nice sails getting back to the mainland but overall, the Med in the summer is about light winds and if you wait for the perfect wind you will be waiting your life away. We pulled in to a pretty harbor called Porto Colom for one of the last nights on Mallorca and took a walk ashore. They were having a little fair where we saw this home made merry-go-round. What an entrepreneur this guy was! He would load the kids onto the "creatures" and then peddle to make the thing turn. I like the idea of getting exercise while you are making money. We decided it wasn't quite a million dollar idea but it is an interesting way to make a buck. We have been perusing the marine stores looking for replacement cockpit chairs since one of ours had rusted out and broken. We felt really lucky to find one even though it seemed a little small and we snatched it up. These things are not cheap! Then when we got it back to the boat and Jon sat on it, it basically disappeared under him. Is this some kind of kiddie chair?! Well, we always say beggars can't be choosers so now we have a mama bear chair and a papa bear chair. But we also say that if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy so I guess I get the big chair! We'll see how well we do on the upcoming passages we have to make.
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Arriving on the mainland was a little hard because we had to say goodbye to the crystal clear water of the Baleares. A lot of that lovely produce that we enjoy is grown in this sunny, southern part of Spain in greenhouses that mar the countryside and send silt into the sea when it rains clouding the water. We made our way to the Mar Menor which is a unique "inland sea" formed by a narrow strip of what once was sand encircling a large lagoon. It would have been a little like Cape Cod. Development went unchecked and it is now filled with a necklace of cement skyscrapers that are in various degrees of occupancy now since the economic downturn of 2010. But we appreciated a perfectly calm anchorage for a change in an area set aside for a marina that never opened. We didn't like the lack of beauty of it, but it became a great base for us to kill a few days while we were waiting for our slip reservation in Cartagena to begin and we found some nice spots. We biked two days in a row which always feels good since we can make our own breeze to stay cool, bike faster than our boat can sail, and we can cover a lot of ground. We also found a great park that ran through the salt pans with historic windmills, loads of flamingos and a marina complex on the end of it so we could take a rest halfway. The barrier island of the lagoon made a great, long, beach that was filled with kids building sand castles, using whatever props they had to make their creation come to life. This scene made us think of our own million dollar idea- Mediterranean Beach Barbie. She comes ready for the beach in her birthday suit! We think this could be life changing and will work out all the details for getting it to production on our next long, boring passage!
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Pulling in to Cartagena was nice in that we knew we were going to tie up for some land travel and we'd been excited to see the city. The marina is nicely situated and only 5 minutes from the old town. The laundry is less than 1 minute from our berth which is nice too. We were given a great tour of the Town Hall, we climbed up to the fort and strolled the old streets. Cartagena is a popular wintering spot for sailors but we wouldn't trade Valencia for anything. Valencia is thriving and offers so much and Cartagena feels small and like it is struggling a little. None of the fountains were running in the city.
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We got a new liferaft. Our old one was 15 years old and since it is a Winslow, there are hardly any places to service it. So we broke down and ordered up a Plastimo from France and it looks pretty good. Instead of 6 persons, it is for 4 so it is smaller and easier to move around. We took the old one off the boat and put it in the parking lot and pulled the string. The heavy valise that has lived with us on the boat for 15 years inflated in a few seconds to quite a little home and there weren't any signs of leaks or malfunction Well that did a number on me! We took out some of the supplies and cut out some of the webbing to use on other things and then pierced the tubes to put the rest in the dumpster. The marina said there was nothing else to do with it. The whole thing messed with my head all the rest of the day. I took a picture to show you how it looked but I don't have it with me. I couldn't get over how fast it inflated and how big it was. If you saw that as your boat was sinking if would be a good feeling I am sure! I hope to never see another one.

The next thing to take care of was the handheld watermaker that we carry in the ditch bag. We've kept it preserved but wanted to see if it actually made good water to use in the event we move into the liferaft. Well it didn't! It tasted like salt and plastic. Since the membrane is old, we figured we'd need to buy a new one but thought it was worth going through the steps to do the chemical clean that you can do with regular watermakers which is what we did. And it worked! So that is done and we know that we can pump to our heart's content in the raft to make water and we'll keep up with our exercise because it isn't that easy to do.

The last thing is replacing our mainsail and we finally gave up on the loft in Denmark because they couldn't be bothered and now we have one on order from Far East sails. It will be the first tri-radial sail we've owned (because we got a good price) and we hope it turns out, that we receive it and that it helps our upwind performance. All to be determined. We plan to cross the Atlantic this winter and all of this prep is to be ready to leave the Med for the Canaries in late Sept/Oct.
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Well that is about it. We really enjoyed seeing the Alhambra palace today and I would write about it but my eyeballs are dried up from the dry breeze here and we are exhausted. Heading to Seville tomorrow.
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To Have or Have Not

29 June 2017 | Pollenca, Mallorca
I always find it funny when you make an unplanned decision to do something and then it leads to much more than just that change of plans. In this case, our change of plans to stop for the winter in Spain. Who would've thought we'd still be here 9 months later! The truth is, Spain is an unexpected gem. It suits us in so many ways. We really like it here and it has such a good vibe. People are so kind and laid back, even to pedestrians and bikes- what a concept! And we haven't even seen half of it. That is the trouble with moving at a snail's pace on the boat. We sometimes long for the fast lane. But we can say we have cruised the Baleares well and it is almost time to move on. There is so much more to see. Every time I look at the Italy, Greece and France guides sitting on the shelf I obsess a little about not having done enough in those places.
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We've checked out numerous more anchorages and pretty spots on Menorca over the past couple of weeks. More sandy beaches where to have not is better than to have when it comes to beachware. We are opting to have, since we are noticing more freckles by the day... And to think that in Australia the staff went around at public events squirting sunscreen into the palms of anyone who wanted some. "Slip, slop, slap" I think was the campaign. We did more hiking of course, some more swims where we saw a photogenic octopus, not to mention a photogenic us! The water had silt in the shallows that day but it was still clear enough. It was fun to see the historic city of Mahon, but it didn't supply us with the air conditioned museums we were hoping for. The best eclairs we've ever tasted though! And an unforgettable anchorage.

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It seems like the past week or so the temps have moved up the ladder some and the sun is baking us & the boat. They say its a dry heat but we take sweat showers regularly on hikes and now carry sports drink to stay upright. Jon says he's getting twinges of Asia. But it is true the islands would be more humid. I sometimes carefully study the satellite image of a trail area to see if I can spot areas with a good density of trees and then we zero in on that area of the coast for anchoring. Sick! The Med is of course, very dry. But it isn't unusual to have a heavy dew overnight. We use our watermaker for all the water we need and I clean the deck with a heavy cloth using the dew. Because we haven't had to crash & bash since I don't know when, the deck stays pretty salt free so its easy to keep up with it. Helps with the varnish & the stainless. Our old girl is 31 this year! But she doesn't look it. Anyway, you never see anyone wasting water here. Never see anyone rinsing their boat or any "free" spigots to take water from. It is a precious commodity for sure.
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We found a wide dock and brought our mainsail in to measure it for the new sail we are trying to order. It tore as we were getting it back on and generally looks like a rag so no doubt it needs replacing but as usual, it seems hard to get anyone to take our money. There seems to be such fits & starts in communication and when it comes time to actually finalize the order and take payment for the work, everything seems to break down. We had the same experience in other countries. We don't get it.

On the side, we continue to put time into our website Venture Farther that shares info on cruising destinations, satellite images, position reporting and marker based e-books. Jon has a lifetime of great ideas and programming tasks to keep him busy over his coffee and I am studiously entering markers for the places we're visiting. And it is growing! Members are adding markers (one guy is going at it entering info for the Netherlands like crazy) and I'm getting some competition with staying on top for total markers entered, which is a good thing. We continue to regularly download satellite files ourselves because even though you wouldn't expect it, many anchorages are poorly charted here with very few soundings. It was funny we even had one anchorage that had this huge, tall, rock- like a small island that wasn't on the chart at all.

And now we are back on Mallorca getting close to working our way back to the mainland. We would like to pull into the city of Cartagena, shoehorn our way into our favorite style of berthing- the Med-Moor, and then after a quick boat washdown (under cover of darkness even though it is metered), rent a car to travel inland some. There are some famous places to see like Seville, the Alhambra palace, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Cordoba. We're ready for some life in the fast lane! We'll see how much we can pack in.

Things have gotten busier here, especially at weekends and I thought this picture was so funny. Everyone was having such a nice time though, including us, enjoying the full on feel of summer boating in the Med!
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Slow Sailing

19 June 2017 | Mahon, Menorca
Hmm, I have once again stumbled upon writer's block. I think it's because we have been doing the north coast of Menorca in the Balearics and it is really about quiet-ish anchorages, hiking & snorkeling. I think it is what Jon had in mind when he set up this blog years ago and named it "Slow sailing". Although we don't like to sail slow, the image of it and doing simple things is nice. Nothing major to report. And sun, sun, sun, and more sun! We dream of shade. We chug bottle after bottle of water and sports drinks and try to find any speck of shade we see.
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Menorca has been interesting. There is so much history here because everyone wanted it for its central location in the Med. It continues like Mallorca with the defensive towers on every hilltop & harbor entrance along with the occasional modern look-alike at someone's house. Because it is smaller than Mallorca, it has more of a typical, sleepy island feel overall. Every once in a while you'll see a farmer out tending his herd of sheep or cows. I don't know what they eat because all the fields are very dry right now. Menorca's own crafts are cheese, cattle, leather shoes and gin. I'm passing on the leather shoes but we've dug in to some decent cheese and planning to try the gin today! Having the desirable climate for northern Europeans like Florida is to the US, there are numerous holiday developments along the shore that mar the beauty of the place. But the interior of the island is undisturbed and there are many coves where there is nothing built and the water is beautiful to look at and be in. Now that it is busier, we have only had one anchorage completely to ourselves. Of the boats we see they are mainly French, German, British & Spanish.
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The government has formed a network of trails that make a loop around the whole island and there are over 20 sections. We have done several of these from various anchorages we've been to both by bike and on foot. We enjoy the farm fields and patting any animals that come over to see us. Hiking seems popular and we've chatted with some people on the trails. There was a sweat soaked Spanish guy from the mountains of Granada where he says it is very hot but dry and this Menorcan humidity was killing him. We are noticing it a little bit too!
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While in Menorca we've visited ancient ruins from as long ago as 2000BC, a literal village of tomb caves carved in the rocks from a similar time period, lighthouses, old churches & a few cute towns, stone wall terraces protecting olive groves, salt pans and a salt water lagoon that is seasonally filled with migrating birds. It has also been interesting to see the gulls complete their breeding cycle. It started when we first got to the Balearics with us seeing gulls sort of standing around looking for something, poking through rocks and sometimes picking up pretty good sized ones in their beaks. They were actually moving them around to reinforce the little areas on the ledges where they would nest. Then they stood around like sentinels when the eggs were incubating- don't know because we never saw any eggs but then we started seeing little gray puff balls wobbling around with the parents close by scolding us. And now, as we're snorkeling or passing by the rocks along shore, we see the juveniles sitting in the water or standing around looking confused, apparently still trying to figure things out.
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We've also spent some time in the water. We stumbled upon a really good cove one day where we saw an octopus, a great nudibranch, flatworm really nice anemones and some fish. That was a stellar day and we had such a nice time. I was really missing our long snorkeling forays and by the time we got out our hands were wrinkled like old times.
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We sailed around to the SE side of Menorca today to visit Mahon, the largest city. The anchorage is very protected and surrounded by forts. We rowed over to the massive Fortaleza La Mola and spent the afternoon walking through it. It has the most underground tunnels we've ever seen and we've been in a lot of forts! In the 1930's during the Spanish Civil war, 2 huge 15 inch Vickers cannons were bought from Britain and placed on the point of La Mola, at the harbor entrance. And one of the things we love about Spain is you can really access this stuff to get a good look. So we were in the little "room" where they would load this thing up with 100lbs of charge and 2 or 3 guys would sit right next to and fire it off. They never had to fire it for real combat though, just practice.
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Anyway, we plan to explore the city for the next couple of days and try to be civilized, then do some re-provisioning, then continue on around the south of the island to visit a few more snorkeling spots before heading back to Mallorca. Like they say in Greece, it is important to get your number of "swims" up in case someone asks you how many you've had for the season!
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Vessel Name: EVERGREEN
Vessel Make/Model: Tashiba 40 Hull #158
Hailing Port: E. Thetford Vermont
Crew: Heather and Jon Turgeon
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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