Well, there goes another year!
Whoosh. Seems like blink and you miss it.
Quite appropriately, in keeping with the "cruising life", we rounded off 2013 by meeting up today with Mary and Henk, a Dutch couple we met while transitting the Caledonian Canal in July. Mary and Henk have travelled from Holland for many years to bring in New Year 2 miles from where we live.
It's a small world.... and we will bash on again in the New Year to see how fast we can get around it; or at least the western Med (Majorca, Menorca, Corsica, Sardinia and Morocco) followed by the ARC to the Caribbean in November.
To all our readers, ashore and afloat, have a great New Year.
Stuart & Anne
p.s. I was browsing for a photo to attach to this message and Runrig is playing "Beautiful Sky" so hopefully this pic from the Arctic Circle this July fits.
If all else fails, read the instructions.
This was meant to be the last blog but somewhere along the line while setting up stuff on this machine I managed to delete and lose it. It took a few days to find but, out the ether, it popped back into my life. So, for what it's worth (which isn't much), here you go.
A Bridge Too Far
Firstly, apologies to all our readers for the intermittent, at best, reports on the blog.
A combination of "pressing on" and absence of wifi has kept us off the air.
Anyway....... A Bridge Too Far.......
Slowly, almost tantalisingly, as if unsure as to whether to let us in or not, the swing bridge at the entrance to Lagos Marina lifted, tempting us into its warm embrace where we could finally rest and shelter from the wild Atlantic. (Pulitzer coming up?).
Actually, we'd just had one of the few good sails down the Portuguese coast in blazing sunshine and a steady 15 knots from behind. Goosewinged, we made good progress from our last stop over in Sines. 76 miles, having left in the dark about 6am.
Our passage down the Spanish and Portuguese coasts were a bit of a motor-fest with not much in the way way of good sailing.
One of the highlights was a berth in the new River Duoro marina a mile outside the old town of Porto. The river entrance here reads like its pretty shallow but in the calm we were OK. As we approached the marina a nice young chap zoomed out in his rib to guide us in through the last sandbanks to nab the last remaining berth.
A quick stroll up the river bank into Porto for an aperitif beside the river as the sun went down. Tough duty,
Anyway, we had an uneventful trip on down to Lagos, or Velcro Town as some of the liveaboards call it.
Having just clicked over into our 5,000th mile this year we were sorely tempted this morning to look out the Velcro pyjamas and just get stuck to the marina for the winter. As the swing bridge lifted, we thought..... "Enough". Let's knock it on the head here.
Coincidentally, once again our visit to Lagos was timed to perfection as Brian and Agnes were in town. So, not only did we have a friendly face to catch our lines but, even better, a shower that didn't wobble and a bed for the night.
We resisted the Velcro and headed out for two overnighter a to get us to Gibraltar then finally, at last, Almerimar where we really can....... Stop.
Apologies for absence from blog but a combination of "pressing on" and absence of wifi kept us off the air.
The last legs of our sail south, taking in Porto and its new marina Duoro, Peniche, Cascais, Sines and Lagos were all uneventful. A combination of motoring, beating and a couipeof good thrashes downwind got us round the corner and into Lagos to meet up with Brian and Agnes and get a bed for the night. Civilisation at last.
We were tempted to stay in Lagos with its busy town on the doorstep. However, flight bookings and the more interesting hinterland of Almerimar got us back underway. Two overnighters, via Gibraltar for its £0.70 per litre diesel ticked off the 300 miles in two days.
Consequently, 6,000+ miles since leaving Almerimar in March, we are now tied up for the winter. Sails and running rigging off and/or moused and time to lie back in the sun...... either that or start sanding the varnish!
As we have now stopped, the blog will be off the air until something interesting happens!
The COAST OF DEATH!!!!
We had originally thought this coastline was so named because of the rocks, fogs and being just south of Biscay.
However, another evening in one of Spain's beautiful yacht clubs drinking their extremely generous gin and tonics makes us think you might just die from G&T overdose. But what a way to go!
Very little wind again and we have the very real prospect of motoring all the way to the Algarve. There's absolutely hee-haw forecast for the next week so it looks like either staying here and enjoying the hospitality or motoring on south.
20c during the day and not a cloud in the sky so tempting to stay put but you know us; gotta press on!
When is a glass half full?
Well, it's when the club steward at the rather exclusive Real Club Nautica de Coruna pours you a gin. As the level rises up the glass you search for the Spanish for "thank you" to indicate "that's enough thanks".
By the time you've mentally searched through your brain for the right word....... Thank You, merci, grazi and finally reach and blurt out "gracias", your glass, rather pleasingly is "half full".
And that's before you get the tonic.
As we've said before one of the great joys of cruising around is meeting people. Last night we were royally entertained by Anton Pellejero Fernadez-Roel, the Ocean Cruising Club Port Officer and commodore of Real Club Nautica de La Coruna.
The RCNC dates from the 1940's. Beautiful woodwork and sumptuous lounge above the gym and sauna. Unfortunately, like dummies we plonked ourselves in the wrong marina and missed out on some real treats.
Anyway, our evening with Anton was a great end to our stay in La Coruna.
This morning, we upped and off'd at 08:00 and motored for 8 hours to our stop tonight, Camarinas. Motoring is going to be the norm for the next few days as the low that lurked off Spain the last three weeks is now being replaced by a big high..... and no wind.
So, quick dinner, kip and early night.
Our quick thrash across Biscay turned into a motor-fest. The winds just never showed up consistently. We'd go from flat calm to 20 knots and back in half an hour.
When we were going, we were going well. Full sail, hard on the wind and bashing along at 8 knots or so. Meanwhile, the off-watch were down below trying to get some kip, but, heeled over, poor Pat and Huw were folded into a heap at the bottom of their bunk, unable to escape the combination of the laws of gravity and their slidy PJ's.
Velcro Pyjamas. You know these things you see in fairgounds where the victims don a velcro suit and they then get pinged onto a velcro wall?
Well, that's what we need. Velcro bunks and Velcro pyjamas. Just the thing for a good nights sleep. Brilliant!
A few years ago I went mad and fitted out the boat with LED lights, including a batch of red ones for the dark. Consequently, night sailing on Time Bandit is a bit like a World War Two submarine movie. All we need is a periscope, Jim's big binoculars and some long beige duffle coats and we'd be set.
Anyway, the crossing was OK apart from the motoring Dolphins everywhere and landfall last night in a small, sheltered Ria 30 miles from La Coruna.
The last miles today, under engine again got us into the marina about 4pm just beating the rain showers. It looks like we will need to get a few more degrees south before we get back into the sun. Pleasingly, the rain is warm!
The forecast is for a few days of southerlies so it looks like we are going to don our straw hats and act tourists until the wind heads west or better, north.
Next update mid week.
This is going to be short!
I found the Americas Cup site after Arthur and Huw said "you gotta see this".
Now hooked on 70 foot catamarans doing 40 knots match racing. I should have been writing the blog but a couple of beers on the front in Camaret while watching the boys racing was irresistible.
How'd we get here?
Options..... Fly, 1 hour and £350 or..... BRILLIANT IDEA.....take the Megabus for £15. No brainer to a mean Scotsman however, much like the way they describe temperature: is 5c but will feel like -5c. The Megabus took 7 hours but felt like 17.
'Nuff said but we arrived in Milford Haven. Picked up Pat and Huw our old Fireball mates and headed out into the drizzle. Good sail across the Bristol Channel and past Lands End at midnight, finally motoring towards Brest. However, about 10pm Huw noticed a "small rock" Ouessiant or Ushant to you and me, on the chart so we boldly worked our way in through the rocks and picked up a mooring near midnight last night.
Woke up this morning with boats and rocks all around.... those that you could see as there was thick fog.
Quick dash to Camaret and here we are, back in 20c and catching up on the Americas Cup.
Off to the local restaurant for some snails. Tomorrow we make for La Coruna.
At long last, we are back aboard and heading for the sun..... in the rain.
It's funny how after just a few weeks you forget how things work. The plotter has new mysteries yet to be uncovered, the pole has odd bits of rope and metal I don't remember but worst of all was the spume. The wind blown spume..... of my pea and ham soup that blew off my spoon all over my jacket.
We left Largs with Ian's pal Scott and his girlfriend Mairi. Scott and Mairi work with the British Antartic Survey and have spent the last 18 months in Antatrica where Scott put up some first ascents. Check out his site at www.scottwebstermountaineering.com.
Yesterday, Thursday, we had a good sail to Campbeltown where we checked out the local beers and the malts. I'm not sure if it was the driving rain at 06:30 or the malts last night, but either way, we decided to stay in bed an hour longer.
Leaving at 08:00 we rode a 20 knot northerly for a few hours before the wind died to nothing and the old donkey was fired up again getting us into Bangor at 5pm.
With my month off, I can't tell you how much I've missed tracing faulty wiring, changing the fuel filters and working out why the VHF is a bit dodgy.
Tomorrow we head on south on our long trek to the sun, whether Mediterranean or Caribbean sun we haven't decided yet. However, first stop is Milford Haven where we will leave the boat for a few days to get home for Ian's stag. Thereafter it's the Biscay Bash. Hoping its not quite as lively as last time.
Now? I'm sure there's a pub somewhere near here.