Tri cruising

Mediterranean and now Atlantic wandering in a Kelsall trimaran

Vessel Name: Aqua Blue
Vessel Make/Model: Kelsall 39 tri
Hailing Port: Originally Brighton UK
Crew: David Bains retired dental surgeon.
About: Family and a few friends.
Extra: Aqua Blue is currently hauled at Portimao Portugal.
11 February 2019 | Portimao
18 November 2017 | Portugal
04 September 2014 | SW Atlantic Spain
25 August 2012 | Ionian Marine, Aktio, Preveza, Greece
28 June 2011 | Nautec, Monfalcone, Italy
23 November 2010 | Adriatic
20 September 2009
30 March 2009 | Adriatic
29 March 2009 | Adriatic
28 March 2009 | Adriatic
27 March 2009 | Ionian/Adriatic
26 March 2009 | Ionian/Aegean
25 March 2009 | Ionian/Adriatic
24 March 2009 | Ionian/Aegean
23 March 2009 | Tyrrhenian/Ionian
22 March 2009 | Tyrrhenian
21 March 2009 | Tyrrhenian/Ionian
18 March 2009
Recent Blog Posts
11 February 2019 | Portimao

Lisbon Layover

June/July 2018

18 November 2017 | Portugal

Wild West Coast

I returned to Aqua Blue, wintering again in El Rompido, SW Spain, by late May 2017.

04 September 2014 | SW Atlantic Spain

Pushing through the Pillars.

Aqua Blue has escaped the Med after 25yrs!! Rather delayed this year, I returned to Cartagena on 1st July and worked on Aqua Blue in this attractive city for two weeks until my wife Stella joined me. The morning of the 15th brought a fresh northeasterly, nearly trapping AB in her winter berth, the fouled [...]

Ambling to Almeria '89

16 March 2009
AQUA ELUE LIFTED her port float and sped
past Worthing Pier at over nine knots in the
sudden sea breeze, much to my surprise since
we had just taken on board enough fuel, water
and supplies to get us to Spain ! The three
hulls were very clean though, due to spending
the winter at Don Pinnts quay in Shoreham.
With a high pressure ridge over the Channgl,
however, we were soon motoring, especially
through the usual turbulence of the Looe
channel; the tide then helped us along, to St
Catheriners Point from where we alternately
sailed and motored overnight to the East
Channel Racon, A westerly breeze arrived and
carried us to Braye Harbour to pick up the last
mooring buoy of the duy, and a good walk
along the beach led us to a quayside restaurant
where we enjoyed a fabulous Bouillabaise and a
drink in the hotel afterwards. The usual two
bottles of Bucktrouts were cradled back to the
boat after I had rung Stella and she had wished
us Bon Voyage !
After thirteen years cruising the Channel
and Brittany it really was time for warmer
climes and Aquo Blue sported extra deck
hatches and solar panels as well as the diesel
engine that had already seen one yearts use.
My intention was to spend .several seasons
circumnavigating, not the world but the
Mediterranean sea.
By eight thirty in the morning we were
due north of the Casquets and tacking in a
light westerly, the sea. as usual being quite
lumpy in this area; the tidal streams do seem to
conspire to detain you. At midnight the lights
on the plateau de Triagoz were confirming my
growing faith in the new SatNav and we
continued slowly tacking along the Brittany
coast. In the early morning we heard on the
radio that Tom Gentry had just passed the Isles
of Scilly , breaking Bransonrs transaflantic
record by eighteen hours. Off this coast in
light winds itrs difficult to make a lot of
progress for six hours out of twelve, but by
teatime we were visibly moVing along as the tide
began to pull us into the Chenal de Four; w�'�
made it as far as Kermorven before the
returning flood completely halted us. After a
short discussion Humphrey and I decided to
motor into Anse des Blancs Sablons where we
anchored for six hours and enjoyed some
uninterrupted sleep.
At dawn we awoke to find ourselves
surrounded by a small French flotilla and
followed them back out into the Chenal. There
was no sign of UAP 1992 who had also come to
a complete stop the night before and we slowly
motored over an oily calm into the Bay of
Biscay towards a few dolphins who were blowing
ahead. We couldntt motor right across the Ba!
so we spent a frustrating morning virtually
stopped south of Ushant. Humphrey roused me
olr1 of my lethargy by dragging out the
spinnaker and together we unravette-A a turn of
the squeezer hoist which had been causing a lot
of friction for years. In fact the sail had been
delivered in this condition and we had to
unstitch and restitch the leather head to
accomplish it. As if to reward our efforts a
light northerly arrived and by dinner the
spinny was up and pulling. We crossed the
hundred metre line and I really felt that we
were on our way during a night so clear we
could still see the Iooms of Chause de Sein and
Ushant in the early hours. The last visual fixes
were useful since not long after, the SatNav
went down. Morning brought more dolphins and
after I connected the SatNav to th; starter
battery it lit up again.
We ran on under spinnaker through our
first really warm and sunny day until lt naa
been up for twenty four hoursj I even made
good progress with a novel, something I
find hard to do. After reaching all nlght under
No 1- we sighted what in the Oawi light I
thought was a huge banded sail, but in fact Uy
mro-mornrng we were slowly overhauling a
magnifieent square rigger ! Cuomotuec, Js I
believe she is named, is a portuguese naval
training ship, and two hundred milds from land
is almost enough to convince one that a time
warp has been passed through ! In the evening
. were still gently reaching under a blue sky
and were playin g dominoes under Ashlee ls
enthusiastic guidance, but in the damp dawn I
had to start motoring to silence
, the slatting
sails (and also charge the batteries since the
autohelm had been on for a week ! ). This slow
passage was just beginning to get to me when
we were visited by a large red butterfly and by
early afternoon the spinnaker was back up and
the water was a most beautiful milky aqua
blue! A fix put us 31nm off Cape Villano and
later a faint smudge appeared on the port bow
where the Galician peaks should be. The wind
and increasing swell drew us on and by early
evening Humphrey and I were struggling to
bring down the spinnaker even with the
spi-squeezer. Time and again the speed and
stability of multihulls downwind leads one to
under-estimate the true wind speed. After
dinner we were charging through the shipping
lanes under genny alone with me taking radio
bearings of the coast, now partially shrouded in
mist. Soon after the wind really piped up from
the north east and I decided to head direct for
Cape Finisterre which we rounded with
difficulty into a full NE gale. There were the
most amazing forest fires raging on the hills
and the smell of the hot Spanish interior
assaulted our senses as we strenuously short
tacked up the gulf, with the main hull feeling
as light as it had ever been, to anchor off the
beach west of Sardineiro. The wind was
absolutely howling and it was difficult to find
even partial shelter for the night, After a shot
of Bucktrouts I endeavoured to stand anchor
watch since it was difficult to believe the 35 lb
CQR was holding in the most intense sustained
gusts, but sleep eventually overcame me.
I awoke to the sight of Ashlee
(Humphreyts 12 year-old daughter) smiling at
me through the rear hatch. Where are we
she said. Needless to. say she had slept right
through the wild early hours ! The beach was
too near for comfort and not quarter of a mile
ahead of us were a group of French and
English yachts whose presence I had not even
suspected the night before. I clambered up into
the hot bright sun as if from a dream, as
though the intervening twelve years since my
last visit in Aqua Blue had passed in a few
months. The Galician Rias are much more
popular with north European yachtsmen than
they were, but you would have to be well
prepared to enjoy a round trip in say a month.
We gingerly pulled up the anchor and I had to
use the full power of the engine to crawl ahead
to join the other yachts in their slightly less
exposed position, only to crash out again till
1pm. The wind had now abated substantially so
we raised a modest sail area and ventured down
to the Cape to find the sea much calmer
already; sailing as we were under a weather
shore. Wonderfully, by tea the spinnaker was
back up and we were whistling to dolphins as
they jostled for position under the surface,
which was visibly ruffled by the downdraft
pouring off the huge sail's foot. Two or three
crew do depress the fine bow on a trimaran
giving an even better view of our playful fellow
travellers ! The coast had disappeared and it
wasn't until later that I realised a longitude
discrepancy was affecting my navigation. I was
using an old chart which had been corrected
but of course they don't update the magnetic
rose and the one I was using was dated 1964 !
A very silly mistake and one now indelibly
One instant solution was to ask the SatNav
what the variation in this area now was and
that information had us reaching in towards Cap
Silleiro whose RDF beacon was not operating.
Later the mist came down again and while we
were jilling around avoiding the heavy traffic
into Vigo, the poor visibility was playing tricks
with our eyes, alarming me since there is a reef
extended northwest from Silleiro. However , all
eventually became clear (metaphorically speaking
at least), and we motored into Bayonna in the
early hours for the second time in two years
(the last occasion being on Freedom of
Norwich) .
Bayonna has a splendid yacht club in a
beautiful setting and the town is a popular
Spanish holiday resort; the back streets fairly
humming with young holidaymakers and lots of
new bars. We had to do a certain amount of
re-stocking and this is very simple since the
nearest small supermarket will deiiver to the
pontoons. I rang Stella and she was pleased to
hear the weekrs supplies she had stowed had
lasted almost exactly. I believe that it's possible
to charter a yacht here and explore the Rias
which would suit anyone whose time is limited.
They are very attractive although a certain
amount of caution has to be observed since they
are directly open to the Atlantic. There was a
large red German cat in the harbour whose
crew I had met in Brighton a month before we
left: they were on their way to New Zealand.
We, however, had a plane to meet in
Gibraltar, so thirty six hours after we arrived
I motored round Cape Silleiro again. The wind
was very light or non existent as it had been
two years before, so we resumed our alternate
motoring or drifting, passing into Portuguese
waters in the evening. During the night there
were some very bright shooting stars and the
rear cabin was sliding along in green
phosphorescence. We were completely
surrounded by trawlers with unbelievably puny
navigation lights in the early hours, and a few
hours later passed through the ships waiting to
enter Oporto. By evening we were off Cabo
Mondego and I decided to enter Portugal at
Figueira de Foz. Customs and the Capitania
visited us as we were tying up and the Port
Officer was very friendly, accepting a
Bucktrouts and issuing us with our carnet. I
asked him what had happened to the Portuguese
trades and he assured me that we would find
more wind than we wanted; he told us how
Brazilian yachts arrived in the winter and, not
being able to see the low lying coast in the
huge swell, ended up on the beach !
We picked up some delicious cooked
chicken at the market in the morning and
outside the harbour entrance found a sailing
breeze, albeit on the nose. We tacked down the
coast on the echo sounder till the wind freed
in the afternoon and off Penedo de Saudade I
altered course for the beautifully enclosed
fishing harbour of San Martinho do Porto. It's a
bit like a huge Lulworth Cove, only much
prettier and warmer. After dinner at anchor we
rowed ashore (and back again, for the papers).
Portugal appears more liberated than I
remember it - there being a genuine Lolita
pouting in the ice cream parlour. We picked up
a Boletim Meteo at the Guardia Fiscal showing a
thundery low over the continent.
Dressed as for the English Channel we
continued our slow tacking inside IIha Berlenga
where there was even a slight north-going
current and, to add insult to injury, a yacht
passed us going north under spinnaker ! Later
an English cat Moke gave us a friendly wave
and we rounded Cabo Roca, the most westerly
point of Europe, while listening to some very
good FM stations from Lisbon. After negotiating
an oil rig at the entrance we dropped the hook
off Cascais for the night. Normally this open
anchorage is sheltered from the prevailing
northerlies, but with the present low pressure
we were rolling around in the rain in the
morning and were drenched on our trip ashore.
I called for a few hours delay for the weather
to improve and, in fact, had to go back ashore
to find a tool shop as I was unable to tighten
the fan belt sufficiently with those supplied
with the engine.
By now the sky was blueing up and we
motored across the mouth of the Tagus only to
find Cuomatuec going the same way ! To the
east we could see Torre Belem and the
Monument to Navigators illuminated by the
evening sun. The south wind returned and we
made long tacks down the coast all through the
warm night with a very strong smell of land
again at dawn. The endless beach slipped by
and wlth a veering and increasing breeze we
made good progress passing another two north
going yachts whose crews were making good use
of the following wind. The hot evening sun slid
into the western ocean and with it departed the
sea breeze leaving us to motor round Cape St
Vincent in a flat calm. We drank to its majestic
sight and I had memories of driving there in a
TR2 way back in 1970. Within the hour we were
anchored in Sagres harbour at Baleira.
A short sail along the coast and my first
swim using the essential folding ladder brought
us to Lagos, the old capital of the Algarve,
which we entered with difficulty in the strong
afternoon northerly. The fishing boat harbour
is very constricted especially for a yacht 25ft
wide. However, the effort is well worth it since
Lagos is a great place for rest and relaxation,
The timeshare touts were not so pestering this
year and, in reality , the old town would be
difficult to spoil . I must recommend Mullen's
wine bar where we had a very good meal in
congenial surroundings for the second time.
The evening was enlivened by the entrance of a
beautiful Navratilova look-alike in a micr skirt,
a testimony to the beneficial effects of sunshine
and exercise, The north wind buffeted the
harbour all night leading Humphrey to suggest
(only half jokingly) that we should sail at night
and sleep by day ! Back ashore in the
morning, while the crew sampled produce in the
almost overwhelmingly stocked market, I took
some considerable time persuading the local
authorities to stamp our passports and accept
the carnet. Most yachts depart from Villamour'a
nowadays but I had no wish to revisit that
sterile environment.
By noon we had cleared the breakwater
and played the sea breeze aiong the coast as
far as Portimao, a large pleasant anchorage. We
carried on and ran wing and wing till almost
midnight before the iron topsaii was called upon
yet again, After twenty four hours we were
approaching Cape Trafalgar when we were
hailed by an English yacht who was looking for
the leaders in the Round Europe Race. I was
rather amused that our relaxed crew, sprawled
all over the deck and no-one steering, could be
mistaken for keen racers ! I didn't realise until
later how the race fleet had been spread by the
persistent light winds which favour the tris of
course. A light, but increasing Poniente
prompted us to behave a little more
competitively, so out came the spinnaker yet
again and we carried it past Tarifa with Africa
visibie to starboard, right through into
Algeciras Bay and almost to Gibraltar's harbour
walls. I nearly motored into the end of the
runway while trying to make out the Customrs
quay through sheer tiredness and we eventually
tied up at Marina Bay.
It's hard to imagine anywhere more
convenient than Gibraltar for the cruising
yacht. Air tickets to the UK can be bought at a
few hours'notice and the airport is a short
walk from the marina, The nearby Safeways
supermarket has great attraction when one is a
thousand miles from home ! Shepherd's
chandlery is visited by boats from all over the
Med: there are so many customers that a ticket
machine is in use for service. I bought a very
long hose and some extra mooring warps for
winter safety. The town itself is not
particularly attractive or even clean, but the
prices in the duty free shops can tempt the
plastic out of your pocket ! I spent some time
trying to repair leaking seams on the new
inflatable with only partial success, although
five months later when the importer changed it
for a new one, he complimented me on my
efforts ! On the evening of the third day I
walked up to the air terminal to meet Stella.
Humphrey and Ashlee had explored the Rock by
bus and on foot and had discovered the
beaches on the east side. There was also a
Privilege cat in Marina Bay and I was very
taken with her futuristic lines and elongated
central nacelle which which cleverly provides a
small foredeek, the absence of which has always
predjudiced me against cats. The owner said
that he had just sailed a thousand miles to
windward and had cut away the twin
trampolines because they were scooping up too
much water. The huge cockpit is ideal for hot
On 6th August, after completely filling
Aquo Blue with diesel , water and gaz for the
second time, we motored out into Algeciras Bay
where an incoming sportsboat informed us, "it's
a bit bumpy out there". We had to raise full sail
to get moving but shortly afterwards were hit
by a good F6 southwesterly. With the lee float
porpoising through the short waves and
Humphrey and I being soaked in the cockpit,
our thankfully very strongly built boat rapidly
rounded Europa point at up to 11 knots.
Grinning rather sheepishly we ran northeast
admiring the huge water catchments and drank
to our arrival in the Mediterranean. A few
hours later, after identifying and avoiding our
first tunny nets, we tied up in Duquesa and
re-entered Spain. A couple who had a Lodestar
in Almerimar came and made our acquaintance;
and just opposite was Vorim, ex VSD, dismasted
and rather forlorn if you will excuse my
anthropomorphism, who owns her now ? After
dinner on board we found a bar with a classical
Spanish guitarist and celebrated with several
glasses of Pimm's. A total eclipse of the moon
had us out of our bunks at 0400 hrs to admire
a large hazy peach hanging in the western sky.
We were very quick to adopt Spanish time and
made a very late start along the coast past
Estepona, drifting and fishing (as always,
without success) to arrive at Jose Banus. Our
berth was not quite as expensive as some dire
predictions might have led us to believe and we
even found a moderately-priced restaurant
Dali's Pasta Factory: The assembled gin palaces
with their uniformed crews ever watchful for
the glitteringly dressed owners were an
awesome sight. Many of the Brits on the Costa
del SoI keep fast launches here and they are
often used as a convenient way of shopping in
Gibraltar ! We had some reasonable sailing in
the morning as far as Punta de Calaburras
before we drifted and swam in the ever
increasing heat; in the evening we entered
Benelmadena, a large and dirty harbour where
we were directed to moor alongside a huge
deserted catamaran. Although Robin Brandon
asserts that no able-bodied person needs a
gangplank, Stella and Ashlee were having some
difficulty with the 'gap'. In fact, often by
reason of surge or onshore wind, it is
necessary to moor some distance from the wall
and an old ladder with a plank on top is very
useful. In the strangely muggy and overcast
morning we took a bus to Malaga where the
summer Feria was in full swing and very jolly
with all the girls expensively dressed in full
length traditional Andalucian costume. We joined
the general promenading and scoffing of serrano
ham and tinto verano. Back to the harbour
later, while Humphrey was visiting Malaga
airport, we found the cabin temperature 102 F !
After throwing ourselves off the harbour walls
to cool off we lazed away the early evening
before finding a good beach restaurant for
another paella (of which I never tire). A later
walk around the Gaudiesque inner harbour
development brought us to a Telstar 35 Triple
Scotch., which caught my attention as Ian
Holloway in Emsworth is using the original
moulds to build himself a stretched lightweight
tri of Merfyn Owen's design. This should prove to be
a very fast and comfortable cruiser.
After another two days mostly motoring
over Europe's swimming pool , we passed the
attractive town of Nerja and paused briefly off
Puerto de La Mona which was created by
building a wall out to an island. Not far past
Almunecar we picked up a French yacht with a
young couple on board and towed them to Motril
where they negleeted to thank us. This is not
the first time this has happened to me. Also in
Motril was Grey Lag, a Heavenly Twins from
Thorney Island where Aqua Blue had spent ten
years. Stella and I made a snap decision to
visit Granada by bus and toured the fantastic
Alhambra and paid our respects to Ferdinand
and Isabella in their tombs in the cathedral.
They had liberated Granada from the Moors in
the same year as Columbus, who they were
financing, had landed in the Bahamas. On our
return Humphrey informed us that the Coast
Guard had insisted he move Aqua Blue !
Another foam sandwich tri Shad Thomes had
arrived, whose previous owner and builder I
had met several times in the London docks
where we were both building in the seventies.
We reached Adra the following evening and
were frustrated by the yacht club's boatman
who would not let us land to join the club until
we had joined the club ! I managed to run
out of diesel in the harbour as we were
entering and spent an oily half hour bleeding
the fuel line in the blistering heat. On 24th
August we enjoyed an unusual good day's sail
right through to Almeria and anchored off the
(much more friendly) yacht club in the large
commercial harbour. We had travelled 1,475 nm
in one month exactly. A huge fair was in
progress and we realised that we were following
the summer Ferias along the coast.
Almeria is a large provincial capital with
very few tourists. About it's only claim to fame
was the making of spaghetti westerns nearby
some twenty years ago. It is the hottest part of
Spain and we walked around the town in an
afternoon temperature of 95 F. We managed to
find an air conditioned restaurant for our
evening meal but after that welcome relief , the
overnight temperature only fell to 85 F ! The
bands of the fair played all night and when we
rose early to help Humphrey and Ashlee to the
bus station, many revellers were still drinking
and dancing at 0700 hrs !
Later Stella and I drifted the short
distance to Aguadulce, a brand new marina.
Unfortunately, since they were charging half
rates, the Port Captain would not let us leave
Aqua Blue there for the winter. With only a few
boats in the marina we swam and Stella
complained that the water was too hot ! We
consoled ourselves for the slight disappointment
with a very good fish dinner and later
in a waterfront bar, were introduced to Crema
Catalan which is absolutely exquisite , no doubt
at great damage to one's arteries.
Stella and I were getting used to having
the whole boat to ourselves and set off to
Almerimar gradually reefing, but the
southwesterly eventually became so strong that
I became unenthusiastic about running down
onto its lee entrance. Accordingly we turned
and ran back to Roquetas de Mar which we had
difficulty motoring into, but got the hook down
aiongside Crey Lag again who had run round
Punta Sabinal earlier in the day. The evening
passed on board and I made a start on long
overdue letters. By midnight it was flat calm. I
was beginning to appreciate the old adage about
Mediterranean boats needing small sails and
large engines !
A good sail in a F4 over the leftover swell
took us to our destination where I settled
winter arrangements with a friendly
English-speaking Capitano. In fact the marina was
virtually empty due to the fact that it's in an
unfashionable part of Spain and also rather
expensive. We had to revisit Almeria to arrange
Precintado. It's easy to recognise since the
large new railway station looks very like a huge
bar of Toblerone from well out in the Golfo de
Almeria. In the evening we walked up to the
Alcazaba to admire the view: no mean feat since
the temperature at 2100 hrs was a staggering
92F !
After the morning's officiating we reached
down to Cabo de Gata in a rising wind and ran
round to anchor in the beautiful bay of Puerto
Genoves. By 2000 hrs a westerly gale was
blowing and the anchorage was receiving
regular new arrivals, all British and mostly
motor sailers with enclosed cockpits. Modern
trimarans are not popular as cruising yachts
espeeially in the crowded harbours of the Med
but in this anchorage we exploited our shoal
draft to the full , Stella's chicken curry was
washed down with a superb Penedes Rene
Barbier and I played calming music like Miles
Davis and Pat Metheny while Aquo Blue span
around the anchor. Last night's TV forecast
had been F2. Somebody on the beach let go of
a cheap inflatable which cartwheeled offshore,
occasionally executing triple falcos like some
demented ice dancer before demolishing itself on
the rocks on the north side of the bay. I had
intimations of what it would be like to be in a
liferaft in a hurricane. After about 0400 hrs the
wind moderated and with the temperature down
by 20c , sleep was possible under a sheet for
the first time since entering the Med. We landed
on the deserted beach in the morning and had a
long walk round to Puerto de San Jose, the
first resort on the Costa Blanca - and a huge
improvement on what we had passed so far.
Back on board in the afternoon to laze and read
and swim: the water was strangely cold after
the quick gale. The anchor flukes were
completely buried in the sand and the 30ft of
chain was just lifting, even though I had paid
out nearly 100ft all told in only 12ft of water.
Apparently the normal ratio of three to five
times depth is not enough in shallow water. An
amazing sight appeared on the horizon - a fire
tug was towing a large gin palace whilst
simultaneously spraying it with two fire hoses.
Visions like this make one look again at one's
galley installation !
By evening it was flat calm again and I
was wearing a jumper for the first time since
the bay of Cadiz. The night was rather dark
and I made a note of the exit bearing as
Hiscock recommends. We didn't need it
thankfully and caught up on sleep. At 0730 hrs
the temperature was "only" 68F. I've heard it
said that the weather in the Med can be
changeable in early September after which it
slowly cools and this was born out. In fact we
left for home via Gibraltar by bus three days
later just as the autumn's unusually torrential
rains started. Aqua Blue tugged gently at her
mooring warps facing the snow topped Sierra
Nevada and bobbed away the winter
Aqua Blue's Photos - Main
June 2018
10 Photos
Created 3 March 2019
Alvor to Setubal.
8 Photos
Created 19 November 2017
Cartagena to El Rompido
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Sicily, Sardinia,Balearics,Spain.
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21 Photos
Created 1 December 2010
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Created 11 October 2009
1 Photo
Created 11 October 2009
3 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 11 October 2009
10 Photos
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Motoring to Monfalcone
5 Photos
Created 14 June 2009
Adriatic cruising
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Adriatic cruising
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