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 moored at El Rompido SW Spain.
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
16 March 2009
Recent Blog Posts
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 [...]

24 August 2013

Preveza Greece to Cartagena Spain

This June/July, Aqua Blue left Levkas Greece and crossed to Syracuse Sicily via Crotone. After an OCC meeting in this delightful anchorage and ancient city we rounded Sicily clockwise to Trapani. Then crossed to Cagliari Sardinia for a week.

Full Moon over Cabrera 90

17 March 2009
FULL MOON OVER CABRERA..

I washed down a succulent Pez Espada with a bottle of Rioja at
a dockside restsaurant, my bags at my feet, and wondered how I
was going to get out to my Kelsall 39 trimaran Aqua Blue. After
ten hours effortless travel to the sparcely occupied harbour of
Almerlmar I could find no spare dinghy. At nearly midnight I
slid of the wall into the warm black water and within ten
minutes had Aqua Blue bows to the quay again.
Humphrey, Baya and Sarah arrived the following evening and a
spring's fitting out was compressed into three days! We found
it surprisingly easy to clean the bottom of a multihull afloat
with windscreen scrapers and remembered to wear teeshirts to
guard against rapid sunburn. Humphrey spent many hours freeing
the rusted steering chain, although otherwise the dry
Mediterranean climate had ensured the sails, equipment and
stores were in good condition.
0n the 28th July we left Almerimar under an overcast sky and
alternately motored and sailed across the Golfo de Almeria in
variab1e conditions with occasional lightning and rain! By tea
time it was blueing up and we rounded Cabo de Gata to anchor
under sail in the beautiful semicircular bay of Puerto Genoves
with its alternate outcrops of volcanic and white rock
signalling the start of the Costa Blanca. The new cockpit table
was put to good use for a starlit dinner onboard and I relaxed
in the quiet enjoyment of the start of our summer's cruise.
The morning brought a northeast sailing breeze and we
progressed well to windward along the coast to Mojacar where
the wind died and we swam, before motoring lnto
Garrucha which I was informed by a German yacht is the cheapest
place to winler on this coast. A Feria was in progress and the
two fifteen year olds Baya and Sarah were allowed an hour on
their own, but not before the waitress in the restaurant had
given Humphrey and I disapprovlng looks. I think we just look
like dirty old men! I was practicing my pigeon Spanish in the
morning as we located various supplies and had the usual
problem of not understanding many replies especially from the
older inhabitants. We came to the conclusion that the Spanish
language is particularly dependent on having a good set of
teeth! Initially we motored with the new awning up but soon
were sailing and passed inside Isla de los Terreros after whlch
the wind piped up and we beat all the way to Mazarron under
yankee and full main in over twenty knots of wind. The sea was
surprisingly rough and we were glad to enter the new puerto
deportivo, but unfortunately they would not let us berth and we
had to motor round to the old commercial port. This would not
be the last time we were turned away presumably because of our
beam during high season. In the morning a Frenchman whose boat
was named Dadztoy came aboard to peruse some of our charts.
It was flat calm in the morning as usual and we drifted along
to the ancient port of Cartagena. Being a keen student of Ernle
Bradford, I was eager to enter Hannibal's Iberian stronghold by
sea as he himself would have done. We toured the harbour and
noted plenty of space at the yacht club. If I'd had more time I
would have explored the area, but. we were passage making to
meet my brother in Menorca and had to be selective even on a
relatively long holiday. The afternoon sea breeze came up and
we tacked along to the silting harbour of Portman which we
found unusable even for a multihull, with a swell rolling in.
We passed the large British schooner Deliverance and tacked on
into the night with the swell feeling the bottom as we rounded
Cabo Palos whereupon the sea quickly flattened and we were
anchored behind Isla Grossa by midnight. The lights of La Manga
which were separating us from the Mar Menor looked like Miami
Beach, and the entrance at Puerto Tomastre was
indistinguishable. At Santa Pola the following night we were
again turned away from the yacht club to the chagrin of the
girls who had been looking forward to hot showers! However
after anchoring I filled the new black plastic deck shower and
it worked surprisingly well. After this we filled it every
morning to heat on deck and the girls slowly accepted the
frequent dinghy trips.
The summer heat increased and we motor sailed with the awning
up to Capo Las Huertas with the deck too hot to walk on,
whereupon the falrer crew rose from their bunks to prepare
brunch. Later we swam in water like burnished metal and then
motored towards Benidorm through millions of tiny jellyfish
which I studied from the bow with the sun's rays emerging as a
halo from the shadow of my head. I thought of anchoring off
Benidorm for a run through the fleshpots but pressed on to
Altea whlch was so full we had to anchor outside. The town has
a blue domed church and a long promenade which is being
developed with many restaurants although we managed to choose
an indifferent one. I was alarmed in the morning to find the
bilge full of bright blue water from the Blueboy which up till
now had successfully deodorised the Lavac. I resealed the
cartridge with silicon grease and we set off towards the huge
promontory of Penon d'Ifach under No.2 in the again fresh sea
breeze. We were having much better sailing than last year but
the combination of wind, and fierce sun had us slapping on factor 20 cream!
Penon d'Ifach looks like a huge gorilla on all fours and protects the
ancient town of Calpe, reputedly the first Phoenician
settlement in Spain. For one day only I programmed every course
and speed change into the Navstar 2000 satellite navigator
allowing it's calculations to remain pretty accurate between
sights. However I am not really a gadget man and normally use
the Navstar positlons to update my own dead reckoning further
offshore. In fact, for Mediterranean cruising, it's much
cheaper and more effective to buy a Loran than uprate the
satnav. (Now everyone uses GPS of course).
The Mariner log is pretty accurate but the paddlewheel
has an annoying habit of stopping sometimes when we tack. It
pays to withdraw and clean and lubricate it more often than I
care to. We identified Cape Moraya from where Admiral Byng set
of on his uncommited voyage to relieve Mahon, and passed a
large French cat heading south. Finally we rounded Cabo de la
Nao and sailed through inside Islo Portichol to the amazement
of the assembled powerboats and were able to ease
ease sheets slightly and make Javea, where there was again no room either
at the club or on the wall, but just enough to anchor in a
pretty large harbour, almost on top of the fishing traps. I
always wonder why fishermen continue their hard work when so
many of their compatriots are making money out of tourism.
We had an excellent and very moderately priced
meal at the Hotel Fondadero del Mar although the dining room
was absolutely stifling, even the Spaniards were wiiting.
Javea is the nearest port to Ibiza and we spent the next day
inland enjoying the hospitality and freshwater pool at Clifford and Gay Brown's
villa. There is a substantial English community here and I
half-heartedly perused the property prlces but I'm not ready to
swallow the anchor yet.
Unusually Humphrey and I were up at dawn although this is no
great feat on Spanish time and headed out straight into the
rising sun, past Capo San Antonio where fishermen were casting lines from the bottom of the perpendicular cliffs. By midday we were reaching for the first time on this trip in a southeast 3 to 4 over a flat blue sea and I was listening
to a programme about the ocean floor on the world service. We
were half way across when Baya got up and made lunch, and three
hours later we were rapidly passing Isla Conejara to anchor in
San Antonio Abad for tea. I make no excuses for preferring stomach
time over local time. The second town of Iblza is on the
side of a large shallow sheltered bay and there were many yachts
at anchor including a Heavenly Twins and a Wharram,
both popular among the multihull cruising fraternity
although the newer French catamarans are increasingly
in evidence. There was also a small tri foiler with very truncated
floats. I always feel these experiments musl be permanently in motion
like sharks, otherwise they might roll over and die !
San Antonio was unrecognisable from my previous
visit on a family holiday in '65. The water front was
totally occupied by the many small ferries which take holidaymakers
to beaches all along the north coast, and the town was
awash with cheap restaurants and bars where the predominantly
young tourists made determined efforts to add liver cirrhosis
and worse to their previously self inflicted skin burns.
As we motored out in the mornlng a huge German tri came in with no less than
three masts. but we didn't get the impression they were used
very often. It was slightly overcast and we rather desultorily
sailed round to Ibiza town passing through the most north
easterly Freu channel recommended by the pilot, and were rather
surprised to have only 4.7ft under the boat!
I really must write and tell Robin Brandon that this channel
is only suitable for multihulls. After a fruitless tour of Ibiza harbour we anchored
in Cala Talamanca which is rather shallow and rocky, using the
centerboard as a back up sounder not for the first time. The
board folds up and stops the boat without damage, which is why
I've never been tempted to replace it with a daggerboard in a
probably futile attempt to further reduce leeway. I did
consider fixed keels on the floats to keep the boat upright
when cruising tidal waters, but designers warn that these may
increase the heeling moment on large waves when you least need
it, and my feeling is they're right. However they seem to work
on large tris such as Tony Gaze's "Freedom of Norwich".
After putting the girls ashore on the beach in the morning the
wind and swell got up from the southeast, so we motored round
to anchor northwest of Islote Botafoch to join the rest of the
overflow from the overcrowded harbour. We spent two rolly days
here while it blew from the east and had to unearth "Big
Bertha" our 45lb CQR, and relay that more than once. It now
lives in the foc'sle despite it's weight and has seen more use
during one season in the Med than during the previous thirteen
in the Channel and Britanny. After locating the chandlery I
replaced the heads pump which had exploded with results too
awful to describe! Ibiza town is amazing. It comes to life at
dusk when the beautiful people, many of uncertain gender,
emerge and cruise shamelessly. The girls loved it, whilst
Humphrey was loth to let them out of his sight. The illuminated Citadel is a great
sight at night especially when augmented by a firework display
which seemed to be fired straight across the harbour at Aqua
Blue. I think the psychedelic effect was enhanced by Spanish
brandy. I can particularly recommend "Magno".
0n the 9th August we left Botafoch and slowly sailed along the
southeast coast of Ibiza in a light sea breeze as far as Islote
Tagomago. We left the wind with the island and motored all day
under a fierce sun on a glassy calm, unusually with some yachts
visible all the time. Early in the very warm night a strikingly
large red moon popped out of the eastern horizon and not long
after the lights on Majorca became visible. In the early hours
a light headwind had Humphrey and I raising the deck sweeping
light Genoa, which drew us on to tack through between Isla de
Cabrera and Punta Salinas. At midday we paused in a Cala for
lunch and a siesta. Later we re-anchored in Porto Colom which
was to be Aqua Blue's new base and the Capitano accepted my
booking for a winter on the quay. We celebrated with a garlicky
Paella Valenciana at the Hostal restaurant, where the local
yachties meet every lunchtime for a beer under the pine trees.
It's convenient to refuel and water at the town quay, which we
accomplished alongside "Two Minds" a Heavenly Twins and we also
found a supermercardo which would take eurocheques. After lunch
under the trees admiring the many international yachts at
anchor we left our new home and raised the splnnaker for the
first time this trip, and carried it all the way along the
south coast, expending a certain amount of colour film. The
wind was blowing straight into the small harbour of Cala Ratzada
so we continued on to anchor in Cala Molta in 9ft of such
beautifully clear water, that I was soon over the side
improving my hull shaving technique.
We were leaving the island in the morning when the diesel
spontaneously raced up to maximum revs. emitting clouds of
smoke ! Humphrey is always much calmer than me during events
like this and we gradually deduced the cause was myself
stupidly overfilling the sump with oil ! Happily the wind
returned and we could just lay Isla Aire and passed through the
wide inner channel with Menorca later in the afternoon. Mahon
harbour is huge and in 1799 was the headquarters of the British
Mediterranean fleeL under Lord Nelson who lived at Golden Farm
visible above the eastern shore. However Nelson moved the fleet
to Malta (to be nearer Lady Hamilton it was rumoured!).
In the morning we moved to the fish quay to make use of the new facilities
which have been provided for yachtsmen. Mahon is very popular
especially with French and ltalian yachts, and has an
attractive town, reached by climbing the broad steps up the
cliffs to the shops and a generously stocked market. It's very
crowded in July and August however. We left in the afternoon by
motoring through the Canal d' Alphonso X111, and after rolllng
round La Mola ran up the east coast to the spirally banded
light on Capo Favaritx. I identified Addaya island but missed
Pta Codolada and had to motor sail back to Arenal being careful
to avoid the rocks awash off Codolada. Our destination was
confirned by a swimming Brit who also recommended a few
restaurants !
Arenal ls a clrcular bay surrounded by apartments, with a
narrow entrance facing north. There is a surprising amount of
shelter especially east of the entrance, which would be
unusable in bad weather. I took my brother Nigel and his family
out day sailing whilst Baya and Sarah luxuriated in hot running
waler ashore. During our return sail we were raced right up to
the entrance by a new Fountaine Pajot cat, cross-tacking all the
way from Capo Pantinal, with Nigel holding a steady course. I
wasn't too disappointed to follow them in, bearing in mind the
difference in our yachts' relative ages and displacements.
Afler a bumpy exit from Arenal we spent the following night in
the huge shallow harbour of Fornells. Not far away Merit was
at anchor.
We drifted along the rather desolale north coast of Menorca as
far as Cala Morell which is very striking although the whole
east side is littered with keel snapping rocks. Motoring
further west we sighted a large tri ahead, sailing well in the
very light wind. She turned oul to be Rusty Pelican, a handsome
Newick of around 45f t, she was then on Pat Boyd's books. Later we
entered Ciudadela and insinuated ourselves into Cala d'en
Busquets, not without difficulty in the summer crush. Ciudadela
with it's long fjord like harbour and well preserved old
town is well worth a visit, and is an easy walk from shallow
Busquets, itself ideal for multihulls.
It was slightly overcast as Humphrey and I roped Aqua Blue out
of a very snug berth and raised the spinnaker. The northeaster
gradually increased and by mid morning we were maintaining nlne
to eleven knots as Baya rose to totter stiff legged around the
cabin. Later we were being slowly overtaken by Merit under a
huge kite. The following swell built up and the autohelm
started to complain. We took turns steering to hold the old bus
on a straight line as we surfed frequently, and as we came into
Alcudia bay the log finally recorded 13.8 kts which is as fast
as we've been for a few years. The sheets have to be released
before the squeezer can be lowered in a force six, and all
hands were required on the foredeck whilst Humphrey exerted his
control over the 1100sqft sail. We don't use a pole and find
the spinnaker set's very well from the float bows. Two sheets
and two guys are permanently reeved to the pulpit in readiness. And when
reaching I capture the tack with a Star mooring hook making an
additional guy to pull the tack down to the foredeck. Entering
Alcudia we ignored the new marina and anchored in a corner of
the silting harbour, and lazed away the afternoon whilst the
girls explored the area, and later tried a Tapas dinner.
Needless to say the following day was very light and we took
all day to beat round Cabo de Pera and down as far as Costa de
Los Pinos where an open anchorage templed us in for the night;
although little anchors on the chart don't necessarily make me
feel that comfortable in an open bay. It being high summer we
were still there in the morning and I jumped overboard with a
tube of washing up liquid for a swimming bath with surprisingly
good results. A plant sprayer of fresh water rinses the salt
away. In the evening we were back in our new home of Porto
Colom, for the usual blow out ashore. We then headed down to
Isla Cabrera which the military warnings in the pilot had
initially made me avoid, and were delighted to find a beautiful
enclosed harbour widely used by yachts in season, (permission needed
again now I understand).
In fact there is no reason why a yacht leaving Ibiza early in the morning
should not make a night landfall here in good weather, given a
large scale chart. At midnight there were the mosl spectacular
views of the Milky Way in the abscence of town lights and Baya
was making good use of a smal planisphere. Not to be missed
is the Cueva Azul, although the bluest water occurs in the late
afternoon; and we had to drag Baya away from her snorkelling
for a fast reach back to Cabo Blanco where the wind suddenly
stopped as so often happens in the Med. Then across Palma bay
under the continuous stream of charter jets and into the
expensive harbour to moor stern to the Paseo Maritimo, which is
convenient and uncrowded but close to the drains ! I spent two
days here whilst Humphrey and the girls were replaced by
Ste11a, Eddie and Katrina.
On the 23rd August the new crew headed south back across Palma
bay, and shortly met a stiff headwind which resulted in a long
afternoon's beating back past Cabo Blanco under the excellent
high clewed Yankee. Stella and Katrina, who were both pregnant,
not unsurprisingly took to their bunks, although Eddie on the
wheel kept the boat speed up; in the evening we came into
Ensenada de Rapita and picked our way through the rocky islets
to the anchorage at it's southern end. Not recommended at
night. In the morning we slid over to Cabrera for 24hrs genuine
lotus eating and sun worshipping before returning to our new
base. Over the next week we revisited Menorca and although it
was only late August there was much more space already in
Mahon, with the French and Italian boats literally streaming
out of harbour one morning. There were two large French cats in
harbour who were shepherding the "Deviq" triangular race from
Port Camargue to Mahon, Bonifacio and home. One was a visually
impressive Laguna 55 named "Byzance" designed by Van Peteghem
and Prevost and built by a husband and wife team using the West
system. The owner told me she displaced 220001bs but was very
fast and could maintain high speeds in rough seas due to her
high bridge deck preventing slamming. There were only two
sleeping cabins, the skipper opining that four was enough on
any boat. I agreed wholeheartedly. Whilst ashore visiting Il
Teatro Principal and the neolithic monuments, Aqua Blue's anchor
dragged and the transom was sanding the quay. I am going to fit
some permanent fendering at this point.
After making some very expensive phone calls home we carried
the spinnaker all the way from La Mola to Fornells, the wind
conveniently blowing round the island. At the bottom of
Fornells bay is Cala Rotja where I had previously seen an
Iroquois, and indeed it is a most secluded shallow anchorage
where we spent a pleasant night. Katrina gave calisthenics
demonstrations on the foredeck, whilst Stella cooked a maize
fed chicken from Mahon market and I opened a bottle of the very
good red Penedes "Rene Barbier" . In Ciudadela the following
night I chatted to the French owner of an Edel 22 tri which is
kept in Cala Morell. The floats are an unusual T shape viewed
end on; in an effort I presume, to comblne lateral resistance
with reserve bouyancy. I awoke at 6.00am to the sound of
fibreglass on rock after a 90degree wind shift. After an hour's
messing about we spent the rest of the day in Ciudadela or at
least the others did. I stayed on board reading up on the new
dentists I contract. Back in Porto Colom Eddie and Katrina flew
home and Stella and I hired a car for two days and toured the
island. I think the highlight was the massive stalactites and
stalagmites of the Caves of Arta, the entrance to which is
clearly visible to a yacht off the southeast coast.
We had one more weeks crulsing with Stella's brother Toby and
made it round to Soller, where after a night of thunderstorms,
the northeast swell and light wind prevented our complete loop
of the island. During our return along the north coast the wlnd
was fluky under the cliffs, and strong off the valleys as
others have found it. Passing inside Isla Mitjana the swell
really heaped up, and I suspect the channel should be avoided
in bad weather. We left Andraitx next morning after a gusty
night and after beating down the coast for an hour in a rising
wind, were hit by a sustained 39kts blast off the hills.
Fortunately I had already reefed down to the Yankee and reduced
main and Aqua Blue clawed up into the wind with the lee float
using a lot of the normally ample reserve bouyancy. These
katabatic winds always remind me of Triple Arrow. Whilst
relatively large outriggers are an important safety factor,
even more important is to "reef when you first think of it".
The long luffed Yankee, with it's high clew and no overlap,
pulls like a horse in strong winds and by allowing the air
through in front of the mast causes little heeling. I have yet
to solve the problem of how to combine the benefits of such a
high aspect ratio sail, with the undoubted convenience of a
roller Genoa. I have very occasionally had to sail Aqua Blue in
even stronger winds and if well reefed she will take the
conditions better than I do. However , downwind is the only way
to go in very steep seas, I am sure; (given the proverbial sea
room). And to this end, I carry a sea anchor made of chain with
a swivel, plywood and a tyre. So far, I have never used it!
Comments
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