2013 - The highs & The Lows
31 December 2013
The year in a nut shell ,well more of a bomb shell really !
4 countries in 6 months - harmlessly meandering our way along a fantastic piece of coastline, I honestly wish we had taken longer, I know there are places we have by-passed, that would have been as memorable as many we have visited.... but the need to be somewhere warm and blue for 2014 was overpowering.
England - South coast from Plymouth to Falmouth - loved Fowey I wouldn't hesitate to go back there, if it was warmer and not full of tourists during the summer. As a country its got some great cruising grounds that are overly populated during the summer and virtually closed in the winter months, I would n't rule out heading back at some point in time , but realistically just TOO cold for me .
France - Brittany and Biscay- The rugged shorelines , the beautiful scenery, the amazing islands , the cafe culture , fresh daily bread , relaxed atmosphere - for me Benodet and the kids visit and the island of Il de Yeu were the gems of that coastline and somewhere I could have wasted more time. The only downside to this area is the tides, the storms , the people and the prices, its expensive and many of the people we met were rude and unhelpful , which is such a shame it has a lot to offer.
Northern Spain - From the edge of Basque country to Baiona along the Rias - a forced stay due to illness and then mechanical failure saw us holed up in Gijon for a considerable time - but there was always something new to see and do - Cidre festival was the highlight of Gijon. The North coast of Spain is wild and rugged , it is just not far enough away from the procession of bad weather systems heading North East from the Atlantic, so as beautiful as it is and as cheap as (some) places are I wouldn't stay there permanently.
Portugal - We've only scraped the surface of Portugal so far, but the marina at Cascais although VERY expensive has been a beautiful place to stay for the winter months - so much architecture and so many friendly people , I'm not sure I want to leave Portugal - if only it was bigger ! Its major problem as a destination is the lack of safe ports in an Atlantic blow, there just aren't enough of them, its also more of a route rather than a destination for many European yachts which is a shame.
The Boat - Has performed admirably, fuel consumption has been higher than I had expected thanks in the most part to light winds, general maintenance has been low , some teething problems with the new sails, the gear box oil cooler sprung a leak, the alternator belts are misaligned and wear out pretty quickly, the fuel tanks have been cleaned, the only major failure has been the gearbox to shaft coupling which is an on going issue that is yet to be addressed.
The lows - Losing Dad - what a blow, such an amazing man, so dignified, so strong even in his last days, difficult to say how much we all miss him, its only sinking in now the pain of not talking to him or being able to see him.
Its fresh and its personal so I'm not going to harp on about it on a sailing blog
2014 - Beyond Portugal we are back into Spain, then a patch of British territory in the shape of Gibraltar, back into Spain for a while and the costas - Then where, to be honest I simply don't know.
I love Africa, but sailing short handed and needing flights for crew etc and the Admiral poses a problem of quarantine procedures that frankly I cannot be dealing with and the associated costs.
The desire to be at anchor and not in a marina is great, my problem is leaving the boat when I go back to work , I need to plan this carefully, I may not be in a position where the marina can take a fifty foot yacht for five weeks and leaving her at anchor when I'm away isn't an option.
As Buzz Light year once said "To The Mediterranean and beyond"
So I look forward to the challenges of entering the Mediterranean and the continued adventures of Blown Away and her motley crew as we search for the mythical good life and a place to call home.
To anyone reading this blog, friends . family or stumbled in by mistake, we wish you a very Happy New year and to all the sailors out there, both commercial and leisure, fair winds and a safe passage for 2014, may god go with you.