ChaliVentures in the Med

20 December 2016 | Alexandria, VA
06 September 2015 | Canton, Baltimore, MD-Anchorage Marina
11 July 2015 | Gibraltar
09 June 2015 | Cartagena, Spain
23 April 2015 | Cartagena & Granada Spain
20 August 2014 | Cartagena, Spain
14 July 2014 | Valencia, Spain
30 May 2014 | Port Roses, Spain
06 June 2013 | Arbitax, Sardinia
07 April 2013 | Marina di Ragusa, Sicily
22 September 2012 | Marina di Ragusa, Sicilia
12 August 2012 | Gaeta, Italy
17 June 2012 | Menton, France
13 May 2012 | Sanary sur Mer, France
01 April 2012 | Barcelona, Spain

Holiday Greetings & Annual Update

20 December 2016 | Alexandria, VA
Dearest Friends and Family,

Happy Holidays to our dearest friends and family!

Since we didn’t send out any ChaliGrams this year about our (ho hum) adventures in the Chesapeake Bay, it’s been a long time since we’ve corresponded with many of you!! So….. just want to send you our best wishes for a very happy holiday season where you can enjoy your beloved family and/or friends, and hope that it is not too stressful nor impoverishing!

I’m happy to report that Chuck and I are mostly in good health. Chuck is now seeing a super duper chiropractor who also tends to the needs of the Washington DC football, baseball, soccer, basketball and ice hockey teams. (i.e., He’s GOOD!!) He’s getting help for his aches and pains from arthritis, pinched nerves and scoliosis. Just this morning he said he’s feeling a whole lot better! 2016 didn’t start out all that positive though. Gosh, January 6 seems so long ago… but that’s the day I was diagnosed with another round of Breast Cancer, this time, IDC-stage 2. Ay Caramba! Not AGAIN!!! But happily, a lumpectomy, 6 weeks of radiation and an estrogen-blocking pill for 5 years, and I’m good to go. In fact, I was good to go JUST IN TIME for the boating season. YAY!!!!

The high point of our season was fairly early on when our beloved cruising friends from the Mediterranean, Martin and Sandy onboard “Mystique,” sailed north from North Carolina and joined us in the Chesapeake for about 5 weeks of buddy boating, crab eating, and other fun activities. By early July they had put their boat on a truck to ship it back to their home waters in Seattle, WA….. so our pals were all gone. :-( ChaliVentures’ new home is in a lovely marina in Deale, Maryland, on the Bay, but it aint exactly Barcelona! or Cartagena or Valencia or Nice or Cannes, or, or, or…. ya know? But, it’s only a 40 minute drive from our apartment in Alexandria, VA to the boat, so we did quite a bit of back and forthing to have visits with grandkids, kids and friends. Curiously, when we DID go out sailing in the Bay, I have to say that the conditions were far superior to the 10 years we spent in the Med!!! We actually PURE-SAILED most of the time, whereas in the Med, we probably motored or motor-sailed most of the time! Sometimes it was so hot and humid last summer that we didn’t even WANT to go out and anchor in some lovely, quiet anchorage just to be miserable in the intense heat. So we just stay tied up in the marina through the hottest times and stayed plugged in with the air conditioner running!!! rough. very rough. After 10 years of living onboard in Europe, it just felt more normal to be living in our tight little space. Sometime in July/August, a sailboat pulled into our marina that looked… familiar. And the people looked….familiar too! We couldn’t put our finger on it right away. We both ran through our recent destinations and hit on Cartagena, Spain!!! Sure enough, Mei and Kevin, Aussies onboard “Whisper HR” who had wintered in Cartagena Spain as we did, had sailed across from Spain last winter, and managed to get up to the Bay. I just LOVE these small world stories! So, of course we had to introduce them to the culinary delights offered up by the Chesapeake Bay: Steamed Crabs, crab soup, Rockfish, oysters, etc, etc….. lots of good times, and it was especially nice to reconnect with some folks from “over THERE.” Other “over THERE” adventures in 2016 involved our dear Dutch sailing buddies Ineke and Albert who we met in Crete back in 2010; they flew over and came to visit us in OUR home for a change! YAY!!! it was superb!

By September, weather conditions started to ease up, and Chuck, Zoey and I went out for a multi-week Fall Cruise. And then ….. it happened. The very worst event of all of 2016 in our family. On the 2nd day of our cruise, our precious little companion and best friend of almost 18 years and our crew mate for 13 of those years finally said enough was enough. As many of you already know, our beloved Zoey is gone. I still get choked up just writing this. Having her for so long with us, and especially sharing our tight quarters on the boat really made us the "Inseparable 3.” She was our little ambassador when we were abroad. I mean….. no one could resist her sweet little face that always seemed to say, “Hey, do you want to be my new best friend.” With her giant ears and her tiny body, she was quite …. memorable. Chuck and I have had a pretty rough time adjusting to life without her. It’s been 3 months now, and it still feels weird to just get up and go without arranging for a babysitter and/or without all the Zoey paraphernalia (diapers, bag, blankets, food, water, poop-bags…) It’s rather amazing how much of my daily thoughts/worries/concerns/activities centered around our li’l lamb. Many of you met her along the way, so you know how lovable she was….. well… long as you were a human, and not another dog, cat, squirrel, fox…. Yea yea yea, she WAS a bit of a princess, but that was our fault, not hers. My laptop screensaver now scrolls through all 937 of her pictures. And of course I made an APPLE-printed, i-Photo picture book of her life that stands next to the wooden urn with her ashes.

So, that was 2016. In 2017, Chuck and I are heading abroad again…. but this time via an airplane, trains, airbnbs, B&B’s, etc. At this point, all we know is that we’re flying into Frankfurt, Germany on May 1 and flying out on June 30th. 2 months SHOULD give us enough time to explore Germany, see our friends in Luxembourg, see our friends near Amsterdam, as well as visit some destinations in Poland and Czech Republic. Right now, we’re reading all the travel books from the library, and I have to admit we find it all a bit overwhelming. SO MANY PLACES!! If any of you have any suggestions for MUST-SEE places in Germany, Poland and Czech Republic, we’re ALL EARS!!! PLEASE! Another happy event in 2017 will be the marriage of my little sister Jen Lechuga. YAYY!!

Happily our 4 children and 4 grandchildren are all thriving. We are living vicariously through their various adventures, and we anticipate some exciting developments in the next month or so.

Although last year’s Christmas email suggested that we might buy a place in downtown Baltimore, we changed our minds. So, here we are, still in Alexandria, VA, just outside of Washington, DC. In case any of you are thinking of visiting the area, PLEASE let us know! We have a guest room!

We are very, very, very lucky people.

Chuck and I send you our most heartfelt wishes for your good health and happiness, and hope that you enjoy the holidays with friends and loved ones.

Love, Alison & Chuck

Chaligram 15-4: Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, USA

06 September 2015 | Canton, Baltimore, MD-Anchorage Marina
Hello dear friends and family,

Well, a lot has happened since my last ChaliGram wayyyyy back on July 11, written from Gibraltar, announcing that we were shipping our boat back EARLY and right there from Gibraltar. At the time we still had about 100 logistical challenges in front of us...

The loading onto the big ship went ok, with only minor damage sustained, and which has now been fixed; the changed flights back to the USA finally all came together; meeting the boat 2 weeks later in Chester, PA and unloading her there went smoothly. We anchored out that first night right under the take off path for Philadelphia Airport, so we were understandably anxious to get underway to some peace and quiet the next morning, to escape the Delaware River, traverse the 15-mile Chesapeake and Delaware Canal and FINALLY.... arrive in the Chesapeake Bay. MY! What a difference from Mediterranean coastlines! NO MOUNTAINS was the first thing that struck us; and, the Chesapeake, being one of the world's largest estuaries is naturally rather muddy brown, compared to the relatively blue, clear waters of the Med; And shallow! Our first night at anchor in the Bohemia River in the northern Bay itself, we tiptoed into 8' of water, yes, 8 FEET, not 8 meters, and not expecting a big tidal change, found ourselves sitting in the mud in 5' when the tide went out. (Our boat draws 6'. oops.) No worries, because it's all mud; no rocks. There might not be any mountains, but there ARE lots of green, lush trees. Another big difference is that there are clouds and rain during the summer here!! Our experience in the Mediterranean is that it rained between October-April, and then (usually) NOTHING except clear blue skies the rest of the time.

As I type this, we are sitting in a marina in Baltimore, Maryland in the lovely neighborhood of Canton. They sure have re-developed this historic district in the last 12 years!!!! It's WONDERFUL! We can walk to everything we need: supermarket, hardware stores, a west marine boat supply place, super duper ice cream, hair salons, and a zillion restaurants! ... just like when we were in Cartagena, Spain, or Cannes or Menton or Barcelona, or, or, or....many other Mediterranean old port towns. AND...... it's only an hour's drive from our apartment in Alexandria, Virginia. So, for the time being, we're using this as our home base and driving back and forth.... unloading 10 years worth of stuff we felt we couldn't live without while in Europe. After our daughter Sammy's wedding on Oct. 17, we'll sail ChaliVentures about 70 miles south to a boatyard in Solomon's Island, Maryland on the Patuxent River. She needs quite a bit of serious work done according to the marine surveyor who just examined her, so she'll be spending her winter on the hard. It was rather depressing and alarming to hear the marine surveyor rattle off all the things that needed to be replaced..... Made me feel like we were lucky we hadn't sunk alREADY, and a damned good thing we didn't try sailing her back!

During our first weekend here in Baltimore, Sammy and Brian (soon-to-be son-in-law) drove up from Washington, DC to celebrate our arrival with our first crabfeast in over 11 years. yahooooo. Those crabs were as delicious as I had hoped they'd be. After so long, I was afraid that nothing could live up to my huge expectation.... but Captain James Crabhouse (within walking distance of our boat!) got it done with flying colors! And now 3 weeks later, we're going to have aNOTHER crab feast today with all 3 daughters, Sammy AND Alex (down from New York) AND Christina, Dean and the kids. If only Jon had stayed in Virginia 3 days longer, we could have had all 4 kids at 1 table! But at least we got to see him several times over the last 2 weeks that he was visiting the east coast (from Boulder, CO). So..... our primary reason for returning to the USA is panning out. We're spending more time with our kids!

I'm sitting out in the cockpit with my cup of coffee, enjoying a nice breeze this morning; the humidity is down -- finally!, and the ducks are floating by. Zoey is enjoying lying in her cockpit bed soaking up the sun. Life is GREAT!!!

Wherever you are, hope you're having a perfectly splendid weekend, too!

Love, Alison, Chuck and Zoey

Alison Spinney
Onboard ChaliVentures in the USA

ChaliGram 15-3: The last one....

11 July 2015 | Gibraltar
…. written from the Mediterranean!

[For those friends who saw my recent posting on Facebook, this is partially duplicate info, but this one DOES have a link to photos!]

Since my last ChaliGram written on Jun 9th, we managed to finally leave Cartagena, with a new toilet and all new plumbing and Chuck’s muscles not protesting too much. We converted our harbor-queen back into a sailing vessel and off we went. Our first day out sailing since last August 12 was superb. Amazingly, we remembered how to do everything…. no major screw ups, and the windgods even allowed us to pure-sail for several hours (as opposed to motor-sailing). *sigh.* We remembered why we liked sailing! We headed south, and then rounded the Cape of the Cat (Cabo de Gata) at the southeast corner of Spain. We stopped in marinas that we’d been to 9 years ago in 2006 when we were first entering the Med, plus a couple of new ones. We treated ourselves to a stay at the Malaga Yacht Club so we could re-visit that lovely city. It was a bit of a hike into town, but we 3 managed. Zoey mostly rode in her rolling tote bag. And then suddenly, we were in Gibraltar. ALREADY! That place with the big rock! This was to be our hopping off point to go to Morocco for visa renewal stuff, which is just a few miles away across the Straits.

So, why is this the last ChaliGram from the Med, you ask? After all, my last email said our boat would get loaded on the BIG SHIP in October in Palma de Mallorca! Well! As it happens our shipping company just announced a July sailing from, of all places, GIBRALTAR! And there’s a rather unusual disembarkation in Chester, PA on the Delaware River (just between Wilmington and Philadelphia). Well HELL! That’s a mere daysail from the Chesapeake Bay... OUR HOME WATERS until 10 years ago. PLUS, it’s hopefully a better place to land than West Palm, FL during hurricane season! (Although the Delaware River is really a really pretty awful area! One that we'll want to get away from as soon as possible!) We will load our boat in about a week or so. At this point, the arrival date of the ship is still a little wiggly. And then Chuck, Zoey and I will fly back to Washington, DC and wait a couple of weeks before going to Chester to meet Madame ChaliVentures. This is really a much better option for us since we don’t have to sail east again for 500 miles to get to expensive, crowded Palma. Plus it gets us back home with plenty of time to get ready (i.e., find a DRESS!!! etc) and help out for our daughter Sammy’s October wedding. The only negative thing about this itinerary change is that we won’t be traveling up the Intercoastal waterway in November-December and seeing our friends in FL, GA and SC…. But…. there’s always next year. We don’t know if we’ll head to warmer climes this winter or not. TBD.

So, instead of having 2-3 more months here, we have about a week. We’ve started the heavy work of removing all the sails and basically preparing ChaliVentures to be cargo on a big ship.

I feel compelled to say that this is a HAPPY event. Several of our friends thought it was sad that we were leaving the Med. We’ve had 10 years, and it’s been great!! It’s probably 7-8 years longer than we had initially thought we’d spend here. We’ve sailed from Portugal to Syria/Lebanon/Israel and back and visited most countries in between. We spent 2 fabulous years in Turkey and Greece with Crete being a real high point in Greece; 3 seasons cruising along the gorgeous coast of France and Corsica; Mainland Italy plus Sicily and Sardinia were also favorites; Can’t forget about Croatia, Montenegro, Tunisia and Morocco either! We’ve spent the last year in Spain. WE’VE LOVED IT ALL! And now it’s time for a change. We’re both excited at the prospect of eating Chesapeake Bay jimmy blue crabs, steamed and spiced in that ever so special way. We’re looking forward to cruising in an area that has a zillion anchorages, and lots of trees. We’re especially happy to be closer to our family and friends and to not have to cram all our visits into 3 months during the winter. And….. as my sister Dori pointed out, we'll have new and different adventures for the next 10 years! Things we’re already thinking about are: renting a canal boat in France and/or Holland for a couple of months; Taking land trips to Central Europe and staying in good old airbnb apartments in various cities for 6-8 weeks. Living onboard Chaliventures in marinas in Boston or Baltimore or Beaufort, SC for a while. So, we’ll continue to scratch our travel itch, just in a new and different way…..and for maybe 2 months at a time, instead of 8 or 9 months. Right now, we’ll just be relieved to get into our boat on the other side. We’re sort of at the bottom of the mountain looking up, with LOTS of logistical issues yet to resolve.

So, that’s our story for the day! Look forward to seeing a lot of you soon!!

Love, Alison, Chuck and Zoey

A few pictures this time:

Alison Spinney
Onboard s/y ChaliVentures III …along the Costa del Sol, Spain

ChaliGram 15-2: Short Update

09 June 2015 | Cartagena, Spain
It’s a conspiracy!

It’s exactly 1 month since I added a Facebook Status update saying that our boat was all ready to go; all systems go… that we were just waiting for a weather window. Well, HA! The weather gods, the plumbing gods and the health gods have all conspired to keep us here in Cartagena, Spain! First the accumulator tank broke (that works with our water pressure system), needing replacing; then a hose leading TO the accumulator tank exploded, needing replacing. In the course of crouching, twisting, turning and cranking hard on the wrench to install a new tank and hose, Chuck hurt his back, and unfortunately his back CAN’T be replaced. Rather, just needed time to heal. Plus a family member has been in critical condition, and we wanted to stay here in case a quick trip home was necessary.

All ready to go AGAIN yesterday, but the weather gods slammed our window shut for going south and then west along the Spanish coast where Spain and Morocco are only about 5 miles apart. (yes, that’s a change of plan). I think these gods are in cahoots to keep us right here. It was actually a blessing a few weeks ago, because we were still here when our niece, Chelsea, came to visit us for a few days on her big European Adventure. But now. Would you believe…. this morning our toilet broke! No, not (just) a leak; the damned toilet itself has a big crack in the base!! So… the weather gods forced us to stay here so that the plumbing gods could play with us. But…. perhaps THAT was a blessing too, because it’s a helluva lot easier to get a new toilet HERE than if we were cruising along the coast into remote little towns. The toilet’s been ordered from our favorite online supplier in Germany. And the weather sucks for about the next week. Sucks, as in wind from the wrong direction. Hopefully, when Chuck installs the toilet he won’t hurt his back again. I daresn’t say “what ELSE can go wrong?” because there are way too many things that can go wrong on a boat!

Ho hum.

In the meantime, since my last ChaliGram about 6 weeks ago, we have definitely decided to ship the boat back to West Palm Beach, Florida with an arrival some time in November. We’ve even made a deposit, so this is a done deal. ChaliVentures will get loaded onto a special-purpose ship in the island town of Palma de Mallorca, Spain sometime in October….. Probably while our daughter Sammy is getting married to Brian. So, during the winter of 2015-16 we’ll be most likely hanging out in Florida, Georgia and S. Carolina before returning to our home waters of the Chesapeake Bay next Spring.

Sure is a good thing we like Cartagena! Fortunately, we have no urgency to be anywhere. Sometime, but not before July 10th, we want to go to Morocco just to get some non EU stamps in our brand new passports. We’re feeling a tad exposed and vulnerable about OBVIOUSLY exceeding our 90 day limit in the EU/Schengen Zone…. by 4 months! This is the first time we’ve worried about it in 10 years. A short trip to Morocco doesn’t TECHNICALLY solve the problem, but Moroccan passport stamps will show that at least we did LEAVE the EU….And there’ll at least be uncertainty and doubt about our whereabouts when the airport immigration officials check us out!

Another ho hum.

So, that’s it. No great adventures, no beautiful new sights nor interesting local festivities to report. No pictures.

til the next time….

Love, Alison, Chuck and Zoey

ChaliGram 15-1: Spanish Spring

23 April 2015 | Cartagena & Granada Spain
Hello dearest Friends and Family.

We returned to Cartagena, Spain on March 3rd, and although the weather was a little cooler and sometimes rainier than we would have liked, it was SO MUCH BETTER than our horribly cold winter in Alexandria, VA! I certainly wasn’t going to complain about temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s! And there were lots of winter-liveaboard cruisers here, so it’s been a fairly social time! Happy Hour every Thursday, a visit from some cruising buddies we haven’t seen since April 2007 when we wintered together in Vibo Valentia, Italy. They swung by in their RV, and it was a delightful reunion.

I decided to wait until the 2 BIG EVENTS had happened before writing this ChaliGram: the famous Cartagena Semana Santa (holy week) AND our road trip to Granada. Cartagena is known throughout Spain as having one of the most elaborate celebrations of Semana Santa…. which means one of the most elaborate in the world, I think.

I have witnessed Good Friday parades in other Spanish cities over the years, so I knew to expect the KKK-like pointed hoods of the penitents’ costumes, but…. in Cartagena they crank it up about 5 notches! In fact, it’s not even holy WEEK; it’s a whole 10 DAYS of holiness. Every day and/or night there were processionals, some starting as early as 3AM. Needless to say, we did NOT go to those! There are 4 competing brotherhoods who organize the events for each day, and 2 of those groups go back to the late 17th century. So, once you get over the pointy hoods, you notice the richness and beauty of the velvet and satin robes. There are thousands of Cartaginians who participate in this 10 day affair. But…..there’s only so much standing an old person can do, so Chuck, Zoey and I only went to 3 of the parades. The Palm Sunday parade featured no pointy hoods, as this was the celebration of Jesus entering Jerusalem (I never knew that.) So, the parade featured lots of Romans, Jews and very solemn and adorable children. On Palm Sunday, while I was riding my bike past one of the old churches in town, the service was just letting out, and a whole bunch of Roman soldiers marched out of the church. Now…… I know the Romans were major participants in the whole easter story, but…. coming out of a Catholic church?????? Really???? The Good Friday parade was by far the biggest one, lasting 3 hours and featuring at least 12 “thrones,” or what we might call floats, of all the main Easter characters and events. The biggest, the most elaborate and always the “grand finale” is the virgin. NOT Jesus. In addition to all the gold and beautiful lanterns, she also has a million flowers on her throne. The thrones are ENORMOUS and beautifully gilded, sculpted, painted works of art; they were conveyed either on a rolling platform OR more often, carried by at least 100 penitents. I can’t imagine where they find the space to store all of these thrones. Each brotherhood had their own… so there must have been about 50 of these things! I imagine a very religious catholic would feel quite emotional witnessing these events. But even among us atheists, it was still a fabulous spectacle of beauty, solemnity, art AND the music of the frequent marching bands. Besides, I do believe Jesus existed and was a pretty radical and admirable fellow in the day. Another aspect of the processionals in Cartagena was the large military presence. Most were costumed in 18-19th century “Napoleonic-styled” uniforms. However, in the Good Friday Processional, there were present-day soldiers who were doing a serious goose step march. I sort of felt like I was watching a bunch of Nazis, although I know the goose-step goes back much farther than Hitler. So…. between the KKK-hoods and the goose-stepping soldiers, there were definitely some eerie feelings!

Shortly after Semana Santa in Cartagena, we rented a car and drove the 3.5 hours to Granada, home of the world famous Alhambra and the Generalife summer palace, a UNESCO world heritage site. We had found an apartment on (a WONDERFUL alternative to hotels!), that was perfect and very centrally located. The Alhambra we see today dates mostly from the 13-15th century, although the Muslims (sometimes referred to as the Moors —Arabs and Berbers from Morocco and other parts of northern Africa) had arrived in Andalucia(Al-Andalus) in 711. Cordoba was the main center before Granada. The Alhambra is an exquisite example of the advanced state of learning among the Muslims in the middle ages. (Apparently Mohammed was a big believer in education for all.) They were so far ahead of the rest of Europe in terms of mathematics, (especially geometry!), architecture, science, the arts and poetry. And their incorporation of water into the design of palaces and other structures provided a very soothing and peaceful element to one’s surroundings. The constant gurgling of fountains and water flowing throughout the gardens and the rest of the grounds did indeed have a calming effect! There’s a superb youtube video by Bettany Hughes, “When the Moors Ruled Europe,” that explains the Alhambra in the context of the 700 year Moorish rule, until 1492 when the “catholic kings” Isabel and Fernando defeated this last Muslim stronghold of the Nasrid dynasty in Spain. At least Ferdinand and Isabel, and their subsequent descendants didn’t destroy the place…. even if they did eventually expel all the Moors and Jews…. NOT a highpoint of Spanish history...
Good old American author Washington Irving of Rip Van Winkle fame memorialized the Alhambra in his “Tales of the Alhambra” in 1832

Not only did Granada feature this marvelous hill-top city, but the town itself was wonderful. It has more plazas than just about any city we’ve ever been to. On our first day walking around, we wandered into the Plaza Bib-Rambla and happened upon a troupe of Flamenco performers. What a TREAT! Flamenco clubs are major tourist traps in Granada (and other cities in Andalucia), and although I enjoy watching Flamenco performed, we probably wouldn’t have gone to a club. As such, we were delighted to stumble upon this exuberant performance of Flamenco guitarist, singer and 2 dancers. The woman of course was Chinese. ;-}

Okay, so…. those are the 2 big EVENTS. We have an equally significant ANNOUNCEMENT to make. We have decided (for today at least!) that we’re going to ship ChaliVentures back to the states this Fall. It’s been at the back of our minds for awhile now, but we think that maybe it’s time to be a little closer to home. We’ve had 10 years cruising the entire Mediterranean, from Spain to Syria and back, and well…. not much is NEW anymore. As such, we’d like to spend more time with PEOPLE we love instead of lovely PLACES…..and we have certainly seen some wonderful places! We haven’t signed the contract yet, nor paid any money, so there’s still time to change our minds, but I think we’re about 95% decided. Friends in Florida: We’ll be meeting the yacht transport ship in West Palm Beach probably early to mid November. It would be great if we could have a little visit when we’re in that region. We’ll be heading north, eventually back to our home waters in the Chesapeake by the spring/summer 2016 (so Ashley, we might be able to see your new digs as we’re passing through the Cape Canaveral area.) Knowing that we have the Chesapeake Bay to look forward to, and perhaps summer trips north to Maine is NOT a bad “consolation prize.” We thought about sailing back, but, neither one of us is that keen to do another transatlantic crossing. Been there, done that, ya know? We’ll leave our boat in Palma de Mallorca, Spain while we fly back for our daughter Sammy’s wedding to Brian in mid October, and will hire a skipper to drive the boat from the marina to the ship. So that’s the plan. It’ll be nice to not have to squeeze our loved ones and friends into a short window during the winter!

In the meantime, when we leave Cartagena, Spain in the next 2-3 weeks, we’ll probably head to the Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, Formentara) and just “wander around” from anchorage to anchorage. We passed through somewhat quickly back in 2006, so there will be some new places to go. It’ll be a nice change from last season’s cruise down the east coast of Spain when there were NO anchorages! If it gets too crowded and insane, we can always go to Valencia until September… then BACK to Mallorca.

Hope you all are having a great Spring!

Linkw to photos:
[For those of you who are Facebook friends, you may have seen some of the photos in the attached links. ]

1/ Best of Palm Sunday:

2/ Best of Good Friday: (Good Friday seemed very similar to “opening night” the friday BEFORE Palm Sunday, so I’m only including the good friday processional highlights… don’t want to bore you after all!):

3/ Best of Granada and Alhambra:

Love, Alison, Chuck and Zoey

Alison Spinney
Onboard s/y ChaliVentures III in…
Cartagena, Spain

WAY WAY Overdue last 2014 Chaligram: 14-4

08 January 2015
Dearest Friends and Family,

I wouldn’t bother so much with writing this long overdue Chaligram, except for the fact that in my August ChaliGram I promised to send photos of the annual Roman Carthaginian Festival in late September as well as photos from our land travels. Although I DID post a few pictures on Facebook, I realize that not everyone is one Facebook. So! Here we are.

Even with the big buildup of the R-C festival, I have to say that we were rather blown away by the sheer numbers of local residents (at least 3000 or so! ) who dressed up and participated in the many parades, plays, battles and other spectacles over the course of 9 days. I was really impressed by the costume-ing, and was later informed by our Spanish boat neighbor that they were purchased by the town from Hollywood’s various Ancient Roman-themed movies of long ago. It looked like it. One of the climactic events was the BATTLE, and it was a doozy! One play that we went to was about Hannibal (the Carthaginian) trying to convince the local leadership that he should take the battle to Rome itself with his troops and lots of mercenaries (not to mention the elephants!) SO! for those of you familiar with the whole Hannibal crossing the Alps with his elephants story, you’ll be interested to know that he started from good old Cartagena! Unfortunately for the locals that were left behind, the Romans showed up in their ships not long after Hannibal left, (Cartagena offers a magnificent natural harbour!) so with only a "skeleton crew” left, the Romans took over Cartagena!

After the festival was over, our good new Aussi pals on both AnneCam and then later, ThorangLa left Cartagena. But…. Mark and Ginny showed up on “Lone Rival” so we made MORE new friends… Alas, Mark was heading up to Barcelona for the winter. So, life got a little quieter onboard ChaliVentures.

Towards the end of October, we “put the boat to bed” for the winter, hopped in our cute little FIAT 500 rental car and took off for Toledo, Spain (about an hour south of Madrid). Toledo, historically known for its excellent sword-making industry, was the first major center of the Moorish Dynasty in Spain to fall to Alfonso VI in the 11th century during the Christian "Spanish Reconquest.” And….for the next 4 centuries Christians, Moslems and Jews all co-existed peacefully, and to everyone’s benefit. The buildings and monuments still standing make Toledo a stunning place to visit! It was also one of the most advanced centers of learning during the middle ages! Sadly, Isabel & Fernando kicked out all the Moors and Jews in 1492 (the same king & queen who financed/sponsored Columbus)….after which things went downhill.

Next stop was Segovia, about an hour NW of Madrid: another beautiful medieval city in Castille which featured the last cathedral constructed in the gothic style in Spain. There was also an Alcazar (a Moorish fortress/castle) that was rebuilt in the 16th century in the northern European style by King Felipe II in honor of his Austrian wife. When you see the pictures, it might be slightly reminiscent of the Walt Disney castle. Indeed, it was used as the model! The most spectacular sight in Segovia was the 1st C. AD Roman Aqueduct that runs right through the middle of town! It carried water from a mountain river 17 kilometers away into the city with a final stop at the Alcazar. We took a day trip from Segovia to Avila, a beautiful walled city — walls built between 11th and 14th centuries — and sometimes referred to as the “The Most 16c. Town in Spain;" ITS cathedral was one of the FIRST gothic cathedrals in Spain with a construction date between the 11th and 12th centuries. It also boasts being one of the towns with the most gothic and romanesque churches per capita in Spain. This central part of Spain sure does have some beautiful historic towns!

We flew from Madrid to Amsterdam to visit our dear friends Albert & Ineke. They sailed their boat back to Holland last year, so we no longer have cruising reunions, but land reunions are lots of fun, too!!

SO! That’s the summary of our last 2.5 months in Europe. We arrived back in the States in mid November, and have been enjoying our family and friends since then, with multiple trips planned to see son Jonathan and family in Boulder, my sister Dori in Knoxville, TN and our other beloved cruising buddies, Martin & Sandy in Seattle. Before we know it, it’ll be time to head back to ChaliVentures in Cartagena! I wonder what we’re going to do and where we’re going to go THIS season!!! So many options; so many places. Do we leave the boat in Cartagena and hop on the train to do a LOT more land travels through northern/central and eastern Europe???? — Do we head west through the straits of Gibraltar and north up the Spanish/Portuguese coast (already been there) and cross the Bay of Biscaye to Atlantic France? and then north to the UK and beyond? Or indeed, do we head east again, hang out in the Balearic Islands, then Sardinia (again) then the west coast of Italy. There’s a town, Nettuno, that friends have stayed in for the winter, that is an hour to Rome by train and the town itself has a lot of charm…plus, the marina is right in the middle of town (our specialty!) Hopefully, we will solve this dilemma …. when we need to!

So, dear friends…. enjoy the photos and the first 2015 ChaliGram will be sometime in May probably. We already have a land trip to Granada planned.

the photos:

Love, Alison, Chuck and Zoey
Vessel Name: ChaliVentures III
Vessel Make/Model: a 1987 Tashiba 40
Hailing Port: Annapolis, Md
Crew: Captains Chuck and Alison Spinney (our precious crew mate of almost 18 years, Zoey the Jack Russell Terrier became an angel on Sept. 12, 2016) :-(
Retired in 2003 at the lofty young ages of 58 and 51 from US DOD and IBM in Washington, DC; Explored the east coast of the USA from Maine to Florida and the Bahamas and back to the Chesapeake from 2003-2004. In May-July of 2005 we crossed the Atlantic (St. [...]
2015 was our big transition year: After 10 years cruising and exploring almost every country in the Mediterranean, we decided to take advantage of a last minute Sevenstar Shipment from Gibraltar to Philadelphia. As such we are back in the USA during the summer for the first time in 10 years, and [...]
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ChaliVentures III's Photos -

ChaliVentures from the Mediterranean to the Chesapake Bay

Who: Captains Chuck and Alison Spinney (our precious crew mate of almost 18 years, Zoey the Jack Russell Terrier became an angel on Sept. 12, 2016) :-(
Port: Annapolis, Md