HALEKAI Sailing Around the World

Nancy and Burger invite you to read about their adventures afloat and ashore.

06 April 2017 | St Lucie Inlet, Florida
02 April 2017 | Stocking Island, Exuma
01 April 2017 | George Town, Exumas
30 March 2017 | George Town, Bahamas
22 March 2017 | Elizabeth Island, Exumas
09 March 2017 | George Town, Exumas
04 March 2017 | Thompson's Bay, Long Island
03 March 2017 | Stella Maris, Long Island
02 March 2017 | Long Island
26 February 2017 | Crossing from Water Cay to Comer Channel, Jumentos
25 February 2017 | Double-Breasted Cay to Thompson's Bay, Long Island
23 February 2017 | Double-Breasted Cay, Jumentos
19 February 2017 | Hog Cay, Jumentos
16 February 2017 | Duncan Town, Ragged Island
15 February 2017
14 February 2017 | Hog Cay, Jumentos
10 February 2017 | Hog Cay, the Jumentos
06 February 2017 | Duncan Town, Ragged Island
05 February 2017 | Hog Cay, Ragged Islands
05 February 2017 | Duncan Town, Ragged Island

Fixing the Boat in Exotic Places

19 September 2013 | La Linea de la Concepcion
sunny and breezy
Photo: Taken from the Alcaidesa Marina in La Linea looking across to the Rock of Gibraltar.

Well we finally received the correct spare part, almost three weeks after our saga began. We decided to order the part directly from a dealer in France. First we had a couple of frustrating days waiting to learn if they had the right part in stock (seals and piston rings for the hydraulic pump). They did! Last Thursday we agreed to pay an exorbitant 95 EUR (US$130!) shipping fee for a 2 lb. parcel, for what was supposed to be an overnight delivery by courier from Friday (the 13th!) to Saturday.

But it didn't come on Saturday. On Monday we called and got the online tracking number. We could see that the package had gone from the office in Mandelieu to Nice to Marignane in France, then on to Cologne, Germany, to Madrid, and finally to Seville. It was stuck in Seville due to an incorrect destination address!

The tracking note said they were trying to determine the correct address, and they sent a postcard to the recipient. Now just what address would they send the postcard to, since we are the recipient and they don't have our correct address to deliver the package?! There was no phone number listed for us to call.

So I Skyped Sylvie in France who we have been dealing with per email, but she sounded rather helpless (hapless?). I asked her to please contact the courier ASAP and give them our correct address. She said she'd have her colleague "look into it" and get back to us. Sigh.

Hooray! The package finally reached us Tuesday late afternoon. We can be glad we didn't have a problem with Customs, since France and Spain are both in the EU.

Burger was able to fix the pump (no more leaking oil), and now we're ready to go.
Luckily it didn't affect our departure date as the weather wouldn't have let us leave sooner anyway, and we've enjoyed our stay. Lots of boats have arrived here in the meantime, most headed west along with us. We have British, French, German and Norwegian neighbors at our dock, some boats flying the ARC rally flag.

Wind is supposed to turn from west to east by tomorrow. Next stop: an overnight sail to Morocco. Our new friends on sv Meredith and sv Fabuloso will be going with us.

The Spare Part Waiting Game

14 September 2013 | La Linea de la Concepcion
cloudy and cooler
Photo taken from the Rock: Gibraltar in foreground, airport runway at the border, and La Linea, Spain, where we are right now in the Alcaidessa Marina.

We sailed back across the Strait from Ceuta to the mainland, this time to La Linea, Spain, right next to the enclave of Gibraltar. The large, half-empty Alcaidesa Marina is very nice, inexpensive, with finger piers and diy laundry, a convenient 10-minute walk to the border. Gibraltar's international airport runway skirts the border. Where else in the world do you walk across a major runway to get to the next country?

You may have read about the latest flare-up between Spain and the UK over control of Gibraltar. Boats are no longer allowed to anchor near the marina, and we can hear the car horns honking angrily due to artificially long queues at the border crossing. Yesterday RAF fighter jets made an appearance flitting noisily around the Rock, and a UK nuclear sub was spotted surfacing in the Strait recently, in a show of UK strength, supposedly. But other than that we're unaffected. As pedestrians we're waved through with barely a glance at our passports.

Union Jacks continue to fly everywhere around Gib town in support of continued UK rule. According to the news, officials are squabbling about when best to sit down and discuss the issues.

The reason we returned from Ceuta was to to pick up a spare part ordered for us by the chandler in Gibraltar ... which took longer than expected ... and when it finally arrived, it was the wrong part! It seems the middleman in the UK got the part # wrong by one digit. Ordering parts from abroad is often a frustrating affair. So now we're waiting again for the hopefully correct part to arrive (it's for the hydraulic pump that controls the centerboard). It's supposed to be delivered tomorrow. Stay tuned!

But the delay hasn't been a hardship. The weather is cooler--with the turn of the calendar the worst of the August heat has disappeared. We've kept busy with boat chores and yet more provisioning at Lidl, Carrefour, SuperSol and Eroski's (we like to shop!). La Linea isn't a very attractive town but it has a pedestrian area with lots of cafes and shops. Anyone who knows Burger knows he can't walk past an ice cream store, and by now has found his favorite ice cream haunt.

Three nights ago we had ringside seats for fireworks celebrating Gib's National Day. The Rock and the Moorish Tower are illuminated at night, a beautiful site from our cockpit. Two yachts arrived yesterday who spent the winter with Halekai in Marina di Ragusa, Canadian sv Meredith and the Aussie catamaran Fabuloso. Last night we got acquainted over sundowners. We're all headed the same way--Morocco and the Canaries--so we'll likely be seeing more of them.

Hi from North Africa!

02 September 2013 | Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in Morocco
We had a fast two-hour sail south (16 miles @ 8 knots!) in strong easterlies, across the busy Strait of Gibraltar to Ceuta. Ceuta has been a Spanish enclave in North Africa for the past 300+ years, much like Gibraltar has been a British enclave at the edge of Spain for 300 years. Both Gibraltar and Ceuta are peninsulas nestled between the Med on one side and the Atlantic on the other. Both have played major strategic roles over the centuries, guarding the entrance to the Med from invaders. According to Greek mythology, Hercules separated Europe from Africa by striking his mace, thus creating the Strait of Gibraltar.

As we entered the harbor of the Hercules Marina, what did we see but the large, familiar yellow and blue sign for Lidl, our favorite supermarket. After securing the boat we set off to explore the town and do some shopping. Next to Lidl is another big supermarket, SuperSol, and a large electronics/appliance store, MariSol. Ceuta is duty-free and we found the shopping better and more convenient than in Gib or La Linea.

We were surprised to find how pleasant and interesting Ceuta is, with its many statues and monuments and museums, its subtropical landscaping, the pedestrian-only city center and the several sandy beaches with buoyed swim areas.
Perhaps the most impressive site of Ceuta is the "Monumental Complex of the Royal Walls," a somewhat clumsy but descriptive name for the massive medieval fortresses, located at the narrowest point of the peninsula. The 500 year old Royal Moat is a still-navigable thoroughfare across the narrowest part of the peninsula and is popular with kayakers and small pleasure boats (see photos). At night several beautifully restored buildings that line the promenade are illuminated, casting a romantic glow along the waterfront.

Two Spanish warships tied up to the Naval Dock one day, and the white uniformed crew were seen walking all over town enjoying their leave while locals were invited to tour the festively flagged ships.

Another surprise in Ceuta was the large, well-maintained Mediterranean Maritime Park, located right next to the marina and alongside the Gran Casino. For a few Euros' entrance fee we enjoyed the park one afternoon, with its three connecting swimming pools, lush gardens and sculptures, a restaurant and a cafe. One pool has an island with a thatched roof bar on it. The only downer was that the pools were filled with saltwater instead of fresh (see photos).

Also next to the marina is a modern McDonald's with a "McAuto" drive-thru lane and free wifi. We'd never seen one with touchscreen customer kiosks inside the restaurant before, for even quicker ordering (see photo). The food was identical to what you'd get in the US--for better or worse, but actually they do make great french fries.

A Blast from the Past

27 August 2013 | Torremolinos, Costa del Sol
hot and sunny
Many many years ago, 45 to be exact, I was fresh out of college and on my way to my first real job, in Germany. A cheap flight brought me first to Ireland, where I spent two weeks of August 1968 in a student hotel on the west coast, in the village of Lisdoonvarna. What fun I had! Together with a bunch of young people from all over the world, we spent our days being bussed around to the local sights, such as castle ruins and the famous Cliffs of Moher.

Nights were spent pubbing, which is a national pastime in Ireland. Young and old gathered for self-improvised entertainment, from children dancing the jig to grandpas sawing on fiddles or playing the spoons, with everyone singing folk songs while someone accompanied on the piano. I fondly remember being serenaded with one of Frank Sinatra's hits, Nancy with the Laughing Face.

What does this have to do with our sailing trip, you ask? Patience ...

Some of my new-found friends back then decided that their next destination after Ireland would be Torremolinos, a budding resort town in southern Spain. "Come along with us," they cajoled. "But I have a job waiting in Berlin," I replied. "Ah, forget Berlin, who wants to go there? Those boring Germans, they wait till the light turns green to cross even if there's no traffic. They always obey the 'don't walk on the grass' signs. Come along with us instead!"

But being the responsible young person that I was, driven by my family's mantra, common sense, I bid them farewell and flew on to Germany. Where, six months later, I met my Schatzi, Burger. I think I made the better choice!

A couple of years later James Mitchener published The Drifters, a novel set in the late 60's about a group of young people from different parts of the world, on a trip of self-discovery during troubling times that brought them together in, among other places, Torremolinos. Where would I be today had I followed my Lisdoonvarna friends in 1968??

What's it like here in Torremolinos today? Right now in high season August, it's a hot and crowded beach town. High-rises and a Disneyesque marina center (Benalmadana) and mostly British and Spanish tourists. Restaurants and pubs and shops and rows and rows of plastic "flesh benches," as Burger calls the sun beds you can rent on the beach.

We searched the crowds for remnants from the 60's, but those who looked our age were prim and proper-looking Brits, no sign of aging hippies.


The Capital of Culture

26 August 2013 | Malaga
Photo: ingeniously created shade hangs over the main pedestrian street.

Sadly we missed visiting the famous Alhambra in Granada, where it was 100 F the day we would have gone by bus from Motril. Standing on line for hours and touring the huge complex in the hot sun would have done me in. Burger hates the cold and I hate the heat, so we try to avoid the extremes of both.

Luckily the August heatwave abated a bit (mid 80's) by the time we sailed down the coast to Benalmadena, so we took a 30 minute bus ride from there to Malaga, and visited the smaller but nevertheless impressive 11th century Moorish citadel Alcazaba instead.

Right next to the entrance to Alcazaba is the excavation site of a Roman amphitheater, and a large Cathedral renowned for its missing tower is down the street. Supposedly the funds for the tower were diverted to help the American colonists fight off the English during the Revolutionary War.

The highlight of the day was actually the Pablo Picasso Museum, wonderfully air conditioned, celebrating its 10th anniversary in a beautifully restored Renaissance palace. Picasso was born in Malaga, and family members donated many of his works to the collection.

We had lunch in a sidewalk cafe while being serenaded by a pathetic violinist who murdered Spanish love songs. He was so desperate for tips that he danced, laid down on his back, and did various acrobatics while his playing got worse and worse. No sooner did he leave than he was replaced by an equally bad musician. We were so pleased to hear a talented street guitarist later on that we made a point of complimenting and tipping him.

We strolled along the main pedestrian street of the Old Town, made pleasant with an ingeniously suspended shade cover (see photo above). A cruise ship was in port, and a guided tour group rolled by us on their Segways--why I don't know, since it's a very walkable city. It's also very bike-friendly, with a two-lane bike path winding around town, just like we saw in Palma, Mallorca. A wide, lushly landscaped park promenade, with shady benches and a playground, has been built along the waterfront, welcoming the cruise ship tourists ashore.

Malaga is a commercial port not known for its attractiveness, but their heavy investment in restoration and improvement has paid off, as they've been chosen as the 2016 European Capital of Culture. We unfortunately just missed the traditional 10-day annual festival, with bullfights, parades, Flamenco music, dancing and fireworks. But then, I muse, had we been there I would have melted during the heatwave. Why don't they schedule these things in the spring or fall, when it's cooler?


Halekai on the Hard

22 August 2013 | Almerimar, Costa del Sol
hot and humid
Last painted in Leros, Greece a year ago, Halekai's bottom was growing greener and greener, faster and faster between cleanings. We could have waited a bit longer but Almerimar, a beach town on the Costa del Sol, is supposedly one of the cheapest boatyards in the Med. So we hauled out for new antifouling. It's no fun living on the hard without plumbing, but the two days and nights went by quickly and we splashed this morning, glad to be back afloat.

Having spent quite a bit of time in Spanish-speaking countries over the years (especially Burger, with his several volunteer stints in Ecuador) we manage to communicate quite well in Spain. But in Almerimar it seems more English and German are spoken than Spanish, what with all the expats and yachties here. Chris the boatyard manager is a Brit, as well as the manager of the chandlery. Frank the electronics guy is from Berlin.

Last year we visited Gaby, a childhood neighbor of Burger's, and her husband Himmi, a retired ENT doc from Flensburg, at their summer home in Kos, Turkey. In the meantime they sailed their boat in the Caribbean this past winter and then returned to the Med, parking her here in Almerimar. We found Himmi aboard, preparing for the passage back to Kos. Last night we peppered him with questions about his trip over beer at the Stumble Inn, the local expat hang-out.

Just outside of Almerimar lies a large flat plain that's literally covered in plastic! You can see it if you click on the Follow Our Tracks satellite map to the right of this post. Click on our last position and enlarge it. Under the plastic grows many of the vegetables that feed Europe. Winter gales sometimes send huge sheets of plastic 300 feet square, flying into the sea.

The Rough Guide Was Wrong

18 August 2013 | Cartegena, Spain
An easy overnight sail from Ibiza brought us to Cartegena, Spain. It's not pretty upon approach, with its oil refinery and container shipping harbor, and had we relied on our outdated Rough Guide we would have given it a miss (note to self: buy new guide). It was actually described as "unpleasant," even dangerous at night. But Gini and Manfred spent a week here aboard Mindedal last month, and sang its praises. We're so glad we took their advice.

What luxury! We were ushered into a berth with a finger pontoon in the high security, friendly marina, and the price was a reasonable 50 EUR/night (for our 15 meter length). The old part of town was nearby and very walkable, with its wide harborfront promenade, sculptures, modern museums, narrow medieval streets, tastefully renovated buildings and ancient Roman ruins. The only downside was the ugly graffiti on some buildings and walls. Why can't these people get a life! We walked and walked all over, replenishing our fruit and veggies at the morning market and shopping in a large, blessedly air-conditioned supermercado. We then people-watched while dining on calamari and ice cream.

The 3000 year old city was once a powerful fortress and port of Spain, yet till recently, its history had been sadly neglected. It's been on a major renovation and excavation spree over the last 15 or so years, and it'll only get better. Some streets are lined with just the facades of former buildings, their ornate but crumbling windows and balconies covered with netting and held up with scaffolding, waiting for restoration.

The Roman amphitheater (yet another! I've lost count how many we've toured), right in the heart of the city, was completely buried and forgotten till it was discovered and excavated in the late 1980's, along with Roman baths and other remains of long ago.

Cruise ships have discovered Cartegena, with two in port at the same time our second day there. With their diesel electric engines they docked so silently that we didn't even realize they were there till we looked out the companionway and saw them looming over the marina right next to us.

But the small city is large enough to absorb the masses without becoming overcrowded. By day the streets and shops are filled will pale-faced or sunburnt tourists--we were surprised to see some sitting at one cafe in the broiling midday sun! At night the locals and Spanish tourists come out and take over the many sidewalk restaurants, cafes and bars. Investment in the city has paid off and the tourist business is booming!

Vessel Name: Halekai
Vessel Make/Model: Alden 50 Center Cockpit
Hailing Port: Berlin
Crew: Nancy and Burger Zapf
We sailed around the world in stages aboard Halekai, leaving Annapolis, Maryland in 2004. After several seasons in the South Pacific and Southeast Asia, Halekai was shipped from Thailand to Turkey to avoid the pirates in June 2011. [...]
We left Germany aboard our first boat, Phantasus, a LeComte NorthEast 38, and crossed the Atlantic in 1975. Six years later we spent a year sailing her from the US East Coast to the South Pacific. After acquiring Halekai, our Alden 50, in 1993, we cruised extensiviely up and down the US East [...]
Home Page: http://www.sailblogs.com/member/halekai
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