Moondance's Travels

02 May 2016
24 July 2015 | Portosin Marina
29 May 2015 | Gijon Spain
24 May 2015 | L'Orient
18 May 2015 | Camaret
13 May 2015 | Roscoff
10 May 2015 | Lezardrieux
02 May 2015 | Weymouth Custom House quay
30 April 2015 | Lymington
29 April 2015 | Wicor - Portchester
21 April 2015 | Wicor Marine Portsmouth Harbour
18 March 2015 | Hayling Island
29 January 2015 | Hayling Island
07 October 2014 | Hayling Island
08 July 2014 | Portsmouth Harbour

Season 2016

02 May 2016
Well its been a busy and hectic winter with buying and selling a house and catching up with all our friends many of which had also been away sailing for the summer.

Finally we arrived at Moondance on 20th April unfortunately we are unable to sail this time as we had decided after a the problems we had with a very stiff rudder and it breaking our autopilot, to order a new rudder from the USA. All went smoothly with the ordering and the shipping until it got to Spain where because of and admin error by the Spanish office of UPS it was delayed by 3 weeks. Finally it was sorted out after 5 days of constant phoning and the rudder was delivered to the boat yard. Moondance was hauled out and we nervously checked the copper coat which we had done before we left England. We were pleasantly surprised there were only a couple of areas that needed re-coating so all in all not too much work needed to be done.

Jim organised with the yard to have help taking out the old rudder and putting in the new one. He was very pleased how easily taking out the old one was and putting in the new one. The yard engineer was excellent and within 4 hours the whole operation was completed.

As were not allowed to stay on board over night we went to a local hotel, unfortunately Jim fell ill with a sickness virus very similar to the one I had had a few weeks ago in UK but worse. Although really poorly we managed to get the rudder copper coated but we were unable to get many other jobs done so we will have to do them in a few days.

Once all the jobs completed it will be time to return home to England to finish the jobs off in our new house. We decided we would take a year's contract at the marina so when we will be back mid June when we are looking forward to sailing to Smir and Ceuta on the Moroccan coastline and maybe down to the the canaries and back.

Finally in the Rias Bajas

24 July 2015 | Portosin Marina
Alison - Cloudy but getting better
After nearly a month in and around La Coruna we are once again on our way and have arrived in the southern Ria’s of Galicia.

Apologies for not updating the blog more regularly but we have had a very busy month as our two daughters and grandsons joined us, our oldest daughter having flown in from Australia for the first time in a couple of years. We had already spent some time researching and sampling the area and took them out to Ria Ares to anchor after a couple of days acclimatisation in the big city!

After a day at anchor we sailed about a bit not going very far and visited Sada and Redes as well as Ares again. Redes is a particular favourite of ours with its small quaint town – 2 bars and lovely secluded beach. Our grandson’s especially enjoyed jumping of the back of Moondance, going to the beach and learning to drive the dingy. We also spent a number of days in La Coruna itself enjoying the tapas and our daughter’s the shopping! We have had sunny and hot and cloudy and rainy days but La Coruna had plenty to keep us occupied.

Not least of course we have stuffed ourselves eating out in the many, many restaurants in the town. Not least at Escribo – or Paula’s bar – a local lady who lived and worked for a number of years in and around Croydon. We have also visited Santiago de Compostela. We all visited the Tower of Hercules, the oldest working lighthose dating from Roman time. Alison together with Josh and Katie had a go on a Segway which wasn’t quite the success she had hoped and she crashed and landed on the road bumping her head, skinning her elbow and bruising two toes, ankle and legs. To add insult to injury she had to get back on the damm thing to take it back. Our oldest grandson who was with her (he was much the best at driving it!) thought she was trying to do a bmx stunt on it!! The kids also got quite expert at fishing in the marina following the example of the locals and caught quite a few wish – although given the screams each time were not quite sure what to do with them!

Now the boat is all back to normal all guests having departed  and we have given her a clean, shopping all done so we set off to Corme y Laxe . As is usual for us of course the trip round was foggy although the sea state was good with little swell we anchored just for the night and didn’t go ashore.

The next day we set off early for Camarinas the day started off okay but again the fog came up and it was chilly. Fortunately the sea state was still good with little swell. We had a bit of fog but it cleared as we came into Camarinas. We anchored in the harbour opposite the decorated fishing boats as it was the festival of Carmen of the Sea. Once we were settled we heard a band playing on the quay and a crowd had gathered to watching some traditional dancing so we decided to take a look and got the dingy out and headed for the town.

Unfortunately the activities had finished by the time we arrived but the funfair, some stalls and drinking tents had been set up and were open for business. Along the quay a very large truck was setting out large speakers with a stage being inside the back of the truck this could only mean one thing…….it’s was going to be a sleepless night!! As we walked round the little town we saw posters detailing the programme for the weekend; and yes there was a band in the afternoon and a disco starting at 11pm!
We stopped to watch the band for a little while in the afternoon and headed back to the boat. One of the boats we were with in La Coruna arrived in the afternoon and it was nice to see Pierre and Anne—Marie on Jubilare II. After we had a snooze in the afternoon we took the dingy over to say hello Pierre and Anne-Marie and another wander around the town and to do a bit of food shopping.

As predicted we didn’t get a great night’s sleep and as the next night promised the same we decided to head off and go to Muros. However as we got out of the Ria the wind got up to 26 knots and it was very foggy with a quite a swell; as we were tired we decided not to continue and headed back to Camarinas luckily by this time 8.30am the disco had stopped so once safely anchored we headed back to bed…….

…about an hour later we woke as we could hear voices very close by so Jim poked his head out of the cockpit to find we had neighbours, very, very close neighbours! A steel boat was lying alongside of us with two people on board trying to keep us apart. After a frantic grabbing of fenders and lots of pushing and shoving we discovered that the steel boat with a Dutch couple on it had its anchor over ours as it had dragged and they were now attached to us (or keep going out to sea).

The problem was that they had no engine as it had packed up just off the Spanish coast having had to motor all the way from the Azores and they had sailed into the anchorage and being very tired had anchorerd in 8m of water with just 10m of chain out. As there was no easy way to untangle us, them not having a motor, It was decided that the Dutch boat had to bring up its anchor, they only had a manual windlass,) Jim managed with some pulling and a boat hook to pick up their anchor and lift it over our chain. However without an engine the Dutch boat could not anchor safely as there were lots of other boats anchored and with the now strong wind blowing they would be in danger of crashing into them. We tied them onto Moondance, upped our anchor and towed them to the marina, however we did have to remind them that they need to steer their boat in order to successfully get alongside the hammerhead.
Afterwards we re-anchored and felt our anchor had really proved itself and that Moondance has a great engine, but we would rather not have had this experience. In the late afternoon we met up with Pierre and Anne-Marie who took us round the bay to the local Sardinas party that the town puts on for the locals. We enjoyed some folk dancing, bread and sardines washed down with local wines as much as you can drink from little pottery wine jugs. A good ending of the day. As we returned through the town we noticed that this time there were 2 stage lorries setting up opposite each other!! So we knew we were going to be for another noisy night but luckily the music this time was traditional and all quietened down relatively early.

The next day was windy and horrible so we remained at anchor and fired up the generator for some hot water. Later it warmed up a bit so we went ashore for a walk meeting up with Pierre and Anne-Marie.

Next morning we left early for our trip round Finisterre as we got out of the Ria the sea state was calm although the sun was out about an hour out we hit a thick fog bank which we basically spent the whole journey in until we arrived at the entrance to Ria Muros when we popped out into sunshine. This of course meant that we missed seeing the famous Finisterre light house.

We decided to anchor in the bay over the far side from the town as we had been told that nearer the town the anchorage was not good with the possibility of fouling the anchor and we didn’t want another anchoring incident. When we dingyed in we found a delightful old town with lots of lovely buildings and little lanes. Naturally there are lots of bars and restaurants, the town had lots of holiday makers in it and there was market, not a big one but had a good selection of stalls both fruit and veg and clothing. We discovered that the marina has berth that a more than big enough for Moondance and the pontoon’s looked to fairly new. However the marina was by no means full we couldn’t see any Brit boats in there were a couple with Irish flags but mainly French, Belgium and Dutch.

We spent 2 nights at anchor off Muros but as the water looked a little oily didn’t fancy swimming in that so we headed off to Portosin and the marina to get cleaned up and have swim on the beach that is five minutes’ walk from the marina. Joy lovely fast free internet!! And a 25% CA discount making the cost about £22 a night high season with electricity and water– eat your heart out Solent.
Here we have met an Irish couple Cormack and Barbara on Island Life who keep their boat at Portosin, he is 80 and loves to spend his summer here. We are spending 3 nights here as it is a delightful marina if next to a rather dull town. There is a supermarket close by within 10 minutes walk but the local town is not particularly interesting although there a number of nice bars and restaurants. The port is a very busy fishing harbour and about 7am and 11pm a siren goes off which indicates that there is a fishing boat coming in with a catch.

We have had our first try at geocaching (have ac hat with Mr Google to find out wat it is)– not very successfully – we think we found the location but not the chache. Today the weather is dull following a windy, rainy night. Tomorrow is supposedly good so we are hopefully off to the next Ria – Arousa. We will try harder at more regular updates.

Sunny Spain – yea right!!

12 June 2015
Where is the sun then – south of us as usual. We have been sitting for a few days in grey and cloudy Viverio. This is a lovely safe harbour and a great place to sit for a week while the weather (wind) and especially the swell dies down so we can carry on moving along the coast. Luckily we have only another 50 or 60 miles to go before we get to La Coruna to meet up with our daughter and grandchildren at the end of June. (We have to keep reminding ourselves it is June in Spain and we have jumpers and coats on and consider firing up the heating in the evenings!!)
Where have we been since the last instalment (I must get better at dong this blogging thing – Alison is great at Facebook).

We had a great time in Gijon and cannot recommend team at marina Yates highly enough. Nothing was too much trouble – (and they gave us a large discount). For example we needed to get a refill for our Camping Gaz cylinder, I was told to just leave it with the office – they drove around and found one for the next day at no extra charge. We also hopefully got a bit fitter cycling into town and easily won the competition for the most shopping that can be carried on 2 bikes!!
Sadly the time came to move on. We were told of the delights of some small fishing harbours but the swell made them impossible to enter – unless you were an expert at white water rafting – given the crashing waves at the entrances. We settled instead on the safe entrance to the commercial port of Alviles. Commercial was not joking, the Ria is lined with big ships loading and unloading lots of bulk cargoes we think for the local steel works. Opposite the marina was a factory making wind turbines (well I thought it was interesting – Jim). The marina itself was OK but expensive and not very confidence inspiring given the number of holes in the pontoons – lots of space available though for some reason?

The old town is apparently great but we decided to stay just the one night and set off early the next morning for the small fishing harbour of Luarca. After an earlyish start, on a grey and dismal morning, four hours later we poked our nose carefully (avoiding the rocks) into Luarca to me met by a concrete wall and 5 tatty looking buoys, all surprisingly empty with plenty of swell and wash from the passing fishing boats. Alison takes one look (I know that look well) and without a word we turn round and head out again. The books paint a pretty picture of the town and maybe on a sunny day………………

We head instead for Ribadeo a harbour a few miles up a lovely Ria and under a very high bridge. We were hoping to anchor for the first time this season but again the swell and crashing waves around the first recommended anchorage put us off for some reason. We headed instead into the marina. Now we have a system for mooring up – as most cruising couples do (that doesn’t sound right somehow). We were all prepared and eying up a suitable berth when a helpful mariner waves us over to his choice. The wind is now blowing 20 knots straight into the harbour entrance and (technical bit) it meant we had to moor with the wind blowing on our side pushing us off the pontoon we are trying to tie to. We failed miserably – but no problem just let the wind blow us down between the boats to the main pontoon. We are not allowed to moor here and this time make for the pontoon of our choice. The friendly mariner ‘helps’ and pulls in our bow line with a violent tug sending the stern out in the opposite direction – those who sail will know what I am talking about. No harm done just a pain.
We are soon tied up – kettle on – pain au raisin munched – ½ hour of normal marina admin done and we settle into what is a really lovely town. We have a short walk that evening and the next day set off up the hill to the main old part. What a lovely place, beautiful buildings, 2 drinks – unlimited tapas – 2.50 euro – Lidl – heaven.

Only one slight problem – the swell. The harbour does not have a wave break across the entrance – as they explained in the office they don’t have the money for it. Any swell comes right in and you rock like mad snatching against the mooring ropes. The weather forecast for the following week is lots of wind and swell so after 2 nights and following the recommendation of 2 Dutch boats that arrive from the west, we decide to move onto the more sheltered Viveiro 30 odd miles down the coast. Still we got the bimini up as it was a bit sunny just in time to shelter us from the rain.

The misty, but thankfully calmer start, meant that all he electronics were on and we were able to play with the radar for real for a change. As we travelled along the coast, which is beautiful, it gradually cleared and we had a bit of sunshine as we entered the ria later in the afternoon, we even managed to sail a bit. The ria is a gem and a the bottom is the very sheltered marina which even as the wind stared to blow later didn’t allow even a ripple to enter – peace at last, if not warm weather.
We met another English couple Moira and Bill on their Malo who are travelling in the opposite direction and also holed up here waiting out the weather. A visit to the tourist office informed us that the traditional Corpus Christie celebration was taking place on Sunday. The pavements are decorated with flower petals with the women and children spending most of Saturday night with templates laying out patterns all over town. We met up on Sunday and over some drinks and a lot of free tapas watched the procession and bands in the main town square.

Due to the poor weather often cold with showers and now high winds we are resigned to being here for a week. Bill and Moira hired a car and we travelled around sightseeing in the cloud and wind sampling the coffee and tapas in lots of bars. The amount and variety of free tapas is amazing and we have become evening regulars in 2 bars that ply us with a range from calamari through croquettes and pizza.

Yesterday we went on a trip on the local light railway to Ferrol. This is a working Naval town and hasn’t got a lot going for it other than Lidl. The 2 hour train journey each way was great thogh and gave us an opportunity to see a lot of the countryside you just don’t see from a boat.

The forecast for the next few days id better so we are planning to move on to a nearby (30 miles) ria called Cederia where we hope to anchor for the first time on this trip – let’s just hope the weather holds.

Hola its Gijon

29 May 2015 | Gijon Spain
Jim Sunny at last
Well it's hola rather than bonjour - we have arrived in Gijon - Northern Spain, about halfway between the corner and Santander.

Still having internet fun and games - trying to get a good signal.

Anyway the story so far. After a great 3 days in L'Orient we decided to move on with the initial aim of going to Belle Isle. When we got out there the weather was so good we decided we might as well head for Spain - despite having got a long range forecast that said the next few days were better than the day we chose.

Off we go but after a few hours the wind has built to 25 knots and the sea state was not good - so bad that poor Alison was having problems in the galley preparing the next few days meals - soup casserole, a few cakes - the usual stuff!!.

After a serious ear bashing from the galley slave the skipper takes the hint and implements the original plan and we have a fast sail downwind to Le Palais on Belle Isle. Arriving here is interesting not least because the harbour is small but still takes in local RoRo ferries - at speed and of course one had to arrive at the same time as us. Excitement over we now have to moor up. Here you take a line to a buoy at the bow and another from the stern to a chain on the harbour wall all aided by an excitable French harbourmaster. No real panic and we end up moored alongside three lovely gents from Dublin on their Bavaria - Muglins.

We have a nice quiet evening punctuated by the ferry every hour or so and don't bother to go ashore. We do discover that the fridge has packed up - diagnosed as a faulty thermostat - it is full of water and rusty. Jim has temporarily shorted it out and we now switch the thing on and off every few hours - if we get it wrong everything freezes!!

Next morning about 10 its off again for Spain - we have a 3 day weather window with light winds and smoothish seas promised, so, as we need to be in La Coruna for the end of June to meet our daughters and grandchildren, we thought we ought to make the best of the opportunity so off we trotted.

For those who have never done a (relatively) long trip on a boat - it can be boring - punctuated with moments of excitement - or in some cases sheer bloody terror - in our case we did a lot of reading - had several moments of excitement when visited by pods of dolphins (I will try to post on Youtube hopefully here ) - and luckily no terror (yet). For most of the 40 hour - 295 nautical mile crossing we had lightish winds and had to motor sail. Thankfully it was warm and comfortable until about 40 miles out.

The wind then picked up from the stern and we started to roll a bit just at the time we came amongst the anchovy fleet. Hundreds of the buggers it seemed coming from all directions just as it is getting dark - still it kept us awake after 36 hours - not that we hadn't managed to sleep luckily.

As we had had a fast passage we arrived early, 2am in fact n the dark, rather than the 7-8am, daylight planned (Note from Alison - skipper needs better planning tools) - that made it dark. If you can imagine an unfamiliar major port at night there are a lot of lights, on cars, ships, lampposts etc. etc. and amongst them a south cardinal buoy you are looking for with a white light flashing 6 + 1. Eventually spotted, thankfully and now to work out where the marina is.

We had already made the decision between the town marina and Marina Yates (pronounced yat es). We heard reports that Yates was more economical (cheap - that did it) but outside town. Arriving at 2AM was interesting especially as not shown in the pilot guides and charts we discovered a newly built wave-break wall (see photo) - concrete blocks 12 foot high - halfway across the entrance. No problem as we were travelling slowly and saw it just in time!

Plenty of nice long, empty finger berths available and one of the most helpful teams I have met at a marina (not at 2 am I hasten to add). A few hours sleep and we are up and about to sort out the Internet - seems to have become a primary aim at the moment - note to self - get over it!!.

The marina is located on the edge of town but with the free loan bikes and dedicated cycleway this is not a problem especially as there is a massive Carrefour hypermarket not far away - plus the offer of a lift from one of the team if we needed it. Jesus the manager is excellent and cannot be more helpful. We nip into a restaurant in the old town for sardinas co ensalada mixta - yummy.

The repair facilities look great and we have been quickly sorted out with a spare part for our fridge (cold rather than frozen beer from now on), well hopefully in a few days when it arrives from Barcelona.

Possibly thanks to the new wave-break wall it is very calm and quiet in here and yes the price is reasonable (32 euro high season for our 13.5m). The facilities are excellent - large individual shower-toilet rooms and a good reasonably priced washer and dryer - plus the free bikes. It is also very secure as it is part of the port which requires security guard access (24 hour). Not many visitor boats about in either marina at the moment.

The town looks fantastic and we are looking forward to a few days here sampling the cider and Galician food. At the moment it is a tidy up - cleaning - visit to the tourist office and Carrefour and a chill.

Speak soon
Alison and Jim

Decision time in L'Orient

24 May 2015 | L'Orient
Jim sunnier
I am getting fed up with lousy internet connections. This is the second time I have typed this post as when I hit the send button last time the connection dropped out and the blog editor lost the lot. The first bit of news therefore – the internet could be better.

The second bit, we have moved on from windy Camaret where we had a good time but were getting fidgety. We had a good sail through the notorious Raz du Sein –whirlpools and fantastic tidal streams to Benodet. Luckily it was a very calm day and the swell had settled down so we had a smooth passage through and out the other side where the wind died and we motor sailed to Saint Marie on the West /North bank at Benodet. This is a beautiful town, like a Greek harbour that has been tidied up in the way only the French can.
We decided we needed to keep moving so only stayed one night and then moved onto L’Oient. This is a large port town that was flattened by us during the war – to get the submarine pens built here. We decided to try the town quay marina but it was a bit dingy and crowded so we turned round in a tight space and headed back to Kernevel marina and were glad we did. It is large, cheap (22 euro per night) and friendly. It is also a great place for cycling with proper cycle highways. The marina has loan bikes do off to the supermarche and the submarine pens for a visit.

The pens and submarine museum are worthwhile – but don’t bother with the guided tour you can virtually do it yourself using the English leaflet. Even the French were bored by standing and looking re beton (concrete ½ million tonnes of it!!) It would be useful if they strategically place some information boards so you knew which bit of concrete you were looking at.
Today (Sunday) we cycled to the local market which was bustling in the sun – yes we have broken the T shirts out but not quite the shorts. Later we walked back to the same area via the immaculate beach and ice cream parlour.

After 3 nights here we are off to Belle Isle tomorrow and then if the weather holds on Tuesday making the crossing to Spain. It is 260 miles and will take us about 48 hours if all goes well so please keep your fingers crossed

Weather bound (again) in Camaret

18 May 2015 | Camaret
Jim/Alison wet and windy
Well where are we now? We are finally headed south and have arrived in Camaret in the Brest peninsula. We left Roscoff on Friday early (6am what is it with the tides around here!!) and sailed in very rough seas 4 – 6m swells in company with new friends Swansong and Delphinus to L’Aberwrach on the end of the Finisterre peninsula. To say the coast here is rocky is a real understatement and the entrance to the harbour channel is not for the faint hearted – without the comfort of the pilot guides it does not look possible.

We have decided it is not really worth just staying one night as you don’t get much of an opportunity to see anything. So we staid 2 nights. Alison and Jane from Delphinus decided to cycle to the large supermarket nearby. 4 hours later they reappeared – apparently it was a lot further than the 3.5km indicated on the signs – nothing to do with the bars and shops on the way!!.

The weather is still generally cold – a bit of sun in the afternoon but we still have the heating on at night.
On Sunday (surprisingly at 6am!!) we set off again with Swansong for Camaret. During this passage we had to pass through one of the areas notorious tidal gates – the Chenal du Four. This is the place with the famous picture of the lighthouse with waves crashing right over it. Luckily we got the tidal timings right – hence the 6am start – and passed through in calm weather with the tide with us.

For the non-nautical one of the conditions that makes the sea very rough is when the wind blows in the opposite direction to the tide. Add to this a rising bottom – i.e. the sea is getting shallower and you have the perfect conditions for overfallls – breaking seas which can be very dangerous. The Chenal du Four and the next one for us the Raz du Sein are notorious areas for this to occur.

Anyway we arrived safely in Camaret and tied up in the outer harbour. After lunch and the obligatory siesta we went for a wander, ice cream and met up with Caroline and Johnathan on Swansong for a drink. Jim is now booked to go up their mast tomorrow to retrieve some errant bunting that is attached to their rigging. The town if full of little artist’s shops and workshops so here is a lot to gawk at.
The weather has turned horrible again – surprise surprise – and it looks like we will be staying here for a few days before the next 60 mile hop to Benodet. We need fair weather to negotiate the Raz and guess what – it looks like a 5AM start this time – joy unbounded!!

Today is a washing and work day therefore and possibly moules frits for tea. If it is still bad tomorrow we may hire a car from Super U (great supermarket) and drive round to Brest
Vessel Name: Moondance
Vessel Make/Model: Hunter Legend 460
Hailing Port: Portsmouth
Crew: Jim and Alison
About: We have been sailing over 25 years mainly South Coast of England. Took our last yacht to Greece via French canals. We are planning to take Moondance to Greece to but we may well head off to the Carribbean you will just have to keep an eye on the blog to see what we decide!
Moondance's Photos - Main
6 Photos
Created 29 May 2015
No Photos
Created 29 May 2015
4 Photos
Created 18 May 2015
The trip from L'Aberwrach to Camaret
7 Photos
Created 18 May 2015
6 Photos
Created 13 May 2015
3 Photos
Created 10 May 2015
Some pictures of the harbour in Braye Alderney
4 Photos
Created 10 May 2015
Crossing from Lymington to Weymouth and rafted up on Weymouth Custom House Quay
6 Photos
Created 2 May 2015
2 Photos
Created 30 April 2015