25 January 2020 | Scarborough marina, Redcliffe Peninsula, Queensland
16 January 2020 | Christchurch
22 December 2019 | Christchurch, New Zealand
16 December 2019 | Christchurch, Canterbury, NZ
28 November 2019 | Christchurch, SI, New Zealand
19 November 2019 | Picton, Marlborough, NZ
04 November 2019 | Collingwood, Tasman, South Island, NZ
04 November 2019 | Collingwood, Tasman, South Island, NZ
29 October 2019 | Nelson, South Island, NZ
22 October 2019 | Christchurch, Te Waka o Māui, New Zealand
15 October 2019 | Scarborough, Queensland
05 October 2019 | Scarborough marina, near Brisbane, Australia
16 August 2019 | Southport Spit, Gold Coast, Australia
06 August 2019 | South Stradbroke Island, Gold Coast, Queensland
15 July 2019 | Boatworks, Coomera River, Gold Coast
25 May 2019 | Biggera Waters, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
12 April 2019 | Coomera River, Gold Coast, Australia
02 April 2019 | Southport, The Gold Coast, Australia
16 March 2019 | Southport, Gold Coast, Australia
09 March 2019 | Currigee, South Stradbroke Island, Gold Coast
20 May 2013 | St Jean De Fos
The Herault River down the road from Toby's place.
Toby - at last
20 May 2013 | St Jean De Fos
Toby is the youngest member of my family. He's been living in St Jean de Fos in the southern approaches to the Cevennes for many years and works in and around the village pruning vines, serving coffees, fire eating and wobbling around on stilts or a monocycle. He's the most idiosyncratic of the family and was good to catch up with. He knows everybody in the unpretentious village and it was a nice experience to sit around as people ambled past. But merde! That bloody mistral was cold and you had to find the sun!
20 May 2013
Photo shows Columbus vaguely pointing out where he was sailing to - supposedly the East Indies, although he never got past the Caribbean. We hope the Delta Airlines pilot knows where America is better than Columbus!
We finally left the boat at Las Palmas and headed for a brief stop in Barcelona and then on to Montpellier in France to see Toby. The cheapest flight to New York was from London and getting to London via Barcelona and Nimes near Avignon in France was a worthwhile diversion. France was a country we had missed when we were crossing the Med last year due to the continual mistral winds. These were blowing for the 3 days we spent in the Montpellier area.
It seems that inhabitants of the district have some interesting folklore about this notorious wind that blows down the Rhone Valley and out into the Med.
Out of the marina at last
09 December 2012 | La Linea anchorage, Andalucia, Spain
Alison, cold and calm
Left the marina at 9 am this morning. An easterly wind - the levanter - is expected all today but the tidal stream leaves us with the choice of crossing the strait in the dark tonight or sidling down to Tarifa in the early hours of tomorrow morning. We have chosen the latter. Still not sure about the possibility of reaching Lanzarote in one hop as the low that was forecast to appear on Thursday is uncertain. The morning departure will allow us to return if the dodgy diesel spits water into the sump on the way and, if it doesn't, it will see us off Rabat before midday and Mohammedia before dark allowing easy entry into either if we so choose to do so. Otherwise, this is the best weather window since we arrived at La Linea and the only thing that will stop us is the state of the engine. If water again appears in the sump we will abandon any further attempt and arrange to fit a new engine in the new year. Meanwhile yet another sister - Susan and partner Nick - are already in Lanzarote and intend to island hop from there through to Tenerife. Perhaps we will meet up?
Gran Canaria sin Saraoni
06 December 2012 | La Linea marina, Andalucia, Spain
Back in La Linea getting the boat ready for departure on Sunday for the Moroccan Atlantic coast (at least). What appeared to be the perfect weather window has again shrunk to three days before a strong low roars in from the West. Dodgy diesel permitting, we should get as far as Mohammedia near Casablanca, or perhaps Rabat, if the swell stays low and then wait there until the northerlies return before sailing south west. Hop, hop......hop. The rhumb line between the Canaries and the Caribbean still shows south westerlies from time to time, so the Atlantic remains odd this year.
We have been in this area since October. so we didn't really think that we were too late to get south but we don't want any headwinds at all if we can help it! There is a continuous eruption of a band of unstable air. Even the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers had to postpone their departure from Gran Canaria from Sun 25th to Tues 27th November because of unseasonal south westerlies. Only some of the racing division yachts left on the scheduled date.
Our trip to Gran Canaria sin Saraoni, was quite unplanned but a secure berth in La linea and cheap flights from Seville made it a good option rather than letting down the two sets of relatives. It also turned out to be a reasonable break from weather watching! With a casa rural booked in the pretty little village of Fataga, we were able to explore most of the island with Sue from Sheffield and Mary and Dave from Bedfordshire. The weather was changeable and windy while we were there. In fact that was why we were there on foot and not on Saraoni. Had the coastline been tranquil and not dogged by enormous swells from the south we would probably have been anchored quite peacefully off Las Palmas marina instead!
Update from Gibraltar
16 November 2012
With 2 sisters descending on Las Palmas in the Canaries in the next week or so, we have delayed departure from Gibraltar until the first week of December. Saraoni's tired diesel has had some open heart surgery here in La Linea and is getting hard to start, so have ordered some more engine spares to take with us when we leave. A little later than expected, but no matter - at least we will not be in a hurry and can choose our route.
Boat all ready to go to hop down the Moroccan coast if the weather pattern still has only a couple of days or so of northerlies at a time before edging down past Lanzarote and Fuerteventura and then straight onto the Verdes.
07 November 2012 | La Linea marina, Andalucia, Spain
Still at La Linea after a low pressure trough developed along the Moroccan Atlantic coast with Easterly gales here in the strait. It has rained now for two days continuously.
The real problem is the wind direction. We need Northerlies to get to the Canaries and there has simply been no weather window for the last month with more than a couple of days of Northerlies. Up to yesterday it appeared that a good window had arrived and many boats up and down the coast from here to Lagos in Portugal were getting ready - but the weather scenario shifted yet again.
We now have another chance next Monday - the long range forecast, which of course cannot be relied upon, shows Northerlies for at least a week - so here's hoping!
Canaries' bound this week
05 November 2012 | Gibraltar / La Linea
We are all set to leave Gibraltar. The weather conditions are mild but there is a continuous band of dull, grey cloud hanging over the rock. Here in La Linea marina some of the late departures like ourselves are contemplating their onward passages as well. We know another yacht called Quilcene, also headed in the same direction, so plan to leave early tomorrow with them. Of course that could all change depending on our perceptions of the weather, which we are continuously monitoring.
Westward Ho! Saraoni is reddy!
23 October 2012 | La Linea, Spain
Alison; warm and sunny, calm sea
Pic shows the Rock at Gibraltar with its trademark cloud cap.
No, not a spelling mistake! The colour refers to the new paint on Saraoni's hull - normally blue. The colour change is not in sympathy with the red dust that periodically descends on Saraoni's decks from the great desert lands to the south - red paint was cheaper than blue paint at Almerimar's boat yard!
We came off the hardstand early yesterday with some new rigging and other improvements and are now plodding along the last of the Mediterranean coast towards Gibraltar. Predictably, the Med has delivered yet again calm seas and a countercurrent of about a knot, so the engine is again asked to do its job.
The news from the Atlantic is not so good. The Azores high pressure system, which is nearly permanently positioned in the North Atlantic, has broken down somewhat and has been replaced by what seems to be a huge, low pressure area producing large swells along the Moroccan Atlantic coast and contrary southwest winds between Gibraltar and the Canaries.
Magellan, Columbus and countless other seafarers, including us, depended on the normally reliable "Portuguese Trades" - the northerlies which take a sailing boat from Europe to the Canaries and beyond. We will just have to wait in Algeciras Bay / Gibraltar until the wind shifts.
Signs of winter are now appearing in Spain - the last front dumped a layer of snow on the Sierrra Nevada mountains past which we are now motoring. This coast is not one to hang around too long - there are no anchorages to speak of until Gibraltar and, despite the grand scenery of gaunt, brown hills, the Spanish have contrived to make an eyesore of their Costa - dull apartment blocks line the beaches while behind are the ever present hordes of plastic polytunnels. Perhaps the coast should be renamed the Costa del Plastico y del Concreto.
More favourably, we have seen gannets plunge-diving for the first tme since the shores of New Zealand (though these are the Northern hemisphere race) and together with shearwaters, petrels and dolphins, perhaps this is a hint that the now nearby Atlantic will yield more marine life.
Next to the Almerimar marina entrance a group of volunteers have been saving the life of an orphaned common dolphin - an area of water has been cordoned off for the last 7 weeks and tents house the people who go into the water with wet suits and snorkels to keep the little dolphin company.
Latest entry - we have now been anchored behind the breakwater at La Linea since yesterday. Wind finally arrived in gentle form from the East as we approached a gloomy looking Rock and the distant view of Morocco to the South. We passed serried ranks of large ships anchored or drifting near the eastern end of the Straits as we negotiated the overfalls around Europa point. A very British voice came over the VHF asking a pesky Guardia Civil to verify their intentions in "British Gibraltar territorial waters". The rock was shrouded in cloud and it blew 30 knots in gusts as we rounded the point into Algeciras Bay. Rather coincidentally, Alison's sister, Susan, was in Gibraltar that day for a trade union health and safety conference and the Easy Jet she took off in back to London passed just over our mast as we sailed up towards La Linea!
Since our arrival we have been treated to some very British weather. It has been cold, grey and wet, but to be fair to Gibraltar, the weather is widespread right across this part of Spain and nearby Morocco, too.
Safe arrival in Menorca
28 July 2012 | Mahon - Cala Teulera
Hot and busy
Pic shows Saraoni on passage between Sardinia and the Balearics courtesy of Kit and Belinda on SV Quilcene
We finally left the tranquilty of Porto Conti at the crack of dawn and set sail, almost in convoy, with yachts Ice Maiden, Katanne and Quilcene. Sailing was probably the wrong word as the motor was switched on immediately.
The sea had calmed down considerably since the windy conditions of the last three days and it was reasonably comfortable as we rounded Capo Caccia and set a course directly for the entrance of Mahon harbour on Menorca, 180 miles away.
The weather indicated unfavourable winds to start with, but fortunately we could actually set the sails and the engine was soon turned off and we could just about make 5 knots under sail. Whoopee! We found out that Katanne had left 4 hours earlier and were already well ahead and Ice Maiden streamed off into the distance while ourselves and Quilcene drifted along determined to sail at least some of the way. The wind dropped after a few hours as we drifted through the centre of a small high and it wasn't until at least 6 hours later that we picked up the expected easterlies on its western side.
They didn't really amount to much but kept us on course and with the engine on we managed to reach the frighteningly overcrowded inlet of Cala Teulera. The summer boating fraternity is certainly out in full force. Flags of many countries are bobbing up in the anchorage around us.