Global Voyageur

Be a virtual voyager - join the tartan navy to follow the Mackays on their return to Scotland

21 June 2012 | Clyde Marina, Ardrossan
20 June 2012 | North Channel, Irish Sea
17 June 2012 | Bay of Biscay
15 June 2012 | Coruna Marina, La Coruna
14 June 2012 | Marina Coruna, La Coruna
13 June 2012 | North Atlantic Ocean
12 June 2012 | North Atlantic Ocean
09 June 2012 | North Atlantic Ocean
07 June 2012 | Ponta Delgaga
06 June 2012 | Ponta Delgada
04 June 2012 | Angra
02 June 2012 | Horta, Faial
01 June 2012 | Horta , Faial
28 May 2012 | North Atlantic Ocean
25 May 2012 | North Atlantic Ocean
24 May 2012 | North Atlantic Ocean
23 May 2012 | North Atlantic Ocean
22 May 2012 | North Atlantic Ocean
21 May 2012 | North Atlantic Ocean
20 May 2012 | North Atlantic Ocean

Good to be going

19 September 2009 | Marina Bay Marina, Gibraltar
Susan Mackay
Monday 14th September
We are now in week seven. Our delivery from "Snailspeed" finally arrived last week. The 70GBP given as a goodwill gesture barely covers the cost of all the dozens of phone calls David had to make to the UK. Now we are awaiting our B&G processor dispatched from the UK today (Monday). That has been nearly as long and convoluted story as the other one.
Every week we cross the border to do our weekly shopping in Mercadona Supermarket. (I can save one third of my bill than if I were to shop in Morrisons and the fruit and vegetables are non-refridgerated, so important on this kind of trip, and in season from Spain. Everything in Morrisons is brought in by road from the UK and chilled). Every week we have had to wash Voyageur's decks and rigging and canvasses from bow to stern. Every week I say to David surely to goodness this is the last week that we have to do this.....
But..... we had the pleasure of meeting up with one family, who arrived here in preparation for setting off on the latest Blue Water Rally. Aboard "Miss Tippy" an Oyster 56, are Sheila, Brian and their lovely children, Charlotte, Freddie and Annie. David and I briefly "adopted" them during our enforced stay here. I didn't know whether to liken them to the "Swiss Family Robinson" or the "Von Trapp" family, somewhere between the two I think, for they do have a home in Switzerland and are about to discover many "treasure island's" for themselves on their own adventure of a lifetime.

Our "Miss Tippy" family -Sheila,Brian & the children
I am as excited for them as I am for our own trip. Freddie gave me his own small monkey as a cruising companion for Max. Max and I were thrilled to bits, even if it does mean that now I have to make another lifejacket........ David grumbled at having the responsibility for yet another member of the crew.

Max with his new pal Freddie
The girls and I "networked". They taught me how to make "Scooby Doo's" while I showed them the rudiments of macramé. Voyageur's cockpit took on the mantel of a "Blue Peter" studio.

How to keep them quiet!

Cookery class on Voyageur
The Status Quo concert staged in an adjacent car park on Gibraltar Day, 10th September, also provided some light relief and entertainment, and reminded us how old we really were. "Look" David said, "they've got white hair" and.... so they had!!

Status Quo on stage

Rock through the ages
ARC and World ARC boats have started to arrive...... and depart. Dick and Irene Craig kindly invited us along with Paul (Peejay) for a scrumptious dinner aboard their boat "Tucanon", a Lagoon Catamaran. Like others before them we waved goodbye as they left for the Canaries. When will be our turn?

Thursday 17th September
Goodbye, goodbye, Gibraltar
Suddenly it is all go! We are g..g..going.... to be going. We are actually leaving Gibraltar. To say we are glad is an understatement. We are ECSTATIC! Never in all our years of cruising have we ever spent so long in a place and now I cannot remember ever feeling so excited about the coming trip, as much as when we originally left Scotland , as much as when we departed here four years ago at the start of the BWR. But the mood aboard last night was a very sombre one indeed. After spending 1,150GBP, we were back where we had started from, seven long weeks ago. The processor had arrived back in the afternoon and after being reinstalled, we STILL had the same fault. Today however, it is an altogether different story. After a phone call to B&G this morning they explained to the technician that it was now a configuration problem. Within 5 minutes David had it fixed. The atmosphere aboard our little ship has become light hearted and bearable again. The "bear" on board had become a pussycat! More progress followed throughout the day with David at last able to send and receive emails through our SSB. Now there is a real buzz aboard Voyageur and indeed our imminent departure has taken on a degree of urgency. One last dash across the border to shop in La Linea and then of course a final visit to M&S and Morrisons. We were going to have a celebratory meal at the wonderful restaurant where John and Jenny treated us a few weeks ago, but having spent a small fortune on repair costs we now feel we cannot afford it. However as a compromise we dined at Roy's World Famous fish & chip restaurant. Never mind, there will be very many opportunities in the coming months to wine and dine in style ashore. We celebrate aboard Voyageur with Voyageur, turn the music up loud (we have not been able to use the CD player for the weeks that the processor has been absent) and.... discuss all our departure duties. David has decided Saturday, will be.... OUR LAST DAY IN GIBRALTAR! Life is busy and purposeful once more and we..... have come to life! It feels so good to be rushing around again. There is much to do. I make a moussaka for our first night out, (I would not normally do this but I don't trust myself in the galley after such a long enforced time in harbour), chocolate crunch (David's favourite afternoon tea time treat), the sea berth is made up, the navigation lights tested, our downwind poles set in position, the engine and generator checked one more final time, our tropical side screens replaced by the foul weather ones.

Sea berth-ready & waiting
David tested our lifejackets. A good thing too, for he found that the one I had been wearing on our journey across the Med, bought in 2005, failed to inflate! The whole boat was given a thorough wash, a last laundry hung out. No sooner than that was done we had our first really significant downpour since May. Down came all the dirt and dust accumulated in the rigging during all the hot summer months, so much so that I had to rinse our sheets again. Thank goodness for my washing machine. Everything above decks gets so dirty so quickly here due to the oil refineries in nearby Algeciras and the airport runway situated right beside the marina. We were horrified to discover the other day when we took down our genoa to "practice" with our twin pole headsail system that the sail, valeted over the winter in Bodrum was covered with a film of greasy grey grime. The only complaint now is that our Fleetwood Mac CD having been played to death on our last circumnavigation is on its last legs and must be replaced. It is quite unthinkable to go round the world again without it. So it is all systems go.

A tidy saloon at last
Now all that we are waiting for is a suitable weather window which will not be until Sunday, which combined with a west going tidal stream at 8am makes for a perfect departure. When you have been here seven weeks what are another couple of days. For many days now there have been strong south westerlies, not the kind of winds to go out into the Straits and past Tarifa Point. We have received an email from Paul on yacht Peejay warning us that there were literally hundreds of tunny nets off the African coast and after going over three he had to cut himself free from a fourth. This news has caused us to rethink our exit plan from Gibraltar. Now instead of scooting across the shipping lanes as we had also intended to do, we are going to hug the Spanish coast until well beyond Tarifa then make our turn west and south towards Madeira. Oh, to be gone from Gibraltar!

P.S. Max.... seems to be accumulating quite a fan club. If we are not careful I can see him usurping the skipper's status aboard this boat. I think we are going to have to watch our furry friend with a keener eye from now on......

Why are we waiting... waiting... waiting...!!

04 September 2009 | Marina Bay Marina
Susan Mackay

Ocean Village, Gibraltar

Casemates Gate
Gibraltar - Rock of ages
And we....... have been ages under this lump of rock waiting on the goods we ordered from the London Boat Show in January. We are here.... but the goods are not. What can be so difficult? Progress has been painfully slow and the saga behind it very long and complicated so I shall endeavour to make it as brief as possible. Seven weeks ago now we chased the company to dispatch our order. The first shipment, sent on the 29th July as a whole, was returned to the UK suppliers without any explanation, at which point it was then split into three. Finally after four weeks of waiting we received the first consignment but only at David's third attempt to collect it. Not knowing what the package contained, he went to Gibraltar post office, only to discover it was too heavy, (it was his diving equipment). On the second visit he took a taxi only to be told he required not only his passport but also the ship's papers. He was so shocked at the price of the taxi hire, no more than a five minute ride away from the marina that on his third sortie he borrowed a trolley and finally came home with the goods. After more than two weeks of trying to track the second consignment it was finally traced to an office in Cadiz. Inadequate paperwork was to blame for this second delay and only after David sought the assistance of Phillipa, of Marina Maintenance, here in Gibraltar, who knew the "ins and outs" of importing hazardous goods, was it all sorted out. We honestly believe we would still not have taken delivery of the new liferaft if it had not been for her efforts. The third and final part of our order has been twice to Gatwick airport and once to Heathrow via three different sets of suppliers over a period of five weeks without ever leaving the country. Changing the delivery company, now, for the fourth time, as of today, September 4th, the tracking process reveals our package has reached Madrid. Hola! We are getting close! The problem seemed to stem from the fact that the goods are classed as hazardous because of the gas cylinders. What we fail to understand is why the entire order was not sent by road in the first instance. Alarm bells did go off as far back as April when during a phone call to a member of the sales staff, David once more advised them that the consignment would have to come by road, which led to the suggestion that the gas cartridge could simply be removed from the liferaft! Naturally that left us with the sinking feeling that things could possibly go horribly wrong! It goes without saying that this whole sorry episode has tested David's patience beyond the limits of endurance and the moral of this story can only be that Gibraltar is an extraordinarily difficult place to import goods. In short, the money saved on having the goods delivered here vat free has not been worth the grief.
But there is a silver lining to the cloud that has hung over us here in Gbiraltar. Brian Kernaghan (what a star!) of Ocean Safety Services in Palma, Majorca, got our serviced Jonbouy back to us in just a few days (Ocean Safety UK agreed to replace our damaged casing free of charge after David wrote to them). At this moment in time we will not disclose how we got it back, but suffice to say that it is once more sitting snuggly on our port aft guardrail! Well done Brian!
In addition our Onan generator has had an ongoing intermittent fault from one year ago, still unresolved in spite of being looked at in Bodrum. So we hoped to get to the bottom of the problem now as there is an agent for Onan right here in Gibraltar. After one unsuccessful visit to find the fault which of course didn't show itself, a further visit ensued to remove the heat exchanger which was found to be partially blocked. A final visit to reinstall the heat exchanger and replace the coolant left a bit of a dent in the bank balance but we now have hopes that the problem has been fixed. However no time in the world would have been enough to have a canvas cover made for the new tender. The sailmaker in Almerimar was simply too busy and the one here could not obtain the required fastenings and fittings as Spain is on holiday for the month of August. So it will have to be the Canaries for that. On our way here from Almerimar our wind direction instrument stopped functioning and after calling in an electronics expert working out of Sotogrande, in Spain, it has been returned to Brookes and Gatehouse in the UK for repair. It appears it is a problem in the main processor. Our Pactor modem for the SSB transmitter had also packed up (a result of the near lightning strike we suffered while at anchor in Turkey) and was returned to the makers in Germany. Within a matter of days we received an email saying that it had also been repaired and would be returned to us, very good news indeed. On reflection, with the multiple instrument failures that we have encountered/experienced since our near lightning strike, far more damage was done than at first thought, and had we realized this we would have made a claim. (John Morse was good enough to collect it on our behalf from the post office in Nerja). All these things take time and..... we have had the time. We firmly believe that the key to undertaking a trip such as this is in the planning and preparation and to that end we are never in a hurry. Of course things will always go wrong but there is such a thing as damage limitation.
Doris and Terry came for a final, final farewell lunch. We do not now anticipate having any more visitors for some time so it really does feel that we are leaving on a long journey. Something also tells me we must go before I spend any more money in M&S!

Farewell to Doris & Terry
What a difference a week makes!
For the past few weeks easterlies have prevailed, bringing with it an early morning haar, in addition to a great grey cloud that clung to the top of the rock like a blanket. By early afternoon the temperature would climb to the mid thirties, the humidity frequently as high as 80% when would swelter in the cockpit. With not a breath of air we found ourselves wishing the day away until the cool of the evening. Suddenly a welcome westerly wind arrived and it is altogether a different story. Humidity now down around 60% life is altogether more comfortable.

Tying up the loose ends.
Finally...... B&G repaired the fault in main processor only to have it fail again due to a re- installation error. So between awaiting our final package and this we cannot go anywhere - it will be a close run thing as to which problem is resolved first. We cannot leave without any instruments or until we have received our new lifejackets, radar reflector and the shroud shooter. These delays have given us time we would not otherwise have had. David has written up all the safety procedures to comply with World Arc regulations, serviced all the winches and I reviewed and revamped all our medical kit, in addition to making Max a pair of wrap around designer sunglasses and a pair of cut down denim shorts.

Cool man- like the shorts?
But even he grows restless and longs for the off especially after a morning's walk last Sunday out to Europa Point to gaze out over the Straits of Gibraltar.....

Europa Point, Gibraltar

The waterline dips down.
We have started to talk about leaving, always a good sign, so it is time now to put down my book which has kept me utterly absorbed for the last week and time to go serious shopping. The book, The Sword and The Scimitar was brought to our attention by Alison and Joe, our lovely Maltese neighbours in the marina at Valetta. It has whetted our appetite to return there some day, along with a return visit to Istanbul and the Topkapi Palace about which so much in the book was written. I will now savour the remaining half of the book for our sea passage to Madiera during the long night watches ahead. As for the shopping my memory recalled that you cannot get white vinegar anywhere in the world save the UK, so that was added to what has become an ever increasing list. Marian Tims had given me the tip when she was with us aboard Stella. It is much kinder to put down sinks etc provided it is flushed through properly afterwards. Bleach has no place on a boat. The cheddar cheese is aboard, lots of it. It crumbles horribly after freezing but as it is only used for cooking that does not matter. I will pay a last minute visit to my regular fruit and vegetable stall in Gibraltar's local market. The produce all comes from Spain and only sells what is in season. Morrison's has been good for some things, namely the cheddar cheese, kipper fillets, smoked haddock (all now safely stored in the freezer ), tomato puree and Bisto, so difficult to find anywhere else. We will have one final walk across the runway to La Linea for our Spanish favourites, a real cup of Cortado coffee in one of the lovely 100 year old cafes, jamon, chorizo, gazpacho, manchega cheese (this is a good substitute for cheddar) and I found for Hannah our granddaughter, a beautiful Spanish doll, a proper tasteful one, not the touristy trash one so often sees, in of all places a panaderia/confituria, a bread and cake shop, which is where they seem to sell them here. Also, a lovely dress in one of the very many shops advertising a closing down sale. It is so sad to see but we have noticed such a rundown feel to La Linea since we were last here with every second shop going out of business. So we do our best to spend some money. Conversely Gibraltar seems as busy as ever, cruise ships arriving daily disgorging their passengers into Main Street to spend their money (as we do) on the duty free goods.

Sunday on Main Street, Gibraltar

Googling on garbage!
I have seen it all now! Our nightly ritual to go to the local café /bar to download our emails was sabotaged as David did not have enough cash for both our coffees, so off he went by himself. A little while later I went along to see how he was doing and low and behold he has the laptop perched on top of a green garbage bin. It seems there was a party going on in the bar, he couldn't hear himself think for the noise and so I come to find him propped against a refuse bin! (I will not forget the sight of Barrie Waugh, computer propped precariously in Stella' s cockpit, towel covering his head, trying to book flights home from Israel!) Now this! The ends to which one has to go to download emails but quite undeterred David now goes on a nightly basis returning triumphant and richer for not having to part with a couple of pounds.

Things are looking up.
Zoe and Jorg have come up trumps for us once more. They were the brokers from Yes Yachting, Almerimar, acting on our behalf for Stella's sale. Now they have successfully sold our Zodiac tender. At 3.4metres it was too big and cumbersome for us. We also found that a rigid inflatable was infinitely better for beach landings and planing over greater distances. Once into the Pacific a rigid inflatable really comes into its own. We were really thrilled with this news. As David put it, "it will put a few more coffers into the bank". We seem to do nothing but spend money at the moment, mostly on repairs.....
We have been here for over a month now and are just longing to get going. Madeira and beyond that, the Canaries, beckon. September is the optimum time for setting out to the Canaries when the north easterlies kick in and as we do not have to be in Gran Canaria for the ARC start until the end of November we thought it would be a lovely to explore this cruising ground. On their recent visit Jenny and John had given us an excellent briefing on the Canaries following which, David and I had put together a cruising plan. Now we see that beginning to slip away and may be here yet for Gibraltar Day on the 10th September and the Status Quo concert! Having just met another ARC boat, "Ashia", which also happens to be an Amel Super Maramu and sharing drinks and stories with Nicole and Armin, we envied them as they set off for the ARC start in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.

Cockpit garden
A sure sign of long term live-aboarding is the sight of plants festooning nooks and crannies in already crowded cockpits. Having always vowed that I would never succumb, my own garden is now growing and thriving. I just couldn't resist the temptation of fresh basil and mint. Others may follow...... that is if we do not get going.... and soon!

Gibraltar update

20 August 2009 | Marina Bay Marina, Gibraltar
Susan Mackay
10th August 2009
A Scottish Connection
The Scott family from Helensburgh, our old home town, paid a visit to Voyageur. On holiday, a few hours away, they took the time and the trouble to drive down the coast to stay with us here in Gibraltar. It was just lovely.
Heather must be one of the best and most loyal friends I have. We worked together as nurses, first at the Vale of Leven Hospital in Alexandria and latterly at the Glasgow Nuffield. Now she works at Ross Hall Hospital.....lucky them! She and husband Andy along with their two daughters, Kirsty and Emma are holidaying in our Spanish home. After a typical tapas evening aboard Voyageur, they treated us to dinner ashore and the evening inevitably finished back on board with coffee and numerous nightcaps. Sometime around midnight, came drops of rain, then a small shower, followed by more rain, then serious rain. We could hardly believe it. We had not had rain in over four months and really not expected any for at least another month. The cockpit side screens came down and as great dark squall clouds gathered overhead and we heard the wind start to howl around the boat, we joked about how they had brought a touch of Scottish weather with them. In the early hours the mini storm, (in reality a low pressure system), had passed through and once again the morning was hot and humid, much more the weather that we are used to at this time of year. We enjoyed a very happy reunion with them aboard Voyageur and the following day bade an emotional farewell, the way we had done from Rhu Marina, on the Clyde, five years ago at the start of Stella's voyage from Scotland around the world.

Heather, Andy & the girls
Marina Bay Marina is really quite an exciting place to berth your boat. Right next to the runway, it provides a degree of entertainment but thankfully not in the evening. Although we are flanked on one side by Ocean Village which houses a huge casino and surrounding the quay are several bars and restaurants, evenings here are very peaceful indeed. Until one evening when the most beautiful sounds of operatic singing came wafting across the water. "What is this?" Of course we had to go and look. It was an open air concert in aid of "Childline" with up and coming English soprano star, Donna Marie. Although we could just have easily enjoyed the arias of Puccini, soaring out into the night as some did, we paid our donation, and sat out under the stars with the small audience gathered at Ocean Village. It was a lovely and unexpected treat.

16th August 2009
Time flies when you are having fun!
We have been here nearly three weeks now and suddenly realise how much there is still to do. That is what happens when you take time out for a spot of social interaction and how welcome it was too. Shortly after Heather and Andy's visit we were so happy to have Jenny and John (Tzigane) aboard, driving down from their home in the Charante Maritime area of France with John and Marian (ex Saoirse K) arriving from their home in Nerja, Spain. It was so lovely for them to take the trouble to visit us aboard Voyageur and wish us well, their "Bon Voyage" cards added to our growing collection above the chart table.

Our card collection
Jenny and John with typical generosity treated us all to the most wonderful dinner at the Waterfront restaurant in Queensway Marina. The New Zealand steaks, wrapped in cotton wool to draw the moisture and aged for 25 days to enhance the flavour, must have worked for it was unanimously agreed that they were the best ever, and if anyone is a good judge of beef steak, then it must be Jenny and John.

The Dinner Party
At present Tzigane in is a marina in Phuket, Thailand and they will be joining up with us on World Arc in September 2010, something to look forward to. A very special bottle of bubbly was gifted which warranted one of my equally special sparkly knitted covers to protect it. Now it is safely stowed in our "cave" in anticipation of our reunion in one year's time.

John & Jenny hand over the bubbly

The Guardians of Tzigane's bubbly for Bali

With our guests gone we started in earnest on updating our safety manuals to comply with the World Arc regulations. All the safety equipment, above and below decks were checked and enhanced as was the "grab bag". (This is a bag filled with emergency items and sited in Voyageur's cockpit easily to hand should we ever need to abandon ship). There is also an excellent chart agency here in Gibraltar and David increased our already voluminous portfolio with all the charts that we now require for Equador.

We truly thought Stella to be just about the most perfect yacht for circumnavigating the globe. Of course now we have Voyageur and feel exactly the same. We have just encountered our first World ARC boat, coincidentally an Amel 54, Skylark, and fresh out of the "box" at just one month old. Stephen, her owner /skipper was gracious enough to invite us aboard to see her. It is a gorgeous yacht, some things of which will never change ie. the woodwork which has seven coats of varnish and constitutes 35% of the labour costs. As one would expect there are definite improvements, but also some things I would not have changed. To truly try and test a boat one has to not only live aboard, but at the very least complete a major sea passage. Crossing oceans is not just about a yacht's sailing capabilities. To me there are very many more things to be taken in consideration. I have often wondered if Amel have a woman on their design panel. How I would love to be that woman.....

With just over one week left, I am victualling Voyageur in earnest with both British and Spanish products. Morrisons supermarket sell 5kg bags of rice and we eat lots of the stuff. On the last trip I had enough Rooiboos teabags for the whole two years. They are so hard to get in anything but the smallest boxes in Spain, that once again I will be buying them in their hundreds, enough to do us until we get to South Africa that is..... And what would we do without Cup-a-Soups, a must for our long 3 week Atlantic crossing when the nights are long and cool. The Spanish are not heavily into sweets the way the British are, so I also take the opportunity to reintroduce the nutty box again (a mix of mini Mars bars, Toblerones, boxes of raisins, and all manner of things bad for us), a staple for our night passages. And then there is the bar to stock up with duty free gin etc. Naturally we have taken maximum advantage of that. The pharmacy here provided me with top ups for our medicine cabinet, antibiotics, painkillers and most importantly anti-malarials. When we get to Bali in Indonesia these drugs will cost mere pennies but until then we have two malarial areas to go through, interior Ecuador and Vanuatu.

And finally..... the gifts. On the previous trip we filled several lockers with t shirts, caps (always a great favourite with the men), pens, pencils, small notebooks (children just love them), unwanted reading glasses (Donald - Spirit of Affric, made someone's day in Tonga with his old prescription glasses), Frisbees (I will never forget the children playing with my gift of one in Indonesia), footballs, costume jewellery (bought from British charity shops and delighted the ladies of Sri Lanka), postcards from Scotland (most Pacific islanders have never seen mountains or snow) and lastly collections of McDonalds toys (gifted I hasten to add).
So now, with these final stowaways, Voyageur is more or less ready to go, but not quite.....
Vessel Name: VOYAGEUR
Vessel Make/Model: Amel Super Maramu 2000
Hailing Port: Rhu, Scotland
Crew: Susan and David Mackay
David first learned to sail on a Loch Fyne day boat out of Helensburgh Sailing Club on the River Clyde in his mid twenties. With the arrival of a family he did not do any more, until in 1984 we bought our first boat, “The Golden Soak”, a Matilda 20. [...]

Our motto:Carpe Diem

Who: Susan and David Mackay
Port: Rhu, Scotland