The crawl and wind instrument
23 September 2010 | Aguilas, Spain
The night before last we anchored inside the harbor at Torrevieja. We followed another boat into the marina in a 20+ knot wind and huge sea. So I was glad we could anchor inside the harbor because there was no way we would have survived outside the harbor. As we entered the harbor, Will noticed the name on the boat - 'Bewitched'. Then the light went on! We had met Nick and his son, Sam, last year in nearly this very same spot! We had cruised with them for a couple of days and the two boys played and had a great time. A year later, here we are coming into a marina in what felt like a gale, and there they are again! This time instead of Sam, Nick had his girl friend, Lou. We had a wonderful time spending the evening with them and catching up. Small world.
And right after we dropped our anchor in the marina (off to one side so we were out of the way) we looked over and saw a Beneteau Oceanis 46, Hazel Fry, running up the ARC 'colors' on their port spreader. Apparently they had noticed our beach towel of a flag. Not only were they flying the colors of Her Majesty's Canadian sovereign, but they are doing the ARC as well. Well, we couldn't let that one pass!
So Will and I rowed over to trash talk them a bit and introduce ourselves. As it was we didn't do much trash talking. (We'll save that for Las Palmas! ) But we did visit with them a bit and found out they are from Vancouver, BC! Since they are neighbors we well definitely look them up in Las Palmas. It should be fun. I expect as we get closer and closer to exiting the Med that we may see more of our ARC brethren.
We are moving our way down the coast of Spain anticipating with excitement picking up our crew for the ARC. The ARC, if you don't know, is the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers. About 250 boats will leave Las Palmas, Grand Canary on Nov. 21 for the 2,800 nm downwind slide to St. Lucia. I am really looking forward to this for a number of reasons.
First, the crew I have selected - Andy, Elise, and David - seem like a really fun group. So the prospect of making some lifelong friends is pretty neat. Then there is the idea of tradewinds. No more having to figure out which direction the wind will come from. Just set the kite and leave it there for 18 days. After this sailing in the Med, that has a big appeal to it!
It is funny how you can put up with - and sometimes even enjoy - something until you are just about to leave it. Then the mind takes over and justifies its ugly presence with a 'good riddance'. It is true with ex-jobs, ex-spouses, most anything. It doesn't happen all the time, but with enough frequency to be a working part of the psychic strategy we all employ to put up with undesirables in our life. Such it feels regarding sailing in the Med. Great place to visit. Wonderful places to see -- rock formations, walled cities, castles, the whole bit. But like I said in an earlier blog, the sailing sucks. Someone described it as motoring to the next storm!
Right now I have two main items on my mind (besides getting to Gibraltar on time to pick up our crew and let Ruth off). The first is haulout. Ever since scraping a small section of our rudder on a rock in Bonifacio, Corsica, I have been intent on hauling the boat out to repair it. I am worried that water in-migration will lead to blistering and all sorts of issues with my brand new rudder. So I gotta get some epoxy and bottom paint on the damaged area and preserve the integrity of the rudder.
I have been getting some bids for hauling the boat out and I have it down to about 350 euro ($500 USD) both ways. That is in Ceuta, Spain, just across the Straits from Gibraltar. Ceuta is sort of like Gibraltar - it is firmly in Morocco, but claimed and owned by Spain! I don't expect we will run into any 'baksheesh', or bribing, that seems to predominate Moroccan (and possibly the rest of Africa) lifestyle. We saw some of that in Tunisia and I have been told it is present in Morocco as well. I didn't care too much for that bribing, so I think my political career may be nipped in the bud! The nice thing about Ceuta is they don't have to charge us the 18% value-added tax (VAT) that the rest of Europe charges on boats. I still need to check the price in Smir, Morocco. But unless it is significantly cheaper than Ceuta, I think I will haul with my European friends. Even so, while we are hauled in Morocco we will make a couple of land forays into the interior to check out some places the Lonely Planet says are cool.
The other item is our dang Raymarine instruments. Back in Cala Galera, Itally I took the wind instrument off to see if I could get it fixed. That was a mistake. The wind instrument isn't that critical. We have a hawk (wind indicator) at the top of the mast that we use to give us the wind direction. But being the guy who has to have everything on the boat working whether it is important or not, I started to fiddle with it back in Italy. I took it to a Raymarine tech in Cala Galera who checked it out and gave the readout the thumbs up.
Well, it turns out it isn't so great. What he checked for me is working fine. But since removing it, another part of the readout is not relaying data to the other instruments. So now we only have speed and depth at the starboard-side steering station. That is good because that is where the engine controls are and the starboard side is the main side I use for steering. But not having data on the port side, well, sucks some more! So I gotta find a tech and have him look at the readout again. It isn't something I feel comfortable getting into myself.
Other than that, we continue to slide down and around the coast of Spain. The Spanish coast (is this 'the Spanish main' I hear about of old?) is a relatively flat coast with few bays or natural anchorages. Fortunately the marinas are reasonably priced (25-35 euro for our boat). So we anchor when we can and duck into a marina when we have to. So when the wind is favorable we go, and when it is adverse we hole up.
We had a nice 60-miler yesterday with about 25 of it on the kite. The wind held steady (for a change) which made it fun because we didn't have to babysit the spinnaker. Today we expect to have to motor the 20 nm to Garrucha. Then a front moves through tomorrow night. The following day we are hoping we can get to San Jose, which is on the eastern (lee) side of Capo de Gata. Capo de Gata is one of those capes you have to respect. Like so many of them, the weather can get nasty there. I figure if we can get close to it, then we can leave in the morning when the weather is usually its most benign and get around it before the wind and sea pipe up. We'll see.