Wednesday 27 August 2014

Leaving Spain

Wed 20th August – 27th August

First stop when we arrived at Vigo was the tourist information office. First one was closed (at 5pm since it is aimed at cruise ship passengers) and we set off with our limited map provided by the marina to find the other one. Two hours later and only thing we had found was somewhere to have a drink. However, by this time we had completed the cultural walk through the whole of the old town without a proper map (it really is not that big).

Could not get excited about Vigo. It is the largest town in Galicia and the modern part is as interesting as the small old historic part and the modern part was not that interesting. On the plus side we did have an excellent meal at one of the restaurants after a 2 hour walk around the town to try and find the “perfect” restaurant. If we were not so indecisive we would not get so much exercise and surely weigh a lot more. Sometimes it would be nice to go in the first restaurant we come to!

The next morning we went off to find the chandlers with the help of some addresses off the web, a proper map and directions from the very helpful Tourist Information staff. Chandlers in Spain do not display items in the shop but you have to ask for them. Knowing this, I still failed to either translate the list of items I wanted into Spanish before we went or bring a dictionary to help. Not a smart move and therefore the only items we purchased were some Sikaflex (same as in English), a fender and some warp because we could point to them. My attempted mime and helpful gestures to indicate that I wanted a base valve for a Jabsco sea toilet were lost on the staff (in both shops) but maybe mimes probably do not translate well.


Final stop on our Spanish route and looking forward to seeing the town. Not disappointed when we arrived on Friday and we actually berthed on a finger pontoon that was almost big enough for our boat. The club house is very impressive and when we asked about eating in the restaurant there was a definite muted “it may be possible”. Not sure that was a really enthusiastic invite so we gave it a miss.

Finally found a marina with a washing machine after nearly two weeks and at 12 euros a wash I had high hopes – but it turns out we had to do it ourselves. Spent the afternoon between washing clothes, cleaning the boat and fixing the window with the Sikaflex we bought in Vigo. It was only a small repair and had not yet started leaking but I did not want to take any risks. I was pleased how well I had repaired it (amazed even).

Our normal search for a restaurant meant that we had pretty much explored the town by the time we found a restaurant and we had Crepes for dinner. OK it was a surprise to us and we had not looked at the menu properly but gone by the fact that it was rated “3” in Trip Advisor and it was busy but there was a table free. That is how you end up eating Crepes for dinner when you were not expecting it.
Given up trying to get a new seal for the forward heads and decided on Saturday morning that I should have one last go at taking it apart and seeing if I can get it to work properly. With that done we set off for a walk around the Parador which overlooks the harbour. Beautiful walk around the walls which give unparallelled views around the whole bay.

Walking around the Parador

Our private beach in front on the Parador

We had a slight change to our normal Sunday of cleaning the boat and doing the washing. Instead we serviced the engine as well as set up the blog site. The most important thing was to service the engine so I naturally started by setting up the blog – and then fiddling with it so I did not actually start the work on the engine until gone midday. Finished the engine about 5pm (a few hours later than planned) and then left to anchor off the beach. Basically it is free to anchor and the showers on board are better than at the marina. Only downside is we have to dinghy ashore but we were going to eat on board anyway so we lost nothing and we had use of the marina for most of the day. At 60 euros per night in the marina at Baiona it is more expensive than England and the weather is not that much better!

Off to Portugal

For the first time in a long while we are up at 7am (6am in the UK) on a Monday morning. Still dark and we faff around with tea etc by which time it is light. We have 12 hours sailing ahead of us to get to Leixoes in Portugal with light winds from the South West. After weighing anchor, Catherine goes back to bed and I start my two hour watch before she takes over.

Dolphins come to say goodbye as we leave Baiona
After about 4 hours we have a discussion about why we are going to Leixoes. Apparently neither of us actually wanted to go there and the historic town of Viana which we are just about to pass is one we both thought looked much better. So after a little communication, we agree to stop at Viana for the rest of the day.

An English couple (Jonathan and Anne) who we have bumped into from time to time (but always while sailing so we had not spoken but knew their boat name) helped us moor up. Later on another English couple (Alan and Lyn) moored next to us coming in like drowned rats through the rain and mist that had set in. Jonathan hosted a tapas and wine session aboard his boat in the evening which was very jolly and a good few bottles drunk. Nice to know that we are not the only people with ambitions on the world with a few gaps to fill in on the actual plans themselves.

We need to pay our Light Dues

Raining and very misty the next day so decided not to go on the Leixios. We did however find the office to pay our Light Dues (a kind of sailing tax) to the Portuguese Government. A fine of £150 euros if you are caught without the certificate.

It was our second attempt to find the office having been given two sets of directions already on how to get there. Finally I asked in the Tourist Information Office (who had never heard of the place) but suggested that we try the Maritime Police Office further down the Quay. The building itself is set back from the road with no signpost to say what it is. Catherine noticed that one of the car parking spaces was reserved for “Capitaine” and so we tried our luck. Third office we went into (none of which we signposted) we found the right place. We had spent some three hours on this venture over the last two days.

But we were now there with all our ships papers and patiently waited the 20 minutes while all the forms were filled in, the certificate drawn up and three copies made. We then received our invoiced and duly paid the two euros for the certificate!And before you have any cynical thoughts about this, if all the other sailors were as diligent as us, the Portuguese Government would collect enough revenue to almost pay the administration costs to collect the tax. Must be worth it.

Sunday 24 August 2014

Visting the Rias

10th August - 19th August

Ria Murso
On Sunday (10th  August) we were planning to depart but it continues to rain so we stay another day in the marina. Finally sorted out the freezer which was only frozen at the bottom – the water cooling for the condenser unit had an airlock and we found a way to bleed the system quite easily (and after much discussion) and now working very well. Result! Catherine also fixed the handheld VHF that had not been working so we were on a roll.

We also cleaned the boat and took 3 loads of washing to be done. Seems that Sunday is becoming our cleaning day. Definitely going to leave tomorrow.

Next day we anchored at San Fransico Bay for the evening. After the second and successful attempt at anchoring, we decided that we were too close to the shallows off the starboard side and went to another part of the bay. Third attempt at anchoring was seemingly unsuccessful but anchor suddenly held just as we were about to take it up and try again.  Very noisy night with the anchor making lots of noise.

In the morning we could not get the anchor up – stuck at 40m chain marker although the depth was only 10m. Chain obviously stuck under a rock which is why the anchor suddenly held when we anchored last night. 30 minutes later of motoring around the chain and it freed up and we were on our way. No wonder it was noisy last night, the chain was attached to the rock directly beneath the boat. On the plus side it meant that we had no drag during the night!

Set off in 15kn of wind. 30 minutes later we were in 28kn of wind with the sea building so decided to turn back. Hard decision to make but we sailed back into Portosin and went into the marina with the wind at over 30kn. Made coming alongside the pontoon tricky but marina staff helped us tie up. Pleasantly surprised at how helpful the marina staff are here compared to Muros.

Ria Arousa

On Wednesday morning, the weather forecast was good and with a good night’s sleep behind us we set off again.
The pilot book and the chart disagreed which side of the channel this market was located!
This time the wind was light and from the North so heading South was easy. On route we changed our plans from taking the safe and easy route around the off lying island to the more difficult in-shore route with some complex navigation.
Just made it a bit more interesting and slightly more nerve wrecking (even with the plotter) to find both the 250m gap to get through and ensure we went through on the correct bearing.

An early morning view of the harbour
Lovely sail up to Caraminal where we anchored first time in the harbour so felt smug.And it was very restful.

Main excitement of the next day was being boarded by customs when we got back. Four of them in a very powerful boat black boat, shaped to avoid being detected by radar, came alongside to go through our papers, passports and ask about the boat. They were all dressed in black with helmets on so looked formidable. We would like to think that they also had guns but probably not. One of them spoke a little English and with the help of the dictionary, drawing and numbers written on a pad of paper we got through it. They then went off to the other boats moored in the bay. Smuggling is a big industry in Galicia and they obviously through we did not look the smuggling kind. Not sure if I was insulted by that or just pleased they did not turn the boat upside down. Probably the latter.

On the Saturday, after spending a windy night at anchorage, it was even  windier so we decided to go to the marina at Rianxo. Arrived and moored up at the smallest pontoon yet – it was less than half the boat’s length. Still have not quite got the hang of berthing on such small pontoons – all the fenders need to go on the bow and we need more warps to actually secure the boat (and help in windy conditions). However, all worth it and despite low expectations after seeing the marina, the town itself was really interesting with small streets, interestingly alley ways and lots of nice restaurants. Spent an afternoon on the beach sitting in the shade as it was so hot just relaxing.  

We went back into the town in the evening to watch the local dancing with traditional Galician band and dancers in traditional dress. We spent two hours watching the dancing before heading off to a local restaurant with the other 300 people from the audience at about 11:30. Very enjoyable day.

Ria do Pontevedra
On the Sunday (17th) we sailed the 28 miles to Combarro in near perfect winds – 20 knots from the North and slight seas. Wind died after about 5 hours and we had to motor up the Ria to Combarro. Catherine cooked a Tortilla on route which we eat at the cockpit table with some salad as there was no wind, no waves and we were gently motoring along.

Narrow streets of Combarro
Combarro is the first real tourist town we have been to which has a very different feel. It was built on granite rock which forms many of the pavements so it is a little like rock climbing on a small scale as you wander round the old fishing town. Very old buildings line the small streets with plenty of tourist shops and restaurant back to back. Very pretty and an enjoyable stroll before sitting down in one of the more touristy restaurants (it had a good view of the sea). Octopus and razor clams for dinner. Decided that we would not have shell fish for a while – it is getting a little “samey” and every restaurant serves the same 12 dishes cooked in the same way.

The next day Took the bus to Pontavedre to see the historic town which used to be the capital of Galicia. Very hot day as Catherine navigated us around the town using the English guide and map from the Tourist Information Office. Enjoyed the walk and the town was worth going to see, if a little over sold in the tourist guide.

Ria Vigo
On Tuesday (19th) he Weather forecast was again northerly F4-5 and sea state slight so we set off to round to the Ria Vigo, the last of the Spanish Rias. Wind was actually from the South West and did not get above 10 knots (F2) so once again we ended up motoring. Anchored at the end of the Ria in a small lake which is very picturesque. Chicken fajitas for dinner – we really wanted something that was not shell fish and we watched ‘The Thin Man’ while eating dinner on board. Run out of white wine we had bought so we tried some wine we were given in La Coruna by the marina staff (after all the boat had been there for 6 weeks). Decided we could live without white wine for the evening!

Off to Vigo tomorrow.

Back in Spain

27 July to  8th August

Martin and Frankie left us today (Friday 8th August) after spending 5 days with us sailing down the Spanish coast. We are now in Muros awaiting the weather to improve before we set off again. It has been very windy for a few days and then very wet but looks like it is better from tomorrow onwards.

We had a good time in La Coruna, visiting the oldest lighthouse in the world (apparently), the house where Picasso developed his genius for painting (apparently) and listening to the concerts in the square which were actually very good. The weather was good all week up until the Sunday when it was a little overcast but no rain.

The first day of sailing was 10 hours of beating into a force 5 wind. We were pleased when we arrived into the bay at Laxe and anchored for the night. We took the dinghy ashore for dinner where one of the specialties was translated as “knives from sea to plate”. Turns out to be razor clams (absolutely delicious) but not sure how they got to the translation.  Also octopus is another dish which we have found to be very good which was surprising. We had some challenges starting the engine on the dinghy while we were drifting out in the sea. We provided the locals with some entertainment, particularly as Frankie and Catherine were in fits of laughter.

The next day the wind was even stronger (24-28kn) which made the short trip around the bay even longer while beating into the wind and waves. We were all pleased when we arrived in Corme for the night and tied up in the shortest pontoon ever – it was less than half the size of our boat. The harbour master was insistent that we could tie up and helped us together with a Frenchman who was “astonished” that we were so unprepared for such a short pontton. Given the wind strength and the shortness of the pontoon we tied up quite well I thought.

The following morning we decided that we should leave early to avoid the wind in the afternoon. So Martin and I got us off at 7:30 while Catherine and Frankie slept in – until 11:00 when they got up for tea and croissant. While the wind was fairly strong in the morning, by 11:00 it was less than 10kn and we had a very easy motor around to Morus, passing off Cape Finisterre in the mist.

Martin and Frankie on the last day when the weather was good.
Marin and Frankie have at least one good day on the boat before they leave. That is if you ignore the mist in the background.
Just a few of the hundreds of pilgrim we say that day

Yesterday (Saturday) we took the bus to Santiago de Compestella to visit the cathedral. After Rome, it attracts the most pilgrims in the world and while we were there, people were arriving by the hundred. The cathedral is built on the site where they found St James’s remains in 897AD. St James actually died in Greece and was buried there in about 40AD  but a shepherd heard some voices in the forest in Santiago in 897AD and told the bishop who told the King. The King then decreed it was the site where St James died and his remains were buried there. Incidentally, he used this event to rally the Christian forces against the Moors and slaughtered hundreds of thousands of them. Cynics think that the find at that particular time was not a coincidence but you can decide.

Whatever you think of the story of St James it is a very impressive catherderal

So today is still wet and we may stay another day before once again setting off on another adventure. There are worse places to be stuck.

Bay of Biscay

17 June to 30 June

We arrived in La Coruna on Tuesday 24 June after a relatively uneventful crossing. Leading up to the start of the crossing on Saturday 21 June was a little less than stress free.
Monday 16 June was my last day at work. I lugged back my computer along with host of contracts that should have been filed over the last 3 years and said my goodbyes. It was less of a relief than I had expected since I still had a mountain to climb before we could cross the Bay of Biscay

Preparing the Boat
On Tuesday morning Andrew and I set off for Plymouth at noon. Somewhat later than planned because I was still sorting out the boat insurance for the round the world trip. Having diligently completed all the paper work, the scanned copy that I needed to send in was so faint as to be unreadable. Phoned Andrew to delay departure for an hour (twice) while Catherine sorted out rewriting all the forms and I carried on getting ready

We took with us a list of 30 jobs that needed to be completed before we could leave. Many of these were jobs still not completed from our original list (fixing the AIS which had stopped working) and others that were specifically for the journey such as the crew rota and food shopping list. Andrew and I started working through the list but found time to dinghy across to the other side of the harbour for drinks and dinner. We found ourselves in a “locals” pub where Andrew quickly found a new friend. Or rather someone adopted Andrew as their new friend. A distinctly weird pub.

Wednesday was a continuation of working through the list and getting the food shopping. Finding the Sainsbury’s in Plymouth proved impossible  for us and after 20 minutes of driving around the same streets we abandoned that in favour of one 10 miles away on the basis it would be easier to find. A quick detour to pick up some boat parts and we were shopping with a carefully crafted shopping list.
Martin arrived in the evening and we sampled the delights of the Barbican for dinner. Better pubs here and some good fish and chips. We were chatted up by three delightful ladies from Glasgow who were on a tour of Britain - I just hope that we have that much energy when we are in our eighties!

Our First Sail
Our first test sail on Thursday showed how poor we were at man over board procedures.  We lost sight of the two fenders we through over board, faffed about for 45 minutes trying to pick them up and decided we needed a rethink. Slightly better the second time but still far too long and the sea was calm. In a rough sea it would be ten times more difficult and it ensured that we wore life jackets all the time on the journey and clipped on when outside the cockpit.

I attempted to demonstrate how the radar worked only to find out it didn’t.  Now we had no AIS and no radar. Beginning to wonder if we would ever get the boat and crew ready in time for a planned departure on Saturday while the forecast was still good.

Back in port we took apart the radar controller to check the wires were OK and took up the floor boards to check the junction box. All seemed to be connected the final piece to check was the radar dome up the mast. Not something that was going to be easy. One final check of the junction box revealed that two of the 10 wires had been switched – green connected to grey and vice versa. With low expectations I changed them over – we had used the radar since the mast was taken down when the wires from the junction box would have been removed. Radar burst into life showing that we could not have used the radar since the mast had been taken down 18 months earlier. I could have sworn we had!

So with that success I tackled the AIS, starting with the aerial wire which in fairness was the most likely cause. Ten minutes later that was working. Just another 20 jobs to be completed and the boat, at least, would be ready.

Paul arrived on Thursday night and we spent the evening watching football and eating in the Marina café. Very tired I slept through the match.

We Are Nearly Ready
Friday was a very good day. We went for a sail and the man over board was very competent, we tacked, gybed and I started to feel that the crew were ready. Just needed to get the boat finished off and we could relax. Martin and Paul went off the last minute shopping while Andrew and I finished off the last remaining jobs. Andrew prepared the crew rota which was a work of art with a chart showing who was on watch and when in simple graphical form – reading and writing is not a skill we expect of the crew.  By 5pm I was happy and feeling confident!

Paul opened a beer on the boat at 5pm with the words “this will be my only beer tonight”. He also said that for the following 4 beers over dinner. We took the dinghy across the harbour for dinner, partly to reduce the amount of potential drinking time and for a bit of fun. Not before I had managed to take the skin off the back of my hand starting the engine. Sitting on the bathing platform and trying to start the engine is better for the occupants of the dinghy but very painful for the person starting the engine if you hit you had against a bolt sticking out of the boat. Paul bandaged my hand and an antihistamine helped reduce the impact of the bruising and bleeding.

And We Are Off
Early start the next morning and we started on the watch pattern from the start. Paul and I were up at 4am to get the boat ready and took the boat out to the Eddystone rocks about 10 miles out from Plymouth. Wind starting to build so put up the sails and made a turn south west down the channel. Our last for 2 days!

Wind only lasted about 5 hours before we back on motor and we continued motoring for the next 24 hours with the wind behind us and less than 10kns. Cornwall faded from view as we headed SW at about 4pm in the afternoon and we were  joined by Percy the pigeon,  a racing pigeon who rested on the bimini for the next 6 hours as we took him further from the land and presumably his destination but that was his problem.

Our first meal on route
Dinner was at 8pm where we enjoyed the first of the four dishes we each prepared. Andrew’s chilli and rice went down very well and later that night we had our first sightings of dolphins although it was so dark it was difficult to see them.

On Sunday we kept heading southwest, keeping outside of the long line of ships heading in the same direction but 5 miles to the south. We could see the ships on the AIS but we were out of sight of them most of the time. Very hot on board in the light winds and cloudless sky and we put up the bimini to prevent being roasted alive on board – it was the day after the longest day of the year. More dolphins caused excitement as we were joined by a pod of about 30 dolphins playing with the boat. We took lots of pictures, mostly of sea as the dolphins were often too quick to photograph but we did get some good shots. Paul provided dinner that night (and in fact became the chef for lunches as well) and we dined on pasta bake of Paul’s own recipe.

Heading Towards La Coruna
Monday morning we made our second turn of the trip South towards La Coruna. A mixture of sailing and motoring took us along our path. We poled out the head sail during the day as the wind was very light but as long as we could make 3.5 – 4kn we were happy sailing. We had plenty of time and the weather was very good.  Thanks to some miscommunication between the skipper and crew we managed to wrap the genoa round the forestay while taking down the pole in the afternoon creating a tight mess of sail and sheets. 45 minutes later we managed to unwrap the mess and vowed not to do that again! And indeed we did not.

We Amuse Ourselves on Route
Everyone noticeably more relaxed after the first two days. Crew off watch sitting around the boat, reading or watching yet more dolphins when not on watch. We had all settled into the sleep patterns of four hours on and off watch with 6 hour watches during the day. Therefore we were all less tired and able to do more in our off time. Still very hot and pretty windless.

One of the regular crew entertainments was Martin mastering the art of tying a bowline which he did everyday (and even with his eyes shut) demonstrating a different technique each day (unintentionally so). I was stripped of my role of instructing Martin by popular consent of the crew (mutiny is another word for it) when my exasperation started to show on day 3. Under the guidance of the new instructors Martin continued to again master the bowline again each day. Still not sure he used the same technique twice but that shows how creative he is.

Dinner that night was Martin’s creation of moussaka which went down very well and we settled into the well worn watch pattern for the night. Wind did get up to gusting 28kn so we reefed the main at 4am in the morning.
Was this sunrise or sunset? They all look the same at sea.
We talked through a contingency plan for every eventuality before we reefed the main including going into the wind and reefing the sail. At 4am on a dark morning you do not want anything to go wrong but it all went smoothly and I could go to bed with confidence.

What More Dolphins?
By day four, seeing more dolphins failed to excite and the crew wanted killer whales and sharks at the very least.
What that flipper? Man stuck down a mine shaft?
We were now heading back to shallower water, as we came from a depth of 4000m down to 300m. The depth log still could not register what we now considered as shallow water and when it eventually started recording depth at 100m it caused some mild excitement.  As we got closer we changed the watch patterns so that all the crew had at least 2 hours sleep before we closed in on La Coruna. Emails from the SSB to the marina to ask for a berth were unanswered so Andrew made a call on his phone which had at least some signal strength now after 3 days of being out of contact. He did what any self respecting English person does and spoke loudly and slowly to the person on the phone, hanging up immediately when he realised that the person‘s English was equivalent to our grasp of Spanish (rather ashamedly for us).
Nearing La Coruna and time for team photo. From Left to Right: Andrew, Martin, Paul and John

We Arrive
So we entered the harbour at 9:15 and the marina at 9:45, acutely aware that if we did not get to the Marina office by 10:00 we could not get keys to the toilets or the gate – we would be trapped on board and there were four thirsty people on board. At 9:50 we had moored up and Andrew and I went to book in and get the keys. Huge relief and we opened a bottle of champagne. A tour of the bars followed and at 3am we got back to the boat after finishing the night playing darts in what would become our local for every evening for our last drink.

Our first drink for 4 days and very happy to be La Coruna.

Martin instructed us in the art of saying cheers while looking the other person in the eye. This evolved into a wired ritual over the coming days. I am sure the Spanish are pleased that there are no other English tourists in their region.

The Negotiation
In the morning. Andrew and I went to negotiate the rates for the berth for the next 5 weeks with the marina staff with their pigeon English and our non-existent Spanish. We had worked out what we thought we could negotiate and Andrew’s sharp intake of breath when she gave us the initial price was well understood – it is a common language. We eventually settled on something less than we thought we would get, very happy and we got a good berth allocated. However, we were still non compos mentis from the night before and we decided a walk and coffee would be the best course of action before moving the boat. Even then it was not my finest piece of manoeuvring and our well-rehearsed routine of tying up the boat looked a little amateurish.

Our Routine Ashore
The following days consisted of getting up late, having coffee and a game of team cribbage first thing followed by long walks interspersed with long lunches and early evening drinks. Darts was the key end for each day with Martin and me winning every night. Paul’s attempt to get me drunk to put me off my game with shots of jaeger miser did not work as I refused to drink it. Not sure I would have survived one of those on top of what else we had drunk. Unfortunately Martin did not follow my girlie cop out and drunk three of them. He was not well all the next day.

Thanks for All the Fish
Paul had generously donated a fishing rod to the boat and on the Friday we had decided to sail out across the bay and go shopping. After the previous night we once again decided walks and coffee were needed before heading out. Andrew and I went to find a hose at the local chandlers which was marked on a map for us by the tourist office. Paul had walked past it earlier in the week and confidently told us it was just along the sea front. Half an hour later and lost, Andrew and I stopped and checked the map. No idea where we were and so we went into a shop on the corner of the road and spoke to the sales assistant there (by pointing to the map and shrugging our shoulders). Clearly not understanding a word she said in reply, she grabbed Andrew by the arm and forcibly took him outside and pointed to the shop that we wanted – exactly at the point where we had stopped to consult the map. All in vein as they did not have what we wanted so we headed back.

When we returned we set off armed with hooks bated with Chorizo across the bay where we anchored for lunch. Martin slept all the way and looked green when he was awake. Our disappointment that the Spanish fish do not seem to like chorizo was tempered with our relief that we did not actually have to deal with catching a fish. It was very pleasant to be anchored in the bay and relaxing on the boat before heading back and filling up the diesel on route.
 In the evening Judy arrived and she and Andrew spend the next 3 nights in a 5 star hotel.

Someone Speaks English
We found an Italian restaurant on the Friday night owned by someone who was half Spanish and half Italian but brought up in Croydon.  The first time we could have a conversation with someone. Needless to say that Martin’s resolve never to drink again dissolved and the last bottle of wine (after darts this time) at the marina bar at 1am proved that point.  Another late start on Saturday morning.
On Saturday we have the boat a thorough clean before resuming our normal day time walks, lunches and pre dinner drinks. This time we played table tennis at Andrew’s hotel before going out for dinner and I cannot say that any of us covered ourselves in glory, me less so than everyone else. Saturday was also Andrew’s birthday and he brought us dinner in the square in the evening. Food was very good and mental note to go back there for dinner when Catherine and I come back later in July.

And it is Time to Go
Paul left on Sunday which meant that we had four people again for competitive team cribbage with Judy taking Paul’s place. Marin wiped the floor with us at table tennis in the evening and we went to the new part of the town for dinner. Andrew’s mixed grill would have fed a small family for a week while my steak looked like half a cow. Very tasty but more than one person outside of the US can eat.
Monday we were all back on flights to London with the adventure completed successfully.

Swanwick to Plymouth

8th - 13 June 2104
We arrived in Plymouth on Thursday 12th June in the afternoon as planned after a hectic few months of getting the boat prepared. It was a relief to leave Swanwick on Monday morning with all the works by the shipwright and rigger complete – it was liberating to think that we do not have people working on the boat  and it is just down to us now.

The Sunday before we left should have been relaxing – just finishing off the odd job. Catherine was on the last day of her medical course (she is now qualified to provide injections, stitch wounds and carry prescribed drugs)  and I had to go home to pick up some final things we needed on the boat including the life raft that should have been delivered to the marina but was sent in error to Suffolk. They could only guarantee delivery to a London address and after a few frantic phone calls Andrew arranged for one of his neighbours to accept delivery on the Friday night.  With the help of Sarah who came back with me back to the boat on the Sunday afternoon we fitted the life aft with much relief. Still lots of stuff on the boat that has not been sorted out and stored – decided to leave this for later in the week when we were less stressed and had more time.

Bill of Portland on a calm day!
On Monday we sailed to Weymouth arriving at 5pm. Calm seas and a pleasant day followed by some excellent fish in the local fish restaurant. On Tuesday morning we carefully plotted our course around the Bill of Portland with the fearsome race. Seemingly light winds and good planning had us though the Bill with some ease until the final ½ mile when we rounded the point into a Force 6 and 4 metre steep waves crashing over the boat.

For about 10 minutes we wished we had sailed the extra 4 miles and avoided the race although the boat took it well.  This was followed by beating into a steep sea with 2m+ waves coming at 20 yard intervals. My assurance to Catherine that this was only the end of the race as we rounded Portland Bill did not bear the test of time as it carried on for 8 hours until we reached Dartmouth. This leg of the journey was always going to be a challenge as we are sailing into the wind with wind against tide which throws up the sea.

However Dartmouth is lovely it is was worth the journey. A stroll into town to get food for dinner and a drink in a local pub made up for everything. It was the only microbrewery I have been into where they did not have any of their own beer but any beer in a storm as they say. Wednesday was a beautiful day and we decided to have a day off thinking or worrying about the boat. We took the ferry across to the station where we took a steam train to Greenway to see Agatha Christie’s holiday home – great day. Drink in the pub on the way back to the boat and then off to the local pub for dinner – mainly because we were too late to eat anywhere else.

Waiting for the steam train.

On Route to Agatha Christie's House

Going down to the Boat House

In Poirot's footsteps - murder in the boat house!

View of the River Dart from her house.

No wind on Thursday for our trip to Plymouth and rounding Start Point was simple – no wind and no waves. It was so hot that we put up the Bimini to get out of the sun but then Catherine decided it was too cold without the sun and sat on the back until we arrived in Plymouth about 3pm. Then we paid for our day off, working until 9:30pm on cleaning the boat, making minor repairs and sorting out where we were going to store everything. Underestimated the amount of work to  be done of course but it was worth having the Wednesday off in Dartmouth and it did make us focus. Few jobs still to do before we head off across Biscay next week but all minor.
John and Catherine Granshaw took a year career break from their jobs in mid 2014 to sail their Moody 47 to warmer climes.

The journey so far:
  • Early June we sailed from Swanwick where the boat had been kept to Plymouth ready for the Bay of Biscay.
  • Mid June we undertook the 4 day crossing of the Bay of Biscay in near perfect weather arriving in La Coruna
  • July was spent back in the UK clearing the house so we could rent it out
  • August we were back on the boat and sailing South visiting the Spanish Rias on the way.
  • Late August and we are about to set off further South along Portugal on the way to Lisbon.
The plan is to sail from Lisbon to Teneriffe via Madeira with two friends who will be joining us on 23 September (Steve and Annie Ball). We will sail around the Canary Islands before departing across the Atlantic with the ARC on 24 November.