Archive for January, 2010

Ibizian sea monsters

Posted in Fun, Photographs, Walking with tags , on January 29, 2010 by maidofmettle

There’s something about San Antonio that seems to mean that people arrive here and then stay…sometimes for years.  We have met a couple of them in the short time we’ve been here.

Although we’re not quite at that point yet, we have been having trouble leaving because the wind seems to be against us at the moment and weather reports have been suggesting it would be rough or very rough a lot of the time.

The good news is that the sun has come out and we have managed to explore the island a little more thanks to the wonders of car hire…

Yesterday we drove around a bit;  first to a little village called Sant Josep where we walked up a big pine-tree covered hill to views almost covering the whole island.

Sant Josep

Sant Josep

Las Salinas beach (named after the salt pans of Ibiza) was the next stop for lunch.  The beach, which is supposedly frequented by celebrities and popular in summer because of its beach bar, was almost entirely deserted with only a few dog walkers and runners.

Watch tower at the end of Las Salinas beach

We walked to the watch tower at the end of the dunes to see some impressive waves and even found what looked like an octopus or squid (I’m not sure how you tell the difference!) hiding in a rock pool.  It was a bit odd and seemed to take a liking to Chris by sending out a tentical and edging out when he was crouching close to look at it.

"Hello!"

Chris also took this picture of some sea anenome (?) that we found there.

A sea creature

A Pete

Drove back via Ibiza town itself to see the old walled bit of town there.

Ibiza old town

The good thing about the island is that it is really small which means it doesn’t take very long to drive anywhere and it was really nice to see countryside inland for a change.

Thank you Chris for driving 🙂

“Whoah! We’re going to eat pizza”

Posted in Fun, Photographs, Sailing, the Mediterranean Sea, Walking with tags on January 25, 2010 by maidofmettle

Ahoy there Chris. Bye bye Barcelona

We took the 150 nautical mile trip from Barcelona to Ibiza having decided that we might be better off heading there instead of going a bit further along the Spanish mainland.  The decision was ultimately made when the weather forecast mid-journey looked to be potentially getting worse…that and the fact that we liked the idea of sailing to an island.

The journey took us from 5pm Friday evening to about 2.30am on Sunday morning where we arrived in San Antonio to the sound of the local clubs blaring queen at us as a welcome.     It was a lot nicer than the previous long journey and certainly not as rough.  Chris and I managed a bit better in terms of sea sickness but we still have some improvements to make.  More than anything, trying to work up the enthusiasm to do anything whilst feeling a little nauseous was the most difficult thing but we did at least manage a bit more sleep this time.

Passing Mallorca in the early morning of Saturday

In the words of Chris “It’s taken me 12 hours to work up the enthusiasm to tighten up the spinaker haliard that’s flopping about” and I can sympathise as I felt a bit like Basil (Clare’s dog) looks when he lies on the floor looking like no-one’s ever taken him for a walk when in reality he’s only just been for one.  Now I can sort of empathise with Ellen Macarthur on some of her video diaries!

We were extremely lucky in the early hours of the morning on Saturday.  I was pretty drowsy on the watch from 6-9am so was positioned sat on the top of the steps leaning (in said Basil-style) against the hatch.

All of a sudden there was a bit of a splash and what looked very like the body and fin of a dolphin about a metre away from the boat.  That was the last I saw of that until about 20 minutes after I excitedly woke Chris from his dozing at having seen another dolphin swimming towards the boat diagonally.  It too got to the boat then disappeared without doing a flipper impression or telling us that someone or other was stuck down a mine-shaft.  I am looking forward to seeing more of them as we sail on.

San Antonio is a bit cloudy and rainy but has some nice hills around it to explore, not to mention the most impressive Chinese meal for €7 (about £6.50)  That was for a lot of food.  So much so, it felt a bit like we were robbing them when we came to pay.

San Antonio with random boats beached

Caroline in a hole

Pete and Caroline looking out over San Antonio

Speaking of water…The flexible water tank under Chris’ bunk (that had been sent as a replacement after it broke) broke for the second time.  Chris is not amused at Plastimo who make them.

“It was the [second] time that we met…Barcelona!”

Posted in Fun, Photographs, the Mediterranean Sea with tags , on January 21, 2010 by maidofmettle

Contrary to the words of Freddie mercury back in 1992 when the city was host to the olympics, Chris and I were lucky enough to come to Barcelona in the summer last year so we have enjoyed seeing some of our favourite sites for a second time and acting as tour guides (a bit) for Pete.

We did a few days of motoring (and occasional sailing) mostly in no wind to get here and in the absence of a great forecast for moving on (and the fact we wanted to stay for at least a day) we have had plenty of time to see things and relax a bit.  It can be a bit difficult knowing from day to day what you’re going to be do and if you are still going to be somewhere because our lives are dictated somewhat by what the weather chooses to do.  The uncertainty is going to have to be something to get used to even if it is a struggle.

On the way in to Barcelona

About 3 miles from our intended port in Barcelona a motor boat came from nowhere out of the mist and head directly towards us…we moved, they moved…we moved again, they moved.  Hmmm we thought, what on earth are they doing maintaining a deliberate collision course?!  It was only when they got a little closer that we realised they were in fact the Spanish police on the look out for boats so they could check our passports, the boat’s papers and have a quick look around the boat presumably to check for drugs.  I suppose they might have wondered why anyone would be out in the misty, damp and slightly cold Mediterranean winter so were pulling boats in to the nearest port, which then added at least an hour on to our original journey plan.  The police let us go having checked everything and then refused Chris’ kind offer to take their photograph…one of the three claiming he was too shy and the other two looking slightly scary at the prospect of having their photos taken!  Anyway, we got one of their boat instead.

The guardia with another boat

It’s a little quieter than when we were here but the city still has appeal in the form of a lots of giant things… a giant fish,  a giant gherkin,  a woolly mammoth and you guessed it…the giant ostentatious cathedral courtesy of Gaudi who never actually finished making it in his lifetime.  The people of Barcelona are still finishing it but even now it is incredibly impressive and resembles a scene out of melted wax on one side and angular on the other.  I like it.

Just one of the giant things in Barcelona

The unfinished cathedral

We’ve eaten out a couple of times, both of which were very nice.  We bravely tried “carpaccio of beef”, which on its arrival turned out to be very thin slices of raw beef with a salad.  I had wrongly thought it might be some kind of beef wrapped in pastry parcels…still we have learned now and it was actually surprisingly good if a little disturbing.

Today, walking down the main tourist street Las Ramblas we spotted someone who likes vegetables even more than Pete does…

Anyone for garlic?

Viva Espagne

Posted in Fun, Photographs, Sailing, the Mediterranean Sea with tags , , on January 13, 2010 by maidofmettle

I’d love to say we had an amazing sail for the 100 or so nautical miles from Port de Bouc to L’Escala in Spain.  Although in reality I was excited to see land for many more reasons other than it being a different country to explore!

The sailing started out quite nicely with calm water and a reasonable amount of wind.  We’d had an excellent looking forecast for 48 hours that would be more than enough to cover the journey across the Gulf de Lion that separated us from Spain.

In fact it wasn’t all bad at first…I practised a few things such as plotting navigation markers on the chart, reefing the main-sail to make it small enough to use as the wind increased and generally gaining confidence with crawling around on deck whilst on the move.  Our new crew member “Horace” the Hydrovane (self steering device) got its first outing and was impressive, encouraging the real crew to be more rested and concentrate a bit more on navigation and so on.

We saw the sun set and with some trepidation continued sailing into the night.  I was particularly dreading going into the cabin to get to sleep after feeling slightly off colour since the afternoon.

Sunset before the waves came up

The night was uncomfortable to say the least.  None of us expected the waves to be breaking (occasionally jumping over the side and landing on the poor people in the cockpit) and though it wasn’t too bad, the sea did seem a little rougher than I expected from the forecast.

Having said that, both Chris and I had our minds put off the waves by feeling horrendously ill for the whole night.  Sea sickness is not fun and whoever thought it would be Chris who succumbed to it first!  Luckily Pete seemed to be oblivious to the rocking motion of the boat in the waves and appeared as if by magic to carry on as normal.  Anyone who can go into the cabin and act normally by reading charts and managing to do anything without any ill effects is amazing if you ask me.   Needless to say we got through the night but it was difficult to sleep and pretty cold outside too.  The choice between being cold and being ill is a tricky one especially when there is a chance of being both when you’re outside in the dark without a clear view of the horizon…yay!

The night sailing did have some advantages.  We got an amazing view of the stars and some glowing phospherescence in the water.  Lots of little bits of green something or other that looked like little glow-worms flicking about in our wake and occasional breaking waves of green.

Almost as soon as it had picked up the wind died down again to almost nothing in the morning which meant we had to get the motor back on to make sure we didn’t have another night at sea.

After about 30 hours of sailing we arrived extremely tired into L’Escala and negotiated some tricky mooring…just what you need when all you want to do is go to sleep.

This morning we took a well earned lie in and then explored a bit.

beach and copper boy at L'Escala

It’s nice here and we found our first beaches since Calais.  Need to pick up some Spanish.  Between us I think we can say hello, thank you, two beers please and can I have the bill.  It’s bizarre too that it would be now that we start thinking in French and dropping in French phrases by accident.

Port de Bouc…we love you…

Posted in Fitting out and maintenance, Fun, Photographs on January 10, 2010 by maidofmettle

We’re hoping to move off again just as soon as the weather looks in our favour to go anywhere.  The forecast has been either extremely windy, rainy or a combination of the two so we are holding out for a good window to leave Port de Bouc.

getting homely. Some nice welcome back flowers 🙂

We have managed to have some fun though.  Pete has a vast collection of board games including one that involves an awful lot of camels.

Pete glueing camels

There are still a few bits to do before we go but we found the floor again yesterday so that was good.  I was beginning to wonder where it was to be honest.  Not having the best weather forecast has been quite useful as it has meant we have had lots of time to do some important jobs such as fixing things down into their final places,  making sure they cannot leap anywhere unhelpful at sea.  I also had my first trip up the mast today in the bosun’s chair which was interesting…the mast was freezing cold but the view from the top was good.

'scuse me, but there's a girl up the mast

To carry on with the food theme of the last post Chris and I tried out a Morroccan restaurant here and were very impressed.  We weren’t 100% sure what we were ordering but we managed to avoid the dreaded meat on the bone that had put some of us off trying Morroccan in the past.  Instead we had the fluffiest couscous known to man, and a lovely mix of meat and vegetable dishes with an optional (and tasty in small doses) blow your head off firey chillie sauce that thankfully came in a separate pot.

There are advantages to being in Port de Bouc, showers, nice food and close proximity to the shops but I think it’s about time to see somewhere else now…

Where?

That sort of depends on the wind.

Chris has found a website that we can send our tracking position to so people can find out roughly where we are.

*We will update this occasionally but DO NOT intend to update it at any specific time so we don’t have people worrying about us…*

Anyone who is interested in following this please email us (or leave us a message on the blog) so we can give you the details.

While the girl’s away the boys….

Posted in Cooking, Fitting out and maintenance, Fun, Photographs, Walking on January 4, 2010 by maidofmettle

Iced Cakes!

Chris finally managed to find a shop in Port de Bouc (Netto) that had some icing sugar (Sucre Glace) to do his nan’s Christmas cake the full justice it deserved, although he wasn’t sure his icing was quite up to her standards, but it did taste goooood.

This is seeming quite a food obsessed post, but it was christmas. Here’s our Horsey Christmas Pie

Pete’s Egg Nog

Earlier on in the day we’d been for a walk along the coast to Fos-sur-Mer, notable for a somewhat precarious church, a nice beach and a very large neighbouring industrial complex. A bit like Port de Bouc except for the first two things then.

Looking north towards Fos

The church in Fos-sur-Mer

Looking south towards Port de Bouc

So we thought we’d better also eat some of Chris’ gigantic, 2 inch thick millionaire’s shortbread

We’ve both played Pete’s football game and watched “Pete’s team” Arsenal play Aston Villa at the nearby Cafe, which we also managed to finally get some food in …. mmmmmm… Merguez Frites…. a nice French spicy sausage in a baguette with chips….

It is quite a strange Cafe, very local, but friendly, they have a no dogs sign on the door, but there’s always a dog or three in there, and sometime one on the table by the TV! When we went to eat there with Fabien (Pete’s friend, who also brought some very tasty French delicacies) the other day they even had kittens outside.

We’ve also got a fair few duller things done, including making and fitting more shelving, cleaning and restowing some parts of the inside, and finally figuring out where lots of things should live, ranging from the big torch up to the liferaft! However, the only thing that makes a vaguely interesting photograph is that Chris has been working on the solar panel mounts and finally fitted them today!

Happy New Year

Posted in Cooking, Fitting out and maintenance, Fun, Photographs on January 2, 2010 by maidofmettle

We enjoyed an early boat Christmas at the marina in Port de Bouc with Turkey pie, a variation on roasted potatoes, homemade crackers (including hats and terrible jokes) and Christmas games and music.  It was fun and the only thing missing was the Queen’s speech but we weren’t too worried.

mmmm "christmas" dinner

Chris’ nan made us a lovely Christmas cake back in September.  We had carried on the boat from Chichester and Chris had fun putting on the marzipan and letters.  Apparently he managed to find some icing just before the real Christmas to finish it off.  Mmmm.  Thank you.

Christmas cake

Pete and the boat pets

What follows are the edited highlights from various communications whilst Caroline has left the boys to do the work so she could enjoy a bit of a break over Christmas and New Year….ready to come back refreshed for the next installment.

“welcome to 2010! Things are going pretty well here, though I’d say the fan heater has probably repaid the initial investment already!

The weather has seemed a lot less harsh than when we first got down to the Med, there’ve been quite a few days which would have been very nice for sailing but we’ve not been too worried given that we’ve generally been doing jobs and going out would mean quite a lot of moving stuff around.. so [Caroline] will probably be present for the first sail of the New Year. Axel [a sailor we met in Navy Service] has made it to Spain as well which is encouraging 🙂 The Dutch are still around, they just came here today so we’ll be seeing them later.

The accidentally bought tinned horse did indeed turn out very tasty on Christmas Day, quite a late lunch by the time we’d got back from our walk and cooked it though! It was a beautiful day though, actually pretty warm in the sunshine and we went along the beach from where we went on our walk right the way to Fos, which has a little walled village bit on a rock overhanging quite impressively at one corner.

Fabien [Pete’s friend] came down the other day so we had another day off – nice lunch in the slightly strange bar and a shorter walk along the coast on the other side of the industrial stuff opposite us after getting some bits from the chandlery. It was great to see him again.

Apart from that Chris and Pete have been continuing the battle against mold, doing odd jobs to prepare for sailing and generally tidying up.  After the devastating loss of my spotty thermals (which had become a lifeline in the cold weather) from the washing line before I left for England I am pleased that the Mistral seems to have been behaving a little better for the other two.