New day, new location

This afternoon we reached Ilha da Culatra, thirty miles or so along the coast, and another six hours!

Another journey done, with some interesting sea state along the way

But it didn’t quite get me!

Anyway destination reached, which on the way in looks quite quaint with a beach running all the way along, which obviously it would have because it’s an island! ilha da culatra is actually one of the three parts of Culatra Island in the Algarve. At 6 km long it ranges from 100m to 900m in width – so there you go.

There is a plan tomorrow to do some yoga on the beach – but if the wind keeps up as it is we won’t be going anywhere – if you shut your eyes you’re on a trampoline with a hundred little kids jumping up and down – interesting to see how our anchoring skills fare tonight – me thinks that one Dawkins may be spending many hours in the cockpit until the weather dies down, just to make sure we aren’t going to be playing dodgems with all the other boats as we drift slowly back to sea. And there are a lot of things to hit – this bay is like a car park at the moment

Where there’s a mast there’s a boat and there are many many masts!

So I’ll let you know how we get on

x

Ayamonte

We’re still here in Ayamonte which is on the Guadiana River which forms part of the border between Spain and Portugal. In fact I can see Portugal from the boat!

Some of our intrepid travellers last week went on a ferry crossing to Portugal, although I believe there may have been some confusion with the timetable as Portugal is in the same time zone as the UK – learnt something new that day. Weird that, the river is less than half a mile wide, but an hours time difference.

It’s a very sweet little town, great plazas, lots of the mosaics that I like, and lots of bars and restaurants, although my husband tells me the people in the supermarket here are not as friendly. He should know, food shopping is after all a blue job.

Val and Cliff have left us for a bit whilst they spend time with family who are visiting along the coast, but we are planning to meet them in a few days – wind permitting. But like all these things it’s subject to change. It’s actually a bit fresh here today, the winds up and blowing straight down the companionway into the boat. I’m actually feeling a bit peculiar today so I’m sat under my dressing gown – it’s one of those wrap up and watch Bargain Hunt days – but sadly that’s not possible as there is no WiFi in this marina – it’s like the dark ages and we’ve been relegated to watching films on the laptop and talking to each other!

It’s quite a busy marina which unsurprising given its location and we have seen some comings and goings in the last week, and met some lovely people – one who actually wanted to buy Craigs carefully crafted passarelle! Offer declined though as it’s going into a design museum somewhere at a later date. Ha ha.

I have been reminded that I am not the only idiot on a boat, I’m going to try and draw you a mental picture to describe the very funny event Craig witnessed this week.

Let’s set the scene, a boat arrives and very expertly the skipper reverses it into its berth in very windy conditions. In addition to the skipper there are two crew members, one female (skippers wife) and one male (skippers chum). Tied to the front of the boat one line is ready for the loose end to be thrown to the chum who has leapt off the boat and is waiting on the pontoon. Skippers wife throws the rope to said chum who wraps it around the cleat on the pontoon and passes it back to her to be tied back on the boat thereby effectively creating a loop between boat and pontoon to hold the boat secure – still with me? Well instead of tying the rope back to the boat, the wife picks up the end of the rope where it is already tied to the boat. For many minutes she is pulling a dead bit of rope wondering why the boat is still moving, screaming at her husband that it’s not doing anything – no love you’re pulling the tail end of an already tied bit of rope. You’re supposed to be tying off the rope you’ve got in your other hand. Husband can’t work out what’s going on, but chum realises the solution to the debacle, climbs back on to the boat, takes the rope back out of the wife’s hand and calmly ties it off. It will no doubt be part of the debrief that I have witnessed many times during which the skipper tells the wife what it is she did wrong, and what he really meant when he said such and such. Oh the joys.

Today the lovely man across the way was very upset because the spray from his power washer was blowing our way and has just delivered a bottle of extra virgin olive oil that he makes himself – that’s so sweet! The olive oil industry is clearly booming hence his half a million pound boat! Sadly he doesn’t have his two sons with him today who between them have provided us with hours of entertainment as they argue how to tie the boat to the dock. Clearly older son thinks younger son is a complete imbecile and younger son does nothing to prove his brother wrong. Even in a foreign language the dynamic is clear!

So that’s us for now and

I will leave you with some pics from the town

x

It’s been one of those days

It started this morning in Cadiz when a random alarm started going off and that my friends set the tempo for the rest of the day.

We managed to at least do some motorsailing on our 12 hour journey with the mainsail up, but one of the reefing lines got twisted so in the wind I was trying with the boat hook to sort it. Oh then once we’d taken the sail down the sail stack (which is effectively the bag the sail goes down in to collapsed – twice! Fair enough and easy enough to sort but it didn’t do my nerves any good watching craig clamber over the deck in gusting winds. All that was going through my mind was the man over board procedure – or at least the bits of it I could remember!

Anyway we finally got to anchor about 8 this evening at Ayamonte and some knobhead on a jet ski decided to buzz the boat and the whole of the cockpit and me got soaked – if only I had a shotgun.

Now it’s nearly 10, the wind, which is incidentally strangely warm, has got up and it’s started blowing a hoolie. Oh, now the anchor alarms started going off – it’s just been one of those days!

Quite frankly I’ll be glad when it’s over – the one consolation, a stunning sky tonight

Not sure it really reflects how I feel about today but sometimes you just have to take whatever little nugget you can.

x

Cadiz

An ancient port city in the Andalucía region of SW Spain, the city lies on a narrow spit of land hemmed in by the sea. Regarded by many as the oldest continuously inhabited city in western Europe it was founded in 1104BC by the Phoenicians.

The principal home port of the Spanish Navy since the 18th century, the 17th century watchtower, The Tavira Tower commands a panoramic view of the city.

The old city consists of narrow winding alleys connecting larger plazas. One of the ‘attractions’ are actually the Pylons of Cadiz which were concluded in 1960 which you can certainly tell by the design. At 158m high (518ft in old money) they stand tall across the Bay, and we have a birds eye view, or should I say ants eye view.

On a more historical note there is the Arco de la Rosa, an arch carved into the medieval wall

And the Cathedral built between 1722 and 1838, sadly they are now charging 6 euros just to go into a House Of God!

Compared to Cartagena, Cadiz has if anything more of a buzz with what appear to be nicer bars and restaurants around the vast Plazas, but what it does lack in my view is the historical feel that Cartagena provides.

But if there is one thing you can say about both cities it’s that they do love a statue.

Clearly the seagull is not part of the original design!

All in all, for a touch of Spain it’s probably worth a weekend visit.

x

Life at anchor

One windy few hours overnight have certainly tested our anchoring skills but thankfully we appear to have held well and there has been no getting up in the middle of the night to stop the boat from slowly heading towards one of the uprights of the bridge we sitting just beyond.

We did have the anchor alarm going off last night, but with all these things they are sensitive, and you do have to set the alarm at the spot you drop the anchor, which is fine if you’re only doing a one night stop as it is on the phone. Setting it on the phone at the stern of the boat and then moving the phone to the bow of the boat to sleep certainly gives the system something to think about. As the boat moves the slightest little bit it assumes the anchor is dragging and activates with a very concerning klaxon. Fortunately despite it being 4.30 a.m. when it went off, the operator despite being half asleep realised it was user error and it was the phone that had moved rather than the anchor. Thank goodness.

We’ve pretty much had this section of the river to ourselves, with the exception of the daily fisherman, a few jet skis and some motorboats out for the day. The bay is big enough for all of us, it’s vast, and there are plenty of shallows all across it. So why, oh why did a French boat arrive this morning and decide that it needed to be right up our chuff.

It had all this space

And it chose to go here

It’s like going to an empty car park and coming back to find the only other car in it has parked next to you.

Still they’re French, so what can you say!

This wouldn’t be my choice of anchoring spot, it’s not pretty, I don’t really feel I can swim here, but evidently we’re getting to that spot. And anchoring, well you obviously don’t have the security of being in a marina, but then you don’t have the expense either. A jaunt ashore is a hop in the dinghy which you then leave in a marina and hope it doesn’t get pinched, and there is a sense of apprehension when you leave the boat for a few hours – will it still be there on your return, by fair means or foul.

But you become aware of things you take for granted in a marina, or a house for that matter such as power and water usage. Whether that stays with me in the future and I’ll go around and turn all the lights off at the house, or just let the taps run freely it remains to be seen. There is no watching tv to while away the evening hours, although we have watched some pretty good films, albeit with Japanese subtitles, on the laptop – Bohemian Rhapsody is highly recommended by the way – but you read, you contemplate and cogitate, you cut your husbands hair and you paint your toenails, you enjoy the gentle sound of the water lapping against the sides of the boat, and despite being under the longest bridge I have ever seen you enjoy the relative peace of it all. Oh, and most importantly you hope that the winds don’t get up and the anchor continues to hold.

Tomorrow we leave Cadiz and have another long 12 hour day ahead of us making our way to Ayamonte for a few days, some at anchor and some in a marina – fridges will need restocking and laundry not suitable for my little machine has to be done. And then on again, to what I am hoping is what I have in my head as the perfect little anchoring spot but between now and then we are at the hands of Mother Nature once more – let’s hope she is kind and if only for a few hours we can have the engine off and the sails up – for a change!

x

And in other news

NEWSFLASH : Wife feels wrath as she does not have the power to control the wind

Gusts were blowing as a new boat entered the marina, leaving the Skipper unable to berth in his allocated spot. Witnesses stated that they were shocked at the language aimed at the crew when she politely advised her husband to try and go into a bigger berth. It is alleged that the words ‘I can’t control the f***ing boat’ were heard across the marina. Rumour has it that the wife has now been booked on a weather control course and the husband into an anger management class.

Man seeking revenge for withdrawal of Bourbon biscuits

A man returned to his boat to find his wife serving tea and biscuits to their neighbour. His neighbour, aware that the man is on a strict calorie controlled diet, was seen to take great delight in waving a half eaten Bourbon at him, having taken two of the four on offer. The man said ‘I can’t believe she did it, my Bourbons, two of them and by the time I reached the boat they’d been put away‘. Later that day during sundowners the man was overheard making some remark which no one can quite recall, although the neighbour was heard to say in reply ‘you will regret that, I’ll get my own back when you least expect it’. Witnesses said that later that evening she did in fact get her own back by telling the man’s wife that she had passed a jam doughnut over to him earlier that day when the wife was out. The neighbour has yet to confirm whether this event did actually happen as there were in fact no sightings of said doughnut. The neighbour is yet to confirm or deny the existence of a doughnut but in our opinion she just really enjoyed getting him in to trouble – her parting words were ‘I’m not to be messed with’.

Stolen wipes used to cover airlines failure

It has been reported that two packets of wet wipes usually accompanying finger food were stolen from the Arena Sports Bar in Gibraltar during the FA Cup Final on Saturday. When stopped the thief was said to declare that she needs them because she has to wipe down the seat on the Ryanair flight before she sits down. Her companions were said to be shocked, not at the theft but that someone would go to the bother of wiping the seats down, one said ‘everyone knows that Ryanair planes are completely cleaned between each flight, seats are cleaned thoroughly and the air sprayed with disinfectant – her behaviour is just unnecessary and quite frankly besmirching the name of a first class airline’. The authorities have decided not to take any further action in this matter.

P.S I am not the woman who can’t control the wind as everyone knows I have powers beyond this realm, plus no anger management class would take Craig.