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Finally underway!

After ten intense days of boat work by the yard specialists and me I feel ready to set sail. Most things on the long preparation list have been ticked off. But, as most always, there is a snafu: the chart plotter decides to quit his reliable services after an attempted software update. Sailing without a chart plotter is a bit like driving in a foreign country without your navigation system working. Luckily, my iPad picks up the slack and I feel confident to leave on the first leg by myself crossing the Lion’s Gulf straight to Cadaques, just over the French/Spanish border (think Salvador Dalí). 

Befitting the excentric artist the weather is a bit surrealist as well… With an oncoming Tramuntana (strong NW wind) I head into a fog bank at top speed. After a very long sailing day of 120nm I drop anchor in Cadaques bay, saving 70€ by NOT picking up one of their mooring buoys!

The next day my new Spade anchor is tested by winds of up to 35 knots or force 7 or like driving down the road at 70 km/h and sticking your head out the window. It holds like a champ while Moira is swinging at anchor like crazy!

 

Cadaques is a very nice town to visit with a very special cathedral. The first christian church I have encountered that set up an entire side wing with a silent space comfortably laid out with a large carpet and meditation cushions set on it. A good chance to get grounded after a pretty wild ride at sea. And of course, there is Dalí’s house as well to visit. If you don’t mind the crowds - I did.

Over the following days I head SW along the Costa Brava to Barcelona, sped along by the relentless Tramuntana. My first longer single-handed leg (by myself) is a success: All the new gear has held up including my back…

 

Barcelona has been very high on my list to visit and I am catching the bug of this amicable and trendy city within hours of arriving - now it is high on my list of favorite places in the world! I stroll the little alleys, eat out at Tapa bars with friends and family, rest my back and take care of some boat projects.

My first crew this year arrives and we set out to Menorca the next day on an overnight trip. Not ideal for newbies, but luckily one of the crew is a skipper, too. One hour after setting out from Barcelona we are visited by a school of dolphins ouf about ten individuals for about twenty minutes. I try to dissuade even higher expectations by the crew for the rest of the trip, pointing out how unusual the number and duration of the visit really is. Always a pure joy when they arrive!

After arriving on Menorca’s north coast in Cala d’Algaierens we follow a nice rhythm of anchoring overnight in beautiful Calas (bay) complete with sandy beach, turquoise waters, other boats and tourists on the beach. The next night we stay in a harbour, eating out and provisioning in a nearby (we hope) supermarket. The Balearics have some of the most stunning natural harbours in the world, quaint towns, and good food. After visits to Menorca, Mallorca, and Ibiza we head straight to Valencia on a force five beam reach in bright sunshine and warm weather. Sailing does not get any better than this!

 

Valencia is surprisingly big and it takes 17845 steps from the marina to the cathedral in the city center (according to my iPhone). The arts and sciences park with world-famous architecture by Santiago Calatrava as well as the city center with its many splendid buildings from the Spanish Modernisme period (like art deco) are definite highlights. It was also home of the 32nd America’s Cup, won by the Swiss Alinghi team.

Our crew dwindles down to my friend Gabriela and me for the next leg of the trip to Malaga. We take a three day break in Alicante, where everybody is busy gearing up for next week’s Fiesta de San Joan, their celebrations of the summer solstice. Huge colorful figures made out of wood slats and paper maché are created and positioned on city squares and floats in the harbor, a daily noisy fireworks at 2 pm reminds city dwellers before their siesta of the upcoming festivities. On 24 June the armatures all get burned and there is a competition of fireworks, beauty queens, food, drink and thousands of people. It is quite enough for us to see all the preparations…

Alicante was also the three-time start of the Volvo Ocean Race, one of the toughest sailing races and the harbor houses a museum of the event including an original boat and a simulator.

Pictures see here.

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