Friday, 30 December 2011

Life in Mindelo

Hi from Clare,                                                       Thursday 29th Dec 2011-12-30





TODAY


This will be a quick update as we are very busy preparing to leave.
Andrew is at present in the water scrubbing the bottom of the boat.
I have been busy shopping and cooking for the passage.

CHRISTMAS
We had a lovely Christmas starting with drinks on ‘Balvenie' on Christmas Eve.
Fourteen people attended and so it was a good opportunity to celebrate together.


Christmas day was a much quieter day with most cruisers having lunch on their boats. I had bought a vacuum packed leg of New Zealand lamb in the Canaries so we had that and plum pudding and Christmas cake brought from home.
Christmas Lunch on Eye Candy

UNDERWAY


Our friends ‘Balvenie’ and ‘Tactical Directions’ left on Boxing Day for their trip across the Atlantic. We hear from them on the radio and they are rolling a fair bit. Our friend and helper Bronwyn is arriving tonight. At this stage we think we will leave on Sunday when the wind drops down.


SHOPPING


The town of Mindelo is a funny place. The ATM machines run out of money regularly. If you have cash the supermarket will trade as long as you don’t want too much change. They will only take their local credit card. Visa and Master Card are not accepted. Trying to buy food is a nightmare. The supermarket is extremely small and poorly stocked; no room for a trolley. It is crowded to the point of being claustrophobic and you keep bumping into people.


There is always a long queue at the cash register and invariably long delays for price checks etc. Yesterday it took me 50 minutes to get through the checkout.


Vegetables are bought from the local market or in the street at a high cost. The fish market is good but scary as every time we have been there the people are arguing. The butcher doesn't speak English and doesn't have meat on display; so somehow you have to ask for what you want. There is red meat in the supermarket but the cuts are unidentifiable. You can buy only frozen chicken. I found a baker after much searching; the bread is very sweet a bit like American bread so we have been making our own. Oh how I long for hassle free shopping!


COMMUNICATION


The internet is not very accessible and we don’t have any phone coverage here.


I had intended to send eight photos on our last newsletter but we were running out of battery due to a slow connection. So this time I’m only going for one as I can’t afford to tear any more hair out.


Love Candy xx


Saturday, 24 December 2011

Mindelo, Cape Verde Islands

Hi from Clare, 23rd December 2011
Mindelo is a town of contrasts. Some facilities like the laundry is amongst the best we have seen. There is a brand new Shell Service Station and we have even seen an Audi. On the other hand the buildings are in a state of disrepair and there are many people squatting in the side streets selling fish, vegetables and all kind of merchandise.

The restaurants are very basic but the dinner we had the night we arrived was delicious and very inexpensive. I couldn't help but make a comparison between the mouthwatering menus in Oz and the menus here. At home garden fresh salad, oven baked potatoes and a list of spices to stimulate appetite are mentioned. Here I chose "pork chop and potato' and Andrew had "Stuffed chicken chest". It didn't sound very appetizing but when the meal arrived I had two tender and delicious pork chops cooked in a lovely light spicy sauce and a side dish of baked potato, sweet potato, pumpkin and a fruity cabbage. Andrew's stuffed chicken breast had two side dishes, light buttery rice and a tomato, peppers and onion. We washed this down with a large beer and a full glass of red wine for the total price $24.

Yesterday we spent the best part of the day re establishing the boat to its former glory. The smell I couldn't track down remained after the wet cardboard was removed from the bilge. By this stage I was starting to panic so down on my hands and knees, more sniffing required. It turned out to be stale sea water on the bottom edge of the seat in the saloon. I think there must have been some decaying sea life attached somewhere. A good soaking in Domestos has done the trick.

Today we went for a trip around the island. Eight of us sat on bench seats in the back of a Ute for the five hour trip. The comfort factor was about one step up from sitting on the back of a scooter. We saw a few small fishing and framing villages and went to the top of one of the mountains. The road was narrow and winding with a sheer drop to a "bloody long way down". Some of the crew got out and waited for the rest of us to go to the top. The view at the top would have been break taking had it not been spoilt by a dust storm (as seen in the photos) which has engulfed the island for the past two days.

We wish you a wonderful Christmas, don't eat and drink too much and stay safe.
Love Candy xx
Andrew's Fish

A small (2M) wave

Drying things out

The cruising gang on tour
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Thursday, 22 December 2011

Wednesday DAY 6

Hi from Clare, Canaries to Cape Verde Islands Wednesday 21st Dec 2011

DAY 6 - Plus 2 Hrs

We arrived into Mindelo at 12.30 to the sound of a victory horn and shouts of "Welcome to the Cape Verdes". This lovely piece of theatrics was compliments of Balvenie who arrived some hours earlier. The past 26 hours of sailing was much kinder to us with 12-20 knot winds and a one metre swell. Last night was quite mild and today is beautiful and sunny; the sea temperature is a very agreeable 24.7 degrees; things are looking up.

Yesterday with the calmer conditions we set to work and cleaned out the bilges. Today we have pulled the cockpit lockers apart so we can remove the salt water and wash everything in fresh water, dry it and start again. Who said boating was all about lazing about in the sun and having drinks at sunset?

So our latest mini disaster is that the throttle on the outboard motor is jammed. Andrew discovered this when he was ready to go to the Customs Office. Instead he has now pulled the engine apart adding one move item to the 'immediate jobs' list. At present the boat looks like a Chinese Laundry with washing flapping on every rail. It will take a day or two before we can recover from Neptune's little joke. I wondered if perhaps he was annoyed with us for pinching one of his fish - maybe we should sell the fishing rod!

The highlight of the day was arriving safe and sound. Tonight we are going out for drinks and dinner to celebrate with the new arrivals. I think four or five boats have arrived today. Already we have been invited to a Christmas Day get together involving all the boats - time to kick and enjoy.

All is very well.
Love Candy xx

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Wednesday, 21 December 2011

DAY 5

Hi from Clare, Canaries to Cape Verde Islands, Tuesday 20th Dec 2011

In the last 24 hours we sailed 143 miles and have 145 miles to go to Mindelo in the Cape Verde Islands. At this speed we should arrive in day light which will please Andrew very much. The sea state is still confused with big sets of rolling waves. I will talk more about that later when I report on the highlight of the day.

After yesterday's radio message about the rowing boats, we heard this morning that the crew of one boat has been picked up by the officials. So now we have a 25 foot wooden rowing boat adrift in the Atlantic. The boat has a tracker and there is a retrieval vessel on its way to pick it up. I'm only glad it is far away from us, I don't like things that go bump in the night. The moon rises around 3am and most nights we have a glorious star filled sky. However when there is cloud cover to quote our New Zealand friend Mark (Balvenie) "It's a black as the inside of a cow out here"

So our latest mini disaster is centered around an unidentified smell on the boat. We have been getting a whiff of it for a few days. It smells like dirty feet and so I immediately accused Andrew, as it's either him or me and I'm a girl! However after a shower the smell was still present. So we have been playing 'stiffer dog' and we tracked it down to the salt water saturated beer boxes in the bilge. I knew they got wet the other day but I was hoping to deal with them later. I doubt we will last the distance but the thought of fixing the problem in rolling seas doesn't thrill us either.

So on to a brighter note, the highlight of the day and we are divided on this one. Andrew thinks it is surfing down a huge wave doing 13.9 knots.
I think it is, I was asleep at the time and didn't have to witness it. This is a new speed record for Eye Candy and one we hope will remain until we put her on a truck one day.

Thanks once again for your emails - they are brilliant.

All is well
Love Candy xx

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Tuesday, 20 December 2011

DAY 4

Hi from Clare, Canaries to Cape Verde Islands Monday 19th Dec 2011

In the last 24 hours we have sailed 148 miles and we have 288 miles to go; we expect to arrive mid Wednesday. At the moment the sea has flattened out a bit and we have about a 2 metre swell and 20 knots of wind. Earlier this morning I was sitting in the cockpit in similar conditions and thinking how wonderful. However within 10 minutes I was busy reducing sails due to confused seas, a much larger swell and 30 knot winds.

Would you believe that there is an annual rowing race across the Atlantic? There are currently 14 rowing boats crossing the Atlantic. They are manned by 6, 4 or 2 rowers. I can't for the life of me imagine why anyone would want to do such a thing. Apparently 2 of the boats are in difficulties and we have heard calls on the radio for yachts in the area to assist by standing by with the distressed boat until official help arrives. The closest rowing boat is about 200 miles away from us. In this sea condition, I think rendering assistance would be very difficult.

The highlight of the day was surfing down a wave at 11.7 knots. That was enough excitement for us.

Andrew hasn't had the fishing line out since day one. I have been trying to take photos of the waves. I have managed some at 2 metres but once they get bigger than that I need 4 hands; it's a full body workout.

All is well
Love Candy xx .

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Monday, 19 December 2011

DAY 3

Hi from Clare, Canaries to Cape Verde Islands - DAY3 Sunday 18th Dec 2011

In the last 24 hours were have sailed 145 miles. Not bad considering we slowed down for seven hours yesterday while we recovered from the wave strike. Andrew had fortunately backed up our computer before leaving home. He was able to reload the software onto our second computer, so we are back in business. The windspeed has now mysteriously started to work again so there must be some water in some wires some-where. The engine control alarm no longer tweets so Andrew will have to investigate that too.

The wind and wave conditions are the same as yesterday and are forecast to stay that way for the rest of the trip. We are running a four hour roster in the day and three hours at night. Shift change times are 6am, 10am, 2pm, 6pm, 9pm, 12pm, 3am and then back to 6am. It seems to be working well and we are getting enough rest and sleep.

So what mini disaster befell us today? Oh yes, our toilet seat came away at the hinges, turning the whole procedure into a balancing act. Andrew, who's temporary fix always starts with a piece of string, jokingly said "All I have to do is work out how to tie the seat onto our bum first, then we just have to sit down" problem solved.

The highlight of the day was a school of 30 or more dolphins. They were having a ball surfing down the waves in an S motion. Some were jumping off the top of the waves flying through the air doing a barrel roll and landing down in the trough. Others were leaping vertically out of the water - what a show.

Thank you for your emails. No mater how short and sweet, it is great to have the contact while on passage. It's a bit like getting the morning paper. VJN2982@sailmail.com
All is well here
Love Candy xx

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Sunday, 18 December 2011

DAY 2

Hi from Clare, Saturday 17th Dec 2011

In the last 24 hours we have sailed another 140 miles towards the Cap Verde Islands. The wind speed at its highest was 33 knots and wave heights yesterday and most of last night were in access of 3 metres.
Around 6.30 am this morning we had a wave strike from behind which dumped a large amount of water into the cockpit and below.

The damage on deck: Washed overboard was the inflatable dan-buoy which inflated and set off flashing, gone also is the cover to the bilge pump. The rear cockpit seat broke away but it was tied on so it didn't go overboard. The stern light now points skywards. We think the bimini is bent - to be confirmed. We have lost wind speed because of the drenching of the electrics in the steering pedestal. The auto helm tripped off but not before twisting the steering quadrant around the rudder shaft and last but not least one shaken and saturated watch captain - me.

The damage below deck: One dead laptop due to flooding. All the electrics on the nav table i.e the switch panel, the chart plotter, VHF and HF radios were all sprayed with sea water - damage due to corrosion will reveal itself in time. Several litres of sea water spread throughout all the bilge compartments from the nav table and aft.

Now that Neptune has played his little joke the wind and waves have abated, the sun is shinning and conditions are quite pleasant.

The highlight of the day was, Andrew's fish for dinner was delicious.

Love Candy xx

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Friday, 16 December 2011

Canaries to Cape Verde Islands

Hi from Clare, Friday 16th Dec 2011

DAY 1
We commenced our trip 10am yesterday morning. In the first 24 hour period we have sailed 140 miles. The sea is lumpy with a 3 metre following sea and wind strength of 20-25 knots, max gust 32. The ride is a bit uncomfortable and last night it was really cold.

On the bright side, we caught our first fish late yesterday. We think it is a small Tuna, it is a very handsome shiny white and silver. We hit it on the head with the hammer, the cockpit ended up looking like a scene from Dexter.

Today is sunny and we are enjoying the warmth. We have 725 miles to go to Mindelo, Cape Verdes and closer to the equator.

That's all for today as I am typing this with one hand and holding the computer with the other so it doesn't fall off the table.

Love Candy xx

PS check the YOTREPS link for the up to date positions

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Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Leaving thwe Cannaries

Hi from Clare,

OFF AND AWAY
Well we head out tomorrow morning to sail the 850 miles to the Cape Verde Islands. This is the beginning of our Atlantic crossing. Some boats travel south to within about a hundred miles of the Cape Verdes and then turn right and head for Barbados. Others like us, head for the port of Mindelo in the Cape Verde Islands. Balvenie will be leaving with us and Tacktical Direections will leave the following day. We will have Christmas on land and then tackle the 2000 miles to Barbados in the Caribbean. We have an additional crew member Bronwyn Adamson joining us on the 28th December for the trip to Barbados. With three people on board, we will all get enough sleep. We are looking forward to sharing the experience with Bronwyn as we have know her for many years. She is an excellent sailor and can talk engineering to Andrew forever, leaving me time to read - just joking.

BUSY BUSY
For the past week we have been busy preparing for the trip. Andrew has checked the engine, the rig, the water maker, the rudder etc. Everything has been either screwed or tied down and I've bought enough food for three months or more. So we are ready to go .

Tonight ten of us are going out for drinks and the last supper. I will regularly write a short note to the Blogsite at www.freedomandadventure.blogspot.com keeping you updated on the passage. Also you can check our progress by clicking the YOTREPS link on the right hand side of this Blog page. This will show where the boat is and Andrew will update this daily.

love Candy xx

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Sunday, 4 December 2011

Lanzarote, Canary Islands

 
Hi from Clare,                           Saturday   3rd December 2011

MAYBE IT’S AGE RELATED
We have now been back on the boat for one week, but somehow it feels much longer. Maybe it’s because we had a quick trip back to Oz and traveling back and forth between countries has caused some disorientation.
For example the other day I went to the supermarket here and tried to pay in Australian dollars. At first I couldn’t understand why the girl was rejecting my money and looking at me as if I was stupid. Then the answer came to me – I am stupid. I had to run back to the boat and get some Euros.

CHATTING PAYS OFF
The boat is in good condition and it only took two days to polish the deck, restock and prepare for sea. We are now at anchor and yesterday we discovered a water leak under the engine which necessitated replacing the salt water pump bearings and seal. Apparently the seal had been leaking for a while and the bearings were very rusty inside.  We had all the spare parts needed and fortunately Andrew had previously befriended the local sailing school owner who was conversant with overhauling Volvo water pumps. Andrew was very grateful for his help and the use of his small workshop (with press) and for the car ride another cruiser gave Andrew to the workshop in the next town. 

PREPARING FOR ADVENTURE
We plan to leave tomorrow night to travel 95 miles to Las Palmas on the Island of Gran Canaria. Hundreds of boats come through Las Palmas each year and many step off here for their Atlantic Crossing. Consequently the town’s business is geared to this event and all boat and food supplies are plentiful we hope.

There are a number of boats crossing the pond now and we have been listening to the daily radio sked. They seem to be having a good time with approximately 20 knots of breeze with a one to two metre swell. The further south they go the warmer the weather. Some are dusting off their sarongs and swim wear; others are busy fishing or trying to fish. 

 BACK TO REALITY
The weather here in Lanzarote is cool, windy and with a little weak sunshine. Not too bad considering that this is their winter. Poor Andrew went in the water twice to scrub the weed off the bottom of the boat. Both times he came out frozen and was glad to sit with a hot drink, a hot water bottle and a rug around him.
Rubicon Anchorage



We are anchored off the town of Rubicon. There is a lovely paved walkway connecting the old town with a newer resort township and up market marina. 
The walkway is really good for getting some much needed exercise. This morning we went into the marina and had morning coffee with newly met New Zealand friends Peter and Barbara on ‘Musketelle’. They too are crossing the Atlantic this year. We intended just a quick hello but ended chatting for hours. That’s life in the cruising community and what a wonderful life it is.

SO WHAT’S NEXT
We intend spending a few weeks in the Canary Islands before heading 900 miles south to the Cape Verde Islands where the weather will be lovely and warm.  We will spend Christmas there before the crossing.

Love Candy xx.        
 
                     Lanzarote Landscape                                        Walk-way to town

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Lanzarote


Hi from Clare,                                                           Monday 10th October 2011 




WHERE ARE WE NOW?


We left Rabat last Sunday around to travel the 450 miles to the Canary Islands. We had a terrific sail averaging 5.6 knots for the trip. Apart from the necessary motoring leaving Rabat and arriving at our destination we only had the engine on for four hours on the second day due to no wind.
  
                                                          The Graciosa Anchorage


Since arriving here we have spent our days in a very calm anchorage in the south of Graciosa Island. Graciosa is at the northern end of the larger island of Lanzarote.
We are here with the Aussie yacht ‘Just Jane’ and the American yacht ‘Tsolo’ and yachts of other nationalities.  There is a small resort town about a mile away where we can get provisions and Wifi.
 
                     The sleepy town                                   Andrew Skyping Sarah with Phil and Janey


We have spent much of our time on the beach or going for walks. Today we are heading into the township again and so we will send this newsletter.


SO WHAT’S NEXT?
Later this week we will go around the other side of the island to Arricefe the capital of Lanzarote.  There we will organize a marina to leave the boat while we come home for a month.


We have booked our flight home arriving into Sydney on Thursday 27th October.


Love Candy xx

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Casablanca

Hi from Clare,                                  Friday 30th August

HOLDING PATTERN

Dock party underway

It is now Friday and we are still in the marina at Rabat waiting for the right weather opportunity to sail 450 miles to the Canaries.  We are in the company of three Australian, three New Zealand, two American and one English yacht.  It has become quite a little community, pooling our resources and knowledge to help each other with weather information, maintenance concerns, computer problems, shopping tips, easy recipes, reading material and Gas decanting.  Most nights we get together for drinks. Sometimes it is all together as a dock party and other nights it will be a smaller group on one of the boats. 

YOU WIN SOME
The guys have just about worn a track from the marina to the local gas supply depot. We can't believe how cheap the gas is in Morocco. Gas decanting is a bit like a barbeque, all the men stand around prodding and poking the gas tanks like bits of meat on the plate – good thing nobody smokes.  The most expensive gas we have seen is 26 Euros in France. But to exchange our 2.9 kg camping gas bottle here, it costs 1 Euro. The only problem is that the local bottles are so old and knocked about, we doubt whether the next country will accept them as an exchange. So Andrew bought all the necessary bits to decant the gas into our good bottles.  He has also been busy preparing the boat for the more rolling sea of the Atlantic; more screws in the floorboards, chocks to hold the bilge covers in place, and string nets inside the cupboards so if the doors fly open we won't end up with the contents on the floor.  The first trip we did back in 2005 a dozen eggs flew out of the cupboard and tried to make an omelet under the table.  Of course I am hoping that all this preparation is unnecessary but I guess I'm about to find out.

HAIL MARY
We went on the train to Casablanca. I was very pleased that the trip only took one hour. The train seemed to be traveling very fast on tracks that weren't entirely smooth. The carriages rocked and wobbled and trains coming from the opposite direction flashed past the window a few feet away rocking and wobbling as well. I thought of derailment reports in remote countries and had to concentrate on calming myself with a silent prayer for survival.

 

                                                     Streets and slums of Casablanca

HOW ROMANTIC!
Casablanca was a bit of a shock. It' has around 1 million people and a third of the population live in the slums. Many of the streets are broken, smelly and littered with rubbish. We got off the train with a Canadian couple. The woman looked startled and said to me "I always imagined Casablanca would be a romantic place".  Her husband (who obviously didn't share her vision) said that the mosque was the only thing worth seeing and don't waste our time going to Rick's Café (the legend of the Casablanca movie with Humphrey Bogart) as it was a rip off.  So after parting ways Andrew and I went to the both the mosque and Rick's Café.

BIG MONEY
The mosque is the third biggest mosque in the world and it cost half a billion dollars to build. A lot of the money was raised by public donation. It houses 25,000 inside and 80,000 in the grounds. It is very beautiful outside with endless tiles, marble courtyards and shaded gardens overlooking the Atlantic.
Although it allows women inside we decided not to go on the one hour guided tour.

 

                                                       The Mosque at Casablanca

A VERY PLEASANT STOP
So we went down to Rick's Café; an establishment that has been in business for only seven years.   It doesn't have anything to do with the movie but advertises as Casablanca – The Legend Continues …

Inside Rick's Cafe
It was the most impressive (if not a little intimidating) establishment in an otherwise broken street. However the concierge is happy to open the door for tourists. Once inside it is very posh with intimate bars, private dining rooms, a grand piano in the atrium, the main dining area on several floors overlooking the atrium. We arrived mid morning for coffee and were very cordially invited to a small lounge where the video Casablanca runs on a flat screen continuously. The staff is very professional and didn't mind me taking photos. I'm glad we went there; it is a lovely oasis of refinement.


Andrew and Lauren


SO WHAT'S NEXT
Tomorrow I will be cooking for the trip to the Canaries. I always feel better with a few meals up my sleeve. This way, if conditions get a bit rough we won't starve.

At this stage we are planning to leave here on Sunday and we should arrive in the Canaries on Thursday.

Love Candy xx


Monday, 26 September 2011

Rabat & Fes, Morocco

Hi from Clare,                           Sunday 25th September 2011






MOROCCO, A LAND OF CONTRAST
We have now been in Morocco for a week.  We are staying in Bouregreg Marina in the capital city of Rabat.  Along side are two other Aussie yachts, two New Zealand yachts and one American yacht plus a few other nationalities.  So we have plenty of company and some traveling buddies as we explore the area. The marina is fairly new and visiting yachts are very welcome. The security is excellent with many guards on duty 24 hours a day. The visitors are allowed to go anywhere within the marina but the local folk are not permitted to walk along the finger piers amongst the visiting yachts.
  

                  Bouregreg Marina                                                   Kasbar (fort) at Rabat
THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY
Once leaving the marina however the many contrasts in standards is very apparent. On one hand there are excellent quality trams, trains, cars and freeways.  The hotel and private homes we have been to are spotlessly clean, beautifully decorated and have leafy green interior courtyards. The more prosperous people are well educated, well dressed and well mannered. We have had teenage boys give us their seat on the tram.


Rabat Railway Station
Then we venture up to the local market place.  I think the people must be very hardy but for me who is soft in comparison, the smell of the fish market, blocked drains and rotting vegetable matter is enough to almost knock me out. It breaks my heart to see beggars on the street, stray cats and kittens only a few days old, dying of starvation. It is uplifting to see on many occasions a local person giving money or food to a beggar. So it all seems to work but it is very different to our way of life.


Hotel in Fes
We went (with Mark and Amanda from ‘Balvenie’ and Arnie and Jo from ‘Just Jane’) on a two day excursion to Fes. This was a 3 hour train trip inland. We traveled first class and enjoyed air conditioning and light refreshments. There was only one first class carriage on the train.  Second class looked less comfortable and very crowded.


Blue Gate - Fes Medina
The attraction at Fes is the Madina which dates back to 808AD. It has 9600 winding streets and is one of the oldest souks in the world.  On day one, we split up and just wandered around town. We managed to explore quite a bit of the Madina and eventually found our way back to the hotel. That evening we all went out to a traditional Moroccan house for a dinner. The house was seven hundred years old and three stories with a garden courtyard on the roof. The family had owned the house for one hundred years. It had beautifully tiled floors and walls and ornately carved wooden ceilings. The lady of the house spoke fluent English and although she had three boys (including twins) under the age of four, she provided a most comprehensive and delicious Moroccan meal. The family had converted their back yard into a tented restaurant and as it was highly recommended by the hotel it was making quite a good living; very enterprising of them and good luck to them.
 

Mark, Jo, Arnie, Amanda and us at dinner
 
Fes market and the satelight dishes
The following day we had a guided tour through the souk. We visited the Mosque, The oldest university in Morocco, a pre school centre, the community bakery (where families bring their bread and pastry products to be cooked in a community wood fired oven) an ancient water clock and a carpet weaving cooperative with show room of course. However the highlight of the trip was a visit to the tannery.
 
Fes University and the carpet cooperative
 

 
The Tannery

Upon our arrival at the Tannery we were given a small bunch of fresh mint. This was to put under our nose to combat the smell. Without it I am sure I would have been ill. In fact without the mint, I would not have been able to see the tannery. The photos tell it all, stinking, back braking work. It is piece work and a beginner earns (in Australian money) $20 a day, once proficient he can earn as much as $40 a day. There was a young boy working there, our guide said he was just helping his father as it was Friday afternoon and Friday is a half day at school. He also said that if the man’s son does well at school then he is free to go ahead, but if he does not do well at school, then he will work at the tannery; what a dismal prospect.  


SO WHAT’S NEXT?
Tomorrow we will visit Casablanca. If the weather is right we will leave for the Canaries on Tuesday. This is a 450 mile leg and we want good weather.  There are two particularly nasty named storms in the mid Atlantic that we are watching carefully. 


You may notice we now have a Google map showing the area we are in. If you want to see exactly where the boat is, you can click on “Where are we now?” under Links below the map.   Andrew updates this regularly while we are moving about.


Love Candy xx

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Gibraltar to Portugal

Hi from Clare                                                                                                     15th September 2011


WE HAVE OFFICIALLY LEFT THE MED
We left Gibraltar 1 hour after high water so we could take advantage of slack water in the strait. The 30 mile stretch is tricky to navigate as the water at the western end (Atlantic Ocean) is some 2-3m higher than at the eastern or Mediterranean end.  The strait is subject to currents traveling in both directions. The town of Tarifa on the northern side of the strait registers over 30 knots three hundred days of the year.  The strait is only eight miles wide at its narrowest point and as you can imagine there are many cargo ships entering and exiting the Med.  When we intended to leave there was strong wind forecast for the next few days at Tarifa.  We decided around that instead of going to bed we would seize the chance of leaving before the wind increased. The current was against us at the start, but with at the finish. We had a great sail and the strongest wind we recorded was 20 knots at Tarifa. So we said goodbye to the Med and headed for Cadiz which is 75 miles from Gibraltar on the south coast of Spain.

 
Cadiz foreshore

 

A Cadiz monument and Cathedral
NOW FOR THE ATLANTIC OCEAN        
Cadiz is a busy port with little opportunity to anchor nearby.  We anchored behind the breakwater at Porto Sherry a few miles away on the other side of the bay.  The water temperature was now 24 degrees and Atlantic green.  Not as inviting as the sparkling blue 28 degree Med water but it didn't stop us from having a dip.  The following morning we caught the ferry into town.  Cadiz is very compact with narrow streets making it difficult to photograph some of the beautiful buildings.  We explored Cadiz by way of self guiding walking tours showing different aspects of Cadiz's history.

  

Peaceful anchorage at Culatra Lagoon

PORTUGAL IS CALLING
By now we were in radio contact with 'Balvenie' who had been anchored in Culatra Lagoon in Portugal for about a week. Amanda described it as a dream anchorage, flat calm day and night.  We arrived at Culatra Lagoon Friday 9th September at . Amanda had a delicious dinner ready for us; a real treat after sailing since that morning.  We had a most enjoyable night catching up on all the news since we last met in July 2010.  

 
Happy hour at the local in Culatra town with Mark and Amanda


Culatra Lagoon is huge. There are only 60 boats at anchor here although there is room for a thousand more. There is a small town which has been established on a sand spit.  The whole area is just sand with concrete paths leading to shops, houses and the ferry wharf.  The houses are flat roofed white washed concrete structures. Some of the houses have attempted a garden with pots plants and a few hardy shrubs.  It is hot and dry and I feel like we are in outback Mexico.  The people are very lay back and gather in the local café for drinks every afternoon. We have embraced this tradition as the drinks are cold and very reasonably priced.  Andrew and I have been to the beach in the afternoons. There is a substantial elevated wooden walkway to the beach to protect the sand dune vegetation. The beach reminds us of Australia with long stretches of sand, breaking waves and big blue skies.

  

Faro Cathedral & views from its tower

The four of us caught the ferry across to the township of Faro. We visited the walled town which dates back to the 1200s. We had lunch there in a Portuguese Café/restaurant and had (believe it or not) a very nice 'hamburger'- how local can we get?

Clare and Andrew overlooking Faro



Another day we caught the ferry to the busy town of IIhoe to do some supermarket shopping and get access to Wifi.  I forgot to take my camera and so I don't have any photos. However it is an attractive town with good facilities, parks and gardens and is geared to the tourist trade with lots of eateries and markets along the waterfront.  


LEARNING HOW IT'S DONE
There is a very good ferry service several times a day which runs between the towns. The only trick is to know when the Ferry is arriving. NB this is not necessarily when the timetable says it is arriving. However the locals seem to know, so if we are the only ones standing there, good chance we have it wrong. Oh well the coffee shop is not far away and the coffee is good.


Tonight we are going into Culatra to have dinner. No doubt Amanda and I will plunder the little supermarket again as prices are so cheap. I'm sure the owner of the supermarket is having a bumper week.


SO WHAT'S NEXT?
Tomorrow we are heading off for Rabat in Morocco.  We will leave in the afternoon to arrive Sunday. It is a river entrance and so we need to arrive there in time for the flooding tide to carry us over the bar.  Now that we are in the Atlantic it is a whole new learning curve taking into consideration tides, currents and rolling swell.  We intend staying at the marina in Rabat for a week. We are hoping to do some land travel to inland Fes and Casablanca further down the coast.


Love Candy xx


PS                    Monday 19th September 2010


We arrived into Rabat yesterday at . We had a good sail and only motored for 10 hours of the 40 hour trip.  Within the last fifteen miles there were many fishing nets to negotiate.  We managed not to get caught up in one but we came awfully close on two occasions. We could hear the floats attached to the nets brushing against our hull.  The marina pilot boat came out to guide us over the sand bar.  The swell was only about 1m so we were fine.



Fresh chickens?

Late yesterday, after a sleep we went for a walk to the Medina. We were shoulder to shoulder with the locals being carried through narrow streets of endless shops.  We could purchase everything from beautiful gold jewelry and electronics down to chickens, dead or alive, your choice.  Wherever there was space, there was a stall; sometimes it was just a rug on the ground. The wailing from the local mosque and the aroma of spices, food stalls, fish markets and over-loaded drains all adds to the atmosphere.  


Welcome to Morocco!         

Friday, 9 September 2011

Cartagena to Gibraltar

Hi from Clare,                                                                                         Thursday 8th September


THINGS COULD GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT

Abandoned RIB

We left Cartagena Saturday 27th August to sail for two days (230 miles) to Gibraltar. For the first 24 hours we sailed with the wind behind us averaging 7 knots.  The wind then dropped and we motored for the last 20 hours. On arrival at Gibraltar the water temperature had dropped from 28 degrees to 17 degrees and the colour changed from sparkling blue to murky brown/green.  The cooler water and the heat from the land caused thick fog. We could see on the AIS and radar many large cargo ships anchored off Gibraltar and despite the fact that they were well lit we didn’t physically sight them until they were within two miles. The lack of visibility was making me a bit nervous as the previous morning we found an unmanned 27 foot RIB with two 200HP outboards adrift at sea. We tried raising the Coast Guard but nobody would answer our calls until we used some magic words like “Securite”.  After some difficulty with their understanding of Andrew’s accent they finally got the message.  So I was hoping in the fog that we wouldn’t find a similar hazard in our path.



Early morning Rock

NOT JUST ANOTHER ROCK
Gibraltar is a fabulous place and we spent a week in the Marina Bay marina which is a five minute walk from town. There are 30,000 inhabitants in Gibraltar and it is mostly English speaking. The main supermarket has English products like scotch eggs and Cornish pasties. Then there’s the Gibraltar Arms Pub which has delicious fish and chip and chicken pie with chips, peas and gravy.   Two meals for pounds.  Things we probably wouldn’t eat at home but after months of Mediterranean food a touch of English tucker was fabulous. Shopping is inexpensive and when the cruise ships arrive the streets are very congested. Alcohol is duty free and so I had a great time stocking up on spirits and liqueurs; a litre of Bombay Sapphire, Tia Maria, Baileys and the like cost around $15.
  

                   The big picture                                                         Main Street Gibraltar

Gibraltar is a compact 6 square miles. The airport runway crosses the main highway connecting Gibraltar to Spain.  The boom gates come down and the roadway is manned by police to ensure no pedestrians are crossing the road when the planes are using it.  The runway is next to the marina and so the noise of the first few flights is quite an experience. I think I must have looked rather shocked as our Aussie neighbours Jo and Arnie on ‘Just Jane’ quickly reassured me that the planes didn’t fly at night. – be grateful for small mercies I say! 

Another close landing
  

We took the chair lift to the top of the rock; how could we not?  We had a marvelous view of the town, surrounding waterways and Morocco which is only eight miles across the Gibraltar strait.

  

Views from the Rock

INLAND TRAVEL
Flamenco trio
We went on a two day excursion to inland Spain to visit Sevilla. Our helpful Aussie neighbours on ‘Just Jane’ told us that Sevilla is very hot with no wind for relief. So we dressed lightly and took one back pack with bare essentials.  Fortunately I took my umbrella for the sun because it poured rain for the two days we were there. Our first purchase was a couple of one euro plastic ponchos which we hung up at night so they could drip dry by the morning. On day one we visited the Alcazar which is a group of palaces built a thousand years ago, the 12th Century Cathedral and the Bull Ring built in 1881.  By then we were sick of walking around in the rain so we sought refuge in our hotel room till night when we ventured out again in our ponchos to attend a Flamenco Dancing display. This was held at the cultural centre and with only 150 people in the audience we all had a close up view. The movements of the female dancer almost divide her body into two parts. Her upper body and arm movements are artistic and fluent while her lower body and legs are all power and frantic hammering – it was very exhilarating.  The flamenco guitarist was fabulous and the singer who is telling the story of the dance was very passionate. Unfortunately he sang in Spanish so we couldn’t follow the storyline.

 

The Alcazar

The following morning we woke to heavy rain and so out came the faithful poncho. We only had summer clothes with us and so I wore the poncho to keep warm. I must say it was pretty robust as it stood up to two days of wear without tearing. I now have it in the bottom of my handbag for emergencies.

We visited Plaza de Espana situated in The Paseo de la Palmera the most beautiful avenue in Sevilla.  The Plaza was built in 1929 as the centre piece for the Ibero- American Expo. It is the most visited monument in Sevilla.
  

                        The Cathedral                                                        Plaza de Espana

BACK TO BUSINESS
The used our time in Gibraltar to make duty free purchases in preparation for the Atlantic Crossing shortly after Christmas. We now have a life raft, complete spare auto pilot, spare starter motor and new starter battery. Let’s hope we don’t need the life raft!


We left Gibraltar Tuesday at . For the first time in our cruising life we now have to consider the tides. We traveled down the Gibraltar strait and exited the Mediterranean; but more about that next time.


SO WHAT’S NEXT?
We will see a bit of the south of Spain before sailing on to Portugal where we will meet up with Mark and Amanda on ‘Balvenie’  We are looking forward to catching up with them.

Love
Candy XX