Our Mission: To boldly go until we are no more!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cadiz to Canaries

The anchorage outside Puerto Sherry Marina near the town of Santa Maria across the bay from Cadiz was pleasant but with some chop and swell occasionally coming in from the SW. We put out a stern anchor to keep us lined up at night when the wind died. There were a few local yachts anchored over the weekend but just us one other cruiser during the week. The Marina complex has three nice chandleries, a boat yard with a big Travelift but many unfinished structures including a massive dry stack facility. The dinghy harbor is on a scale to host the Olympic games with racing fleets of opti, tornado cat, sailboard and a local cat class on Saturday.

We took our dinghy into the dinghy harbor and walked to the ferry terminal in town (about an hour). The ferries to Cadiz are modern fast catamarans and run about every 50 minutes. We did take the dinghy up the river to town a couple times and locked it to the seawall for the day but felt it was safer to leave it in the marina complex and walk.

Cadiz is an historic old Spanish town with interesting architecture, museums and churches. Columbus sailed from here on his second and fourth voyages to the new world and Cadiz grew to become Spain's richest city in the 18th century. We also enjoyed Puerto de Santa Maria but did not support the impressive bull fighting arena on Sunday.

One of our reasons for going to Cadiz was to obtain outward clearance from Spain. This is reportedly hard to get in the Canary islands and the ports in the Caribbean all require some sort of paperwork showing you are not a dirtbag and have been cleared to leave the last country you were in. We started the process at the imposing Aduana edifice near the ferry terminal. Here we were stopped from entering by three guards who spoke no English but a shipping agent passing by intervened and told us we needed to use an agent to do the paperwork. Undeterred we thanked him for his help and made our way upstairs to a huge lobby and helpful receptionist who after checking with her boss explained (in Spanish) that we needed to go to the Estation Maritimo. We noticed this building from the ferry on our way into the harbor and proceeded to walk there to find the Capitania (Port Captain). With some trepidation we entered the upstairs office where we and our bags were scanned. There is technically a tax on vessels cruising Spain which could for us amount to over 500 Euros (for 30-365 days) and the Port Captain would be the one to enforce it. Our plan was to get clearance from customs and an exit stamp in our passports without involving the harbor people. But there was no customs to be found. We did find a very helpful Port Captain who worked hard to convince the Police to stamp our passports. They were not inclined to stamp anyone out who they had not stamped in. All stamping for yachts and their crew is to take place in marinas where you must pay for at least a day. The Port Captain was a ship captain and sailor who new this is not how the rest of the world functions so he gave us a stamp on our ships crew list which should be good enough to show some bureaucrats in Antiqua, St. Martin, Tortola, or wherever we make landfall in the Caribbean. With paperwork and stamped passports we can now leave the Canaries without having to look for outward clearance.

We are now underway bound for Lanzarote in the Canary islands. Our 9-30 0600 UTC position was 34d46'N, 9d13'W with about 400 nm to go. The sailing has been great with 12-18 kn on the beam now coming aft. We are heading offshore to catch stronger winds and will be poling out a headsail soon for a downwind ride to the Canaries.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Guardia & Gib

After a fun time on the party island of Ibiza it was time to start heading for Gibraltar. On our second night we almost got run over by the cruise ship 'Disney Magic'. Kurt called them to tell them that we were under sail (wing and wing) with limited maneuverability and they made the grand gesture of a one degree course change. We joked that they wanted to get close enough to light us up so that the guests could take pictures and sure enough that's what they did.

We arrived at Gibraltar in calm weather motoring against up to 2 knots of current and dodging copious ship traffic. The only place to anchor was actually just across the border in Spain at the town of La Linea (27 ft, 36d09.42'N, 5d21.69'W). We found plenty of room in what appeared to be an all weather anchorage behind the breakwater. During a night approach an easy alternative is to anchor in the large bay just outside the breakwater. The new marina here (Puerto Deportivo +34 956 021660, info@puertodeportivoalcaidesa.es ) is up and running with power, water, laundry and internet. The old marina which is closer to town is now a private yacht club but will let you park your dinghy near the office/restaurant for 5 Euros for 24 hr access thru the front doors of the building. There are steps on the north side of the breakwater separating the old marina from the beach where dinghy landing (but not mooring) can be made. La Linea is a working class town serving Gib with some old buildings and shops trying to attract cruise ship tourists across the border. The Mercadona supermarket north of the town center has the best prices we have seen in the Med with large quantities and a good selection. There is a good butcher near the center of town and a Carrefour 2 km north.

On Tuesday we took Interlude to the fuel wharf in Gib and loaded 1100 liters of diesel at 64 pence/liter ($US 3.75/gal). This was at the brand new Cepsa station (BP was 0.62 L/l, Shell 0.69 L/l). We also got fuel and oil for the dinghy. After re-anchoring off La Linea we took the dinghy back to Gib and visited some friends in Ocean Village/Marina Bay (VHF 71, +350 200 73300). We were allowed to visit within the marina compound but not go into town. To properly cross the border from Spain requires walking thru a checkpoint and across the airport runway.
Gib and La Linea marinas were quoted as roughly the same price for our 23m yacht (50 Euros/day) and both had space. However the Gib marina is more convenient to to a nicer if touristy town.

We planned to remain in the La Linea/Gibraltar area for a few more days but on Wednesday the Guardia Civil came by and told every boat in the anchorage to leave. They said it was not possible to anchor off La Linea and we should go into a marina (either Puerto Deportivo or Ocean Village/Marina Bay in Gib). We asked where we could anchor and they said to call Algezeras Trafico (VHF 8, 13, 16, 74) who told us to contact Algezeras Pilot Station (13) who said to contact our agent who will contact the authorities for an anchorage position (like all the other ships).

There is now no authorized yacht anchorage in the entire Gib/Algezeras area and you must berth in a marina. This is now becoming typical of all ports in Spain.

We know when we are not welcome so on Thursday we left for a 70 mile run out the strait and up to Cadiz.

The eight mile wide Strait of Gibraltar separates Europe from Africa and connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean. Due to evaporation, the Med has a constant influx of water. Tides in the Atlantic and wind direction and strength will dictate the strength and direction of the surface and subsurface currents. With over four knots of current and 30 knots of wind at Tarifa 300 days a year these effects must be taken into account when transiting the Strait.

Our ride out the Med was smooth with 1-2 knots of favorable counter current hugging the coast staying just inside the easily visible current line. Rounding Tarifa the NE wind piped up from 5 to 25 kn and then died again as we approached Cape Trafalgar staying outside the shoals - all with 1-2 of favorable current. The wind got up to 25 kn again from the N as we approached Cadiz and the current went down to 1/2 kn. Some lumpy motoring into N chop for an hour or so.

We left at HW +5 (0830) and anchored just outside Puerto Sherry across the bay from Cadiz (20 ft, 36d34.78'N, 6d14.75'W) at 1700. There were three other yachts anchored here off a nice beach and there is a ferry to Cadiz docking in the Rio Guadalete at the town of Santa Maria nearby.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Inebriated Brits in Ibiza

On Wednesday we motored five hours to another Balearic island, Ibiza (pronounced eebeetha) and anchored in Cala Portinatx (x pronounced sh?) (27 ft, 39d06.62'N, 1d30.91'E). The islands here have many such Calas (small coves) indenting rocky cliff lined shores. Caves are a common feature along with beaches at the head of the cove. Cala Portinatx is a multi armed cove with hotels and roped off swimming beaches. It can get very crowded but we are now past high season and had only a half dozen yachts anchored or on moorings. The reported disco noise did not occur last night - another advantage of cruising later in the season.

Thursday we hiked the road around the bay catching glimpses of the yachts anchored and various beaches with sunbathers. That night we joined the scene ashore and had some drinks listening to a guitar duo/comedy act.

Friday had a chart marking session shareing info for places not yet visited with some cruisers in the anchorage. It was also time to inspect and lube (mainsail track) the rig.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Palacial Palma

On Friday we had a nice sail between the islands to Mallorca and anchored in Porto Colom (15 ft, 39d25.3N, 3d15.9E) with dozens of other yachts. The fish farms have been removed and there is now lots of room. We are seeing more and more American yachts now and many are ahead of us in Gibraltar.
On Saturday we were on our way to Palma de Mallorca to see Steve & Linda Dashew aboard Wind Horse when our AIS showed them heading toward us! We both pulled over and spent a pleasant afternoon together near the southern tip of Mallorca at Puerto Colonia de Sant Jordi between Is. Guardia & Is. Moltana (15 ft, 39d18.42'N, 3d00.51'E). The last time Wind Horse and Interlude were together was in Fiji in 2005.
We all had an enjoyable time in Palma de Mallorca sight seeing and shopping with a several other cruisers who were also anchored just SW of town at Las Illetas (31 ft, 39d31.87'N, 2d35.15'E). The anchorage was very crowded when we arrived Sunday afternoon but cleared out nicely for the evening and weekdays. We dinghied ashore at a jetty near the resort but left only one small rowing dinghy ashore and the others tied to the nearest boat. The #3 bus to town was a short walk up the hill and on Monday we rode it to the train station and took a scenic antique train ride across the island to Soller. There we had lunch admiring the quaint town before catching a bus back with even more scenery along the coast.
On Tuesday a group of us bussed into town again to tour the very impressive Gothic Cathedral built 1306 to 1601, the Palacio Real (Royal Palace) and the Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art. We also assisted one of our new friends in purchasing a guitar. Back in the anchorage Steve Dashew did a photo shoot of Interlude's interior showing how well it has held up over the past 25 years.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mahon Menorca Mayhem

We anchored in Cala Taulera, Mahon, Menorca one of the Balearic Islands of Spain (20 ft, 39d52.7'N, 4d18.5'E). It was the only designated anchorage in Mahon about a mile from downtown and can get crowded. In Mahon, dinghies can be left at the dock near the bronze mermaid statue (we always lock ours). Checking in involved getting passports stamped at the police station up the hill (stairs) from the port authority building on the main wharf. They insisted that we see the port authority but the receptionist there said the yacht was already in the Shengen area (since Malta) and did not require any futher paperwork.

There were several yachts in the anchorage that we have been hearing on the SSB radio nets and it was nice to connect faces to voices. Moonshadow, another Deerfoot of the same vintage as Interlude, and Azure II sailed by a friend of Kurt's from Alameda and his family were also in the anchorage. A grocery service delivered all the food and booze you want for a flat rate of E2.50 at the same price as the supermarket in town. The surroundings were pleasant with only some old fortifications on the sparsely vegetated hills.

The island's final festival of the season in the main town of Mahon involved spectacular displays of horsemanship with dancing stallions amidst huge crowds and racing down city streets. Spectator, rider and/or horse injury during the night or day events was more than likely. The tour of Fort Isabel near our anchorage at Cala Taulera was well worth the 10 Euros including audio guide and a ride up to a guided tour of the big 15 inch gun that can shoot 20 miles. Construction of the fort began in 1848 to defend the strategic harbor of Mahon and by the time it was completed 25 years later advances in artillery technology made it obsolete. The big 15" Vickers battery was impressive though. We also hosted a cocktail party with live music by The Traveling Interludes.