Wednesday, 3 November 2010

A Month on, and what a Month it's been - Lisbon to Malta!

After a haulout and re-launch in Amora near Lisbon, we were weather-bound for 4 days whilst most Portuguese harbours were closed. We got to Cascais in a massive swell which was breaking over the breakwater! 2 days there, still waiting for seas to subside and off we went down to Ceuta (a Spanish enclave in North Africa, across the Straits from Gibraltar). This harbour is close-by Jebel Musa, one of the ancient 'Pillars of Hercules'.

On the approach, we saw a couple of Orcas (killer whales).

Then, on to Marina Smir in Morocco for a couple of days, 10 miles down the coast:

The nearest town, M'Diq was 10 mins away and real Morocco!

The next leg was the long one, past Algeria (still not a place to visit, with political instability), staying 40 miles off the coast, 6 days at sea to Tabarka in Tunisia. After all, this is the coast of the Barbary pirates!

Still, en route we were visited by a pod of grampus (Risso's) dolphins - so relaxed and graceful in our bow wave  - quite different to the frenetic behaviour of common dolphins.

Tabarka was the best stop of the trip. The 'luxurious marina' in Tabarka is well past its best, but the people were very welcoming and helpful. We even managed to find free wifi in a hotel. Food quality was ok and plenty of fish!

They trade on the reputation of the Barbary priates here.

After Tabarka, we went on to Sidi Bou Said near Tunis, for a visit to Carthage. The marina was not special, and the town was a half hour walk away (or 300 step climb)! Carthage, though, was worth a visit.

Then, on to Malta, a couple of days away.

Saturday, 25 September 2010


At last I got around to updating the website with 2008 & 2009 cruise details, some pics and a couple of videos, including storm petrel and loggerhead turtle!

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Seixal near Lisbon

At anchor now in the River Judeu about 5 mls from Lisbon, off Seixal town. Steaming hot – 35 deg one day, but very few mozzies I’m glad to say. I’ve been doing maintenance, some deck welding and painting, for 10 days now.

There's a good boatyard at Amora just across the river from Seixal - run by the Vanancios family, nice people.

The buoyed channel to the boatyard has 2m+ at CD. There's a lot more water in this estuary than my e-charts indicate - I bought the latest Portuguese paper chart - it's got more water ;-)

So, we will haul out and do Blue Hound's underwater's 18 months since I looked at her bottom in St Sampson (Guernsey).

Plenty of wildlife - herons, egrets, terns and some small petrel-like birds that I haven't been able to identify. Fish galore, though being an estuary the water isn't that clear.

I like Alcantara dock in Lisbon, but mooring charges have gone up annually by 7% for the last 5 years, and the facilities are no better (and it seems to be noisier). There is now a Pingo Doce supermarket within 10 mins walk and they've got Twinings English Breakfast tea! The nearby laundry has disappeared and there is no wifi - important for those of us who try to work from the boat. I got a Vodaphone Portugal dongle for 40 Euros with 10 hrs incluido. Valid for 6 months and rechargeable at 5 euros for 5 hours. So, I'm writing this at anchor!

Seixal town is typical old Portugal - I had a churrasqunio barbeque lunch in the street yesterday - a lovely little town and plenty of live music; even a small popular beach. Ferry to Lisbon 15 mins.

The estuary is very reminiscent of Brazil - here's a couple of shots, one of the full moon rising over the town at dusk this week, and an evening view across to the Tagus Bridge and Cristo Rei monument:

Friday, 13 August 2010

Lisbon at last!

We finally got here after 9 days sailing close hauled (well, as close as a schooner will sail). 748 miles great circle, we logged 1026 miles over the ground. Only a couple of tough days with big awkward seas and F6, and less than 24 hours under engine. Still you have to count your blessings, the French guys on the aluminium boat next to us hit a container at 8 knots and lost both their ballasted dagger boards - they were unstable in 10 m seas and 40 knots of wind accompanied by a warship for 2 days.....Here's a chart of our track from Sao Miguel to Lisbon...

Monday, 26 July 2010

Sao Miguel

After Terceira (Angra), Sao Jorge  (Calheta, Velas), Faial (Horta), Pico (Lajes do Pico), we're now in Sao Miguel (Ponta Delgada). We'll be here for a few days and then off to Lisbon. Discovered new marina in Lajes do Pico - super little place. I'll be putting pictures and more background on soon! In the meantime here's a shot of Pico from Horta.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Azores again!

Well, we got to the Azores via L'Aberwrach and Portosin - light winds, 52% motoring! Rosy's first time here, but Blue Hound's fourth visit. This time we are going to see a lot more!

Terceira was great, now we're about to depart Sao Jorge for Flores (wind dependent). Good food and wine, great weather. The fajas in Sao Jorge were amazing, but here's a picture of the Tourada in Terceira:

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Round the Island

What a great weekend. I'd never done the RTI before, and the thought of a 12 hour drifting match or a beat into half a gale for 6 hours was not appealing. But this year I think will probably go down as one of the better ones, at least for smaller boats. A friend invited me to sail on a Starlight 36, and did she go!

A great spinnaker run down to the Needles, then a long reach down to St Caths and a beat to the forts.Then a cracking reach to the line in close company.

Our corrected time was just under 8.5 hrs, and we would have done a lot lot better if we hadn't tried to take a shortcut inside the fort (against my advice). We lost about 10 mins I reckon. But a great day for the Folkboats - they were in our class and did they go! Nip and tuck all the way.

The radar saga is now at an end. I did in fact manage to fix the old one - bad connections in the scanner. Boy, is that Koden gear tough! In the meantime I managed to locate a used Furuno 821 - a great set, but only 2kw. So now I have two! :-)

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

First Cross-Channel This Year

Well, got that out of the way - a cross-channel weekend to test everything. Headed for Cherbourg from the Hamble, but the winds didn't work too well for a schooner, light and easterly, so ended up in Alderney. Flat sea both ways, and a beautiful midnight moonlight sail into Braye. Sunday saw us in Crabby Harbour for some fuel - we were a tight fit! Sunday also saw the beautiful Jolie Brise sail in and anchor.

Although I'd tested the radar before leaving and it was fine, it did have a wobbly moment.  I remade the mast connector and it was fine. However, it did go down on the way back, and this time I think it's a circuit board issue. Lots of radial noise on screen in standby mode, and completely swamped when transmitting (and no sign of any targets). Tuning appears to have no effect. I have detailed circuit diagrams, and I'm wondering whether the noise filters are screwed, or maybe the tuning circuit. It's a Koden MD300 - superb tough piece of kit, but about 20 years old now. So, if you know of another one I can cannibalise then let me know!

I was last in Alderney in January 2009 before heading up to Cherbourg where I was snow-bound for a few days; then a brisk single-handed cross-channel to the Solent. Since then, Mainbrayce Marine has changed hands - the new owners are very helpful, and the range of stock has increased a lot.

Anyway, the first trip is done, though we had to motor all the way back.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Easter Weekend, Looking Out..

Easter weekend, more activity at last! View from the porthole this morning:

Thursday, 25 March 2010

First Trip 2010?

A grim winter now past! First trip - just a tootle up and down the Hamble with a radio journalist who is preparing a short piece for an arts festival, but at least the cobwebs are away. I'll be posting the audio piece on, sometime in April.

It's good to be mobile again!

Friday, 5 February 2010

Sun and Hurricanes

A beautiful sunny morning on the river - spring is in the air methinks!

I've just been reading about research into future hurricane patterns - it seems that they will become more intense and less frequent. The research is based on output from the IPCC - though their output is under question at present. Anyway, it is an interesting read. See more here at Physicsworld

Saturday, 23 January 2010

What will 2010 hold?

Thoughts at present about heading to the Canaries for the New Year (2010/2011). My beaten path has been to go via Brittany/Galicia/Lisbon/Algarve. This year I'm thinking seriously about going via the Azores - one direct leg.

Schooners don't go too well to windward, and Blue Hound is no exception; though, with the yankee and forestaysail she's much handier than with the genoa.

Still, the Azores in one leg is highly dependent on wind direction for me. We'll see!

Talking to a friend last night who is doing a two-hander direct to the Faroe Islands. Now that's a toughie!