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July 4, 1997

Camaret to Concarneau, France

Friday morning I think.
We're in Concarneau tonight. Chris & I came across to France yesterday, but couldn't get to Camaret so we stayed in a hotel in Brest overnight. Within about 90 minutes of arriving on board we set off, originally for Audierne but changed our minds & carried on until Concarneau. Great progress - 65 miles! Chris got seasick approaching the Raz as it was quite rough, but I didn't (thanks to Stugeron partly!). Concarneau seems quite pleasant - it has an old walled town.

July 5, 1997

Zamindar in La Rochelle

Saturday night or Sunday morning depending where you are.

I'm sitting here in the cockpit of the yacht, having a beer & reading my e-mail in the old town harbour in La Rochelle. Yes, I admit that life is good. Finally now I feel that I'm making progress. It's warm, sunny & definitely foreign here!

July 13, 1997

La Rochelle to Arcachon

We're in Arcachon now, I'm sitting on deck with the sun going down, at anchor just west of town. Fred is lying on the settee below & Chris left this morning to head back to Guernsey. Not that I think he really wanted to though.

Fred arrived in La Rochelle early on Tuesday morning & woke me up by screaming, "Get up you lazy mother f***ker!!", through my open hatch as I lay sleeping.

I had spoken to Isotherm about my faulty (well flooded) fridge & they proceeded to send parts down to their dealers in La Rochelle until Chris (onboard mechanic & refrigeration engineer) got it working again. It's such a luxury to have cold drinks! Things seemed to be getting somewhere, & we were just about to leave for Arcachon when Chris noticed a crack on the heat exchanger in the engine. It looked like a fairly simple welding job, so we unbolted it & took it to be repaired. It wasn't long before we'd found somewhere & they asked us to come back about 6pm. We spent the afternoon getting some shopping, then I headed back on my bike to collect the heat exchanger. As I was cycling over, I tried to signal that I was turning left, got cut off by a car, lost my balance slightly & pulled back on my brakes. Unfortunately, only my right hand was on the handlebars so my front brake slammed on, causing me & the bike to somersault over. Luckily I managed to land on the grass & didn't get hurt. So off I went again, & went in to collect the heat exchanger. As he was giving it back to me, showing the weld he had did, he pointedto the end of it... I couldn't beleive it! He must have clamped it in a vice & had smashed in both ends! It was useless! I screamed at the guy in English & walked out. I returned to the yacht to find Fred & we went to the Volvo dealers to price another part. I was shocked when they told us it would cost 9000FF - almost �1000 pounds!! Anyway, after a not very happy evening, we spent the next day trying to get it repaired, failed, told the guy we would sue him, he said we had to get it analysed by a marine specialist & eventually Volvo dropped their price to 7000FF. In the end the marine specialist told us over the phone that it was corroded & would have needed replaced soon anyway, but I've got a sneaking suspicion that they knew each other. Chris, however, fitted the new heat exchanger, which Volvo remarkably had in stock (!!), & we left La Rochelle.

The trip down to Arcachon was pretty good, apart from the fact that the autopilot broke down as we left La Rochelle. This of course meant that Chris & I had to helm right through the 17 hours or so that it took us to get down here, although when Fred got up after his full night's sleep it turned out that he can helm pretty well too! We sailed quite a bit of the way down & Zamindar was storming along, breaking 8 knots at times. This, however, meant that we were too early to get into D'Arcachon Basin so we anchored off a very busy beach full of semi-naked women to wait. When we got to the marina we spent about an hour looking for a berth (which included some very nifty reverse chez moi), then we decided just to pick up someone else's bouy & spend the night on that.

July 16, 1997

Stuck in Arcachon

Chris left on Sunday and Fred went back to Paris yesterday. I'm a bit fed up today, I don't know how long Autohelm are going to take to send down the new drive unit and my acoustic coupler seems to have packed up so I can't communicate with anyone. I spoke to Teleadapt this morning and they'll send me out a new one but they don't want to send it Poste Restante. I wish I could get my e-mail and I wish I could get out of this place. I'll figure out where they can send it but I'll also try to log on one last time this afternoon.

July 18, 1997

Autopilot Replaced

Logging on that last time worked - remarkably! I tried to lower my baud rate & I increased the phone volume & somehow I�ve been managing to connect since. It�s good to be back online again; I really feel like a part of the virtual community down here. Teleadapt have agreed to send a replacement down when I have somewhere I can receive it.

Also, the local Autohelm guy came & replaced my drive motor yesterday & it seems to be working again, but he appears to have been telling them that it is a problem with my steering, so if it goes again in the future I could have a job getting it replaced again. It�s been quite a week here, all things considered. On Sunday, after I took Chris to the station, Fred & I got woken up by the Gendarmie coming alongside in a patrol boat to check my documents. That night Fred pulled a waitress & we went to a club called the Bobo Club with her & her really quite attractive dark-haired friend who payed very little attention to me & stood & snogged some other guy in a very horny way. We didn�t go out until 3am & I was standing in the club thinking...�Must close at 5am... must close at 6am...�, but no, we finally left at 7am! Knackered! A few hours after getting to bed we got woken up by customs boarding the yacht from a launch. They again went through all my documents, & finding that I did not have my registration certificate (as the yacht is currently being re-registered in Guernsey), threatened to impound the boat & fine me. I eventually persuaded them that I would get a copy faxed to them immediately, & they reluctantly agreed. They then proceeded to spend about an hour and a half searching the boat. I was naturally worried because I knew that Fred had hash on board & I didn�t know if he�d had time to put it in his pocket or not. After being asked for receipts for everything on board, they finally left. When Fred booked his train ticket later that day I didn�t try to get him to stay any longer!

I�ll be glad to get away from Arcachon, as I�ve been here a week now. Luckily we anchored so it hasn�t cost me a thing, but with the customs guys here & the fact that I want to keep moving, it�s been long enough. The tides & the firing range have to coincide properly too, which means that I need descent forecast sometime between tomorrow & Wednesday. I guess I�m not completely sure if I can rely on the autopilot now, & I�m not sure how well my acoustic coupler is working. Also, the fact that I don�t yet have the original registration certificate for the yacht means that I might have more problems. Anyway, these problems seem to be fixed at least for the moment, which is all I hoped for. I�ll get them all sorted out properly further down the road. I might have to come back to Arcachon to collect my Underwater Kinetics case from the post office here, but that�s no hardship if I can get further down the coast.

July 20, 1997

Bound for San Sebastian

I�m about 34NM NNE of San Sebastian, which I�m bound for. It�s a beautiful sunny day & there�s blue sea & sky for as far as I can see. There�s only about 7 knots of wind, but Zamindar�s moving along at 4-5 knots which is a welcome relief after running the engine all day. Feeling a bit down, and a bit bored now though; I started to feel that way earlier when I was looking at the engine & wondering how much I could rely on it, then I noticed that there is quite a bit of water coming through the stern gland now (maybe 4 drops/second?), & this worried me a bit. I�m glad to finally be bound for Spain (for the second time of course!), but I guess I do get lonely & sometimes I wonder why I�m doing this.
I miss friends too. Ged & my friends in Scotland, Chris, Mark, Dan, & my friends in Guernsey. Sometimes I feel very alone. It�s much more peaceful & relaxing with the engine off. Yeah, much nicer. Although I do feel sad sometimes, is there anywhere else I�d rather be right now? I mean I miss lots of things, but maybe I�m just not appreciating what I have. I�m glad that I�m doing this, no matter how far I get or how long it lasts, & I�m sure I�ll look back upon these times with fond memories.

I�m starting to feel better now, & looking forward to making landfall at Spain. It in itself will be an accomplishment - a whole new country to explore & cruise around. At least I can stop practising my French! Though I am still bound for there & have 32NM left to go!

July 21, 1997

San Sebastian

Here I am in Spain at last! It was quite a good trip down here, if a bit long, but it feels like an achievement to have made it. San Sebastian is really quite lovely. It's set in a bay surrounded by hills, and feels quite like Rio, partly due to the large Holy statue looking down on the town from a nearby hill. There's an island in the bay, in front of which I'm anchored, and this and the hills are floodlit at night. Some of the houses on the seafront are supposedly amongst the most expensive properties in Spain, but I sat on deck this evening having dinner and thinking, "Well, I've got a better view than all of you�". I sat and watched a Spanish guy rowing his girlfriend across the bay, something that a British guy would be unlikely to do. A passing thunderstorm lit up the sky and silhouetted towers against its light.

Today was lovely, with sunshine all the way through. The kind of days that I'm beggining to take for granted. Before lunch I dived off the back of the yacht and swam around it. I spent some of this afternoon trying to tighten my stern gland to stop the drip that was coming through. The problem was that my large adjustable spanner was too big to fit into the space that its in. Motorboats passed and increased the roll that the yacht had from the swell. Eventually I lost it and broke down crying. Something I probably haven't done for about a year. I was fed up of the mechanical problems, lonely, and at that moment had had enough. Soon it passed. I started to feel better. I left it dripping. Nothing else I could do. So I took the dinghy into town and checked my e-mail. I was having a problem logging onto the Spanish machine so I dialled up the French server across the border. I'd got a message from someone I didn't recognise... it was Kevin, mailing me from his office, where he'd just discovered a machine online. It was good to hear from him. Now I can stay in touch with almost all of my friends by e-mail. I picked up the shipping forecast; it was good. Tomorrow I would leave and head on to the next place. Although I would have quite liked to have stayed longer in San Sebastian, it was best to leave while the weather was good and before I got bored of the place. I took a seat in a cafe in the old square, had a coffee and some cake, and read through my e-mail. I liked San Sebastian with its picturesque bay and its old town with its maze of small citadel-like passages. I bought a frozen lasagne for dinner and took a walk along the seafront before I got back into the dinghy and motored back to the yacht. It was about 20:30 by this time, but it was still 25c. I appreciated how lucky I was. I had a look at the stern gland, mainly to see if it had got any worse and was surprised to see that it wasn't dripping as much. I'll see what it's like when I'm motoring though.

I feel quite contented and happy right now. Maybe crying this afternoon helped to get a lot of things out of my system

July 22, 1997

Bound for Bermeo

Bound for Bermeo at the moment, with about 8NM to go. I wanted to get some sailing done today & the forecast was for NE 3-4, but it�s been either on the nose or virtually calm since I left San Sebastian this morning. I didn�t really want to go to Bilbao very much & it was quite a long detour to get into the harbour so I thought that this place would be a nice midway stop before Santander.

November 25, 1998

Arrested in Fernando de Noronha

fernando_arrest-t.jpg
Arrest record(170kb)
After sailing across the Atlantic and arriving in Fernando de Noronha today, Chris, James, and I were arrested by Brazilian police.

January 4, 1999

Recife to Jacare, Brazil

So here it is� the start of a New Year� or rather it was four days ago. Zamindar is anchored outside Iate Club do Natal, after sailing here from Jacare overnight. Chris and I brought New Year in on Boa Viagem beach in Recife. We almost didn't even make it there as a Swan 65 anchored nearby us earlier in the day, and we did of course have to go over to borrow some brown sugar. I did of course introduce Chris as my engineer, and the skipper instantly gave him something to fix whilst I got to know the people on board. I introduced myself to Iona who was on deck and the very rich owner instantly informed me that I was talking to his wife! Later, of course, we discovered that she was really just his girlfriend, and in time, she and the owner disappeared off to have dinner, and Chris I found ourselves on the beach with beers amongst the population of Recife. Midnight struck as fireworks exploded over our heads along the coast, and we toasted in 1999 and sang the words we knew of 'Auld Langs Aign' dancing in circles. After a few more beers we decided to start walking back towards the yacht club and I guess we called it a night fairly early at about 02:30, but it was good.

We'd decided that the next day would be our last in Recife, so we got up and began getting the yacht ready to leave. It took us about two hours to clean the bottom of the dinghy, then we took Zami' down to the other yacht club to fill up with fuel and water. It was only when we arrived and tied up, though, that we discovered that it was totally closed and even the water was turned off. So back to Pernambuco Yacht Club we went and Chris made a couple of dinghy trips of water. We paid a visit over to the people on the Swan and half arranged to meet them for dinner, then went off to try to find Armando, the yacht club manager so that we could say goodbye to him.

Later in the evening, Chris and I find ourselves in an expensive restaurant, Porcao's, eating lots of food, and getting drunk on Caipirinhas while I drink near frozen Stoli's! We finish our meal and Chris pays the bill on his visa card, about fifty pounds, then we go over and join the Swan guys. The owner dude, who is a bit mad and crazy is listening and we both agree to having the same careers. He says, 'I have nothing else to do so I'm just sailing!' Apparently, he was a publisher, and he sold all the educational books to Mexico's schools. His girlfriend asks me if I know how to play dominoes. Afterwards we all share a taxi back to the yacht club where their dinghy (a big Avon supersport I think with a 40hp Yamaha) is and they thunder us downriver to where ours is tied up.

The following morning I waken to hear that Chris is up early, hours early in fact, and is probably getting things ready to leave. I stay in bed until my alarm goes off though. The crew from the Swan come over on their way to the shopping centre to wish us a good trip while telling us how perfect the wind will be. We'd prepared everything the night before, and we simply start the engine, uncleat the mooring buoy, and we're off. Armando appears, racing along the breakwater in his pickup as we motor gently out of Recife and our home for the last five weeks.

By night-time we're entering Cabedelo, and finding our way along the channel. We anchor once inside the river, and go to sleep. We awaken late the following morning, and slowly, after coming to life, we haul anchor and begin to motor upriver. It feels a bit like being in the Amazon, the low banks and the thick green vegetation clinging to them, as we pass white sandy shores with palm trees. We find Jacare Yacht Club, and after anchoring, head ashore for a coke and some lunch. One of the reasons we'd come to Jacare was to find a guy called Brian Stevens who is English and owns the boatyard there, and we wanted to pick his brains for harbour information up the coast. It was Sunday, however, and my hopes of finding him working weren't too high, but my luck happened to be in. After lunch we soon found the boatyard, and after asking some employees I was walking towards someone obviously un-Brazilian. What he gave us in harbour information turned out to be less than I was looking for, but he did let us check our e-mail on his PC (one from Walter, and one from Andrew urging me to go up the Amazon). Chris and I were very low on cash as we hadn't managed to make it to a cash machine before leaving Recife, but nonetheless we decided to go to one of the waterfront bars for a beer and watch the sunset. This did not turn out to be as simple as we had hoped though. The sun had long since faded and we were still very thirsty. Though the bar was fairly packed, I was in a duff seat with some irritating, possibly faggot, guy trying to practice his English seated next to me. We voted and went back to the boat, enough was enough. I sat down to look at the nav for Natal, and soon realised that if we left in daylight we would arrive in darkness. I'd seen enough of Jacare, and got what I was looking for, so I suggested to Chris that we leave three hours later, at 10pm. He was up for it. I grabbed some sleep, and we found ourselves motoring down river under a full moon bound for Natal.

January 12, 1999

Bound for Fortaleza

I�'m sitting at the chart table this evening & we�'re bound for Fortaleza. Chris is sleeping, or at least trying to sleep, and we'�re happily motorsailing along at 7.5 knots. We met up with everyone on �Lola�, the Swan 651 again in Natal, and we�'ve been spending quite a lot of time with them. Today Antonio, the owner, offered Chris a job on board, as he seems to be planning to get rid of Jack and Amy (his current crew), and fly down his racing skipper instead. I half expected it, and told Chris that if he helps me get the boat up to Trinidad, he should fly back & take the job. I don�t know if he will though, or if Antonio will have changed his mind about the whole thing, or what. But either way, I�'m not worried. Things have been a bit stressed between Chris & I lately, mainly because we�re spending so much time together, but we spoke about it a bit today, and things seem to be much more relaxed between us now.

January 15, 1999

Arrival in Fortaleza

We arrived here in Fortaleza yesterday, and after trying to reverse onto the pontoon for close on an hour with a side wind, finally warped the boat in. Chris and I were a bit disappointed to find that the Marina Park Hotel didn't quite live up to our hopes. Lola was already anchored outside when we arrived, and Jack called us up on the VHF. Later we helped get Lola into the berth next to us so that they could wash the decks and fill up with water. Jack really showed us how to do it. He dropped anchor short and we took a line with the dinghy over to the pontoon and I winched her in.

January 18, 1999

Antonio gets beaten by Brazilian Police

We spend most of our evenings with Antonio & Jack nowadays, either having dinner or going out drinking. On Saturday night the four of us went out to party after Antonio cooked us a Spanish omelette on board Lola. So we�re all getting quite drunk in some bar along the seafront when Antonio disappears off looking for women. Unknown to us until early the following morning when he appeared on the boat to ask us to pay for his taxi, Antonio had gone to a bar with some girls he�d met, they�d stolen his money, and left him. So unable to pay the bar bill, he went in to see the manager. The manager calls the police, who turn up, handcuff Antonio, and proceed to give him a beating. They steal the Swiss Army knife he has in his pocket, but leave the expensive Omega he�s wearing thinking that it�s crap.

January 20, 1999

Life in Fortaleza

It�s been quite a pleasant day today. Although I didn'�t get back from partying in town with Antonio until 6am, I didn'�t feel too bad when I got up in the afternoon. By then, of course, Lola had left for St Luiz, but it did mean that I could manage to get some things done. I took a taxi to the launderette to collect our washing, then Chris & I went for a McDonalds & paid a visit to the Internet access place they have here. It�s the cheapest that I�'ve ever found, only costing the equivalent of one pound an hour. I couldn�t stay too long though as I had to get back for a massage in the hotel at 8pm. Although it was by a guy, it still felt good to be pampered as he massaged me with soap and got me really clean.

In the evening, Chris & I took a taxi into town and had dinner in an Italian restaurant. We decided to walk back to the hotel, but on the way all the streetlights went out as Fortaleza got hit by a power cut just as we were going through one of the dodgier parts of town. We met a couple of people on the way, but they were too friendly to want to mug us.

January 24, 1999

Fortaleza to Belem, Brazil

It'�s Sunday evening & we'�re bound for Belem. I'�ve been lucky enough to find Steve Wright on World Service tonight, and apparently it'�s raining heavily in London this evening. It feels a million miles away as Steve describes the view out of Bush House on the Strand.

We'�re bound for Belem tonight. We were bound for Sao Luis, but just as we were about to enter the river last night, the engine started overheating, and unable to rely on it in the strong currents we would find, we had little choice but to skip Sao Luis and head onto Belem. Unfortunately to get out of the bay, we had to sail close-hauled into a force 6 for eight hours, which was not pleasant when we were all prepared for a day ashore. We both felt a bit seasick as Zamindar crashed through the waves. Now, though, we'�re back to civilised downwind sailing, and it finally feels like we�re making progress along Brazil�'s coastline. In Belem, I have to decide whether or not to head up to Trinidad in time for carnival. We�ve got almost four weeks left, so we could make it, but Antonio wants us to go up the Amazon with him, and then he'�s invited me to go racing on his racing yacht in Mexico� so let�s see what happens.

January 25, 1999

Entering the Amazon River

We'�re now only a few hours from the entrance to Rio Para, one of the subsidiary rivers of the Amazon. I�'ve just been looking through the Autotide program and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was able to calculate tidal data for entrance and interim ports on the river. I was even happier to find that according to those times we should be going upriver with the tide. We still seem to be having some problems with seawater not coming through the exhaust outlet. Chris again stripped the engine down this evening, and changed the impeller once more and then it seemed to work, but whether this has fixed the problem or not remains to be seem. Anyway, we have the engine running right now and we plan to keep it running until we arrive at Belem. I�'m not too happy about entering the river at night, but there'�s a moon tonight and I think we should be safe enough, especially with these tidal predictions.

February 9, 1999

Passagem do Mandii

This morning, Jack came across & woke us up at 06:20 to help Lola get fuelled up at the fuel barge. This we did, then nipped back upriver to the yacht club for a quick swim in the pool before Lola reappeared & we slipped our mooring and motored off. The plan was to get as far upriver as we could, but first we had to make a stop at Isla de Curtejuba to wait for the tide to change. We arrived there and went ashore to take a shower and have a coke in the bar while we waited. Then, as the boats began to swing around, we went back to Zamindar and set off again.

We didn�t have as much tide with us as we'�d expected, so our progress wasn'�t as good as we�'d hoped for. I spoke to Jack on the VHF and we agreed to head into a bay called Passagem do Mandii, or Mandi�'s Passage to anchor for the night. When we arrived, Lola was already anchored, but it really was a lovely place; one of the places that I�'d dreamed of anchoring my boat long before I had it. There were no houses or villages around, just a bay in the middle of deep green rainforest. We settled in and took the dinghy over to see everyone on Lola. Amy said that she was sure that she�d seen a crocodile, so although it was dark by this time, I set off in the dinghy with the spotlight to look for some, but didn�'t have any luck. I went back to Lola, and we were just about to start having dinner when the boats were hit by a huge squall. Rain poured down, and the wind steadily increased until their new deck cover was buckled and bent. We watched as the wind climbed to 40 or 50 knots and waited to see if either of the yachts would drag. The squall carried on for almost an hour, but finally it began to ease and we realised that the boats were going to be ok. I guess we just have to expect these squalls to come through at any time here and try to be ready for them.

February 10, 1999

Exploring in the Amazon

It'�s a very grey, wet evening here in the river, and we'�ve only an hour or so left of the daylight that does exist today as we close in on our anchorage for the night. We'�re motoring at about 6 knots, with Lola up in front of us but invisible in the rain. It�'s only a few hours since we left, and it�s easy going with the boat hardly moving at all, one of us on deck, and the other down below doing whatever they like.

I got up at 8am and took the dinghy over to see if anyone on Lola wanted to go exploring around the river system. They all bundled in and we set off to have a look around. The new Evinrude outboard seems to be going through quite a bit of fuel though, and we soon had to head back as we discovered that it was half empty. Jack & Amy decided to stay on board, and so Antonio and I set off with the other fuel tank as well. It of course had no problem planing and we thundered down the rivers, stopping only to take some shots of villages and huts on the way. I�'m not so happy with myself because yesterday I discovered that my Canon batteries are almost flat, and I have no spares. This coupled with the fact that I lost my Yashica last week when Lola�'s dinghy went missing means that I am beginning to run out of cameras. It was, however, wonderful exploring some of the narrow, tree lined rivers, and worth coming to Brazil for alone. Soon though, we realised that our fuel was getting low, and we were forced to turn around and head back towards the anchorage. On the way back we stopped at what seemed to be a hotel with a timber yard next to the river. Antonio chatted to the guy there, who showed us around. Out back, they had just killed a pig, and two women were busy cutting it up next to the pen where the remaining pigs still were. We went back to the boat, collected everyone else, and took Amy back to this place for her birthday lunch. We sat down and asked for food for five people, and they went off to get us some. Antonio began chatting to someone else there who warned us that there were a lot of pirates around the river system, and told us that we have to be careful of them striking at day or night. This, we were not too happy to hear, and we wished that we had managed to buy the guns we were after in Belem. The guy then told us that we were not in fact at a hotel but actually at his family'�s weekend home, and asked us to come into his dining room as the food was now ready. We were a bit embarrassed to discover that we had just stopped at someone'�s house, tied up, and asked them to cook us some food, but they took it so well that we guessed that it must be the normal thing for people to do here. I suppose that if someone is travelling on the river, and they have no food, then they must just go to a nearby house, and the people accept this. Anyway, they were all very friendly, and we paid them for the food, then carried on our way.

Back at the boat we hauled anchor and left. The tide was with us by this time, but we realised that we would only manage to do about twenty miles before dark. Soon the rain started, and Chris collected some and managed to almost fill the water tanks while I took a shower on deck. We'�re only 1.2 miles from the anchorage now, and I have an SSB schedule to try to contact Chris and Walter in Tenerife in 10 minutes.

February 13, 1999

Amazon village

We had some problems anchoring on Thursday night. We were in about 16 metres of water & when we dropped the 80m or so of chain, we discovered that it hadn'�t dug in, and so we had to bring it back in. Just as we were hauling in the last of it, the thermal cut-out on the windlass activated and shut it down for about twenty minutes. Then, of course, a rain storm came through as we were trying to put the Fortress out, and then, that seemed to be dragging. Finally, however, it dug in and we relaxed as the rain poured down. Jack came over once things began to dry up, and invited us over to eat on Lola as it was Amy�'s birthday. Chris had made her a chocolate cake so we took it with us and went across.

The following morning we literally had to haul the anchor up, but then we were off, and it was a beautiful day. The sky was blue and the water was calm as Zamindar cut through the reflections on her way upriver. We watched as locals approached some of the huge barges that ply the waterways, in their dug-out canoes, and threw lines onto them as they powered along, perhaps trading with them as they caught a lift upriver. At lunchtime we stopped in a town called Curralinho, which was really little more than two streets. Jack and Antonio picked up some fuel, then carried on, while Chris and I had a huge lunch outside at a waterside bar. The girl there cooked us fried fish, beans, rice, salad, manioc flour, and spaghetti and it only cost �2 each, but I gave her a good tip. We took the dinghy back to the boat, and decided to relax and wait there until the tide changed in our favour before continuing. As I sat on deck reading, a pod of five or six Boto dolphins came over and swam around the boat for half an hour or so. They were amazing to see, bright pink in colour, and looking totally unlike any dolphin you'�ve ever seen, they are only found in the rivers of South America, and are thought to have evolved independently of oceanic dolphins. I was delighted, as they were one of the things that I most wanted to see in the Amazon. As dusk descended, we left the anchorage, and continued upriver. The traffic was busy, and one of us had to stay in the cockpit all the time, altering course and checking for logs or floating grass islands with the searchlight. We spoke to Lola on the VHF, and motored into the anchorage purely on radar.

The following morning, we took the dinghy over, and Chris, Antonio, and I, went up one of the nearby rivers exploring. It was amazing to pass native people living in huts along the waterside, who had apparently never seen a rubber dinghy before. It was equally amazing to pass a satellite dish next to some of the houses. We continued up this river as it became narrower and narrower, until finally we were forced to row and pass under overhanging trees and bushes. We took some stunning photographs, and we were all amazed by what we saw. At one point, I looked down to see a small branch next to my leg, but then it moved. Shocked, I realised that it was a six inch long stick insect, and everyone thought that this was hilarious. As we made our way back, we passed a huge spider's web, and a humming bird, but unfortunately we didn�'t see any crocodiles.

In the afternoon Antonio, Jack and I travelled up another tributary, and soon we found a town. It consisted almost entirely of a six foot wide boardwalk that stretched along the riverfront with wooden houses on each side of it. We tied the dinghy up to a timber pontoon, and asked some guys if there was anywhere that we could get a coffee. They sat us down in a bar, and although it didn'�t sell any coffee, someone soon turned up with a thermos full for us and refused to take any money for it. All the children in the village surrounded us, and we took photographs of the scene, as the adults watched on. We took a walk through town and everyone seemed amazed to see us. A young boy of maybe five or six offered to carry my camera case for me as we walked along, and my sandal strap broke, and he and the other children took great delight in trying to stand on it. It was late afternoon by now, and a rain storm struck, drenching us as we tried to put our waterproof jackets on. I gave the young boy a Real for carrying my case, and he was deliriously happy. I watched as he ran and skipped away down the boardwalk in the rain, jumping with joy. I stood on the pontoon and looked with marvel across the river as whisps of smoke rose from huts along the edge of the rainforest. It was unbelievable to be here and to have discovered this. We were just about to climb back into the dinghy to go, when the main bar in town opened and we agreed to stay for a game of pool. The bar consisted of a timber walled building that stood on stilts above the water, and we sought shelter there whilst the torrential rain fell outside. We had some rum and cokes, and I prompted Antonio to ask one of the men, who was in fact the town'�s mayor, if they had many visitors in the town. Sure, he replied, telling us of some Americans who came in a ship. We assumed that he was talking about something that had happened in the last year or so, but as he explained that they had bought the whole island that the town stood on, he vividly recollected how he had seen them as a child. Suddenly we realised that we were the first foreigners that this town had seen for over twenty years. No wonder everyone was fascinated by us. Antonio had been talking to some other guys who had given him some very serious warnings about pirate attacks in the area. We'�d been away from the yachts for some time now, and we decided that it was probably a good idea to get back to check that things were all right.

Back at the boats we ate, but I was thinking that the prospects of going back to the town and seeing it again were definitely worth thinking about. Antonio said that he was happy to go back, but we were unable to talk Chris into it. So we motored off in the darkness at high speed back towards the town. Antonio was driving, and we strained our eyes searching the dark water for any sign of a log or debris in it. It was exciting, but frightening as I knew that hitting something at this speed would be very bad news indeed. Suddenly I saw something in the water, but Antonio couldn�'t avoid it in time, and we sped into a floating log at around 20 knots. Instantly the engine flew up, revving wildly in the air as the dinghy crashed over it. I jumped over to kill it, and we inspected the damage. The dinghy didn�'t seem to be punctured, and the engine didn�'t appear to be in too bad shape, but in the torchlight we could clearly see the smashed end of the log. We were maybe three or four miles from the boats, and the prospect of rowing back to them was somewhat daunting. Hesitantly we tried the engine, and much to our relief it started. We were close to the town by now, and we motored over, and tied up next to the bar. Hearing an engine, everyone ran out, and hugged us and shook our hands as they realised who we were. They were all very drunk by now, and they led us into the bar, and forced glasses of beer into our hands for us to drink. I was taken over to people who put their arms around me and danced, and more people crowded around, amazed at the visitors who were in town. Everyone wanted us to drink their beer, and realising that they seemed insulted when we refused it, we drank in turn from everyone'�s cups in the bar. Some were not even glasses, but bottoms of plastic coke bottles that had been cut to use as cups. The music played, it was the first day of carnival in Brazil, although the town itself did not have any celebrations. Everyone came over, repeatedly asking me questions in Portuguese as I told them that I did not speak any, but it didn�'t put them off at all. Suddenly, the lights went out in the whole town, and the music stopped as the power from the town�'s generator stopped, and the music was silenced. Antonio had gone off somewhere, and as I stood in this pitch dark hut in the jungle surrounded by natives, scenes from Zulu flashed into my mind. But a flame appeared from behind the bar as someone lit a tiny candle and placed it on the pool table. Now I realised why there was a stereo system sitting on the table�s felt next to a car battery. The guy who owned it turned it on, and once more we had music. Although I did feel some concern about drinking from the same glasses as everyone else in the village, I was struck by how everyone shared everything, for all the people in the bar were sharing their beer with each other. Although these people were frighteningly poor they still shared whatever they had with all of their neighbours and with these two rich strangers. Soon though, it was time to go, as we had to leave quite early the next morning. We said our goodbyes to everyone, and took another white knuckle ride in the dinghy back to the boats.

March 1, 1999

Approaching Trinidad

It�'s dark outside now, but the moon is full tonight and has just risen behind us. We�re 46.5 miles from our first waypoint off the north-eastern tip of Trinidad, and we'�re picking up a bit of current which is hurtling us along at about 8 knots. It feels strange to finally be close to arriving in the Caribbean, like the poem, Ithaca. Will it live up to my hopes? Will it be how I dream it will be when we make landfall? Soon I guess the Caribbean will become home; for how long? Who knows? The water has been becoming a brighter shade of blue every day as we�ve been heading north; here it looks truly artificial. As the sun set off our port bow this evening, the sky had a bank of cumulus clouds stretching behind us. These were coloured pink by the setting sun, and stood out against the sky in true three-dimensions, and were clearly very deep. The sky behind them was a blue-grey the colour of steel, and in front of this floated a purple cloud that floated there simply to contrast against the pinkness.

March 23, 1999

Approaching St Maarten

Well after two weeks of getting the boat sorted up in Trinidad, relaxing, and doing a bit of sailing, we now find ourselves approaching Sint Maarten, to join up with Tayo again. It�'s been a long, and an exciting trip since we left them four and a half months ago in Tenerife, and we'�ve done almost 5000 miles I guess. At times it felt like this moment was far, far away, but now I�'m glad to say that there'�s only 6.1 miles left to go. I�'m really looking forward to seeing Chris, and we'�ve got a bottle of cranberry Finlandia chilling as I speak. The lights of Philipsburg are ahead of us now, so I'�m off to play some party music and keep watch while we make landfall.

March 30, 1999

Anchored off St Barths

We�'re anchored off St Barths tonight, and Chris and Chris are on board. It was really good to see Chris when we arrived last week and so we've all sailed over to here for a couple of nights. St Barths is a lovely French island, though it used to belong to Sweden and there are still lots of Swedish characteristics about the place.

December 1, 2001

Relaunched

Today we had the boat launched back into the water and it feels really good to be afloat again. Within a couple of hours we had a manatee and then an alligator swimming next to it. Then we drank lots of beer to celebrate so excuse any spelling mistakes...

December 20, 2001

Left Westland Marine

Yesterday we motored out of the marina and anchored outside Titusville. It feels great to have escaped from the dock though we have to get used to the boat moving all the time, but it was lovely to waken up this morning and look out at the sun rising over the water - we did go back to bed after that though! The shuttle landed here a couple of days ago. We were sitting having lunch in the Coffee Shoppe when the twin sonic booms as it re-entered blew the doors open. A couple of people clapped, then everyone carried on eating - it's a fairly normal occurrence for the locals.

December 21, 2001

Dolphins around the boat

We saw dolphins around the boat this morning within about 5 mins of getting up, and then again when we were having dinner in the cockpit, which was really lovely. Our Christmas presents also arrived today from Chris and Nina's parents - thanks. Apart from that I spent 5 hours rebuilding the fridge on board and now finally it's working again so we can look forward to cold beer for Christmas. It looks like we're going to spend Christmas in Titusville, as although we could go somewhere else, we're actually beginning to quite like it here!

January 6, 2002

Happy New Year 2002!

Happy New Year!
... now that I've finally recovered enough to write

We spent New Year on the boat and had a lovely time, though the temperature has dropped rapidly since then. It was 0c here on Thursday night and the people of Florida have been walking around looking a bit shocked by the icy conditions - though some of them are still wearing shorts. We passed a guy walking down the main street with a chainsaw and a crazed look on his face the other day, so I guess the cold weather affects people in different ways.

We're still anchored in Titusville as we're due to fly back to Europe in another week or two, but things have been fairly interesting in the anchorage this week. Everything was quite calm on Wednesday afternoon when we were suddenly hit by a squall with winds up to 50 knots (100km/h) and torrential rain pounding down. We were confident that our anchor was dug in well enough so that we wouldn't move, but the danger is always that you'll get hit by another boat as it drags across the anchorage. Several boats appeared to be on the move, but one in particular caught our attention. There was a red sailing boat with apparently no-one on board that looked like it was coming straight for us. Nina and I grabbed our waterproofs and got out onto deck, ready to fend it off, but it slid by with some space to spare. The wind had dropped to about 35 knots now, but the red boat continued dragging and was on course to run into Titusville swing bridge, which is about 500m away from us. I called the bridge operator on the radio to warn them that there was a boat adrift heading towards them, then Nina and I grabbed lifejackets and climbed into the dinghy to go over and try to board it. As the rain was falling so heavily, it was flattening the worst of the waves down, but the dinghy was still full of water and the rain was just running down our faces and into our mouths. We made it over to the red boat as it was half-way over to the bridge, Nina stayed alongside in the dinghy with the engine running in case we had to get away fast, and I got on board. There was a wind generator hoisted above the foredeck which was going crazy in the storm, and I had to duck down low so that I wouldn't get hit by the spinning blades. There was definitely no-one on board, so I let out all of the anchor chain to slow the boat down, then put out another anchor. Slowly, her bows swung around into the wind as the anchors began to dig in, and she stopped drifting. When we were sure that she was safe, I crawled back under the wind generator, got back into the dinghy, and we returned to Zamindar, very, very wet. In the evening, however, we noticed a puzzled couple returning to their relocated boat after looking all over the anchorage for it!

March 11, 2002

Shipping arrangements

Chris & I are just about to drive down to London, where we're spending the night before flying out to the boat in Florida tomorrow. The forecast for Florida is a north-easterly gale with a front moving in, so that sounds great.

Zamindar is booked onto a submersible yacht carrier in ten days or so from Port Everglades to Palma, Mallorca. The ship carries fifty or so yachts, and you sail on, they pump the water out, and carry you across the Atlantic. I've been thinking about bringing Zamindar back to Europe for a while, mainly because...
Half the year in the Caribbean is hurricane season when you can't sail
Its difficult to go over there to the boat for a short trip
There's too many Americans in the Caribbean

Now, I know that I'll probably get thrown out of the yacht clubs because I'm not sailing back across the Atlantic, but the people I'd like as crew can't spare two months off work to stare at the sea. Also, when you work out the cost of preparing the boat, provisioning, and wear and tear, shipping starts to look quite attractive. Apart from that, I've already sailed it and don't have anything to prove. I'm using a company called Dockwise, which is supposed to be the biggest, but their Florida office has so far given me nothing but problems and has been very poor at keeping in touch.. We have to sail from Titusville to Port Everglades, which should take four days or so, and they're supposed to be loading on the 21st March, though they're very likely to change the date again without telling me.

I've spent the last two weeks in Bristol because they've been moving around the shipping date, but it has been an enjoyable time. Bristol still seems to be worse than Bombay for people stopping you in the street and asking for money, and today someone from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) stepped out in front of me. I told him that I just wasn't interested in wrestling. I also seem to have begun setting off those alarms they have at shop entrances to stop you shoplifting. The strange thing is that I'm also setting them off from outside the shop when it's closed! It must be that chip in my neck again. Talking of which, I have no idea if I'll even get into the US this time. They were reluctant to let me in last time and gave me a long interrogation, so I'm expecting to be handed an orange suit and sent down to Guantanamo on this visit.

March 19, 2002

Titusville to Fort Lauderdale

Yesterday morning, we arrived in Fort Lauderdale after sailing down from Titusville. The wind was in front of us all the time, so we had to motor down the Intra-Coastal Waterway all the way. Last night we went out for a celebration dinner; when the food finally arrived, they didn't give us any cutlery or plates, and when I asked a waiter for them, I was told to get them myself. We then moved onto a bar, but they refused to let me in as I didn't have any ID!

The shipping is allegedly happening on Thursday, and so I called Dockwise this morning to get confirmation as they have asked everyone to do. However, there was no-one in the office apart from the secretary, who knew nothing, and then hung up on me.

Have a nice day.

April 2, 2002

Loading of Zamindar onto Super Servant3

The loading of Zamindar onto Super Servant3 went smoothly. We just motored her on and the crew tied her up. We were able to stay onboard until the ship left port, and I soon found out that I could have stayed for the entire crossing, contrary to what I had been told by the Dockwise office. We spent the evening drinking too much beer onboard 'Duva', a British yacht that was behind us on the ship, and animatedly discussing the reasons that we badly wanted to leave the USA. The following morning I was woken by the sound of bubbles, as divers positioned supports in place under Zami's hull. Chris and I had by now added ourselves to the meals list, and went off to the messroom for breakfast on the ship. By the time we returned, Zamindar was resting nicely on her stands as the water continued to be pumped out of the ship. Soon the deck was dry, and the crew began to weld the supports into place while we sorted the the boat up for her Atlantic crossing. The departure date was further delayed by a couple of days, but this meant we could stay onboard until the day of our flight, and in the evenings we drove down to Miami for dinner.

Our return flights went fairly smoothly, apart from the pilot obviously being pissed as he tried to land in Atlanta, and Chris and I having to sprint across one of America's biggest airports to catch our connection from the opposite side. Chris and I said goodbye to each other in London, and after 27 hours and 6 airports, I arrived in Copenhagen where Nina was waiting for me. It was very nice to be back.

Thirty-six hours later I began being violently ill simultaneously from every imaginable orifice, and I've spent the last three days in bed recovering from the exertion that this required. This is the first time that I can remember being ill since caughing up blood while sailing from Trinidad to Greneda a few years ago with Chris, who was being equally ill. Just when we thought that life couldn't get any worse, a US Coastguard frigate with a helicopter on the back appeared next to us and decided to give us a 'routine check' in case we were drug smuggling. We finally made it into Prickly Bay, Greneda, after much vomitting, and Chris asked me to go ashore and find him a hospital.

April 9, 2002

I got an email last

I got an email last night from Super Servant3, saying that the ship is approaching Gibraltar, though conditions on board have been quite rough. It's good to hear that Zamindar is almost back in Europe. There will be things that I'll miss about the Caribbean, mainly the amazing snorkelling and diving, but on the other hand, I'm looking forward to the Mediterranean's culture, especially being able to order a beer in McDonald's, spend euros, and use my phone to check email while I'm sailing.

It's been sunny here in Copenhagen for the last week or so, which has meant that everyone has been sitting outside at the cafs wrapped in blankets as it's still just 7c. It's very good of the cafs to supply blankets, but it does beg the question of why people are sitting outside risking frostbite when any other population would be inside with the heating up full. I'm starting to learn, however, that this is what it means to be Scandinavian. People here are so happy here just to see the sun that it doesn't matter how cold it is, and in a few weeks they'll be convinced that it's time to go swimming naked in the Baltic again, where it's still a frigid 5c and anyone not wearing an immersion suit won't survive more than 7 minutes. I will of course resist doing all of these things, at least until Nina forces me to.


A shop sign in Copenhagen

April 13, 2002

Our flights from Malmo airport

Our flights from Malmo airport were delayed for two hours, so by the time we arrived in Stansted it was after midnight. We spent a remarkably restful night sharing the only available bench we could find, then had breakfast and boarded the flight to Palma. On arrival here, the ship hadn't arrived so we booked into a hotel run by a strange Norwegian, went out for some food, then fell asleep in the comfort of our beds.

The following morning we awoke and took a walk down to the water to see Super Servant3 across the harbour with Zami' on board. We quickly grabbed some breakfast then caught a taxi over to the ship. Zamindar seemed to be fine after the crossing, and we wanted to do some painting on her hull, so we quickly changed and started working on it. The ship had already begun to submerge, so we only had about 30 mins as the water poured across the deck towards us. We cleaned the hull, taped it, and gave the bootstripe two coats of paint while we stood in water as the ship's deck flooded. Then we climbed back up onto Zami', and motored her off. She was now in the Mediterranean.

We motored across Palma's harbour and docked in Real Club Nautico, which is right in the centre of town. Palma is much lovelier than I'd imagined, and we've been spending lots of time walking around and drinking in the bars and cafes here. It really feels as if we've returned to civilisation after being in the USA.

April 18, 2002

Nina left for Copenhagen yesterday,

Nina left for Copenhagen yesterday, and I'm going to meet her there in a few weeks. I'm still on Zami' in the Real Club Nautico of Palma de Mallorca, but we rented a car at the weekend and drove around some of the island, checking out anchorages on the way. Portocolom looks like the most sheltered one on the island so I plan to head there soon. Mallorca really is a beautiful island and surprisingly little of it is spoiled by tourist developments. We drove all the way along the north west coast on winding mountain roads cut into the cliffs and hardly saw any red people in football tops at all.

Palma is a big base for superyachts, and there's a row of multi-million dollar boats moored next to us running their generators all the time to keep me awake at night. They tend to spend winter in the Caribbean then cross over to the Mediterranean for summer, so you often see the same boats over and over again. One of them was on the same shipping as us from Port Everglades, up for sale for a cool $16m, and her owner has twenty Ferraris and three planes.

May 2, 2002

Palma to Cala Portals

Today I finally got out of Palma marina, and sailed down the coast to a lovely bay called Cala Portals. On the way out of Palma I passed a huge superyacht called Limitless which I haven't seen since St Maarten in the Caribbean. It was supposedly the biggest yacht (130m?) around at that time and rumour had it that it belonged to Mr Gates. I have a blurred recollection of going over to it one night after several beers and asking to speak to Bill to complain about Windows but the crew aren't very friendly.

It's really pleasant to be anchored again and away from the town. Cala Portals is a small bay surrounded by low cliffs which have tombs from Phoenician times cut into the caves. It's a very attractive anchorage, and there's only one other boat here tonight so it's nice and peaceful.
Chart of today's route


Cala Portals this evening

June 28, 2002

A few days ago I

A few days ago I looked into the bilges on the boat to find them rapidly
filling with water. I started to pump the water out and began looking around
for the leak, but couldn't find anywhere that water was coming into the
boat. After a lot of searching, I managed to track it down to a leak in one
of the fresh water tanks we have on board, and was relieved to find that we
weren't sinking. The tank, of course, had to be sorted and I spent the
following day removing the table and a section of the floor so that I could
get it out. I then spent the last two days driving around Mallorca with it
in the back of a rental car, trying to find somewhere that could repair it.
In the end I found a stainless fabricator, and so I attempted to explain
what I needed from them with my very limited Spanish (which previously
consisted solely of 'Una cerveza' and 'La vida loca'. Eventually, they
brought forward someone who could speak German and I barely managed to
express my need for a repaired water tank to him. As it turned out, it can't
be fixed, and so they're going to make a new one, however, nothing happens
too fast in Spain, so they think it'll take about 3 weeks. Such is life on a
boat.

July 3, 2002

To add to the list

To add to the list of recent breakages on the boat, the outboard on the
dinghy overheated the other evening while I was having a trip around the
harbour in the dark. I'm hoping that the water intake just got blocked by a
floating plastic bag or something and that caused the impeller to burn out,
which wouldn't be too difficult to fix, and that it's nothing more serious.
Tomorrow I'll try to get a new impeller in Palma and see if that fixes it.
It's normal for things like that to happen, but I feel quite frustrated
right now as they all seem to be happening together. Nina arrives here
tomorrow evening and I'll be very happy to see her as it's been 5 weeks
since I left Denmark. Although I don't really get lonely on my own, I'm
beginning to feel the effects of the last weeks of solitude and not knowing
anyone here, so I'm glad that's ending.

August 9, 2002

Where to next?

Now that all of our guests have finally left, Nina and I have been getting
things sorted up onboard Zamindar to go sailing, and researching where to
leave the boat for winter; currently, we're thinking about either Menorca or
sailing over to mainland Spain. Tomorrow we're off to Palma for a Big Day
Out with Paul from Ballena, who we often end up drinking and solving global
problems with in the evenings.

August 13, 2002

Ballena leaves Portocolom

Today Paul & Susie from Ballena left to sail around to Santa Ponsa. In the meantime we've decided to keep Zamindar in Menorca over the winter and so we're planning to head in the other direction over to there tomorrow. It's about a 55mile sail so we'll probably make an early start if we can manage to get up.

August 17, 2002

Sailing from Portocolom to Mahon

On Wednesday we got up at 0630 and sailed out of Portocolom as the sun was rising. The wind was forecast to be behind us, but as always, it turned out, although light, to be in front of us all the way to Mahon. Nina and I were taking turns on watch, and I was sleeping in bed when she woke me up shouting "Dolphins!" Just to starboard of us was a pod of about 30 dolphins hunting some fish and closing in on them in a big circle. One of the dolphins jumped out of the water then some of them swam over to the boat and played in our bow wave and around the hull as we motored along.

A little later the wind dropped completely and the water was so clear and blue that we couldn't resist stopping the engine and diving off the boat for a swim. Mallorca had disappeared by now and we could just see Menorca distantly on the horizon, so the closest land was the sea floor about 1.2km beneath us. We arrived in Mahon about 1900 and anchored in Cala Taulera, which is about 2miles from the centre of the city. It's a lovely, quiet anchorage surrounded by green hills and the only way to Mahon is by dinghy, which is fine for us but takes some of our neighbours about 30 minutes with their slower engines.

We've been completely surprised by how attractive Mahon is. It has a long harbour with steep hills on either side which looks quite Caribbean, and the port itself is lined with cafes and restaurants which give it a very Cote D'Azur feel. We're almost certainly going to leave Zamindar here for the winter because as well as liking the place, we've managed to negotiate a very good rate with the port office and the harbour is extremely well sheltered.


Dolphin swimming in Zamindar's bow wave

August 19, 2002

Menorca dinghy trip

It was a scorching day today and there was hardly any wind, so we loaded the dinghy up with all our gear and extra fuel tanks, and set off on a mammoth 20 mile dinghy trip around the south west coast of Menorca, stopping off in many of the Calas (coves), going snorkelling and swimming.

The fridge yesterday decided that it didn't want to keep our beer cold any longer, so when we returned today I worked on that. We now have cold beer again, which is nice.

September 2, 2002

A new home on Isla Clementina

Yesterday evening at sunset, I brought Zamindar onto Isla Clementina, her
new home in the centre of Mahon harbour for the winter. It's a floating
island that takes about 25 boats, with a large area in the centre with
seats, a barbecue, and a shower, and supposedly it's one of the most
sheltered places to berth in this part of the Mediterranean. The sea is
about 2.5 miles away to the south-east, and the harbour has cliffs on either
side. There was a barbecue in progress when I arrived, and once I'd tied the
boat up I was invited over, so I joined them and enjoyed some red wine and
something that had been barbecued, though it was too dark to see what it was
I was eating. It was just as well really as I'm beginning to run out of the
pasta that Nina made for me before she left. Not trusting my ability to
create a balanced diet, she very kindly made some chicken pasta last
weekend, and I've been heating it up and working my way through it this
week. Maybe a week's a long time to be re-heating chicken for, as it does
seem to be, how should I say, developing a new flavour, as time goes on.

It is, however, quite exciting to be in a marina, and I hooked the boat into
shorepower this morning and all the luxury that brings, namely unlimited
electricity (or actually up to 1000W). So now I can put lights on, listen to
music, use the espresso machine, or even blowdry my hair into a bouffant
quiff to resemble my passport photo should I desire to, with all the power
on hand.

It's just after midnight, and it's really calm, but I've just been outside
twice as I keep hearing a banging noise. But every time I go out, it stops.
Then I sit down again, and it starts up again. It seems to be coming from
underneath the hull, and so the only thing I can figure it could be, is a
fish or something continually banging into the boat. Or maybe somebody's got
pissed and fallen into the water (when we were in Palma we saw a body
getting pulled out of the harbour).

I'm currently walking around looking like a cripple; which is a word not
used much nowadays as it's not very politically correct, but it's true, and
I will not be offended when, walking down the street, families now point at
me and call me a cripple. In addition to smashing my right foot up with the
wakeboard last week, I leapt onto deck the other night, and booted the genoa
track car (i.e. something very metal and sharp) as hard as I possibly could
with my left foot, and in the process sliced it open in three places. The
only consolation was that I'd had a couple of drinks at the time and hence,
the pain was not too bad, though, of course, on the other hand, if I hadn't
had the drinks then I may have been more coordinated, and chosen not to kick
it.

January 4, 2003

Happy New Year 2003

We brought in New Year on the boat then went ashore to the old town where there was a fiesta in the square with a mixture of dance music and a live band. This morning we took went out for a sail (well motor as it was calm) out of the harbour and down the coast a bit, then returned and anchored in Cala Taulera a couple of miles from town. Its really pleasant to be in a peaceful anchorage again and the water around the boat is crystal clear.

June 27, 2003

Tidal Waves

After being on Zamindar for a while I noticed some scratches on her bows and on the wooden pontoon, which shed obviously been scraping against, so I complained to one of the marineros who were supposed to be looking after her. Only afterwards did I find out that due to the large earthquake that hit Algeria in May, a tidal wave had crossed the Mediterranean and upon hitting the Balearics, sank 87 boats in Mahon harbour. So I stopped complaining.

On returning to the boat yesterday afternoon, however, I discovered that Ithaka, the Farr 56 which had been next to us, had left its berth and caused considerable damage to some of the safety equipment on Zamindars stern in the process of doing so. Even though their boat must be worth a fortune, theyd decided to do a runner and not even leave a note for me so Ive got their details from the marina and Im in the process of trying to contact the bastards.

July 1, 2003

Anchored Again

We left Isla Clementina yesterday evening and sailed out to the anchorage in Cala Teleura and it felt like only yesterday that Id taken Zamindar into the harbour at the end of last summer. The prop, not surprisingly, seems to be quite fouled after its winter in the water so it a slow motor out there as the sun went down. It felt really good to be out of the town, the anchorage is really peaceful, and I sat in the cockpit last night looking up at the stars. Today Im off to get the snorkelling gear on and start scrubbing my bottom.

July 8, 2003

Weekend Sailing

On Saturday Simon and I sailed around to Cala en Porter, anchored in the bay, and went off to check out Cavas d'en Xoroi, a nightclub built into the cliff caves that looks out high over the sea. There was nowhere safe to leave the dinghy so I tied it to a buoy and swam ashore from there. The club was truly in a superb position, but we were somewhat disappointed to find everybody else walking away as we arrived due to the place being empty, the music bad, and entrance 17. We decided to leave as well, swam back to the dinghy, and returned to the boat which was rolling all over the place in the swell.

The following morning we sailed further around the south of Menorca to Cala Macarella, anchored, and chilled out on the beach. We'd been expecting Chris and Berit to be arriving on a ferry into Ciutadella, but while I was swimming around the boat I had a call from Chris saying that he was in fact arriving in Mahon in a few hours. So I rushed back to the beach, grabbed Simon and we started sailng back towards Mahon. The wind, of course, was on the nose, and it was totally dark by the time we finally arrived and anchored, so we jumped into the dinghy, met up with Chris and Berit in a bar, and got really quite drunk.

July 9, 2003

Mallorca Bound

We're currently offshore between Menorca and Mallorca bound for Portocolom, the sun's going down, and we've just passed a pod of 10-15dolphins playing off our starboard side. There's hardly any wind so the sea's pretty calm and it's a really beautiful evening out here.

July 11, 2003

Back in Portocolom

We arrived in Portocolom at 07:30 after sailing for 14 hours, anchored, and went to bed. I spent two or three months here last year so it's very strange to be back but very nice. Just about everything seems to be the same. It all looks the same, and we went off to Bar Mestral and had the very same meal for dinner as we would have had last year, but it's lovely to be back.

July 14, 2003

Sailing past Cabrera

Right now we're sailing between the southern tip of Mallorca and the island of Cabrera. We left Portocolom just before midnight and I'm on watch until 06:00 but there's nothing much happening apart from the wind being in front of us, as usual. There is a full moon tonight, however, which means that I'm not just staring into the darkness until sunrise.

We rented a car and went out in Palma last night, though Tito's, the biggest club in town turned out to be a bit of a disappointment, with a poorly mixed selection of bad music. I also dropped my phone onto the marble floor in there, breaking the screen and making it unreadable, so unless I fly back to Thailand to get it repaired again, it may well have reached the end of it's useful life.

This morning while we were going ashore in the dinghy we saw a black shape swimming across the harbour. It turned out to be the dog from Restaurant Florian, which apparently has a crazed habit of jumping into the harbour and trying to swim to the other side so we rescued it and took it back to the restaurant.

Making Landfall on Ibiza

We've been sailing for almost 21 hours since we left Portocolom and we're now approaching the north-east tip of Ibiza. When I left Guernsey many, many years ago, Ibiza was where I was heading to so it's quite strange to finally be on the point of arriving after all this time tonight. The mountains are on our port side right now, the sun is going down off our starboard bow, and a pod of dolphins just welcomed us playing in Zami's bow wave.

July 16, 2003

Anchored in San Antonio

Last night we anchored in Cala Portinatx on Ibiza's north coast and today we stopped off in another cala for lunch and a snorkel before continuing on to San Antonio, where we're anchored tonight. It's a bit of a shock to suddenly be immersed in British drinking culture after weeks in traditional Spanish towns, but even still, San Antonio is better than I expected.

July 17, 2003

Rude Awakening

Chris came into my cabin and woke me up at 06:30 this morning to tell me that some of the boats in the anchorage were beginning to drag. The wind had picked up to about force 5-6, blowing straight into the anchorage from the sea, and bringing lots of swell with it.

Normally I dive on my anchor to make sure that it's dug in, and although I hadn't felt like doing it the night before, having slashed my foot open earlier in the day, I'd gone in and spent a lot of time hunting through the weed on the seafloor, turning the anchor over, and digging it in by hand. I was glad I did now as I sat and watched as about 25 boats in the anchorage began to drag one by one. People were blowing foghorns to warn that boats were dragging, but on one of the boats which was about to collide everyone still seemed to be asleep. Chris and I mounted a rescue mission, got in the dinghy, and went off through the waves to waken them up. After a lot of banging on their hull a couple of hungover faces appeared and looked shocked to see that they were just a few metres from hitting another boat. By the time the wind had dropped, the previously packed anchorage was looking pretty deserted.

Chris, Berit and I took a bus to Ibiza Town this afternoon and were amazed by how lovely it was. We stood and watched a procession in the harbour, wandered around the streets and shops past all The Beautiful People, had dinner, and decided that it has to be one of the nicest towns in the Balearics.

July 20, 2003

Sweet Home Formentera

On Thursday we sailed around Ibiza's impressive west coast, and its sheer cliffs then crossed to Formentera, an island just to the south. We anchored off Espalmador which is about as close as you can get to a deserted island paradise in the Mediterranean and is as impressive as almost anywhere I sailed in the Bahamas. The water's crystal clear, the beaches are white, it's almost uninhabited, and the town of Sabina is only a two and a half mile dinghy ride, from where you can catch a ferry into Ibiza's wonderful old town.

Chris and Berit flew out yesterday, having been here for the last fortnight, and having sailed almost non-stop between all the major Balearic islands in that time.

July 23, 2003

Late Nights and Early Mornings

The anchorage here in Espalmador was totally packed the other day until suddenly a storm blew through that wasn't forecast at all. I looked up to find a huge motorboat with topless girls alongside as about 50 other boats dragged through the anchorage. I was remarkably understanding to the motorboat crew as they tried to get themselves sorted out and in the ensuing panic couldn't decide whether to grab a fender or look for their clothes. The wind continued through the night, however, and I sat up until 03:00 on anchor watch before finally passing out.

This morning I was woken at 05:00 as a nearby mooring buoy lodged under the boat. I knew I should have sorted it out then but I just couldn't face diving at that time in the morning. It woke me up again at 07:00 and finally I had to go for a swim to check things out. I'd almost forgotten how much hard work being on a boat could be.

July 26, 2003

French Leave

In yet another one of those strange co-incidences that appear to happen more and more, I woke up this morning and went out onto deck to find 'Imagine', the boat that was my permanent next door neighbour when I lived in Guernsey anchored right next to me. She appears to be owned by a French family nowadays, who were friendly enough to pretend they understood what I was yelling over to them before giving each other worried glances, pulling up their anchor, and immediately leaving the island.

August 11, 2003

Anchored in Eivissa

Zamindar is now anchored in Eivissa harbour after sailing over yesterday. The trip was all right, and although the wind was pretty much in front of us, we still managed to do some sailing and even saw some flying fish on the way.

August 13, 2003

Port Police

Yesterday we were rudely awoken by the port police in the afternoon who apparently aren't too keen on people anchoring in the hrbour. I dragged myself out onto deck, blinded by the sunlight as he shouted things I didn't understand at me in Spanish. Still half asleep I asked if he spoke English, to which he replied, "You no anchor here. Leave now!"

So we sailed to Cala Talamanca, which is just around the corner, and spent the day anchored there, swimming and drinking Corona, until the swell finally became too much to take and we moved the boat back to the harbour in the evening.

August 19, 2003

Insomnia

what do you mean no anchoring
The weather's been really settled so far this summer in the Balearics, but the other morning we woke up as the wind began to get stronger and stronger. As usual we'd been sitting talking and drinking Corona in the cockpit all night as Carita is even more nocturnal than I am and we'd gone to bed just an hour or two before. Some of the other boats began to drag through the anchorage and waves were coming straight in through the harbour entrance so we sat with the engine running just in case we began to drag as well.

Things carried on like that for most of the morning, our anchor held, but a local boat dragged and suddenly ended up against the breakwater rocks. The wind had them pinned there, unable to manoeuvre away, and so I took the dinghy over and along with some others, helped pull them off.

The anchorage here behind the new harbour wall of Ibiza town is normally quite well sheltered but the port police still appear every couple of days and kick all of the boats out. For some reason or other, although everyone does it, they don't like boats anchored here but there isn't anywhere else as well protected close to the city so we often end up back again doing the marine equivalent of illegal parking. Yesterday morning we were suddenly awoken by a policeman blowing a whistle in through the hatch like someone straight from a rave. Again I shot up onto deck in a semi-conscious panic, again lots of shouting at me in Spanish, and again we had to move the boat.

August 24, 2003

Shaken and Chilled

The other night I had a bizarre dream that Paul Oakenfold was trimming my eyebrows - obviously I needed professional help or a break from Ibiza, so on Friday night Zami' returned to her chill-out anchorage in Espalmador. It was one of those truly wonderful evenings to be sailling and it just felt right to be on the water as the sun went down behind Salinas and we crossed Freu Grande into the lee of Espalmador. It was dark by the time I dropped the anchor, dived on it by torchlight to check it, then had a beer, gradually beginning to adjust to the slower tempo of the island.

August 28, 2003

Back in Eivissa

On Tuesday I said goodbye to Jorge who was about to head back to Barcelona, and Carita and I had a very pleasant, slow sail back to Ibiza. The weather was lovely with a little bit of wind to fill the genoa and we were in the lee of Cala d'en Bossa so the sea was really flat. It was just as well we left when we did as the weather's been much less stable since then and the wind's howling here in Ibiza harbour tonight.

August 29, 2003

Anchor Drags

A couple of hours after writing my blog last night, I was in bed sleeping when the anchor alarm went off - the boat was dragging its anchor. I jumped up wide awake, running through the boat turning everything on as I went, leapt into the cockpit, and started the engine. The wind had really picked up and was blowing in through the harbour entrance bringing whitecapped waves with it and we were now very close to the rocks of the breakwater. I was alone onboard at the time and I knew it was going to be difficult to steer the boat into the wind whilst getting the anchor up at the same time. I motored forward then ran to the bows but only managed to get about three metres of chain up before the wind had blown Zamindar close to the rocks again. I rushed back to the cockpit, put the revs up, and managed to get the boat turned around again and motored forward. To make things even more tricky there were boats anchored to each side of me which I had to avoid getting blown into as well. I realised that I had no choice but to motor forward fast and attempt to drag the anchor until I was far enough away to run out to the bows and bring the chain up but the risk was that while I was doing this it could catch onto something on the harbour floor and get stuck. I gave it a try then sprinted forward to pull up some chain. The wind was howling and coming through in gusts so I had to repeat this about eight times, each time running back to motor away from the rocks as we got close, but finally I got the anchor up and breathed a sigh of relief. I motored further out, dropped the anchor and lots of chain, and really hoped it would dig in or else I'd have to go through the whole thing again. I stood and waited as the boat began to drift back towards the rocks, but slowly she started to turn into the wind; the anchor was holding. I kept the engine running for the next hour or so just in case, and ironically, now that we were well anchored, the wind calmed down.

When I'd anchored I'd tried to dive on the anchor but due to the water being fairly deep and visibility being only about one metre it was impossible to find it so I hadn't been totally sure how well it was dug in. The other factor that contributed to us dragging was that we'd anchored reasonably close to the harbour wall due to it being one of the few spaces when we arrived, and so when the wind picked up I didn't have enough room to dump the huge amount of chain that I normally would. Anyway, today I wired in the remote control for the anchor windlass so that now I can raise and lower the anchor from the cockpit while I steer - just in case a similar situation occurs again. I know, however, that after a couple of beers one night I'll probably fall asleep on top of it and lift the boat's anchor.

September 6, 2003

Winds and Squalls

a boat getting towed off the rocks by the lifeboat
The weather's continued to be very unsettled here in the Balearics with 91km/hr winds recorded and a rainstorm that dropped 23 litres of rain per square metre within 10 minutes.

Yesterday morning, shortly after I noticed a very ominous looking dark cloud over the island, the anchorage was suddenly hit by storm force winds. There were two boats that had anchored very close to us and they began to drag, narrowly missing us. Boats were dragging all around us, people were running around on decks panicking and shouting, and the anchorage was chaos. Although we were only in 7 metres of water we had 50 metres of anchor chain out, which I increased to 60 metres, and thankfully we were one of the very few boats that held.

One of the boats just behind us began to drag, the crew didn't notice quickly enough, and within a minute or so it was on the rocks. The wind and waves were pushing it so hard that they just couldn't motor away, and gradually she was lifted higher and higher out of the water. They were only saved because it was a steel boat and that after 30 minutes or so, the wind began to drop. Eventually, the lifeboat came to their rescue (see picture), towed them off, and the boat, remarkably, seemed to have survived in pretty good shape.

September 10, 2003

Ibiza Anchorages

The port police have now started coming up to the boat in the morning and waking us up with a foghorn in their efforts to kick anchored boats out of Ibiza harbour. This would be fine if there were other places to anchor that were sheltered, but there aren't - it's unusual for anchoring to be prohibited in the outer part of Spanish harbours, and the area used to be an anchorage prior to the new outer harbour wall being built. It's understandable if part of the harbour needs to be kept clear as a turning area for shipping but the fact that the whole area is off-limits could make you wonder if it's to pressure people to use the 100 a night marinas in town. Tonight I watched a motorboat I knew, ironically called 'My Way', being towed into the harbour supported by flotation bags. It sank in Cala Talamanca, one of the anchorages we were told to move to, during a squall last week as the bay is totally open to southerly winds. In today's newspaper there was a photograph of two boats which had also dragged onto the rocks in San Antonio - it looks like Ibiza town's no-anchoring policy is putting vessels and human life at stake for no apparent reason and forcing people to use less well protected anchorages.

September 17, 2003

Anchored in Salinas

We sailed around the south coast and anchored off Salinas, one of Ibiza's trendiest beaches, this afternoon then Carita and I took the dinghy ashore to a beach bar for lunch and beers. By this evening the place had emptied, all the tourists had gone off, and we were left anchored here in solitude as the sun went down and the stars came out.

September 19, 2003

Ibiza Webcam

We just sailed back from Salinas to Ibiza town, however, the autopilot decided to act up for the first time in years, meaning that we had to steer! I just found this webcam of where were anchored, though were usually just out of shot to the left.

September 27, 2003

Winter Berth

Yesterday I sailed over to Espalmador, had a swim, and spent the evening listening to Cafe del Mar albums and drinking beer in the cockpit. I took the dinghy into Formentera this morning and managed to organise a berth for Zamindar in the marina there for the winter. It's always a bit of a relief to get a berth booked for the winter months as places rapidly fill up, but it's also a bit sad as it's the end of another sailing season and another trip.

October 7, 2003

Home in Formentera

On Sunday night Carita and I sailed over to Formentera, arriving here at 03:30, and berthed in the marina, our new home for the winter. Most of the tourists have left the island now so the place feels very, very chilled and we're planning to spend the next couple of weeks relaxing and doing some sailing around here.

April 24, 2004

Fuel Cells for Sailing

Just when I was considering buying a new diesel engine for Zamindar, Californian company Haveblue have come along with a prototype fuel cell propulsion system for yachts which they plan to put into production next year. The system extracts hydrogen from seawater and uses it to propel the boat and power it's electrical system through a 10Kw fuel cell. Apart from being potentially cheaper to run and more environmentally friendly, they should also be nearly silent in operation. At the moment, however, a boat with their technology is expected to cost $300,000 to $500,000 so maybe I'll stick with diesel for the moment.

May 26, 2004

Speeding


It was a lovely, calm evening so we took the dinghy for a ride down Playa Illetes, a long, thin strip of land with beaches on either side that stretches for miles northwards towards Ibiza. Formentera has suddenly come alive with tourists over the last week or so but most of them had by now, thankfully, left the beaches for the day so we dropped the dinghy anchor into the clear, blue water and sat chatting, enjoying a beer and the last light of dusk.

By the time we turned around and went back to the marina it was dark and we flew past all boats anchored outside the town and into the harbour with Carita driving at full speed. We'd only just tied up and were walking off the pontoon to take Ira for a walk when a Guardia Civil car pulled up and two officers rushed out past us, heading for Zamindar. Realising that we might have pissed someone off by coming into the harbour a bit too fast (3 knot speed limit) we decided not to hang around and took Ira off for a long walk while the police walked up and down the pontoon trying to find the offending dinghy.

May 31, 2004

Cala Porroig

After a busy day cleaning the boat up and taking advantage of the last time we'll have unlimited fresh water and power for a while, we slipped our lines and sailed over to Ibiza. Tonight we're anchored in a lovely, horseshoe shaped bay on the south coast called Cala Porroig and we plan to continue sailing tomorrow.

June 3, 2004

Es Vedra

From Cala Porroig we sailed around to Cala d'Hort, anchored, and took the dinghy out to Es Vedra, a stunning 382m high rock that sits off Ibiza's west coast. Many of the locals are superstitious about it and Carita is as well, which meant she was a bit jumpy the whole trip. In the book, 'Diccionario de los Secretos de Ibiza', Mariano Planell wrote, "The telluric strength of Ibiza and Es Vedra is confirmed by the ancient cults of the god Bes or the goddess Tanit, deity of love, fertility and death, to whom numerous sanctuaries were dedicated. During the last century, the memoirs of the barefoot Carmelite monk, Father Palou, (who lived alone on Es Vedra for years) describe his mystic experiences. Numerous UFO sightings have been recorded in this region".

June 7, 2004

San Antonio Uncovered

We sailed the rest of the way around to San Antonio bay as Carita started work last week. Marina prices are steadily climbing to their 100 euro plus levels a night as we approach high season so they're not an option for staying in. The port police moved us out of Ibiza Town harbour once too many times last year as they're trying to stop boats anchoring there, and so San Antonio bay is the next best choice for anchoring in shelter and getting bus connections across the island. When we first left Formentera Ira seemed a bit shocked about her home moving around and she wasn't quite sure what was happening, but by now she's very cool with the whole idea and just lies downstairs sleeping until we arrive when she comes out onto deck to see where we are. Carita sometimes does the same.

Although the best place for shelter is probably San Antonio itself, we didn't want to end up there just yet. For one thing it's full of lobster coloured Brits going around the streets without shirts / with football tops on and we just weren't ready for that shock after the serenity of Formentera. It's where the worst parts of Ibiza Uncovered were filmed, whereas the rest of the island is much more civilised. The other thing is that anchoring in a busy harbour is a bit like getting a good parking place - you don't want to give your space up as you won't get it back, and so you end up not going anywhere.

Instead we chose life. We chose to anchor around the various bays outside of San Antonio which are much more attractive than the town itself, and commute in by dinghy. Ibiza really does have some beautiful scenery. Still, it can sometimes be difficult to find tranquility in this part of the island. As the tourist season kicks into full force the bays around here are filling up with other yachts, rental jet skis, and glass bottom boats full of people whose idea of a good time is squeezing their flab into skin-tight leggings, having eight pints, a curry, and throwing up. I woke up yesterday, wandered onto deck half asleep, and looked up to find two hundred of them staring down at me from one of the boats. Rude awakening at the zoo. Thankfully, by early evening, most of them are heading off to the kebab shop and the beaches have returned to a state of peacefulness that suggests it was all a bad dream.

June 28, 2004

Mooring Moves

We were lucky enough to find an unused mooring a few weeks ago in the sheltered cala that Zamindar is in, so, as it's much more secure than being anchored, we dived down and shackled the boat onto it. The other day, however, we were told that the people who own the mooring are bringing their boat over and, naturally, wanted it back. We half expected this, but it's not too bad as there are quite a few other abandoned mooring blocks lying around the seabed there. So the following day was spent more underwater than out of it as we dived around the bay hunting around for a moorings. After a couple of hours we'd found a few smaller mooring blocks, moved the odd one into a better position, and re-attached Zami in her new position to several of them. By the time I got out of the water, however, I could hardly stand on land - too much breathing through a tube!

July 28, 2004

Dinghy Escapes

I went onto deck at 04:00 this morning to collect Carita from the beach after she'd finished work and found that the dinghy was gone. Somewhat shocked, I looked around the bay and then spotted something close to the entrance. I shone the searchlight there - and, thankfully, it was the dinghy, about to float out to sea! By this time Carita was on the beach so I phoned her, explained what had happened, and asked if she fancied a swim. It was closer to the shore than to Zamindar so she ran around to where it was, stripped off, dived into the dark water and brought it back.

The really strange thing was that my knot was still in the rope so we sat for ages trying to figure out how it could have unhooked itself from Zamindar and gone off on it's own. I guess we'll never know, but we were just so lucky that it didn't disappear into the open sea.

August 19, 2004

Outboard Problems

Last night the outboard didn't sound right so I took a look at it and discovered that the main swivel post that the steering connects to had broken. Bugger. With Colin coming down in a couple of days and us planning to go off sailing, I worked stripping it down until 01:00 then went off in search of a Mercury dealer first thing this morning.

Naturally, they don't have the part (which costs a ridiculous 400 euros) in stock. Unfortunately, neither does the Mercury importer in Madrid. How long might it take for them to get hold of it then? Maybe October. Maybe never. Most probably never. So I've spent a reasonably pissed off day trying to source one from other countries. Later I spoke to one of our friends who has a watersports business here and told him about it. "Of course", he replied. "That's normal, we always get our parts from Holland or Germany."

August 30, 2004

Mercury Corrosion

Unable to find the part I needed for the outboard engine in Spain, I called a Mercury dealer in Glasgow to find out if they could get it for me in time for Colin to bring down with him. In complete contrast to the experience I'd had with the Ibiza dealers, the guy there knew exactly what I was talking about and told me off the top of his head that he thought he had a used one lying around somewhere. He had a hunt around and when I called him back later that day he told me that he had it. Unbelievable. Colin then agreed to collect it, only to find out that their workshop, which had been very close to his flat was now far outside of the city. Still, he endured massive upheaval and personal risk to retrieve it, and brought it down to Ibiza with him.

After increasingly frustrated attempts over the following 5 days to remove the final two bolts from the broken part of the outboard, I finally gave up and handed it over to someone else. One of my friends here put me in touch with Frank, a mechanic who, remarkably for high season, collected it the following morning and called me in the afternoon to say he'd done it. Although Mercury make great outboards for fresh water, they don't survive so well when you add salt to the equation and are apparently plagued by corrosion problems. All the different metals soon corrode and the stainless bolts had fused with the alloy mount so that the entire engine had to be disassembled in order to drill through the bolts in two different places. Apparently, Yamaha outboards don't have these corrosion problems and are also easier to dismantle - something I'll bear in mind when I next go engine shopping.

I'd planned to put the engine back together myself, but seeing it in so many parts I decided just to leave it to him, and, a couple of hours later we had a fully working engine again, which we test ran to the bar.

August 31, 2004

Shitty Job

Just before Colin left, the toilet got blocked. And it was me who did it after a particularly virulent night of drinking. I was tempted to ignore it until my hangover went away but knew leaving it festering in the heat wouldn't make the job any easier so I stripped off and started taking it apart to find the blockage. Even with my past experience of toilet maintenance this was a classic, the smell almost making Colin, myself and the dog throw up, but once the initial shock of being covered in shit wears off it can actually become quite interesting.

So in case you too find it interesting, here's a picture of Lavac toilet maintenance in mid-flow, so to speak. Go on, you know you want to...

September 18, 2004

White Squall

Although it hardly ever rains in Ibiza in the summer, Wednesday made up for it. Some parts of the island had 80 litres/sq m of rainfall and the meteorological office recorded 343 ground strikes of lightning. We were in Ibiza Town in the morning when the first squall hit. The streets flooded and Carita's building was hit by lightning, bringing concrete and plaster falling down into the street. Needless to say, she closed up and got out of there. I was checking the boat cam all the time on my phone and was amazed to see that things were dry and calm in the north of the island. We drove back and as we crossed the hills the rain stopped and everything was bone dry.

The weather had been very unsettled for days and there was a lot of swell coming into the anchorage, so that evening I tied a extra line over to another mooring... just in case. Carita and I were sitting in the cockpit having a drink at about 03:00 in the morning, watching a massive lightning storm that was taking place over the sea. We were just about to go to bed when a chill wind began to pick up. Realising the squall and the lightning was heading our way we cleared the cockpit and put things inside. Due to the boat turning in the wind during the evening, the line I'd put across to the other mooring was now twisted around our chain so I needed to sort it out. The rain began pouring down as I took the dinghy across to untie it and untangle things but the wind was increasing all the time so manoeuvring the dinghy was not easy. I managed to get back over to the buoy and concentrated as I tied the rope back onto it, then, as the wind was too strong to steer through, I pulled myself and the dinghy back to the boat along the line and Simon tied it up. Lightning was now striking all around us and the wind kept increasing with seemingly unlimited power. I heaved the rope tight so that we were now being held on the other mooring as well as our own and hoped things would hold. The smaller dinghy was lifted out of the water and flying in the air as Carita tried to secure it, then it was suddenly blown onto the deck. The wind was screaming by now, around Force 11 or 12, hurricane strength. The hotel next to us, which was slightly higher than our mast, was hit directly by lightning. Carita was almost blown off the foredeck into the sea. She seemed to be screaming something to me about ice falling but I couldn't understand what she was saying until an egg-sized lump of ice hit me on the head! The wind was blowing so hard by this time that the air was full of seawater and visibility was very poor. A small sailing boat moored nearby was being lifted so far out of the water that you could see it's keel. We took shelter from the ice storm under the sprayhood while Simon comforted the dog downstairs and took care of the water that was getting in. The solar panels sounded as if they were being smashed by the impact of the falling ice and the wind continued with a deafening roar. I began to wonder what else I could do if the moorings started to drag. The wind was far too strong to attempt to tie off to anything else or take an anchor out in the dinghy so I started the engine & motored forwards to take some force off the moorings, praying for the wind to drop. Looking behind the boat I saw huge waves crashing over the rocks barely 30 metres away. Lumps of ice continued to fall from the sky amongst the torrential rain and it felt like hell. It was one of the most frightening times I'd ever had at anchor.

We managed to sit it out though. Eventually the wind backed to the south as the eye of the squall moved past, then finally to the east and we felt the wind begin to drop and the rain ease off. Shaken and shocked but glad to be alive we looked around. Part of the beach had been washed away and some of the smaller boats in the anchorage had taken a bit of a battering but they were all still intact. The adrenaline was still running through us and we were wide awake. I turned the engine off and we sat hoping that there wasn't another squall on it's way.

Apprehensive when we finally crashed out, we didn't have a very restful night, but all that followed was some rain and the next day the weather, thankfully, began to improve.

September 19, 2004

Dinghy Stolen in San Antonio

Simon got on the airport bus in Ibiza Town and I caught the bus back to San Antonio and was happily walking along the quay listening to my iPod when I found that the dinghy wasn't where we'd left it. The end of season is often when things get stolen here and it's a favourite trick for some people to steal a dinghy or outboard and sail back home with it. I spoke to the marina security guards but they'd just started their shift and hadn't seen anything. They were helpful though and began looking around the marina in case someone had hidden it amongst the boats or was busy trying to stow it. I walked to the end of the breakwater, asked some fishermen if they'd seen anything and looked out to sea in case it had been set adrift. At this point I saw the the security guards shouting and flashing their torches to me; they'd found a boat with two dinghies next to it. I followed them through the marina, really hoping it was mine, but sadly it wasn't.

We walked over to check out the pontoons close to where we'd tied it and whilst we were doing that a car pulled up and a couple of guys from one of the boats got out. They'd seen two guys start my outboard engine, rev it up, and leave. They hadn't seen where they'd gone with it, however, but they gave me a description of what they looked like. One had shoulder length hair, the other had a mohican, and they guessed that they looked Spanish. They'd taken it at about midnight so I must have just missed it getting stolen. I thanked them and, feeling very pissed off, went off to search some of the corners of San Antonio Bay.

It was Friday night and the promenade around the town was full of drunk, offensive Brits, shouting and swearing, and threatening their girlfriends. I looked around the commercial dock in case it had been hidden there and walked as close as I could get to the boats anchored in the bay, but couldn't see anything. Just then a very small, white speedboat took off from the beach area past the bars, which seemed a strange place for a boat to come from, and disappeared into the crowd of anchored yachts. I walked along the beach, passed the bars with their touts desperately trying to get me in for a drink, and went to check out the beachfront where the speedboat had come from. There, run into the sand and sitting behind a dock was the dinghy!

As you can imagine I was delighted to see it. They'd ran the engine hard into the sand and it took a bit of work to get it afloat but nothing had been stolen from it. It was well tied up in the way that someone from a boat would tie a boat up and it looked like they were definitely planning to come back for it. I managed to get the engine started but it sounded awful. They'd run over a steel cable and the propeller was damaged but worse than that the engine sounded like a bag of bolts. I managed to nurse it back across the bay to Zamindar but it sounded as if it would give up at any moment.

It's been quite a week.

September 20, 2004

Yacht SYL

Ok, as Simon and a lot of other people have asked about it, here's some info on SYL, one of the most impressive yachts moored in Ibiza Town this season.

Data sheet (pdf)
Info from Ocean Yacht Systems
MegaYacht.com report on SYL (free registration required)

September 22, 2004

Mercury 25 RIP

Yesterday we went to report the dinghy getting stolen which meant hanging around in the depressing, dilapidated surroundings of the Guardia Civil station outside San Antonio. Their photocopier was broken so we had to fill out four copies of the necessary forms and hang around while prisoners were brought in and out. The main office of the building oddly seems to be the main entrance to a courtyard of flats behind the police station so as well as the coming and goings of police and prisoners, children were cycling in and out through the office and old women were wandering through.

It all took so long that Carita had to go to work in the end and I was told to wait for the local police who wanted to look at the dinghy and the broken engine. Thinking that maybe they were going to be particularly helpful and try to fix it for me I was cheered up no end. In time they appeared, asked me if I had a car, and finding that I'd come by taxi, put me in the back of the police car and drove through San Antonio past tourists looking at me like I was a convict. Unfortunately, their English was about as good as my Spanish which meant that we had a few communication breakdowns during our journey to where the dinghy was and my stock of phrases such as, "Can I get you a drink?" weren't proving too useful.

Once they'd looked at the dinghy, they wanted to see the outboard, which was onboard Zami' in pieces and meant rowing them over. The younger of the two policemen kindly helped out with a paddle but insisted on rowing backwards, causing us to do a few circles before finally going in the right direction. They were both quite friendly and helpful but I was beginning to wonder if the main purpose of all of this was to try to find who'd stolen it or to see if I was trying to rip off an insurance company. They seemed content once they'd seen it but sadly made no effort at all to repair it and went on their way.

I'd called Frank, who'd fixed the outboard a couple of weeks ago, and he'd come out in the morning and gone off with the powerhead to strip it down and see how bad the news was. I called him and it was pretty bad. As well as ruining the gearbox when they'd stolen it, the crankshaft, 2 bearings, a piston, and the cylinder block were wrecked. Repairing it would cost more than a new engine.

How they managed to do this in 2 hours I can't imagine - we'd put the engine through some extreme conditions in awful seas with waves breaking over us through the years, done beach landings at high speed that made sunbathers run in all directions, and towed Zamindar safely through one of the worst reefs in the Bahamas in a storm with it. It never let us down by breaking when we were miles out at sea or otherwise putting our lives at risk. It was a good engine.

Mercury 25 Rest In Peace.

October 3, 2004

Leaving Port Es Torrent

Carita's mum and sister flew in on Thursday morning, which was also Carita's last day at work. I was still feeling pretty bad from the flu but, nonetheless, Carita and I dived down and unshackled Zami' from her summer moorings in Port Es Torrent and spent Thursday afternoon getting things ready onboard for leaving. Thursday evening was spent collecting laundry, returning dvd's and all the other list of things to remember to do before sailing away.

As usual, Carita called me from the beach at night when she got back from work and I picked her up with the dinghy for the last time. We had our now customary middle-of-the-night drink then grabbed some sleep. The following morning we stumbled out of bed and sailed from Port Es Torrent, bound for Formentera. Although neither of us had been crazy about the place when we arrived at the beginning of the summer, it had turned out to be sheltered, peaceful (apart from the appalling evening entertainment from the Seaview Country Club, a nearby hotel) and much better than spending the summer anchored in San Antonio, one of the few other options. Now, of course after four months, it felt a bit sad to be leaving.

It was a lovely, sunny morning with a light wind from the east, and the trip around Ibiza's west coast went quickly. The waters have been full of large, cauliflower-like, non-stinging jellyfish recently, and we passed dozens of them, floating on the currents as we made our way towards our winter berth in Formentera. Although, as usual, the wind was on the nose, Carita insisted that we cut the engine and do the last leg under sail, so we tacked our way past Espalmador and Playa Es Illettes to the port of Sabina in Formentera.

October 6, 2004

Marina Life

After being fairly self-sufficient for the summer it's a bit strange to be in a marina now. On average we used 50 litres of fresh water a week, now it's unlimited. We can even shower if we choose to. Electricity now comes out of a cable, leaving our solar bank feeling less than fully appreciated. It's all a bit of a culture shock really, leaving us wondering how people with normal lives manage to cope with the oversupply of resources piped to them. On the downside we've lost a lot of the privacy and solitude that being anchored/ moored gave us as we're now tied to a pontoon next to lots of other boats, forcing us to listen in to the bizarre sexual habits of our neighbours.

February 2, 2005

Haul Out

Monday morning was sunny and calm, so we got up early, motored across the marina, and they lifted Zamindar out of the water with the Travelift. It's always a bit stressful watching your boat being hoisted out of the water in slings, driven across the street, and propped up, and though I'm a bit more used to it now, Carita seemed a little concerned.

We then spent a couple of hours pressure-washing the hull clean, and we've been busy for the last days scraping the loose anti-fouling off.

We have to get an insurance survey done while the boat is out of the water, and as there aren't any properly qualified marine surveyors in Ibiza or Formentera, we have one flying over from Mallorca on Friday. Though with the anti-fouling still to do, and good weather needed for re-launching, it's really going to be touch and go if I'll be able to catch my flight out on Tuesday.

February 5, 2005

Relaunched!

The weather remained good all of this week, and apart from a trip across to the mainland of Ibiza on Wednesday, to travel all over the island and hunt out some anti-fouling, we've been working hard on the boat all the time. Most of the week I've been getting strange looks, wandering around with red hair and with dust in my eyes, mouth, and everywhere from all the old anti-fouling we've been scraping off the hull. The surveyor arrived yesterday, seemed very Dutch and professional, and did the inspection before having to rush off again on the ferry. In the afternoon, with all the scraping and preparation finally done, Carita and I began painting the hull, and continued until sunset when we were forced to open a five litre keg of my favourite German beer, Warsteiner, to quench our thirst.

This morning we managed to finish off the anti-fouling just before the Travelift arrived to take us out of the yard, and after another tense trip across the road, we were re-launched this afternoon. It was a lovely day, so instead of just taking Zamindar back to her berth in the marina, we motored down to the idyllic, white, sandy beaches of Illetes and anchored for a few hours. In the summer that whole coast of Formentera is packed with boats, but today it was just us and a big Italian motorboat sitting in the incredibly clear water. It felt good to be anchored again, and really seemed to make the last week's hard work worthwhile.

June 2, 2005

Deutsche Direkt

I was reversing out of the berth yesterday, leaving the marina at the end of the winter stay, and it was all going smoothly until suddenly the engine stalled and the boat started drifting towards the yacht next to me. I restarted the engine, put it into gear, but once again it stalled and wouldn't restart. With the help of a German guy who was crewing on a small boat nearby and took my lines, I managed to get back into the berth, and looked around in the water to see lots of small bits of rope floating around - one of the berthing lines had got caught in the propeller. Fantastic. This meant I had to dive on the prop to untangle it in lovely, shit-laden, harbour water! The sea's still a bit chilly here, and before long I was beginning to shiver as I made several dives down to untangle the rope from the propeller. The rope cutter had done it's job and sliced a five metre length from the marina's mooring lines, but the force had caused part of the cutter itself to break off, which would probably turn out to be an expensive repair. There didn't appear to be any other damage down there, however, so once I removed the last of the rope, I restarted the engine, and, made another attempt to leave.

As I'd fucked up already, the German guy now saw this as the perfect opportunity to shout detailed instructions to me of exactly how I should be manoeuvring - as Germans sometimes like to do. I've met lots of friendly Germans, and used to see this as a desire in them just to be helpful - as they would take the map from my hands and send me off cycling in the wrong direction - but have now come to realise that they view non-Deutsche methods as inferior, and feel the need to show us the light. He was most upset when I refused to take his advice so he walked off to leave me to it. This time went without any hitches though; having by now cut any ropes that could possibly impede my exit, and I motored out to a lovely, peaceful anchorage.

July 6, 2005

Leaving Formentera

After putting it off a couple of times, convinced either by other people to stay a bit longer, or that the weather forecast would be better in another day or two, the time finally came to leave Formentera. Carita had less than a week left before her flight back to Finland from Andalucia, so we couldn't leave it much longer.

The boat had been in Ibiza and Formentera for two years, Carita & I had met there, and we both knew how magical and special a place it is. As often happens, the last weeks you spend in a place you have to leave are often the best. In Sabina, getting refused fresh bread for one last time, we bumped into Jean-Pierre and Claire, sat down and had a coffee with them, and they chatted about their time sailing in West Africa, giving lifts to locals with pigs on their boat.

Carita and I headed back to Espalmador and lifted and stowed the dinghy and outboard on deck - a mammoth task which took hours. Jorge and Elizabeth came over and we all said our farewells - Jorge joking that my anchor may not come out as it had been buried there so long. It was evening as we left, and it felt sad as Espalmador began to fade into the mist. Soon, however, the sadness was replaced with a slight feeling of excitement as we busied ourselves getting everything ready for our first night at sea.

July 8, 2005

Night Watch

On longer sails we normally do three hour watches onboard. This was Carita's first proper passage and she was quite excited about it. I did the first watch as Formentera disappeared, then woke Carita at 01:30 to take over, with instructions to get me up if anything happens that she's not sure about, then I went to bed. It always takes a bit of time to adapt to the watch system and as you know that you have to get up in three short hours, the pressure's on to get to sleep as soon as you get into bed.

It was a fairly peaceful night, however, without any big ship action, the wind had dropped, and we were having to motor. Shortly after I took over the watch again a pod of dolphins appeared, porpoising out of the water in the near darkness. I quickly woke Carita but by the time she got onto deck they'd gone, and I'm sure she assumed it was some sort of cruel joke I was playing to spice my night up.

After dawn the wind picked up from behind, as did the waves, giving the boat an uncomfortable corkscrewing motion as we surfed down the waves, and trying to sleep meant clinging onto the bed to avoid being thrown around it. This continued for the whole day, but at least we could sail, and just before sunset we caught sight of land; the lighthouse at Cabo de Palos. We weren't stopping, however, but at least it meant we could get an internet connection over the phone to download the next day's weather forecasts and synoptic charts.

Another night of watches, but at least by now we were beginning to settle into it. At one point I'd only been asleep for an hour when Carita woke me up saying that the wind was picking up like a squall was coming. It's strange to be in the middle of a happy dream one moment, and the next you're on deck on a black, windy night at sea, trying desperately to waken up enough to decide what the weather is doing and make the right decision for the sails. Then I was back asleep again. Thirty minutes later Carita came to tell me that the boat was surrounded by dolphins! I got up, but unfortunately I just didn't have the energy to stay and watch them, and decided to go back to bed. Apparently, I missed a fantastic display though as they swam through wheels of bioluminescence and jumped out of the water. Maybe Carita had taken too many seasickness tablets by this time though...

July 10, 2005

Becalmed Without an Engine

I sat in the cockpit watching dawn break and the sun gradually rising as the heat increased. Staying awake was becoming very difficult as my head continually nodded down, wakening myself up every time. Just before I woke Carita and went to bed, I had to stop the engine, and top up the oil. The boat was rolling heavily from side to side as I opened the engine compartment and leaned into it's fierce heat, trying to catch the boat when it was upright to do a proper check of the oil level. After what seemed like forever, I'd checked it, topped it up, and was back in the cockpit. I could hear my bed calling.

I turned the ignition key. Rather than being met with the sound of the engine starting, however, the only sound was a loud click. I tried again. Clack. Fuck. The starter motor seemed to have jammed. I turned all our battery power on, hit it with a hammer in the hope of unsticking it - but nothing worked. Clack. Clack. Clack.

We were out of sight of land and there was virtually no wind, but our only hope was to sail into a harbour. I pulled out the pilot book and all the information I had about the coastline and began looking for a safe harbour to head for. We needed somewhere that was reasonably close, but more importantly was large enough to sail into, anchor nearby, and big enough to have a marine mechanic. Garrucha appeared to be our best bet. We put up all the sail, the wind began to pick up, our speed increased, and we headed for the coast.

The entire east coast of Almeria is high and mountainous, and about five miles offshore we sailed into the wind shadow of the mountains and the breeze dropped off. Some large fishing boats were trawling nearby and one of them was heading our way. I held the genoa out by hand, trying to get the sail to fill with wind, but there was no hope as it flapped endlessly. The fishing boat was still heading for us, and, totally becalmed and unable to move, I began to worry. Normally, if a fishing boat is on a collision course with you, you get out of it's way fast. They're working hard and many of them don't see why they should detour around some arsehole in their way on a sailing boat, playing with his flapping sails. It's bows were cutting through the water, pointing straight at us as I grabbed the radio, about to call him on the vhf. By now they were so close I could clearly see the guy steering so I waved to him to get his attention. He returned the wave, and, twenty metres away from impact, thankfully changed his course to avoid us.

We were still alive but still becalmed as the boat rolled in the short Mediterranean swell. Every so often we would see a small gust of wind move across the water towards us and we'd try to catch it to move a little closer to the harbour. Getting close to the shore in conditions like these without an engine could well be dangerous, however. As long as we were in deep waters we were safe, but if the wind went calm when we were close to land, the swell and current could easily take us onto the rocks. By now we had a phone signal again and Carita called Garrucha marina to explain our situation and ask them for assistance when we were close. All we needed was for someone from the marina to be ready in a small boat to tow us into a berth. It wasn't yet an emergency, and there was no need to call the coastguard. They answered the phone and told her that they couldn't help, didn't have any space, and that we should try another marina about twenty miles up the coast.

There was no way that I was going to spend the rest of the day trying to coax the boat further up the coast and maybe be met with the same kind of reply. The swell was still too big to attempt to launch our own dinghy which would have been able to tow us, but if we couldn't get assistance from the marina then we could still attempt to sail close to Garrucha and anchor. First, though, I called Jorge in Ibiza. After a bit of chatting about how the sailing had been going, I mentioned that we had a small problem. Jorge is probably one of the most persuasive people I know, and, being Spanish as well, he told me he'd call Garrucha marina and talk to them. Five minutes later he called me back - they weren't answering the phone, but they'd probably just gone out for a coffee so he'd keep trying.

Time dragged on. The sun was hot, the boat was rolling and there was virtually no wind. We were now only two miles offshore and had begun heading back out to deeper water to avoid getting too close to the shore. Every so often a slight breeze would appear then it would be calm again. Then another one would appear from a totally different direction, meaning that we had to change the sail angles every time to take advantage of them. Carita had remained very calm, perhaps too calm, during all of this, but now I sensed that she realised just how risky things could become.

Finally, Jorge called. He'd been phoning the marina every five minutes for two hours until finally they'd answered the phone. After some persuasion they'd agreed to send someone out in a small boat to meet us when we got to the harbour entrance, and if anything went wrong we had permission to drop anchor there in an emergency. We turned around and headed for harbour, trying to catch every breeze we could.

After an hour or so we were closing in at a crawling 1.5 knots. After putting lots of fenders out around the boat we called the marina on the radio, as arranged, to tell them that we were close. Then we realised that it was now siesta time. Remarkably, however, we got an answer and the marina replied that they would be there to meet us at the entrance. Hoping there wouldn't be a strong current running past the harbour, we rounded the breakwater and, thankfully, were met by the harbourmaster in a dory, or small boat. He took our towline, asked what the problem was with the engine, and called a mechanic there and then to come down to look at it. Then he towed us onto the fuel pontoon and we tied up safely.

Three hours later the mechanic turned up. With quite a bit of trouble, he removed the started motor and took it away to work on it. A couple of hours after that, Carita and I were walking through the town when he called to say that he was inside the boat refitting the starter motor after getting it working again. Delighted, but also slightly worried that a stranger was wandering around inside the boat on his own, we hurried back just in time to start the engine and hear it running.

We spent a very appreciative night tied up to the fuel pontoon, had a good bottle of wine to celebrate being alive, and had a full night's sleep without getting up every three hours to go on watch.

July 13, 2005

Into the Wind

We set off the next day, heading south, with the wind on our nose. This time there was lots of it as well and it gradually picked up until we were crashing headfirst into the waves. It was following the coast as well, which meant that even when we rounded a headland and changed direction, it was still in front of us. The whole coastline seemed to be a wind acceleration zone, which I hadn't come across since sailing in the Canaries; wind from certain directions gets funnelled around and over the mountains and can easily double in force as it comes down to sea.

The wind picked up further until it was about force 6, and rounding headlands was becoming very difficult as the bigger waves would slam into our bows and bring our speed down to almost zero. We sat there, staring at the rocks and cliffs about half a mile off our starboard side as if we weren't moving, wondering if we were ever going to get past them and trying to keep track of any cross-current that might be pulling us onshore.

We were motoring hard, trying to punch through four metre waves and every so often we'd get hit by a bigger one which would break over the deck and soak us in the cockpit. It was turning into another tough day, and, as the wind and waves were slowing us so much, what should have been a six hour trip was now dragging on. I took a look at the charts and decided to make for Ensenada de Rodalquilar, a closer anchorage than the one we'd been heading towards. The pilot book didn't make it sound very attractive and warned there was poor holding; our anchor might drag, which didn't sound too promising in this wind, but we decided to take a look anyway.

As we approached the bay the wind picked up to about force 7, howling around us. We had everything ready for a prompt anchoring operation in case we were quickly blown back out of the bay, but as we got close we suddenly motored through the wind line and, unbelievably, it dropped off completely. It didn't seem real - we looked behind us at a line of waves where it was about 35 knots, and here the wind was calm. It felt like coming out of hell. The bottom of the bay was all soft, white sand. As the anchor hit, it dug in instantly - so much for the pilot book.

Carita and I swam ashore and walked along the beach. The rock was almost white, carved into amazing patterns and curves by the waves, and full of fossils. We sat and looked down into the clear water and out at Zamindar, anchored in the bay; it was really a lovely place.

July 14, 2005

Arrival in Almerimar

We'd noticed that some of the local boats stayed very close to the cliffs as they were following the coast, tucked in just out of the strong winds that were coming off the mountains, so we thought we'd give it a try. In the Mediterranean the wind often tends to pick up as the heat of the day builds and drop off again in the evening, so we left at 06:00 and were out of the bay before the sun rose.

We managed to stay just out of the strong winds, watching the white breakers just off to our port side until we were close to Cabo de Gato. We'd reckoned this part might be tough and the wind was forecast to be in front of us again all day. Soon, we were once more crashing through big waves, working hard to make headway. To make matters more complicated the pilot book warned of a rock "about one mile off the cape which rough seas break over", rather than give it's exact location - and there were breaking waves everywhere. We continued to hammer into the wind, and just to be sure, made a long detour out into deep waters to avoid the mysteriously located rock.

As we began to pass Cabo de Gato, slipping out of the acceleration zone, the wind eased. It was still in front of us but it wasn't so strong. To starboard we could see the city of Almeria in the distant mist, and we knew that Almerimar, our destination for this trip, was now, not so far away.

Carita was getting some rest and I sat in the cockpit looking at the flat, featureless coastline. The strong feeling of sadness I often get at the end of a trip began to take over. When I'm heading to a destination and I know I'll be leaving the boat there, not sailing any further, and then when it turns out to be a place that I'd rather go past, part of me just wants to keep on going. Not finish the trip. Keep sailing, keep travelling. Sail on past Almerimar, past Gibraltar, out into the Atlantic, then head south. But I knew Carita had to be back at work in a few days and I wanted to be with her, not sailing back to South America on my own. So I punched the autopilot onto the heading for Almerimar.

We motored in and berthed. It was an ageing tourist resort with a big marina and fat British people without shirts on. It was disappointing and we wanted to be back on the beach in Formentera. Then I remembered an old, favourite poem I had onboard called Ithaka and handed it to Carita. It tells of how your destination isn't what travelling is about. Travelling is about the journey.

June 12, 2009

Back to Zamindar

After being extorted by Easyjet for my vaguely overweight luggage at 5am & sent to the back of a long queue to pay the excess, I was dangerously close to missing my flight - which the staff seemed to be quite happy with. I skipped to the front of the security queue, sprinted across the airport, as my gate was the furthest away, and got there just in time to board.

Arriving in Almeria, tired and weary, I stepped out into the sunlight and heat and felt alive again - the last week in dreary Britain had been tough. I caught a taxi to Almerimar and was felt even better to see that Zamindar was fine.

I started off on the long list of jobs that would put her back into sailing condition. Just putting one bolt into the sprayhood, however, ended up taking over 2 hours, and afterwards, weary and disgusted, I headed off to a cafe seeking solace.

June 20, 2009

Splash

Yesterday, Zamindar finally splashed back into the water. The previous day had been full of Spanish frustrations... trying to get the anti-fouling done, it turned out to be full of lumps... trying to service the seacocks, 3 of them turned out to be seized and one of the handles broke off... and of course no-one was able to work on them until the following week. In the end I sorted them out myself and rushed over to the marina office at 19:00 to pay my bill and book Zamindar to be launched the next morning.

I worked late into the night, finishing off the seacocks, checking the engine, and cleaning fenders, then crashed out in bed and woke up at 08:00 to the sound of the Travelift.

The launch went pretty smoothly. The seacocks held. The engine started. And I managed to drive her around to the berth and moor her without screwing it up.

It's really good to be back in the water, I've missed it. So peaceful and relaxed, feeling the gentle movement of the boat and lying in bed hearing fish occasionally nibbling at the hull. I still have a huge list of things to take care of onboard, but somehow it feels like the most important part is done.