Category Archives: Departure preparation

First week in Portugal

We arrived in Faro ridiculously early on Sunday 6th March and drove straight to Vila Real de Santo Antonio, which is a small town on the Portugese Spanish border, right on the river Guadiana.  Top job today was to complete the handover of Linea.

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We went straight to our lovely Air BnB apartment in town and got settled in there briefly. Then, we walked round the corner to the marina where we met up with Pim Blokland, from whom we had bought the boat.

After a quick coffee, we set off to the boat and soon Ian and Pim were talking boat technical details.  Having had such an early morning, I am not so sure how much of the important information that Pim had to relate actually went in but Ian was taking copious notes and hopefully that, together with a memory surge, will prove useful in time.

Helpfully, Pim met us the following day for our trip down to the boat yard.  The tide and currents here in the river are quite ferocious and so his help was very much appreciated.  The survey had thrown up an issue with the sail drive, which is the gear changer for the engine.  It was faulty, which meant that it wouldn’t change from forward to reverse without switching the engine off first!  Now,
normally that wouldn’t be too difficult to cope with, but, for an added challenge, the ignition switch had decided to work to rule and would only switch on, not off!  So, I was in charge of delving into the Volvo Penta engine housing to manually switch off, if need be.  My RYA diesel engine course was already proving to have been money well worth spending!

The marina staff assisted in our manoeuvres out of the tight space on the visitor’s pontoon.  We were spun around so that the bow was pointing in the right direction and off we went down the pontoon and sharp left out into the bumpy waters of the river.  I was suddenly and inexplicably at the helm.  Before long we arrived at the jetty of the boat yard some 500m down stream.

We were all in position.  Ian on the mooring lines fore and aft.
Me down by the engine, ready to switch off manually in case we needed to change gear.

Suddenly, I heard a shout and saw that Ian was dangling from the pulpit, clinging on with hands and feet, at the front of the boat having made an unsuccessful leap to the jetty.  I rushed forward as best I could; leaping over fenders, sheets and deck paraphernalia on my way to reach him.  He calmly asked me to take the mooring line from him so he could pull himself up.  He tried to swing up and out, over the pulpit but the overhang (or his strength to weigh ratio) was too great.  Conscious that he couldn’t hold on for much longer, I suggested that he simply slid in under the pulpit on to the deck to safety. I pulled his jeans legs, practically disrobing him in the process, but at least he was safe!  The lads from the yard raised an eyebrow but there was barely a flicker of concern or amusement or shock at his predicament.

Soon we were tied up, despite the currents and choppy waters conspiring to prevent us.

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Then a huge machine progressed towards the yacht.  An enormous sling machine that rolled into the water and scooped us up, raising us up so that we were swinging free and dangling, suspended metres from the ground.FWIP 1

 

 

 

 

 

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Dangling suspended above the water.

The whole contraption took us out of the water on to the hard and we were thoughtfully provided with a ladder to climb down.  It seemed precariously high without water around.

Although the boat was only moored for eight weeks or so, and was not  sailed or moved at all, it was astonishing how many barnacles had grown on the hull. The yard was to spray clean the underside of the hull and scrape all the barnacles off.

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A (slightly blurred) collection of barnacle animals.
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Barnacled bottom!
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Ian enjoying polishing his hull but not enjoying the price of the UV polish. It would have been cheaper to coat it all in Ambre Solaire!

We were to polish the top sides of the hull with special UV resistant polish

and clean and sort out below decks so that when our boxes (15 boxes) arrived, we would have actually found spaces for our stuff to go!

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The Forepeak Cabin – masses of storage under the double bunk.
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The starboard bunk cabin. Lots of stuff in here already.

 

After a very busy day, we headed back to the apartment and grabbed a bite to eat.  Both of us were nodding off by 8pm so gave up the battle and went straight to Bedlington!

Up and at ’em in the morning and back to the yard.  I continued my mission below decks and Ian headed off to the Volvo garage in Spain to be briefed about what the engine needs. Time flies.  The day is done.  We repeat the process the following day.

All day Thursday Ian carefully began the delicate process of refitting the propeller blades and shaft to the sail drive that had now been repaired and replaced.

Now, I have no clue about propellers, but I can safely say that whoever invented this piece of technology, was a serious genius.  The precision engineering is amazing.  Each individual propeller has an optimal angle at which to be fitted so that when it rotates it provides maximum propulsion.  Ian and I spent a couple of hours sitting under the hull trying to make sure that the props went back on the shaft at precisely the right angle.    Never having done this before it was a steep learning curve and there was always the faint shred of doubt that the prop would stay in situ once the engine was put on.  A significant conundrum is that, of course, we could not test either the sail drive or our careful replacement of the props until we were back in the water and needed both to be in full working order!

On Thursday evening we received a call from the delivery company who were about to deliver  our boxes of stuff to our rented apartment.  After a brief negotiation they agreed to drop off the consignment at the boat yard.  They drove the van straight to the boat and off-loaded the pallet.  All beautifully tessellated, stacked and cling-filmed by Mr Paul Brennen – Many thanks.

FWIP 13We had all of them up on deck and lowered into the forward hatch in ten minutes flat!  Fantastic!  This saved us so much work, walking up and down the lengthy pontoon in the marina from the apartment.   We were made up!

During the course of our five days in the boat yard we began to pay attention to the surroundings whilst having our morning coffee.  Over the road opposite was a lovely evergreen wooded area stretching down to the beach front and back towards town.  All along the street into town there is a mixture of buildings, some businesses in full swing, others derelict.

We noticed whole families of people living in semi-repaired lean-tos against the tall walls of the building next to us.  There were probably three or four families, with grandparents, children and babies all living in a small community.  They had a water supply from the fire hydrant.  Plastic sheeting flapped and flew  from their roof tops.  A Shetland pony tried to snuffle around in the scrub for some grass. They had a horse and cart, bicycle, three cars and a shopping trolley for a full range of transport options.FWIP 10

There was also a pack of dogs, I counted twelve, roamed around the encampment.  One dog was tied up to a post.  Whenever its owner went off out of sight it barked incessantly and loudly and rapidly for HOURS.  I couldn’t believe its stamina.  The poor dog must have been exhausted and stressed thinking that it had to bark until it’s master returned.

Nobody remaining in the encampment batted a eyelid, despite the shrill edge to the dog’s bark.  Our raised position on the tarmac in the yard amplified the sound and soon it was slicing through our heads and becoming unbearable.

We checked the times for the next high water and as soon as our propeller was fitted back on we were ready to make an exit.

Although our fire extinguishers had returned from being tested and serviced, our life raft , VHF radio and EPIRB were still to be returned.  Nervous times lay ahead since we had to test our new sail drive and propellor without any of the normal safety precautions being in place.  We both put on life jackets and luckily, had a hand held VHF radio from home.  With some trepidation we were lowered back into the water and from the jetty were able to briefly check that the engine was performing, the propeller blades remained in place and the sail drive, changed gear and didn’t leak.

I was dispatched below to check whether any water had entered the hull.

‘YES! I can see water!’ I yelled with a panicked shout up to Ian,over the noise of the engine.  The lowering was stopped and the engineer from the yard came aboard.  He concluded that there had already been water in the bilges that was disturbed by being at funny angles in the sling.  Nothing to be worried about!

So we continued to be lowered completely into the water, revving the engine forwards and back.

The lads released the lines and we were  on our own.  We were both anxious.  However, gradually calming down as we motored steadily up river towards the marina.  Ian asked if I’d like to take a turn up stream to the suspension bridge.  All I want is to get back to dry land!  We turned into the marina and the dock master was there to help us tie up.  I have all the mooring lines prepared for a nifty leap onto the pontoon from amid ships, but there is no need for those heroics on this occasion.

On Saturday we feel we deserve a day off so we head off to Seville.  There is an IKEA there and also a fair chance that we can find a bar to watch the England game in the Six Nations Rugby.  IKEA was incredibly busy.  We spent far more than we intended, on not very much and subsequently have found a fantastic shop in Vila Real selling all that we bought and more!

But Seville more than made up for the trauna of shopping.  It  is beautiful.  The weather was a glorious twenty nine degrees.  We came up out of our underground car park and there in front of us was an Irish pub showing the rugby.   We had loads of time for a proper stroll round the centre of the city before heading off to watch the match.FWIP 14

A great result and the perfect end to our first week.

Visiting Portugal

Dsc00747madWhat lucky peeps we are!

We have just returned from a weekend in Portugal where we went in search of a sailing boat that may be suitable to become our home for the foreseeable.

We were very excited to arrive in Faro and spent a lovely evening sampling tapas in a small bar near the sea front and then wandered back through the old quarter to our Air BnB accommodation.

Next day, we set off in a hire car to Vila Real de Santo Antonio which is an impressive sea front resort with beautiful, tall villas overlooking the sea, although they are less smart and polished than perhaps they once were.

We parked easily on the wide boulevard and continued on foot to our assignation with Pim, the owner of the boat, whom we were meeting in the Cacarole Restaurant near the Marina.

After introductions and a quick coffee (Euros 0.60) we were off down to the pontoon where Linea was parked.  A Dutch registered Bavaria Lagoon 430, built in 1992, at a time when Bavaria built enviably solid and hefty boats.  As we approached, we could see that she was incredibly well equipped, with all manner of items to make the cruising life more comfortable and safe.  A wind turbine, solar panels, full sun screens, tender with large outboard engine were immediately visible.

We had a careful look at everything on deck, from the lockers to the port lights, the winches to the windlass, the cleats to the rigging and everything in between, at last it was time to go below.  Over the raised access to the companionway, negotiating the bimini cover and crouching down to swivel was easier than we expected.  We were deposited directly into the saloon which comprised of a curved settee, and bench seat and a linear galley sitting along the port side of the boat.  Despite being full of the present owners belongs we were struck by a sense of space, in that there was plenty of head room and an overwhelming feeling of solidness and security.

There was heaps of locker space down here; somewhere for absolutely everything. We were surprised to find a huge freezer compartment hiding within the bench seat. Also numerous updates and additions from LED lights that were touch sensitive, fans plugged into USB ports, RADAR, Toughbook, remote control davit hoist, anchor windlass, auto-pilot and media centre.

The fore cabin seemed large and light with space to stand and dress and even had a seat on the port side.  The bunk cabin, though compact, and full of gear, was fine and again had plenty of storage.

The aft cabin had an island bed which needed a bit of ingenuity to work out how to comfortably get in and out of, but was huge and comfy.  There were seats on either side and an ensuite shower room to hand.

So far so good.

We continued to quiz Pim and were kindly asked to go sailing with him on Sunday morning.

It soon came round and we headed out of the marina to go up river to try her out.  Ian was at the helm and was grinning from ear to ear.  It was pretty clear that he was more and more keen.  After initial negotiations on Friday, we were delighted to finally reach an agreement with Pim as to price, and shook hands warmly.  Although we didn’t realise this at the time, a handshake under Dutch law is as binding as is a handshake to buy a house under Scottish Law!

As I write, Ian is flying back to Portugal to attend the boat whilst the survey is completed.  Pim has given us a detailed account of all works that have been completed, all works that are still required and a comprehensive inventory of all the items on board.

So, I am happy to report that we are now proud owners of a sailing yacht.

‘Linea’ and may God bless her and all who sail in her!

Finding a Boat

Once we had decided to sail off into the Blue Yonder, much of the planning, surely, had to involve the buying of a boat?

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a couple in possession of a quarter of their pension, must be in want of a boat.” to paraphrase Jane Austin.

Who would have thought it would be so tricky? After my initial forays into the delights of websites like Yachtworld and Apollo Duck! (I kid you not!)  I soon realised there was more to it. MUCH more. Continue reading Finding a Boat

Latest activity

Packing cases

Well, I am happy to report that today we have finalised renting the house out and are delighted that, not only do we have a fabulous tenant who is local to the area, but he also wants to continue with AirBnB which we have enjoyed doing over the last few months.

Check out his listing ‘Manor House, Linton-in-Craven’.

Continue reading Latest activity

Steps to sailing off into the Blue Yonder

Boat under sail1. Tell everybody you know what it is that you intend to do, then it’s more difficult to back out.
2. Start downsizing some of the clutter of life.
3. Send the hens on an extended holiday but don’t tell them they aren’t coming back. (Thanks Alice and Ian Daggett)
4. Finally get round to finishing those household jobs and repairs that you have been putting up with and putting off. Continue reading Steps to sailing off into the Blue Yonder