Tag Archives: Dolphins

Northern Sardinia

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CAla del bollo
Linea, looking north in Cala Del Bolo

On Sunday 17th July we sailed to Porto Conte to the north west and tacked pleasantly along in 12 knots of wind.  We arrived at the anchorage, after some initial confusion with interpreting the wording in the pilot guide,  and decided to do what others were doing and anchor in 6-8m over sand and weed with our conventional anchor.  Apparently, ‘autonomous anchoring’ is only permitted if you have a Sardinian stone anchor’.

Capo Caccia
The track to Capo Caccia.
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762 steps down to Neptune’s Cave – and then, back up again!

We took the dinghy to the shore and had a good walk up the track, cutting into the headland like a gash, to the head of the steps that lead down to Neptune’s cave.  However, the entry fee – €13 (and the thought of 762 steps, down and then back up again) convinced us to simply take in the views and then walk back down to the dinghy.

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Sarah with Cala Del Bolo in the background.

Having built up a suitable appetite to do justice to chicken, seriously garlicky creamy potatoes, courgette and carrot ribbons, we wolfed down our tea and the had our first game of chess.  Stalemate!

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Hunting is forbidden

Leaving Cala del Bolo be-times on Monday morning, we motored out of the dead calm bay to staggering views of the Capo do Caccia (Hunters’ Cape – where oddly, hunting is not allowed) looming overhead as we passed.  The opening angle revealing a perfect hole in the rock half way up the cliff.

Capo Caccia (2)
The impressive cliff of Capo di Caccia.

Just as we were marvelling at the formation of rock and wondering how the radio beacon managed to be balanced so precisely on the edge of the precipice, rather like a golf ball on a tee, when Ian suddenly slowed the engine and swerved to avoid an uncharted rock.  On closer inspection, as we drifted by, with it inches from our starboard beam, it appeared to be a huge log!

FLoating Lava Log
HUGE LAVA LOG!

Ian circled round and I grabbed the boat hook.  We glided by and I prodded the ‘log’.  Ah ha!  Lava!  It seems that there are large chunks of volcanic rock floating about in this part of the Med.  Like icebergs in the North Atlantic.  Hopefully, they would only afford us only a glancing blow as they are clearly very light and buoyant, despite their size.

On this course around North Sardinia, there is a huge promontory that adds 25 miles to your journey unless you take the Fornelli Passage.  A very narrow and shallow channel between Asinara Island to the north and rocky island outcrops to the south.  Here, you need to position yourself at the correct entry point out in the bay and steer towards two towers that must be in line one behind the other.  You continue to head straight for these towers (and the shore!) until you spot two behind you that are aligned, and then you can turn right, keeping the two stern towers in line behind you.  We negotiated the passage in fine weather and clear water so there was no problem at all.  In unsettled weather vessels have to go round the long way.

We continued without incident and anchored in Stintino Bay in the late afternoon sun.

Stintino4
Stintino, Tuna fishing capital of Sardinia from times gone by.

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We kayaked into Stintino town and had a wander round.  The walls of house s in the old town are adorned with enlarged photographs of the tuna fishermen of the town from days gone by.  The industry is now defunct for various reasons but, as these amazing images show, the genti di tonnari were hardy folk from a bygone era.  All cloth caps, long sleeved shirts, high-waisted trousers and rugged, weather beaten faces.  If it weren’t for the fact that they invariably had bare feet, you’d be forgiven for thinking that they were Yorkshire Farmers.

The pics showed tough fishermen lugging huge tuna from the boats, heaving boats up on to the shore, pushing barrows of filleted tuna to the market.   In one group photo which the photographer was trying to stage, things had clearly gone very Sardinian.  There were men dangling on each other and laughing, men gesticulating at each other to make a point mid conversation, men grinning, oafish at the camera, men looking the other way, men having conversations with characters beyond the limits of the scene.  The whole picture looked like a community of people used to working with and trusting each other on a daily basis.

Interestingly, none of the men seemed to be sickening for a good feed.  Some of them were almost portly.  How wonderful it would be to meet them now.  I wonder what these hardy folk would have made of bikinis, sun bathing, quay side restaurants, up to date weather forecasts and mobile phone obsessions!

Setting off from Stintino we motor-sailed most of the way to Isola Rossa, our next port of call.  A pretty village and holiday development with a new marina and breakwater offering good shelter to anchor.  We anchored among five other yachts and three cats plus a few day motor boats.

The holding was good and we had a great night’s sleep. next morning we srt off for a long kayak ride across to  this incredible beach.

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Isola Rossa main beach
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Looking towards Isola Rosso.
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We decided to stay an extra day to explore and in order to find wifi, which we did at the Coccodrillus Restaurante.  We spent most of the afternoon and early evening there, had supper on board and started our first chess lesson from a book of How to Play Chess!  Fiendish game!

Latish next morning, we left for Capo Testa furthur to the East.  As so often seems to be the case recently, we were heading directly into the wind.  Progressing by motor sailing.  We arrived and anchored.  I felt sure, as noted in the pilot guide, that I was dropping the anchor on to a perfect sandy spot about two metres square.  Since high winds were expected we put out nearly all our chain.  We swam out to inspect it and, yes it certainly looked like sand but the anchor lay on its side and on further investigation it appeared that we had landed on a smooth rock with a covering of sand.  Not much to dig into.  Luckily, the weight of the chain alone seemed to do the job and the strong winds forecast weren’t due til much later.

The following morning, after great deliberation and reference to the wind reports from various locations, we decided that we would be better returning to Isola Rossa, where we knew that the holding was good and where we could head into the marina if necessary.

We had the wind behind us the whole way back.  With the headsail alone we sped back in double quick time on a nice even keel.  My favourite point of sail.

We anchored head to wind, pointing at the beach.  Putting lots of chain out.  As predicted the wind picked up at 0500hrs and we had spun right round.  In the meantime, a French boat had anchored in front of us on much less chain.  As we span in the night, both scribing circles round our anchors, we ended up about five metres from their bow!  We rapidly pulled up some chain.

After breakfast, we thought it would be a good chance to go snorkelling on the rocks about a hundred metres from the boat.  Ian had been swimming earlier and found a really good quality mask and snorkel on the sea bed so I tried it for size.  Perfect fit!  Off we paddled towards the jagged rocks in the distance.  As soon as we had swum a mere thirty metres from the boat we realised that there were many large, unyielding and uncharted rocks lurking right below the surface!  How fortunate that we hadn’t dragged our anchor or anchored any further over to the south side of the bay as we would almost certainly have hit them!

The visibility was good for snorkelling and we saw about six different varieties of fish, sea cucumbers, and many sea urchins.  I dived down to pick up a green speckled shell.  It was a perfect dome with a hole underneath and dot patterns vertically around from its head to its belly.  There were still a few spines attached to some of the dots.  These shells are the skeleton of one of the many sea urchins around here.  Apparently, they are a delicacy that are an acquired taste.  The effort of harvesting and preparing them must be a kind of guide as to just how much one should appreciate them.

As soon as we returned to the boat we moved across the bay (now deserted) to anchor further away from these errant rocks.  We took the dinghy ashore and managed to persuade the bar man in a very nice hotel, Albergo Corrallo, to allow us to watch the Tour de France final day in Morzine.  Didn’t spot you, Claire and Nick!  Ooo, it did look wet!

Anyway, we returned to the boat to find that a swell of one metre was being driven into the bay.  No other boats were anchored by this time.  Clue!  So we decided that, on balance, rather than pitching and rolling all night, we would head into the Marina Isola Rossa.  What a lovely place and delightful staff.  I forced myself to speak Italian and was rewarded with a mini, good-natured lesson and lots of grins.

It was incredibly hot in the marina because the high wall presented an excellent wind shield (as it should).  It is probably an age thing, but I have recently discovered that the heat makes me sweat copiously.  Whereas with most people this perspiration is evenly distributed throughout their entire body, with me, I seem only to perspire from my head and face!  I am literally like a watering can.  People could shower from me, if they turned me upside down and I’d almost certainly produce hot water!  I could supply a small village with its daily water requirement; or I’d be the perfect sprinkler system for a lawn.

So, I have tried various items of apparel to combat this problem.  One is to wear a cap.  Another is to constantly wipe my face and head with a towel and the third, slightly less flattering option, is to wear a bandana.  It was this last method that I had momentarily forgotten I’d employed when a slim, fresh faced, cool looking (as in temperature) young Canadian asked us for some help.  She glanced at me as I responded to her question, clearly surprised that a yacht would have a permanent water feature on its deck and wondering what on earth a red-faced, dripping, middle-aged woman was doing on board.  Realising my shocking appearance, I disappeared below to try and freshen up and cool down.

We had a good night’s sleep, although Ian managed to beat me at chess!  Stupid game!

We left the safety and comfort of Isola Rossa by midday and and headed out into the bay.  Before we had even put the dinghy on the back of the yacht the rain, thunder and lightening had begun!

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Ian in his full wet weather gear and lashing rain!

Fantastic!  Ian instructed me to put the phones, lap top and iPads into the oven!  I kid you not!  Apparently, this will stop them being zapped by lightning. The rain came lashing down, rivalling even my water producing qualities.

Luckily, up ahead brighter weather beckoned.  We continued on, hopeful that it couldn’t last.

After all, this is the Med and it is the middle of July!

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Ceuta to Mallorca Part 3

Planning for our longest single trip yet…and knowing that we had David Heane, maiden voyager extraordinaire, arriving to assist once more, we intended to provision at the nearby Mercadona supermarket.  Unfortunately, it took us hours and miles of walking due to catching the wrong bus!

Anyway, we finally arrived back at the boat (by taxi) and unloaded just in time for David’s arrival. Before any beers could be opened we had a serious job to complete.  The fitting of the fog horn.   (Foghorn, Leghorn!).  David and I

View from the top
View from the top

hauled Ian up the mast to the first set of spreaders, a second time so he could fit the refurbished fog horn.  But this time he also wanted to be pulled all the way to the top of the mast so that he could inspect it completely.  A lot of effort for David.  I was on the safety lines.

 

Job done!

Beers were opened but not too much as we had to be up at 0430 to leave enough time to get to Ibiza so we could rendezvous with Angela.

We negotiated the busy fishing area outside Altea.  By sunrise we had passed most of the fishing craft around us.  We had a good days sailing, even Genevieve made an appearance but she broke her shackle around the bowsprit so had to be put away again!  But whilst she was up, we saw dolphins on about three occasions.  Large pods of them that came to play around the bow.  It was fantastic to see them.  We arrived in San Antonio, Ibiza at about 1730.  Our first impressions were good.

We were tied up in a nice space near the toilets and the Capitania.  David and I had put the boat to bed before Captain Moulding came back from booking in, with his free handy zippable folder, useful lanyard and, most importantly, drinks vouchers.

We spruced ourselves up and set off for the bar.  Three beers and three cavas later we headed back to the boat for dinner.   Next day, would be a quick hop round the island to Sant Miquel where we were to pick up Angela.

We arrived early afternoon and anchored over sand.

Sant Miguel anchorage
Sant Miguel anchorage

We took the dinghy to the beach to suss it out and peruse the menu of a beach front restaurant – possibly one of the the most expensive ever! And then we were back at the boat for tea.   Sleep by 2130 so that we would have a few hours kip before Angela arrived from her flight to Ibiza.  The boys got up to go and collect her from the beach. The taxi driver was most perturbed to be leaving her alone on the beach at 0130.  She assured him that the lights heading to shore were indeed coming to collect her.

We were up and at ’em by 0500 hrs and off to Mallorca in a very wallowy sea; whether motoring or sailing.  We made fair progress.  Mostly motoring because of the swell.  We arrived in Andratx in the afternoon and parked on the floating pontoon stern to next to a friendly Frenchman.  No sign of the Ports IB marineros so we set off to the bar and were delighted to meet the gang from T’Shire.  The Daggets and The Vyvyans.  How special!

We had made it!  790 miles over the course of 7 weeks.  They had provided the incentive to arrive at a certain place by a certain time and we had done it!

 

The Hokey Cokey boat….. in, out, in, out…

Apparently my writing isn’t as good as Sarah’s so I have gone for a more visual format. Continue reading The Hokey Cokey boat….. in, out, in, out…

Routine

Well, just in case you think this adventure is all about G and Ts on the deck before the sun has even gone over the yardarm, I thought I’d fill you in on the general daily sailing routine on board Linea.

First, obvs, Ian brings me a cup of tea and immediately my first work-out commences.  Twenty vigorous pumps up and down and I can feel the pressure mount.  Some lubrication is necessary.  We use olive oil on the advice of other seafarers. Suddenly, flushing is a lot easier and the toilet (heads!) is squeaky clean.  Frantic, but necessary exercise and then we have breakfast!

We set off to shower in the marina shower block, if there is one, and, afterwards, I go to the marina office to return the key and go through the obligatory paperwork. (At least eight pieces of paper,  sometimes twelve!). Since the offices are at the arrival pontoon this usually involves a fair hike to and fro.

Whilst I have been away, Ian has been checking all the weather reports.  It’s no good just checking the one, since the weather is so unpredictable in the Med at this time of year and each one predicts slight differences.  We take the average and add ten knots!

He has re-attached the main sail halyard and unzipped the sail cover.  The navigation has been done the night before, putting all the crucial waypoints into the computer so that we have a clear course to follow.  We have the paper charts and pilot guide to hand, having read up, in detail, about where we are heading, obstacles along the way and the destination port.

Whilst waiting to depart we hear a Pan Pan message going out on the VHF radio to all ships in the Straits and Alboran sea. There is a dinghy adrift with 50 souls on board and we are asked to keep a sharp look out and report any sightings.  We gasp at the thought of people being stranded in those waters with no means to steer or propel themselves in such a busy traffic area.  Hopefully they will soon be found and taken to safety. These messages have become a daily occurrence.

Gathering ourselves together, we remove the heavy mooring lines from the bow and any spring lines we have set up.  Once we are ready, we start the engine and Ian drops the stern mooring line.  I then pull in the slip lines and we back out carefully from our spot trying to avoid the mooring lines of other boats next to us.

‘Clear!’ I yell, and off we go out of the marina.  My first job is to remove all the lines and coil them up to be stowed. For short slip lines this is relatively easy, but lifting and coiling heavy mooring lines presents serious weight lifting for the arms

I carry them back to the rope locker tucked in the curve of my elbow and lying across my hip, like naughty babies and gently lie them in the locker until they are needed again.

Then, I undo all the fenders – one by one – that’s usually eight, sometimes nine.  I carry them to the cockpit and lob them bodily down the companionway.  Next, I have to climb gingerly down to the saloon and push the fenders under the table, wedging them in like sausages in a Tupperware box.

Back up on deck, I check that the cockpit is ready for the hoisting of the sails.  Reef lines (three of them) need to be placed in even figure of eights so that they uncoil without interruption.

The main halyard needs winding round the main winch in preparation for hauling up.  The topping lift needs winching in tight, the vang needs releasing, as does the main sheet.

Soon, we decide the time is right for the main sail to go up.  I head the boat up to wind so that her nose is dividing the air neatly and evenly.  Ian stands at the mast.  I engage Pedro the auto pilot and dart to my position near the halyard.  Ian sweats the halyard, I pull in the slack. Teamwork! So we go on, until the main sail is almost at the top of the mast.  I then begin to winch in a centimetre at a time!  Ian appears from the mast and continues.  Then takes the helm to turn us away from the wind.   He urges me to winch a little more.  I make a tiny adjustment, which he accepts as ‘fantastic’ and, thank god, the thing is up.

No rest yet.  I then have to pull the Genoa as Ian releases the furler and finally we have both sails up!  Still more tweaking to do, so that they are set and I can sit.  But not for long.  This has probably taken the best part of an hour.

All the while we are both keeping an eagle look out, using our fantastic binoculIMG_3067ars (affectionately called ‘knockers’) for Cardinal marks, lobster pots, fish farms, other boats, dolphins and huge pieces of floating plastic sheeting that can blow off the thousands of huge ‘greenhouses’ along this south facing part of the Spanish coast line.

After being head to wind for so long it is also necessary to check where we are in relation to our course and the chart. I nip down below and look at the Open CPN navigation charts on the computer.

I send the latest activated waypoint information to the helm.

Back up top I go to see how we are getting on.

Perhaps now it’s calm, it’s a good opportunity to pop to the loo, (sorry- heads!) and it is, of course,at this precise moment, that a huge pod of dolphins decides to make an appearance.  Ian shouts with delight.  I rush up top with the camera and glimpse loads of dolphins in small groups chasing and herding the fish and having a feast but quite far off.  There are a number of seagulls flying along in their wake.  They have discovered that where there are dolphins there surely must be fish.

The dolphins do not grace us with any close up, dip-diving today.

Pedro and Genevieve
Pedro and Genevieve

Surely, it’s coffee time now.  I go back down and put the kettle on.  Coffee and biscuits appear, as if by magic, in the cockpit and we have a quiet minute whilst Pedro carefully steers us along our course.

Suddenly, Ian is digging in the locker for the stainless steal polish.  He sets to, polishing and buffing, around the boat.

Not to be outdone, I decide that this is a good time to start pulling the new dark blue nylon socks onto our scruffy old fenders.  Back down the steps I go to retrieve the sewing stuff.  Pulling the socks over the fenders requires remarkable strength and is akin to pulling tights up wet legs!  Once they are in position, an over-stitch with shearing elastic creates a rope effect and keeps the collar and cuff of each sock in place on the fender.  They do look smart!

The wind remains light and constant, so we decide to get out the mackerel fishing line.  We are sailing over a fishing haven and there are bound to be fish.

Ian dangles the hooks and feathers over the side and within five minutes, he has a bite.  He pulls in the line to reveal the  smallest, spikiest fish I have ever seen.  I put on the gloves and detach the fish from the hook and chuck it back in.  Poor thing looks the worse for the experience.  Having detached the minnow, I throw the lead weight back into the sea,  but Ian has only a light hold of the rest of the line so the whole thing is jerked out of his hand and we watch it drop to the bottom of the ocean, helplessly.

Well, that’s the end of fishing, for the time being but there’s no peace for the wicked!

The wind is picking up and we decide to put the main sail away and use just the headsail as we are on a run and the wind is right behind us.  (It’s safer and a lot easier to put away if the wind builds further.) We turn into the wind, which by now has increased to more than 20 knots, and release the halyard.  The sail drops down almost entirely into the sail bag, just needing a hand to fold in the last metre or two.

We sail along at about 8 knots.  It’s relatively peaceful on this point of sail and we are well-balanced.  I rustle up a quick lunch.

The arrival port is in sight.

Then the foresail needs pulling in.  Ian does the winching and I ease the genoa sheet so that the sail doesn’t get tangled around the forestay.

Then the engine goes on,  and we are motoring towards our destination.  I edge my way along the boat to pull up the motoring cone, which lets other boats know that we are motoring.  Once that is done it’s time to put out the fenders, ready for parking.  I have to go down to the saloon and push all the fenders back up on deck.  I climb up behind them and push them into the cockpit and emerge like a hatchling amongst eggs.

One by one, I carry them down the side of the boat and tie them on to the rail.  Back and forth I go, methodically.  Next, it’s time to get the lines ready for mooring.  Usually we need a stern line from the back of the boat and a bow line at the front.  I dig them out of the snake pit and scurry around to attach and coil them so that they are ready to throw to the Mariners who are on shore. Of course by now it’s blowing a hoollie to bring added spice to our manoeuvres and I know within thirty of minutes of turning the engine off there won’t be a breath of wind.

Whilst Ian calmly steers the boat against the Arrivals Pontoon, I prepare to fling the lines ashore and onto the outstretched arm of the patient mariner. He attaches the rope to the shore and hands me back the end of the line.  I pull this through the fairlead and on to the cleat as quickly as possible so that the boat can’t drift.  As soon as that line is fixed I move to the bow and repeat the process so that we are balanced.  We both breath a sigh of relief and whilst Ian sorts the paperwork out with the Marina Office, I have a quiet five minutes.

Now that we have been allocated a berth we will have to perform the parking exercise all over again.  I fix another bow line.  We untie from the waiting pontoon and motor on over towards our berth.  We usually go bows to with a concrete pontoon because with the dinghy on the stern it means that it is impossible to climb off the boat when the tide drops.

I fling the bow lines again and fix them.  Then I reach back to grab the boat hook and lean over the side of the boat to scoop up the lazy line and take it back to the stern so that Ian can heave up and cleat off the hefty mooring line to which the lazy line is  clinging.

Phew, we are all sorted!  No not quite.

I lug the huge mooring lines, that I put away this morning, back up to the bow and throw the ends to Ian who attaches them to the bollards on shore.  They will take most of the weight of the boat, rather than the thin slip lines which are easier to throw but not as strong.

Then we tighten everything up, Ian ‘sweats’ in the line and I pull in the slack and tie it off.  Knuckles are at risk of rubbing raw against the rough surface of the deck, fingers can be trapped by the force of the lines and we are still not done.

The halyard has to be pinned away from the mast so that it doesn’t clank in the wind and keep everyone awake.  The sail cover must go on to protect the sail from rain and ultraviolet light.   All the lines from the sails must be tidied up and placed in figures of eight around the winches or coiled on the rail to keep them neat.

The wheel is covered with its canvas cover and everything that can be stowed away, is.

Now, and only now, can the kettle be put on for a well deserved cuppa and a quick shower.

But, hang on….we were alongside the Arrivals pontoon at 1500hrs.  How can it be 1820hrs already?

We need to cook some supper and then it’s nearly time for bed!!

Anyone interested need only make the briefest of brief applications to be crew on our next leg!

Gib to Ceuta, a brief video blog

First pass at a video blog, featuring guest crew a few dolphins and lots of big ships. Enjoy!  Continue reading Gib to Ceuta, a brief video blog