Friday, June 28, 2013

And we're Croatia!

We left Lagos on Monday, a day later than we had planned.  We were delayed because we wanted to get an AIS installed (a system that lets you see all the boats around you and it's easier than radar in some ways), so by the time that was done it was 5:00.  We left in calm weather heading for Barbate, Spain.  Ha...ha...ha...

We knew we were going to keep going overnight, which makes sense with the three of us (not including Max on this one) to keep watch and the autopilot, so we planned for that.  The bad part was that we all, to varying degrees, got seasick.  Isabelle and I recovered pretty quickly, Max was sort of miserable, but the biggest irony was that I have NEVER seen anyone as miserable as Frank was--and he had never gotten seasick before!  

It was a long and eventful night.  We hit a fishing net, but fortunately stopped before it got wound around the prop.  I had just had a good look around but did not see it (it was not marked, of course) in the water.  That is going to be the worst part of sailing at night (the autopilot will do the work because I am not taking responsibility for holding a course in the dark unless I absolutely have to, but I wish I felt like I could SEE!).  We woke Frank up and we got out of there.  The rest of the night was long but not damage-inducing.  The next day the rest of us were fine but Frank was still miserable (and the weather was horrible--high waves, the wind from the wrong direction so we had to motor the whole time), so we stopped in a port called Chipiona.  Nothing there and I bruised my toe jumping to the dock when we moored.  Moan, moan, moan...

The next day we headed for Barbate, Spain.  We checked the weather and it was favorable--perfect winds coming from the right direction, little waves--we put the sails up and we were moving!  At least for a couple of hours until the winds blew up and things went CRAZY...force 7 (over 30 knots, which is about 60 km/40mph) winds, so we RAN (OK, not really:  we had to motor and fighting the winds and the waves were making a speedy 2-3 knots) to the nearest port, which was Rota. We were not unsafe or in danger, but we knew that the best thing to do was to get off the water.  Mooring was an experience; the conditions would have tested anyone, but we are novices!  Horrible winds and it took forever for the boat ahead of us to leave the pontoon because the winds kept pushing him back towards the pontoon.    Fortunately for us, our friends and saviors Seamus and Patricia O'Connor (whom we know from the marina in Lagos and had left a few days before going on a similar itinerary to ours) happened to see us come in and were waiting at the reception pontoon to help us. They've been sailing for quite a long time and are really wonderful people.  

Max's immortal comment, though, was as follows:  Seamus was telling me a bunch of things about the places where we are going and Max was ready to leave, so he was pulling at my arm.  I told him to stop and that we would be going in a minute.  Seamus said, "I do rattle on a bit, don't I?"  Max: "Yes."  We're working on tact!

Anyway, the other thing that happened was when the winds came up and we brought the jjb in it got caught up on itself and ripped the UV strip off, so it was damaged.  We had to take the sail down (actually, this French guy climbed up the mast and got it down) and get it repaired, which was done yesterday.  Then this morning our neighbor on the other side (who is 80 years old and still goes skiing every winter) helped Frank get the sail up againand imparted lots of useful information.  We've met quite a few people here, including some Hawaiians whom we helped moor and then they helped us move our boat to where the marina actually wanted us to be (as opposed to where we could get it in the horrible winds).  We have been privileged to meet up with some really wonderful people on this trip so far; I don't want to be "always depend[ing] on the kindness of strangers", but when you need help it is nice to know that people will help you!

We are learning quite a lot and already are feeling more confident.  We are hoping to leave here tomorrow morning early but it will depend on what the weather does.  We are not taking any chances, I promise!  Frank's horrible seasickness seems to have been a one-off thing, so that's good.  We are wearing our sea bands (at least Max and I are) and expect things to be fine from here on out.

Rota is a pretty little town, but I really miss my lens.  The wide-angle lens is too wide and the telephoto is too long, and my 50mm lens that I bought for the D80 is not entirely compatible with my current camera, so I'm scrambling a bit, so will send/post pictures when I can.

Other than all the excitement, we are fine and looking forward to trying again tomorrow if the weather is decent.  I will update agan when I can!