Scotland to the Mediterranean and Back 1st May - 16th August 2002
This main season voyage was from Scotland to Northern Ireland, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Spain, Gibraltar, Spain, France, Ireland, Northern Ireland & back to Scotland - 3,526 nautical miles.
Ports of call: Departed from Carrick Castle, Argyll to Sandbank, Dunoon, Argyll; Troon & Girvan, Ayrshire, Scotland; Ardglass, Northern Ireland; Howth, Arklow & Kilmore Quay, Ireland; La Coruna, Spain; Leixoes (Porto) and Cascais (Lisbon), Portugal; Porto Sherry (Cadiz), Spain; Gibraltar; Almerimar, Garrucha, Cartagena, Tomas Maestra & Marayra, Spain; Cala Tarida & Cala de San Vicente, Ibiza; Andratx, Cala Tuent, Puerto Pollensa, Sa Calobra, Cala Tuent & Puerto Pollensa, Mallorca; Mataro (Barcelona) & L'Escala, Spain; Porte la Nouvelle (enter Canal de la Robine), Narbonne (exit Canal de la Robine & enter Canal du Midi), Pechlaurier, Fresquel, Carcassonne, de Gay, L'Ocean, Castaret, Toulouse (exit Canal du Midi & enter Canal du lateral a la Garonne), Moissac, Agen, Fontet, Castets-en-Dorthe (exit Canal du lateral a la Garonne) Bordeaux, Royan & Benodet, France; Arklow & Malahide, Ireland; Ardglass & Bangor, Northern Ireland; Campbeltown, Sandbank and back to Carrick Castle, Scotland
Crew: Douglas Locke, Liz Evans, Calum Evans (aged 10) Visitors: Gwyneth Evans, Rachel Harrison, Naomi Harrison (3rd-8th July)
Diary and Log Book extracts for 2002 Voyage from Scotland to the Mediterranean and back. Following these extracts you will find the combined e-mails that we sent our from the yacht during the voyage. There are plenty of photographs of the voyage (185, just 25% of our collection!), see the Gallery for 2002 - A to C: -
01.05 18.45 Departed Carrick Castle for Holy Loch Marina, Sandbank, arrived 20.30. Waved off by villagers. 02.05 Final preparations made to yacht during the day. Fuelled up yacht with 172 litres diesel and 135 litres water. 03.05 07.15 Departed Sandbank. Discovered problem with inverter so called into Troon en route (12.00 - 15.50) then on to Girvan, arrived 19.30. Unable to repair but located replacement inverter available in Howth, Ireland. 04.05 09.00 Departed Girvan with destination Ardglass marina, Northern Ireland. Arrived at 19.15. 05.05 09.35Departed Ardglass and arrived Howth marina, Ireland at 18.30. 06.05 Day in Howth. New inverter purchased and communication satellite e-mail and data system now working following the day in Howth. 07.05 07.05 Departed Howth for Arklow Marina. Dolphins visited us. Top speed 9.3 knots off Wicklow Head. Arrived at 12.45. 08.05 07.30 Departed Arklow Marina for Kilmore Quay. Top speed 9.7 knots off Tuskar Rock. Great concern at St Patrick's Bridge as neither port nor starboard channel buoys could be seen! Called up local fishing boat who advised they were just replacing them, but just follow them through the reef! Arrived at 15.00 and refuelled ready for the Bay of Biscay crossing. Average speed to date 6.52 knots. Max wind force 4. 09-11.05 08.45 Departed Kilmore Quay. Excellent sailing day and night, until... 12.05 18.00 ...when severe gale force 9 wind on the nose forced us to put out our 12 foot parachute sea anchor in 10 metre seas and ride it out, 200 miles west of the French coast, listening to two complete Harry Potter audio books! Dozens of dolphins played around the yacht as though the seas were a playground just to entertain us! Advised Finisterre Traffic by satellite phone of our position, they then checked on us every four hours. Gale force winds continued from the south for almost 43 hours when we were able to retrieve the sea anchor and resume in confused mountainous seas under power in a southerly 5. Video taken in 10 metre swell once safe to stand in cockpit, F 7/8 (see video below). For information on parachute sea anchors go to Useful Links.
15 sec video from Bay of Biscay (900Kb) Dream Weaver at sea anchor in a 10 metre swell F7/8
Note: On 10/11/2006 we were awarded Life Membership to this exclusive club for our survival!
13-14.05 14.20 Under way again having phoned Met Office in UK for weather. They advised there was a window of about six hours to exit the area before the gales returned, so headed south as safest speed we could manage pounding against the waves and swell against a Southerly 5. 15.05 21.45 Arrived La Coruna. Dipped fuel to find we had almost run out with just a couple of litres of diesel left.. 16-18.05 Stayed in La Coruna. Met up with yacht Little Albatross. Liz celebrated her 50th birthday. Refuelled diesel and water. 19-20.05 10.30 Departed La Coruna for Leixoes (Porto) as gales and huge swells expected on 21.05. Arrived marina at 18.20 on 20th. 21-22.05 Visited Porto. Gales arrived as forecast, even the fishing boats remained in port. 23-24.05 09.40 Departed Leixoes for Cascais (Lisbon). En route, outer islands of Berlinga not on our chart and had to take avoiding action at 04.50... Arrived Cascais marina at 15.00 on 24th. Disaster at the fuel pumps in Cascais, the attendant told us to use the wrong pump for diesel and petrol went into the engine. 25-31.05 Cascais Marina. As a result the engine and tank had to be cleaned out completely. The cost for over £1,000 and eight nights in the Marina. Visited Sintra and Lisbon. 01-03.06 14.25 Departed Cascais for Gibraltar, but found prop shaft leak in Bay of Cadiz in middle of NATO excerise area. Called up Cadiz by satellite telephone, who advised to head to Puerto Sherry for repairs. Pumped the bilges manually for six hours. Upon arrival at 08.30 on 3rd, the yacht was lifted out of the water within 30 minutes and the stern gland was replaced the next day. Fortunately our rope cutter had worked to keep the prop free but the heavy duty plastic that had wrapped itself between the hull and the prop had forced the stern gland to fail letting in water. 04.06 After the repair had been carried out we visited Cadiz. Yacht relaunched on our return. 05.06 05.15 Departed Puerto Sherry for Gibraltar. Top speed through the Straits 10.8 knots. Incredible displays given to us by dolphins. Arrived Marina Bay 17.45, having covered 1,553 nautical miles to date. 06-12.06 Visited Gibraltar and Tangier & Asilah in Morocco for two days. Great time. 13-14.06 09.15 Departed Gibraltar for Almerima. Midnight on 13.06 off Cabo de Gata, a gale blew up, with lightning and rain. A few hours before we put out our lightning conductor, in case! All was fine, we weren't hit! Arrived marina at 08.40 on 14th. 15.06 Visited Almerimar and made up a bimini - much needed. 16.06 07.45 Departed Almerimar. Just after lunch another gale blew up to an easterly 8. We got very wet with spray from the short sharp waves. We also had a hot wind and a cold wind, then rain - it was an interesting passage! We made for Puerto del San Jose Marina but it was completely full and we were turned away. So we decided to head for Garrucha, arriving there in the dark at 21.00 to an interesting way in with a navigation light missing and cars passing along side the channel entrance! 17.06 Visited Garrucha and Mojocar. 18.06 07.10 Departed Garrucha for Cartagena Marina arriving at 15.30. 19.06 Cartegena is being developed. It's a navy city and you wake up to reveille! The modern railway to Los Nietos on the Mar Menor has to be the most efficient and cheapest service anywhere. 20.06 05.10 Departed Cartagena Marina to get to Tomas Maestre bridge for the 10.00 opening into the Mar Menor. We left the yacht in the marina and went swimming in two seas in one day - the Med and the Mar Menor. 21.06 05.55 Departed Tomas Maestre for the 06.00 bridge opening heading for Alicante, but to was too hot to go there so headed for Morayra arriving at 18.00. Anchored in the bay outside the marina as this marina is a private one. 22.06 Went into the marina to fuel up and re-provision, then anchored again in the bay swimming in clear water. The boats in the marina come out during the day, drop anchor, swim and then go back in again! 23.06 05.50 Departed Morayra for Cala Tarida, Ibiza, anchoring at 16.15. We saw two Sunfish en route about 3 metres in width. 24.06 07.00 Weighed anchor and headed up the west coast of Ibiza to Cala de San Vicente arriving at 11.35, where we swam again. 25.06 03.50 During the night a cross swell came into the bay, so with another yacht we departed early for Mallorca! By getting up early we were able to enjoy the afternoons lazing around in the sun and swimming! We arrived Andratx Marina at 11.30 and had to fit into a really tight corner! Expensive marina but the compensation was it had a private swimming pool and great attended showers. 26.06 09.30 Departed Andratx to anchor in Cala Tuent on the west coast of Mallorca. Arrived at 14.35. Douglas was here in the 1970's and it had hardly changed - only the jetty had been renewed. This anchorage was and still is our favourite one anywhere. We'll be back...
Sa Calobra, Mallorca
27.06 07.55 Weighed anchor and motored round to the next bay Sa Calobra (08.30-10.15), our other favourite anchorage for sheer impressiveness! This was to be just a quick visit as we would be coming back within days. We had to get to Porto Pollensa to meet friends and family, so we arrived there at 17.15 on the Port Authority Quay and refuelled first. 28-30.06 & 01-02.07 Met our friends who lived in Porto Pollensa and others who were on holiday, eating out in restaurants and enjoying ourselves including a short trip in the yacht to Cala Formentor. Liz's sister arrived on 2nd July with her nieces. 03.07 07.45 Departed the marina with six on board for Sa Calobra. Anchored at 16.45. Great sunset. 04.07 03.05 Weighed anchor as wind gusting 5/7 had veered 180 degrees and caused both bow and kedge anchors to drag. Motored round the headland to Cala Tuent and anchored safely in 4.6 m (03.05-04.40). Great day swimming and enjoying ourselves in our favourite bay. 05.07 07.55 Weighed anchor and re-anchored in Sa Calobra 08.20 for a ravine walk. Weighed anchor again at 12.05 returning to Porto Pollensa at 17.00. 06.07 Hired a car and the six of us were driven by Douglas to the Caves of Drach for a wonderful experience. Then up the west coast of Mallorca back to Porto Pollensa. 07.07 09.30 Departed the marina en route to Barcelona, arriving Mataro at 06.00 on 08.07. 08-11.07 Four days were spent exploring Barcelona and visiting Temple de Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, the Rambla, the Port and more. Great time. Our visitors left us in Barcelona to fly home after their week's holiday. 12.07 05.00 Departed Mataro Marina for L'Escala Marina arriving there at 14.10. This was an expensive marina. We wondered why there were only four visiting yachts there.. The weather forecast was not good - F9. We had to shether there for four nights. 13-15.07 Visited Empuries, a Greek and Roman city that had been covered by sand. Today it is still only 25% uncovered and the mosaic floors are almost perfect. 16.07 04.45 There was a break in the weather, so we departed L'Escala. Unfortunately by 08.30 another gale blew up and we had gale force winds all the way to Porte la Nouvelle, where we would enter the Canal du Midi system. To the astonishment of people at the entrance to Porte la Nouvelle, us in our yacht pounded our way in to the harbour with a F 7 wind, arrived 17.15. The Gulf du Lion is renown for gales 25% of the time with winds that rush down from the Pyranees. 17.07 Day off in Porte la Nouvelle. It was too windy to take down the masts ready for the canal passage. 18.07 Masts taken down and stowed ready for the canal. Departed pontoon at 14.20 for the Canal de la Robine. Arrived Narbonne centre Quay de L'Alsace on the Canal du Midi at 18.40 - 3 locks & 12 miles. 19.07 09.15 Depart Narbonne. Lunch Saint Cyr (60 mins.). Arrived for overnight at Pechlaurier lock at 18.45 - 13 locks & 18 miles.
Dream Weaver in the Canal du Midi
20.07 08.50 Depart Pechlaurier after being towed off bank. Lunch Aiguille lock (75 mins.). Arrived for overnight at Fresquel lock near Carcassonne at 19.10 - 20 locks & 23 miles. 21.07 09.00 Depart Fresquel and arrive Grasoulle (Carcassonne canal bank) at 10.00 - 4 locks & 2 miles. Day off in Carcassonne Old City - fantastic place! 22.07 09.00 Depart Carcassonne. Lunch Beteille lock (30 mins.). Arrived de Gay lock at 18.50 - 17 locks & 21 miles. 23.07 09.00 Depart de Gay. Arrive Castelnaudray 11.05 and departed 14.15. Arrived L'Ocean at 17.10 to visit Riquet Park and the Obelisk commemorating Paul Riquet, the builder of the canal in the 17th century. This is the highest point in the Canal du Midi - 14 locks & 8 miles. 24.07 09.05 Depart L'Ocean lock. Stop for 35 minutes at Riquet Centre Port Lauragrais. Lunch Gardouch lock (30 mins.). Arrived Castanet lock 19.20 - 14 locks & 20 miles. 25.07 09.15 Depart Castanet lock. Arrive Port Saint-Sauveur, Toulouse at 11.10 - 1 lock & 5 miles. Rest of the day sightseeing in Toulouse. Interesting place. 26.07 14.15 Depart Toulouse following re-fuelling and re-provisioning. Exited Canal du Midi and entered Canal du lateral a la Garonne and arrived Saint-Jory No 6 lock at 19.10 - 9 locks & 12 miles. 27.07 09.05 Depart Saint-Jory. Lunch stop Montech (55 mins.). Arrived Moissac Quay at 18.45 - 19 locks & 26 miles. Went to open air music festival in the evening in the square. 28.07 10.45 Depart Moissac after visiting market. Lunch Malause (75 mins.). Stopped at Valence d'Agen marina for visit to town (75 mins.). Arrived Agen centre quay at 19.45 - 7 locks + swing bridge & 24 miles. Noisy with trains! 29.07 08.55 Depart Agen. Arrived Fontet 49 Marina at 19.00 - 15 locks & 40 miles. 30.07 08.50 Depart Fontet. Arrived Lock 52 to await high tide to go through last two locks at 10.30. Entered Locks 52 and 53 (together about 10 metres high) at 12.15 and departed Castets 12.30 arriving Aquataine pontoon, Bordeaux at 16.35 - 3 locks & 39 miles. Hairy journey down the Garonne river with no navigation buoys and top speed of 10.7 knots. Ponte de Pierre bridge in Bordeaux was like going through a waterfall and whirlpool! 31.07 11.20 Depart Quay d'Aquataine down the Garonne river arriving Royan at 18.40 - 52 miles at an average speed of 8.46 knots! Our top speed was 9.7 knots. Masts booked for stepping next day. Canal length was 217 miles with 139 locks and a swing bridge. Canal down river to Bordeaux was 33 miles and a further 52 miles to Royan, a total of 302 miles from Porte la Nouvelle to Royan. To date we have completed 2,713 miles. 01-03.08 Days off in Royan. Masts re-stepped. Interesting modern concrete cathedral. Re-fuelled and re-provisioned for Bay of Biscay. 04.08 04.15 Depart Royan heading north through the Bay of Biscay. 05.08 Complete contrast to outward journey, as barely any wind so had to motor or motor sail to Benodet in Brittany to re-fuel. Arrived Benodet Marina at 10.40 completing 193 miles at an average speed of 6.2 knots. 06.08 06.20 Depart Benodet with extra fuel to get to Ireland as still insufficient wind for sailing. Able to motor sail at times. 07-08.08 Arrived Arklow at 15.00 on 08.08 - 357 nautical miles from Benodet at an average speed of 6.2 knots. Re-fuelled on arrival. 09.08 Day off in Arklow. Met up with yacht Freya from the Isle of Man. 10.08 06.45 Depart Arklow with Freya. Arrived Malahide Marina 13.30. Met up with Freya again. 11.08 11.00 Depart Malahide with Freya - they were heading back to Peel, Isle of Man. Good sailing at times today - MWF 5. Arrived Ardglass Marina 20.20. Saw two Minke whales. 12.08 13.50 Depart Ardglass. Arrived Bangor Marina 18.30. Douglas's birthday dinner at the port. 13.08 Day off in Bangor. 14.08 03.25 Depart Bangor. Arrived Campbeltown 10.55. Two minke whales visited us. Gale force winds expected pm. 15.08 Day off in Campbeltown. Winds came overnight. 16.08 07.05 Depart Campbeltown. Arrived Carrick Castle 18.49 having completed 3,526 nautical miles in 3 1/2 months.
The following are the combined Newsletters No. 1 - 9 sent to friends between 1.5.2002 & 16.8.2002: -
No. 1) Although we left Carrick Castle on 1st May 2002, we have been taking our time port hopping. We spent a day in Dunoon sorting out the boat, and then called at Troon en route to Girvan. Next Ardglass, Northern Ireland and Howth, Ireland. Another day spent in Howth, as we needed a new inverter for the computer's 230 volt on board power supply. Onwards to Arklow and then Kilmore Quay at the south east corner of Ireland. We left there at 9am this morning and are currently sailing towards Lisbon. The voyage to Lisbon will take 7 days and nights of sailing. We will be 35 miles to the west of the Scilly Isles at 8am tomorrow morning. We have had sunny days all the way so far, not much wind down the east coast of Ireland but we have a Westerly 3-4 at the present time sailing down the 7 degree W line. We have seen numerous porpoises, one dolphin, 2 Minke Whales on two occasions and a swallow landed on the boat this afternoon for a rest on its way north. It looked very tired. Although we were going the wrong way for it, it was obviously relieved to stop flying for 20 minutes when it carried on its weary way.
Thanks for all the e-mails with your good wishes. Just a note to say no attachments or photos with e-mails please as e-mails are received by satellite and long ones cost us a fortune to receive! More news will follow from the high seas...
No. 2) We arrived in La Coruna, Spain last night following seven days at sea. We had an interesting crossing for 596 miles from Kilmore Quay in Ireland. For the first three days we had excellent sailing on the beam with a steady wind day and night. At the end of day three there was a beautiful red sky at night sunset, by the morning the wind had increased and the Atlantic low that we had seen decided to deepen very rapidly, so who says that 'red sky at night is a sailor's delight!' as that cannot be depended upon.. By lunchtime the wind had reached almost gale force and we were under engine creeping over huge waves at only 1-3 kns. We were using up valuable fuel so we decided at 6 pm to put out our parachute sea anchor and turn off the engine and lay at sea anchor in 4,483 metres depth of water 200 miles off France. For the next 43 hours we drifted just 25 miles north and east but only 15 miles extra to make up through anchoring after the gale. We were visited by a pod of Common Dolphins that played in the waves around us. What a wonderful purchase the sea anchor was as it was very comfortable on board as the heavy waves and swell just pass you by. The swell reached 10 metres and although it was a roll-a-coaster ride we were able to relax in the cabin and let it all happen outside. We took a video and photos to show what it was like when the wind just reached strong gale force 9...
During the daytime Calum was let off school work and abandoned his cabin to live with us in ours. Calum listened, as did we, to the Harry Potter tapes completing books 3 and 4 (30 hours!) during daylight hours and we slept the rest. We advised MRCC Finisterre of our position in order for them to advise shipping that there was a yacht at sea anchor in the middle of the Bay of Biscay and that we now knew we barely had enough fuel to make La Coruna if we had to motor all the way against the wind. Finisterre were incredibly helpful, 'Do you require assistance?' - 'No, we are fine'... They called us every 4 hours to 'check' we were all right! They plotted our position by e-mail and telephone. They also sent us weather reports for the area of Pazenn, which we were in, and for the area of Finisterre, to where we were heading. The fuel situation was really our only concern if there was a head wind and guess what, when we had a favorable report to leave, the wind was a head wind in the south! We motored in heavy confused swell conditions still about 6 metres in height hoping the wind would change and having 165 miles still to go. Finisterre monitored us continually every four hours prepared all the time to give us assistance if we ran out of fuel, however our calculations showed we could just make it! For the last four hours Finisterre called us every hour to check if we were going to make it... We had a break 3 hours from La Coruna when the wind suddenly appeared from the south east, so under full sail we managed to head in the right direction under sail... An hour later the wind died so we motor sailed for a further period. We kept dipping the fuel tank and found an hour away from the marina we were on the last few litres having used 180 litres. All the way we forecast arrival at 9pm local time, we arrived at 9.30pm, dipped the tank and found there was just a couple of litres maximum left! Finisterre called us the moment we arrived and were pleased we did it! We actually enjoyed the voyage, a good challenge, achieved satisfactorily with our knowledge of the sea and seamanship we have. We have spent the day in La Coruna cleaning up the boat and tomorrow, Liz's 50th Birthday, we plan to visit the sights in La Coruna and have a celebration meal before departing on the next stage of our journey to Lisbon, only three days at sea this time! More news will follow...
No. 3) It doesn't seem three weeks since the last Newsletter from La Coruna.. However it is and a lot has happened in the meantime!
We are currently in Gibraltar. We have been to Porto, Lisbon and Cadiz en route. We had to divert to Porto because of bad weather forecasts. It was a good move as the swell that came up was unbelievable. We had a good day in Porto, visiting the old medieval city and the 'Calem' Port warehouses where we bought Port! (We later drank it!). It rained there, first rain since Scotland.. Two days later we were in Cascais Marina, by Lisbon, where we encountered problems that delayed us very considerably. Briefly, the fuel attendant gave us the wrong information telling us to put fuel from a pump as diesel, unfortunately he didn't tell us correctly and it turned out to be petrol.. It was a very costly mistake delaying us 10 days whilst it was sorted out. We made the most of our time there visiting Sintra; an outstanding place to visit that took two full days. We also visited Lisbon and of course the lovely town of Cascais.
When we finally left, it was a relief to be back at sea and en route to Gibraltar again. At 2am in the morning we had another problem, the cause of which we were not to find out until later.. Water was coming into the bilges from the propeller shaft at a considerable rate - we had to pump out fairly continuously for 6 hours until we reached another diversion to Cadiz. We got there and within 30 minutes the boat was lifted out of the water whereupon we discovered a very thick piece of plastic wrapped around the prop shaft. Fortunately we had a rope cutter on the propeller and it had shredded the plastic so as not to stop the engine. Within 3 hours the repairs had been made and we were able to proceed at very small cost, a complete contrast to Cascais. We decided to spend a day in Cadiz and enjoyed it very much seeing the old city.
Next a speedy journey through the Straits of Gibraltar touching 10.8 kns. Bearing in mind the average speed of the boat is only 5 kns and 6 is good it was fast! At last Gibraltar and what a great place to visit... We have been to the top of the Rock (1,396 ft high), seen the fantastic views to the Atlantic, Med., Africa, Spain and Gibraltar itself. We have seen the Barbary Apes, the Moorish Castle, The Great Siege Tunnels and a load more! All has been in glorious warm sunshine and at temperatures around 24-26 C.
Whilst in Gibraltar we decided to visit Africa, so we have just spend two days in Morocco having gone by ferry from Spain and visited Tangier and the beautiful ancient Berber fishing village of Asilah, 40 km from Tangier on the Atlantic coast. Both Kasbahs were extremely interesting as we were taken around by a guide on both days to places where tourists may well not have visited on their own. It was a different world!
We are currently lapping up the sun, very brown, and having a relaxing time before the next stage of our journey up the Spanish coast to Majorca before heading to Barcelona and the Canal du Midi at Porte la Nouvelle in France that will take us across to Bordeaux. More on that at a later date!
We are having a great adventurous journey and enjoying the challenges we have to meet on the way. Calum in addition to school work is certainly learning a lot about geography.
No. 4) We have just completed stage four in our journey, 354 miles with a total since leaving Carrick Castle of 1,917 miles. That stage was from Gibraltar around the Costa del Sol and Blanca to Morayra near Calpe, the closest point to Ibiza on the Spanish mainland.
Whilst Gibraltar was what we considered hot by Scottish standards, it was only warm by the east coast of Spain temperatures... Hot here means hot, well, if 35 deg. C is hot, even at sea!
When we left Gibraltar we decided to sail overnight to Almerimar, an 800 berth marina but very quiet. Next on to Garrucha via Cabo de Gata. Gata was an experience! We had variable winds, from Westerly 7 to Easterly 7, sheet & fork lightning, a very hot wind, a cool wind, and a corkscrew swell that was the most uncomfortable we have had with a short swell and with current against us, that continually soaked the boat and us with spray - it was worse than Biscay for spray! We decided to call in to San Jose marina just after Gata for a rest overnight but when we got there the marina was completely full and we got turned away! Everyone must have been sheltering.. So onward we went out into the swell again... We reached Garrucha in complete darkness and entered the port with cars travelling alongside us - another interesting experience!
Whilst at Garrucha we visited a white hilltop village called Mojacar, very touristy but still interesting. Next on to Cartagena where we spent a couple of days. A very interesting place where huge developments are going on. They had the most modern light railway imaginable to Los Nietos on the Mar Mentor, an inland sea. The cost was Euros 4.90 for the three of us return for a 30-minute journey each way. What a service too, every 30 minutes, air conditioned and full of locals, but no tourists... When we got to Los Nietos we went to the beach and Calum and Liz swam in very warm water but the place was deserted. It was extraordinarily hot there. Apparently there season starts on 14th July.
After Cartagena we went a short distance to Tomas Maestre on the Mar Mentor on the other side of the inland sea from where we were the previous day, going through a short canal where the bridge was opened for us and into another huge marina. We went to the beach for the afternoon and all swam in the sea. It was so hot there it was a relief to get under way again, this time with the intention of going to Alicante. We were heading to Alicante but decided to press on as it was over 35 deg. C even at sea and the thought of it being even hotter in port did not appeal to us! So Morayra near Calpe was going to be our next destination. We arrived in the evening and anchored in a small bay next to the marina. We stayed there at anchor for two nights and swam alongside the boat during the day.
We are now on our fifth stage of our 'Voyage of Discovery' having left mainland Spain for Ibiza. We are having a very good sail across to the Balearic Isles, so our next newsletter will follow our departure from the isles around the end of the first week of July. Liz's sister, Gwyneth, and her two daughters will be joining us in Majorca for a week - that week will be rather cramped with six aboard...
We have been hearing about the Scottish weather, we hope it improves for our return. We have still only had a combined day's worth of rain in 2 months!
Best wishes to you all from the very hot Mediterranean...
No. 5) We have just had 15 days spent in Ibiza and Mallorca and are now en route from Puerto Pollensa, Mallorca to Puerto de Mataro, 20 minutes by train north of Barcelona. The weather is glorious sunshine, although hot, a better heat than we have had. It has been very HOT! Every day in the 30 degrees C plus. Believe it or not, we have only had one minute of rain in the last 2 weeks and in the ten weeks since we have been away the combined rain in days still doesn't exceed one day! In the one-minute of rain we had, we rushed to get out in it, but it stopped!
We only stayed on Ibiza for two anchoring nights at Cala Tarifa and Cala San Vincent. Both places we swam off the boat, but the 'Tarifa' night was noisy with live 'Ibiza-style' music ashore until late in the evening and 'San Vincent' was a most uncomfortable anchorage with a swell that caused us and another yacht to depart at first light - it was a relief to get under way again, this time to Mallorca.
Our first stop was Puerto Andraitx at a very 'posh' marina with price to match! We made good use of the facilities - private swimming pool and the 'best' showers of anywhere we have been. This all reflected in the price for a 10-metre yacht at Euros 45 for a night (GBP 30). Normal prices range from Euros 8 to 25 with an average of around 12. That was the low season rate as the high season starts July to September. We had to take the boat into a very tight corner too which was interesting but we did it and got out again without a scratch! (For our sailing friends use the Port Authority quays in Mallorca, which are charged at the same rate all year round and are less than half the price of the marina yacht clubs visitorís berths).
The next two days we motored up the west coast of Mallorca just off the coast in quite magnificent scenery. The cliffs soared above us. In hugging the coast we were able to pop into most of the little anchorages to have a look and take our choice of the one we preferred. We decided to anchor in Cala Tuent, a most beautiful un-spoilt bay with no development (yet) behind the beach. A few locals seem to use it only as the tourist bay is next door. We anchored over night and swam again off the boat and walked around the bay in the evening. Douglas had been there before about 25 years ago by private motor boat from Soller with Simon and Graeme. It was almost the same - the only change being the renovation of the old jetty - everything else was the same!
The next day we went to the 'tourist' bay next door - Quite the most dramatic and fantastic bay you could wish to see called Sa Calobra. We visited and anchored before the tourists got there. By the time we left mid morning, the small beach was packed with sardine'd people that arrive by coach, car and pleasure charter boats with hundreds on board. The place has to be visited and we visited it again as you will soon hear...
Next we visited Puerto Pollensa and met up with some friends - We had about four days of eating out with different friends - a good time was had by all. We visited Alcudia - port and old town and Bahia de Formentor during this period. Liz's sister Gwyneth and her two daughters, Rachel & Naomi, then arrived to spend 8 days with us on the boat.
We took them back down the coast to Sa Calobra to anchor over night - in the middle of the night the wind did a 180-degree turn round and violent gusts haired down the ravine! Despite having a good bow anchor hold and a kedge out to stern, we had to depart around 5 am as the boat was dragging both anchors! We went round to Cala Tuent and anchored there very comfortably and spent the day and next night in our favourite bay... We were the only yacht there - we imagine others felt it too rough to come out of hiding! It was beautiful and everyone was swimming and snorkeling off the boat.
The following morning we went back to Sa Calobra early and got a good anchoring position right in the middle of the bay right by the beach - the best position and we had a good hold. So we walked up the Torrent de Pareis - a most incredible dry gorge that gets narrower and narrower as you walk up it. Douglas had walked the gorge with Simon and Graeme 25 years or so ago and again it was just as it was then. Two hours later on our return, the bay was full of boats and the beach packed with more sardine'd people! We left to go back to Pollensa...
This stage of our journey has been the holiday section, which is why this newsletter is so long! Yesterday we hired a car and the six of us visited Puerto Cristo and the Caves of Drach. The caves Douglas had visited before had the same impact as originally seen. Stunning stalactite and stalagmite formations with a huge underground lake. Breathtaking and so utterly atmospheric was the finale to the visit when to complete quiet (there being hundreds of people sitting in the dark) three lit boats emerged to live classical music as they passed by on the lake without a ripple. If this failed to move you without a tear to the eye, you would not be human! There followed a boat trip across the lake for all those who wanted to go - we did and went last to savor every minute!
Following that outstanding visit we drove past Palma to Andraitx and up the west coast 'hair pin' bendy road to Soller, passing and visiting lots of interesting places with incredible panoramas. We decided to do the incredible hairpin bendy road down towards Sa Calobra, but turn off to Cala Tuent before the bottom. We then visited our favorite bay again from the land, which was good to do. Having driven now for around 9 hrs we had to get the car back to Puerto Pollensa. The Fiat Multipla was good for six people, three abreast.
So now we are on our way home... Heading to Mataro, 20 minutes by train north of Barcelona. We plan to visit Gaudi's Cathedral and a number of other interesting sights in Barcelona before Gwyneth and daughters fly home on 10th July. We then head up to Port La Nouvelle to the Canal du Midi to journey our way to Bordeaux.
More news will follow in the next newsletter probably once we are in the canal system.
From a hot and sunny Mediterranean, we hope you too are all well. We are having a great time, not sure whether work appeals any longer!
No. 6) Our last newsletter ended when we were under way from Mallorca to Mataro by Barcelona with an over night 109 mile sail. We made such good headway we had to slow down early in the morning in order to arrive in daylight. We choose Mataro instead of Barcelona as the stop over marina as it was much cheaper and had a train connection every 15 minutes into the Barcelona city centre.
It was nice for Calum to have his two cousins around and Liz to have her sister for the week. We had two excellent days in Barcelona. We walked the Rambla and visited the wonderful market there. The entire first day's afternoon was spent at Gaudi's Sagrata Familia Temple which was quite outstanding climbing up all the towers whilst work was still under way. The Temple was started in 1883 and will take very many more years to finish. It is so worth going to Barcelona to see that and Gaudi's Park Guell where we spent the second afternoon. Anyone wanting a good weekend away couldn't do better than visiting these two places with a cheap Easyjet flight!
Gwyneth and family left us to fly home from Barcelona and we spent a quiet day following their departure chilling out. A lot of swimming was done at Mataro in addition to the sightseeing, which was good for the children. Next we left to go up the coast heading for Port La Nouvelle, the southern entrance to reach the Canal du Midi via the Canal de la Robine.
Unfortunately the weather reports were coming in at regular intervals telling us of gales in the Gulf of Lion which was the area to where we were heading. There are very few safe marinas or anchorages on the Costa Brava, so we chose to head for L'Escala and just as we arrived we had a torrential thunderstorm - rain, we still have only accumulated less than a day and a half's worth since 1st May! We were stuck in L'Escala for four nights with gale force NW 8-9 blowing. The marina was incredibly expensive too - Costa Lotta not Brava... At least we were safe there. We visited 'Empuries' which was well worth the visit; a complete Greek and Roman city unearthed in 1908 but still, despite continuous excavations is only 25% uncovered. The mosaic floors are almost perfect and you can see all the drains, roads, shops, houses etc., etc. Whilst there we also visited another small village to pass the time..
On the fourth day there was a break in the weather early in the morning so despite warnings of 6 and 7 winds in Lion we decided to at least get round Cabo Creus, a notably bad sea to pass by. We had to pass it 5 miles off to avoid the nasty over falls and 2-knot southerly current. We were successful in achieving that part of the journey but off Cabo Bear the wind reared its ugly head and rose to gale force 8 again gusting 9. It was a very wet passage to Port La Nouvelle with spray coming over us continually. As we entered the Port we thought the wind would drop, but no it continued right up through the river to the head of the port and people were amazed to see a yacht arrive in such conditions. It was good to arrive safely, not that we were ever worried because Westerly Renown ketches are excellent sea boats.
Having arrived the next thing we had to do was to have the two masts taken down however the wind did not abate until the second day when everything was neatly stowed away. The masts fit perfectly on to our special framework we had made and we still had headroom in the cockpit and visibility ahead. Yesterday we departed Port La Nouvelle mid afternoon, so only managed 12 miles through the first canal and past through 3 locks to Narbonne. Today, the first full day through the canals we covered 18 miles and 13 lock systems and are now moored up alongside the canal bank on the real Canal du Midi, started in 1662! The canal is really quite beautiful, very hot but the Plain trees that line the banks help to give some shade. The bridges are very low, down to 3 metres that we just fit under and the water depth though supposed to be 1.6 metres is in fact now stated as a minimum of 1.5 metres. We are 1.5 metres in draught and every now and then can feel the keel pushing through the mud bottom and a few times we seem to ram through obstructions!
The canal is supposed to take a minimum of 10 days to navigate through to Bordeaux but we find that hard to believe - time will tell and our next Newsletter will be from Bordeaux once we have the masts rigged again. We have now completed 2,441 miles to date on our voyage and are still hoping to be home on target on 18th August despite the delays by the gales in the Med.
We are all fine, quite suntanned, enjoying continuous hot and sunny weather that we hope will follows us back to Scotland...
No. 7) The Canal de la Robine, the Canal du Midi and the Canal de lateral a la Garonne which form the route from Porte La Nouvelle to Castets (33 miles up the river from Bordeaux) was 217 miles long with 139 locks and a swing bridge to pass through. There were countless low bridges we went under of course as low as 3 metres. The biggest surprise to us was all the books state the Canal du Midi as having a depth of 1.6 metres and the Canal Garonne as 1.8 metres. Neither was true! We have a draught of 1.5 metres so thought we would be fine. Not so! The guarantee apparently is now 1.3 metres! The Midi was mostly 1.5 metres with places as low as 1.3 metres and the Garonne as low as 1.4 metres.. Twice we had to be towed off mooring places in the morning, several places we just couldn't get into the landing places to drop off Calum to pick up our lines for the locks ahead. We bumped along in quite a number of places even down the centre of the canals and for several stretches we carved our way through the silt and weedy bottom of the canals. It was not a relaxing time, quite stressful when you didn't know when you would next get stuck!
The upstream locks were the most hazardous with a 5.4 metres lock on the Robine being the worse of our experiences. The lock was so high, being at the bottom when we entered, that we couldn't get the lines up to the top and although they had put in poles set into the lock sides, they were so far apart we couldn't get the back line attached before the lockkeeper started letting in the water at a huge rate. The result was we had our only real damage to the boat with the roller reefing end system being damaged and one of the wind generator blades being snapped off when the boat twisted in the turbulence of the water rushing into the lock.
The downstream locks were much easier to cope with as the water came out of the lock instead of in. Three locks were of huge height; two in Toulouse up to 6.20 metres and the largest of all was the last lock in the system as Castets at 10 metres high! Many of the locks were automatic, but there were a lot of manual ones and ones with lockkeepers. The actual time it took to go from one end of the canal to the other end was 88 hours and 15 mins. of motoring time that gave us an average speed of 2.6 knots per hour including going through all the locks. We were able to transit most of the canals at 5 knots, so about half the time was spent going though the locks themselves!
Passage making through the canals to a time scale is not the most desirable way of seeing the French countryside as you are under perpetual pressure to get the most out of each day covering as many miles and locks as you can bearing in mind the system opens between 09.00-12.30 and 13.30-19.00 each day. You can only move out with these hours if you don't meet a lock.. Out best day where we achieved a complete run through was from Agen to Fontet - 40 miles and 15 locks in 10 hours non-stop and the worst 23 miles and 20 locks in 9 hours 50 minutes. The locks of the Midi are all oval and those on the Garonne are rectangular, which makes for interesting mooring within the locks. The Midi is pretty busy sharing the locks with up to four boats; the Garonne was incredibly quiet perhaps seeing only one or two boats in a day! We had some interesting experiences; one was sharing a lock with a 250-ton barge! We just fit in behind it and have photographs showing us behind that huge barge..
Although the canals were pretty stressful to Liz and I having to press on all the time with passage making, Calum enjoyed the canals, he said, best of all on our journey. He did very well jumping ashore to take the lines at each lock and casting us off when required. He also enjoyed closing and opening the lock gates at the manual locks.
The weather in the canals was extraordinarily HOT, up to 40 C during the day and only down to 25 C at night... Really it was too hot and very difficult to sleep at night. We had crushing heat day after day until we neared the end of the canals. We said we wondered if we could do the canals in ten days as that was the minimum stated. We did manage to do it in so many days, however we stopped a few times within the twelve days we were in the canals.
The highlight of the canal journey was the day spent in Carcassonne, a true medieval city and Europe's largest fortress founded in year II BC by the Romans, which is still complete and working, and quite the most amazing experience to visit. We also spent a day in Toulouse and visited three incredible basilicas and churches. We also visited Castelnaudray, Moissac and Agen where we shopped in open markets. The Canal du Midi had some really beautiful canal stretches with plain trees down both banks. Some 50,000 trees had been planted there now some 200 years old. It was amazing to find the canal had been started in 1662 and one marveled at the foresight of Riquet, the builder, who achieved his aim of joining the Mediterranean to the Atlantic when mechanical means were not available as they are today.
When you leave the canal system you next enter the Garonne river and so with the ebb we 'shot' down an un-buoyed river for 33 miles to Bordeaux in 4 hours 5 minutes with speeds up to 10.7 knots. The journey was somewhat 'hairy' as we had to follow a dotted line on a not too good pilot with the depth gauge running all the way with enough depth to get us to Bordeaux as long as we didn't stop.. We didn't and perhaps couldn't anyway with the five knot current! After a night recovering under the suspension bridge in Bordeaux we set off to Royan downstream again, as the river got wider but with only a narrow buoyed channel to follow. We covered 52 miles in 7 hours and 20 mins. with speeds up to 9.7 knots and we had wind over tide which made it a little rough and wet aboard.. The masts were still flat on board and it was not a pleasant experience with them like that. Royan marina is very nice and reasonable and at last both masts are back up and we are resting before departing tomorrow for at least four over nights to Arklow in Ireland going up the French coast and between the Scilly Isles and Cornwall. We may stop off en route but we are forever aware that we must be home on 18th August and we still have around 750 miles to go. To date we have completed 2,713 miles in 3 months and have been to a lot of places!...
No. 8) Although it not been long since our last newsletter from Royan, we have travelled 598 miles from there to here across the Bay of Biscay, English Channel, Saint Georges Channel and the Irish Sea.
We made two stops, the first for fuel at Benodet in Brittany and Arklow for a rest! Sailing over nights are very tiring with just Liz and I doing the night watches three hours on and three off to try and sleep in between.
The trip across the Bay of Biscay was a complete contrast to our last experience. This time there was a glassy sea and we had no choice other than motor. The section from Royan to Benodet was 193 miles, which we completed at an average speed of 6.2 kns. The next section from Benodet to Arklow was 357 miles non-stop again at an average speed of 6.2 kns mainly motor sailing to meet the tides we wanted in moderate conditions. The last section to Malahide was today in a much rougher sea. We had three wonderful displays from pods of dolphins that came to the boat and enjoyed riding our bow waves. We enjoyed watching them!
We are next off to Ardglass and Bangor in Northern Ireland before returning to Scotland and home. We have now completed 3,311 miles in just over 3 months. Our next newsletter will be sent once we get home after 18th August.
No. 9) We arrived home last night (16.8.2002) having completed 3,526 miles in 3 1/2 months slightly ahead of schedule, by a day, as the people who were in our house had left a day ahead of that expected.
The last part of our journey from Malahide to Carrick Castle was pretty easy, as we had time on our side for the last part of the trip. Following Malahide, we went to Ardglass and Bangor in Northern Ireland. We spent a day in Bangor before crossing the North Channel to Campbeltown. It was a calm crossing however as a gale was expected in the evening of our arrival we decided to spend a day in Campbeltown, as did a lot of other yachts. The gale did come over night but the forecast was wrong for the following day and the next gale forecast did not materialise. We had a restful day, visited the lifeboat, supermarket and watched a couple of DVD's... On the crossing from Bangor we had two Minke whales join us alongside the boat for about 20 minutes, which was great. They have awful breath however!
Yesterday we left Campbeltown and motor sailed up the Clyde estuary calling at Sandbank by Dunoon to refuel before heading up Loch Long beside a super tanker and four tugs. We just beat them to Loch Goil where we turned off to Carrick Castle and to our mooring in front of the house.
The house had been well looked after, the two cats were very pleased to see us again and Calum was delighted to be home again. He had been anxious to see his friends for quite a while and had talked about school and his friends for quite some time.. On our return we found that despite the letter that had that said school would start again on 19th August, whilst we had been away the date had been changed to 15th August, so he unknowingly missed two days!
Calum was so excited about returning home which wasn't really the case for Liz and I as we have really enjoyed the adventure and will have to do something like this again in the future. It is surprising how you get used to living in a small space and surviving well. We generally had a three-course meal every day and certainly never lacked good food.
We have now emptied most of the boat and are now having to stow it all away in the house and garage, this afternoon we have had to deal with a 75 cm high pile of mail!
We arrived to two dead batteried cars and stories from the neighbours of rain and more rain throughout the summer. We consider ourselves fortunate to have had a great sunny and hot summer, travelling around Europe. We have seen incredible places and have had a great adventure. Our ketch 'Dream Weaver' has been a great safe sea boat and she looked after us as we did her.
This will be the last e-mail newsletter for the journey; however, there will be one more e-mail about the trip to follow. We are going to create a website with photos of our adventure for you to look at, at a future date. We have hundreds of photos to go through now and sort those to include. We will let you know when it is ready...
We have done an awful lot in a short time however the highlights of the journey must be the Bay of Biscay gale, Sintra, Gibraltar, Cala Tuent in Mallorca, Barcelona, Canal du Midi, Carcassonne, the dolphins and whales...
If you wish to e-mail us in future please use the following e-mail address:
To all our family and friends, we would like to say thanks for the support and encouragement you gave us before and during the voyage. It was so nice to meet new friends along the way - we hope you will keep in contact. To those of you who e-mailed us, thanks, it was not always possible to reply to all e-mails as we received so many and using a satellite phone for our e-mails meant we had to keep and eye on the costs.
So now Calum is back to school on Monday (20.8.2002) and Liz is back to work then too. I have another week before going back as there is so much to do both at home and sorting the boat out!
Voyage MWF 9. Fantastic three and a half months holiday away sailing and seeing so much during the voyage. We look forward to returning to the Mediterranean once we have retired!
Our voyage is recorded in photgraphs in a photobook...
Main season voyage = 3,526 nautical miles.
Other sailing this year - Clyde area, Scotland = 246 nautical miles. (Clyde area visits included Lochgoilhead, Argyll; Loch Long, Argyll; Rhu, Argyll; Rothesay, Isle of Bute & Sandbank, Argyll)
Total miles for 2002 season = 3,772 nautical miles.
Total miles sailed since 2000 = 5,916 nautical miles.
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