Saturday, August 4, 2018

OCC Port Officer Welcome

Yesterday, Alex and I put on our Ocean Cruising Club Port Officer hats to welcome two OCC members visiting our home town Westport by land. Duncan and Ria Briggs, circumnavigators, have sold their boat which they lived on for 12 years and bought a cottage in England. While waiting for their planning permission to come through for modifications to the tiny cottage by the sea they snapped up, they decided to tour Ireland. We don't get many OCC visitors to our neck of the seas, only 6 to date counting the Briggs - 4 by sea.

They took the ferry to Rosslare then drove from Wexford along the southern coast and up the Wild Atlantic Way to Westport. From here they were turning right to cross the country to Dublin and back to Rosslare. They were mightily impressed by our little corner of the world. They thought it was stunningly beautiful and wondered where all the boats are. We told them there aren't that many. You can go for days cruising without seeing another boat. But you won't see a marina either, so self-sufficiency is paramount which is daunting to many. Not to circumnavigators.

And as many British friends ask, they wanted to know about the sentiment towards the British. We explained that there are many British living in Ireland and many Germans, too. In recent years, the negative sentiments have dissipated and everyone has been welcomed because that is the nature of the people.

We shared a lovely and delicious lunch in the outdoor garden at the Quay Cottage in brilliant sunshine, answered as many questions as we could, gave suggestions for places to visit, and told them about the lore of the land, including St. Patrick and the Holy Mountain and  the Pirate Queen Granuaile. We soon said farewell to our new friends. I have no doubt we will see them again.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Chartering in the Med

Alex and I decided that it would be much saner to charter in the places we want to sail in the Med rather than keep our boat there for the short times off season we'd be using her. The Med has been so hot in the summer, crowded and expensive. The fact that Italy is now turning away migrant vessels and grounding rescue vessels is a complication we don't want to have to deal with either.

Lo and behold, we come home and our friend Grant Headifen sends us notice of a new service he has launched. A global database of comparative yacht charter pricing. We trust Grant because we wrote the anchoring course that's part of his accredited sailing certification curriculum on NauticEd. 

Here we go. Thanks Grant. 


Whew - it took a bit of programming but NOW you can go to the NauticEd Sailing Vacations page and do your own search for chartering a sailboat on a vacation.

You can find prices, availability and everything you need to know about the boat. Then, when you like one, just click a button and we will arrange the booking for you. It is that cool and easy! AND you get the same price as if you go direct.

Here below is a search we just did for available boats in Sicily for 2-3 cabin monohulls for the week of September 22, 2018. BTW - we rate Sicily as the number 1 sailing destination on the planet. See our blog article on Sailing in Sicily here

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Book review - Murder at the Marina

While in Portugal, I downloaded and read Ellen Jacobson's debut novel.  I 'met' Ellen online on the Facebook group Women Who Sail Who Write. It's a wonderfully informative and supportive group for writers who mostly live aboard their boats. I have been very impressed with Ellen's contributions to the group and was very excited for her when she announced completion of her first novel.

I posted a review on Goodreads. I tried to share that review directly to my blog but couldn't get it to work. So here it is, with 5 stars. I loved it!  Well done, Ellen. And thanks for the entertaining read.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Murder at the Marina (A Mollie McGhie Cozy Sailing Mystery #1)

by Ellen Jacobson

I loved this debut cozy mystery from Ellen Jacobson. Started reading it as soon as I downloaded it to my Kindle but had to stop that day. When I picked it up again, I couldn't put it down and read it in one go.

Molly, an amateur sleuth and alien encounters buff, is hoping for diamonds for her anniversary. Instead, her husband buys her an old boat. After they seal the deal, their broker turns up dead on board. Her slightly nerdy husband gets weak at the sight of blood, but Mollie naturally takes matters into her own hands. She takes on the challenging but amusing task of investigating the suspects, all of whom are involved in the marina at some level. And of course, with plenty of chocolate to sustain her, she cracks the case. (BTW, she gets her diamonds, too.)

When I started reading this entertaining and slightly zany story, I immediately thought of Jimmy Buffet's writing style. Really easy and comforting to read. Although boaters will love it, it will appeal to non-boaters as well because the author does a great job of making the boating terms understood. I can't wait for the next installment.

Available in both eBook and print formats. Check out Ellen's very professional author website and informative blog

We're set to go

Alex and Tatiana 

Vodka at RCNP
Well they got us into our berth first thing this morning and we've been tidying up ever since. Alex has the lines tied and chafe protectors secured. The fridge is cleaned out, the bicycles are stowed. All the prep work that goes with putting a boat to bed for a bit has been done.

Last night, we decided to have dinner at the RCNP yacht club which has a beautiful club house. Shortly after we were seated, Alex and Tatiana stopped by and joined us for drinks as we ate tapas. We had a delightful conversation about crossing oceans and everything else in Russian and Ukrainian, which unfortunately Alex couldn't take part in. I periodically stopped to translate something funny or important, and every once in a while, Alex added some bit of information in English having semi followed the flow. It was an enjoyable dinner.

Friday, July 27, 2018

The final days

Clammers in the anchorage at Muros.

We sailed lazily at least part of the way from the Ria Arousa to the Ria Muros y Noia. It was a beautiful day again, and there were loads of fishing boats out. Lazy relaxing sail.

We arrived at Muros in the late afternoon and spotted a yacht with an OCC Associates burgee. After wandering around the town, stopping for a beer, and finding a stall selling bread on this holiday feast day, we headed back and stopped by to meet Ian Moors, Caroline and Charlotte on the Beneteau Silhouette. They are new members of OCC en route to the Caribbean with the ARC this year. They were so excited to be qualifying as full members of the OCC. Nice bunch.

We spent a lovely night at anchor in Muros and were curious to see people clamming not very far from where we were anchored, waist deep in the water. It was a little disconcerting but we knew we had enough depth for some distance and when we pulled up anchor we were still in 40 feet of water.

The trip across to Portosin took all of about 1 hour and we settled in at the transient dock until they assigned us a berth. Aleria was to be here for a month while we flew home from Santiago de Compostela. Carmela and Carmen said it could be the next day that we would get into our assigned berth as the boat that was supposed to have left, was still there. We were fine with that.

A Belgian boat flying a Russian 'burgee' docked next to us. Onboard were three Russians, Alex, Tatiana and Sergey. I greeted them in Ukrainian with an OCC brochure in hand, telling them it was an organisation for people like us who sail the world on boats, and membership can provide a 25% discount. They were curious, and we managed to make ourselves understood. They were thrilled to hear a similar language as they have not been able to understand anything for weeks. Alex, the owner, told us our boat was much sought after in Russia and much more valuable than his boat. He was so thrilled he gave us a bottle of Russian Stoli, and we reciprocated with a bottle of albarino.

Alex had gotten our bikes ready so we were riding back and forth to the town and the beach. We had drinks on the stellar terrace of RCNP and dinner at our favourite restaurant nearby -- lobster in rice. Yum. The night was a bit rocky as fishing boats zipped past at all hours but I hardly noticed until rain splashing through the hatch woke me up.

I learned from Tatiana the next day that they are sailing a segment at a time because of work commitments, and they are heading for the Med. They have loved Majorca, Corsica, Sardinia and Croatia and intend to keep the boat there. I asked if they will go to the Black Sea, they said, no there's nothing there.

Meanwhile, we are still awaiting our berth. There's another boat in it that was supposed to be gone, but they can't even be reached. I'm getting quite agitated as I had wanted to be settled and relaxing not fretting and fidgeting. We fly back tomorrow and our taxi picks us up at 2. I will hate it if Aleria is not settled before we leave. I made sure we got here early so we could get everything set right. Very stressful now.

Alex, on the other hand, is making up story lines about three Russians orchestrating a rescue of spies accused of meddling in elections for his next novel. Their names? You guessed it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

An official visit

Customs boat approaching
We were anchored alone in Salvora last evening. The other two boats had departed a short while before. When suddenly, the Customs boat made a bee line to Aleria. They pulled alongside and asked to board. We quickly deployed fenders and two men hopped across. Pretty good as it was blowing about 20-25 at the time, and kicking up quite a chop.

They sat in the cockpit and asked for the table to be put up. They asked for our papers which Alex got out of the dutiful green brief case. They wrote everything down, asked where we had come from and where we were going and then chatted us up. They liked the boat and wanted to know where we usually keep her. We told her we'd been in Galicia overwinter, had sailed down to the Algarve but returned to Galicia because it's cooler than the Algarve and better weather than Ireland. They laughed, thanked us for our time, apologized for interrupting us and went on their way.

They were very impressive in boat handling and seamanship. And they could not have been nicer. Just wanted the paperwork. Gave us a blue copy and told us to show it if another Customs agent showed up. But they warned us that Customs in other Rias may still wish to board. No problem.

Getting ready for the jump

Customs departing

The fort museum

The landing beach

Sunset beginning to take shape

Lovely sunset

Tourists in the morning

Rocks off Salvora

Purse seiners all around

The two ICC boats that left

Before sunset

After sunset

Long after sunset

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Back to our favourite places

The bar with horreos to sit under. 

We’ve been to Combarro a few times now, Once anchored off the marina, once in the marina, once anchored off Ilha Tambo, and once anchored off the mole. We’ve loved it every time.  So when we raised anchor in Aldan, we chose to return again. Lots of birds were fishing as the fish rose all around us. Dolphins were feeding and porpoises jumping for joy at their find. Fishermen were actually catching lots of mackerel not just fishing. It was the most wildlife we had seen in our time underway and it was encouraging.

We tied up at the fuel dock – the only place we could find to leave the dinghy where the gates were not locked. The big block of buildings at the marina periphery seemed even emptier than last year. Only two restaurants and mostly empty storefronts. Sad. It should be vibrant.

Yes, Combarro is a tourist trap, but a charming one. With the waterfront restaurants and shops carved into the rock walls, the meandering streets winding up the hill, the countless horreos and beautifully carved cruiceiros. Somehow, we hadn’t really meandered up into the residential area the previous times, so we did that this time, I taking loads of photos of every horreo and cruiceiro we passed. We walked out into the vineyards that surround the town. We then walked down onto the beach which we also had not done before. It was low tide and the sands are covered with seaweed which ‘matures’ in the sun. The profile of the waterfront town from this vantage is lovely with its myriad horreos lining the shore.

There is one restaurant which has bar seating under a horreo and we’ve always eyed those seats overlooking the harbour but they’ve always been occupied, until yesterday.  We snagged the seats and ordered a couple of albarinos to pass the time until dinner. Bliss. Perfect temperature, lovely view, good wine.

We walked over to the wisteria arbour in the large main square and watched people playing kayak basketball for a while. Bought bread and pastries at the panaderia, then wandered back to the shops where I bought a witch tree ornament and a celtic T-shirt. At 6:30 we opted for an early dinner (by their standards VERY early) and ordered sardinhas, zamburinas and croquetas. A bottle of albarino and we were happy.

The square which this restaurant now occupies was once the centre of life in the village of Combarro. The fishermen brought their catch to the Quay and the women brought their vegetables and wares to sell at market. Today, it is no longer vital. 

As we made our way back to the boat from the fuel dock, we noted that Orchestra was tied up there, as was another boat bearing the Ocean Cruising Club (OCC) burgee, the distinctive yellow and blue flying fish. Her name is Wife of ­Ł×╣ and her sail number is 3.14167. We went over to introduce ourselves and were invited aboard by owner Enda Connelan and his wife. They had two friends from Dublin aboard and we were invited for drinks. Very nice group and another OCC photo op taken.

We slept well that night. In the morning, we made our way to Sao Vicente and anchored off the beach, taking care to avoid the rock we anchored near once before. They had Dragon boat races and they were fun to watch for a short while. They have six pairs of two rowers, a single in the front and a tiller handler steering in the rear. They are blazing fast. It made for a festive atmosphere.

We are making our way slowly to Portosin. A few nice stops still to go. 

Horreos, grain storage elevators, along the shore

Cruceiros, or carved crosses


A lovely Camino sign

Warning, danger of death!

Low tide

The village waterfront

Horreos line the waterfront

Bars cut into caves

Odd friends

The crew of Wife of ­Ł×╣ 

The anchorage with Tambo in the background

Seamanship on display

We were treated to an unusual sight yesterday. As we cruised from Ria de Aldan to Combarro in the Ria de Pontevedra, we noticed a helicopter hovering over a boat in the distance. We wondered if the chopper was chasing a drug runner. But it turned out to be the Policia Maritima practicing dropping a crew member onto a vessel at sea and then retrieving a person from a boat in a basket. Cool. They did this right in front of us as we sailed slowly along the Ria. The maneuver was perfectly executed. It's nice to know that there is such skill and bravery out there.

Today there was a Pan Pan VHF call by a motor vessel named Indigo Days in trouble requiring assistance. A vessel probably like this was deployed in answer. It would take them 40 minutes to arrive on scene, we heard the coast guard report.