Friday, September 21, 2018
For the first time in my life, I have experienced a loss of ambition. It happened just as we were heading off to sail for two weeks in Galicia. I had no interest in traveling or sailing, but I didn't say anything to anyone. When we got there, I had no interest in sailing off. As it happened, our 'niece' Joan was taking part in a race which was coming in to Portosin where our boat was. It suited me fine to stay put in the marina for several days, something we would never have done before.
I read books, hung out, did little chores, walked into town, answered email - nothing very stressful. We lived.
After we sailed out to see the start of the race, we sailed over to the Ria de Aldan and dropped anchor. The next day Alex asked if it was okay to stay at anchor another day. We stayed four more.
I read books, hung out, did little chores, walked into town, answered email - nothing very stressful. We lived. I was perplexed.
We sailed around the corner to Ensenada de Barra and dropped anchor (after we managed to get the chain out of the locker where it had gotten stuck again) for one night then motored across the Ria to Vigo and tied up to the pontoon at the Liceo de Maritimo in Bouzas. We stayed there for three days.
I read books, hung out, did little chores, walked into town, answered email - nothing very stressful. We did have to pack up the boat. We took off the sails and dodger, Alex stowed the dinghy and ropes while I did the laundry and cleaned. Otherwise, we lived.
Since we've come home, I've felt that same lack of ambition, so today I decided to look into it. Seems that ambition tends to dwindle with age. It also tends to be blunted by depression. I don't feel depression coming on, but I do feel my age creeping up. One day while in Galicia, Alex and I decided we had reached the age of invisibility. People walking past us didn't even notice we were there. We weren't insulted; we rather relished the thought.
So what is it about age and ambition? In this stage of aging, I suppose that ego is losing its momentum, like an engine running out of petrol. I no longer have a goal orientation that drove me through so much of my life. Those great ambitions that raised tidal waves of energy no longer propel my life. Success means something entirely different now.
Instead, I am content with day-to-day activities that float in and out of my sphere of consciousness like flotsam and jetsam on the tide, the tide that will one day carry me out to sea and drop me on another shore. Daily chores and appointments, the short-term practical objectives of cleaning the house, paying the bills, and seeing the dentist take center stage as the constant elements in our lives. And contentment sets in. This is not depression. This is a new stage of being. Of living, not working, not rushing, not searching, not conquering, not achieving. Just living in contentment.
One day while we were on Aleria, I realized how content I was. I've never been content, always searching for more, wanting to see new things, not 'waste' any time. Instead, the present moment has become a time for contemplation, reflection, remembering and wonderment. There's a peace settling in. And an appreciation for what I have, not what I am missing. It is time to enjoy and be thankful for my amazing husband whom I cherish, my family and friends, my cats, food, drink, the boat, and the gardens. It's a time of increasing simplicity and stillness of spirit.
Gone is FOMO - the fear of missing out. Days blur together, the sky turns from light to dark and light again, rain comes and goes, and I grow a little older as the earth spins on its tilted axis. I know the embers are gradually getting dimmer, and winter is approaching. I settle in to observe the mystery of life around me, to float on a divine tide, undulating with rhythm but not a perfectly repeated pattern. It is a surprising time, one I've never heard mentioned before.
It's strange to lack motivation and ambition. As a writer, I have had the goal of writing the great American novel. Now I wonder if I will ever write anything monumental. Indeed, I wonder what difference it would make if I did? Big ideas come and go, but nothing inspires me to act. I am prone to writing poetry - short and poignant - and indeed took the initiative to sign up for a one day poetry course. That's a short-term commitment I can live with.
It's strange to lack motivation, not to be propelled through challenges, solving problems, launching global brands, crossing oceans, always reaching for a new level of success. It's strange not to strive for some new accomplishment on the horizon as it takes shape in my mind. Perhaps this time of inertia is just a natural rest period. Perhaps I will get over it, and enter a tidal stream that sweeps me off on a new journey yet to be defined.
But in the interim, I am content to just watch the horizon; study the light playing on the hills, the clouds getting caught on mountain tops and spinning off as flying saucers, the rain blanketing the green hills in darkness as it sweeps from across the sea and over land. The present becomes etched into my soul, every moment of its beauty preserved. I wait, I watch, I remain still.
I started out grieving over my ambition's absence. I thought I had lost something powerful and profound. But now I relish the stillness and contentment. My cats snore in the chair next to me and stretch as they snuggle together for warmth. I stoke the embers of my soul, wrap myself in my warm new blanket of contentment and breathe deeply. I've never been shallow, just rushing from one activity to the next. Perhaps I am discovering something more profound. With nothing to achieve besides stillness, my life is becoming more deeply rooted in this place. I am alive. I am content. This is what I have been searching for all my life. I am home.
Saturday, September 15, 2018
|View from the maritime museum toward Bouzas|
We are docked at the Liceo de Maritimo in Bouzas, Vigo preparing Aleria for her winter at the Astilleros Lagos boatyard. We've removed the sails and other sundry items from the deck, stowed the dinghy, cleaned out the fridge, swept up and done the laundry. Yesterday, Alberto Lagos stopped by and we reviewed all the work we'd like done over the winter. He is such a gentle and kind man. We are fortunate to consider him and all the Lagos family our friends. It is very warm and dry but not unpleasant. The climate here is much to be desired.
Monday, September 10, 2018
We departed from the Ria de Muros y Noia with the Figaro fleet in the afternoon. The wind died so we motored to Illa Salvora, our favourite island, feeling pity for the poor Solitaire fleet attempting to round Finisterre.
La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro single-handed race is run in stages of about 500 miles each. It is known as the preparatory event for sailors contemplating the Vendee Globe, the non-stop around the world solo challengethat is the ultimate test of endurance on the high seas. Our 'niece', Joan Mulloy has her sights set on the Vendee and this year entered the Solitaire to test her mettle.
Sunday, September 2, 2018
About a week ago, the Canadian Coast Guard sent out a message warning hopeful adventurers that ice in the NWP is heavier than normal and that, should a vessel get into trouble, the CCG might not be able to rescue them. They should be prepared to spend a winter aboard. That means they would have had to have packed enough food for the entire crew for a long winter in terrible conditions.
Tuesday, August 28, 2018
If you are following the Golden Globe Race, then you are aware of the carnage out there. Several yachts have retired and it was announced overnight that Norwegian skipper Are Wiig's Olleanna was rolled and dismasted overnight.
Sunday, August 19, 2018
This time last year, the Atlantic was chock a block with tropical storm activity. This year, as we head into peak season, the silence is deafening. We got our first TS remnants yesterday as Ernesto came through, dumping lots of rain but otherwise fairly benign. Friends had thought about spending more time in Ireland, arriving around next week but I advised against it, as the west coast in the autumn can be very wet and windy as the TS barrel their way across the Atlantic towards our west coast. Was I alarmist? Possibly. So I looked up what the 'experts' were saying.
Friday, August 17, 2018
Our little sailing club in the west of Ireland has to deal with lots of weather. After all, everything that gets cooked up over in the states, crosses the Atlantic and picks up more punch along the way to dump it over here. So last year, when our anemometer was blown away in a storm, literally, we decided to partner with WindGuru to create a weather station that would deliver a community service as well. The result was a new weather station at Mayo Sailing Club with weather cam that now provides a feed to WindGuru for more accurate results on Clew Bay.
Saturday, August 4, 2018
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.
Thursday, August 2, 2018
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.
Saturday, July 28, 2018
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.
|Alex and Tatiana|
|Vodka at RCNP|
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
|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.
Wednesday, July 25, 2018
|Customs boat approaching|
Saturday, July 21, 2018
|The bar with hórreos 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 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.
Thursday, July 19, 2018
|Fishermen off Barra|
Enough of marinas. Our next few days are meant to be swinging on a hook. On our way out, we buzzed by the Ilhas de Cies and saw Celtic Spirit anchored there. Michael hailed us on the radio and Alex chatted for a while. They were on their way to Porto in Portugal and would be back in September. We vowed to meet up then.
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
|Tim and Cath Bridgen in Baiona|
Wednesday, July 11, 2018
|Haha, Alex and Daria on the tour boat trip to the sea caves with Reiner|
We were anchored in Portimao again. The last time we were sorry we had not availed of the tour boat trips to see the sea caves along this section of the Algarve. It's apparently one of the most extensive cave systems in Europe. We saw the way the tour boats went in and out of the caves as we had sailed along the coast. We knew it wasn't something we could do in our own dinghy. So we went ashore and signed up with a small boat operator, one that did not take a whole busload o f tourists at once. Okay, so we were in Portugal and our operator turned out to be a German from Berlin named Capt. Reiner, but he was married to a Portuguese woman, had a grown Portuguese son and had lived here for 27 years. And he was entertaining. I think we actually had the best experience.
|Sunrise in Culatra and it's already hot.|
Saturday, July 7, 2018
|The Atlantic side beach of Culatra|
We pulled up our anchor at 9 am yesterday morning and were underway by 9:30. Hecuba had left long before us – they were gone by 7:30 when we got up. We set our sails close to shore and opted to follow the coast so we could get a look at some of the places we hadn’t had a chance to explore, places like Carvoeiro, Benagil and Albufeira. It was a beautiful morning and we had a nice land breeze filling our sails on a port tack heading down the coast.
Wednesday, July 4, 2018
|Approaching old Portimao from the water|
After having vegetated aboard yesterday, we were up for shore leave today. Yesterday, we just needed a day off. We hadn’t stopped moving since we’d come down to Aleria. I was exhausted and no amount of sleep seemed to be redeeming. So we stopped for one day. Did nothing much but read, and wrote and played on the internet, and hung out. Lunch was excellent with fish cakes I’d made with leftover fish from the Marisco in Cascais. Alex out up the awning and it cooled things down.
Tuesday, July 3, 2018
The morning started off heavily overcast and cool, with sprinkles from the sky wetting the deck just before breakfast. The anchorage was calm; there had been a slight swell overnight which rocked the cradle pleasantly all night long. Aleria doesn't mind a bit of swell. At 30 tons, she rocks gently, pointing into the wind and swinging with the current. Some of the other boats weren't faring as well, rocking more energetically as the tide turned against the wind and kept the boats aligned beam to the incoming swell. We slept well as we always do at anchor.
Monday, July 2, 2018
|Cabo da S Vicente|
We left Cascais after 28 days in the marina, staring at the harbour wall every evening. We are finally in Portimao at anchor, the place I love most. We plan to anchor out a lot from now on. Hopefully go into marinas only when we need to take on water and fuel.
Alex decided we did not want to be at sea on my birthday so we delayed leaving Cascais until Saturday. What’s one more day when you’ve already been there 27?
After a lovely breakfast that I made for myself – eggs, smoked salmon, cheese – my style, we jumped on the bikes and headed out toward the beach I’d read about where all the surfers and kite surfers go. It was out the western end on the bike trail we’d ridden to the Fortalesa da Jorge. It was quite a long way out, about 10 km from Cascais. It was the perfect day for it. Overcast – not hot and not windy.
We rode out past the inferno and the big house, now full of shops and restaurants, and past the Fortaleza. That road is lined with mansions on one side and rocky coast along the other. Beautiful. We kept going until we got to a block of buildings nestled around a converted fort that is now a hotel. Just beyond that was the beach – Guincho Surf Beach. Beautiful, backed by high dunes and rocky promontories on either side. From there we could see Cabo da Roca, Continental Europe’s westernmost point which we had visited on the way back from Sintra.
Friday, June 29, 2018
|Re-rigging under way. Jorge, Alex and Jorge hard at work on the mizzen mast.|
The riggers were to start reassembling our rig first thing Monday morning. Sunday we were preparing all day, doing last minute chores – I cleaning the cockpit and aft deck, Alex wiring and wiring and wiring and fretting and fretting and fretting. So we thought we should prepare with a fine dinner out. We chose Marisco, the seafood restaurant upstairs in the marina which everyone had been saying was wonderful.
Sunday, June 24, 2018
|Beaches and anchorage of Cascais|
There was a light fog when we departed the marina on our bikes. We stopped briefly at the lighthouse near the marina first but as the visibility wasn’t great, we decided to keep going. We rode out along the southeasterly coastal route out of town. When we got to the end about twice the distance to Estoril, we turned around. Estoril and Cascais were once the haunts of royalty, world leaders and spies but today, Estoril is the site of a casino and the area between the two is a major tourist destination – an alternative to the Algarve – where the Atlantic sea breeze and cooler waters make the summer climate more bearable. There are still many stately homes, some of which are now hotels.
Friday, June 22, 2018
|Me with Jill & Chris Mounsey on Pale Moon|
A couple of days ago, a boat came into the marina bearing the OCC Flying Fish burgee. Naturally we had to make contact. After all, I'm Rear Commodore of OCC and Alex is Rear Commodore for Ireland. We were the welcoming committee.
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
It’s been cool and breezy in the teen degrees centigrade until yesterday morning. We noticed the difference first thing on the way to the showers. We didn’t need a fleece. We had decided to visit Belem, a cultural suburb of Lisbon, and it was a Monday (fare €5 round trip just like to Lisboa). By the time we reached the train station in Cascais, it was 29C. By the time we reached Belem, the outside temperature reported by the train display was 36C. It was going to be a scorcher. Out of nowhere. No way to adjust. Just had to deal with it.
|The outer marina pontoons for the local fleet - citadel walls on the left|
When we first arrived, the marinieros and the women in the office could not have been nicer. They have remained so throughout our stay. Even when we complained daily about no internet access, they remained nice. The IT guy kept telling them he could see us logged onto the internet so everything was fine, but he never left his office to come down to where we were to see that with six internet stations distributing signal, we could not even see one - not on our laptops or our smart phones from below or on the docks. I had to go to the office with my laptop to sit on the couch to get some banking and work done. That's not acceptable in a high end marina today.
Sunday, June 17, 2018
|Praia Conceicao, with the marina in the distance|
To work in Cascais, one must know at least four languages, and one must be able to guess the language of the person one is addressing. The receptionist at the marina tried three languages before she hit on me speaking English. It's fascinating to hear all the languages around us. Portuguese of course, but much English, French, Spanish, Italian, and German. It is a resort town and the beaches are crowded, even though it's just barely in season.
Saturday, June 16, 2018
|The Palatio National da Sintra seen from the park side|
Thursday, June 14, 2018
Sunday - 10th June
|I could use some fresh zumo full of vitamins. Their blender is powered by a bicycle.|
The day started out nice, with warm sun and French toast. Alex saw our neighbour Scott on the blue catamaran first thing and invited him to join us on an excursion to Sintra, which he accepted. So that’s our next port of call.
Sat 9th of June
|Beautiful day on the riverfront in Lisbon.|
We decided to catch the train to Lisbon. We loved it the last time we were there in 2009. It couldn’t be easier to get there from Cascais: €5 each round trip for a 45 minute ride. Not bad, along the coast, viewing the beaches and coast walkway. There is a lot of graffiti and it appeared that some of the neighbourhoods along the route are a bit rough. A coastal clean-up is in order.
Friday – June 8th
Alex had bought a new mast light and new wiring and we needed a new windex. He was moving the AIS antenna to the mizzen mast because the signal it pings was interfering with our VHF radio. We kept getting a sound like a mic PTT being pushed incessantly. Very annoying. Plus, he would connect the spare VHF to that antenna; if we had trouble with the main VHF, we could have a second VHF via the antenna on the mizzen as backup.
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
|The head is not supposed to be on deck.|
Sunday, June 10, 2018
Today is Sunday and I can't believe it's been a week already since we arrived in Cascais. Where to begin? There has been no internet in the marina so writing blog posts has been a challenge. I've also been too busy to actually sit down and write.
Tuesday, June 5, 2018
|Staysail is up. We're sailing along at about 8 knots.|
We departed from Leixoes at a leisurely pace having calculated that it would take us about 27 hours or more to get there. So if we left at 9 am, we'd be arriving at about noon the next day, a Sunday. Perfect. Nothing much gets going in Portugal before 10 am especially on a Sunday. We would be spending about two weeks there getting our standing rigging replaced, a big job. A really big job. We'd be assigned a berth near the yard.
|Leaving Baiona just after dawn in cold mist.|
|Showers along the coast of Portugal.|
|Pyrotechnics simulate boat fire at the fuel dock. Glad we were not downwind.|
When we were in Vigo, we were treated to entertainment one day. The RCNV staged a fire aboard a boat at the fuel dock using pyrotechnics. The guys had to escape the fire as the fire brigade arrived to put it out, all while what appeared to be very amateur crew filmed the event. They had to stage several takes.
Friday, June 1, 2018
At the Monte Real Club de Yates in Bayona, the dolphins have learned that there are scores of mullet breeding and living in the marina waters. So the dolphins have been swimming into the marina and diving around the boats in their slips. We saw maybe five dolphins circling around. Smart little devils.
BTW, that's the new passarelle Alex is building for the Med. It consists of a ladder, a sheet of plywood, and non-skid decking squares. It comes apart so we can use the ladder as a ladder. A creative way around something that can cost thousands.
Thursday, May 31, 2018
|Aleria heading out the Ria Vigo toward Baiona. Photo by Alberto Lagos.|
|Nice photo of Aleria by Alberto Lagos.|
When we arrived in Baiona, we were assigned a berth right next to the President's yacht about as close to the clubhouse as we could be. Easy to get in, too. Someone had made a welcome sign that was secured to the dock in our slip. Oscar Calero, the manager of the club, was there in a flash with a bottle of wine and greetings. He came aboard for a bit then left us to tidying up but invited us to lunch the next day.
|Aleria in her berth at MRCYB|
The next morning, we started out with chores - Alex to check in and I to do a bit of shopping. I went to the ferreteria to get yacht paint for the galley, paperia to get wrapping paper for gifts, paneteria for bread, and the Froiz to top up on juices and cherries! I also bought a pair of wild cat print harem pants on sale (my favourite four letter word) but resisted a bathing suit I would be unlikely to get much use of at €78. I also resisted the ladies in the boutique who tried to sell me on all kinds of lovely clothing. Not today. Alex proceeded to install USB ports all over - they are not incongruous with a classic yacht if they make life more convenient. Good job, Alex.
|Stunning sunset in Baiona|
Noelia is a marine biologist by training and we gave her a copy of Alex's book Oyster Delight and suggested she write a series of pamphlets are the fish in the area for the club. We gave Oscar a copy of Happy Hooking, not realizing that he doesn't actually sail. After dessert and coffee, we retired to the boat. They took care of everything. It seems it was the first time they were permitted to have lunch in the members' dining room. They found it a real treat. We offered to be an excuse any time.
|Alberto and Alfredo Sr.|
At the end of dinner, they prepared a special Galician drink called queimada, a firey drink made of Galician poitin and sugar, lit with flames, stirred until the fire subsides, with apples thrown in and lemon to quench the fire. A clap over the bowl makes the fire go out. Magic. It's intended to expel and protect against evil spirits. There certainly weren't any there that night.
Then we were invited to visit Alfredo Sr.'s office in the house. What an amazing place, full of history with half hulls of yachts they'd built and restored, memorabilia and historical documents, all in their place where Alfredo knew they were. Extraordinary. We watched the bats flying out of the attic space and the night sky pull the blanket over the land. It was a very special evening the memory of which we will cherish for a lifetime. Many thanks to the Lagos family for their kindness, welcome and generosity. We hope they come to visit us in Ireland very soon.
|OCC POR flag|
|OCC plaque with no date or specifics|
|Burgees, including OCC and ICC|
|Everything in its place|
|Stories and more stories|
Tomorrow we set sail for Leixoes near Porto, 57 nm. Not too bad. See you there.