Spain 2019

An online log of Atlantis' travels and adventures to Spain and beyond commencing on 13 Jun 2019

Gibraltar

Posted by admin on August 13, 2019

Sadly, this is the point at which, for now at least, we say a fond farewell to Hector as he returns to UK and life ashore to commence the next stage of his academic studies.  Suffice it to say, it has been immense fun and enormously fulfilling to sail with someone with such drive, commitment, passion, appetite to learn and sense of fun.  It is always rewarding to sail with someone who absorbs information and experiences so voraciously and it has been an enormous privilege to learn from him too as, I hope, he has something of value from me along the way.

Publicly therefore, Hector, I am immensely grateful for everything you have done for Atlantis, Fiona and me throughout the summer.  It goes without saying, we'll look forward to one day welcoming you back on board.  

Atlantis' adventures will continue.

Andy

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Well, we got here........what next?

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Cadiz, Bolonia and Gibraltar

Posted by admin on August 10, 2019

The final leg to Gibraltar
 
We got a little behind with the blog as the sailing came to an end - the last update had us sailing past Faro headed for Cadiz. Since then, we made it into the Med, left Atlantis in Gibraltar and said goodbye. 
 
Cadiz was a lovely city surrounded by sea, with beautiful parks and large beaches along the coastline. We explored the city, stocked up on food for the final leg, then departed (I took us out of the marina, which was a first!). We then had a bit of a motor down toward our next anchorage, at Ensenada de Bolonia, a sprawling and busy beach with a large dune at one end.
 
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During this sail we caught sight of the foothills of North Africa, at one point only about 10 miles off to starboard. The weather was hot, a regular 30 plus. That night we could see a myriad of lights to the south, Tangier. We spent a morning on the beach before escaping the heat of the land and heading, for a final time, to sea. Sailing through the Strait of Gibraltar was pretty special, Spain to our left and Morocco to our right, large shipping then from nowhere, 25 knots. We'd been motoring one moment and the next were putting in a reef! All was well, and we were welcomed into Gibraltar by a pair of dolphins playing in the bow waves. A slight correction is that we did not, in fact, sail into Gibraltar. We sailed into La Linea, a town on the Spanish side of the border. Quite odd being in 35 degree heat, Spain and only a stone's throw from the UK. Gibraltar itself was a very interesting place with a lot of history. Accessed via a level crossing style airport, it was a strange mix of home, Spain and Africa, with fish and chip shops, tapas and monkeys (Barbary macaques)! Worth a visit. 
 
The trip on the whole has been a grand adventure, a much appreciated break after finishing university, a fantastic opportunity to learn some of what makes an ocean sailor and a doorway into a new community. I am not used to writing like this, so will have missed out much, but I hope enough of the journey has been captured to entertain whoever's interested and jog my memory when I'm a bit longer in the tooth. 
 
Until next time,
Hector.
 
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Lisbon (continued)

Posted by admin on August 5, 2019

~ Hector ~
 

As the sun rises over Faro we sail onwards.

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We caught a decent if brief sleep on Friday night before departing our anchorage Saturday morning, with the intention of sailing round the Cape and stopping in for the night somewhere near Lagos. I can't say much of the Cape, as we rounded it in the dark and clouds, however on the most part, the night has been fair with stellar views. 
 
An update from me on the past couple days: 
 
The sail to Lisbon was blowy, I'm glad to have experienced it and even more glad that blow was in the right direction. I read something recently that described the sea as "that beautiful monster" and think it a good description. 
 
Lisbon itself was an excellent city, one of the best I've visited. 
 
As Andy described our sail Friday night finished with a dose of catabatic winds. The net result of this wind as well as a tide turned against us was that our final approach to the anchorage was slow. Very slow. I recall repeatedly feeling, whilst at the helm with the wind and spray keeping me company, that a considerable amount of time had passed, only to find the stretch of twelve lampposts of to the port bow unmoved. I was glad to drop anchor that night!
 
A few photos to update:
 
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Lisbon

Posted by admin on August 3, 2019

We've been getting a bit behind with the imagery as our experiences outpace our ability to record and document them!  We'll catch up at some stage.

In the meantime, we've had two nights in Lisbon.  Time to recover slightly from the rigours of the passage down from Porto, and to enjoy the city - and there is plenty to enjoy. 

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As mere tourists we've visited squares, monuments, castles and viewpoints, walked the backstreets and eaten in small roadside restaurants.

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It has been fun and one is regularly reminded of the influence of the sea and the legacy of Portuguese explorers on this city. Tourists we might be but there's a sense of quiet pride in having arrived here by sea.

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We left Lisbon on the second afternoon of our stay at the Doca de Alcambre marina - not least because the small and not particularly well equipped marina is the most expensive we've visited since leaving the English Channel. Still, it is close to the centre and main sights of the city.  Our intent was supposed to be for an easy sail - light winds and sunshine around the next headland to the south - Cabo Espichel 30 miles away. And indeed it was - until we rounded the cape at last light for the 15 mile reach in the lee of its headland.

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The complacency of a glorious sunset! Thereafter, the whirling dervishes of catabatic winds dropping off the sheer cliffs to our north caused gusts of >35 knots and a short, sharp chop which regularly drenched us on deck.  The last two hours certainly didn't feel like a rest day! We dropped anchor under an old fort in the approach to the massive commercial port of Setubal at midnight and, having towelled off the dousing we'd had on deck, crawled into our bunks.  The next headland we'll round will be Cabo Sao Vicente at the south west tip of Portugal where we shall turn east for the Straits of Gibraltar.

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Porto and onwards

Posted by admin on July 31, 2019

it's a tenuous 'segway' but there is a Perthshire link between Porto and our voyage. It turns out that the one of the significant founders of the port wine industry was a near neighbour of Hector's - albeit separated by a mere 250 years.  George Sandeman must have been an enterprising chap though.  He founded his business whilst the nation in 1805 was fighting Napoleon at sea off the Portuguese coast, and (as we learned in Coruna) war was being waged throughout mainland Spain and Portugal; yet throughout all that turmoil he continued to build the business that still bears his surname.  

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Porto is a lovely town of faded grandeur.  Hidden backstreets and dilapidated buildings separate more spectacular public buildings on the banks of the Rio Douro.  We'd debated whether to bring Atlantis up into the town but the fierce currents, shallow shoals and proximity of the altogether safer commercial port facilities at Leixos 2 km to the north saw us err on the side of safety and berth in Leixos to visit Porto town instead by metro from there.

All harbour stays beg the immediate question of 'how long should one stay?'.  Many a round the world trip has stalled when the participants decide repeatedly just to stay a little longer in a safe berth whose attractions outweigh the uncertainties of putting once more to sea!  The weather forecast was for strong northerly winds for two days (Tuesday and Wednesday) easing down towards very little towards the end of the week.  On the one hand, strong northerlies were perfect for making progress; on the other there is always the risk of damage and discomfort when putting to sea into a blow; particularly into a lee shore of the Atlantic Ocean.  Waiting another couple of days would have incurred no hardship other than perhaps limiting the range of our final destination of this phase of Atlantis' voyage.  

In the end, we decided to go for it and put to sea just after lunch on Tuesday heading for Lisbon into freshening winds and a growing swell - total distance of just over 165 nautical miles with an expectation that the passage might take us up to 40 hours at sea.  As it happens we have made fabulous progress.  I type this as we round Cabo de Roca to begin the easterly approach into Lisbon some 25 miles to our east.  We've had a 'sporty' passage - at times gusts of up to 45 knots, two reefs in the main, a small jib and Atlantis falling off waves at speeds of up to 10.5 knots (she's not used to such things!).  At other times, we have had waves breaking into the cockpit - consistently when we've least expected them.  But the water is warm, we've wanted to stretch our legs and Atlantis is a good boat in a blow.  She's looked after us well and there's nothing a drying out and putting things back in their place won't fix when we hope to make landfall later this evening.

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