Hello Spring!

Spring is here and the official countdown to the day we leave Southampton has begun. If the weather is favourable, we will be brexiting on the week starting the 1st of May – exactly one year after bringing Cirrus over from France.

Exciting times! Meanwhile, we have been busy trying to shorten down the job list. Longer days and not-so-cold weekends mean boat work! Fortunately for us, we’ve got friends willing to help in exchange of food and beers…

Apart from little touches here and there, Cirrus is pretty much ready to set sail. In fact she can’t wait. She is looking forward to feeling less like a floating home and more like a sailing machine.

She was so happy when we took her out for a wander around the Solent, on a day that started very foggy but ended up with full susnshine.

The first stop of our trip will be Bilbao (Basque Country), where we plan to stay for about 2 months and do a full preparation of the boat, including antifouling and engine servicing.

Less tan 6 weeks to go…!

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From Antigua to Bahamas

Hi everybody,

I will tell you about these last days from Antigua up to now, the last days with Rocio and me together before we take a little break and went discovering Carribbean on our own before meeting up again. We just both felt like having some time on our own after spending five months together non stop. So Rocio is now waiting for delivering boats from St Martin towards Tortola! I am visiting Ma´tinik awaiting to get more information about the boat we will deliver back to France, an RM10.50.

Let us start with the story then; we left Berenice on the 18th of February after two months of work. We will remember our Captain Fonzie and his moment of swearing as well as his Pina Colada moments and his passion for fishing that filled our belly more than once. After all it was a real good experience for us; you get to see the inside of running luxury yachts, discover what makes a difference between a good from a bad boat (“the devil is in the details”… so they say), meet more people and discover how different can people live their lifes but still being happy. We will keep with us the images of millions of dollars floating palaces sitting next to each other, waiting for the rich man to come onboard.

On the 18th we moved onto Luskentyre, an Oyster 72 (21.5 m long saling yacht) which is run by Arvid and Georgia, a couple to who we were introduced by Fonzie (Canadian and Kiwi). They needed delivery crew to bring Luskentyre to Bahamas and proposed to pay us as well as a friend of ours to come and do it with them, including a flight back to anywhere we wanted in the Carribbean. The flight back for us was the start point of deciding to take some time each one aside and so both of us went looking into his opportunities. The delivery was 1000 NM sailing North West, thus in theory 5 to 6 days of downwind sail with the sun… who would say no?!

We left on the 20th from Antigua after struggling to get a piece of the steering system back in place. This delayed us of one day on the schedule and meant we would have to sail fast, and if sailing was not fast enough… engine on!… The weather was very pleasant to us, maybe even a bit to much: we sailed downwind for the first couple of days but ended up having to motor because the wind dropped or shifted round to blow straight on our stern. In those conditions and on those type of boats, going by sail is very uncomfortable: the composite “park avenue” boom weighing more than 200 kgs bangs from one side to the other, risking to damage sail and blocks.

We had to stop in St Martin to fix the generator. We stayed at anchor for one night and the following morning. That gave time to some of us (mainly me) to rush onshore and buy a couple of duty free articles. I came back to the boat very happy: new toys! a phone and a camera!

For the rest of the crossing all the crew struggled to keep busy; five of us onboard and sailing under engine on a straight course did not provide many excitement in itself. The first thing was to learn backgamon! Once Geaorgia explained it to Rocio and me we would keep battling one another for a whole afternoon, me defending that the game is all about tactics and Rocio stating that luck rules backgamon… Once I started loosing the opinions diverged…

Fishing was another way of killing the time while roasting under a cloudless and hot sunny day. We caught two little tunas, a wahoo and a mahi mahi. All of them finished in our little hungry tommies in various way: carpaccio, curry, steaks… miam miam… Georgia unveiled her secret tricks and cooking became another pleasant way to spend our time. We were not competing but evryone was happy to show the best he could do: fresh tagliatelle, salads of all sorts, empanadas, curry… And when we were not eating, reading, fishing, watching a DVD, sleeping and/or steering (the autopilot would not want to take our relay…) we were left with reading. I would strongly recommend this short book I ate in a day, a Voyage for Madmen (in French I think it is Goldenglobe). It treats about the first single handed round the world race and describes the nine characters who took part to it.

And last but not least, the most marking point of this crossing was how much sea life we saw. We spotted several days some whales jumping out the water at 200 m from the boat, and landing back in the water with a massive splash! We all tried to snap a picture of them but obviously the whales were shy and would only jump when the camera was not aimed at them… Untill two of them passed at two meters from the boat, Rocio on the helm had to give a hard turn to port to avoid a collision.

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Georgia and Rocio spotting the whales, Francesco spotting… the whales?

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But where are they?

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Arvid filleting a mahi mahi… miam

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Night watch time… foot on the steering wheel, engine at 1700 RPM…

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All quiet on board. The sunset reflects in our massively heavy boom…

Finally on the 26th at 7 o´clock local time we entered Lyford Cay on the North-Western part of New Providence. This marina is nicknamed “Lifeless Cay” by the sailors and locals because it is situated in the middle of one of the most exclusive and expensive residential neighbourhood of the world. And indeed nothing happens there… Some people pay a lot of money to keep quiet with their millions and that is how it is.

 After spending the day working to make the boat as shiny as possible for the boss, we wanted to go out for a drink somewhere and asked a taxi to drive us “somewhere nice for a drink”…. On the way we felt totally in a sort of American resort islands; perfectly maintained bushes, supermarket, Mac Donalds, Sheratons… we finally ended up in a terrible restaurant area and come out from there feeling quite disgusted. After all Lifeless Cay is maybe the best the island had to offer… A bit sad for a place with such an adventurous past: capital of the pirates.

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Team Fender (Francesco and Gaspar) washing the hull from the dinghy and the dinghy from the hull

Hopefully we did not despair and spent our free day exploring a bit more… Having picked up a guide of the Bahamas dating of 2001 we left in three of us, Rocio, Francesco and me, in a taxi… we ended up for a couple of hours in a little village, Adelaide, in the South West of the island further away from the touristy bling bling. The village has an interesting history; it was founded by the freed slaves that the british navy were unloading on New Providence. They settled here because the gigantic lagoon (more than 30 NM wide) provided them with fishes and conchs (as long as a shark did not take a bite at them before) enough for surviving. A local ex policeman drove us around from Adelaide to Nassau the capital and there and recommended what to see, indeed most of the places recommended in our guide had been either destroyed by a hurrycane or simply abandonned… everywhere the same tourist attractions; passenger ferry vomiting thousands in the streets of Nassau, filled of shops you can find home, Resort centers, casinos, hotels… Overall it is pretty sad that a plca with such an extraordinary topology and history has became a profit making American massive resort island, working on the ideal dream holliday concept sold by TV programs… But well this is obviously only my modest opinion…

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Francesco and me enjoying a beer in Adelaide with our guide of the Bahamas dating from 2001…

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Paradise Island… Beurk!

And that is enough for keeping you up to date. I will try to post you some news on Ma´tinik and I wait with impatience, as well as you, the news from Roro! So let us finish in beauty after this ugly picture of “Paradise Island”…

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Roro!

Bye bye

Gaspar

Last days in Lanzarote

Hi everybody,

a bit of catching up here. We haven’t been on internet so much in the last days, for the simple reason that being in front of a computer sometimes is a real mission! Walking the town looking for a Burger King or other, carrying this computer which always seems heavier, and finally decide which one of us will write will the other one wanders around the shopping mall…

Before telling our last adventures in Lanzarote, we’ll precise that we are now in la Graciosa, an island North West of Lanzarote where sitting in front of a computer is surprisingly more pleasant! Indeed there is a little “hamburgeseria” with cheap lunch, not many people, not many flies and a relax atmosphere, much better than BK…

We left you with the last news of our first day with Dani. We ended up staying four nights at his house. Dani is a great guy, very friendly, he was always coming up with new things to show us, left us the keys of his apartment and would always laugh at Gaspar’s attempt at making jokes in Spanish! Apart from being an active and friendly guy, knowing almost all the people around the island, climbing, fishing, taking courses of English and boating, Dani told us he seemed to have a certain style for dressing according to his own taste… Here is a picture of him in his typical Canarian beach outfit;

El Canario

Amongst our various activities, we went to his “Huerta” (little plantation) that he keeps just Norh of Playa Honda. He has to go there twice a week to give water to the plants and pick the fruits and vegetables. So one morning he proposed us to come with him.

In his little plantation he cultivates bananas, papayas, mangoes, tomatoes, peppers, letuces, leeks, olives, aubergines, courgettes and many more. Obviously in Lanzarote, all of these plants would not grow without human help. Indeed it rains so little that the water has to be produced from massive water makers. No water can be lost and he collects the water dripping at the bottom of his two compost containers, this water apparently is of the best quality to give to the plants. To avoid any of this water to evaporate within five minutes, the sole is covered of little black volcanic stones which keep the humidity in the ground. But I can’t tell you all of that without feeding you with a couple pictures;

Rocio picking the aubergines

Our picking of the day! cherry tomato, aubergines, oranges, leeks, lettuce, green peppers, basil leaves

We also kept on trying to surf. Dani had two boards that he lend us. We went two days each time coming back hitchhiking, even with a long surfboard we made it! We took the occasion that we were in Famara for checking out the surf championship… amazing!… it looks like these guys have glued their boards onto their feet! We did not reach the same level yet… but each of us managed to stand on its feet, although only in the foam. Every attempt at taking a wave that did not break yet dramatically ended up in a big swim and large ingress of salt water in the mouth (this for Gaspar only… Rocio knew already that it does not help to fall forward with the mouth open!). To learn surfing we can give you one trick; do not pay for surfing course, just go to a beach with a lot of surfing schools, spot the instructor (easy, usually it is the one who looks the coolest of the group) and imitate everything they do! Row in the sand like they do, stretch your muscles like they do, jump up on your board like they do, but don’t run on the beach like they do because it is tiring! And again for the pleasure of your eyes a couple picture of our progress and our surfing objective;

Our best achievement

Classic finish in style

Our objective…

Our regime these last couple of days was essentially composed of fruits and vegetables, the closest shop from Dani’s house being a “fruteria” with excellent fruits. I repeat what we said in the previous post, but what a pleasure to sleep in a real bed! We can’t insist enough on that! Being in a house we could clean our clothes as well and came out of these couple days all fresh for the new adventure; la Graciosa living in Rafa’s boat!

We were supposed to go to la Graciosa on the 24th, but at the last moment the plan changed; a couple of friends of Rafa, the owner of the boat, were living onboard and we thought better to leave them their before last evening to themselves. Rather than seeing that as a sad news we were happy to have one more day with Dani and could stay in Famara one afternoon more. Coming back from the surf championship about two hours after changing our plan, Rocio got a phone call from one of the Canarian skipper of charter boat we talked to a week ago; he needed one person to translate from Spanish to French and vice-versa the morning of the 25th. There was work for only one but they left us both coming on board. So we worked as translator on board a 41 ft charter boat that Orange was renting for the morning along with 5 other boats. On board, one of the employee of Orange was from Martinique and we talked at length about Martinique and the life over there. He gave us a couple of advice as where to go search for job, how to find a cheap place to rent in case we need and so on. The skipper Oliver, who talked only Spanish, proposed to give us a ride to Orzola, at the North of the island, where we took the ferry to la Graciosa with the money we earned in the morning! Amongst the other translators were two Senegalese guys who spoke French, Spanish and English, one of them, Konte, tolds us something like that “Be nice to people around you and life will be nice to you”. We thought he might not be wrong and that was probably what happened to us this all day! With a banana smile we took the ferry, sailing along the huge cliffs at the North of Lanzarote (more than 600m high) and arrive in the evening in la Graciosa where we were welcomed by Ale and Marta (Rafa’s friends) with a beer in the cockpit of Oberon, our new home for the days to come… I’ll finish this post with a picture of the sky at sunset in the little harbour of la Graciosa;

Clouds on fire and the sweet feeling of being on a boat

To finish, have a look in the artistic corner page, there has been some changes. This post brings us up to the evening of the 25th October of our adventure, more stories to come about the events of these lasts days in la Graciosa.

Besos a todos