This island was on our “must do” list when researching the area, and it was great to be able to share it with our guests, Debs and Martin. Declared a national park in 1991 it is highly protected and sensitive area with many rare plants and animals, and a long and diverse history. Here are a few photos of this special place.
We arrived in France on the 16th of July, we left La Rochelle on 4th of August, we arrived in the Islas Baleares (Formentera to be precise) on 8th of September – we are here! The first 5 weeks has been all about getting here (the Med, or more precisely the Balearics) to catch the tail end of the summer season. Yes we enjoyed our trip down the Atlantic coast, we learned a lot about our boat, ourselves and working together, but this was always the destination we had in mind. Now we can stop getting here and start being here. Now we are here we can relax and enjoy right? Well…. Yeah actually we can!
After “doing” Porto Keith and I decided we needed to go it alone. PJ stayed on to meet some friends arriving that day and Keith and I set off early morning into the breach - literally as it was blowing 30kts++ We had several legs planned with just the two of us, including 1 overnight. That would get us into a routine of managing the boat together, and set the scene going forward.
We have now been on ITIKI for 5 weeks, and underway for 4. Seems strange to say I have not slept "on land" for all that time! La Rochelle seems like a lifetime ago and we have done 1302nm, Sydney to Hobart and back (plus a bit!) I felt a little queasy on our first day in the Med, with a whole new roly-poly easterly swell to get used to, but otherwise no real issues on that front.
Here is an article I wrote in La Rochelle for SAILS magazine introducing our journey. It seems like a lifetime ago! If you are not already a subscriber I can highly recommend it. Always a great read!
And of course look out for an update in the November issue...
We have really been loving our Parasailor and were fortunate enough to get some photos of us from another yacht to which I have already loaded onto FB. We thought you would like the opportunity to join us for a virtual sail on ITIKI under kite. You can hear the sound of the wind and the water (and us enjoying the ride). I hope this doesn't make you feel seasick sitting at your desk!
Better late than never, finally had a chance to upload a few photos of Porto. The old town was definitely worth a visit, and we also enjoyed the fishing village of Afurada where the marina was located.
I could watch these guys for hours. We have had lots of dolphins come check us out but they haven't hung around to play. On this particular day 2 separate pods stayed with us for about 30 mins each. Don't worry this is the edited highlights. Great to watch if you are feeling a bit stressed!
After 2 beautiful, clear and sunny days in Sao Martinho do Porto, and enjoying some time at anchor we were feeling adventurous. Between here and our next destination lies the Ilha da Berlenga, about 6nm off the coast and a 3 hour motor (sadly still no breeze to speak of). The island is fairly desolate, but beautiful and a polular day trip from nearby Peniche. It is a nature reserve home to seabirds including puffins (no they had not arrived from Iceland yet, from where they had already departed when we were there last year…)
So many people pick up their yachts in La Rochelle and head straight for the Med. Quite a few of them had said to us “don’t rush the Spanish Rias, like we did...” OK so sometimes we try to take the advice of the experts. Although we had a late start to the season, our fearless skipper planned a steady pace down the Atlantic coast on our way to Gibraltar, as chances are we probably wont be back this way any time soon. Our aim was to do short day hops between anchorages and if we liked somewhere, stay a little longer, if not, move on. In the back of our minds was our timing to go through the Straits of Gibraltar which gets pretty hairy later in the year. Another time constraint was to get the first and very important (from a warranty perspective) service on the Volvos (engines) which is due between 40-60 hours. Hard to predict but Vigo (ES) turned out the be the right place to do it, and we just got in before the agent went on summer holidays!
So back to the Spanish Rias, the rivers that line the Atlantic coast of Spain and the beautiful towns and Anchorages that are hidden within. Certainly some gems amongst them. Check out “The Tour” section of this website to see some of the highlights and photos.
High and dry in Combarro
We almost missed this one thinking it would be better to just anchor off a beach closer to the coast and make a quick exit in the morning, but the RCC pilot hinted that this was not one to miss, and they were right! The old fishing village had been restored, maintaining the original charm and character, and possibly some of the original residents. This one also wins the award for the narrowest streets so far, with many of them pedestrian (and motorbikes) only. One of the main features of the town was the multitude of Herreos or storage “sheds” that seem to take up prime real estate in the waterfront, some with restaurant tables tucked in underneath. Originally used to store grain or root vegetables through winter, aided by the constant flow of fresh air through the slots. We arrived in the middle of the day, anchored in moderately shallow water just off the marina. We headed into town for sight-seeing, pulling the RIB up onto a concrete ramp and tying it off to an older wooden dinghy that didn’t look like it was going anywhere anytime soon. After walking all the way through the old town we picked a restaurant for dinner and scoped out a small wharf nearby where we could tie up the RIB and nonchalantly step onshore for a carefree evening. We returned to ITIKI for a siesta (as one must in these parts) and headed back out for dinner around 8ish. As we motored in to our pre-selected target, we saw one of the locals waving madly at us from a window, gee people are friendly here, although he actually looks like he is shooing us away... Oops its getting pretty shallow all of a sudden, oh dear the tide is out BIG TIME. Looks like we wont be tying up to that wharf after all, lets leave the RIB here and walk the rest of the way across the mud flats - good thing I didn’t wear my heels... Once we sat down at the restaurant and realised the tide was still going out (for another 3 hours as it turns out) Keith decided he had better go back and push the RIB out a little further, an exercise he repeated 3 times between courses, with its final position being closer to ITIKI than the restaurant. We could have walked home and did wonder if ITIKI was sitting on her keels... Anyway nothing like an after dinner stroll across a kilometre of mud flats to get back to your RIB to drive 100m to the mothership. Note to selves, check tides BEFORE going out to dinner. At least we provided some entertainment for the locals and now we know what those floating yellow buoys mean (low water mark). A lovely English couple arrived at ITIKI not long after we got back to make an apology, firstly for anchoring so close to us (windlass issue at a critical moment) and secondly for laughing at us picking our way across the mud flats. We shared a port and a few stories and they emailed us the photos they took...
Viana do Castelo - What a gem!
So here we are in Portugal, on our French built, Australian registered yacht, drinking Tanqueray, overlooking a double decker bridge designed by Gustav Eiffel and about to eat a chicken vindaloo made with a spice mix I bought from a shop on Lygon St in Melbourne... In front of us a French yacht, behind us Spanish and Norwegian. Where else in the world would you rather be?? Apologies for those reading this in the office...
This town in serious party mode in the lead up to the festival of ... There are speakers in surround sound mode pumping out festive music, think “hooked on Abba”, followed by German folk music, accordion crimes and some Morris dance tunes! The streets are packed with holiday makers and locals, there is an artisan market with traditional foods and some slightly evil looking puppets, and at night are lit up like Christmas (or at least the early years of Vivid). This town was a pleasant surprise when we thought it would be just another little town along the way. Well worth a visit.
First world problems
Of course there is a less glamorous side to cruising on a luxury yacht, and that is “housework”. Its hard to get cleaners to turn up on a weekly basis like at home, and of course there is always washing to be done. Fortunately a two tiered clothesline is conveniently located around the perimeter of our gorgeous vessel (they also double as lifelines...) and as you may have noticed in the pictures, ITIKI has a 5kg Bosch front loader in starboard fore peak and a 5KVa generator that should make light work of the task, either in a marina or at anchor, right?! Wrong!! Well we had no problem washing in the marina on shore power, but anchored out, the drum would just not turn, leaving me with a load of wet clothes, a locked washing machine door and an error message that gave little hope of resolution without divine intervention - not even Google could help with this one! By now we are in Portugal where I have so far learned to say please, thank you and gin-tonic (the latter seems to be the same in every language, although “do you have Fevertree tonic?” gets some strange looks...) Nod from MHS had made a valiant attempt to diagnose our problem via email and phone but there was no getting away from the need to call the manufacturer’s technical help line - not exactly how I planned to spend my morning in Porto... grrr. I tried, I failed - its hard to explain how much more difficult this minutia is to deal with when you live on a boat with no fixed address in a foreign country, where you don't speak the language - off to the marina office for assistance. Wow, the lovely Claudia at Marina Douro, abrogado! (thank you!) Once we had established that my “broken washing machine” was not actually the shower (“people washing machine”) but the “clothes washing machine” we were in business! Thanks to her brilliant negotiation Mr Bosch would be paying us a visit, at the marina between 13h30 and 18h30 tomorrow - good to know that booking a time with tradies is the same the world over eh?! Mr Bosch did indeed turn up, escorted by the lovely Claudia, at 14h30 while I was doing my nails, and promptly fixed the error message issue. Now to the generator issue, well thank you Mr Bosch for resetting the power frequency (WTF?!) of the “clothes washing machine” to the correct number for the generator. I clearly do not have sufficient university degrees to manage ITIKI's more technical aspects. Now I am so hot and bothered I think I need to test out the AirCon on the genset, oh and I think it is time for the gin-tonic....