ROAD TRIP
Vickie

Leaving Bella Luna in the marina in Denia, we started our 4 day car tour of the higher elevations of NE Spain. Pablo in the marina office was VERY helpful giving Roland tips and places to see. He told Roland most people do not go inland because of the higher heat. People want to stay at the coastline where it is cooler. So we packed expecting warmer temperatures.

We set the navigator on “scenic route” and the first 2 hours was all coastal farm land with a occasional woman sitting by the side of the road mid day in the heat. One was dancing. Roland understood why they were there, but I had no idea until he told me. Sitting out in the sun midday with no hat on, by the side of the road, waiting for business??? As they say in Sweden, my mouth was like a open mailbox. The village where we stopped for lunch was in the heart of farming so parked on the street was a mixture of cars and tractors.

Tractor home for siesta

Tractor home for siesta

We arrived to Albarracin, the capital of the Sierra de Aibarracin Comarca, in the providence of Teruel. The town is named after a Moorish family that had once dominated the area during the period of Muslim domination in this area.
The town or village is set among stony cliffs. Walking around all you could hear were birds singing and a nearby waterfall. Unfortunately there were no english tours available during our short visit. A enchanting place to visit. Oh, and the temperature that evening was 9c or 48F.

Albarracin

Albarracin

Hotel Albarracin

Hotel Albarracin

Albarracin by Night

Albarracin by Night

Empty streets in Albarracin

Empty streets in Albarracin

Back in Hotel after dinner

Back in Hotel after dinner

Our second day took us to a elevation of 1700 meters or 5.500 feet all through back roads and extremely small farming villages. We drove 2.5 hours without seeing another car. Absolutely stunning country and as I was raised on a farm in Eastern Washington I was surprised to see so much planted grain at these elevations. Obviously it does get very hot even at these elevations. High today 12c. Grass crops were being cut for hay which would correlate to all the MANY cow warning road signs we saw but did not see any cows, not one, the entire trip.
The colors of the crops set against the red rock cliffs and the reddish soil was stunning.ROAD VIEW-1-2ROAD VIEW-1

ROAD VIEW-1-3A stop at the Monastery De Piedra and a walk through the park offered gorgeous waterfalls, caves, rich flora, fauna and geological formations. We did not tour the Monastery.

Waterfalls in Monastery de Piedra

Waterfalls in Monastery de Piedra

Our destination for the day was Calatayud which is one of many wine districts in Spain. Again, the vineyards in the reddish soil with the red cliffs and rolling hills is so special. We arrived to a winery 45 minutes before they closed so purchased some wine and the next day visited a second winery.

Plaza Espana Calatayoud

Plaza Espana Calatayoud

Calatayoud view from Hotel room

Calatayoud view from Hotel room

Wine fields outside Calatayoud

Wine fields outside Calatayoud

After another day of incredible scenery we arrived Barcelona where we had a nice dinner with our friend Miguel, who has sailed with us many times, and his friend Merces. Although our time was short, it was nice to spend the evening with them. Next morning we made the 5 hour trip back to the marina.

BALAERES ISLANDS
Vickie

Our first stop in Mahon Menorca was the fuel dock. We then anchored for the night in a lovely spot, Cala Taulera, surrounded by remains of the forts. This area has much history, some of which is from the British occupation.

Two days later we arrived in Palma Mallorca in time to meet our Monday morning appointment.
We moored at the docks used by the Alboran Yacht Charters. They offer space and reasonable prices from Sunday to Friday morning while the charter boats are away. The great part about this is LOCATION. Directly across is Old Town and the Cathedral de Mallorca, both of which are the heart of Palma for restaurants, shopping and sightseeing.

Bella moored just 300 m from the cathedral

Bella moored just 300 m from the cathedral

Cathedral at night

Cathedral at night

A Swedish friend arrived in his HR 46 who also motoring from Sardinia. We had dinner with Leif and Anders that evening and the next morning they departed for the east coast of Spain.

Vickie & Leif are planning dinner

Vickie & Leif are planning dinner

We rented a car and visited some very charming villages around the island; Arta, Valdemossa, and Dela. We also made a trip to IKEA to get herring for the coming Swedish Midsommar celebration this month.

Valldemossa

Valldemossa

Valldemossa

Valldemossa

North coast of Mallorca

North coast of Mallorca

Off to Ibiza motoring (no winds to be found) to meet with a Swedish friend who has a HR 36. He reserved a place in the marina for us and we enjoyed a evening with Curt and Suzanne and a fantastic dinner. Next day down to Formentera, yes to guessed right, motoring, to anchor in the beautiful aqua waters in front of a large sand beach. Here was my first swim (well ok – a dip) as the water was a bit chilly.

Fomentera

Fomentera

Finally to the West side of Ibiza, Puerto de San Antonio, where we anchored for the night. 0545 we were up and almost out of the bay when we were hit with 25 knots of wind and 2 meter waves. A alternative to a cup of coffee as a wake up. We knew we would have this wind for at least half the trip across before the winds died, but the waves were still sloppy. Just as we were approaching Marina El Portet in Denia, mainland Spain the winds hit hard from the opposite direction. Once secure at the dock it was time for relaxing and a cocktail.

SARDINIA

We arrived to a favorite anchorage, inside Capo Carbonara, where we spent time in 2013 on the SE tip of Sardinia for a peaceful night sleep. Our second and new anchorage, Porto Malfatano, on the south coast we thought would be calm but periodic katabatic winds kept the anchorage quite active during the day. One minute we had 16 knots and seconds later 42 knots. Our Rocna anchor held firm! Luckily the nights were much calmer.

Around the SW corner and up the coast we stopped at Carloforte on Isola Di San Pietro. What a gem!

Carloforte

Carloforte

Ferry between Sardinia and Carloforte

Ferry between Sardinia and Carloforte

Iron designs on the balconies is famous here

Iron designs on the balconies is famous here

Carloforte is the only village on the island and it is bustling but yet relaxed. Marine Sifredi has very friendly and helpful staff with full services. For any drafts deeper than 1.5 meters, do not expect to get fuel here due to the shallow depth in the fishing harbour. Across the main street from the marina is a fuel station where you can fill a portable tank.

The annual Tuna Festival was due to start on the day we departed. It was obvious this is a big event for this village. Sound stages were erected in several places and many tables were set up for tasting Tuna in a variety of preparations.

Party in town!

Party in town!

Tuna sales are booming

Tuna sales are booming

Street is getting ready for the party

Street is getting ready for the party

Our favourite restaurant in Carloforte

Our favourite restaurant in Carloforte

UNFORTUNATELY, the lack of winds for many days to come forced us to depart for the 30 hours of motoring to Menorca. It is so true that appointments do not mix well with sail boats. As we had to be in Palma Mallorca on a certain date to get our life raft inspected and re-certified we had to leave, wind or no wind.

MALTA TO SARDINIA
Vickie

We departed Malta at 0630 with our friend Karolina on board. As we departed the harbor I prepared breakfast which we enjoyed while sailing along the coast of Malta. The 10 hour sail to Sicily proved to be a bit more choppy and tough than the forecast so the first sail of this season gave all three of us some minor sea sickness symptoms, even Roland after 45 years of no seasickness. Arriving Ragusa Marina, a walk to the local village and a late afternoon coffee and Sicilian delight was the perfect cure!

With unstable weather we slowly made our way up the south coast. One stop was at San Leone Marina where we quickly grabbed a taxi to take us to the Greek “Valley of the Temples” in Agrigento before sunset. The breath taking Doric temples were built approximately 400BC dedicated to Zeus, Heracles, Concord and Hera. For me, this was one of the most impressive and spectacular sites we have seen in our travels.tempel-1tempel-1-2

Next day we pushed on to Trapani on the west coast where Karolina would fly back to Malta. Roland was ill with a virus that I had earlier so he stayed with the boat while we explored Erice. Roland and I had visited this two years ago and enjoyed it so I wanted Karolina to see this small village perched high on a mountain top. We reached the medieval village via cable cars. ERICE

This walled in village has many churches, narrow cobblestone walkways, and stone houses with interesting doors. Hand crafted ceramics and hand made woven rugs are prominent for this village. We dined for lunch in a old stone house where we tried the speciality of this area, Cuscus Pesce with a fish stock. By the way, the cuscus is hand made. We were told we must try a very special pasty made in Erice called “Genovese”. This pastry is filled with either ricotta cheese or a vanilla cream. Incredible! We could not of picked a better day weather wise. Nice temperature, no wind and sunshine.ERICE (1)
The next day we toured the streets of Trapani before Karolina had to leave for the airport.

We departed for our 24 hour passage to Sardinia. As the sunset we were sailing comfortably and having dinner. On a short passage we take 3 hour watches so I took the midnight to 3 and Roland 3 to 6. It was a very dark night with thin clouds and only patches of stars until about 1am when the bright moon broke through the clouds. It makes such a big difference sailing in a moonlit sea.
We had dolphins with us for most of the trip, some playing in the wake of the boat for hours. The faster we sail the more playful they become. Dolphins are very calming for me. When I am feeling anxious about sea conditions and dolphins arrive, I immediately know all is ok. When I awoke at 0600 to relieve Roland from his watch, there were many dolphins so I enjoyed my cup of tea, listening to music, the sun breaking through the clouds and entertained by all the many dolphins. Bella Luna was sailing 8.5 knots so they were very energetic. Not many times you start the day in such spender.

BELLA IS A FLOAT
Roland

The start of the season was a little bit later than normal.  When we got down to Malta we had two days to get the boat ready for the launch.

On Tuesday she went in the water at the Manoel Island Boat yard on Malta. 

We motored over to Msida marina and tied up at the guest slips on the inside of the breakwater. It was a long list of things to do and we had no problem filling the week.

Just across the street we did find a little chandlery, White Sails.  On the wall they had a Yanmar sign.  I asked them if they had time to change the hoses and the antifreeze?

Next day Daniel shoved up and did the work.  Daniel is one of those guys who you can trust.  He managed to change all the hoses and the antifreeze without creating a mess in the engine room.

Msida

Next door to White Sails we did find Yacht Café.  Yacht Cafe is open between 9-3 and serve breakfast and lunches.  Maria and Sergio are the owners and they will make you feel at home. The food is inspired by the middle east cusine.  Wonderful meals we had there.  Do not miss to visit Yacht Cafe if you are in Malta.Yachtcafe

We experienced a rare occurrence.  It started early morning when we noticed the gangway was first hitting the concrete pier and then a minute later it would be 1.0 meters above the pier.   The water level changed 0.5 to 1 meters for at least an hour.  A very strong current carried garbage in and out.   The road at the end of the bay was under water for a short time.    Vickie referred to this as the “Malta Tsunami”.    Local reports say this was caused by waves and currents that hit Sicily and bounced back to Malta which has a shallower seabed than Sicily.

We could get no further information on this technically other than the old timers say there are many atmospheric changes that has caused this several times over the many years.    It is a fact that Malta has had some very unusual weather the last 3 weeks, not typical for this time period.

At the end of the week Anton Cachia from Action Sails came with our sails.  He had done service on all our sails. Anton is one of those rare types that actually shows up on time and has done exactly what you agreed on.  If you have any sail or canvas work we can highly recommend Anton.

Sails are up and we are ready to go cruising!

 

FIRST SAIL 2016

Today we got an invitation to sail on Jan & Scotts new boat in Pacific Northwest.

Mount Rainer was covered in snow and sunshine.  We had a very light breeze and had a fantastic day on the water.

JanVickie