GIBRALTAR

The gateway to or from the Mediterranean. This area, the Straits of Gibraltar, offer very interesting weather patterns and strong currents both east and west. We spent 5 days here waiting for the 55 knots of wind blowing from the east (Levante wind) in the straits to subside. The combination of strong winds and currents can create quite challenging conditions. When the Levante winds blow it creates a specific cloud over the Rock, a hat is one description.

Levante cloud over Gibraltar

Levante cloud over Gibraltar

We made use of the time, traveling to Ronda and Sevilla, Spain and touring “The Rock of Gibraltar”.

Gibraltar has approximately 35,000 residents residing below the rock, which is part of the common wealth of England. We stayed on the Spanish side in La Linea Marina and because the airport runway separates Spain and Gibraltar, UK you must walk, drive or cycle across the runway.

Red light at the airport. Waiting for plane to take off.

Red light at the airport. Waiting for plane to take off.

Before a plane lands or takes off they close traffic and mechanically sweep the runway to make sure no debris is left behind from pedestrians or automobiles on the runway that could impair the airplanes. When we arrived to Gibraltar we immediately went to the fuel station and filled our tanks for 0.51€/l.  After filling up we motored over to Alcaidesa Marina.  On the Spanish side of the runway there is a nice Marina with good service.

The tour of “The Rock” was most interesting and fun. 1000 years ago monkeys were brought to “The Rock” from Africa. Today there are around 250 monkeys that inhabit the area. They are great fun to watch and photograph. The caves and tunnels remain from the wars and large rings remain in the rock which is how they hoisted heavy cannons from the bottom to the top.

New generations are due in July & August.

New generations are due in July & August.

Vickie bonding with the monkeys

Vickie bonding with the monkeys

Iris has been working at Borås Zoo and knows how to interact.

Iris has been working at Borås Zoo and knows how to interact.

Alcaidesa Marina seen from the rock.

Alcaidesa Marina seen from the rock.

Sevilla is a beautiful city and can be the hottest in Spain. During our visit we experienced 39-43 degree celsius. As a result, the city has numerous community parks, both grand and quaint, along with large trees providing shade to the many walkways. Steeped in history, the many royal palaces, cathedrals and monuments of old town are absolutely stunning. The river Guadalquivir has provided commerce to Sevilla over years past.

Plaza de Espana in Sevilla

Plaza de Espana in Sevilla

The bull fighting arena in Sevilla

The bull fighting arena in Sevilla

BACK IN ALMERIMAR

Yesterday we arrived to Almerimar after one month in Sweden.

Bella was covered with brown dust and needed a proper wash.  Next morning we motored over to the Almerimar Marine Service as soon as the washing was done.

Bella ready for new running rigging

Bella ready for new running rigging


Chris at Almerimar Marine Service was waiting and had all the new halyards in a box. At 11.00 they started to change the halyards. I had decided for the same setup as earlier, wire + rope.

Rigger goes up and sort out the halyards.

Rigger goes up and sort out the halyards.

Chris likes pushing buttons.

Chris likes pushing buttons.

Going for Dynema would have saved weight and do not stretch more than wire.  But as we have in-mast furling and furling head stay we decided to stay with wire. For some reason I think the wire is stronger when it comes to shafe and UV.  In best case we take down the sails once/year.

The old halyards are 13 years old and would probably last another 2-3 years. Not a bad track record.

Do not change something that is working is always a good idea.

Another problem changing from wire to Dynema is that pulleys at the masthead probably have to be changed to prevent shafe on the Dynema.

Tomorrow there are some fine tuning before we can put the sails on.

HYDRAULIC CYLINDER UV-PROTECTION
Roland

If you have a hydraulic cylinder on your backstay, it might be a good idea to protect the seal on top of the cylinder from sun exposure.  Vickie told me once it was not uncommon that the lip seal on the cylinder had to be replaced due to UV damages.

I made a simple UV-sunshield for our cylinder, using a screw cap from a Coca-Cola bottle.  There has to be 1-2  mm play between the screw cap and the cylinder shaft.  If not, it will not stay down and protect the seal.

I did cut the cork on one side just to make it possible to slide it on to the shaft.  It is easy, and cost nothing!

Navtec cylinder

Navtec cylinder with screw cork on top

If you have hydraulic hoses to the furlers of the main sail or the genoa, it is a also a good idea to protect the hoses for UV-radiation.

SUMMER SOLSTICE IN GARRUCHA
Vickie

As we continued south along the Spanish Coast we were entertained by a squadron of Spanish air force jets practicing for the coming airshow in two days at Mar Menor. Mar Menor is a inner lake with only a narrow peninsula separating the lake from the sea.

During our stop in Cartagena we went to a bar/restaurant to watch Sweden play Belgium in a European Championship football match. When we sat at the table the waiter announced to all that we were Swedes and all the others were Belgium. Sweden lost……….. ouch.

The summer solstice in Spain is called the San Juan celebration and we arrived to Puerto De Garrucha just in time to enjoy the festivities. Puerto De Garrucha is a large fishing port and has a large commercial pier. Based on the size of the overall port, we were quite surprised they got such large cargo vessels in, but with the aid of two tugboats.

Party on the beach

Party on the beach

I am not sure we have been in a town with as many fish restaurants as here. But on the Eve of San Juan the restaurants were empty with customers because most of the families were on the large sandy beach with their BBQ grills and portable tables arriving around 8:30 in the evening to enjoy their food before the traditional bonfire on the beach and fireworks at midnight.
There were 3 separate live bands along the long stretch of beach.

The bonfire is ready to go

Bonfire is ready to go

The bonfire had old crates stacked and on top was a old wooden fishing boat as the sacrifice for the celebration. The party went long into the morning hours.

Putting boats on fire might be a way to improve boat sales!

Putting boats on fire might be a way to improve boat sales!

The next morning we had to wait for the delay in opening the office so we could depart the marina and sail south.

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.