Made it to Palma. Making ready for a long travel day.
Check out updates to part 4 – Will post more tomorrow on part 5
Wednesday Oct 23rd – Over night anchor in Cala de Sant Vicent
We were able to sail today with no motor. Good winds and a short distance made for a fun afternoon traveling up the south east Ibiza coast. As we pulled into the beautiful, isolated cove of Cala St. Vicent it felt like we finally had arrived. The “delivery” was complete. We can now focus on truly enjoying the Mediterranean and Roving Spirit.
We deployed the anchor for the first time in the white sandy cove. Cliffs on either side framed the picture perfect beach with hotels and restaurants in dingy range. We did a quick snorkel along the rocky point before heading to the beach to enjoy the last rays of sun and have some dinner.
Mike and I agreed we could easily spend another week sailing around Ibiza exploring, but that will have to be another trip.
Tuesday Oct 22nd – Ibiza, first stop in the Balears Islands
Known for its numerous nightclubs that open late at night and stay open until day break, Eivissa has a large harbor with disproportionate number of mega yachts. As we dock, Med mooring style of course, its clear we have come to the play ground of the rich and famous. Shortly later my four euro cappuccino at the Marina bar confirms that thought. The upside is the marina services are top notch.
The Island of Ibiza is about 50 km by 25 km in size and has hundreds of beaches, coves, grottos and little villages along its rocky shoreline. Deciding scooters would be the best way to explore the island, I asked Javier in the office for advice on where to go and arrange scooter rental. With maps in hand and backpacks loaded with beach wear we head out.
The roads are scooter friendly although I had to get comfortable going 50+ km with cars passing. Once we got to San Jose, pronounced Sant Josep, we turned onto a small road that wound through pine forests and terraced hillsides down to Cala Vadella. What an awesome view as we rounded the last corner and looked down on the small cove with perfect crescent beach.
After lunch and a swim we spent the rest of the day buzzing around exploring other beaches, villages and finally around 10pm the castle above our marina. What a great day!
Monday Oct 21st – Last overnight passage
We left Cartegana at 12:00 after refueling and taking on more beer. Here we go again with the watch schedule, broken up only by meals, sleep and a nice sunset. The watch schedule changes depending who starts the rotation. I end up with the 2000 to 2200 and 0200 to 0400. Did I mention I’m happy this is our last overnight passage. Tonight I’m entertained by the moon rising. It is nearly full and casts light on the sky well before it is above the horizon. Thick patchy clouds in the distance block the amber glow as the moon crests, transforming the lunar disk into odd shaped orange blobs. Eventually rising above all the clouds the bright white moon lights up the ocean and my shift is over. When was the last time you spent two hours watching the moon rise in complete silence?
Sunday Oct 20th – Cartegana Spain
Cartegana is a strategic natural harbor with a rich maritime history. Originally controlled by the Punics in 300 BC, the Romans conquered it in 200 BC, later claimed by the Spanish, then English, then Spanish, etc… Castles and forts are literally built on top of old castles and forts. Since the 18th century this has been home to the Spanish Naval Arsenal. It is crazy to think they built wooden 74 gun galleons in the same waters that steel gray warships sit today. The old town is quite nice as long as you stay to the left side of the marina. There you find marble streets with shops and good restaurants. To the right you quickly get find the barrio where buildings show the cities age in states of disrepair and filth. Initially Mike and I headed right finding the decaying Roman Coliseum. Only later did we locate the nice part of town with a restored castle and beautiful Roman theater that was pictured in the tour brochures.
For those trying to follow us on maritime traffic, our AIS transmitter is not working properly. Good news is the receiver is OK so we can see other vessels while in transit. Mike is working hard to get the maritime App on his iPad and my phone to correctly identify our position but he’s found frustration instead of success.
Oct 18th – Almerimar – The vegetable growing region of Spain.
After another night of motor sailing with almost no ship traffic, we pulled into the Marina at 11:30. Our first true stop in Spain, Almerimar has a nice marina and well developed harbor town. It seems very much like Mexico, lots of condos, long rocky beaches, and all the facilities for catering to large numbers of vacationing visitors. The place has a strange calm since there are few people around during the off season. After a big pasta lunch we walked down the boardwalk and found a great place for a siesta.
Oct 16th and 17th – Gibraltar
Gibraltar is an independent oversee British territory and a major international shipping port. Only 2.6 sq miles in size it is home to about thirty-thousand mostly british residents, numerous visitors and several groups of monkeys, more on the monkeys later. We quickly found the best thing about Gibraltar was the quality beer and reliable Wi-Fi only 100 meters from the boat. It’s the small things that count when sailing. The next morning Mike and I planned to hike of “the Rock”. Approximately 1300 feet tall, most of Gibraltar is cliffs and limestone rocks jutting from the sea. We passed through the congested duty free shopping area and started our accent up winding roads, alleys with numerous steps and then up the stairs of old Gibraltar wall built and rebuilt from 1200 to 1600. At the top of the stairs we encountered a troop of macaques monkeys. The monkeys on the island are protect and roam about. This group was just hanging out, loafing on tour vans and posing for photos. Extremely tame these guys would reach out and hold tourists hands. But make no mistake these are wild animals. I experienced this first hand when a baby monkey near me tried to jump on to a van. Unfortunately he slid off the slick surface and landed on the ground. The concerned momma nearby squawked and in an instant the largest alpha male was rushing at me with teeth showing. As I backed away another monkey did a flying Kung Fu kick with all four feet on my back. I was able to back away to safety and now can tell people I literally had a monkey on my back.
We hiked to the top of the rock then down to the Mediterranean steps, then to St. Michaels caverns, then to the Moorish Castle before returning to the boat and leaving Gibraltar Thursday afternoon with no wind and calm seas.
Wednesday Oct 16th – Welcomed by Warships and Cannons
Our passage from Lagos to Gibraltar was 180 miles, roughly the distance from Los Gatos to Truckee California, except it takes 28 hours to get their motor sailing During the night, I was awoke by the loud squawk of the radio and Captain Persnickety shouting, “Spanish Warship, this is the Roving Spirit, what is your bearing ?” Turns out that during Mikes watch we came across a helicopter doing maneuvers with a large navel vessel. Our path was colliding and closing so we had to take evasive maneuvers however the warship was starting and stopping without clear direction. After several more radio communications we worked it out and passed on by. Later that morning while I was on watch I kept hearing loud bangs. Not sure of the source, but confident it was not coming from the boat I did not think much of it until a speed boat came rushing and pulled up along side about 30 minutes later. As it turns out the Navy was doing some target practice from shoreline gun placements and we had gotten too close. After a short discussion with the Spanish military that could not speak English they motioned for us to motor quickly out of the area. Captain Persnickety verified I was on course and not is restricted waters. I guess the Spanish Navy likes to practice shooting things in one of the busiest shipping lanes of the world. Go figure.
Monday Oct 14th – Lagos
Arrived mid morning, after the standard routine of docking and cleaning the boat, me and Mike set off to walk around the town. Lagos is a small fishing village turned into a tourist destination for Europeans. A quick scouting of the downtown indicated the place to see was the coast line grottos to the west of the harbor. Most visitors were purchasing 20 euro power boat tours but after a quick calculation we determined it was in range of our dinghy.
So back to the Roving Spirit to make a picnic lunch and setoff on our personal tour.
The grottos were one of the best adventures of the trip so far.
When we got back, Roger and Margaret Pratt greeted us at the dock. Roger and Margaret are friends from England that are on a multiple year, worldwide yachting trip. It is more like a life style than trip. About three days ago a mutual friend emailed that they happened to be in Portugal, near Lagos. A few emails later and we were having a wonderful dinner and evening with Roger and Margaret thousands of miles from Los Gatos. Very Cool. It was great to see them and hear about their travels and upcoming crossing of the Atlantic.
Thur Oct 10th – Lisboa
Things are look up, after a week of sailing we pulled in to Lisbon on Thursday 1500.
We are staying at the Oeiras Marina. This harbor is a big upgrade from Brest, France and our one night in leixoes, Porto. We will stay here a couple of days to rest and recoup.
Crossing Bay of Biscay (BOB) was a long ordeal, 89 hours of sailing. One person always on watch. Thanks to our captains planning we had good weather for all but one night. Sunday evening the dolphins gave us quite a show. Check out the full video at
After crossing the BOB, we stopped in Porto for an over night to refuel. Mike and I took the bus into the old town and did some touring. Porto is a cross between San Francisco and a small Paris. The weather in this part of Portugal is very mild, much like the bay area.
Besides the historical buildings and statues we came across what can only be described as a bizarre form of pop art in the central plaza. In various place throughout the open plaza groups of costumed performers put on strange shows.
Another 28 hours of sailing and we made it to Lisbon. The marina we stayed in is 7.5 km from the old city in a town called Oeiras (pronounced O A Dish). The marina was located in a prime vacation beach front area. All the services, beaches and places to eat are in walking distance. First thing Mike and I did was to take a swim (you can see the beach next to the castle in the photo of me) then have beers and tapas!
On Friday we decided to rent bikes and go into Lisbon. Bike rental right in the Marina, how convenient The manager of the store, Rui (pronounced Hu ee) was extremely helpful and set us up with everything we needed. So far all the Portuguese people have been super friendly. Traveling by bike we could cover lots of ground and see many points of interest.
Lisbon reminds me of San Francisco. They have a golden gate bridge and cable cars. The main difference is they also have castles that are 500 years old!
After touring the sights in the old city and having a late lunch we decided to head back to the marina via the Parque Florestal de Mansanto which is a large open space area with hills. Typical for me, this route was a bit more challenging than planned To summarize, we left the city, hit a major road, deciding to get off the beaten path, ended up in a “rough” neighborhood that dead end on the wrong side of the train tracks. Not to be stuck we crossed the tracks, went into the train station, up the stairs, through the half open exit gate (since we had no ticket) and walked our bikes out the front door. Next we found the only road leaving the station quickly turned into a freeway similar to Hwy 92 going to Half Moon Bay. With cars buzzing by at 50 mph we jumped he guard rail and walked our bikes on the narrow margin. Thankfully at next exit there was a nice forested, lightly traveled road up the hill. Despite Mike’s compass and map, at this point we were not sure exactly where we were. Never the less we carried on. To our good luck and fortune we came upon a mountain biker who happened to live in Oeiras. Duret proceeded show us the off road single track route back towards the marina. Amazingly, we got a mountain biked tour in Lisbon!
Sunday we head out for our next port, the weather forecast is looking good for the next week so we should be able to sail about 150 miles, about 24 hours, and city hop our way to Spain.
More later – Mitch
Oct 4th 2013
We are more than ready to get on the open seas again, we are done with Brest. A week is too long for this place. We’ve walked every suburb, had too much rich French food and they don’t have good beer! Yesterday we went to the National Maritime Museum. It’s located in a fortress on the strategic high ground at mouth of the Penfeld river. The fortress was originally build in 300AD by the Romans. It was expanded over the years and is now a massive structure with 48 feet thick walls. The Chateau inside was never taken by a foreign army.
We are fully provisioned with food, water and fuel, plan on leaving port this afternoon. Should take about 80 hours to reach Porto Portugal. The plan has us arriving Tuesday morning.
We will have our AIS on. If you want to check out our progress go to the website.
Oct 1st, 2013
Still stuck in Brest. The storms arrived as forecast on Monday. High pressure should move in on Friday which will give us an opportunity to cross the Bay of Biscay this weekend. 500+ miles to Portugal.
Mike and I have have hiked all over the area. We’ve logged over 50 miles and visited several small towns nearby.
Yesterday we got caught in a down pour while walking through the Botanical Gardens. Luck for us there was a this small place called the BleNoir to get out of the rain and get warm. Turns out they also had great food!
Look for one more post on Thursday night or Friday morning before we take off.