03 November 2014

SHAMAL'S Crew Go "Fresh Water" Boating

Kiwi Dragon in Lancaster
Hello Again
As I sit and write this blog we are now back in New Zealand – ONLY temporarily – sorting out Alec’s Pension.  Yes we thought we had it all settled, but it came down to this particular department wanting one to be back in the country to do this!!!!  We hope to return to La Linea – Spain – just outside Gibraltar – by the end of this month. 

Lancaster Canal, Reflections
Spring has arrived in NZ with its typical weather – warm, cold, wet, dry, sunny, cloudy, etc., etc.  It is good to be home to catch up with family and friends, particulary son Murray – the Shore Manager! We are also catching up with health, eye and dental check-ups.  We are doing the rounds of the boat shops getting spare parts and comparing prices on parts.  SHAMAL needs some work doing before we do the Atlantic crossing.

Clothesline "wipe out"!!!
We left Gibraltar and flew to England, then took the train north to Lancaster where we joined Alec’s sister and her Husband on their Narrow Boat.  We had such a great time.  Again many many thanks Maggie and Kenny for such a great holiday, and letting us experience life on fresh water.  Alec did take the helm of their 53ft Narrow Boat “Kiwi Dragon” (Maggie being a Kiwi and Kenny Welsh), but it is debatable if he has passed his Captains ticket!!  After passing under one of those wonderful old arched stone bridges and wiping out the clothes line on the back, we stopped at the next town to replace it.  Only a short time later passing under another bridge, he so nearly did it again!!

Alec's "wipe out" bridge!!
Apart from experiencing life on the canal, including passing through some locks, they also took us up into the Lake District where we spent a couple of days walking some of the paths which are absolutely beautiful, particularly with all the autumn colours.  Hence I have decided not to write out a long account this time, but add photos just to show you what it was like.  I spent part of one day sitting up front of the Narrow Boat just awed by the reflections and the autumn colours.

So we will leave you with our photos and hope you enjoy them.
Love from
Evening on the Canal

Maggie & Alec in Lake District

Reflections, Lancaster Canal
Ann, Lake District
The Admiral and The Commander (back on probation – after the clothes line incident!)

Kiwi Dragon in a Lock
Rosie on watch
Lake District

Rydal Hall, Lake District

19 October 2014

The Isalas Baleares and Mainland Spain

Dry-cured hams

Local Sailor, Menorca
Hello To You All Again.

Well we truly are in the Western Mediterranean now.  This is the area where one’s adventures are either just beginning in the Mediterranean, or drawing to an end as you head for Gibraltar and beyond.  Either way it is a delightful introduction, or farewell, to an incredible part of Mediterranean Europe.  Spain, in this region, falls under one of today’s ten most visited nations on our planet, and it is their Islas Baleares, 50 miles off the Spanish Mediterranean coast that we were next heading for.  The four main Islands which make up the Islas Baleares – Menorca, Mallorca, Ibiza and Formentera, each have their own rich history, and even though very touristy, they have a special charm for yachting and boating people, as there are still many secluded bays and coves left unspoilt to visit.  In saying that there are areas which have become quite over-run with tourists with high rise apartment blocks, hotels and nightclubs, crammed along beachfronts and over hillsides which I am sure must irritate the locals. Their beaches are plentiful and the waters in most areas lovely and clean.  Some of the anchorages now have mooring buoys which one is charged for.  We tried to avoid these.  We were surprised to find the Islands so green with pine forests dropping from the mountains to the water’s edge.
Puerto Mahon, Menorca

The 245nm trip from Corsica to Menorca was a fairly good run.  We did strike lumpy seas for a time, and during one of those extra “black” nights, which is never very pleasant, but with reefs in both the main and the jib, and the winds never more than 27kts, we are able to sail most of the way.  Menorca is the most easterly Island of the group and is only 26 miles long and 11 miles wide.  We arrived on the south east coast just after midnight and decided we would drop anchor in a protected bay outside the port of Mahon and enter in in daylight.  Puerto De Mahon is said to be the second deepest harbour in the world.  It is a long natural harbour with just as long a Naval History, and is said to have been founded in about 206 BC.  It is also said that Christopher Columbus was born here, but like many other ancient famous people, we find lots of places like to hold claim that the famous were born, lived or died here.  Due to the location of this Port it has been used by many well-known fleets including that of Lord Nelson.

23 September 2014

Sardinia and Corsica

Lost at Sea !!
Hello Again

 We left Monastir, Tunisia for Sardinia late afternoon on Thursday 24th July and covered the 240nm in two nights and a day.  Our second night was an interesting one avoiding thunderstorms for a time, so by the time we arrived outside Villasimus Marina, which is situated on the bottom south east side of Sardinia, we were tired, and after dropping anchor went to bed for some catch up sleep.  Early afternoon and it is hot.  Our anchorage is another gorgeous one with clean clear waters, so I decide on going for a swim.  Oh help, we have a MAJOR problem !!!!!!!!  As I was swimming around the boat I noticed we had lost, yes bloody well lost, our port prop !!!!  HOW – we have no idea.  WHY – we still have no idea.  WHEN –  Saturday 26th July.  WHERE - we think somewhere between 3 and 38nm off the southern coast of Sardinia as we were using the port engine before that. Alec thought our speed was a little slow once we had dropped the sails to motor into the bay, but put it down to the sea conditions as we were motoring straight into the wind with a bit of a sea running.  Then, when we dropped anchor he had trouble keeping the boat straight as he reversed to dig the anchor in.  The port prop was last removed 14 months ago and has done over 5,000nm since.  This time in the boat yard in Tunisia we did not have to touch it apart from giving it a clean and painting on another coat of prop speed to help stop the growth of barnacles.

South side Arbatax
We spent a couple of hours in the water looking around just where we had anchored just in case it had fallen off there, but no luck.  So the following morning after searching through the cruising guide for a marina that had a travel lift big enough to lift a catamaran, we upped anchor and headed on up the east coast 56nm to a place called Arbatax. We contacted our Insurance Company who came to the party thank goodness.  It was then a matter of just waiting for the replacement prop to be shipped down from Denmark.  We were told it could take up to 11 days.  In this day and age with express mail delivery etc. we found that quite absurd,  but there was nothing we could do about it but wait.  Emails went back and forth between us, the Insurance Company and the Italian agent who we had to go through.  We thought the guy must be bringing it down on the back of his bicycle from Denmark !!!!

18 September 2014

Sicily, Malta, Lampedusa, Tunisia

Evening Drinks, Sicily
Yes we have moved on again

 Our stay in Marina di Ragusa was only a brief stopover of two days and two nights.  We sent Simon and Kay into the old city to do some sightseeing, while Alec and I attended to some ‘boat’ jobs and provisioning.  We met up again with Sam, the young English guy who did a bit of a botch up job on repairing our sails and side clears last season, but all is forgiven and he came and had lunch with us on-board. We ate gelato – Italian ice-cream of which there are so many wonderful flavours, sampled the local wines, and had dinner out where I ordered my usual calamari.  Alec ordered fish, something that has so far evaded our lines this season, even though we have had a couple of strikes!!!!

Local Fishing Boat, Malta
 Then it came time to untie the mooring lines and set sail for Malta.  We decided on a night passage for this leg as the winds were going to be more favourable for us.  And they were.  We managed to sail the whole way arriving just after 0700.  Kay stayed up to help me with my watch, but with only one eye open !!! On arriving into Sliema Creek, Malta we once again tied up to our mooring – the free, three mast 100 ft. blue yacht which has sadly been tied up to huge mooring blocks and left to ‘die’ there. One morning as we were going ashore, the South African Captain from an Italian owned Super Yacht, but registered in Nigeria - Now that all sounds dubious for a start, but we actually saw the yacht he was on and went over to say hello - was giving the blue boat the once over.  He recognised her from earlier days.  Some general info for all of you that have used this mooring – He told us she was once painted black, built in the 70’s, been around the world about 6 times as a training vessel, very fast (which is easy to see by her lines), and was called SUNSET 77.  He had worked on her in the 1980’s. At some stage she was sold to the owner of Captain Morgan Cruise Boats in Malta, and has gone nowhere since.

24 July 2014

Sicily 2014

Hello Again. 
Leaving Lefkada

Yes sorry I am very late with our updates.

So time again for another newsletter from SHAMAL.  Well Levkas just seemed to keep us in her grips, but with the arrival of all the spare parts, and son Murray acting as Dad’s “Agent” handling his pension review, we did the rounds saying good-bye to old friends and new, with a couple more dinners out, drinks, and a nice cappuccino at our favourite waterfront cafĂ© to download the latest weather onto the iPad.  On Tuesday 27th May we pulled up the anchor for the final time from Levkas town and motored down the canal which has been cut through the salt marshes between the mainland and the island.  We motor sailed back into Vlikho Bay for a final night there where we went ashore to a delightful Taverna (restaurant) right on the water for a meal and another weather check on the iPad.