By Andy Lund
Ed. note - This is the twenty-fourth installment of a multi-part series by
Andy Lund on his ocean-crossing journey aboard Resolution, the Nordhavn 46
he took delivery of in February 2004. This is the final installment for the
cruising year while the boat winters in Barcelona.
Cascais Marina, Lisbon, Portugal
The wind is blowing 20 to 25 knots from the north here in the Cascais Marina, 20 miles down the Tagus River from the great city of Lisbon, and we're waiting for a gale to blow itself out around Cape Finisterre, the northwest corner of Spain. Then we'll continue our trek north to England and on to the Baltic for the summer.
I'm including photos for the first time, using Mac Mail's "shrinking" powers so they aren't too large. Now if I could figure out how to wrap the text around them, this would look professional.
Port Vell Barcelona - Brandon Hofmarks
Brandon Hofmarks, the young Canadian from Squamish (near Vancouver, BC) who joined me at the beginning of February, is demonstrating all the skills of a seasoned mariner. His time on tugboats in British Columbia has proven its worth, as he handles "Resolution" in and out of tight moorings with aplomb. He's proven to be a great shipmate as well. Matt Scaysbrook, a young Australian from the suburbs of Sydney, joined us in Barcelona just before our departure. I'd taken him on to ensure we had at least three aboard for longer overnight passages.
Marina Port Vell - Barcelona - Pontoon F (Our Winter Home)
We left Barcelona on a sunny Sunday afternoon in mid April, headed for Mallorca, the main island of the Balearic chain. After six months as a temporary Spaniard, I'd grown quite attached to the city of Barcelona, and to the whole country. I jotted down some thoughts on Spain which I'll share with you here.
In Madrid at the end of March, Brandon Hofmarks and I went to a bullfight. You take the metro (subway) to the ring, on the east side of town. It's a massive brick and concrete affair, seating about 20,000, on hard granite benches. You can rent cushions - which we did. The whole affair is thoroughly traditional, with trumpet fanfares as the matadors come out, along with the picadors on their padded horses, and the horse team to drag off dead bulls.
The first round was quite tame, with the bull coming out, wandering around a bit befuddled and refusing to react to the matadors waving their purple cloaks at him. He wouldn't fight, so they sent ten more tame cows into the ring, and he followed them back out.
The next bull was fiesty, pawing and snorting and charging around. Twice he tangled with the picadors, ramming the flanks of their horses with his long, sharp horns. I thought each horse would be bowled over and gored, but it stood its ground while the picador poked at the bull with a long pike pole. Then the principal matador, in a formal white embroidered vest with tights, harassed the bull some more, ran up and jabbed two short steel tipped staffs into the bull just behind his neck, did that twice more, so blood was streaming down the bull's shoulders, and moved in for the kill with a long, thin sword. The first sword thrust didn't bring down the bull (as I gather it is supposed to) but the second did, and the bull slowly fell to its knees and toppled to the ground.
At that point Brandon and I had had enough. It really didn't seem to be sport, or art, but just cruelty to a bull. So we left, with another four or five bulls still on the agenda. I'm not normally squeamish, and I'm certainly not becoming a vegetarian, but bull fights just aren't my thing. I think I had a romantic view of the whole affair from my only previous bullfight experience, in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico when I was 20, but it's just mindless violence now, and I don't recommend it to anyone.
When Mike McFadden and I first arrived in Barcelona last October, we were impressed by how clean and efficient the city is. There are little street sweeping machines always out vacuuming up the trash, the busses are modern, efficient and well organized, the subway is good and the whole town is manicured. As Brandon and I travelled around Spain in March we came to realize how exceptional Barcelona is. Most other Spanish cities were pretty neat and clean, but Barcelona was topnotch. The real contrast was Valencia, which is hosting the America's Cup sailboat race this summer. It was a total pigsty, with trash all over the sidewalks, plazas and streets of the old central district where the tourists congregated. Since no one cleaned up, everyone just tossed their trash all over. In Barcelona you don't see much littering, because since it's kept clean, people instinctively put their trash in the litter bins. What a contrast, and a nice one, versus Valencia.
Spain itself has come an incredible distance from the country I first saw in 1972 as a young Air Force Captain, when I drove down from my base in Frankfurt, Germany. Then, Francisco Franco was still dictator, having won the Civil War in 1939. The country was dirt poor, shabby and depressing, although still starkly beautiful and full of history. Today the prosperity is amazing, with building going on all over the place, new apartments, houses, highways, high speed railways, etc. The people smile, they play and work hard, their democracy is vibrant and they seem to be enjoying life. The contrast from 35 years ago is amazing.
We arrived Port Pollensa, on the north east tip of Mallorca Island at noon April 16th in warm sunshine and cloudless skies, after a calm crossing overnight from Barcelona.† Cape Formentor, with its sheer high cliffs topped by a pretty white lighthouse, rose from the haze around 0800.† We rounded it, and headed up Pollensa Bay to the harbor, mooring at the Club Nautico (yacht club).† The town is pleasant with low buildings, and villas dotting the high pine covered limestone hills around the bay. It's nothing like the concrete jungle around Palma, Mallorca's capital on the south coast.†
The boat ran sluggishly, almost a knot below expected speed for the engine RPMs we were turning.† The bow thruster was weak as well. I suspected we'd grown barnacles and sea creatures on the prop and thruster over the winter in Barcelona. We hired a diver who confirmed my suspicions and spent an hour scraping the bow thruster. The next day he scraped the prop and removed some growth on the bottom of the keel.† We had him change the hull zincs too. They are sacrificial anodes to prevent electrolysis damage to the running gear (shaft, prop, etc.).
We rented a car and toured Mallorca. The north coast is mountainous and rugged, with spectacular views down the steep valleys to the sea. Palma, the capital city, is surrounded by concrete apartment blocks, but the center, with an immense Gothic cathedral, is quite pleasant. Here we picked up Matt Kerrigan, a young American from Napa, California, whom I had talked to about crewing before signing Brandon aboard last winter. "Resolution" is now flying Canadian and Australian courtesy flags from our port signal halyard, in honor of our varied crew.
We stopped for a couple of days in the quaint harbor of Port Soller, on the northwest side of Mallorca. This little fishing port, linked to the market town of Soller, five miles inland, with an old electric trolley, has become quite a tourist attraction, but was very pleasant nonetheless.
Cabrera - Balearic Islands
Cabrera Island, a nature reserve and national park just southeast of Mallorca, was our next stop. We had booked ahead (required by the park authorities), courtesy of the Pollensa Club Nautico. Brandon took his bike ashore and cycled all over, getting some magnificent pictures of the flora, fauna and crystal clear coves.
From Cabrera we ran overnight to Ibiza, and the Marina Botafoch, about two miles walk from the center of town, but connected by a convenient cross harbor launch. The generator had acted up in Cabrera, and I noticed the main engine wasn't charging the batteries at a proper rate, so the marina quickly rounded up some mechanics for us. They removed the alternator, took it away and cleaned it, and voila, everything back to normal. I guess it was time to remove all the fan belt dust from 3800 engine running hours over the past three years. The generator had shed some blades from the impeller, a rubber/plastic bit which pumps the cooling water through. They were restricting the water flow, causing the generator to slowly overheat. I thought the impeller had been changed during routine service in Malta last fall, but the earlier inlet growth problem could have overheated the impeller and damaged it. All is well now.
Andy - Refueling in Gibraltar
Our 48 hour run down the Costa del Sol - southern Spain - to Gibraltar was quite lumpy, in the teeth of 20 to 25 knots of southwest wind and five to seven foot seas. That wouldn't be so bad on the open ocean, but the Mediterranean is notorious for short, sharp waves, so the ride wasn't very pleasant. Both Matts were mildly seasick, but Brandon and I were fine. We reached Gibraltar late the evening of Monday April 30th.
We spent our first night in Marina Bay, then after taking on 850 gallons of diesel at the Shell dock (duty free - about US$2.65 a gallon, versus almost $7 at Spanish marinas) we moved around to Queensway Quay. That was our original plan, but they pull a boom over the entrance for security each evening, and we'd arrived too late. We spent a week in Gibraltar, waiting for the strong westerly to calm down. The three young guys took a ferry from Algeciras, Spain over to Tangiers, Morocco for an overnight excursion. They had quite an adventure, riding camels on the beach, getting led around the Medina (old walled city with narrow alleyways) by an avaricious guide who extracted a bit of extra money before he showed them the exit.
By Sunday May 6th the westerly had calmed down enough and we departed for Lisbon, another 48 hour run. The first half of the trip was quite smooth, but once we rounded Cape St Vincent, the southwest corner of Portugal, we were pushing against a north wind and long northwest Atlantic rollers. They were bigger than the Mediterranean waves, but farther apart, so they weren't so rough.
"Resolution" in Cascais Marina
Cascais Marina, in the lovely resort town of Cascais, gave us the luxury of floating pontoons and a side tie - no more climbing across a gangway from the stern to the dock. I won't miss that part of Mediterranean cruising. Again we're weathered in, waiting for the wind to die down a bit. There's no point in beating against a gale. The guys took advantage of the floating side pontoons, and waxed and buffed the boat, so now it's all shiny for the summer. Most appreciated.
Brandon and I took an overnight train trip north 150 miles to Porto, the home of Port wine and Portugal's second city, on the Douro River. The grapes for port wine are grown up the river, and the barrels of raw wine used to be floated down to Porto in old wooden barges for aging and bottling. The cellars are still here, cut back into the cliffs. Here are a couple of photos of us visiting the Sandeman winery, and sampling their wares. I'd never had white port before, but found it quite pleasant, chilled.
Sandeman Winery - Porto
Tomorrow (Tuesday, May 15th) we start north for Coruna, on the northwest corner of Spain, another two day run. Then we cross the Bay of Biscay to southern Brittany, near Brest France, again a two day run. We'd originally planned to visit southern Ireland on our way to England, but all the weather delays have taken too much time, so we've had to cut out that part of the trip. In my long range weather analyses I couldn't find a solid three to four day window for a crossing from Coruna to Ireland, another reason for skipping that stop. Sad to miss it, but Brittany and Normandy will be great as well.
All is well,
Andy, Brandon, Matt and Matt