"Egret" N4674 - Scott and Mary Flanders
Aug. 29, 2006
Thirteen point eight-seven nautical miles to go to our waypoint off Europa Point, Gibraltar and the end of our three cruising seasons and two winters in the Mediterranean. This is a sad but exciting time. We are leaving the Med with memories for a lifetime and entering the next adventure in our cruising lifestyle.
Going back a number of years our retirement plan was to sell the family home in Ft. Lauderdale, keep the weekend Florida Keys house in Islamorada and buy a used 42' Grand Banks or the like and follow the sun north and south. From these beginnings things morphed into a full time cruising long distance lifestyle. We can't imagine a better decision. We retired early to take advantage of what 'youth' (a very generous term) we had left forsaking a few more dollars. We all learn from each other particularly from ourselves. The one person you can never fool is yourself.
A prime example, we had good friends from the Keys who retired 4 years ahead of us. He was a boat builder building beautiful wood/epoxy custom sport fishermen. He sold his business and property then bought his Keys house paying cash, had previously built three fishing boats for the Keys and a bought a new Porsche for his wife. Within three years they were the unhappiest people you could imagine. Yes, they lived in paradise but when you get up each day and ask yourself 'what's next?' it really gets boring. When picking up palm fronds and driving to town to pick up the paper become part of your routine, it's sad. This is just one example of lessons learned among many that fostered our decision.
After two and a half years sailing north and south Egret joined the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally to Gibraltar to cruise the Med. We could only do this with a proper boat. In a future Voyage of Egret I will outline the decision and reasoning process we used in buying Egret vs many choices new and used. I will say we are very happy with our decision and wouldn't think of another boat or manufacturer.
These last two days sailing to Gibraltar are a fitting end to our cruise. It has been slick calm. We can see the slightest ripple. It is cool and foggy, the running lights are on, the radar is set at three miles with few targets but birds. Imagine that in late September in the Med? We have seen our first flying fish in a long time along with Sargasso weed. We can smell the Atlantic.
Gibraltar will be a last minute provisioning stop. We have yet to receive a shipment from a Stateside supplier but will rent a car and pick up the order in a Spanish port nearby shipped there from Barcelona. We will also haul if we can fit the yard's schedule to install Spurs line cutters. After our dinghy fiasco in Italy, now repaired, we finally caved to absolute prop efficiency to the safety of line cutters. Any extra time spent in Gib has to come from our Maderia stay. We pick up our Atlantic crossing crew member, Steve Lawrence, in Grand Caneria Sept 22d for the Atlantic crossing and beyond.
Eight point eight eight nm to go. This is exciting. A new adventure around the corner. What will happen? Doesn't matter, it's all good and it's NOT boring. Here come the dolphin to welcome us to Gib. Life is very good.
Aug. 26, 2006
Barcelona (BCN) is like a favorite old tee shirt. It may have a few spots here and there but whatever printing on the back brings back great memories. Egret wintered in Barcelona in 2004-05, the first season after the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally, along with a number from the NAR group. We had our inland travels together, Friday night dock parties on F dock, a daily net at 0900 and great fun with the other yachties.
Barcelona is a large city by Spanish standards but much smaller than our home town of Ft. Lauderdale. The three-mile or so radius of walking distance, bus and metro soon became our stomping ground. There are great markets to choose from with small vendors whose families have had the same location since the early 1900s. We buy meat from the covered market off las Ramblas where there are dozens of stalls specializing in different meats, fish, just eggs, just cheese, dried fruits and nuts, fruit and vegetable stalls with their beautiful displays of color and even stand up eateries to support the locals. By the French train station is the 'bean store'. The bean store has bulk dry goods in burlap bags for a song. Earle Grey tea in 10 kilo bags, flour, spices, grains of all kinds, beans, rice, etc. On this trip we bought enough Thai jasmine rice to last to New Zealand along with flour, oatmeal and other goodies. Our two-wheel Barcelona cart was dragging along with the mule who was pulling it. Nearby is the cava store. Cava is the Spanish word for champagne. (The French won't allow them to use the name.) A buck 89 a bottle. Fresh bread daily from the panaterria. Enough said, you get the picture. Shopping in Barcelona is an adventure and fun.
The las Ramblas calle (street) has a center park-like area full of vendors, outdooor restaurant seating served by kitchens across the narrow street. Even Mickey D's has outside seating. Flower vendors, scattered musicians playing with a hat or instrument case opened salted with a few coins, mimes everywhere. One of our favorites is the guy painted all white including a top hat sitting on a toilet with his pants around his ankles. After a year and a half when we returned to Barcelona, there he was sitting on the toilet. Another favorite is the two guys costumed like skeletons painted in all silver riding side by side on stationary bikes. When a coin is dropped they peddle away then stop motionless until the next coin drops.
Everywhere you go in the old section of Barcelona there are musicains playing every imaginable instrument. At 9:00 in the morning you can hear a guy sitting playing a Tibetan long horn, around the corner an oboe, a potopouri of stringed instruments most of which we had never seen and the small bands. The more enterprising bands are hawking CDs. Most of the musisicians are young free spirits playing for traveling money moving around Europe. We saw them elsewhere as well but Barcelona has the largest concentration. Day and night there is always something happening.
There are a few cruisiers who live year around in Barcelona taking cruising breaks when they can. Some earn their cruising kitty by working on other's boats. One woman and her husband, she is Spainish - he Uruguayan, live on a beautifully restored English ketch. She cut Mary's and other cruisiers hair while we were wintering. We saw here just after arriving this year and found she had lost her husband to cancer four months before. She was still very upset and had lost a lot of weight. She and Mary are buddies so we had her to the boat then took her out to eat at the Japanese restaurant where the food comes on a conveyer belt. She ate and ate. From there we went to Quatro Gatos (4 Cats) for cafe' con leche and desert. Picasso drew their first menu cover in the early 1900's, probably for a beer, and had his first exibition at 4 Cats when he was 17. The other night she arranged for our fuel at the private yacht club around the corner. While we were fueling there was a brass band playing for a small crowd nearby. Its hard to leave people as sweet as she is not being able to help more.
Marina Port Vell in downtown Barcelona is a large modern marina with a great staff. The only problem is because Barcelona is so popular with cruisers it is hard to get in for the winter. Winter guests have the first choice of returning then the others may apply starting in April. The marina is surrounded by a park on one side and a large museum on the north end. The city is just outside the gates.
One of our reasons to return to Barcelona other than the obvious is to receive air freighted supplies from the States. Receiving parts in Europe from the States is tedious at best. Just outside the marina is a yacht buying service, Non Stop Yacht, who coordinates with customs incoming shipments in addition to buying supplies. For Egret they received two shipments, one very problematic from a difficult vendor, found watermaker high pressure pump oil that I couldn't find from Turkey to Barcelona, bought 9 20 liter pails of Shell engine oil at a great price, etc. Stephanie Mackay (email@example.com) and Kathy Allen (firstname.lastname@example.org) in Palma de Mallorica do a great job.
Sadly, all things must end - particularly when you are on a schedule. Egret departed Barcelona at 1300 Fri punching into tight head seas. Around midnight the wind clocked to the beam and now (1600 Sat) we have a wonderful downwind sleigh ride coming up on our waypoint at the southeastern tip of Spain. From here it is a westerly course to Gibraltar where we will do our final provisioning and last duty free fuel before departing for Maderia and the beginning of our 20,000 mile voyage to New Zealand. We can't wait.
Aug. 12, 2006
In the last update I mentioned we were going to stay tight to the beach in the Golfe du Lyon crescent crossing to the west to avoid the ongoing storm sweeping down from the northwest. In the latest copy of the gribs (weather barbs - isobars) we saw the weather came off the coast at just 15 knots rising to a re-evaluated 25 knots deep in the gulf. New strategy...we sailed north to Toulon, France to give us the proper angle on the waves then turned SW to the Bay of Roses in Spain. The town of Roses is protected from the N and E with good holding in sand.
Immediately we ran into head sea swells but no wind and no problem. We were also pushed by a W bound current. About a third of the way across the 132nm crossing we ran into the predicted 20-25 knots but quartering head seas. The waves grew but again no problem or power to the waves. The last third of the trip the winds increased to steady 26 knots moving up to the low thirties then back down. The waves were now on the beam and growing quite large - salt to the top of the mast. However after a few hours Egret was swinging to her anchor in Roses.
We really missed not being able to cruise more of the Italian western Riviera as well as the French. We anchored overnight in a bay just south of St. Tropez along with Onassis' old yacht "Christina". What a shame not to visit St. Tropez as well as all the big names and small bays along the way. We did visit ST on a road trip from Barcelona with the Sea Fox crew. There are protected areas behind large islands of bright red rocks where many boats were anchored. Some boats were undoubtedly pushed around the corner by the Golfe du Lyon storm.
Like most coastal tourist oriented towns along this coast, Roses is clinging to her Roman occupation past with active restorations to the 'rockpiles'. The beach surrounding the entire bay is a popular destination for the Spanish and the French. (France is just a few kilometers away. Spain is much cheaper than France.)
Very early Monday morning (8-14) Egret leaves on the 90nm sail down the coast to Barcelona. Already the Egret crew is preparing for the upcoming voyage to recross the Atlantic and beyond. Some oil hoses were changed today, wing oil changed, cleaning, stainless, etc. Every item will be checked and rechecked between here and Gibraltar. The fuel tanks will be cleaned in Barcelona as they were a few months ago in Turkey. NOTHING can be left to chance.
I will mention here and will again later for any boats planning to cross into the South Pacific Spring 07 it would be great to get an informal group together for the 'class of 07' crossing. Egret will be in the Galapagos late April 07 then crossing to the Marquesas following the traditional route to New Zealand. The Atlantic coast-Caribbean/Panama canal boats Ecuador - Galapagos is a great option. The Mexico/So California boats a direct shot to the Marquesas would be the norm but in any case all should be arriving in the Marquesas in late May or so. From our experiences on the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally and the subsequent two-winter/three-cruising seasons in the Med interacting with the other NAR boats added a lot to the experience. It would be great if we can get a group together for the South Pacific. Egret can be reached at email@example.com for anyone interested. (Please do not hit the reply key)
An '07 Atlantic crossing looks to be shaping up with another group plus there is also an '08 group being assembled by another of the NAR boats for the South Pacific. Those are three options available to able boats and crew. Wise sage Capt. Ron said, "If its going to happen, its going to happen out there." It's true.
August 8, 2006
Last VofE Egret was anchored in the protected bay off Sestri Levanti. SL is a beautiful typical Italian Riviera town. What is different is the winding streets vs a few rows of houses along the waterfront typical of most small villages. For the first time we saw the 3D type window and door facades painted over the pastel house paint. From a distance they look absolutely real. There are real ones on a few of the homes and buildings but that is rare. The majority of old town has these paintings adding to the beauty. After too much gelato and a couple days exploring Egret left for the two hour run to Santa Margherita Ligure the middle of three small towns under a headland. Rapallo is several kilometers to the north and Portofino to the south.
How can you describe the beauty and class of this small location? We explored SML and Portofino for three days hiking between the two. As another said "every picture is a postcard". A whole summer could be spent in a one hundred mile radius of Portofino and taking inland trips. This said I believe the Italian and French Rivieras should be saved as the cultural jewel until the end of your Med cruise. We are writing a two-winter, three-cruising season Med itinerary for fellow Nordhavn owner and good friend crossing from the States in 07. It will be posted on a future Voyage of Egret issue and will again encourage saving this area until last.
A brief intermission. As I write this Egret is cruising by an open bay just north of Monaco. There are six mega yachts in the bay. Four have to be in excess of 300' with the largest being Paul Allen's "Tattosh" (I believe) at well over 400'. Tattosh is complete with an ocean racing sailboat on deck plus various sport boats and toys. Oh yes, there are also a couple of 150' little megas.
Egret left Santa Margherita Ligure crossing the Golfo di Genoa for San Remo, Italy with a good weather window for three days. There has been an ongoing storm sweeping down from the Golfe du Lyon in France giving Corsica, Sardinia and the area west to Barcelona very high seas and winds for the past week and forecast to continue at least three days from today (Tue, 08-08). We were running in large swells pushed north by the storm but very little wind. This was comfortable cruising until we reached the Golfo di Genoa west coast. There was a VERY dramatic change. We ran into westerlies up to 38 knots driving the swells to small hills and tightening the wave distance. Still no big problem, just a lot of spray. We did not change speed. Then things changed again, not so good this time. The wind reversed itself in less than a minute rising to nearly 30 knots from the east driving the wave tops into sharp peaks with the tips being blown backward. We climbed one particular wave that was steep with no back. We fell down the backside loosening an avalanche of cruising guides into Mary's lap that wer held in place by a strong bungee. These books had not moved in well over 20,000 miles. The wind reversed itself several more times with one or the other standing by the throttle to slow on the few extra steep waves. We entered a marina with an east facing entrance to avoid a rolly night on anchor. The next day in swells but no wind we entered the marina at San Remo just 5.5 miles west.
After every incident there are learning benefits. We used those loose books and steep seas to our advantage. The books will be more secure before leaving Gibraltar. We also practiced 'heaving too' by reducing the RPM to 800-900 running 15-20 degrees into the wind/waves. ALL violent motion stopped immediately. Egret simply rode like a duck in wavelets. We also did the same thing before in a storm off Hatteras, same result.
San Remo is another 'must see'. SR reminds us of a small Barcelona but cleaner with more class. They have a preserved medieval old town, newer sections but compact. There are huge date palms lining the promenade along the waterfront along with sculptures, integral parks, etc. The marina is modern and spotless with a friendly staff. After the busy SR weekend we rented a car and toured a mountain loop in the Valle Argentina of about 100 kms. The spectacular scenery is sprinkled with small mountain villages. We visited three. All had a preserved medieval section with thick town walls and the original churches, some dating back to the 1300s. The new sections, only 500 years old or so, surround the original towns. One in particular. Triora, was even more special. The extensive medieval sections were original - complete with heavy old doors with crude hammered iron hinges and massive deadbolts. Many of the twists and turns engineered to confuse enemies (like touristas 700 years later) are joined by cave-like passages. You expected any minute for some chain mail clad warrior dude to pop out of a doorway. Every village is under restoration but keeping the original walls and as much interiors as possible. These villages are filled with working families, kids, dogs, etc along with the parents' generation. In one village piazza there was a skateboard lying in the middle with no one around. Everyone local knows who belongs to that skateboard so no problem. How long would that last where you live? Keys in cars, scooters, etc. Happy people. Great stuff!
Another mega-mega going by complete with a real lifeboat hanging on side davits. Geesh.
The French Riviera sliding by should be enjoyed bit by bit. Unfortunately Egret is on a SCHEDULE. We despise any type of schedule but need to be in Gibraltar by the end of August. Sooooo with the ongoing storm we can't safely cross the Golfe du Lyon directly to Barcelona. Instead we will stay tight to the French crescent gulf beach moving long days anchoring off the beach into the wind each night. According to the gribs, weather info with wind barbs and isobars, the wind comes off the coast at just 15 knots rising to 30 knots offshore. Should be no problema. We'll see...