What does it take to leave home for a foreign adventure on the high seas? We have linked up with one Plymouth couple and their dog on their world sailing trip of a lifetime; they’ll share their experiences and challenges in a few entertaining blogs. Here they discuss the preparations and start of their journey.
We decided that we would sail off on an adventure about five years before we actually did. It took us five years to find the right boat (a westerly Conway Ketch) replace all the house wiring with marine wiring, scrape the hull and put on copper coat and refurbish the boat throughout adding all the gizmos and gadgets we needed for travelling around the Med.
We also needed to extract ourselves from 'normal' life, give up our jobs, rent out our house, and put all extraneous junk into storage. We held a big leaving party in the last few months and then did the rounds of saying goodbye to family and friends.
We planned to leave at the end of July/beginning of August and so moved onto the boat. Of course the final little jobs took longer than expected, then bad weather added to our delay and it was getting close to the cut off date when our insurance company wouldn't cover us to cross Biscay. So as soon as the weather improved, despite a few manageable teething problems, we took the decision to go and set off from Plymouth mid September for La Coruña in Spain.
As any sailor will know your plans must be flexible according to the conditions and although the channel crossing was good the wind was a bit 'fruity' so we decided to head toL'Aberwrach, France where we enjoyed our first taste of foreign cuisine - mussels and cidre with delicious French bread.
A few days later a good weather window meant we could carry on with our adventure and so we set off for La Coruña. It took us 3 days of good sailing and then a week's rest to dry out our gear and get used to being 'abroad'. It was wonderful to see the local culture, enjoy Spanish food, including a new favourite of churros and chocolate which we discovered at a local food fare in the back streets of Coruña.
It was while we were in Coruña that we had very practical example of the camaraderie among sailors. A large yacht had sailed from England aiming for Madeira and on across the Atlantic, but their furling mainsail had blown and so their trip was halted at Coruña. They were flying home to the Uk and so offered us their refrigerated and frozen food. Yes please I said expecting a small bag, but delighted to receive 4 large Waitrose carrier bags of goodies. A wonderful reminder of food from back home.
Although it was late in the season to be sailing we had a wonderful trip down Spain, Portugal and on to Gibraltar during September, October and November. The marinas were cheaper, being out of season, and although it could be nippy, it was warmer than England and we loved discovering new places and meeting new people. We used the pilot guide to decide where to stop and it was invaluable in guiding us to the best marinas and what to see once we had tied up.
We sailed around Cap Trafalga mid November with the aim of reaching Alcaidesia marina, La Linea, Spain (a few hundred metres from the border with Gibraltar) at the beginning of December. On the way we stopped of near Cadiz, at Puerto de Santa Maria, to enjoy the pleasures of a sherry bodega, a complement to our earlier visit to a Port house while we were tied up in the new marina in Douro, Portugal.
One of our best sails was through the Straits of Gibraltar, sailing towards what looked like a small channel between the two continents and sharing the water with dolphins and large container ships. This was a magical, memorable sail.
That was three years ago, and our adventure continues. We've enjoyed more of the Spanish coast, the Balearics, parts of Sardinia, Sicily, Malta, the Ionian islands, Albania, Montenegro and Croatia. We still want to visit the islands in the Aegean, Turkey, the Italian mainland, Corsica and France and so our adventure continues..........