It was mid-June and by this time, we had been in Croatia for a little over two weeks and had spent a lot of time in the southern islands of this lovely country; however, as our next set of friends joined us, we were excited to be moving further northwest into an area abundant with national and nature parks! Tom wrote about our visit to Mljet National Park which occupies significant land and coastline on the island of the same name. Before we would leave Croatia, we will have visited Mljet two more times! This post will introduce two additional national parks and one equally special nature park. We’re lucky to be able to capture this beauty digitally today. I would hate to have had to ration my film use in these amazing places in the days of my youth. Prepare for a high number of photos!Continue reading “The Land of Stunning Parks, Ep. 113”
We have a bunch of visitors lined up to come stay onboard Sea Rose this summer – 30 in all between mid-May and early October. We are often asked if this is too much and because of these questions, we ask that of ourselves … are we ‘ok’ with the work required to host this many groups and individual people? For us, it comes down to two important factors: (1) the obvious – we love seeing our friends and family and when we travel five months out of the year this is one way to remain connected to people who are important to us; (2) when we have friends and family on board, we live our experiences more fully than we do when it is just Tom and I. Having others around causes us to use fresh, naïve eyes as we pass through the days with our company on board. It is almost like having kids; if you’ve had them you’ll understand what I mean. Parents often free themselves up to re-experience things their kids are learning with abandonment; even getting as silly as their young, exceedingly loved companions! When having people on board for whom our lifestyle is not a regular occurrence, we allow ourselves to become fully immersed in the experiences of our guests, or our ‘kids’ if you will!Continue reading “Fresh Eyes – The Art of Experiencing Life Like a Child! Ep. 112”
With two adult children, our days of ‘time-outs’ are behind us … or so we thought! Right now, we most definitely need a time out … of the Schengen. ‘What’s Schengen’, you ask? Schengen is an immigration agreement among many (but not all) of the countries of the European Union (and some non-EU countries, just to confuse things). It is the rule of law that governs, among other things, how much time a person NOT from one of these countries (like us, being from the US) can remain in the countries which are part of this agreement. We, as US citizens with US passports, are only allowed to be in the Schengen area for 90 days out of the last 180 days. Last summer, we got extended-stay tourist visas from France and this allowed us to spend almost five contiguous months in France and other Schengen countries. Montenegro and Croatia are not part of Schengen (though Croatia is part of the EU and Montenegro is hoping to be part of the EU soon). Because we wanted to visit both of these countries this summer, we decided to count our days carefully and stay under the 90 day Schengen limit. Getting visas is a lot of work that we hoped to avoid for this summer! The second half of our summer plans have us spending two months in Greece (a member of Schengen). Add to that the three weeks we have already been in Italy and we’re needing to be careful with each day! Therefore, we NEED this ‘time out’ and it needs to start soon!
With the strong winds having abated, it was time to leave the comfort of the marina at Santa Maria di Leuca and round the heel of Italy. This turn took us from the Ionian Sea into the Adriatic Sea and helped articulate how much distance we will have covered upon arriving in Montenegro! Just two weeks earlier, we departed on Sea Rose from where she wintered in the Tyrrhenian Sea (center, west coast of Italy). But I’m getting ahead of myself – first we need to cover the 169 miles from the bottom of Italy’s boot to the Gulf of Kotor and the Montenegrin customs and immigration dock!Continue reading “We Need a Time Out, Ep. 109”
This blog episode welcomes our first guests of the 2019 summer Mediterranean sailing season on board Sea Rose. Longtime friends, Mary and Dave join us from Madison, Wisconsin. They actually ‘booked’ their date over a year in advance as they planned other travel to Europe.
Mary and Tom worked together in Oakland California almost 30 years ago at the shipping company, ‘American President Lines’. I was doing some IT consulting at APL at that time, and I met both Tom and then Mary through a corporate ski-team … yes, snow skiing, if I had a dollar for every skier I met who also sails or every sailor who skies in the off season, we’d be flying high!
Tom and Mary developed a fast friendship with once-a-week yoga evenings and plans for outings with mutual friends. They even bought a canoe together! Who knew their boating relationship would last so long? By the time I met Mary, Dave was already a well-established figure in her life – in fact, they were married!Continue reading “Geologic Activity Tour, Ep. 107”
We left off the previous post having just gotten to the ‘Costa Brava’ region along the southeast coast of Spain from Menorca Island. We had enjoyed our short time along this area on our way to the Balearic Islands so we were excited to see more.
We originally planned to cross directly from the Balearics to Corsica, the very large French island south of France and west of Northern Italy. However, we also needed to have a couple boat warranty items worked on and since we liked the work SAS had done originally, we decided to return to them. It was back to Canet-en-Roussillion for us! This would also work out well as a place we could leave the boat while we would be off it for a little over a week.
In the morning after we arrived in Tossa de Mar, Spain, we went ashore and walked all over this darling town. There is a large fortification that has been nicely maintained to include beautiful walking paths and easy connections between the high fortress and the curvy old narrow streets of the town.
We continued NE up the coast of Spain and stopped at another wonderful, if very busy, harbor – Aiguablava! I created a short video several weeks ago highlighting the snorkeling and the wonderful caves, cliffs and tiny bays scattered nearby so I’ll share that here as a highlight of our time in Aiguablava, Spain.
Our next anchorage was Cala Tabellera, just north of the Golf of Roses but still on the Spanish coastline. This place is amazing – between here and the boarder with France are a million places to tuck in and explore. We quickly came to appreciate that one could spend many days exploring the coves and bays in this part of Spain. Unfortunately, we only had the one day left since we would soon be on a flight back to the US for a quick visit and we had to get Sea Rose safely tucked in first!
Notice the very different landscape and vegetation in this part of the Spanish coast. While it was barren and somewhat stark, it was lovely in its ruggedness!
In the morning, we made the 25 mile trip back to Canet-en-Roussillion! We had been in Spanish waters for about five weeks and we were missing France and what we had begun to appreciate about the French people. Putting our French courtesy flag back up as we crossed the boarder brought smiles to both of our faces!
From Canet, we flew home to see our sons and to attend a ceremony for our older son’s beginning of medical school. We have been living on board for almost six weeks. As I contemplate that, I have to ask myself ‘What is home, after all?’ Were we flying ‘home’ or were we leaving our ‘home’ here in France? The boat had certainly become comfortable and familiar to us. We had done several projects over the weeks to have it fit our needs and we were liking the life we could live from aboard her. So, was this boat now our ‘home’? I would have to say, ‘no … it is very lovely and a lot of fun but for me it is not “home” ’. Home is closer to where my sons are. Home is a place from which I can easily communicate with my aging parents. Home is having good friends nearby who are eager to go for frequent walks and have meaningful talks. Home has a yard that my sweet dog runs around in – probably wondering where the heck his parents are. (Thank you, Caleb, for taking good care of Journey this summer!!) Tom would have to answer this question from his own perspective and definition of what “home” is for him, but there you have my deep thoughts for this week!
When we got back on Sea Rose, we both realized we had missed her and we were excited for the explorations ahead of us! We brought three HUGE checked bags back with us, each pushing the 50 lb weight limit. Over the previous weeks, we had had a bunch of boat parts and other stuff we needed shipped to our home in New Hampshire, knowing we would be there to retrieve it all and bring it back! While home, I also made an awning to keep the afternoon sun off the deck, and thus prevent our downstairs living space from being overheated. Finding a storage place for all this new s#*$ took some work but it was stuff we needed so it had to find a home! For those interested in my handiwork, here’s some pix of the awning!
We quickly provisioned and checked on the work that had been done. Our new batteries seem to be doing the job, but time will be the judge here. We were thrilled to have a second water tank added to bring our on-board fresh water capacity up to 140 gallons (530 liters). The warranty repair work had also been completed.
We had a friend (Emmy) we were to meet in Toulon, France in 4 days time so we tossed off the dock lines to cross the Golf of Lyon with a hopeful destination southeast of Marseille — the Parc National des Calanques. This is essentially a national park highlighting the stunning limestone fjords (which the French call ‘Calanques’) that the area is famous for. We know there is so much to explore along the French coastline and with more time we would have gone at a slower pace. It seems we are looking at this summer as a tasting or sampling of sorts to know the places we would love to spend more time in! Here’s a map of our journey covered in the rest of this blog post:
Once we arrived in the Calanques, we were happy with our choice to jump here from Canet! We anchored in a calanque called Sormiou and took in the surrounding tall ridgelines as we relaxed for the first time since we left Boston on our way back to the boat four-and-a-half days ago! We took our dinghy into their tiny harbor the next morning and it seemed the whole town was here … in the water for their morning swim! What a cute place. We walked up onto the ridge and flew the drone to get a perspective of this great spot. Here is a collection of shots we took while in Sormiou.
We moved to the next calanque east — Calanque de Morgiou — for a lunch and snorkel stop. This place was also terrific and could be enjoyed for several days. There were crowds of people swimming and cliff jumping so clearly we found a popular spot!
We then found our night’s stop as we tied up to a steep cliff in Port Miou! What a terrific spot! As the pilot book warned, we had cliff jumpers making the terrifying leap from far above into the waters just off our stern!
The town of Cassis was supposed to be very nice, so in the evening we set off for the 30 minute walk into town. They like their hills around here! By the time we arrived, we were both sweaty and thirsty! We sat down at a Paris-style café to people watch and quench our thirst!
Back on the boat, we snuggled in for a good night’s sleep after our exercise and libations! We were awoken at 3 am by a thunder and lightening storm that was fascinating to watch. We could see flashes and bolts in the distance and the speed at which the storm approached was awesome. Of all places to be anchored, we were pretty safe where we were since the rock walls surrounding us were taller than our mast and we were with a bunch of other sailboats – comfort in numbers! This storm was a preview to a period of high winds that we would have to work with for the next couple days. With this knowledge in hand, we set off as soon as we could to get closer to where we would meet Emmy. We picked the island of Porquerolles since it was just off shore from Toulon and Hyeres-Plage, where the airport is located. This island had the added benefit of a couple anchorages that are oriented such that we will have good protection from the building winds.
As we dropped the lines and pulled away from the calanque, the winds picked up right away; we spent most of the day in 20-plus knots of wind. Luckily, both the wind and the seas were coming from behind us so, although it was quite rough, we were not really slamming into the waves as much as surfing along the tops of them. However, since the waves were big, we decided to jibe back and forth with the wind always about 30 degrees off our stern from first the port then the starboard side. Sailing at even this small angle off of a straight down-wind course makes more efficient use of the wind (since both sails can be filled versus one sail blanketing the other) and it is safer because you have less of a chance of an accidental jibe. A jibe is when the wind switches from coming from one side of your boat (say, the starboard side) to the other (port side) and occurs because the wind angle has gone past your stern (versus the wind crossing your bow which would be a ‘tack’). When this happens, your sails respond to the new wind direction and on a jibe your boom swings across your boat and people or things in the way can get injured/damaged if the jibe is not expected and properly managed. It is best to help the boom over more gently by bringing the mainsheet in so the boom doesn’t have as far to travel. When you are going directly downwind, just a tiny wind angle change can cause your boom to go crashing from one side of your boat to the other, often catching the skipper by surprise. And, when you are surfing down huge waves every few seconds and your boat is tossed about in the process, it is incredibly easy to accidentally jibe. I realize that was a long explanation but I know some of you may want to understand the reason we often sail just off from a straight down-wind course … especially when we have big seas.
We arrived at Porquerolles in the late afternoon and found the anchorage highly utilized – its seems lots of other people had the same goal of finding a protected anchorage! Once we settled in, Tom swam around the anchorage with the GoPro as he looked at our neighbor’s anchors and whether or not they were properly set. The winds were supposed to be very strong all night and it is much easier and safer to work these things out during daylight than to stumble about on deck in the middle of the night! Luckily, everyone near us had their anchors set and they had plenty of scope (length of chain as determined by a ratio to the depth of water you are anchored in).
The winds were predicted to be high for a second day so we stayed put off of Porquerolles. It was actually nice to relax prior to having a guest on board. In the evening, we opened some letters that our friends had sent with us to raise our spirits if they dipped during our summer adventure. Our dear friend Michelle has a history of organizing ‘Theme Nights’ when our crazy group of friends get together so she sent some stuff along to encourage fun in her absence!
In the morning, we raised anchor and headed over toward Hyeres-Plage (near Toulon) where we would do laundry, provision for food/beverages and clean our boat! Emmy was to land around 3 pm so we had to scramble to get our chores done and arrive at the airport to greet her on time. It is worth the effort to be able to welcome a friend on board a clean boat that is ready for entertaining guests!
Hope you enjoyed hearing about our time along the Spanish and French coastlines. Our next blog post will cover our final night along the French coast before we jump over to Corsica – or ‘Corse’ as the French call it. It IS their island after-all so I’m happy to call it Corse!
Thanks for reading!
Karen & Tom ~ LifeFourPointZero
We are continuing our time in the Balearic Islands – the westernmost archipelago in the Mediterranean. At its closest point, this island group is 82 km (51 miles) from the southeast coast of Spain. After having spent three weeks in Mallorca – the largest island of the archipelago – we are eager to move along to Menorca, the second largest island and new waters to us! Menorca is the farthest of the Balearics from the mainland and it is rumored to be quieter than both Mallorca and Ibiza – an island we have not yet been able to visit that has a reputation of being a party spot! Continue reading “Sea Rose Visits The Island of Menorca! Ep. 99”
At 3 am on the final day of May, we set off from the Marina in Puerto de Blanes on the Spanish coast (north east of Barcelona by about 70 kilometers – yes, we have fully converted to metric!). Today would be the first ‘crossing’ in our new boat … the shake-down cruise continues. Our destination is the harbor of Soller on the north coast of Mallorca, the largest of the Spanish Islas Baleares (Balearic Islands) in the western Mediterranean. The total distance we need to cover is 115 nautical miles (nm). I think we were both fighting back some nerves as we pulled out of the harbor in the moonlit early morning hours. As is becoming our modus operandi, I was at the helm to pull us away from the dock and all went well since we had very little wind and absolutely no other boat traffic. Though I’ve had some close-quarters practice while we were berthed in Canet, France, I am still quite jittery as I attempt maneuvers at the dock since Tom handled nearly all of those tasks on Thalia, our previous boat.
We knew there was the likelihood of fish traps that could get snagged by our prop as we motored off shore so we both kept a watch until we got into water over 50 meters deep, which only took about 10 minutes of motoring! We then began our watch schedule beginning with our morning person (Tom, of course) taking first watch. I snuggled back into bed and tried to get some sleep. The seas were quite choppy so a deep sleep was out of the question as the bow would frequently crash into an oncoming wave and make my body momentarily weightless in our forward berth. Our bed happens to be the worst place to sleep in these conditions and I could certainly move into one of our other sleeping quarters but I thought the seas would calm down! Three hours later, Tom would experience the same weightlessness! Oh well – life at sea.
Midway through our crossing, we had a wonderful surprise – a pod of dolphins dashing toward our bow to play in our wake! This is one of the very most special times on a boat – you can literally observe the happiness of the dolphins as they jump, flip and play around your moving home. Watch this video which is a compilation of the time they spent with us.
We picked the early morning departure time so that we could arrive at our destination during daylight hours. We are minimizing our risks and neither of us love to enter an unfamiliar harbor under the cover of darkness – especially when we would not have the helpful moon to light our way until well after midnight. Because of this desire to arrive before sunset, we had a minimum speed we needed to maintain and, unfortunately, we had very little wind for most of the crossing. We enjoyed a couple hours under sail power but we would have liked more! As part of our new-boat obligations, we needed to break in the engine by running it pretty hard for the first 50 engine hours – which we were less than half way through. While this made the crossing pass relatively quickly, it made us both a little anxious; it is never relaxing to hear your engine operating at high RPMs and much less so when continuing for extended periods of time. Still, we want our girl to last a long time so we are going to take good care of her and this is supposed to aid with engine longevity!
As the day wore on, a cloud bank appeared to be building in front of us but since it was quite hazy, it wasn’t well defined. We would learn that this was really a silhouette of the island with a small cloud covering on its high peaks. As the truth came into focus, we saw the huge Mallorcan mountain range reaching into the heavens! The peaks around Soller are some of the highest on the island, reaching 1145 meters just a couple miles inland and this is what we were seeing materialize out of the haze of the afternoon – not a cloud bank! Now we really couldn’t wait to explore these islands.
All in all, we would spend three-and-a-half weeks in Mallorca and almost a week in Menorca, one of the other main islands in the Balearics. We had two different sets of guests on board in Mallorca and, since we wanted everyone to see as much of the island as possible, we navigated most of the way around it … a couple times! Instead of covering our time on Mallorca chronologically, we’re going to cover it by area on the island – I think this will make it easier from a readership perspective to get to know the island!
(include a map of the Balaerics, Mallorca broken down into how our posts will be organized … and any other map?)
In this post, I will focus on the north coast. The next blog post will cover the southeast coast, Cabrera – the island off the southern tip – and the city of Palma, the island’s capital. Finally, we’ll do one post on the island of Menorca to round out our time in Islas Baleares.
North Coast of Mallorca
The entrance to the Soller harbor is graced by two light houses and very dramatic cliffs and caves. The harbor is almost perfectly round and it has a great vibe! Upon arriving after a long day’s passage, we were nicely settled on our anchor by 6 pm – time to enjoy some champagne to celebrate our first successful open-water passage on Sea Rose! Soller is, quite interestingly, made up of two distinct town centers – the Port of Soller and the darling Town of Soller that is several miles inland to protect the population from long ago pirate activity – imagine that! It turns out to be quite common throughout the Mediterranean for coastal communities to move their towns into the inland hills and valleys.
And here are some photos of the inland town of Soller …
We spent several nights in Soller, not only because it is a terrific little town but also because it is where we began our explorations of the island with both of our sons on board and, a week-and-a-half later, our good friends Steve and Patty. Each time, we rented a car and drove over to the very busy airport outside of Palma to pick up our guests. This also gave us the perfect excuse to shop in the huge stores around Palma so we could provision easily and also to get additional things we needed to make life on-board easier and more comfortable.
The north coast of Mallorca is very rugged with tall cliffs that often are vertical for hundreds of feet above and quite a distance below water as well. There are dramatic rock structures that surround natural coves which can be used for overnight anchoring if the weather is calm. The north coast is known for offering few protections if the weather turns. However, other than one “energetic” sail around Cabo de Formentor in the northeast, we enjoyed stable weather and explored as we wished. We typically stopped at one spot for lunch then moved on to where we would spend the night. There simply was so much beauty to be seen that we felt continually pulled toward the next exciting spot!
Cala de la Calobra and the ‘Torrente de Pareis’, the carved river valley that created this cove and the beautiful canyon walls inland as well. Truly stunning. There is a passageway through the cliff walls that allow you to walk from one cove to the other. We got some great photos of our boat looking out of the ‘windows’ in these passageways. This place was so amazing that we went there ourselves, then we took our sons there, then we also took Steve & Patty there. Some things should not be missed and this was one such place!
Cala Castell – The drone shots of this cala (cove in Spanish) say it all! Check it out.
Isn’t that a crazy slab of rock? It slants at a consistent angle to the water from a very high height and the rock is rough like maybe it was a volcanic flow that has deteriorated over time. As with many calas on the north shore, this one has no commercial development, just lots of goats and swimmers that hike over for the day.
Cala Val de Boca – This cove is incredibly barren but beautiful in that stark simplicity! Each night we anchored here, we heard goats bleating from the surrounding steeply pitched mountainsides. Though boats would enter the cala and loop around to check out the sights, no one ended up spending the night with us which made the evenings on the hook very special. The sky was pitch black, making you feel you could reach and grab a star of your choice. The sunrises were interesting. Since we were in a cove with very high sides, we could only see evidence that the sun had, in fact, risen even though our immediate surroundings were still somewhat gray. Steve took some great early-morning shots … hope you enjoy them and the other pictures of Cala Val de Boca!
Here are a couple other special shots from the north coast of Mallorca … enjoy!
Stay tuned until next time to learn all about the amazing southeast coast of Mallorca!
The fourth Nor-Easter storm in as many weeks had Tom and I out skiing deep powder well into the later days of March! We have thoroughly enjoyed our first winter being able to ski mid-week and despite some tough conditions in late January and into February, early season and March have been terrific! To tell the truth, though, it was actually quite helpful to have poor ski conditions mid-winter since we had huge projects standing between us and a summer of successful cruising in the Mediterranean on our new sailboat.
Here’s an update on what we’ve been up to – this video will cover it in some detail or you can read about the details below!
Our boat construction is underway and is right on track to be turned over to us in early May … AND, we have an official hull number. ‘What’s a hull number’, you ask? Well, every boat within a specific boat model is assigned a sequential hull number according to the order the boat is manufactured. The first boat of a new model is hull # 1 and, for as long as that model of boat is created, the hull number continues to incrementally increased! When we looked at the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 440 last October, we were aboard hull number 3 since the model had just been launched! Our boat will be hull number 40 – I wonder how many Sun Odyssey 440’s will be made!
The shipment of our equipment and gear could be going better but we think we’ll still be ok on timing if nothing further delays progress. The shipping company picked our stuff up on February 16 but our things didn’t make it into a container and on their way away from the US until late March. The projected arrival in Rotterdam is April 6. After arrival in the Netherlands, the shipment will go through customs and then be transported over the road to where our boat will be commissioned and launched, Canet-en-Roussillon on the Mediterranean coast of France. Our boat is scheduled to arrive there in pieces around mid-April and since some of the things we shipped are to be installed on the boat, we hope customs clearance doesn’t take too long!
Finally, the biggest news of all is that we were granted long-stay tourist visas for France so we can stay up to a year if we wanted or needed to. I go into significant detail in the video about all that we needed to supply to convince the French authorities that we wouldn’t be a burden on their society. I understand all of the requirements and was happy to provide the detail. The process was smooth and the people at the French Consulate couldn’t have been more helpful! We are very excited to be able to remain in the waters around the Schengen states for longer than 90 days!
Our previous video on shipping our gear and equipment to France can be viewed here:
Thanks for following our blog!
I have a crafty side! I love to make all types of things from knitted or crocheted scarfs and afghans to bird-feeders decorated with mosaics of broken china. I sew nearly all of my own curtains and have made many things for our sailboats. I hope to share my DIY / how-to tips for making things with our blog followers and this post on making a rug out of rope is my first entry on this topic! Hope you enjoy.
Below is a gallery of the rugs that have been made on a weaving loom I created specifically for rope rugs. The best part is that once you have mastered something like this, you can invite a bunch of your friends over to drink wine while making rugs – what could be better than friends & craft projects together!
Skip reading and go right to the Youtube video on rope rug construction!
You have probably seen rugs like these selling for anywhere from $45 to $75 dollars in trendy stores along touristy waterfront villages, right? Since I first saw these several years ago, I have thought about the best ways to make them and what I will show you is my second attempt … the first prototype crashed! It didn’t work at all. And, although I need to buy very large amounts of rope at a time to make the costs reasonable, I can make a large (45″ x 24″) rug for just less than $20 in rope. The loom cost me less than $30 for the bolts, pvc tubes, 2 x 6″ plank and other minor materials I needed to build it.
Watch this YouTube video on rope rug construction and please leave me any comments or questions – I would be happy to answer them!
Our New Companion!
We are back on the boat after taking our youngest son to college. As you’ll recall, we left Thalia in Toronto so it was a long drive home and back. Our dog “Journey” is now on board with us. Journey is a ten-year-old cross between a black lab, a blood hound and several other breeds. Journey has become less excited about being on the boat as he has aged. He gets anxious when we heal or if we are slamming through waves. While our son was home working this summer, it was nice to have Journey able to stay home; but with our son going to college, Journey had to come with us! This will be an adjustment for all three of us.
We decided to make our first day out with Journey a shorter one so we stopped at Port Whitby, a 27 mile sail from Toronto. Continue reading “Try, and try again! The Life of a Sailor Ep. 84”