Everglades Fan Boat Tour Video

We started our tour by meeting our operator, “Everglades River of Grass Adventures” at a gas station with a wonderous selection of tourist crap, random weaponry, live bait and redneck costumes. It was awesome.

Nothing says “I’ve been to the Everglades” like a ceramic alligator toilet paper roll holder.
The shelves were packed with valuable keepsakes with the words “Florida Everglades” stamped in black paint.
Like school in the summertime…. NO CLASS……………….Anti-theft tags, really?
The one with the brass knuckles, now THAT’S for fighting gators, right?
You can get a nice necklace OR a real gator head for your loved one, or both. Obviously those two things need to be displayed together. Oh, wait, there’s AMMO? Good, I need some of that, too.
What can I say?
Florida is just plain nuts and I love them, to a point.

Here’s a fun music video I put together of our fan boat ride. By the way, fan boats are really loud and sound awesome, like a Harley with ten thousand bees chasing it.

Any Anchorage Will Do!

Having already sailed across the Atlantic, all the way down the wild coast of Western Ireland, and across the English Channel, we were in search of some short day sails, but that wasn’t always easy. A lot of the Atlantic coast of Portugal is famous for it’s surfing, which means there aren’t always as many safe harbours for sailors. Nevertheless, we found some amazing spots.

Private sailing catamaran charter Atlantic Portugal
Private sailing catamaran charter Atlantic Portugal

After a whole day of wonderful sailing and calm seas, things started to pick up during the hour before we arrived at the rather narrow entrance to São Martinho do Porto.

Private sailing catamaran charter Atlantic Portugal

With the sun setting behind us, we squeezed in through the headlands, surfing slightly on the back of 6 foot roller. Safely inside, we anchored up with the local boats and relaxed for the night.

Private sailing catamaran charter Atlantic Portugal
Private sailing catamaran charter Atlantic Portugal

From here it was another day sail to the Islas Berlengas. Situated 10km west of the fishing town of Peniche, the stunning and secluded Berlengas Islands are home to the Arquipélago das Berlengas nature reserve. 

Private sailing catamaran charter Atlantic Portugal
Private sailing catamaran charter Atlantic Portugal
Private sailing catamaran charter Atlantic Portugal

The Berlengas Islands form part of a dramatic natural landscape, and contain Portugal’s most scenic fort, while the crystal-clear waters are teeming with sea life.

Private sailing catamaran charter Atlantic Portugal

The islands were an amazing stopover, if somewhat tricky anchoring.

Cruising with the Gondolas?

Just a day sail south of Porto was the surprising town of Aveiro. So small we almost missed it, and that would have been a great shame. Beyond the coast lies a maze of canals and lagoons, alongside an industrial port. But if you persist inland, you reach a colourful town where the Portuguese version of gondolas, moliceiros, would have traditionally carried the local harvests of salt and seaweed, but now carry visitor along the canals to explore the city.

Private sailing catamaran charter Aveiro Portugal

We found the perfect place for lunch with the local speciality of roasted piglet. Yum!! The set lunch menu came with a mini jug of wine… not too shabby!

Private sailing catamaran charter Aveiro Portugal

Portuguese Pea Soup Fog

We were very sad to leave Galicia and all the wonderful food and wine, but it was time to start moving south again. Vana de Castelo, just across the border into Portugal, was a wonderful first stop with it’s flower-filled streets, leafy boulevards and imposing hilltop church.

The church at the top of the hill has it’s own funicular!

Amazing views of the Rio Lima estuary

Not a bad place to catch the sunset

The Templo do Sagrado Coração de Jesus

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So many flowers adorning the buildings of the old town

The uber-modern swing bridge / boardwalk closing off the marina from the river

Our early morning departure from the marina gave a hint of what awaited us…

Hours sitting on the bow looking for fishing boats and crab pots!

As soon as we emerged from the river’s mouth Makara was engulfed in crazy thick fog. I ventured up front to keep watch, while Tadd set the obnoxious, but oh-so-important fog horn on automatic. This is how we spent the whole day!

The fog was so thick that the moisture condensed on my eyelashes and made it seem like I was crying…. all the way to Porto!

Incomprensible!

We had been warned by friends and the books that the Costa da Morte (Coast of Death) should be given a wide berth, so we planned to sail past it and beyond.

Even staying well offshore to avoid the rocks, we never really knew what we could expect from one moment to the next.

Calming winds… take the reefs out the main sail.

Sudden, crazy gusts… put all 3 reefs back into the main sail! You can see the wind coming!

OK that’s just uncool!

Just sitting, watching, waiting and hoping that nothing will break with the next gust.

We finally made around the last headland, Fisterra, and into our chosen anchorage in Sardiñeiro de Abaixo. But while we were relaxing with a cocktail, we spotted a huge plume of smoke… followed by wonderful flying circus of firefighting planes as they killed the fire.

Galicia was just filled with little bays for us to explore.

Totally Chulo!

Our crossing from Plymouth, England was a comparatively pleasant 3 days with a couple of British guys as crew.

We arrived into La Coruña, or “A Coruña” as the Spanish call it, on a Sunday morning, and attempted to clear in ourselves and the boat, and get Tadd a Schengen entry stamp in his US passport. In most places that would have been a non-starter on the weekend, but we were told by the marina to call the officials.

La Coruña City Marina

But, in spite of many phone calls and a promise by the Policía Nacional to stop by the boat, we saw neither customs nor immigration. And Tadd still had no proof of entry into Spain, and back into Schengen.

So we gave up, went ashore and found ourselves a tapas bar with a view. What else!?

Plaza Maria Pita – enjoying an extremely reasonably priced bottle of Rioja

The Plaza is an important location in Coruña, where many locals come to hang out and grab some favourite tapas and admire the ornate building of the municipal palace. The square is named for the local heroine, María Mayor Fernández de Cámara y Pita, who helped protect the city from the British attack by Sir Francis Drake, even after her soldier husband was struck down and killed in the battle.

Monument to Maria Pita, A Coruña

We never did talk with any officials during our week there, but we had an amazing time getting to know this colourful, historic city full of wonderful flavours and amazing people.

Lots of the buildings in the old town had wonderfully ornate brass door knockers

Playing tourist took us to the Castillo de San Anton, which keeps watch over the entrance to the port. It was built by King Carlos I to protect the city during merchant times, as Coruña traded spices to Europe, and continued to protect their interests through the years.

The Tower of Hercules has served as a lighthouse and landmark at the entrance of La Coruña harbour since the late 1st century A.D. when the Romans built the Farum Brigantium. The Tower, built on a 57 metre high rock, rises a further 55 metres, of which 34 metres correspond to the Roman masonry and 21 meters to the restoration directed by architect Eustaquio Giannini in the 18th century, who augmented the Roman core with two octagonal forms.

Every day we took a different walk through the city… amazing what you can find!

“Sit!”

“Good dog”

Meeting the locals is always the jewel in the crown of any new destination. Here we were lucky enough to get to take out las hermanas Golepes for a half day sail and show them a view of their city they had never seen before (even though their father was a merchant mariner!)

Galegas Ana & Lucia

In exchange for their sailing trip, we were delighted by their offer to go for an inland adventure to their family’s ancient home in the countryside.

Afterwards we wandered the hills of Bentanzos, “the tortilla Espanola capital of the world!” Unfortunately we had already filled up on a bunch of delicious tapas and wine at a country restaurant.

Our friend from London, Cassie, was also visiting and came along for the ride.

Our original plan of staying just a few days in A Coruña turned into more than a week! We will definitely be back.

Overdue Visits with Great Friends

Having spent the last couple of months day-sailing and spending time with friends and family, it was a bit of a shock to return to an overnight sail from Crosshaven to England. We had planned a stop in the Scilly Isles, but with some good wind and somewhat following seas, it was a no-brainier to push through to Landsend in England, and on to our destination of Plymouth.

Having survived some scary amounts of tankers and container ships in the shipping channels, we made it.

Enjoying a glass of wine aboard a classic tall ship in the Historic harbour.

But the real purpose of our chosen port was to catch up with people we haven’t seen for way too long (my friend Chris who I met 15+ years ago in Ecuador, and our English friends from Puerto Morelos)!!

We happened to arrive in time for Ebon’s birthday, family celebrations, with Jen’s family.

Jen’s dad’s a French horn player!

Sadly we were too busy having fun to get any pictures with Chris & Cath…

But Ebon and Jen took us for a walk on the famous Dartmoor.

Back Where Our Hearts Lie in Ireland

Finally back where it all began at the Royal Cork Yacht Club, Crosshaven, Ireland, we were happy, relaxed and ready to enjoy a few days before venturing into traffic and into the English Channel to Plymouth.

Crosshaven is such a lovely, welcoming town.

And this visit, we finally made time to go explore the city of Cork too.

The Old City Gaol

But we were on a mission to go see some old friends, so it was time to venture on our first overnight since the Atlantic crossing and just the two of us for a 24 hour sail to England.

The Wild West… of Ireland

They do call it the “Wild Atlantic Way”… but we really didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into!

When the locals said “Oh, you must sail the West Coast, it’s beautiful,” we should have done a bit more research about the sailing conditions. Yes, it’s a truly beautiful place, but I thought it would be more popular with cruisers.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It is a stunningly, desolate place. We were often very much alone out there. Additionally, the Northern Atlantic Ocean produces huge rolling waves we call a swell. We should have noted that there is no protection between that swell, the wind-driven waves on top of that swell and the beautiful rocks and sheer cliffs into which those waves smash themselves and everything they carry with them. Oh, and on top of that, the swell and waves bounce off of the beautiful sheer cliffs and produce another set of waves that make the boat bounce up and down twice as fast. We were nearly seasick on two different days because of this action. But wait, there is more. There is a phenomenon called an “overfall,” where the tidal stream rips around a picturesque, jagged point and creates a whitewater rafting experience. We were very careful to make sure the stream was running WITH us. We don’t think we would have been able to motor AGAINST one of those overfalls without nose-diving the boat into steep, stacked up waves.

We, well at least I, expected to see other cruising sailboats each day as we sailed down the coastline. Nope… almost none. We saw some near the towns, but no cruisers moving from one peninsula to another, until we were more than halfway down the coastline to Donnegal, and that was just one.

It became a joke to claim there were no other boats around when there were, but I only counted 10 in total, until we were officially in Southwestern Ireland.

27-July 2018

28-July

29-July

We met our friends, Carlos and Kathy, during our participation in the ARC Europe Atlantic crossing (Bermuda to The Azores). Like Tadd, as US citizens, they are only allowed 90 days total in any of the Schengen countries of Europe within any six month period. And so, running low on days, they decided to come join us for a week of sailing in Ireland (non-Schengen).

29-July The singing barman

1-August This video has bad audio, because the wind was so strong it drownned out most of my voice. It was a beautiful Irish summer day, with loads of low clouds, some rain and lots of wind. The wind was gusting to 48 knots and luckily we already had two reefs in the mainsail. Lindsay used to get concerned with gusts to 36 knots but now that we’ve felt 48 knots from ahead of us, we don’t mind 36 knots anymore!

2-August:

3-August Common dolphins again.

8-August After sitting out a gale we experienced rougher seas that we had hoped. It was a long day. When we had to motorsail due to large waves slowing us down, we then had to be very diligent to avoid the lobster traps. The traps could be in anywhere from 20 feet to 220 feet of water, and they usually had very long lines on the surface. Generally, we steer to the downwind side of the marker buoy to leave the extra floating line on the other side. This is the best way to safely avoid getting the line wrapped around the propeller shafts. The real trouble was that sometimes the current was running upwind or across the wind and the marker buoys would run downstream with the current, not the wind. This means we sometimes did the opposite of what we should have and passed on the dangerous side of the trap line. Luckily, if we spotted the line on the surface, we could stop the engines and put the transmission in reverse which caused the folding propellers to close, thus avoiding the lines getting twisted around the shafts. Then we would curse the fisherman, put the transmission back into neutral to start the engines and get going faster again.

Beautiful cliffs, big seas and some mysterious sea creatures visit us.

Here’s another aspect of the waves we were going over, it was too dangerous to move forward on the boat so this is shot from the stern. If you look closely at the horizon, you will see a large flock of white birds that may be terns flying downwind. The low pressure system has them on the move, apparently, because we never saw that many together at one time again. We saw lots of birds flying away from where we were sailing, which had us slightly doubting our judgment.

10-Aug Sailing into Crosshaven

So after two weeks of rough and tumble sailing, we made it back to the beloved Royal Cork Yacht Club in Crosshaven!

The Land of Finn McCool

Sadly we couldn’t stay on the Isle of Arran forever, but we would have if we could!!!

So on a day sail through the Sanda Island races, across the shipping channels, around Rathlin Island and around the headland, we sailed in and anchored in the Bay of Portballintrae.

After a pleasant night on the anchor, time to go visit the giant!

Coming into Portballintrae

Spectacular views on the coastal walk

Makara looking good on anchor

The Giant’s home

Th Giant’s Causeway

And after a walk and some fun geology… Whiskey!!

Old mill on the Bush River.