Jun. 2006
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Check out Weeks ending: [3 Jun 06] [17 Jun 06] [24 Jun 06] [1 Jul 06]

Week ending 3 Jun 06 (Bob)

Waiting for Weather - Our motto when cruising, it can still be frustrating when we have to do it for real.  The weather in Italy for most of May had been warm and dry with temperatures approaching the 90's F during the day but during the last week of May the weather over much of Europe turned nasty.  There was snow in Germany, thunderstorms in Italy, frigid temperatures in England and we were port-bound!  Each day we would eagerly download weather information from the internet, only to find Cold fronts, 30 knot winds, rain, and thunderstorms in our path to Sardinia. As of this writing we have been waiting 10 days, but there does appear to be light (or a headlight) at the end of the tunnel.

Pompeii - While waiting for weather we decided on a sightseeing trip to Pompeii with an overnight stay in Naples.  Pompeii is the most visited tourist attraction in Italy, and for a good reason!  This well-developed city suffered back-to-back disasters with a destructive earthquake in 63 AD and burial by ash from Vesuvius in 79 AD.  The houses, streets, gardens, and monuments were buried and the state of society was preserved as people, food, and belongings were locked in the ash for 18 centuries.  Today one can walk on streets and through houses as they were laid out 2000 years ago - a fascinating glimpse into the past.  Denis outlasted the rest of us by climbing Vesuvius the next day while we relaxed on the Eurostar on our way back to Vibo.

Tropea - The weekend brought a brief break in the weather so we did a little driving around the countryside and  visited Tropea, a cute cliff-side town with sidewalk bistros, lots of churches, narrow alleys, and gelato stands.  We walked the town for several hours and enjoyed a warm and dry day - only at the end did it start to spritz a little rain, but not enough to dampen our day.

2 Weeks ending 17 Jun 06 (Denis)  

For two and a half weeks the Captain and crew of Long Passages have awaited the 'perfect' weather window to leave port.  This delay allowed for:

  • a day trip to the cliff-hugging coastal town of Tropea
  • an overnight jaunt to Naples to explore the long buried town of Pompeii
  • a hike up Mount Vesuvius and around the crater

The weather reports were all finally in our favor (via various online services) for leaving Long Passages' home for almost a year:  Vibo Marina. On June 9th, we all watched the hazy outline of the marina and town recede to our stern.  The first night�s weather turned menacing soon after midnight, so the decision was made to divert course.

The sun rose finding Long Passages' at an anchorage along a beautiful beach on the tiny island of Vulcano (one guess as to what is the centerpiece of the island).  While the elders decided to relax for the day aboard the vessel, Denis found himself itching to visit his first 'active' volcano (and to get off the boat).  After quickly inflating a spare dingy from Long Passages' stock of goods, he set out for the island.   A pleasant hour�s climb brought him to the rim of the crater where noxious steam filled the air and the view over the town and harbor were outstanding.

A two day passage from there mercifully brought our vessel to Cagliari on the island of Sardinia.  By this time Denis was quite unimpressed with the motion of the seas (although his sea legs had stabilized substantially since the first rough day). 

Three days spent in Cagliari had us eating local pizzas, drinking local beers, driving around the southern end of Sardinia seeing coastline sights galore and suffering internet connection withdrawal.

After benign weather reports for our next passage, we left Cagliari to our stern.  A quick hop down to the south side of the island gave us a well protected scenic cove in which to anchor for the night before heading out on another two night jaunt to reach our next destination.  The reports were however erroneous and led to two very uncomfortable days with higher winds and seas than were predicted.  Finally our next port came over the horizon:  Palma on the Spanish island of Mallorca.

After sending multiple SMS messages, two or three inter-boat cell phone calls, and some close range VHF radio traffic, we slipped into a mooring space at the Club Nautic� S�Arenal.  Long lost friends of the Long Passages crew Destiny (Don and Sandy) was already there and another vessel, Klondike (Don and Katie) were due to arrive later in the day.

Palma is a bustling seaside town with a hearty tourist infrastructure.  Tourism is blatantly their specialty as evidenced by the miles and miles of beaches stretching out from the city center.   These beaches appear to be populated seven days a week, but are almost standing room only on the weekends.

Saturday began with the captains and crews of all three boats hopping a bus together to visit the downtown area.  Most of them chose to give the city�s highlight a visit.  The town center surrounds an immense cathedral.  A quick tour of the cathedral and the members from Long Passages headed off for a pre-lunch stroll along the city dock to scout out ferry schedules for an upcoming mainland visit.

From here, Denis split company from the group for some exploration.  Another great sight in Palma is a 14th century castle that sits on a hill overlooking the sprawling cityscape.  The castle is surrounded by park land filled with trail and paths. 

From there he returned to the boat by an extended walk that ran well into the evening. 

The next couple of days have been (and will be) spent preparing for the ferry ride to mainland Spain.  Denis is planning on a short side trip into the Pyrenees Mountains for some hiking while the folks collect the motor home and we all hope to meet up within a few days and head on together to Paris.

Next update:

  • More from Palma
  • Trip to mainland Spain

Week ending 24 Jun 06 (Bob)

Decision to ship rather than sail - After 14 years of cruising we decided on a different approach for the next leg of our trip - we will put Long Passages on a ship and give it an easy crossing of the Atlantic.  Dockwise Shipping has been shipping yachts across oceans for several years and we have decided to trust them to handle LP with care.  We will document the complete process for others who may be interested.  In this case we will ship from Palma, Mallorca, Spain to Port Everglades, Florida on a ship planned to leave Palma on or about 26 November 2006.  That gives us a couple of months of touring, a couple of months of boat preparation, and a few days to relax!

Strange Tides in Palma - During  our first day at S'Arsenal gales were predicted offshore and heavy winds were expected in the marina during passage of a low pressure system.  What really happened was that when the low pressure system came over the island the water in our marina dropped three feet (3') and we banged into the concrete bulkhead as our bows lines went slack.  We started our engine to keep us from damaging the stern on the pier and the slack mooring line promptly found the prop shaft and wrapped itself around it.  And of course the water then returned.  Over the next 24 hours we had oscillations of water filling and emptying the marina with currents in the 2-4 knot range at unpredictable times - it was the strangest situation we have encountered!

LP on the hardstand - Unfortunately Palma is 'chockers' (i.e. FULL) during the Summer and no marinas had marina space to leave Long Passages for the five months, so we decided to haul and store her at Club Nautic� S�Arenal a marina about 10 miles from the center of Palma.  It looks secure and has yachts larger than us on the hard.  We hauled just 2 days before heading to Spain.

Denis to the Pyrenees - Denis beat us off of Mallorca by a day - he took a ferry to Barcelona and set off for a day of hiking and sightseeing in the Pyrenees.  Nights were sort of cramped with 14 backpackers to a room, but the views were superb and he had a great time.

Crossing to Valencia - The next morning we boarded the Transmediteranea ferry from Palma to Valencia and had a comfortable ride in flat seas arriving midday, just in time to rent a car and drive to Aguadulce to pick up our motorhome.  But wait -- there are no car rentals at the ferry terminal, in fact there are no taxis (they were busy ferrying America's Cup racers around town), no buses (that we could find), and we felt marooned!  We remembered a reference from friends to CarJet - we called, booked a car and after an hour a taxi finally arrived to take us to the airport and we were on our way.  Within a couple of hours we were in Aguadulce, had our motorhome safely on a pitch and were having dinner with the friends who had recommended CarJet.

CarJet - As an aside, this is a broker; they have no cars themselves but if you contact them they contact the rental companies in the area you wish to rent and find you a deal - our first experience was very positive so we will try them more in the future!

Week ending 1 Jul 06 (Bob)

Barcelona - Our first stop along the coast of Spain was Barcelona - along with Denis we walked the streets and visited the sights for 3 days.  The caravan park was under the flight path of the Barcelona airport - sometimes it seemed like only 10' under!  Denis caught up with us after his hike in the Pyrenees - and

Sagrada Familia - In Barcelona, the 'raison d'etre' in the city is the cathedral of the Sacred Family - a Gothic/Modern that is probably the most bizarre structure we have ever seen. It was designed by Gaudi and started in 1882, and by the on-site accounts it is 50% complete. It is huge with 300' spires, gargoyles, modern touches, and a financial drain on the Catholic Church that continues to pour millions of Euros into it - and will continue to do so for the next 50-100 years or so.  Many times we have visited cathedrals that had been built over hundreds of years - well this is one that is in the middle of a 200-year construction phase, and it already needs to be cleaned!

Avignon - We turned north towards a rendezvous in Paris and made a stop in Avignon, a pretty and historic city that we visited too briefly.  It was the home of the Roman Catholic Popes in the 14th century and remained their property until the French Revolution.  We had a close encounter with the 'old city' as we made a wrong turn and squeezed the motor-home through its narrow streets on our way to a busy caravan park on an island in the Rhone river.



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