Showing posts from 2011

Preparing to Leave Gran Canaria

Sorry still no pictures, but I am able to post text for now. We plan to leave here day after tomorrow, Saturday 10th. We did most of our provision shopping yesterday which included a small very frozen turkey which doesn't actually fit in our freezer. Uh Oh - but it does fit in a very cold section of the fridge right next to the freezer, so we've packed it in with bags of ice all around it - and when it thaws that will be our Christmas Day. It could be any day really - once we're out there because we'll be the only people who'll know. We haven't hung our Christmas tree up yet, we'll do that closer to the day.
Our transmission is back in - the Volvo people said that they tested it by running it on a lathe and it ran well and didn't leak - so that is our very expensive Christmas present to ourselves. Hope they're right.
Most of our time here has been spent working on Moondancer - our genoa got ripped on the way here from Gibraltar so it now has anot…
Gran Canaria

We came into the Marina Gran Canaria on Tuesday 29th – unbelievable that we’ve been here
5 days. We checked in for 4 days in beautiful bright sunny ‘summer’ weather. The marina is
full of boats with foreign flags, most of whom are enjoying their stay before heading across the
Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean. It’s a really first class marina with free water and electricity – close access to a beautiful manicured sandy beach and not bad access to shopping – BUT lousy internet, and no alterative aboard. i.e. we can’t buy a service or buy time on a dongle.
This means using internet cafes or bars which is what everyone else is trying to do – so all of that preamble is by way of apology for the long time it has taken to write this post. Also – don’t think I’ll be able to post any photos or videos as this sliver of a connection that I am lucky to have right now won’t let me. I’ll do that from a cafĂ© later.
Our trip here was pretty ‘hairy’ – big winds, people who have wind…
Today we went up to the top of the Rock of Gibraltar in the cable car. Unfortunately it was pretty cloudy so we didn't get to see the spectacular view which can be seen looking south towards Africa, Morocco which is only about 15 miles away. We did however get very close to the monkies who live up at the top. I was not too excited about seeing the monkies as last time I was here they were all very badly behaved towards the visitors. This time they were actually really nice and alot of fun to watch. Tony had a couple of close encounters as you'll see from the videos.
We took a walk this morning across the airport runway - its open to pedestrians except for when an aeroplane is taking off or landing and is actually the border between Gibraltar and Spain. I'm trying to get a video of a plane taking off or landing from the boat in the marina to show the close proximity of the runway. Tomorrow we'll provision shop as we wish to leave here on Sunday - looks like we have a wea…

Gibraltar - Whew!

We got into Gibraltar day before yesterday - we've had the mandatory piss-up which we need after being at sea for awhile (we don't drink alcohol on passages)before really good fish'n chips in the local pub and when we started to feel better yesterday we got on with our chores. Coming into Gibraltar from Estepona was a delightful trip. We hugged the coast anticipating that as the tide came through the strait it would cause a back-eddy along the coast. We were right, so with the sun shining almost all of the way we snuck up on Gibraltar - whose way too high and mighty to see a little thing like us creeping in.

Coming into a 'way station' like Gibraltar is exciting. There is an expectant mood as many of the boats here are moving on to a long journey. So we share information with each other and compare our equipment and knowledge. Gibraltar is also a very nice place to live and many people like us come in expecting to transit but they stay and find a way to make a livin…

The Med has almost let us go

Leaving Menorca was terrible. We had pretty good weather information and we knew that to get down and around the south coast of Spain we would have a couple of days of tough going. As soon as we left the protection of beautiful Menorca we were hit with electrical storms accompanied by torrential rain and strong winds - we motor sailed through it for many hours cussing and swearing all of the way - mopping up gallons of water - now that's the type of rain we need when our water tanks are empty. Its funny - we thought Menorca was so perfect and clean and friendly that we kept making jokes about how the inhabitants were all in a conspiracy for the 'common good'. 'Be really nice to them so that they'll stay - we need all the spenders we can get'. Well it felt like the actual weather was in on the conspiracy - it was hard not to run back in for protection. 3 days later we pulled into Forementera, a lovely small island south of Mallorca where we anchored long enough …

Why Menorca is Green

Now I know why Menorca is so green - about a million gallons of rain fell in the past 24 hours. We actually didn't venture off the boat at all today - just did jobs inside the boat which needed to be done - lots of preparation for the upcoming long journey. We were amused when watching the coverage of the Volvo race which just started from Alicante, Spain - not very far from us. They talk about 'stacking' the boat which though it sounds very technical, basically means moving all of the moveable weight - i.e. sail bags from the low side to the high side of the boat which is like having about 5 more men sitting up on the rail.
'Oh yeah! we stack Moondancer too - we move everything to the low side so that it
doesn't all fall down there.'
That was one of the jobs I've been doing - improving the holding areas for all of the things that are necessary on our boat as its also our permanent home. Usually we take most things away from their normal living space when …

Spiritual Experiences on board

A few people have told me about 'spiritual experiences' they've had when sailing long distances - such as finding a dead relative sitting beside them in the cockpit on night watch which they found comforting. If that were to happen to me I'd probable die of fright, at the very least scream my head off and wake up Tony and the dead. I think these experiences are fuelled by extreme exhaustion. I had something like that happen on the last passage from Malta to Menorca, which is where we are now for a few days waiting out nasty weather. Just after we left Malta I got a very bad cold or flu - whatever it is its really horrible and should definitely be treated with rest - REST, that's a joke when there's just 2 of us running the boat and one of us is always awake. It may not be such a bad thing to nod off out in the ocean when its very unlikely that you'll hit anything, but in the Med its a bit different - there's quite alot of traffic day and night. In fact…

MoondancerX's Blog Revival

I know, I know its been 7 months since I last wrote anything on this blog - but those of you who've kept in touch through other mediums know that we've been very busy.
So I'll start with a short run-down on the past 7 months; none of which has really had anything to do with Moondancer which is why the news has not been entered herein.
Earlier this year - while Tony was still working for 'Cockroach' aka Malta Sailing Academy (see - this is my blogsite and I can say what I like)as a Sailing Instructor I launched Sail Like a Girl - Cruise and Learn Yacht Charters for Women. The launch and marketing of this venture took up alot of my time which was necessary as I didn't have a marketing budget - and in retrospect I received alot of help from certain people in Malta who believed in me - i.e. Vanessa MacDonald, a sailor and journalist in Malta who ensured that I received some very reasonable magazine and TV coverage - Simon Borg Cardona, owner of Nautica Yacht C…

Anchored at Comino Island, Malta

Its not the first time we've anchored at Comino, mostly famous for the irridescent Blue Lagoon, but it is the first time we took a day to hike around the island, and what a pleasant surprise. The views from the cliff tops were breathtaking, and there is alot more to the island than it appears from the water. In the middle are buildings which were at one time quarantine hospital buildings and are now home to a few people. We met an elderly gentleman called Carmen who told us that only 7 people live on the island now, and he only comes there on the weekends, but there used to be 100 people living there in his lifetime.
There are remnants of farming; rusting farm tools and field dividing walls aswell as domestic plants which are now growing wild.
St Mary's Tower which is an impregnable fort built in 1618 to fight off pirates who plied the waters between Malta and Gozo has recently been renovated back to almost perfect condition - wasn't open - so we didn't go in, but di…

Back in Malta - Anchored in the beautiful Blue Lagoon - on our own

We arrived back in Malta last night after a pretty boisterous sail back - sailed until just a few hours off the coast of Gozo - a beamer all the way - Moondancer X just loved it, and if it hadn't been for the bloody awful sideways chop it would have been 'perfect', but who expects perfect in February. It was a good sail back, and when Gozo was in sight it really felt like we were coming home.
So young Toni woke up this morning to the crystal clear waters of the Blue Lagoon on Comino, which is a small island in between Malta and Gozo, a rare privelege to be in this amazing place without the hoards who normally grace it in the summer months. Thought about going for a swim as the sun is shining and its quite warm - but Nah! that's pushing it a bit.
Glad to be out of Tunisia. Though we saw a few awesome things there, and regret not staying to see the Sahara, its not one of my favourite places.

Tunisia - Feb 2011 - Posted from the Blue Lagoon, Malta

Tunisia February 2011-02-08

We’ve come to Tunisia of necessity; MoondancerX being Canadian can only be in the EU for 18 months without being officially imported or leaving. As we have been here for 18 months and have no desire to sail our boat under any other flag than Canadian we have come out of the EU and Tunisia is the closest place to Malta. Tunisia has just undergone what the local people refer to as a ‘revolution’, which I suppose it is – they have ousted their President of the last 23 years with some bloodshed – depending on which reports you read, about 40 people killed - but some pretty scary violent demonstrations.
This happened about 3 weeks ago mostly in the town of Tunis, and perhaps it is only in our imagination there does seem to be a residue of bad feeling about the place.
Of course that may just be the way it is here – we see groups of men everywhere sitting around in cafes doing nothing – when we walk past these ‘man caves’ they stare at us and it doesn’t fee…

Sorry - post not working

Sorry, the 'longer post' did not work - please see facebook for what I had intended to put here. I'll figure it out when I get back to Malta. Not sure why, but I have limited time to work it out.

Tunisia - longer post

This is the Roman Colliseum in El Jem, Tunisia, I have written much more to post here, but the blogsite is not working in its normal way while I'm here, but I'll keep trying. If unsuccessful I'll have to wait until we get back to Malta to post it.
I've got alot of spectacular photographs taken in Tunisia which I also cannot post here for some reason - I'm going to post a few on facebook, that seems to be working for me right now.

Tunisia -

This is an abbreviated post - we don't have good internet access here. In fact up until today I have been unable to actually sign in to the blog. Not sure how I got on today, but here it is.

We arrived in Monastir Marina this time last week - it seems like alot longer than a week.
Since we've been here we've done a bit of sight seeing and have met the other liveaboards in the Marina who I already feel I will miss - but some of them may come to Malta while we are there. Our first day here was mostly taken up with sleep to make up for the overnight lack-of, the next day poured ferociously and since then it has been blowing like snot - lots of snot. Each day the weather reports have predicted the wind will ease and finally it has.
There were a couple of things that we really wanted to do while here - one to see the Roman Colusseum in El Jem and the other to take a trip to the Sahara.
We went to the Colusseum today and it was all that we could have hoped for - magnifique almost w…

Dangerous Bread

The best bread I have ever eaten in my life is Maltese Bread - just their simple everyday bread, some of which is still baked in ovens like these where they burn wood to heat the oven and then bake these round loaves with a thick dark crust. This bakery is about 80 years old, the stone oven photographed here has something like stalactites on the oven ceiling, probably built up doughy steam dripping down bake after bake for 80 years. The bakery is in Balzan, the village my family are from and where my Uncle Sav still lives. Each time we come to Balzan we stop to buy bread there and I always have to tell them that I remember it from when I was a kid, and they probably always think they should just humour the old broad. They are very proud of their business though, and they work very hard at it and were pleased that I wanted to take pictures - they invited us to come back when they would actually be opening the oven to take out the cooked loaves so that I could get a better picture. Why …