Leaving Sicily to cross back to Valencia. A storm underway and undertaking a lot of work on Ker Marie in order for crossing the Atlantic Ocean.
I love to write and always intend to do it more often, but time on the boat is going so quickly at the moment. In my last story we ended up in San Vito Lo Capo in Sicily where we waited for a good weather window to cross back to Sardinia. Well actually, Valencia, but Sardinia is our first stop on our way. After four days of waiting the weather looked good enough and we hoisted our sails in the evening towards Sardinia.
After 42 hours of sailing we arrived in Sardinia. It was a great sail with lovely wind and we made a good overall speed. We anchored in special spot which is apparently famous for his dunes, “Porto Pino”. I walked up the highest dune, which was, (I found out because someone was whistling and shouting), forbidden. I thought these boys were lifeguards, but instead they were facing the other way towards the dunes, making sure no one went into it because it is a protected area. Me, whistling, but some tunes instead, walked my way down, with a full beach looking at me. Sorry peeps…did get the shot from Ker Marie I wanted though.
The next day we left late afternoon to cross back to Menorca. A 250 nm passage and with only 25 liters of water left we thought, “better a shower less than missing this good weather window”. We had some great sailing again. Very nice wind and very good progress. We were about to get close to Menorca when I had my night watch. While having my night watch I had seen thunder for a while in the far distance, but now it looked like it was coming closer and closer to us. I decided to wake up David, when it was 2’ o’clock at night.
Together we had a close look on the radar and satellite, this was not the forecast at all, a thunderstorm was approaching Mahon, the place we were heading for. We decided we should be able to make it with only 20 nm left to get into harbour. We set up full sails and trimmed them as best as we could, to make the best speed possible. We were flying towards Mahon, but with only 2 miles left the storm was so close that David decided to turn around back to open sea again. At that point I wanted to pull a duvet over my head and go to sleep…
We were so close. For 1,5 hours we were beating against the swell to get away from the storm. We were on the edge of the storm all the time. There was proper thunder and the sea state was getting worse. Suddenly David saw a gap on the radar and decided to turn around to go for it, into safe harbour. We were now getting into the weather and very steadily the knots of wind increased, from 25 to 30, 30 to 35, 35 to 40, 40 to 45, 45 to 50, 50 to a Genoa as big as a garbage bin bag. The wind was ON and without our furler main mast motor, our main sail unfurled himself and was now wrapped around the rigging. Great! David tried to solve it but there was now way in this weather that was going to happen. The swell was big, nothing I have ever seen before. On the radio we heard a Dutch boat asking for the coastguard. With engine failure and a massive jibe on their main (they were surprised about the weather and had now idea what was waiting for them) they had to be tow’d in.
In the meantime we also had our engine on full throttle and with that tiny bit of sail we were beating the swell and trying to get into harbour before the weather was closing us in again. We hoped that we were able to get in because sometimes you can be rolled around so badly that you cannot get into harbour. But the entrance to Mahon harbour is wide. And then, finally, there we were, we made it! Both soo tired and very happy. After docking the boat there was a sigh of relieve.
It was morning at the moment and our neighbour said ‘were you out there?’. Uhm yes, we were. I think I can call this our first storm sailing moment. In a way it felt pretty good. I havent been once scared, but why would you when you know what the boat is capable of and you have the best captain you can wish for. Very happy David made the decision to turn around. Later on I went to see the Dutchies, same as us, the weather was not forecasted and they were completely overwhelmed by the storm. Apparently, as they told us, the coastguard was impressed by the weather as well when they headed out to sea. (see below a picture of the deviation we made and the weather gap on the radar)
After a few lovely relaxing days in Mahon we hoisted our sails again towards Ibiza. From Ibiza we did our last lap towards Valencia. We have been in Valencia for a month now and we have done a lot of work on the boat. To name a few: We replaced our windows in the cockpit, fixed the furler motor, Sails are repaired, winch maintenance and loads of other (endless) jobs.
At the moment David is making a bigger gas locker compartment, a new bow locker floor and fixing our engine. I guess we are not ready yet but we are really getting there.
Valencia is lovely and it is good to be here and do the work. We think we can leave in the next two weeks and head for the Canaries. All very exciting!
Will keep you updated and many thanks for all your lovely comments that I get through Facebook and Instagram. Very much appreciated.
Sailing down the coast of Italy, celebrating my birthday in lovely Ponza and Spanish influences on board Ker Marie.
After a lovely sail from Imperia/Italy we arrived in the middle of the night in Corsica. Waking up after a night sail is always a great surprise. You have no idea where you anchored and then in the morning it is most of the time a big treat, which it was. We decided to stay for the day in the anchorage for a bit of relaxing time because we didn’t catch much sleep the night before.
We hoisted our sails the day after towards Capraia Isola island, an island just off the coast of Corsica. There was a good bit of wind coming up and this was the best option to seek shelter. Half an hour before arrival we suddenly heard the fishing rod zinging…..FISH ON! We haven’t caught a proper fish yet but this time David had a serious guy on the lurer. After an hour David reeled it in and hooked it with the gaff. We had no idea what kind of fish it was but after consulting the chief fisherman (David’s friend) he told us we caught a Mahi Mahi. Not too bad! The boat and David were a bit bloody and as kids so happy we started filleting the fish. That night David made a delicious fish curry. What a great feeling to catch something from the sea and turn it into a meal. With enough fish left to feed a family of 6 we contently fell asleep after another great day on board Ker Marie.
Not long after, I woke up by the wind. I somehow have a sensor as soon as the wind starts to change direction or increases. We were anchored in seaweed which isn’t great and the wind threw us a couple of times around the anchor. Early in the morning the wind was quite strong and we decided to better sail in it, then sit in an anchorage waiting to drag. And so we did, with only the mizzen sail up we already reached 5 knots, enough wind to bring us to Elba Island, a place I really wanted to see. The anchorage in Elba was great and we would have liked to explore more of the island but we had to go down south, because we were picking up David’s friend in Sicily on a certain date.
During sailing down south the coast of Italy we have seen some great places on our way; The stunning island of Ponza where we celebrated my birthday with relaxing, swimming, exploring and enough coke and rum for my next birthday. Later on we sailed to the island of Ventotene and the famous Capri. And of course the beautiful Amalfi coast can’t be missed.
After the Amalfi coast we crossed to the Aeolian islands. First we visited Stromboli. Stromboli is a small island off the north coast of Sicily and is one of the three active volcanoes in Italy. It is very impressive to arrive here and to hear the rumbles of this active volcano.
Then over to Panarea, a very pretty island with great walks and a lovely cobbled street town. Spending a few days in Panarea we were heading for Salina where we visited the famous Hauner winery, where I danced with the locals on a night out and where David had his first granita in his life. We love the Aeolian islands and would love to come back once.
But time was marching on and we needed to get to Palermo in Sicily to pick up our Spanish friend, Inaki! Arriving in Sicily/Palermo is a very different scene compare to Italy, we are closer to Africa and suddenly you notice little bits of that in your surroundings. Inaki is just as us an avid Kitesurfer and our plan was to get to the Aegadian islands to hopefully do some Kitesurfing. The Aegadian Islands are a group of five small mountainous islands in the Mediterranean Sea off the northwest coast of Sicily.
Since we are on board Ker Marie we have only been kitesurfing twice and we really miss it. It seems out to be that Kitesurfing and sailing not always go well together. When you are seeking shelter from that strong wind with your sailing boat, that’s where a Kitesurfer gets excited and wants to go near it. A very double and annoying feeling sometimes.
To try and Kitesurf that week we anchored ‘lee shore’, but far out. For the people not knowing what this is. The wind blows on shore, meaning the wind is pointed to shore, meaning if something happens your boat might end up on the beach (worst case scenario). The preference is it to be the other way around. But with Kitesurfing this doesn’t work because in case something happens with Kitesurfing you prefer the wind to blow to the beach, so you are not being blown into the ocean. Ideal is to find a spit (long piece of sandbar) where you anchor on one side and Kitesurf on the other.
That day when we thought we would do some Kitesurfing the wind dropped and there was no kitesurfing in the end. Unfortunately this was the case for the whole week when Inaki stayed with us. But although we couldn’t Kitesurf, with Inaki you always have a great time; Getting to the local fish market in Tripani to make a delicious Frutti di Mare afterwards, eating in a fish restaurant while we really wanted to eat meat that night and trying to catch fish with the spear gun. We had a lovely week and it was really nice to have people on board.
After dropping Inaki of in Tripani where he took the bus to Palermo to catch his flight we hoisted our sails towards San Vito lo Capo. We stayed for four days and walked up ‘Mount Monaco’ with great views over the bay.
At the moment we are sailing west again because we would like to cross the Atlantic Ocean at the end of the year. But in order to that there are quite a few things that need to be arranged. We will probably do some of that work in Valencia.
Will keep you updated and thanks again for all you lovely followers. Wishing you a great day!
From Ibiza to Mallorca + Menorca and back to France. David’s brother spent his holiday onboard Ker Marie and we experienced a sailors worst nightmare.
After the rigging, that has been done in Hyères/France we set sail back to Ibiza. Ibiza is easy. The island is relatively small so If you need to hide from certain weather you can go to the other side of the island in a fair amount of time. We have spent quite some time in Ibiza before so after a few weeks it was time for something else. We hoisted our sails and were heading for Mallorca where we were picking up David’s brother, Stephen, who was spending 10 days on Ker Marie.
It all started with an extremely uncomfortable (read: very very roly) motoring day. The wind was not as predicted and the seas were very confusing. Resulting in our quest being very uncomfortable. After 1.5 days we finally arrived on the other side of the island where we had a few relaxed nights in a bay. But the last night in that particular bay was a sailors worst nightmare. We were moored on a buoy. Generally we don’t like being on a buoy, especially David, because one; you need to pay for it and two; how are you sure this buoy is going to hold your 16 tons boat in a bit of wind? That night we had winds around 15 knots, nothing special but I went out of bed several times to check the buoy and our lines. All good. Until Stephen woke us up at 6 in the morning. ‘Something is not right’ he said.
We got up and the scene was unbelievable! The mooring buoy broke (not our lines) and we have been drifting to the rocks were we stranded with our bow faced only one meter away from the rocks.
David automatically said ‘get into the dinghy and start the engine’ so we could try to pull away the boat very slowly. But how unlucky that our outboard engine broke down the night before. That was of no use. Everyone in the anchorage was still asleep and there was no option of getting to them because they were too far away. We had do to something ‘NOW’.
David had the idea to use the bow thruster to try and swing our bow a bit between the rocks from one side to another, meanwhile he had full reverse throttle. Several calls on the VHF radio asking for help were made but no answer. After half an hour it seemed like Ker Marie was moving, and yes she was, very slowly. David did it! He saved Ker Marie!
Slowly he manoeuvred backwards while we had all sort of weird feelings. Of being angry and complete happiness that we got out! The swearing vocabulary has been taken to a next level, that’s for sure. We were all so happy but we had to be careful and see if we had any damage. We checked all the floor lockers and I dived down to see if we had damage on the hull. So far we didn’t notice any severe damage, only some beauty marks. We got into contact with the marina a bit later and handed them over the broken buoy. Even the guy was surprised that this buoy basically broke from the block in the water. Unlucky or not looked after? We know what we are doing; Never on a buoy again!
After all the checks we decided to get out of there, and so we did, after a full day of sailing we arrived in a beautiful anchorage in Menorca. Menorca is lovely and a lot smaller, making it easier to shelter from weather, which can be changing all the time in the mediteranian. Compare to Mallorca anchoring is allowed in more places and there seems to be more space. We had a lovely week in several anchorages and ended up in Mahon where Stephen flew out back home again. Mahon was a pleasant surprise for me. I absolutely love it. It is not a big city but very lively and vibrant. It is located in a big sea inlet where you almost think you are on a lake when you approach the city. We had the best mojito ever and a lovely dinner in a tiny backyard with cozy lighting in an Italian restaurant. Mahon has stolen our hearts, but time to move again. Stephen got a taxi to the airport and David and I set sail back to France.
To France? Yes, to France to pick up our hoover. Can you believe it? Long story short; When we were in Hyeres our almost new hoover broke down and we brought it back. Took 2 weeks they said, but instead it took 5 and we already left France. The crossing to France was not very nice. The wind was different then predicted which meant we had to cross back to Spain first and then cross the Gulf of Lion. We had fairly strong winds, little wind, swell and no swell. Not the best crossing we had so far.
We had to be near Toulon but the wind directed us to Marseille in the end. We haven’t been up the coast near Marseille but we both liked it. The coastline is very pretty and we had a lovely time in a small place called Cassis.
During sailing we were stopped by the douane and they came on board with 6 men strong. They looked in every little locker to see if we had to hide something. I thought it was a great experience! One of the man was happy to be on board of an Amel I think. He kept on saying to his colleague ‘Un Amel, cest tres bien, solide’! It made me giggle while I was behind the wheel steering us in the right direction. After spending an hour on board they gave us a piece of paper that we were all good. The douane boat came along side again and all of them stepped back onto their boat. A wave and gone they were!
Finally we picked up our hoover after a bike ride of 20km land inwards…times two! Mister hoover maker forgot to enclose the battery. After being reunited with my yellow Dewalt hoover we decided to get up the French coast a bit more to see some super yacht madness. Saint Tropez was our first stop. A little visit through town with a drink on a terrace was enough for us to set sail again towards Cannes. And Cannes really surprised me. I didn’t know that Cannes had a few islands just off the coast.
les Îles de Lérins are a group of four Mediterranean islands off the French Riviera in Cannes. We have been anchoring between the two largest islands in this group named Île Sainte-Marguerite and the Île Saint-Honorat. Yes it is a bit of super yacht madness but you can find your spot. Somehow it was all very relaxed. There is even a pizza boat floating around. The island of Île Saint-Honorat is beautiful and the 21 monks currently make up the community of the monastery on here. Absolutely a must see when your in the area!
After spending some time in the French Riviera we made our way towards the North of Italy. We spent two days in a Marina in Imperia to get ourselves ready to go all the way down to the South of Italy (Messina) to pick up David’s friend who will spent a week on board Ker Marie. Imperia was great and David and I found an absolute winner of a restaurant! As I am writing this we are half way, so more about that in my next reading.
Thank you very much for all you loyal followers, I appreciate that a lot! Speak to you soon!
Leaving Almerimar, engine problems, big seas and strong winds, anchor dragging and Ibiza/Formentera treating us very well.
That has been a while since my latest story, meanwhile so many things happened. We finally left Almerimar were we spent almost 4 months of our time. It felt so free and relaxing when we were on the ocean again. Both smiling away with loud music on to celebrate! We had a bit of a hiccup on the way though, we stopped in the next marina of AquaDulce only 3 miles of Almerimar because the oil level from our engine had risen so much it was worrying. We thought it were the new seals in the prop shaft not placed back correctly but after some research on the ‘Amel’ forum we found out that this is normal and it is called ‘heat expansion’. Well, learned something again. We had a lovely night in the marina but the next day we set sail again heading for Denia.
And what kind of sailing! Big seas and winds up to 40 knots. It was down wind sailing so we had the ballooner up but completely reefed until it almost looked like we had a little plastic bag up. It was great sailing and we even broke our speed record; we reached 14 knots! That is very good speed for this type of boat and we did a 100 nm in less then 12 hours. Yes! We decided to anchor in Javea, a place close to Denia because of the wind direction. This is a great anchorage. We had no other boats around and we had a view on the rocks with nice clear waters. This is exactly what we love, no marina fees, just throw your anchor out in a beautiful spot. After spending a couple of days in this great bay we hoisted our sails heading for Ibiza.
And this time we had our first visitors on board for a voyage! David’s parents came with us to Ibiza. We had a great crossing from Javea straight to Cala Benirrás. A spectacular bay with blue waters surrounded by hillside. We spent a few days hopping between other bays and did a crossing towards Formentera. We had a great time with booz and good food. One night when we were having dinner; Music on and singing along with Chuck Berry ‘Nadine’ when our anchor alarm app went off. David was already up because he didn’t trust the lights ‘coming by’. Suddenly David called ‘We are dragging, come up!’. I lifted my head in the cockpit and all I thought was; OMG!
Ker Marie was drifting in the dark with a high speed (it was 25 knots of wind) backwards only a few meters from another boat. It was so close that even Floyd started barking towards the people on the boat we just passed. This couple on that particular boat were staring at us with open mouths like if they just saw Theresa May doing a backflip. Weird, dangerous and something you never want to see again!
Quickly we turned on the engine and I steered and David tried to get the anchor back in. We changed positions and in the heavy wind and rain I tried to locate our anchor so we were able to get it back in. You don’t want it to drag behind you and in the end slam your hull. Finally we got it up! We have the best anchor you can buy on the market but maybe the wind and a very heavy duty bag which was caught in the anchor caused us to drag. After re anchoring we all felt like we needed a bottle of wine. Pffff, we looked back and we have been very very lucky. We have been drifting past 5/6 other boats. We had a bit of a giggle in the end about the whole scene. All singing along Chuck Berry while we were drifting away in 25 knots of wind going for the rocks, bunch of hippies. 😉
After a great week of Ibiza/Formentera it was time to head back for Denia to drop off David’s parents so we could set sail towards Hyeres in France. We had a perfect sail back and we absolutely had a great week!
We were booked in to do the rigging of Ker Marie in Hyeres, the very last bit of work. It takes a couple of days from Denia to get there so we looked at a nice weather window. Unfortunately a strong mistral was blowing in the gulf of Lion so we had to wait a bit before we could enter the gulf. We had two stops on our way to catch some sleep at night so we would be ready for the crossing. We thought the gulf would be high seas and strong winds which was the prediction. But we had no wind, yes none. We even have been motoring the first part, but a third way in the wind was suddenly on! Seas were getting bigger and David enjoyed some good sailing at night. It was the first time I didn’t feel very well because of the swell so I have been down in the bunk a lot. Early in the morning I took over so David was able to catch some sleep. Beautiful sunrise, dolphins around and nice sailing. Finally after 415nm we arrived in Hyeres. For the next 10/12 days Ker Marie is getting a complete new rig after 25 years!
With a new rig we feel safe to cross oceans and to let the wind bring wherever it wants to take us. Again, feeling very grateful for this great adventure! Thank you for reading and feel free to share our stories.
Ker Marie finally back in the water again, electrics going wrong, David in the UK and presenting you our new website.
Yes, that was an exciting and big splash when ‘Ker Marie’ was in the slings of the crane to be lifted back into the water again. A few days before the splash we have been sorting out the replacement of the seals of the propellor (these need to be replaced after 800 engine hours or every 2 years). And I can tell you that was quite a thing. The first seal went completely wrong because somehow grit came in the shaft and it ruined one of the seals. So, seal out and new one in again. I talk like this is an easy peasy job, but it is very fiddly, greasy and especially exciting when you are doing this for the first time. All of it was a bit of a race against the clock, but we managed just before the haul in.
Even more exciting was; Is the engine going to start after all those months? We didn’t test the engine because there was no time left to try it. But this lovely lady started her engine so smoothly like she hasn’t been in the yard all those months.
I was standing on the bow when David motored us to our dock. I remember I felt absolutely incredible. The silence after the noisy yard, the sea gliding underneath me, I felt so alive and free! Arriving in our dock we straight away got the hose out to give her a good clean, so dirty she was.
David and I felt so relaxed to be back in the drink again that we started talking about our plans. Our plan is to stay here for maximum two weeks. In these two weeks we need to get the sails back on, fit our solar panels and then we can leave to Hyeres in France to replace our rigging.
But, first things first, we have to get rid of our car. So David drove the next day to the UK and IOM to store it with his family. He left for 5 days and on day 1 it was already trouble. Poniente is back again (is a strong wind direction) and we are blown with our boat against our neighbours, a fancy Amel 54. I have been rearranging all the fenders and lines in the hope it all holds. It was an very uncomfortable night where I went out of bed (I do not sleep well in these conditions anyway) multiple times to check, double check and re arrange. Even Floyd was uncomfortable and I took him inside the boat at night. Which he absolutely loved by the way. The next morning it was a hard time to get him out of his bed. Suddenly pretending (with puppy eyes up) he couldn’t get up the stairs anymore into the cockpit. Funny animal.
In the morning I was cold and turned our heating on. Yes, we are still in Spain. After 5 minutes I smelled burned rubber and turned around and smoke came out of the socket. This is one of my nightmares; electrics going wrong. Straight away I turned the main input off and then pulled the plug out. The socket was half gone, it burned a hole in there. It was still smoking away, but it eventually got less, end ended. Why now?…exactly at the time David is not here. But I learned something new again, I dismantled the heater, threw it out and way you go. Who needs a captain! Well, me, because obviously I called up David in panic mode.
The wind is not stopping, it even got stronger and stronger, accompanied by rain. Great. The Marina staff is doing very well, they are driving every hour on the pontoon to check if everything is oke. Even at night. Somehow that makes me feel a bit better and if there is really something I can call up on the VHF. Not the way my dad is using his VHF though; he refuses to talk in ‘boat language’ and just says straight away what he is after. It always makes me laugh the times I have spent on their boat. Some people are trying to correct him, but they haven’t met ‘Louis Bontje’ yet, no messing around with this one.
I had planned a lot of things these days, cleaning in/outside of the boat properly, last checks on the winches, some sanding and oiling wood. But because of the weather it was already a challenge to give Floyd his daily walks. So, instead I have been writing this and have given our website an update, which you must have noticed while reading it. And we have a logo which I am so happy with! Go and have a look on the homepage and let me know what you think!
For now I wish you all a lovely day. We will be sailing very soon and we can not wait!
Road tripping to Gibraltar. Making a huge decision about the work on the boat. Leaving Almerimar for rainy England. Visiting family & friends.
I don’t know where to start, so much has happened lately. Let’s try to start where I ended the last time. We made a trip to Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory, on Spain’s south coast, to get our epoxy layer for the haul (VAT free). It was worth the trip and the shop owner was very friendly but I never wanted to leave a place so badly. I can’t believe that people can live on this small rock to safe a few pennies. Madness!
No copper coat applied yet. Nearly 60 knots of wind in the yard and a retreat to Monte Pego.
Normally I am jumping up and down when it starts to get windy around 20 knots. But the last two weeks it has been continuously very windy, 30 knots and gusts up to 40. It has been resulting in not sleeping very well because of the noice and worrying if we are maybe falling over with the boat. The last thing is only me thinking that, David starts laughing when I start that conversation again.