Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Season Kick-off 2017

The temperatures hover around freezing, a thin layer of ice fringes the port, and our thoughts turn south towards sun and warmth as we begin planning our 2017 sailing season.  (And having just gorged our way through the holidays, the photo theme is “the things we ate” from our 2016 cruise.)

They try to tell you that these are very light...
Our current tasks:

1.  Buying / borrowing the necessary nautical guides and charts.  I’ve begun our route planning and have been scouring others’ blogs for tips on anchorages and ports (mostly about ports to avoid…).  We will probably spend the month of May along the Spanish coast between Gibraltar and Alicante, then June-August in the Balearic Islands, moving on in September and October to our wintering ground.  I’ll plan two options:  an ambitious one that will take us to Sardinia for the winter, or a more tranquil cruise towards the Spanish / French border.  No, we aren’t making much “east” in our Med cruise, but we’re taking time to enjoy the trip.  We won’t be coming back a second time later in life.

Octopus, beaten soft and sauteed in olive oil, salt, and mild red pepper.
2.  Making visiting cards.  This is something we always thought was a little silly until we ended up scribbling our names and contact information on scraps of paper all summer while others passed out fancy cards.  We’ve met so many great cruisers out there and enjoy staying in touch as we cruise along the same waters.

Spain has the biggest and best razor clams on the Atlantic seaboard; sauteed in a little butter, garlic, salt, and parsley.    
3.  Buying a laser rangefinder.  At first, I was against this, seeing it as a potential source of conflict.  Patrick: “The rangefinder says we’re 30 meters from the nearest rock.  We can anchor here with NO PROBLEM!” Me: “And does your magic rangefinder tell you if there are rocks UNDER the water next to that jagged coastline?  Huh?!  We’re moving!”  Then a friend told us how useful rangefinders are for those famous “Med Moorings” where you need to start dropping your anchor 3 boat-lengths away from the dock as you back into a spot.  So far in my planning, most of the med-style moorings in ports have lazylines or buoys so we won’t need to use our own anchor, but I’ve now decided that a rangefinder is a nice gadget to have on board.

An electric wok cuts cooking gas use by half or more !
4.  Thinking about flopper stoppers.  We plan to do a lot of anchoring this year and fully expect that many of the anchorages will be rolly and lumpy because of swell.  I have my trusty riding sail, but that’s only useful when there’s wind.  There are lots of swell stoppers on the market and many people simply use a sort of large weighted bucket poled out perpendicularly on the spinnaker pole or boom.  I suspect we’ll try this homemade system first before investing in a more costly one.  As they say, “one experiment is worth a thousand expert opinions.”   

When you order a glass of wine in Spain, you often get some sort of tapas served with it, like this potato and cheese omelette. Who needs to eat lunch after this? 

5.  Learning Spanish.  This is an ongoing battle; essential but not very effective since it requires discipline to sit down and do the work.  We use a combination of on-line video tutorials, tv news in Spanish, and exercise books, but we’re having a motivation meltdown as we begin 2017.  I have an additional barrier in that Patrick already speaks much better Spanish than I do, so I tend to place this in the “Patrick will manage this” category.  Mas facil !    

Ham, cheese, empanadas, olives, excellent wines.... heaven !

5 comments: said...

Whatever that is in the first photo, I gained weight just looking at it. i had to comment that the range finder is a dead useful little gadget. We bought one last year and I love it so much. Mike does, too, and it keeps a lot of arguments from happening, especially when anchoring close to rocks, which is basically everywhere up here. They always look closer than they are but I like actual numbers. We use ours quite a lot. We also have a nice APP for learning Spanish on our iphones. It's called Duolingo and it's pretty sweet. It actually works when you use it, but we're having motivational difficulties as well. Cheers! Happy New year!

Sailing Mareda said...

Thanks Melissa ! I'm glad to hear our new gadget may help us to avoid arguments rather than ignite them. My new year's resolution is to be more zen about things on the boat (head thrown back in maniacal laughter as I say that...) so maybe I just need a few fetish items to fix on to help with that. Others have mentioned duolingo...working on the motivation thing, too. 4 months seems so far away, right?

The Cynical Sailor said...

Learning Spanish is on my list too. All of those food pictures are making me very hungry :-)

Sailing Mareda said...

Hi Ellen - looking forward to your 2017 adventures ! I'm sure you are, too. I have that great book "Spanish for Cruisers" but I need hand-holding (tugging).

Astrolabe sailing said...

Delicious looking pics!

Good luck with your Spanish lessons. I look forward to hearing about how you go with the range finder. Could be a good gadget for me to get Andrew for his birthday...