Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Headed North

After a little over a week in Spain, we headed north.  We had been watching the winds between Ireland and the Bay of Biscay every day for ten days and it had been on the nose - like completely on the nose, not even 10 degrees off the nose.

So when we saw a little angle in the grib file (files that forecast direction and speed of wind), we were so excited!  Spain is great, but we really wanted to get to Northern Europe before September.  We can always come back to Spain when we sail south again.  

Despite Ireland being almost due north of La Coruna, our course took us on a NW heading off the coast of A Coruna, sailing on a close reach in about 20 knots.  After about 18 hours, as we crossed the Bay of Biscay, the winds were light  as expected, and we motor sailed a bit.  Off the coast of Brittany and south of Ireland, the winds picked up and went behind the beam and the ride was smooth and comfortable.  That afternoon on Baxter's watch, three pilot whales stopped by Terrapin for a quick visit, making it an even better day! As we entered the Celtic Sea and a small front passed, the winds backed and we were on a close reach again - bumpy and loud and a bit uncomfortable, but we were in the Celtic Sea and excited to make landfall in Cork.

As the sun rose on the morning of the fourth day, we could see color in the rocks off the coast of Ireland.  We sailed all the way to the mouth of the harbour and rode the high tide all they way to the dock at the Royal Cork Yacht Club, the oldest club in the entire world.  What a fabulous start to a day!
Pilot whales making our day brighter
Sunrise at sea is usually spectacular.
Terrapin sailing in the sunrise
The colors of the rising sun
Yay!  We made it to Ireland!
Land Ho!
View of the Irish hillside from offshore
Tied up at the oldest yacht club in the world (notice the transom of 'Capta Ventum')

Royal Cork Yacht Club

Monday, August 21, 2017

Time Warp

In the last eight weeks, we have lived in five different time zones and all with varying discretion on daylight savings or what time the sun rises or sets.  

For example, Lunenberg, Nova Scotia is one hour ahead of EDT  or three hours behind UTC (Universal Time).  The sun rises around 5 am and sets around 7:30pm

St John’s, Newfoundland is one hour + 30 min ahead of EDT or two hours 30 min behind UTC.  They are the only location on that time zone.   Sun rises around 7 and sets around 9.

As we crossed the Atlantic, we kept to St John’s time since time is theoretical and more of a label for watches than actual time, since the only reason we pay attention to time offshore is to know when you have to be on watch.  Otherwise our day can be measured by sunrise and sunset.

Then there’s Spain - which is two hours ahead of UTC.  That means first light is around 7am, actual sunrise is probably closer to 8 am and sunset is around 9:15ish with dark around 10pm.  The Spanish schedule their day accordingly.  Breakfast is around 9:30 or 10, lunch around 2pm and dinner often around 9pm.  We went to a restaurant the other night and arrived at 8pm…thinking we were finally in the Spanish groove.  The owner was glad to take our name for their first seating - at 8:30.  When we came back at 8:30, we were the early birds and the only table in the restaurant.

Now that we have headed north, I wonder if this will bring us back to a more traditional schedule of breakfast around 7 or 8, lunch around 12 or 1 and dinner around 6 or 7.  Time will tell.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Cultural Submersion

As we walk down the dock in La Coruna, we are the only American boat on our dock (only two in the entire marina) and there are a variety of boats from all over the world.

It is best to look at the country flag or the hailing port of the boat to know the appropriate greeting as you walk along:
Buenos Dias - Espagne
Bonjour - French
Allo - Swedish
Nice morning, eh - Canadian
G’day - Irish
?? - Polish
Guten Morgan - German

It is definitely nice to know that we are submerged in these cultures and everyone has been extremely friendly and helpful.  Sometimes conversations are an art in body language and learning but regardless it is always fun.  We also have the opportunity to have discussions with different boats regarding areas to sail in different countries.  We are able to make plans and change plans to visit certain places or marinas based on these recommendations.  It is information that we just can’t get out of reading books or looking at maps.  

Just another benefit of sailing new places, meeting new people and submersing ourselves in their culture.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Santiago de Compostela

One of the day trips from La Coruna is Santiago de Compostela, the capital of the Galicia region of Spain and a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Santiago has been a pilgrimage destination for catholics since the 9th century.  

We hopped on the train for the 30-minute ride south and toured the city.  The architecture was impressive and the structures, some dating back to the sixth and seventh century, were incredible.  The line to walk through the cathedral where St James, one of the 12 apostles, is buried was hours long.  Since this was a day trip and Kala was waiting for us back on the boat, we chose to enjoy the views and partake in the areas around Santiago.  
So easy to travel around Spain
Thirty minutes later we were in Santiago de Compostela 
The line for the cathedral started at these doors, went around two buildings and back
Monastery and church of San Martino Pinario
The church office building with the Spanish flag and awesome statue atop
Coat of arms
Spanish relics usually include a large amount of silver
One of my favorite buildings was the Igreja de Sao Frutuoso - Church of San Fructoso - outside the St James Cathedral plaza with four cardinal virtues, prudence, justice, strength and temperance represented on each corner
Hostal dos Reis Catolicos - Opened in 1492 by King Ferdinand and Isabelle (who commissioned Christopher Columbus' voyages).  The oldest operational hotel in the world and some say the most beautiful.
Streets of Santiago
Even the health clinic architecture is impressive in Santiago
Monastery and church of San Martino Pinario
So many beautiful sculptures and statues
Church and convent of San Francisco
Stonework is unbelievable

Friday, August 18, 2017

Una Semana en Espana

Despite our efforts to sail north to Ireland, the weather helped us decide to route to Spain instead.  We pulled into a slip in Marina Coruna around 7pm local time.  Unlike other marinas we have been to, they let us pull into any slip we wanted.  The office was closed so we would have to wait to check into customs until the next morning.  We popped the cork on the champagne, celebrating 1,958 nautical miles in 14 days, and a sail from North America to Europe and then we went to sleep, with no alarm set.

The next morning, the first thing on the list after checking in to the country was to take Kala to shore.  I don't really know any other dogs who have sailed across the Atlantic Ocean so we pretty much would give her anything she wanted.  She is a tough girl!  After Kala was tired and ready for a nap, we headed out to experience the city of La Coruna, in the "province" of A Coruna.   

We spent the following week visiting sites around the city, including the Tower of Hercules - which is the oldest working lighthouse in the world, built by the Romans in the 2nd century and restored in 1790.  That might make it one of the oldest landmarks I have visited.  The city of La Coruna itself is truly ancient, with monuments and churches built from the 1400s to the 1700s by the Romans and the Spanish.  There is so much history, religious and otherwise that is mixed in among modern offices, restaurants and apartments.  It is a setting that is very different from the US and very culturally enriching.

Of course, aside from eating and sight seeing, we also had normal "chores" to do.  During the passage, as I've mentioned, things were wet - and we had not done laundry since leaving Virginia on June 25 (it was now the second week of August).  Unfortunately, after starting the first load of laundry at the marina laundry room, we realized they didn't have a dryer.  Ugh...we took that load that was now soaking wet with detergent, let it finish and then dried it on the lifelines of the boat.  Now our objective was to find la lavenderia.  When we asked around, no one could help so either 1) they didn't understand what we were saying - very possible or 2) they just didn't know where there was a lavenderia.  We learned the word for laundromat in the Spanish-English dictionary and then pinpointed it on the city map.  We loaded up our 20 lbs of towels, clothes, sheets, etc and walked the two miles into the city.  It was great - three loads and 20 Euros later, we were washed, dried, folded and smelling good!

Next on the list were boat projects.  When we had furled in the main sail as we were close to La Coruna, it wasn't tucked in perfectly.  So when we tried to fix it, the furling motor gave us an issue and the sail wouldn't come out or go in.  The furling motor issues almost stopped us from launching Terrapin last October, so it is a sensitive and frustrating problem.  Baxter waited until a calm morning and then he and Dan manually unfurled the main, took it off the furling rod, took the boom off, and made sure everything was working properly and connected to power.  Once all was verified, the process was reversed and the sail was reattached, furled in, and boom back on the mast.  As soon as the sail was back on, the wind picked up significantly so we were pretty lucky our timing was right.  Since that didn't resolve the furling motor issue, Baxter continued to troubleshoot down below.  Long story as short as it can be, the problem seems to have been a 10 amp fuse which has been replaced.  Fingers crossed it continues to work.

Since arriving in Spain, we continued to check the weather to head to Ireland and every day for 10 days, the wind was directly from the north, exactly the direction we wanted to go.  Since sailboats can't sail into the wind - that was stopping us from leaving for Ireland.  One day, we saw in the long range forecast, a glimpse of a turn - though just a slight turn, it was enough to get us north.  If we didn't take this opportunity, we may not be going anywhere except south back to the Caribbean.  We confirmed the long range forecast with our weather router and headed north out of the Bay of Biscay aiming for the Celtic Sea!
The Tower of Hercules was the first sight as we sailed close to shore.
Happy dog walking around the center of town
Carmen, patron saint for people of the sea
Adventure Doggie!!  She is a true sailor with over 9,000 miles since October 2016
Raising the country flag after checking into Spain
Our slip at Marina Coruna
Cool city logo for A Coruna
The Snipe (type of dinghy) World Championships were in A Coruna while we were there - this is the US team rigging their boats before the races.
Very cool byzantine architecture.
City Hall...pretty nice
Tower of Hercules - oh, and a happy dog running through the fields
Costa de la Muerta - "Coast of Death" because of the jagged rocks on the west coast of the Iberian Peninsula
Maria Pita - After her husband was killed, she led a force to fight off the British who then retreated.  
The streets of Spain
Even rainy days are fun!  The glassed in balconies on the buildings are unique to La Coruna.  
After a month, we had lots of laundry on Terrapin.  Unfortunately the dryers at the marina were gone so we took up shop here at La Lavenderia.  The lady in the purple pants was not happy she had to wait.
We even had internet at La Lavenderia.
Our daily walk for Kala along the harbor.  You can't tell but Kala could see the water through the slots in the wall.
Breogan - who legend has it could see Ireland from Spain and sailed there and conquered the Irish people...
You can read the legend in any of the three language options

Taking pics of Baxter taking pics
I wonder if this is how Breogan sailed to Ireland
Every church in Spain inspires a person to take a picture.  The architecture is intricate, delicate and remarkable. 
A Baba 40, another Bob Perry designed boat, pulled in alongside us in Marina Coruna.  
Walking out to the end of the jetty that protects La Coruna
A music festival took place while we were in La Coruna - unfortunately, the music usually started around 9 pm - much later than I can stand to be awake.  This band, who set up stage in front of a 15th century monastery, was pretty cool.  
We were having more issues with our in mast furling so we decided to take the main sail off, take the topping lift off, take the boom off, and then make sure the connections to the motor were solid.  Then of course we had to reverse the process and get the main sail back on the mast before the wind picked up.
Examining the Control Cylinder for the In-Mast furler to see if we can find an obvious issue.
The culprit (in Dan's left hand) a 10 amp fuse.  Dan looks happy to have the issue resolved, Baxter looks frustrated that it took 4 hours to resolve.