Sailing Coastal Spain and Portugal

A sense of foreboding followed us down the Atlantic Coast after we passed the Coast of Death (Costa del Mort). It was still early May and the weather in the Atlantic Ocean is notoriously fickle and changes quickly throughout the day. To minimise getting caught out in really bad weather, we quickly sailed down the coast of Spain. The weather, coupled with the fact that my time in the EU (specifically the Schengen area) was limited due to my Australian passport and Schengen visa. So, we were keen to spend our limited time in the EU in the warmth of the Balearic Islands.

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Enroute

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Sundown – Sagres anchorage

The Atlantic was true to form. it was cold with prevailing high afternoon winds and unsettled seas state which added to our determination to push on.

We determinedly travelled long days (covering 70 – 100+ nautical Miles), until we really needed some rest, reprovisioning or refuelling. We found few suitable, easy access anchorages and so sheltered in boat/fishing harbours where possible or stayed in the occasional marina. Many anchorages down this coast involved bar crossings into rivers. While we’re used to doing these in Australia, the weather and high tides, pushed us on. The one port, I’m sorry we missed was Porto, Portugal.

Late one evening after a long day of gusty winds, the port in Adra we had planned to anchor in was smaller than anticipated and badly affected by swell. We made the decision to attempt a sketchy entry into the nearby marina; in fact, we pretty much surfed in. We found a hammerhead pontoon and managed to dock the boat in the gusty conditions. As I jumped off onto the small, dodgy pontoon, I found it was unstable, dropped to my hands and knees and tied up the stern. As I crawled to the front, a Marinaro was yelling and waving as I completed the bow tie off. As he came to help and in the midst of the confusion of placing fenders and moving around the narrow pontoon, I half fell off the dock on to my ribs on a metal strut. Ouch. No serious damaged but I certainly was shellshocked for a couple of days.

On the same day, fellow Helia44 owners we met in La Rochelle, who were travelling close by, continued sailing that night and ended up with a wave in their saloon. I’m pleased we made the decision to take shelter.

You can see the route we travelled and where we stopped here.

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Sines, Portugal, Vasco de Gama’s hometown. The morning after a midnight arrival.

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Sines, Portugal. Many ports we sheltered in were mainly for fishing boats, were often small and subject to swell

It wasn’t until we reached Lisbon that we finally relaxed, stayed for a few days and enjoyed this vibrant city. More about that in a later post.

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Wild Heart in Marina Parque das Nacoes, Lisbon. Behind the lock gate.


Wild Heart waiting: La Rochelle and all things yachts

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A small part of Port des Minimes, the largest marina in France for pleasure boats. It’s also where a number of brands launch their yachts not only Fountaine Pajot but Amel yachts and Nautitech catamarans

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Boats and masts as far as you can see

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The entrance to the old port, where boats constantly leave and enter

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The historic architecture and rich history of the town sits side by side with the pleasure craft yachting lifestyle

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There are regattas and sailing schools a plenty.

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Wild Heart in the evening shortly before we left the marina

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When we arrived in La Rochelle, a few short months ago, we had no idea what to expect from many things; the town, our new catamaran “Wild Heart” and sailing in France.

We quickly discovered that La Rochelle was a joy, rich in history and lifestyle; commisioning a new boat was an intense and exciting experience; sailing in a new country was an adventure. In fact, it continues to be an adventure of exploring, discovering and learning.

Photograph credit: Scott Johnston

Where we stayed: Hotel St Nicolas La Rochelle

Low key hotel, in a convenient location in the old town and about 30 minutes walk to Port des Minimes

Where we ate:

We enjoyed all the local boulangeries and pâtisseries around the hotel. And any gelato shop, of course

As restaurants go, Prao Restaurant was one of our favourites for the fresh food, atmosphere and wine selection.

Shopping for the boat: Get our download here of all the places we shopped to “outfit” the boat.


Bareboat chartering in Croatia

The Dalmatian Coast is simply breathtaking. It’s a coastline of turquoise waters and the red roofs and bleached stone of the old seaside towns and cities. Have you been inspired by these images to sail Croatia but possibly don’t know where to start? If you’re a sailor and haven’t chartered overseas before, it can seem daunting. Really, it’s not difficult to do, and I’d encourage you to go ahead and book your trip. It’s an exciting place to experience by boat. In this post, I’ll take you through what I think are the better options for bareboat chartering.

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Japan – wanting to experience the magic of Cherry Blossom Season?

Japan was never on my “travel to” list until we were looking for somewhere to go for a special birthday. Everyone we spoke to who had been there said: “go!” The birthday timing happened to coincide with cherry blossom season, so lucky us.

The Japanese love this time of year and now I know why. Apart from the simple fragile beauty of the blossoms, there’s a cultural significance which surrounds this season which makes it so special. Together, the picturesque trees and flowers and the excitement of spring create a wonderful, buoyant atmosphere in the cities and towns. This is a snapshot of our experience.

​”The significance of the cherry blossom tree in Japanese culture goes back hundreds of years. In their country, the cherry blossom represents the fragility and the beauty of life. It’s a reminder that life is almost overwhelmingly beautiful but that it is also tragically short. When the cherry blossom trees bloom for a short time each year in brilliant force, they serve as a visual reminder of how precious and how precarious life is. So, when Japanese people come together to view the cherry blossom trees and marvel at their beauty, they aren’t just thinking about the flowers themselves, but also about the larger meaning and deep cultural tradition the cherry blossom tree.”

Huffington Post Aug 2013

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