The Definition of Cruising

Fixing Things in Exotic Places….

The two new bilge pump and air conditioning pump arrived on Thursday and we managed to fit them both after a bit of a struggle. The plug for the air conditioning plug was under our bed and required a 4 ft midget with 6 ft arms to be able to reach under and plug it back in. Unfortunately we didn’t have one of these on board so the guy from Oceancat and myself struggled for an hour to get it sorted.

With that fixed, we said our goodbyes to Monica from Oceancat, who was brilliant, and set off for Puerto Sherry, for our next maintenance item, being the leak, near where the log goes through the hull.

The sail down the coast was brilliant. No engines and the geneker all the way. Zooming along at 7-8 knots. Beautiful, despite the wind speed going on us a few times.

We had to gybe a few times on the way into the bay. The best we could do was about 155 degrees. Definitely need a parasailor for the Atlantic and the Pacific crossing as gybing all that way doesn’t really thrill me.

We anchored just outside the marina off a very nice beach and went in next morning for our lift. On the way in, we passed the boat lifts, and commented that we must be being lifted somewhere else, because these looked only wide enough for monohulls.

Checking in at the office, we were wrong. The slips were 7.7m wide and we were 7.5m so we had a massive 20cm to play with. Piece of cake for Skipper Steve and his crew. And with absolutely no room for fenders. The guys had some thin bits of foam wrapped in plastic, to keep La Mischief off the nasty looking sides, and slowly, slowly we got in okay – despite the tight fit. Lucky there wasn’t much wind to blow us sideways. It was a nervous exercise as we lifted her out.

Its now the second time in 3 months that La Mischief has shown her bottom off – I can tell she’s a little bit naughty!

Whilst she was out we took the opportunity to fiberglass over the hole where they put the emergency ladder, which I must say was the most useless thing I have seen. Lagoon had recalled them and were replacing them with a brass plug to plug up the hole, which Monica, Fredy, Stan and I all concurred was not the best fix below the waterline. So I made an executive decision to use our fiberglass man that was on hand to fix the hull to also make this unnecessary hole disappear. To Lagoons credit, they picked up this bill without question. I must say that the wrap Lagoon get around honoring warranty is a bit unwarranted given the experiences we have had to date.

For photos see

Exploring the Hills of Andalusia

After being picked up by Stan and Judy in their rental car, we headed off to the outskirts of Sevilla where there were the impressive Roman ruins of Italica, at a town called Santiponce. However, due to the particular day of the week, we were not impressed when we found out that they were closed on Mondays. We took a few pictures through the fence and headed off.

From there we took the back roads, through some impressive farming land; buying some oranges from the road verge along the way, to the old Roman town of Carmona. The Roman bit comes largely from the fact that the Romans laid out the street plan, which still survives to this day. Begs the question – What did the Romans ever do for us?

We wandered the old town, stopping for lunch at Bar Goya, as recommended by Lonely Planet; and continued up the hill to the Hotel built inside an old castle. The views were magnificent, as was the chocolate cake that we consumed on the balcony restaurant overlooking the valley.

Full to the brim with an interesting mixture of Tapas, Beer and Chocolate cake, we walked back down through the old town and out the gates to the car, before driving back to Mazagon for the night.

Next morning, it was back in the car and off for a bike ride on the Via Verde de la Sierra – one of 42 Via Verde’s ( Spanish for green way) around Andalusia. The drive to get there was impressive, passing through rolling hills and past lovely looking White Towns, which the region is known for.

This 36km bike ride goes along a railway line that was built a while ago, but never saw a train. Stan and Judy rode their fold up bikes and I hired an off road bike, which was quite reasonable. There are 30 tunnels and 4 viaducts along the 36km – that’s a lot of overs and unders. It did however make for a very flat ride, going slightly uphill from Puerto Serrano to Olvera, where we had lunch at a restaurant looking into an indoor equestrian ring, and then back again. Judy was the only one that took a torch, and whilst the tunnels are supposed to have automatic lights, lots didn’t. There was one over a 1km long, with only about half lit – that was a bit eery. The back again part was quite quick, which was a relief as my legs weren’t really used to a 72km bike ride.

The beer at the pub at the end tasted really, really, really good.

For photos of Carmona see

For photos of Via Verde de la Sierra see

My New Favorite City

Sevilla – what can I say.

We initially thought about taking La Mischief up the 55nm of Ria Guadalquivir to Savilla but the travel time would have been too great so we decided to hire car it instead. That was a petty because we’ve been talking to people since and its a great adventure.

I was totally captivated by Sevilla’s (thats how the locals say and write it) sights and its people. Stan and Judy dropped me off on Saturday morning after a quick 110km drive up from Mazagon. They left me just outside the bull ring and so the museum became my first stop.

I wanted to learn about bull fighting. Without having ever experienced it, my surface reaction was abhorance to the animal cruelty; but along side that was a curiousity about it, stemming back to childhood when we didn’t realise what happened to the bulls and instead had a nieve romantic notion of the bullfighter wnd his cape.

It is so engrained in spanish culture that it beckons to be understood – and so as to better understand the Spanish – especially the drama and bravado of Spanish masculinity – i decided to attend a fight despite the grotesque nature of the so called contest. I started with the museum tour, a one on one tour given by a demure Spanish lady, to give me some initial context for what was to come the next day.

After the museum and a coffee, I wandered the streets towards the main square with its imposing Gothic Cathedral and the Alcazar. The Alcázar of Seville started life as a Moorish fort, and is now the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe – the upper levels of the Alcázar are used by the royal family as their official Seville residence. Both the Alcazar and the Cathedral are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, along General Archive of the Indies. The Cathedral is the largest gothic cathedral in the world, and the 3rd biggest cathedral behind St Peters and St Pauls.

But enough about the history of the place – sevilla is just a great place to wander around. After a while carrying my backpack I thought id better find a hotel and stumbled across Hotel Maestranza, a gem of a place, clean with great staff, cheap and 200m from the Cathedral. But best of all it was surrounded by great Tapas bars.

After trying a few, I wandered back to the hotel where the girl behind the counter knew her tapas bars and pointed me at the best one. Had a great time there socialising with the locals. One girl was off to brisbane to work as a pharmacist and her doctor boyfriend was going out for a holiday. Suggested they go to the whitsundays. When they went, I talked to another doctor who had just graduated along with her very charismatic lawyer boyfriend. Asked her why she smoked and she said its becoming a big problem for spain. Healthcare is free and hospitals are struggling. She is trying to give up but its hard as everyone smokes.

By 6pm the bar emptied out (only to come alive again after 9 evidently). I had a Flamenco show to go to so that suited me. It was about 40 minutes walk away (which was unusual as everything in Seville is close). I took the opportunity to wander the steeets again and take more photos.

The flamenco show was very touristy but still very enjoyable. Its not a local dance but was brought here by the gypsies. Very spectacular and very skilful. Reminded me of Strictly Ballroom. Ifound out later there was a more aurhentic (free) one but I didnt really care – I really enjoyed the one I went to.

After my walk back, I dropped into another tapas bar, but it didn’t live up to expectations so off I went to bed.

Next morning it was off for my bike tour of Sevilla. We met our guide, Desiree at 10 along with 3 young guys from New York and off we went. We started over at Triana, with it yellow houses, mirroring the colour of the bullring. Here we rode along the river and to the oldest church in sevilla, a converted moorish mosque. It was a real cooks tour, stopping for breakfast, visiting the site of the 1929 world expo, stopping off to see desiree’s friends at a coffee house, seeing the world’s first tobacco factory (where the problems first started) and a hundred and one other places.

The tour went on and on, way past its alotted end time until Desiree’s boss called to say he wanted the bikes back. Then we all had photos with her boss and some other random guys that turned up, before all retiring to a few old authenic tapas bars.

Afterwards I just managed to fit in a visit to the Alcazar, and its garden, as inspiring as Versailles, but so much closer to the centre of the city. The Alcazar was built in the dark ages but you wouldnt know it. It simply stunning – evidently one of the best remaining examples of mudéjar architecture going around.

Then it was time to go to the bull fight. There were three matadores on the schedule and they had two fights each. There was a crowd of about 10, 000 there in an ancient ring. The start of each fight was interesting as the bull had a bit of a chance, but then it went downhill from there.

A lot of people dont realise but the fight only ends when the bull is killed. If the bull isnt killed then the matadore goes to jail. I won’t say much more, but it was definitely a one off experience for me. I’d been to an abbortoir as a kid and seen animals put down humanely, but there was nothing humane about this. I found the idea of a crowd watching a killing to be very bizarre and more than a little bit disturbing; and it occurred to me that there is a fine line when it comes to humanity. The celebration of Spanish masulinity as represented by the bullfight is highly engrained in the culture and will be hard to vanquish – but it certainly needs to be in my opinion after witnessing the cruelty first hand.

After the fight, I hung around for my new found friends from NY to turn up to no avail, before I decided to return to my favourite bar . This time I found some english speakers, a banker from inner london and his teacher wife (who had also been to the fight and had come away with the same opinion). As they went to leave, a couple of girls came up after hearing my aussie accent. They were aussies working in london. I was interested to find myself really enjoying socialising with australians after not seeing any for a while. They had their boyfriends with them so the 5 of us tried to find an open bar at 1am on sunday morning.

We managed to find somewhere and then managed to thoroughly upset an english couple sitting behind us with our loud australianess. They left after a while saying they never did like australians. Hope we get the same result in the cricket.

Next morning I just had time to check out the cathedral before stan and judy swung past to pick me up.

And so ended a brilliant weekend in my new favorite European city.

For photos see

Water, Water Everywhere

We left our anchorage in Cabo De Santa Maria early and got out of the entrance at slack tide, which made it a lot easier than coming in.

We pointed east and as we were motoring we decided to make some water. Stan pulled up the floorboards to check on which tank the water was being drawn from and found a bilge full of water. Something was filling it up and the automatic bilge pump (and alarm!) had failed to kick in. Luckily the Lagoon comes with three sets of bilge pumps so we quickly turned on the manual electric one and pumped out the water.

We then went on a witch hunt to find out where the water was coming from. Eventually after some searching, we found the culprit – one of the 230V salt water pumps for the airconditioning units had blown a seal. We shut off the sea cock and pulled out the faulty bilge pump. Luckily it was a nice calm day and Judy stood watch, while Stan and I had our heads down in the bilge. We worked out that the culprit was the sensor and I few emails later we had Oceancat in Mazagon on standby to have a look at the problem.

We made it into Mazagon just after 3 and quickly found Monica from Oceancat. Monica turned out to be another gem, couldn’t be more helpful. In no time at all she had the parts ordered from Lagoon in France. I also got her to have a look at another leak, that Jorge had diagnosed as coming from the shower sump. It ended up to be a good move because they worked out it was coming through a join in the fibreglass where there os a separate section of fibreglass, for the fishfinder transducer, the holding tank outlet and toilet inlet, just behind the owners bathroom door.

So with a wait for parts and a lift in Peurto Sherry (outside of Cadiz) organised for a weeks time, we booked La Mischief into the marina for a week and set off in a hire car to explore Seville and its surrounds.

See photo at

Desperately Seeking Crew

I have a gap that desperately needs filling.

Stan and Judy leave me in gibraltar on the 10th and cas joins me in valencia on the 25th june.

I have a spare cabin from now until 25th June that needs filling.

I will be in morocco at marina smir (10nm from gibraltar) until the 9th june and then in gibraltar from 9th to 19th june getting out of EU for a while.

Then on the 20th june I set sail for valencia.

So if you are anywhere in the vicinity and want to come sailing on a beautiful lagoon 421 catamaran and explore gibraltar and the costa sol along the way then let us know.