Getting Out of Dodge

It’s been over a month since we left La Rochelle on 4th April and we’ve made it to Portugal where we have been able to take a deep breath. We can legally stay here until the end of the year because of a special Covid law Portugal has passed, so that is a relief. So now I have time for a bit of reflection on what was an extremely busy time trying to get the boat ready to sail out of La Rochelle.

We are really happy with Voila. Lots of space and she sails really well. There’s a few things we need to change but nothing that money and time can’t fix. After all she is a BOAT (Break Out Another Thousand!)

The other thing I want to mention up front is the unbelievable support and patience we received from Romaine (Roms), Multihull Solutions’ man on the ground in La Rochelle. No request was too much trouble and he worked day and night, 8 days a week to help all his owners get what they needed and out of La Rochelle and onto the ocean.

So here’s a few observations from our last month getting her ready.  

Sun Power from Sunpower

The five 400W Sunpower panels have been performing reasonably well now that we have corrected 2 wayward panels. Loose wiring on one and a VE-Direct shutdown on another.  

We are still having trouble with one controller/solar panel which keeps turning off saying there is insufficient PV Power. Still investigating. 

We had originally specified Bluetooth dongles but got Uchimata to upgrade the Solar chargers to Smartsolar 30/100 MPPT Controllers  that have built in Bluetooth and can also be networked together using Bluetooth so they play together under one master and 4 slaves.  I think we will be able to survive our backward step from Lithiums to AGM batteries (albeit 900AH of them). 

Turning Sunshine into AC 

We quickly transferred over the Washing Machine and the Icemaker from Shore Power to the (Sun Driven) Inverters and watched our second 2000W inverter kick in on “Assist” mode to get us 4000W to run the washing machine and sometimes the electric kettle. Our plan of augmenting the existing 2000W Multiplus with a second similar unit seems to be working okay.  And we quite like the idea of having a redundant inverter given we lost one on La Mischief and it was a real pain.

Stress Free Parking

The Volvo Throttles are very sticky and not at all smooth like the Yanmar throttles on La Mischief. They seem to be loosening up a bit and I’m getting more used to them as well as docking a 50 ft catamaran, so I think we will live with them. Especially if I indulge in a Jet Thruster ( to  help me and Dee get on the dock in any tricky situations. 

Look Mum, No Hands

We got Uchimata to install a L&S Autopilot as a second backup unit, but we are yet to try it out because we have only just got the documentation on how to switch from one autopilot to another from Uchimata. Its more complicated than on La Mischief because of the hydraulic steering, which the primary autopilot is hooked up to. The installers once again did not take into account the need to service equipment and now we need to pull the whole unit out just to top up the transmission fluid. Unfortunately the French don’t like to collaborate with experienced owners (citing Covid), which is unfortunate as we can offer them a wealth of cruising experience (ie. fixing things in exotic places). 

Where the F#!k Are We?

We ticked the box that gave us the factory installed Garmin instruments and in hindsight we should have gone with what we knew – namely Raymarine. The lack of some functionality is a pain – most notably the lack of a Restart XTE function. We could have also specified larger screens and dropped the Garmin Smart Cruising option, which we ended up transferring across to the Victron Cerbo/GX Colour as we don’t want to have to turn on the chartplotter every time we want to check our tank and battery levels. 

We also got the Garmin Panoptix Forward Facing Sonar and Uchimata made a unilateral decision to install it just in front of the lifting straps, when it should have been installed further forward. Now we will have our stress levels sky high whenever we lift the boat. A bit of consultation would get a much better result.

Keeping Track of the Electrons (and Tank Levels)

We got Pochon to install a Cerbo GX and its associated GX Colour Screen. These required a Smartshunt and a Victron Battery Temperature Monitor, which were also needed for the SmartSolar MPPT VE.SMART Bluetooth Network. This works really well, you can get up each morning and check how the batteries, solars and tank levels are going. However there is a hardware problem with the Wifi antenna and the HDMI cable being too close to one another meaning the CERBO GX cannot connect to the boat’s Wifi. Have played around with the channels on the wifi router as per Victron’s advice but no luck as yet. 

The IT Guy Gets Busy 

The two Pepwave routers/access points are going well and are receiving Wifi signals from both shore and from a (Euro a Day) MEO SIM card, installed in the PEPWAVE BR1 unit.  Hanging off that is our Synology NAS with all our movies and a Sonos Port that allows us to play music through a Sonos Wifi connection (instead of Bluetooth off a phone) through both our Fusion/Bose system and a Sonos Move portable speaker. I really like having Sonos on a boat.

We also have a Mikrotik Metal WIFI extender installed up the mast but my IT skills are sadly lacking and I’m struggling to integrate this in with the Pepwaves. I’ll wait until one of my IT mates comes on board to tackle this one.

Fresh Water Flushing

With our toilets being all fresh water, water is now more important than ever. We went with the ESSBASE ESW901 (105 litre an hour 12V system) and that seems to be going well. We got a full set of spares including a spare pressure pump so we are able to keep this unit up and running.  

We installed a triple filter system for dock water and a Grohle under sink system with a carbon filter for drinking water. This Grohle unit is really cool as its all integrated into the one faucet meaning no more holes need to be drilled into the benchtop. 

Bright Shiny Stuff. 

Romu, the Stainless Steel guy did really well out of us. We decided to go with 32cm high SS handrails down the sides of the boat and they are a great safety addition. The three teak steps to get up to the mast work really well. Finally, we quite liked our swim ladder on La Mischief as opposed to the FP one; which we ripped off and replaced with a you beaut custom designed swim ladder, with nice high handles, especially good for getting out of the water with a heavy dive tank on. Now looking forward for some nice weather and warmer water to swim in so we can actually use it.

Blowing in the Wind

For colour, we’ve gone for both an Incidence Blue geneker and a Multi-coloured parasailor once again. Parasailor gave Dee carte blanche to get out her set of crayons and design the Parasailor (for free as its our second). The parasailer is 170m2 (the other option was 190m2). We chose the smaller option because it will get most of its use in the trade winds crossing oceans day and night and the smaller one is more manageable with the higher winds, especially when we plan to leave it up during squalls (as we did during our last Atlantic crossing).  Uchimata installed a nice setup for the parasailor so we can easily run both the guy and sheet for each side back to two jammers on a single winch.  

The main is a square top and we ditched the Karver hook in favour of the old lagoon way of rigging it with the dyneema line pulling it close to the mast as she goes up. We also went with a 12mm dyneema cored halyard, as opposed to the 14mm halyard, and high end Harken C batten cars. She goes up and down like a dream. 

Bad Guys Beware

We’ve just finished installing the BRNKL system from Canada. It gives us peace of mind whilst ashore, telling us if Voila has moved out of its geofence whilst at anchor, if any motion sensors or door sensors have gone off, if any water has got into the bilge and if anyone has run into us. The on board 120 decibel alarm should scare off anyone on board. On top of this we have motion detector lights on the sugar scoops and a video camera that sets off with any movement. For A Little Bit of Mischief (our Dinghy), we have a Yacht-Sentinel monitoring system that does pretty much the same.  But unfortunately its not working and we have had to return it to them in England to see why. 

Sticking to the Bottom

We opted for a 40KG Rocna as we quite liked the Rocna on La Mischief. To this we splurged on 12mm Stainless Steel chain, when we saw how difficult it was to get in to the anchor locker and flake a galvanized chain. 10mm was more than sufficient but I like the extra weight of the 12mm chain on the bottom of the ocean. We added a Mantus swivel so it would swing nicely into position when we brought it back on the boat.

We replaced the woefully inadequate snap shackle on the bridle with a Winchard 2382HR snap hook, on the recommendation of my mate Paul. The bridal needs to be redone as its just tied to the boat and will chafe. We need to get busy with some splicing so that we can shackle it to the boat using two rings spliced in to a new bridal.

We bought a Fortress FX55 as a secondary anchor, to daisy chain off the primary anchor when more holding power is required. 

For the dinghy, Mantus have a neat 2KG anchor pack, that together with some SS chain, makes a nice solution.  

Comfort Pack

Once we worked out we would be moving on board at the end of winter, we added a cockpit tent to our order. It will be also useful to hang the sunshades off when we get around to getting these. 

We went with traditional slats on the 3 guest bedrooms but for ours we went with the Froli system on the recommendation of Michael and a few Youtube channels.

We missed a couple of tricks ordering the factory installed flexiteak (as it is not finished off with nice borders) and a much larger aftermarket cockpit fridge (read beer and wine) could have been fitted in the area provided.

Getting Busy in the Engine Rooms

We’ve had a few friends who have previously experienced engine issues from bad diesel over the years and we were determined not to join them in this misery. So we ordered a Keenan Fuel System whilst we were in the USA and had it shipped from Fort Lauderdale with all our other gear from La Mischief, using East Coast Shipping, which worked well.  Whilst in La Rochelle, we sent Alsino into the Engine Bays to install this very impressive looking system for baby bottom clean diesel. With this system, we can easily swap over to new fuel filter if one becomes clogged, we can polish the diesel in our tanks and we can also pump diesel from one tank to the other to balance things up.

At the same time, Roms helped us source some Automatic Fire Extinguishers for the Engines Rooms and Alsino fitted these. 

Bringing it All Back to The Helm

One of the things that we enjoyed with all our other boats was the ability to do everything without leaving the safety of the helm. The Fountaine Pajots have a different setup with no jammers for the Genoa lines, the Spinnaker halyard, or the Topping lift. Instead they expect you to either leave stuff on winches, organize a visit to the mast and/or remove and replace lines on blocks and clutches whenever you want to use them. Only Reef 1 was automatic, the other 2 needed to be clipped on at the mast, and these two are the ones you use when the weather turns bad and your enthusiasm for gymnastics on a mast step in large seas is at a low point.  

In these situations where major modifications are required, I’m a firm believer in picking the brains of others, and luckily there’s a few Sabas and one Saona who’ve already solved these issues with major Pit Redesigns by the time I got to do mine. Thanks to Quest, Ghost and SY8 for all their input.

There were a few challenges along the way. Pulling off the ceiling panels was the first. NASA would be proud of the glue FP use to stick these on. I employed Loic from La Rochelle to help us out and he came equipped with a range of tools and techniques to get them off without damaging them. Still it took him 2 full days before the last panel came down. 

The next challenge was Brexit. Products from the likes of Spinlock were impossible to order. Luckily Antal came from Italy and the Chanderlies could get hold of these part fairly quickly. However there were still a couple of rollers that we had to go up a size and a 5 way set of rollers became a 2 and a 3. We got Romu to make a Bale for the bottom of the mast to attach five vertical blocks to, and then we needed to get him to readjust the angle of the blocks when he didn’t get it right. As well as the new blocks, clutches, rollers, and frictionless blocks, we bought new dyneema cored lines for the reefing lines so we could go down from 14mm to 12mm and make them run well.  All in all it took Loic a whole week to finish off this project and so far its worked well on our way down to Portugal.  A very necessary and satisfying project. 

We’ve left one clutch free for an outhaul but this will wait for another day. 

Marine Wire – Whats That?

When it comes to tinned wire or heat shrink connectors, the French and Portuguese just wave their hands in the air and say “what are you talking about?”. So to get these you need to go internet shopping in Germany or Sweden. Paul put us onto and I’ve just placed my first order so lets see how it goes. Remember this when you buy a French boat as all the wiring will be non-tinned wiring.

Still on the Drawing Board

Whilst we have been pushing through our project list, we still have some more stuff to do:

  1. Finish installing Lightning Protection system (Uchimata refused to help out here meaning we need to pay for another lift here). 
  2. Install Jet Thruster system.
  3. Connect Keenan Systems installed in each engine room together so we can pump diesel from one side to the other.
  4. Sunshades
  5. Flyscreens on all hatches and portholes (this is proving difficult as Lewmar don’t make them). 
  6. Install Engine Shutoff system for Automatic Fire Extinguishers. 
  7. Install Fans x 10
  8. Install Gas Detection and Shutoff Solenoid for Propane/Butane system.
  9. Fit automatic anchor light
  10. Handrails for stairs
  11. Build workbench in STB Forepeak
  12. Install Bypass Switches for MDI units on Volvo Engines
  13. Install Rose Joint on Steering Arm to stop Flexing and Wear from SS Bolt on Aluminium.
  14. Some Rats and Mice Stuff

Lagoon 421 Review – Improving on the Lagoon 420

Above is an excellent review of the 421 Catamaran from Multihull World. It explains how the Lagoon 421 corrected the problems of the Lagoon 420 that was designed to motor sail rather than sail. To quote the opening paragraph of the article….

Here is the revised and corrected version of the 420. With its less bulky lines and more hydro-dynamically efficient hulls, the 421 should make a name for itself as one of the most widely-distributed catamarans on the market.

Mykonos – Blow your T#@s off

The sail across to Myconos was very uneventful with no wind and a glassed off sea. It can be a nasty crossing so we couldn’t complain.

We decided against going into the marina, instead choosing Ormos Ornos as our anchorage. It’s a 20 minute walk into Mykonos town so not too bad. We anchored in about 7m over patchy sand (in hindsight not the best).

The place is rather crazy at this time of the year – I enjoyed it better last year in October when the crowds had disappeared. It was wall to wall people in the town and the roads were full of crazy drivers on all sorts of cars and scooters.

Mykonos was where we supercharged the Charlie’s Angels formulae up to a 4 to 1 ratio, when we picked up Kim off the ferry. Sherry left a few days later so things returned to a somewhat more manageable 3-1 ratio.

With the 4 girls in tow, I somehow managed to get them all off the boat at the agreed time and onto a short ferry ride across to Delos, where there is a whole ancient Roman city in ruins, some say second only to Pompeii. I’d have to say it would be a long second if that’s the case. But it was still very impressive wandering around. There were a few yachts there anchored in the channel so it’s a good option to take your boat across rather than catch a ferry as we did.

Back from our ancient history tour, we headed back to the boat as the meltemi was starting to build. For the rest of the day, it steadily built all the way up to 45kts. Mykonos is Greek for “island of wind” and it was living up to its name.

About 10.30pm, the anchor drift alarm went off – we’d started to drag. So off we went trying to re-anchor in the dark of night with the wind whistling around us. We re-anchored briefly for about 10 minutes and then we dragged again. We thought about going somewhere else but decided against it.

We pulled up the anchor ready for another shot to find a second anchor (from an old disused mooring) jammed tight into our own anchor. Oh what fun!!!

So the rest of the night was spent motoring in place swinging on a pair of anchors that were not holding. In between we watched another cat drag a couple of times and our mono neighbor, who was maintaining an anchor watch all night, dragged just before dawn.

Morning could not come soon enough. As soon as it did, we were able to see more clearly what we were up against and managed to drop the other anchor off. Then it was off to find another bay. We motored up and down the south coast checking a few out and then came back to the first one – Platys Gyalos.

Turned out to be a very good choice – sandy bottom with good holding – perfect. We anchored in the eastern part of the bay in 3m of clear wind swept water and said our goodbyes to Sherry, before sitting out the rest of the meltemi. The wind managed to peak at 53 kts but this time we didn’t move an inch.

So what did we learn??? Firstly, we need to pay more attention to the bottom. In Ormos Ornos was light weed over sand and “Rod” mentioned there was poor holding in places. I’d snorkeled over the anchor several times but when push came to shove it, Rod was right.

The second thing we did was to break out the second anchor – a fortress – and start playing around using it. I’d done a lot of reading previously on deploying two anchors and came to the conclusion that the best way is to drop approximately 2-3x scope using the primary anchor and then shackel the fortress with 7m of chain to the main anchor chain and then throw it over, before letting out the full amount of anchor chain (scope >= 5x). We’ve done this a few times since and it seems to work well. We sat out another meltemi in Paros using this arrangement. The fortress is a great second anchor and we’ve watched it hold La Mischief on it own several times.

Towards the end of the meltemi, we were confident enough to leave Karin and Kim on the boat and go for a walk along the coast to check out Paranga Beach, followed by Paradise and then Super (Duper) Paradise. At best it was an eye opener, at worst it was somewhere to be avoided. But I did like the gay guy in speedos with the Gucci bag with two toy dogs hanging out of the top of the bag. Should have been brave enough to ask for a photo.

And so ended Mykonos. A crazy island at that time of the year. Overcrowded everywhere, including the roads, overpriced, artificial and not half as enjoyable as when I visited in low season last year. Luckily we had lots of other more authentic islands to visit.

For photos of Mykonos see


Heading North

After dropping off Ewa, the 4 of us decided to rent a car in Gocek and once again headed for Saklikent Gorge. We recreated the trip Ewa and I did earlier and visited the Canyon, the Trout Farm for lunch, the Tlos roman Ruins and then since we had some daylight left, headed for Kayaköy where Anatolian Greek speaking Christians lived until approximately 1923, when the Greeks in Turkey were repatriated to Greece and vice versa for the Turks in Greece. The ghost town, now preserved as a museum village, consists of hundreds of rundown but still mostly intact Greek-style houses and churches which cover a small mountainside. To top off the day, we also visits Ölüdeniz from the land.

Next day, we left Gocek and headed out of Fethiye Limani, anchoring for a lunchtime swim in Kizikuyruk Koyu, which was really beautiful with crystal clear water. Then we hit some heavy weather and labored our way north. It was an hour or two later we discovered a heap of water in our hull as the hatch above the printer was not shut properly. Bummer! A communication problem between skipper and new crew.

We finally made our way around to Ekincik Limani. We checked out My Manina but it was too expensive so we anchored up in 5m. We had planned to take a river trip up to see the rock tombs, but an inoperable printer/scanner meant we needed to head to Marmaris quick smart to get a replacement. So no Dalyman River tour.

Next morning, we left early and headed towards Marmaris before the wind came up.

It was interesting coming into Marmaris again, a bit strange in some ways as La Mischief had spent 6 months there up on the hard. We didn’t however go around to Yacht Marine, just anchored out the front of Marmaris amongst the multitude of gulets, and dingied it into town.

Marmaris is a big tourist town, with its beaches jammed packed with beach chairs that sit in front of numerous beach bars and restaurants. We found our printer shop and headed back to the boat.

We decided we would try a different anchorage so we motored across to Icmeler, where we managed to get out of the meltimi in 5m of water. It was another holiday spot with kite and wind surfers everywhere.

Then it was off to explore new territory north of Marmaris as we made our way towards Bodrum.

Illegal Boat People

Our trip back from Australia was via Dubai and Rome flight, followed by a 3 hour bus ride to Pescara, where Adrian and Anita had left the boat with Steffi’s assistance.

We spent the night at Steffi’s recovering and catching up. Next morning it was down to the boat for an engine service, which took most of the morning.

Brad and Bec arrived by train from Bari at lunchtime, and after a large shop, it was off to Steffi’s to enjoy a swim and a relax before we did the restaurant on the beach night, the last of the season.

Next day, we took Steffi, Adriano and Sarah for a sail along the coast to one of the bays they often went to. Unfortunately it wasn’t a very nice day, with a bit of a swell running, and some dirty water being washed down from Venice, so we didn’t swim much. Still it was nice to be back on board La Mischief putting her through her paces, and it allowed Brad and Bec to get acquainted with La Mischief before we headed off to Croatia.

And next morning we were off, 115nm straight across the Adriatic to Vis Island. We left just before 6am and got great winds. We put up the geneker and took off. By lunchtime, the wind increased to 24 knots and down came the geneker. We needed a reef shortly after but we were going along at 7s ad 8s on flat seas. And we needed to as we wanted to get there before it was completely dark.

We passed the first of Croatia’s islands before sunset and closed in on Vis town as the sun set. We had just enough light to navigate into the harbour and pick up mooring.

By then it was 9pm and we presumed everything would be shut and we would need to wait until the morning to check in. So we stayed put on the boat – the lure of the water front bars would have to wait.

We had a leisurely morning, not wanting to go in too early and find things shut. So we went in t 9.30am and after a bit of a hunt around we eventually found the harbour master at the back of a building up two flights of stairs. We congratulated ourselves for not attempting that the night before as we would have never found it.

We filled in a new vignette listing the crew details and showed them our cruising permit. Then it was off to find the police station. It was equally as hard to find and after asking several people we found their office – no sign except for a note on the door saying to ring 192 if it was unattended.

We went inside and saw the nice looking police woman, who took our passports and then proceeded to tell us we had a problem. It seems we should have checked in with the police as soon as we got to Croatia.

Not sure what the problem was but the cell just around the corner made me hope it wasn’t a big problem.

We were then told to wait outside, which we did. We waited and drank coffee and waited some more. Then she appeared and locked the police station and disappeared somewhere. We waited some more. Then she came back and went in side. We waited some more. Then she asked me (and not the others) back inside.

She explained that I had to pay a fine of 1000 kuna (A$200) but if I paid it straight away it would reduce to 667 kuna plus 100 kuna tax. This was evidently a new rule brought in 2 months ago and I was the first person to be fined in Vis. Great. I had a go at pleading my case but she just kept saying I should have come in and found the police station and rung the number on the door. Yeah right.

Anyway, I paid the fine at the Post Office and then had to take the receipt round to another police station. We decided to head there by dingy but were quickly intercepted by the police boat who were very keen to see we had paid our fine and add to their revenue raising initiative. We gave them our receipt and all was good.

Now that we weren’t illegal boat people, it was time to celebrate our new-found freedom.

For photos of Vis see

Between a Rock and a ….

Sailing from Marina Smir to Gibraltar would be Stan and Judy’s last sail. They’d been great to be on board as we sailed down from Lisbon to the Med.

We ended up completing our exit paperwork at the Marina Smir and leaving about 15min after Kevin and Di. Trying to put the sails up into the wind, we found our wind direction had completely gone potty. So we’d have to sail, judging wind direction the good old fashion way. The 12nm sail up along the East Coast of Morocco was very pleasant, but as we neared the Straits of Gibraltar, the wind started to pick up and we had 35kts on the nose in no time at all. One minute we were sitting on the bow watching the dolphins play between our hulls, the next minute we were rushing to put in a couple of reefs.

Approaching Gibraltar provided us with spectacular views of “The Rock”. The latest theory is that the Rock rolled there from Corsica (don’t ask me how and landed there upside down. Our tack took us slightly east of the Rock so that meant we got a really good view of it coming in.

We hadn’t got anyone to commit to giving us a berth in Gibraltar because Ocean Bay marina was undergoing major works and that was severely limiting the number of berths available. Our strategy was just to call in and see what we could get and then go round to Le Linea (which is just across the border in Spain) as we knew they were pretty empty.

But we were in luck as Queensway Quay marina had a berth for us. This would be our introduction to “Mediterranean Mooring”, where you either hook up to some lines that the marina supply out the front (or drop your anchor if no lines are supplied) and back in between your two neighbouring boats and tie off to the jetty. Then you get out your very expensive paraselle, which gets you from the back of the boat to the jetty. Lets just say it was good to get the first one out of the way.

Next morning, it was time to say goodbye to Stan and Judy, who headed off home to Canada, via Savilla and Lisbon. Then it was off to get the lay of the land. Gibraltar works off Gibraltar Pounds, which are worth the same as UK pounds. Coins are the same, notes are different. It was interesting to find myself secretly liking the fact that it’s so much easier doing stuff in a place where (nearly) everybody speaks English fluently. The supermarket felt like an Australian supermarket – even had vegemite!!!

After a few days, I discovered that all the workers are pretty much Spanish, but chose to work (and sometimes live in Gibraltar, although a lot of them cross the border each day to get to work). I made it across the border a few times in search of phone credit for my Spanish pre-paid SIM cards as you can’t buy credit online unless you have a Spanish credit card – figure that?

Kevin and Di were two boats down and kindly pointed out the ins and outs of Gibraltar. They also make a mean Mojito, which is rapidly becoming my cocktail of choice. But best of all, they took me to Le Bateau, which is a lovely little French restaurant at the marina.

Gibraltar is all about the Rock so the next day, up the Rock I went. Took the Mediterranean Steps which wound its way first around the frond for great views across to Tangiers and then across the back. It’s quite a climb and I was happy to get to the top where I shared the spectacular views with the resident monkey population.

Thursday came and so did the guy from Raymarine. He replaced the ITC5 transducer, and that seems to have fixed the wind speed problem, but the wind direction sometimes misbehaves. I reconfigure it out at sea and that seems to fix it for a while but its gone again since.

The stainless steel guy on the other hand is still coming. You would think 11 days is enough time to organise a tradesman but work seems a little optional in these parts. So still no gas bottle holder for my BBQ.

My last task was to get crew for the passage to Valencia and this took a bit of organising. Eventually I found Mario, who was working in Gibraltar, and Jessica from Frankfurt, both of which were new to sailing – Mario had no experience and Jess had done her day skippers course.

With the crew in place, it was time to say goodbye to Gibraltar and head into the Mediterranean.

For photos of Gibraltar see


It took us a while to cover the 10nm or so into Villagarcia from the head of the Ria. On the way we passed row after row of mussel farms. Whilst the Ria is generally very pretty, Villagarcia is not one of its pretty spots.

But it had good rail access to Vigo if we needed to get parts from there and a good chanderly and hardware store for some boat jobs that were piling up.

But I’d have to say, other than that the town was pretty boring.

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And in the end access to Vigo didn’t even matter because Vicsail advised that we needed to go to the Lagoon owner in Lisbon to effect a repair.


Across the Bay of Biscay to Spain

Once in the Gironde we quickly discovered there’s no a lot of good harbours between there and the Basque country at the bottom of France. And to complicate things, there’s a firing range that extends 45nm out to sea. We also discovered another one further out that the guide books and web sites don’t mention – but it wasn’t in use as there was a ton of fishing boats out there.

With this information to hand, we decided it was time to do our first overnighter and head for Spain. Bilboa seemed to be the logical choice – it was more or less straight down, whereas San Sebastian required us to cut in again.

So Bilbao it was.

We set off at 1pm so that we crossed the bar at high tide and then turned south. Allan and I split the watches between us. We started with 2 hour watches and then pushed them out a bit at night.


Crossing From France to Spain
Crossing From France to Spain

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The wind was annoyingly on the nose but we just got enough angle and didn’t have to do too much tacking, sailing a lot of the way. The swell wasn’t big – maybe 1.5m but it was confused and not as nice as a bigger regular swell that we are used to off the west coast of Australia.

The wind dropped away in the wee hours of the morning but picked up to 30kt as the sun came up and we approached the Spanish coast. We passed a few fishing boats on the way in to Bilbao. The entrance is a little tricky as there is a breakwater that is underwater (but shown on the charts).

Once past the breakwater it’s about 5nm in to the port city of Getxo, where we dropped anchor. We tried calling up a couple of marinas but being a Sunday, nobody there spoke English so we thought we would have a good nights sleep and check into Spain with clear heads on Monday morning.





A New Adventure Commences

Having successfully sailed from Fremantle to Sydney, Camelot’s Excellent Adventure has drawn to a close and its time for a new adventure, bigger, longer, and a bit more daunting.

La Mischief’s Excellent European Adventure steps out of Australia into international waters with different languages, customs and procedures to deal with.

Now finally off my trainer wheels, its time to get the boat of my dreams, fitted out with the benefit of 4 years of experience and lessons learned.