Trials and Tribulations

September 29, 2009

Ah well, sometimes we have to remind ourselves that we’re living the dream! The past few days haven’t been too great: I mean, lets keep it in context, nobody’s been hurt or anything but things generally haven’t been going too well.

Lets start from our last quick update from Cartagena. We left there on 25 September, heading for Torrevieja, which was about 40 miles away. We didn’t get much sailing done, as what little wind there was was straight on our nose. We motored most of the way, managing to sail for the last couple of hours when the wind finally decided to play.

Torreveija is a large harbour, originally built to accommodate the salt trade from the big salt pans just inland. Today, the salt bit of the port is limited to a single quay just inside the entrance. The remainder of the area enclosed by the breakwaters is given over to a small fishing port and 3 large marinas. We stopped at the newest one, Salina Torrevieja, which has only been finished for a year or so.

Amazing service, including finding us to return our dropped keys and a good price. The place was reminiscent of Corunna in as much as is was only about ½ full but clearly hoping to improve occupancy rates.

It was here that the first of our minor disasters happened. In a fit of generosity towards the computer, J decided it needed a drink and poured a glass of red wine all over the keyboard….. Not too much of a panic one would of thought but the hangover the machine developed over the next couple of days was amazing.

The following morning we did a quick shop at a local supermarket and left for about 11am. We were headed to a place called Villajoyosa, about another 40 miles up the coast. Initially we had little wind and that from the wrong direction but we’d put our faith in the augury of the wind gods (otherwise known as GRIB files) which predicted nice steady easterlies for the afternoon. Sure enough, we rounded the headland and turned north just as the promised winds arrived. We sailed under full mainsail and genoa all the way to Villajoyosa, putting in just one tack to bring us into the port for about 8pm.

After a minor telling off from the marinero (berthing master) for not contacting him by radio before we arrived, we settled in for a quiet night.

The computer was by this sage beginning to sulk and the administration of healing help didn’t seem to offer a solution. Letters were stopping working, the touch pad had become a touch erratic and it was clearly suffering from a serious dose of alcohol poisoning. Hence no update before this one; trying to write anything on the machine had become more than a little difficult.

On 27 September we consulted the oracle and decided to give our next destination a go. We were aiming for Denia, round the final major cape before Barcelona. We would also move on to the last chart of our trip.

Ah we must have misinterpreted the oracle, as the wind gods were against us. The port itself was calm and there was little wind in evidence but once we cleared the harbour wall, there was an appreciable swell from the east and the wind started to build.

Seeing as we were heading east for the first few miles then on a more northerly heading, we decided to tack south and make ground so that we could then come on to a northerly tack and get up towards the cape. We progressively put one, then two and finally all three reefs in the mainsail before deciding to drop it altogether and continue on just the genoa (and we reduced the size of the genoa to about 2/3 of normal). We were still doing in excess of 6 knots with just this small sail up and seemed to be making good progress on our southerly tack.

Once we’d gone about 6 miles out from the land, we decided to tack to the north and see what course we could hold against the wind. It rapidly become obvious that we would not be able to make any realistic progress to the east that day. We couldn’t get close enough to the wind to hold on to the ground we’d made on the other tack, so reluctantly we decided to head back to our starting point. We arrived back about 3 hours after we’d left having covered in excess of 15 miles through the water, although only 13 miles over the ground. It was fun whilst it lasted but quite tiring!

We’ve decided to listen the wind gods before setting off again and think we’ll be leaving here on Wednesday. Keep you fingers crossed for us, as we really do need to push on and make the last bit up to Barcelona before the Ruins descend on us.

Having updated you all on our sailing, J thinks that I should let her loose now so that she can fill in the bits round the edges and tell you what we’ve been doing ashore and alongside…

… We were thankful to have returned to the marina yesterday before the most almighty thunderstorm broke. D spent most of the afternoon unsuccessfully trying to coax the laptop to behave and J went to sleep! We felt frustrated, both about the computer and not being able to continue our journey. It is fair to say that we had not appreciated, before we left home, just how vital the computer would prove to be. Not only do we use it for compiling this blog but also, pretty well daily, for emails, banking, Skype phone calls, weather forecasts and other on-line facilities plus games, dvds, letters, downloading photos etc.

By this morning we had both come to the conclusion that life without a computer was just too difficult so we decided to bite the bullet, claim on the insurance & replace it. D had spotted signs for a Carrefour hypermarket so, accordingly, this morning we pedalled to Benidorm in search of a new laptop. Those of you who have been to this part of Spain will possibly be aware that it is quite hilly as soon as you get away from the shoreline. I was extremely pink in the face by the time we found Carrefour and prepared to buy almost anything rather than come back empty-handed. We could ill-afford the expense but harmony has, this evening, been restored as we are now the proud if impoverished possessors of a new laptop. Returning to Villajoyosa, the heavens opened & we were completely soaked cycling back to the marina. Thankfully it is not cold – just Very Wet! We will try to have the other laptop repaired over the winter to act as a backup but have no idea whether this will be possible. We shall certainly have to be very frugal and are more thankful than ever that we finally have tenants in the Chapel.

Our erstwhile companion, David, as mentioned before on this blog, was an extremely easy man to please. Aside from any other considerations, he was prepared to eat just about anything that we put in front of him, though he was not wild about potatoes, and confessed to me once that he didn’t terribly like very spicy food. It is just as well therefore that he has not been with us over the past couple of days: yesterday after returning to the marina, having no fresh food on board and it being Sunday evening so all the shops were shut, we dug out a tin of M&S Bolognese. D decided to “liven it up” & turn it into a chilli but adding kidney beans and chilli powder. He was however a little heavy-handed with the chilli and we both had streaming eyes & noses by the end of the meal. This evening I decided to make a Chinese stir-fry and quite unintentionally succeeded in making it if anything, even spicier. We sat moping our brows and D, in a moment of mild hysteria, picked up the wine bottle rather than his glass, and took a large slug! It reminded us of a happy day in Aviero when the aforementioned David, in a moment of absent-mindedness, went to drink straight from the carafe rather than his glass. It should be pointed out however, David, that Duncan did at least commit his gaff in private and not whilst dining in a restaurant!

Our apologies if our blog entries are rather long; we have different ideas about what may interest our readers and therefore some of you may skim through some sections and others through different parts. Do let us have your feedback & comments & we will do our best to keep this entertaining.

Apologies for there being no pictures for this post but the photos are all on the other computer.  More next time I hope.



  1. Commiserations about the computer and the lack of wind. I once poured coke (the brown stuff not the white stuff) over a keyboard and it had to be consigned to the never-never bin, so hopefully that will not be the fate of yours. What is your deadline for Barcelona and the Ruins? I thought it was half-term but maybe it’s sooner than that.

  2. I’ve been following your blog with interest. A real advenure!

    Shame about the computer, can’t believe Duncan didn’t manage to fix it – although I bet it’s still aboard and will be a project for Dunca over the winter.

    Good luck with the rest of the journey.

  3. Re. rather long blog entries: perhaps you could colour code according to subject? hee hee xxx

  4. I’ve followed your progress with interest. Look forward to the next instalment.
    love Betty

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