International Rescue

September 7, 2012

But I’ll come to that a little later on…… 


We stayed in Port Vendres until 27 August when we sailed back down to Cap Creus to the anchorage we’d left to go to Port Vendres.  We intended to stay for a couple of night before heading back to Cadaques but I was woken by the sound of a rising wind at about 04.30.  The wind had decided to get up early and from the north, blowing us on to the shore; as we were only about 5 metres from the rocks, held by lines ashore, we decided to leave promptly.  20 minutes after waking up, we were lifting the anchor having freed all the lines and recovered the second anchor.  Who says adventure is gone from modern life?  Not for us!  Just navigating out of the anchorage in pitch darkness, (no moon, stars or shore lights) was somewhat un-nerving  as you simply couldn’t see the shoreline and had to rely completely on the chart.plotter.

Arriving in Cadaques under lowering skies


We motored round to Cadaques through the growing light under what could only be described as a threatening sky.  Low, dark clouds and vivid lightening strikes on the shore made for an exciting trip, lightened only by being joined by a small pod of dolphins for part of the trip.  Once securely anchored in Cadaques, we retired to bed to catch up on our sleep whilst a couple of thunderstorms tracked through the area.

Classic cigar-shaped clouds presaging a tramontana wind


The following day, the long range weather forecast was distinctly gloomy with a tramontana wind forecast to arrive the next day and blow for about a week.  After pondering on this for a bit, we decided that, whilst the Rocna would probably hold out, it would not be a comfortable experience so we would move round to Roses marina and sit the wind out there.


We made the trip under sail and arrived there early afternoon, along with a southerly wind which made berthing difficult.  An over-keen marinero in a RIB did help us to avoid dinging our neighbours’ boats but manage to break our forward navigation light in the process.


The waterfront at Roses looking across the bay to the marina


Roses is a pleasant enough town but quite large so we got the bikes out of the cabin for the first time since arriving in Spain to explore the place.  Since they were well buried at the back of the port cabin, (our main storage area) this led to an unscheduled sort out and re-stowing of the entire contents and took most of the afternoon.  The town is of two parts: the area by the coast is very touristy, full of cafes and T-shirt shops, whilst there is a separate little commercial centre which supports the inhabitants of the town.  Thankfully, this was quite close by the marina, so it wasn’t too far to walk to do the shopping.  There was also a very good hardware store where I was able to replace some bits and pieces that had been used up during the summer.


The wind begins to make itself felt


The wind arrived 12 hours later than forecast but did it arrive!  Initially J, always reluctant to pay marina fees unnecessarily, queried the need to be there, especially when she spotted a German yacht anchored off the beach, outside the marina.  However, as the wind built we agreed that it looked distinctly uncomfortable.  As the weather worsened, his anchor dragged and he had to be rescued by the Salvamento Maritimo and brought into the marina at which point J began to think of it as perhaps money well spent……


The German yachtsman being interviewed by the Cruz Roja prior to being recovered into the marina.


I reckon that it was about 30 – 40 knots most of the time but gusting every now and then to over 50 knots.  This went on for the next 5 days with little relief; most of the time it was sunny, although we did get one day of fairly heavy rain, but the wind was relentless.  It blew sand off the beach onto the boat and there was a constant fine spray blown off the sea onto the boat, coating it in a nasty brownish film.  The bikes also suffered the same fate and the wind was so strong we didn’t bother trying to use them.


Note the angle with the quayside as the boat is heeled even tied up in the marina, as the wind blows against the bare poles.


We spent time on board doing various jobs including making new mosquito nets for the main hatches in the saloon and forward cabin and for the companionway hatch.  The brass got polished, we repacked various cupboards and lockers, throwing away unused junk and generally read too many books.  As the wind began to ease we did venture out and took a walk along the coast one afternoon,went kite flying another day and on the final day we managed to have a bike ride. 

 Eventually, the wind died away and we had a day in the marina to clean up the boat and stow everything away before we left yesterday (6 September) with a few days in hand before we have to be in Badalona to meet up with my sister, Susie.   I should mention that we stayed away from the beach throughout most of our stay in Roses to avoid being sand-blasted but J was obviously missing her daily swim because the day before we left she suddenly, without warning, threw herself into the water.  We were supposed to be heading for the supermarket and a replenishment of our supplies, prior to departure but this had to be postponed while she had a hot shower and recovered her equilibrium.


J looking soggy after her unscheduled swim in the marina


Our intended anchorage was to be Cala Fornells, about 20 miles or so south of Roses where we had stopped with Maggie and Colin on the way north about a month before.


Now we come to the International Rescue bit…..  As we entered the cala, we noticed a pair of men in a small inflatable struggling with a reluctant engine, so we headed over and asked if we could help.  They accepted the offer and so we passed them a line; they asked if we could tow them about a mile back up the coast as that is where they had left their car. 

Towing the fishermen’s dinghy – note the bottom which is threatening to come away completely.

We started the tow but I noticed they were looking uncomfortable in the boat, so we stopped and got them and some of their kit on board “Rampage” and restarted.  Soon after that, I noticed that in addition to a reluctant engine, most of the bottom of the inflatable had come away from the tubes, so we stopped again, shortened the tow so the boat was mostly out of the water and retrieved the last of their possessions.  We then made good speed to where they wanted to be; we picked up a buoy and used our dinghy to tow theirs to the shore and then to deposit both of them safely on land.  Job done. 


Duncan tows the first of our rescued fishermen ashore in their damaged dinghy

As a thank you, they offered us their day’s catch; we declined most of the fish, as it was simply too much for us to eat before it would have gone off but we did get a fine pair of sea bream, which we had for supper that evening.  J also insisted on going for her usual swim now we were finally back at anchor and found it rather more pleasant than Roses marina.


D prepping the fish for supper

Today, we are in a small bay just south of Tossa de Mar anchored with a couple of other boats and just a comfortable day’s sail from Badalona.



  1. What an exciting life you do lead and good on you for helping out the fishermen in distress. I’m glad you got a reward of yummy bream. John and I have been invited to go out for a day’s trip on a Thames sailing barge heading for those strange maritime forts off Whitstable which look like something out of The War of the Worlds.

  2. OMG what fun you have!!! It looked as though even I with my cast iron tummy would have felt a bit sick in that wind. Hope the sail to Barcelona is nice and calm for you X

  3. Tossa de Mar, tee hee hee. X

  4. Well done, Thunderbird 9.

  5. Hi J and D,
    Found your address by chance while looking for something else and have been busy for the past hour mainly looking at photos of you and the family, how good to see you all !!! It’s been sooo long since I’ve seen any of you ……
    All is well here in Denmark with me and the family. I now have 9 grandchildren and do still travel a bit, but haven’t been to England, sort of lost contact. Latest on a cruise ship to Norway, only 5 days but very very nice, one night with a lot of high waves, and many seasick people, luckily NOT me.We were told the next day that the waves were up to 10 meters high during the night.

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