Friday, 8 March 2019

Las Palmas to the Carribean

Just a note from the team, David and I plus English sailing friends, James Tomlinson RYA. OCC and James Robinson RYA Commodore OSC. Sailing Instructor and lots more sailing talent between these two!

Taipans been in pieces in Las Palmas for a week while the team got to work with the unscheduled replacement of the Windlass. It failed to respond to resuscitation after our return from Australia so we replaced it with the Lofrans 3X. The old Orca was a stubborn brute and it took 3 men with hammers, 3 days to demolish it! All the deck was then rebuilt and painted in readiness for the arrival and insertion of the replacement. Another 3 days, and we were finally all ready to go. Provisions were hastily gathered, farewells conducted with PICCOLINA, Steph and Rolf, with whom we had shared many delightful meals and fun evenings during the chaos.

The new windlass hoisted anchor at 7am on the 6th of March and Team Taipan slipped out of the harbour to cross to Grenada in the Caribbean roughly 2800nm

Clearing the islands was a mixed bag of wind and no wind before it started then to build steadily to around 25kn with a fairly bumpy sea for the first 25 hours. A rude introduction after months ashore!!

With about 2500 nm to go to Grenada it's still chilly but Taipan is enjoying the rock n roll. The bottom slime seem to have fled and speeds are improving with some nice favourable current to help.
The Team are settling into watch routine of 2 on at a time for 4 hour watches. We're well fed and pretty well rested and with reduced swell ( about 2m). It's a lot more sustainable.
The wind is from the starboard aft quarter at around 14 to 18kn as I write and we're travelling more west to avoid a patch of heavier wind south if us.

Our exact position is updated every 10 minutes at the link below.

Grenada is an approximation! It's possible we may deviate. Nothing is set in stone. Watch this space!

Friday, 1 March 2019


Taipans Photo Albums 

This is Taipans Satellite Tracking Page. It will open in a new window.

Vessel Finder also has Taipans current possition. 

 Link to Taipans Anchorages and Map.

I will update our position on the map and produce an icon showing our latest anchorage position. The link to Vessel Finder will also be pretty accurate whilst we are within coastal VHF range.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

PUSHING ON WEST. 14th Feb 2019

Here's a long overdue but brief update before we get into the real business of this blog. Sailing.

Elsie Paige
There's been a bit of a gap in the comms as we've had to traipse back to Australia to get me a bionic hip. Sounds a bit dramatic, but went pretty smoothly thanks to the expert surgeon and our wonderful friends who so generously housed and fed us on numerous occasions. In total, we were in OZ for 4 months. Highlights included the birth of our newest grandchild. Elsie Paige, 5th baby of Jason and Ferne. All 8 grandkids are an absolute delight and we had a fabulous time feeding them ice cream, leading them astray, then returning them to their parents.

Our flights both ways were direct from London to Perth, 16 to 17 hours in the air. It was tolerable. We spent 3 days each way in London with friends which was a great break. The flight to Lanzarote from Gatwick was easy and pretty cheap.

Now its all go aboard Taipan, commissioning equipment and scrubbing etc. We are in Lanzarote, the most northeasterly island in the Canaries Spanish island group, with plans to make our way to Las Palmas in the next day or so. Here we will provision and service the life raft before a couple of good friends fly in from London to do the jump across the pond with us.

First ride with the new hip!
I've activated the IridiumGo, which for those long distance sailors out there, is an absolutely fantastic tool, providing us with unlimited...(if slow).. data and 6 hourly forcasts from 4 diferent sources including tracking, free texts, departure planning and weather routing. We also have 150 minutes of free calls for emergencies. We first used it across the north Atlantic and fell in love. 

More soon. Stay tuned!

Sunday, 23 September 2018

INTO THE KASBAH. MOROCCO. . 23rd September 2018

The Cadiz skyline melted into the distance as we motored south from this amazing city. The day was clear and warm with very little wind but it was only 58 easy miles to Tangier, Morocco. 

Evenings were social with Dark Tarn, Phil and Lynne, Sequoia, Barbara and Craig. We filled several nights with fun and tall stories on one another boats.

What a treat we were in for. Very friendly locals directed us to the marina which was so new it didn't show on our charts. It's only been open 3 months. It's a beautiful spacious marina mainly because no one was there save a few small sports boats and 7 other yachts. Three of whom were OCC members. There are over 200 berths. The moorings are med style though, so we were very grateful after our exceedingly friendly and efficient check-in to be given a hammerhead, alongside, berth. Taipan doesn't like going backwards. 

The location is great, with only a short walk to Carrefour and the medina, which was our immediate destination. The waterfront on the marina is new and modern with several nice restaurants on the upper deck. The public is not permitted in the dock area and there are 24hour guards so we felt very safe.

Funky stretched Limo.

Winding lanes strewn with every artefact and smelling sweetly of exotic herbs and spices enticed us deeper and deeper into their maze of small stores. Courted by carpet sellers at every turn and engaging in surprisingly good English conversations with the locals was enchanting. This is our kind of tourist destination! We ate local food at small stalls where the locals eat. (Always safer than the tourist haunts.) Couldn’t decide on a carpet but could not resist the ceramic bowls.  Managed to get away with just those and a few postcards.

Assilah is a small city on the coast about 1 hour south of Tanger and as it was a recommended place to visit.  We elected to get a taxi there and back. The price was reasonable and the trip very worthwhile. It's a charming enclosed town all white with blue trim, very clean and lots of interesting twisting lanes and stalls. 

Our main purpose for visiting Tanger was to renew the  EU VAT status of Taipan. By leaving the EU for a short while you are permitted re-entry for another 18 months. We had a tentative booking at Almerimar on the southern Spanish coast, about 170nm east from Gibraltar. The Schengen clock was stopped while we were in Morocco but restarted when we left.

Departure was a simple and free process and after 4 days we headed to La Linea, Spain right under the great big British rock that is Gibraltar. It's just a short walk across the airstrip from Spain to the UK territory. Checking back into Spain was not so simple. David made 5 trips to the border officials to get stamped in but in the end, we got stamped out!! Really??? It was very frustrating. Back in the anchorage, we waited for the weather to be convivial for a dash to Almerimar. It didn’t happen and the winds were not due to abate any time soon. 

There was suddenly a perfect opportunity to head to the Canaries. With plenty of provisions aboard, full of cheap tax-free diesel from Gibraltar, the first leg of the journey was to Rabat just 79nm away. 

Entering Rabat past this spectacular fort.
This was accomplished in a day sail in pleasant conditions. off the wind, once again. The entrance to Rabat has a bad reputation and can be untenable entirely, should the swell build. Its a bar crossing between 2 large rock groins. The swell was around 1.2m when we arrived and after stowing the sails we called channel 10 and were duly escorted into the entrance by a small pilot boat from the Bouregreg marina. A big dredge is working the entrance and even at low tide we had 4.5m of water. 

There’s a very imposing fort at the entrance of the river and we had been forewarned to have the camera ready. It was just spectacular. Barbary pirates used this as one of their harbours in the 7th to 12 century. The fortress was built in the 11th century and used as a launching point for attacks on Iberia. Rabat is the capital of Morocco, with a population of 1.2 million. It is predominantly moderate Islamic. 

The Kasbar
We were escorted to a very accessible visitors pontoon on the left side of the river and promptly boarded by officials with a translator. Effortless entrance. They only wanted to know if we had a drone! Probably because the Kings principal palace is in Rabat. Off to our hammerhead once again in a modern 250 berth marina.

The trams are state of the art and depart from a station just 100m walk from the marina. This system takes you all over town including the big Medina for a mere 60c per ride. The medina is BIG. Trains from Rabat will take you further afield. We were not unduly hassled as there are not a huge number of tourists here. No cruise ships

It was necessary to purchase at least one Berber carpet and this was a fairly exhaustive process. Pretty heavy selling going on and serious bargaining. We procured 2 rugs in the end. One runner for Taipan and one for home. And I love them both. It was so hard to choose.

All in a days work at the Medina.

Our stop was necessarily brief with the Canaries becoming and Paddy with a flight to catch. Said our farewells and checked out with officials to sail the 460nm to Marina Lanzarote, on the northern island of the Canaries. The passaged was rolly and we were pleased to arrive after a 3-day voyage. We managed to sail for about half the trip as there was quite a lot of light wind early in the passage. 

So here we are in the Canaries. It's warm and dry and looks like fun. Stay tuned for the next adventure.

Taipan Departing Rabat. Thanks, Barbara Johnson for the photo.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

PRESSING ON TO PORTUGAL. 9th September 2018

Sunny days anchored off white sandy beaches thronging each afternoon with seaside revellers. Sailboards and kayaks gliding past on the soft breeze as the light turns pastel signalling the end of another glorious day on the Spanish Galician seaside. Drinks and dinners on one or other of the yachts in the fleet. Lazy days passing far to swiftly. 

Reality bites. Red Roo makes a run for it to meet a deadline in Porto. Sentijn and Taipan tarry, waiting for a little less weather!. Saturday dawns with a gentle offshore breeze as promised and Taipan sleuths out of the anchorage while all the Sentains sleep. They have to grab it while the can because Dean is keeping odd hours at only one and half years old.

Red Roo adventure with family in Porto.

The forecast was a little lighter than we would have liked but we need to make water so the motor will have to run for about 5 hours anyway. Heading south to Lexios 71nm away and it's looking good. However, the wind did die and became very fickle. Every sail change was thwarted by a wind shift. Portuguese fisherman, like all fishermen, have littered the ocean with pots and trailing lines. Booby traps for the unwatchful. Nice to sail but not nice motoring through these fields of floats and ropes.

We think this unusual boat with oars fishes from the beach. There is big surf and tractors on the beach.

Portugal. Arrived in Lexios around 7pm after a good days motor-sailing. There's a great anchorage inside the breakwater. Marina is a bit run down but we lucked out with the weekend staffer. The girl in charge was young enthusiastic very helpful and spoke excellent English. We tried to check in but were told it was not necessary.


The following day we were invited to join the Red Roo team on a family outing up the river to Porto. It was sensational weather and the crew were young, fun and enthusiastic. An altogether perfect way to see Porto. The boat is so full of wine we couldn’t fit any Port on. After 2 nights in the anchorage and with lovely weather, we said farewell to Phil and Marie and headed on south.  33 nm to Aveiro.

Aviro. Misty damp morning but sunrise burning off the vapours. Fishing competition? 

Hundreds of boats in the channel. The wind built from SW and switched more West as the morning wore on. 

Arriving at Aveiro

Hoisted sail around 11.30 pleasant 13 knots at 40deg. Nice sailing. Arrived in Foz in very calm weather. Fueled up on the fuel dock and were allocated a pen. Crosscurrent in the pen forced some rapid fending and fortunately, a couple of local boaters jumped to assist. We made our way into town for dinner of traditional bread stew with seafood. Not one to repeat. A solid sea mist had settled on the marina shortly after we arrived and it persisted through the following morning. We motor sailed most of the day to the marina in Nazere where we had a nice evening aboard Paradise Divide  USA with Grayson and Pat and the crew from Jan USA. Giorgio and Jan. 

Motor sailed again to Peniche. Anchored inside the south breakwater. There was a big diesel slick and smelly fish factories around the harbour.  Lots of speeding fishing boats in and out of the harbour creating big wakes was but sleep was ok.

Early departure. to cover the 46nm to Cascais misty again not great visibility. This coast is famous for its big surf. Dotted with small towns and villages wedged into cracks in the cliffs and many intrepid beachgoers who made the long descent to the water. It was not big swell but there were still a few surfers out on boards. As the day wore on, swell increased and wind on the headland blew up to 30kn. We broke a sheve in the preventer block and the lazy jack quit as we were reefing the main. Otherwise pretty uneventful in such rolly windy conditions.

The headland at Cabo Raso and lighthouse are spectacular and we were lucky the mist was at a minimum.

Overnighted on anchor in the bay at Cascais before making our way upriver to Alcantara Marina nearer Lisborn. Here we had an unexpected family rendezvous which was great fun. Explored some of the sights of Lisbon and left the following morning for Cascais again.

Upriver to Lisborn

Sesimbra. was the next anchorage. There is a13C restored castle on the hill which we didn’t visit, being on a mission to get some miles under the keel. 

Sines. Portugal. Birthplace of Vasco de Garma 
Next stop was Sines, again an anchorage. A little rolly but ok. An early departure the following morning to Cabo Sao Vicente 63nm to the south. Seas were building throughout the day but it remained clear. Stunning rock formations all along the coast. We spent the night in Baleeira. I think it rocky bottom because the anchor chain was growling overnight.

Cabo Roso. 

Water 23 deg. lovely wind offshore for sailing 53 nm along the coast to Ice de Culatra. Rondevous with Mark on Grace Richards anchored in this very sheltered waterway. the island itself is just a big sand island with a lot of huts and some tourist shops. 

In the Algave. Portugals famous beach coast. Loads of tourists and amazing rock formations among the beaches.

We spent 2 nights before heading 55nm east to Huelva  and back into Spain. We were harassed by the Harbourmaster who also moonlights as the marina manager. The marina has had some bad press and so it's almost empty. We were told to go to the marina or go back out to sea. We chose to stay at anchor just outside the marina with a couple of other boats and were not harassed further. Unpleasant though. You can read more on Noonsite about Marina Mazagon.

Entering the waterway inside Ile de Culatra. Good buy Portugal for now.

It was just 45nm to Cadiz from here and we sailed again in light wind and pleasant sunshine arriving at Puerto America in the late afternoon. Cadiz is a wonderful old city with lots to see. It is the oldest city in Europe Western and archaeological remains dating to 3100 years have been recovered. Columbus left on his famous expedition of discovery to the Americas from Cadiz. 

Cathedral of the Holy Cross  More from Wikipedia

It is not sprawling because its set on an island, connected to the mainland by a bridge. It has nowhere to sprawl to so its packed with interesting old buildings, cathedrals plazas, modern shopping, restaurants and bars. 

More beautiful architectural detail.
Scenes from Cadiz

The History Museum, set in one of the many squares has a great archaeological display, Sadly it was all in Spanish with no English translations available. It has been an important strategic and commercial centre since its founding by the Tyrian, eighty years after the Trojan War (1104 BC.)

Cathedral of the Holy Cross 

Our trusty swabby Patrick Nolan from Sydney joined the good ship Taipan whilst we were in Cadiz. We spent 5 days exploring, shopping and provisioning for the next leg to Morocco.

More Portugal pictures here.Portugal photos.

For the Moroccan experience join us again soon.

Thursday, 16 August 2018


Gijon strand

Biscay. Well, that's done, and we won't be doing it again. The passage isn’t far, only 250nm from La Rochelle on the French coast to Gijon on the northern Spanish coast. We chose a window with wind… sailing wind, and that we had, up to 30kn on the nose, also with the horrible messy seas generally associated with Biscay. That the sort of washing machine we expect in the Gulf of Carpentaria in Oz on a crook passage. It took 40 hours to bash our way to the anchorage just inside the harbor of Gijon. A bad pick. But we had been looking at no wind for days. Oh well. Spain. We’ve arrived. Another new country for us.
Gijon. Lovely balconys.

 Gijon is a quite lovely town. It has a  wonderful strand and amazing enclosed balconys. Some really interesting architecture. It's so clean and well maintained. There are bins everywhere in Spain. Great big bins. What a joy for cruisers after the struggles we’ve had in many countries finding somewhere to deposit rubbish. Marinas supply bins but from anchorages, it's often a real drama. One night in the Gijon marina was enough though at €47 per night.

Red Roo sailed into the marina the following morning and we went off exploring together then left to head along the north coast of Galician Spain.  Our first leg was 70 odd miles to Ribadeo where we spent a couple of nights in the pleasant river anchorage and indulged in some local seafood and sightseeing. Octopus is a favorite and can be presented in numerous ways. All of them delicious. Squid in ink and or lightly dusted in flour and served hot and fresh is another popular dish. Yes, Spanish food gets the big tick. Excellent taste and price. Excellent wine and amazingly cheap. Decent wine is only €1.90 + per bottle. Stocking up.

Marie,  ARibaneke, Kris David Jacob and Phil enjoying Ribadeo.

What wonderful anchorages we found. Almost always off some pleasant white beach in clear waters. Mackerel are running but there are only so many mackerel one can eat. The Rias of the north-west corner are a sensational cruising area. Endless pretty anchorages with or without small towns offering a range of little restaurants and supplies and picturesque cobbled streets overlooked by charming stone buildings. Ribadeo to Puerto Alumin. An aluminum port and we were pleasantly surprised what a great spot this was. Perfectly clean and pretty beach. Lots of activity on the beach too. 

Next stop, Carino, before Punta dos Aguillas. This is the last northern headland to round before heading south and into Ria de Cedeira. Cedeira is a gorgeous spot and we stayed several days just soaking up the sunshine.

Taipan in Camino. Photo Red Roo.

Castelo San Philipe in Ria De Ferrol, just 25nm south, provided a decent place to anchor and an entertaining morning was spent exploring the fort. Construction of this arrowhead fort with double layers of cannon commenced in 1557. A concerted attack by the British in 1800, in an attempt to destroy shipyards, was successfully repelled. Its now owned by the Ferrol city council and it’s free to visit. 

Taipan at Castello San Philipe. Ferrol.  Red Roo Photo.

Just a 7nm sail south into Ria Betanzos the next step was Sada. Here Red Roo, Taipan, and Kim, (Jacob and Aneke from the Netherlands,) caught a bus for a short trip to Betanzos. which has one of the best preserved old quarters in Galicia. St Francis Church, erected in 1387  and St James Church, built in the 15th century. The town is on the pilgrim path of the Camino de Santiago or Saint James Way and has partially intact town walls with three of their original four gates. 


If Modernista architecture grabs your attention, one of its stranger creations is on the boardwalk in Sada. This odd Art Deco building resembles a music stand and is covered in musical notes and clefs. Designed by Lopez Hernandez, this curious pavilion of glass and colored ironwork was apparently due to be demolished in Coruna its original location. It was saved and moved to Sada. Thankfully.

Rather than be caught for a few more days we set off south from Sada to round the notorious Cape Finistaire. First we passed the oldest lighthouse in the world. The  Tower_of_Hercules. It sits on a headland just outside La Coruna. 

Not a great trip. Bumpy. We stopped for the night in Laxe but didn’t go ashore. Corcubion was a welcome anchorage after rounding the cape the following day and we sat out a few days of south-west and south winds and enjoyed more of the local fare ashore each evening. 

Passing A Coruna

From Corcubion it was just a short 20nm hop to Muros for a long-awaited reunion with Sentijn. Kara, Dean, and John, who had sailed directly from the western tip of Ireland direct to Spain. Muros is a charming little waterfront town with many second story glassed in Galleria so typical of this area. Galacia is the name of this region of Spain which has roots in Celtic culture with trading links going back centuries. The town is reputedly seeking a UNESCO heritage order to preserve the sunken verandah architecture prominent on the waterfront and a hangover from days when fishermen kept their nets and pots below the house and dragged it out to the boat each day. I guess this was before the walled harbor existed.

Typical sunken Verandah at Muros

Sentijn. Taipan and Red Roo continued to enjoy each others company for the next few weeks. A trip to Santiago de Compostella was organized and entailed a 2-hour bus ride each way but enabled us to take a look at the countryside. There's a lot of eucalyptus forestry, corn crops and numerous small villages along the way. 

Taipan Sentijn Red Roo and the Nudist beach.

Many homes had hórreo in the garden. Most looked a little ornamental but I’m sure many were still in use. A hórreo is a type of grain store built above the ground on sturdy pillars and with a flat stone on the top of each pillar to prevent access by rats. It has venting in the walls to provide air circulation. Corn, potatoes and sometimes ham and fish was stored in them. The first illustration of them appears in a manuscript from 1280. Similar structures occur in southern England and we have also seen a more elaborate form in Tana Toraja, Sulawesi

Horreo. Grain storage in Galicia.

Santiago De Compostela
The Way of Saint James can take one of the dozens of pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela. Our route was to sail from Australia and catch a bus for the last bit!!. There were hundreds of “pilgrims” arriving at the church on the day we visited. The church is enormous and has a coffin with the body of Saint James on display in an underground vault. The pilgrimage to Santiago has never ceased from the time of the discovery of St. James's remains in 812 AD. The earliest records of visits paid to the shrine dedicated to St. James at Santiago de Compostela date from the 9th century. Santiago de Compostela is itself a vast old city and it would take days to fully explore it. We just brushed the edge before heading back to the cooler coast.

Pilgrims in Santiago de Compostela.

The next few anchorages were swimming spots and pretty island beaches. The Ria de Arousa has numerous islands and anchorages with superb little beaches. It was fairly busy at some of these on the weekends but there was always somewhere to go no matter where the wind was blowing from. We didn’t have a lot of wind and temperatures soared into the 30s for several days so the beach was a popular diversion.

Vigo was our second marina stop since arriving in Spain.  We needed to top up our wine supply while here in Spain. They deliver if you get a big enough order!!  Two nights in Vigo marina was enough though and we fuelled up and left for our favorite nudist beach. We had discovered this beach accidentally as we entered the Ria from the north. We spied what looked like a beautiful long white deserted beach in bushland, and so it was until the sun came out and bought with it thousands, if not hundreds of naked people of every age and description. Nevertheless, it was an excellent anchorage and we managed to enjoy the scenery too.

Our time in the beautiful Rias of Galicia is drawing to a close, however. The Schengen Clock is ticking. We are all affected by the inconvenience and intractability of the Schengen visa. Only Phil from Red Roo is immune because he has a British Passport. The rest of us are watching our allotted days tick by. Now, with Red Roo off the meet a deadline, Sentijn and Taipan are sitting in Cangas awaiting nice downwind sailing conditions to make the 75nm leap to Leixoes, near Porto, in Portugal.

Lets hope we get this one right.
More Photos from Spain here. Spain Photos