There was movement at the station …. and it all went south from there.

The opening line from the poem The Man from Snowy River seems perfect: “There was movement at the station……” Because we’ve finally flown the coop. Leaving the familiar and cosy “neighborhood” of Port Ginesta felt both strange and exhilarating at the same time; but a necessary beginning to our journey south. Our progress to date is 400 nautical miles (nm) via Valencia to Almerimar.

Some new experiences included:

  • Setting off!! Still no sailing, but a good test for the motor – which it (almost) passed without a hitch. The azure blue waters of the south western Med have fluctuated between rolly and glassy so far. “Rolly” is a jovial sounding term, reminiscent of a jolly round red cheeked Englishman in a pub, telling funny kind jokes but no; the term rolly is actually used to describe a stomach churning multi directional multi meter undulation/rotation, like a fairground ride that you cant get off!! Luckily we both quite like fairground rides – so the stomach churning has been minimal.
  • Catching my first fish! We caught two Mahi Mahi enroute from Valencia to Almerimar, and of course a HUGE one that got away. (Don’t they all?) We also saw dolphins playing next to the boat, and for a few minutes had the company of a creature with a large fin that was definitely NOT a dolphin. Being an Aussie, my first thought was shark, but Magnus’s more optimistic opinion was that it may be our next meal – a very large tuna. We did not find out – possibly thankfully.
  • Walking part of a Formula One Grand Prix circuit. The Valencia street circuit includes part of the port precinct, and understandably so. The port and beach areas provide truly spectacular vistas of palm lined sand, boats and water wherever you cast your eyes.
  • Meeting some World Champion sailors, and of course only discovering their impressive credentials well after introducing ourselves in a somewhat unconventional method starting with “Hola, excuse me, we are about to CRASH INTO YOUR BOAT!” Not a promising start, but things improved from there.
  • Wearing long pants – cold may be too strong a word, but definitely a tad past mild!
  • Being invited for a “sundowner.” Sounds much for exotic than a drink! (By the lovely people we almost crashed into BTW!)

Weekly highlights:


  • Western Med sunsets and sunrises over glassy water. I am relieved that my compulsion to grab the camera has lulled, and I can just gaze upon them with wonder and delight.
  • Mostly super calm conditions for our first legs, hence limited stomach churning.
  • Visiting the beautiful city of Valencia – the birthplace of paella apparently! (any excuse to sample another variation!) We loved the contrast between cutting edge new, and old – literally side by side. I remember my first visit here in 1991 only very vaguely – but do remember the lightbulb moment when I realised that this is where Valencia oranges came from! They still do it seems.
  • Arriving and exploring Almerimar in Andalusia. A beautiful port with a short history of resort development, so it is heavily anglicised. The first bar we saw was called The Stumble Inn. Apparently the nearby town of El Ejido is the fruitbowl for Northern Europe, employing the use of enormous green houses to maximise production of fruit and vegetables in this arid area.
  • Feeling that the boat is our self contained home that we can visit many places with, whilst always having a familiar base. This feeling fades a little for SOME of us when we run out of chips or candy though….


  • Auto pilot partial failure – no biggie under current circumstances, but yet another problem for the witty engineer to solve in his spare time. (Although we have both been pleasantly surprised at the engineering prowess a certain kinder teacher can display at times!!)
  • Engine failure at a REALLY crucial moment – not safety wise, but cost/face wise. After not missing a beat for 150 nm, our Yanmar stalled as we were in the process of docking at a petrol station, amongst several other boats, hence the unconventional SHOUTING introduction to the friendly Norwegians who turned out to be WC sailors, and super nice people to boot!
  • Some apprehension about coming into completely unknown places to dock, especially in the dark. So far so good! A little bit of cortisol never hurt anyone, surely? And we are still friends, sooo……. all good.
  • Best and worst all at the same time – leaving Port Ginesta, and necessarily farewelling the friends we have made, and neighbors we have met. In particular, Gerard and his team from Aurum Yachts, who sold us the boat, and have been unfailingly helpful from start to finish, and our dear boat neighbor and friend who has also been unfailingly kind, friendly and helpful from day one. There are many others too numerous to mention – but we are eternally grateful for the warmth and generosity extended to us in the port – and we hope to be able to pass those sentiments on in future.
  • NOT watching the AFL grandfinal, after spending quite some time researching possible places to watch the game. This was not easy because our likely location was really unknown until the last minute and when we finally knew where we MIGHT be at 6am on 28.9.19 – of course no pubs were open then. Any hoo….. it is interesting to observe my own heightened patriotism away from home.


  • The captain has a belief that he espouses frequently; that pain is “only weakness leaving the body.” Good to know, but not really of comfort when the pain is yours. But this week he has provided more wisdom and much laughter by extending this maxim to language acquisition…. So actually I needn’t occasionally cry with pure frustration when I cannot understand or express myself in Swedish, those tears of frustration mean only that the English is leaving my body !! I wish I could use the LOL icon here because I really did laugh till I cried when he said this! I can only look forward to the day when I can speak more Spanish than a certain captain I know and love – (although I think that day came several weeks ago.?) so maybe I can use the same line; “don”t worry that it’s sometimes infuriating not being able to speak or understand – that pain is only the Swedish leaving your body” LOL… But on a slightly serious note, I had a small insight into the isolation one must feel when language is a real barrier to communication. Last year when I was really trying to improve my Swedish, we were speaking only Swedish for parts of every day. One day I just wanted to comment on some beautiful clouds above us but could not say even that simple sentence. Of course that was completely unimportant, but I was overwhelmed with the thought that I was actually mute, and that some people are unable to express much more serious things – imagine having a seriously ill child, and not being able to seek help? Or even make a friend that you could talk to in some depth, beyond weather etc. I am glad to have had that small moment of insight – I hope never to take language for granted in the same way.
  • On a lighter note, generally we are pretty grateful to be in reasonably good condition for age – to a point of course…. but we both had to laugh (quite hard actually) when Magnus mistook a digestive biscuit for a cork coaster and almost gave me a cup of coffee on it. Luckily his (not so ) keen eye noticed that one of the coasters was smaller than the other… (because it was a BISCUIT!!!) OMG I am still chuckling!

Food and Bevvy highlights

  • Fresh Mahi Mahi caught by the Almazul team, and cooked by the captain. Fish eaten within hours of being caught is really something! The only problem is that food experiences like that may cause a tendency towards “food snobbery” at restaurants… something an unaccomplished cook like me would NEVER expect!! But if we are lucky enough to go to a restaurant, we are very grateful – any snobbish tendencies are banished instantly!
  • Indian food at at the port of Almerimar – say no more. Nothing left on any plate.
  • Magnus’s home made popcorn when watching a movie on the laptop. He has a gift.
  • Valencian Paella – chicken and white beans, delish!
  • Prima plate served complimentary at an Italian restaurant – salami, prosciutto, olives, and bread, garlic and tomatoes, and of course the obligatory olive oil, sea salt etc. The bread was served toasted, and raw garlic for you to cut and rub on the bread yourself, and eat with fresh tomato. Soooo good. This is a traditional Spanish combination called bread with tomato,”Pan con Tomate.” Of course prompt and friendly service makes everything taste better, but this really was a treat.
  • Orange, mango, and blackberry icecream from a Heladeria. Just that.

Boat work

  • Holding tank installed in port bathroom – this is great because it means one can use the toilet on the boat even when in a marina. This is lucky because we have a bit of walk to the bathroom here in Almerimah – doable of course, but still…
  • Prior to leaving, solar panels and wind generator installed and connected and WORKING!
  • Life raft on, tick.
  • First Aid sorted, safety protocols version 1 completed.
  • Both fuel filters changed, after unexpected stall.
  • New mooring lines.
  • Prototype fly screen made – working well, minimal tweaks required.
  • Autopilot commissioned – apparently it was set up for a motorboat? Sea trial now required to see if the problem is solved.

Popeye and Olive Oil need MUCH more spinach!!

Almazul has been on dry land this week, and therefore so have we.

She now has a super slick bottom; sanded, primed, and antifouled –  thanks not only to our own elbow grease and grit, but to some shoulders stronger than ours. We must thank Aurum Yachts, and in particular a gentleman technician (let’s call him the GT) who has led the work and physical tasks and also gently guided us with humour and goodwill through many technical areas in Spanish and French, which are not our strongest suits you understand… Luckily he and Magnus “found each other” while bonding over the cantankerous dinghy motor in the workshop the week before the boat was lifted from the water, and so all the problems that inevitably arose this week have seemed smaller with his unfailing assistance.

I have discovered that sanding machines are MUCH heavier than they appear! After day 2 of sanding Almazul’s (suddenly gigantuan) 47ft hull, my deltoids were sore to touch, like one enormous bruise… (argh…pass the spinach!!) My daughter assured me that this did not mean that I am getting old, (the obvious conclusion…hello!) but instead that I am getting strong!! (soo kind and encouraging!)  I hope she’s right – thanks Lara xxx

The Captain was also a little weary…but the GT seemed unstoppable with the sanding machine! (he eats more spinach, obviously..)

Autumn has arrived in Port Ginesta….albeit it in short bursts, but there has certainly been a distinct change from months  of fairly consistent baking hot days. The cooler temps were welcome when we had the boat up in the yard, but the fierce wind from the NE made an impact on the final  paint finish I think.

It’s hot again now though. We hadn’t been to the beach for weeks, and the water temp has reduced significantly, not to mention the crowds! Now there might be 5 others in the beach at a time, as opposed to squeezing through hundreds of people to get to the water. The colder water is not good news for a slightly woosy Aussie. But I have to say that nearly 30 degree water temp is really something else!

Some new experiences this week included:

  • Working in the varadero (boatyard) alongside the pros!
  • Getting into the car without having to open the windows for several minutes first to allow the inside temperature to reach under 50 degrees, and the added bonus of not gently searing our thighs on the leather seats, or inadvertently branding ourselves with the seat belt clip. My childhood summers in a white Holden Kingswood HG station wagon have often come to mind.
  • Wearing a long sleeved shirt, and jeans, jumper, down jacket and SCARF!! OK admittedly I was probably the only one wearing a scarf, but 17 degrees is a long way from 39!
  • Sleeping in a camper in a carpark for a week. It was very kindly loaned to us by our generous boat neighbor. (fond memories of a European jaunt long long ago in a baby blue Bedford camper emerged from the fog…)
  • Buying fishing gear! We really hope to catch some tuna – no excuses now.



  • Completing the boat work in the yard. It was hard work but satisfying, and we certainly know more now than when we started.
  • No damage to the boat during quite a severe storm while it was up on stands. Last time we had a storm our Bimini top was torn but we still felt we got off lightly, this time we were even luckier.


  • Absorbing an unhealthy amount of anti fouling paint through our skin, and sometimes our food, even from freshly scrubbed hands.


  • Almazul’s blue soul seeping from our pores for days….The dust from the hull was EVERYWHERE and kept coming, even after very thorough showering! Magnus WAS Pappa Smurf – the skin, even the beard!
  • Friendly kids trying to high 5 me when cycling past on the esplanade on their way to football training. What were they thinking!? There I was, cycling along, minding my own business, when some crazy 10 year old rode pretty much straight at me, holding his arm outstretched!! It was all I could do to dodge him AND stay upright!! By the time I regained my composure (well balance anyway) I saw his brother, also aiming straight at me with arm outstretched, palm out. Aaahhh!! But then FINALLY the penny dropped, and I realised they were trying to give me a high 5 on their way past!! So I obliged as far as possible. My feeble attempt drew a cheer from the boys, and I wobbled crazily away, trying to regain my, ahem, composure! OMG I laughed and laughed afterwards, mostly with joy at not falling off, but also at my initial misunderstanding. (Because really I was picturing a call to Triple 0 (or 112, 911, you get the idea) to remove a grazed and bleeding 50 year old inconveniently causing a traffic hazard in the middle of an otherwise beautiful pedestrian esplanade beside the Med.) Luckily there was a happy, not a messy ending.
  • The Yugoslavian boat painter from the next boat in the varadero talking to me wholeheartedly for big chunks of conversation in Spanish. I repeatedly told him I was very sorry but I didn’t understand (in my best Spanish) but he indicated that either I could understand with my eyes or he could tell in his eyes that I could understand… whichever… Nuances are lost, obviously. But anyway, he kept happily talking and laughing, no problems. This was several days after we had exchanged in my broken Spanish that I am from Australia, and did not speak Spanish, but like to try. He told me he was from Yugoslavia, and no doubt many other things. 🙄
  • Inadvertently beginning a deep philosophical discussion in a local chandlery (boat supplies shop) while attempting to buy possibly methylated spirits. This happened when the GT suggested a solution to a BIG priming mistake I had made. (Note to self; apparently it is best to stay on ONE side of the masking tape…. ) After some lengthy hand gesturing, brow furrowing conversation – he suggested white spirits. So off I trotted to the chandlery armed with “trusty” google translate. Some staff speak English, some none, but all are super kind. This was a “none” day. Strangely, google translate did not really serve my purpose on this occasion, but did bring some midday mirth. Tony, one of the “nones” had to explain to me that he did not in fact sell any ethereal beings, so I was out of luck with the spirits!! Thigh slapping laughter precluded further talking, but luckily an English speaking customer kindly offered some translation, and I bought some dissolvent. Job done.

Food and Bevvy highlights

Because we were boatless, we ate out a bit this week. We had to leave the boat by 8pm every night, and being homeless, had some time to kill before retiring to the camper. So more restaurant highlights than usual!

  • Dinner at La Taberna de Port Ginesta – perfect! Casual, cosy, warm and the food! Pork medallions with Roquefort sauce and squid ink noodles with mussels and scallops. Mmm! Our meal finished with a cappuccino, because there was no hot chocolate, and according to the Spanish waiter they are “almost the same” anyway. The cap had a twist though – the brown powder on top was not chocolate, but cinnamon and nutmeg! Unexpected but surprisingly pleasant. The whole meal was delish AND cheap!
  • A very nice verdejo reminiscent of a Giesen or Stoneleigh Sauvingon Blanc at a local cafe called Rosados, and it was the house white! This accompanied razor fish, among other things. I had not had razor fish before Spain – but now we are both devoted fans of this delicate shellfish.
  •  Magnus’s near best hot dog experience ever! Another local port cafe specialises in hot dogs, and also have excellent hot chips. These are served with every condiment you could wish for – which has been a rare experience here? The first time I ordered the chips (with no glasses; rookie mistake) my chips arrived in a bag, on a plate. I had ordered “bolso de papas frites” not “patatas fritas” as intended. Another chuckle.
  • A banoffie cheesecake at an American style hamburger place – again, a little unexpected, but very good!
  • Lamb chops like I would cook on the bbq on my verandah in Oz…. complete with my “famous” potato salad (my kids are too kind) and a green salad with honey mustard dressing. ( a la my cuz Melinda) I had a real hankering for those familiar tastes and smells.

Contrary to the lamb meal, our food philosophy is to try to eat what other people do here, and not try to replicate or find things that are familiar – but sometimes this happens….. tomorrow we plan to drive to Ikea to stock up on Kalles kaviar before we leave here. We can only do our best!


Boat work

  • We learned that we have markers on the side of the boat where the slings to lift the boat should go. And that we need to know where these are. I thought that the boat yard guys would know, but it is our responsibility to know where the slings should be. Now we do.
  • Cleaned and sanded the whole hull.
  • Sealed exposed metal
  • Fixed glass and gel coat in bow prop hole
  • 2 coats of primer
  • 2 coats of Anti fouling
  • Replaced through hulls and valves

Piece of cake? But NEARLY ready to go! We are currently swinging between heading straight for Valencia, or going to Ibiza. We have strong encouragement from many locals not to miss the Balearic Islands, including Ibiza since we are so close… but we have not yet made a decision.

NB – I am not sure where my desire to use “NT News” headline like blog titles comes from, but I am running with it! Shame there are no crocs anywhere nearby… (well not really a shame, but this reduces the dramatic titles!)

(For the non Aussies, The NT News is a newspaper published in Darwin; the capital of the Northern Territory in Australia – and it always seems to have wildly attention grabbing headlines, usually involving an unfortunate incident with a crocodile. These incidents almost always involve foreign tourists BTW)

Crunch time for the man and the mast!

Making progress this week has felt a bit like wading through mud or trying to herd chooks! 🙄 Our jobs list is growing like Jack’s beanstalk at one end, as fast as we tick things off the other!!

We are preparing take the boat out of the water to paint the hull with anti fouling, replace through hulls etc – all the jobs that can’t be done in the water. We also hope that the frame to hold the solar panels and wind generator and dingy davits etc will be done this week.

Some new experiences this week included:

  • Aussie visitors! We had a super fun time with our first AUSSIE visitors, Per and Wendy! (Well Per may still be a little bit Swedish, but really as Aussie as they come after 30 years!) Our guests joined us over the weekend at the end of their trip through parts of Europe. By the time they reached us their step count for the month blew our minds- they had covered many miles on foot – and most of their walking miles included significant changes in elevation it seems!
  • Having legs waxed in Spain…..


  • Aussie visitors!
  • Visiting Llafranc, as suggested by Per. Llafranc is a beautiful little town about 2 hours north of Barcelona, with a pretty beach, and refreshingly cool water. The lively cafes provide a colourful backdrop, and lend a friendly vibe. The clifftop walk that departs the south side of the beach is truly spectacular!
  • Scaling the mast for real many times, and solving many problems with lights, wiring, halyards, windex etc


  • Bleeding blisters from winching the Captain up the mast – not on my hands, but inside of right knee from bracing so hard against the cockpit wall … but I toughened up after day 1 – no more bleeding! (Also…. I went up more often, and let the Captain do the heavy lifting sometimes, shoulder permitting.)
  • Uncertainty about our possibility to actually cross the Atlantic after reaching the Canary Islands. So much is unknown for us with regard to Magnus’s shoulder recovery. Further injury would really be unwise for long term shoulder function, so we need to minimise risks as far as we can. We will know more as we begin to sail I guess. Uncertainty is of course part of the adventure, but there is a fine line between struggling with constant uncertainty, and embracing the exciting adventurous part of this unknown.


  • The Swedes cackling wholeheartedly at their own old Swedish jokes, and then cackling even more at their inability to translate them to make any sense in English. (who is Bellman anyway?)
  • Me still being a little chuffed that you can buy real Nikes at the supermarket!
  • Meeting a pet pig called Ellie in Barcelona on a Saturday afternoon, hanging around the leafy streets that surround Sagrada Familia, as you do!
  • Aforementioned leg wax, performed by the same technician who coloured my hair last time. I suspect he may moonlight as a sumo wrestler, because I think most of my leg hair was removed by the sheer force of his application of the wax ….he really put his back into it! The wax was dispensed from a squeezy bottle. Whaat? Because I am a newbie to Spanish leg waxing techniques, and completely at a loss when it comes to an added Vietnamese twist-I do not know where this sits in terms of normal procedure. However, I did feel the need to stay out of the sun and salt water for a few days – as I think my legs were missing several layers of skin post procedure! Cheap though!👍😂
  • Watching my friend Wendy in action, expertly working her cheeky feminine charm, with the occasional perfectly timed toss of her beautiful silvery locks to garner special privileges for us, most fortuitously access to a luxurious private hotel toilet – instead of having to find a one euro coin, and then a filthy public loo in Barcelona!! You go girl!

Food and bevvy highlights:

  • Fresh tuna, caught in the Mediterranean by our neighbour on her way back from Ibiza – cooked and eaten with jetty neighbors, accompanied by a very nice rose brought by another neighbour.
  • Seafood paella at Castelldefels in super company, and a seafood platter eaten in the same good company in Barcelona
  • Verdejo was our choice with the paella, and we discussed and trialled the merits of beer, a caprinya, or a cheeky Tempranillo with the fried seafood. Personal preference was the decision- all of the bevvies had something to add to the food.
  • Creamy chicken w pesto from the pantry…because cream is all you need, The Beatles almost said?
  • A dark Nestle chocolate “Dolca” accidently discovered in Carrefour, kind of like Old Gold? In the “amount you can eat at one sitting” measuring scale of deliciousness – it was half gone in one evening ….. enough said.

Boat work:

  • Changed engine prefilter.
  • Pulled muffler apart and with Per’s help, identified the source of a water leak. We will need to replace a part or the whole muffler
  • Garmin in reach arrived
  • Solar panels arrived
  • Harness arrived.
  • Mast work! We went up the mast probably 10 times? This was worthwhile though, because we got better at the process, and managed to replace the deck and motoring lights, and replace the globe in the anchor light, put up a new windex, and run another halyard. The light fixing involved Magnus solving a wiring mystery – which really required Sherlock Holmes like instincts!
  • Resealed front hatch, this is the second attempt to fix a leak. Also tried to sika some parts of the cockpit.