We just came back from sailing for two weeks with Mahina Tiare III on one of their expeditions from Cascais, Portugal to Palma, Mallorca. We applied to join them 2.5 years ago, so we were very excited when the day finally came to fly to Cascais and spend a few days there as well as in Lisbon. We enjoyed the history and spectacular sights and of course the food. We had found the apartment on Airbnb, an excellent way to feel at home when travelling.
The streets of Cascais
August 3, 2017
We came aboard John & Amanda’s beautifully maintained Hallberg Rassy 46 on a Thursday. John K from Texas, U.S., and Nils & Mindy from U.S., currently living in UAE were also with us onboard. Immediately we took off, with Eva at the wheel heading south. We sailed 30 Nm to an anchorage where we had a wonderful dinner. We continued 120 miles south to Portimao during the cold night under the moon and clear sky. We learned a lot already with reefing sails, using the whisker pole and one of the crew, John K, did 10 knots in the downwind sailing! Arrived in Portimao the following day at about 4 pm. It was so hot and there was no breeze. We got fuel and John checked us in, which took a while. We quickly went ashore and found the showers, that felt heavenly. When we sat down in the shade and ordered an orange juice the ground still felt like it moved, from our first 24 hours at sea.
August 5, 2017
Eva’s turn to be the navigator, so she plotted the trip to Gibraltar, 175 miles on the chart. We had very little wind, but we were happy to see tons of dolphins around the boat, and we saw flying fish. In between our watches we studied.
We had classes with John & Amanda, as well as reviewed ourselves. To make sure we had understood it all, we answered questions in a test pamphlet, which wasn’t always easy as learning this in English was new to us. We were also involved with checking the weather continously and to do so we could use Windy as we were quite close to shore and could pick up internet most of the time. Eva was on watch on Sunday the 6, when we went through Gibraltar Straight, and it was just amazing to see the sunrise and the two continents Europe to our port and Africa to our starboard.
Coming in to the Ocean Village Marina in Gibraltar was quite exciting as the runway was right next to us and lots of planes filled with tourists kept coming continously.
We went ashore and started off by having a proper fish & chips lunch in one of the cute places on the walking street. Then we took the cable car up to the top of the big rock. The monkeys – or rather macaques – were all over the place, and had no fear of us tourist walking around them. There were lots of new cute tiny babies clinging to their mommies.
While walking trying to find our way around there with maps, both on our phones and on paper, it was absolutely impossible to find the right way and we got lost. So we basically saw everything there is to seewhich was quite spectacular! It took us the whole day, and when back on the boat we could feel those 16 000 steps in our legs!
I had a chance to try my Scrubba and my homemade laundry detergent that evening to get some clean clothes. That evening John brought out their song book and we had a fun evening of sing-along in the cockpit under the full moon.
Aug 7, 2017
Woke up and Eva did some yoga on the aft, which felt so good after all that walking. We had fog most of the day to our next destination – Benalmadena, so it was great to have the radar on to know where other vessels where. It was 56 miles away, so it was a short sail. This was not one of our favorite places, as it was packed with charter tourists along the shopping area in the harbour. We didin’t even make it into town.
Aug 8, 2017
Started the day with yoga again, which should be a routine! Sailed the whole day with good winds and quite big waves, so we did a lot of sail changes which was educational. Anchored outside Cabo de Gata where it was very rolly. We had delicious salmon for dinner, and Eva managed to get a bone stuck in my throat. Tried all tips and tricks to get rid of it, but nothing helped. Went to bed early in hopes it would find its way down itself.
Aug 9, 2017
When my watch started at 2 am, and we were heading out the bone was still there. Luckily, Mindy, who was a qualified nurse came to my rescue and got this out and it felt so good! It wasn’t the easiest thing for her, beacuase it was still quite rolly.
We were so lucky today to see pilot whales! It is amazing to see this big animals swimming next to the boat, and I wish we could respect them a bit more and not pollute their oceans they so kindly share with us.
Arrived to Cartagena to a very nice marina. Went for a walk in the marina area in the evening.
Aug 10, 2017
Cartagena is a very interesting town. In the 1990’s they found the ancient amphi theater, which we went to see. The museum was very nice and informative. We walked around the historical town and had a typical Spanish lunch in one of the walking streets.
Hurried back to continue our journey. We anchored just outside of Cartagena and went swimming in the warm water. Sailtrim lesson and dinner ended this wonderful day.
Aug 11, 2017
2 am, my watch again, and off we went. Lots of fishing boats everywhere, so Amanda, John and Eva had to be alert with radar on. The wind was against us so we motored. Todays lesson was anchoring.
We anchored outside Moreira, north of Benidorm. We went swimming in the warm water again.
Aug 12, 2017
Slept until 6 which felt like sleeping in! I thought the nightwatches would be really difficult, but it was never a problem getting up. Today we were heading to the Balearics, and we headed for Formentera. This tiny island south of Ibiza. Today’s lesson was engine, sail repairs and storm tactics.
We swam and learned how to get the rope off the propeller, so we all came up looking like smurfs, our hair being blue from the bottom paint. Our anchorage was packed with large motorboats and sailboats.
Aug 13, 2017
Great sailing towards Ibiza. We learned about astro navigation, and it was interesting to learn.
It was super difficult to use the data we had and figure out through the almanacks where we were, but we have an idea now. And Staffan being a merchant marine captain learned this in school, so he was more familiar. We anchored in a small bay called Puerto de San Miguel. Again there were lots of boats, and the one next to us was a Hallberg Rassy 312.
Aug 14, 2017
Took the dinghy ashore early and went running on a very steep road to the village. So nice to be out before everyone is up. We came to the beach and then ran on a narrow path back to the dingy.
Staffan swam back to the boat. Today’s lesson started with being hoist up the mast.
A late breakfast and then off. Trained MOB – man over board. They had worked out a very interesting technique on how you easiest retreive the person that has fallen over board. But of course, the best way is to prevent getting in the water, so we always wore our harness and safety tether. Arrived in Tagomago, a tiny island off of Ibiza that has only two huge homes and a lighthouse. We took the dinghy to shore and walked up to the lighthouse followed by the lighthouse keeper’s dog.
It was quite rolly, so we changed anchorspot three times. Evening class was winch maintenance.
Aug 15, 2017
Left at 6, but it wasn’t Eva’s watch. She woke up anyway, because the anchor and the bow thruster is quite loud… We had a nice sail all on this hot day and arrived in Andratx, Mallorca early afternoon and tied to a mooring bouy. The boat guy recommended a restaurant where his mom worked, so that evening we had a nice meal all of us at Roma right on the waterfront.
Before we dinghied back, we listened to some street musicians playing and singing.
Aug 16, 2017
Another morning we went ashore to go running. It is such a nice way to start the day! This was our last day onboard and we sailed to Palma. We came into the huge marina area with boats in all sizes. There was no breeze, and so hot! We could stay in a spot while the rental boats were still out in the middle of the city. We were eager to learn everything we could so we raised the storm sails, which we hope we will never have to use when we will have our own sailboat.
We are so very grateful for everything we have learned from John and Amanda. They are the most generous, experienced and fun people to have this experience with. We have had the two most intense two weeks of sailing and learning all about maintaining a boat. A huge thank you to John & Amanda!