2003-04 Spain – Venezuela

  The first week of January was very windy and cold, we had force 10 winds with rain during the night, resulting in plenty of snow on the mountains. These conditions continued throughout the month. We went with Eric to the town of Almeria, about 30 miles, to a very nice shopping centre, and returned  via Roquetas town where we stopped for Tapas at a small pub.    We spoke to Eric about hiring a car to go to the Sierra Nevada mountains to see the snow.

 On the 23rd January,  we packed thick jerseys and jackets and boots etc., and drove in a Ford Escort diesel.  We drove through El Ejido town and  Adra to get to the highway. Turned off at Motril to go to Granada,   to the Alhambra Palace where we walked round the gardens and the old buildings.

 Alhambra Palace – View to Granada

We spent 2 hours walking round the property, then drove to the mountains to the ski resort and went to the Ziryab Hotel for the night, bed and breakfast.

Hotel Ziryab

We walked round the resort, very cold and slippery under foot. We climbed up the stairs to a higher level, where we found more shops and went to the information centre.  At night this was like a winter wonderland.

Ski Resort

Sierra Nevada Ski Resort

This was our first time at seeing so much snow and being in a ski-resort, it was awesome.

The following morning after breakfast we once again walked round the resort and went up to the higher levels where we had wonderful views over the resort.

Ski Resort

This was an unforgettable experience!

We left at 11am and drove back to Granada, and then took  a different route through the mountains.

Old Olive Tree

We drove through many villages,  Alpujarca, Capeceira, and Trevelez, where we stopped for a  late lunch.

Trevelez Village

Then continued higher up, deep gorges, to Ugijar, Berja and Adra, El Ejido, and back to the marina.  Very tired of driving on the narrow winding roads, but had a wonderful, unforgettable 2 days.    We spent  75 days in Almerimar Marina, Spain,  from 29-11-02 – 11-02-2003.

On 12th February, we left the marina and anchored in Motril Harbour and the following morning, had East wind Force 3-4 and a lovely sail to Gibraltar, 96 miles,  and went to Queensway Quay Marina. 


Captains Chapel

Spent most days walking round the town, going to the Trafalgar Pub to watch the cricket and rugby, and had  lovely roast buffet lunches.   This time we spent 40 days on Gibraltar, of which 12 days we had good weather, the rest was overcast, windy and raining and enjoyed our stay once again.

Dave had the emergency tiller repaired with thick stainless steel tubing and repaired the auto-pilot.  We walked up the Mediterranean Steps, many wild flowers and enjoyed the hike.

Views from the Mediterranean Steps – Hike

We were waiting for weather, but had a Gale warning again, East wind 50 knots and many dock lines broke on boats as the surge was terrible.  On the 26th March we left the marina and  flew down the Straits to Tarifa.   The Auto-pilot was still not working and the following day the wind went into the S-west, just our luck, and started to rain and the wind increased, we went nowhere and on the 29th we decided to return to Gibraltar.  Downwind sailing with 3 reefs in the main and half Genoa, and wonderful fast sailing, we arrived in the marina in time to watch a rugby match.   On Thursday 3rd, East wind blowing, drop lines and go out, but still S.West wind so we returned once again to the marina.  Marina staff had a good chuckle, and said it happens to many people as the wind circles the rock, so one can’t tell the true direction of the wind.

On the 4th April, East wind blowing 10-15 knots and increasing, we left the Marina again.  The winds increased to 40knots and we had 3 reefs in the main and rough seas off Tarifas.  The Auto-Pilot wasn’t working and Dave had to steer all day and most of the night, directly down wind. During the early hours of the morning in big seas we were pooped, surfing down the big swells doing 10-12knots.

Dave re-fitted the old small auto-pilot which worked for 1 hour then also broke.  Dave took it off and  made pins, then re-fitted it and it worked.  During the following days we had light winds to zero wind.  We tried to start the engine and found the fuel pump wasn’t pumping so had a jerry-can of fuel next to the engine and fed fuel down into engine.


There are 7 islands, namely: Lanzarote in the North, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro, and we visited 3 islands.


Distance from North to South is 60Km and from East to West is 20Km.  It is 100Km off the coast of Morocco. Main town  Arrecife  is the Capital.

Puerto Calera Marina-Lanzarotte

On the 12th April, we motored  along the coast of Lanzarotte and went to the Puerto Calero marina at 27Eu a day.  Many shops and restaurants and a small supermarket in the marina area.  Sail from Gibraltar to Lanzarote, Puerto Calero Marina, 696 miles.

We walked up the hill which overlooked the marina.  All homes are white with either blue or black stripes, and all buildings are no higher than 3 levels.  Land is very baron, volcanic, but where villages or homes are, we saw many lovely plants, palm trees etc.  We swam off the boat in the very clean marina.   Dave tried to buy a switch for the autopilot, also a fuel pump, then the electric water pump started to leek, needed a new kit or a new pump and  Dave ordered a new electric water pump.   Dave changed the rubber seals again on the coupling and found 2 mountings were also shot.

On 1st May we motor sailed to Playa Blanca – Papagayo beach area, about 15 miles, on the South side of the island, and anchored.  On the 3rd., we sailed to Gran Canaria, 135 miles to the South end of the Island and went into PuertoMogan marina.

Grand Canary Island:

The third largest island, an area of 1,500sq km., it is almost cone shaped with verdant mountain slopes rising to 1932 metres on the peak El Poszo de las Nieves.  The capital is Las Palmas.

The West is the least densely populated part and San Nicolas is the main town.  The coastal area between Maspalomas and Mogan, is the Port of Arguineguin, Anfi, Puerto Rico, Amadores and Taurito.

This marina is also surrounded by shops, restaurants and apartments with flowering plants growing everywhere, a very pretty marina and village.   Very touristy and every Friday they had a market in the marina along the breakwater wall, where one could buy African, Moroccan and locally made craft work.

The weather was perfect everyday, clear blue skies and light to no wind, but 5 miles off shore the wind was blowing 40 –50 knots.  Part of the village is built in an old river bed and surrounded by hills, so we decided to walk up the hill and found many different trails to do, with beautiful views

We wanted to stay longer but we had decided to cross the Atlantic, so on the 8th May, we left in light winds. During the 2nd night out,  I was on watch and heard what sounded like a gun shot, but could not see anything wrong, except the genoa was flapping a  bit so I half furled it and when Dave came on watch at one in the morning and saw the stays were very loose.  He went to the bows and found the toggle at the top was broken.  We wrapped the genoa and used the storm jib and sailed with 3 reefs in main.  We made the decision to rather return to Mogan and make the repairs.

We beat most of the way in 20-30 knot winds, big swells and were worried about the rig.  We sailed past El Hierro, the most westerly island, sailed down the coast, and then overnight to La Gomera, then to Tenerife and anchored.  The following day we motored out past the point and got to the Wind zone where it was blowing a gale, 3 reefs in the main and storm jib, wind increased to about 40 knots and huge swells.


On the 15th, we arrived off Puerto Mogan and went to the marina.  Dave went to the chandlery for spares for a fuel pump, 1st one wouldn’t pump, so returned it, got another and tried that, also would not pump, so returned that.  I winched Dave up the mast, and  took the roller furler down on to the dock and Dave worked on the roller furler.  The following day Dave took the engine mountings off and both disintegrated.  Dave & Neels went to Las Palmas and bought engine mountings, fuel pump and toggle for the fore-stay.  Dave fitted the new engine mountings, no more noises, and cleaned the engine area.   On the 25th, winched Dave up the mast  again, and he connected everything on the fores-tay and tightened the fore-stay. We had decided to stay the season as it was too late to do the crossing, so on the 30th, we went out to anchor and put out a stern anchor to lie into the swells, stern to the rocks.  We went by bus a couple of time to Puerto Rico , which has many hotels, shopping centres, and a marina.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Beach

After being at anchor for a month we were a bit fed-up with all the tourist activity, jet-skis etc., so  we went back to the marina, and got a berth  along the sea wall away from the tourists and restaurants.  Did our usual hike a couple of times, walked as far as the banana plantation, about 12km.

We decided to hire a car for 2 days, and see a bit of the island, and drove to San Nicolas over mountains to Artenara.  Drove to Cruz de Tejeda then to the beautiful village of Tejeda, where we stopped for lunch.

San Nicolas

Then drove to San Bartolome, here the river bed is an oasis of lush palm trees etc, then to Fataga and to Playa Ingles.


The following day  we drove to the Puerto Rico Chandlery for Volvo spares etc.  and then to the   CarreFour Atlantic centre.    Dave repaired the engine, the glow plugs etc.   repaired and fitted the cockpit table.  We went to the Irish Pub  for lunch and watched  South Africa vs. Australia Rugby, good game and we won.

On the 13th the festival started here, and dozens of boats from Arguineguin arrived with flags and loud music, filled all the open spaces in the marina. The festival lasted for 2 weeks, also a live jazz band playing every night, on the waterfront.  On the 26th, the festival ended with a big party and at midnight a lovely fireworks display.

We went with Neels to  Las Palmas, where we  bought some spares,  then down to the waterfront to a restaurant in the marina area.  Nice clean city, overcast weather here, and cool compared to Mogan.

We started hiking 2-3 times a week, doing the same hike each time up the hill and then finding different paths and returning to the viewsite overlooking the harbour.

The bus ride to Puerto Rico was quite nerve wracking, narrow roads and blind bends.

We spent a couple of weeks in the marina and then went back out to anchor, to get away from all the tourists and also to swim off the boat.

View to Anchorage -Dignity

On the 13th October, we hauled  the boat to anti-foul and do a few other jobs and on the 17th  we went  back in the water, to our berth in the marina for a week and then went back out to anchor.  We went to the Irish sports pub many times to watch the world rugby games and final.

During November the weather seemed to change, we had more wind and was quite rolly at the anchorage so on the 25th, we got a berth on the East wall, so tourists again and difficult to get on and off.

Had East winds blowing  and a lot of dust in the air.

Enjoyed Christmas with a few friends  and also New Years eve.   A Live band started playing lovely music, and at midnight they had fireworks and the band played till 3am

While staying in the Marina I met Claudia who owned a restaurant, ‘Cocina Creativo’, and she asked me if I would like to work in the restaurant.  She  did exclusive Tapas dishes, and very expensive.   So on Friday I worked in the restaurant from 1pm till 3pm and then back again from 8-12pm.  I worked there till just before leaving the island and enjoyed it.

Cocina Creativo Restaurant

For about 2 weeks in February we had East winds blowing and a lot of Sahara dust, so had to wash the boat off regularly

We took a day trip to visit a few of the other harbours and villages on the coast, we went to Arginiguin, Playa Engles, walked round shopping malls and along the beach front, and up the hill overlooking the famous Maspalomas sand Dunes.  

Playa Engles

On 19th February, expected stormy conditions to last at least 48 hours.  60 knot winds during the night and rain.  Our first big storm in the Canaries, which  happens every year, only 1 storm a year.  Following day still windy and raining, the high tide was pushing the seas over the sea wall, spectacular, washed through the restaurants, over the showers,  and broke holes in the road and some damage to the docks on the sea wall.


 On the 3rd March the easterly winds arrived again, bringing thick Sahara dust, couldn’t see  for dust, these conditions continued for the following 4 days.  On the 11th March  we went out to anchor again for 2 weeks and then returned to the marina on the sea wall side.   In April we decided to go to Las Palmas to visit some of the old sites and explore the city.  We went by bus which  took 1 ½ hours to get there.

Downtown Las Palmas:

We also visited the Botanical Gardens.

Las Palmas Gardens

Views over Puerto Mogan

We enjoyed everyday of our 11 months stay in Puerto Mogan, and on the 12th April we set sail for La Gomera Island, with 2 reefs in the main and ½ Genoa, and enjoyed a good sail doing  5-6 knots.   Off Tenerife  the wind was North West, so we motor sailed for about  4 hours to La Gomera., 72 miles.

The island is 375sqkm., shaped like a rock bun, with deep ravines and fertile green valleys and dense forests surrounding the almost central peak of Montana Garajonay at 1,487mts.  The capital is San Sabastian and has a very good marina, harbour and ferry service to all the islands.

We went into the Marina in San Sebastian.   Cloudy, windy and cold, not like in Mogan, and we had rain for a couple of days.  On the 15th, Dave & I walked to the bus station and got the bus to Agulo, and  from there we hiked straight up a steep high mountain.  Beautiful wild flowers and a lovely view from the top.  We walked past a lake etc, to the visitors office for information and had lunch there.    After lunch we walked down to  San Pedro, where we got the bus back to San Sebastian.

We explored the town of San Sebastian, and walked up the hill to a hotel, where we had a good view down to the marina and across to Tenerife Island.

La Gomera

We got the bus to Alto Del Contadero – El Cedro, the highest  point on the island, and had to walk about 3 miles to the start of this hike, and it was raining up there.   At the start of the hike, one goes into a dense rain forest.

This hike was down hill all the way.  The path from Contadero to Las Mimbreras offers  diverse nature.  The Vegetation starts at the summit with “Brezil” (Erica arborea – Heath Trees), followed deeper down by the the laurel forest, all along the river bed.    The next stage in the forest is the “Brezo”  heath tree, which reaches a height of 20mtrs.,  The 3rd stage of the hike is  the Laurel tree and the  Canary holly)., big hairy leaves.  Continuing down, there is a Barranco ( a fresh water stream, one of 5 in the Park.

From Las Mimbreras, we walked to El Cedro, a recreation area, had lunch there, and then continued down to  Monteforte – Barranco, then down to Hermigua town.   From El Cedro it was mostly steep down hill, still some rain and slippery.

Arrived at the road just in time to get the bus back to San Sebastian. The 12 Km hike was wonderful, but very tough on the knees.

We went for a walk up the  hill on a clear day and could see the snow on the Tenerife Peak,  and went to the bar – restaurant in the old Tunnel.

Restaurant in old Tunnel

We also walked to  a statue at the top of a hill on the outskirts of  San Sebastian with great views of the town.

On 21st April we left the wonderful Canary Islands and set sail for Cabo Verde Islands, downwind sailing, ROCK & ROLL.!!!

We had nice winds day and night,  very cold during the night and sailing  6-8 knots.  On the 28th April,  we arrived off the islands in the early morning, strong wind down the channel, about 30 knots.  We had 1 reef in the main and storm jib, doing  6-8 knots.  We sailed past the Santo Antao island and turned towards Sao Vincente, Mindelo harbour, we surfed  down the waves.  We dropped the  main at the entrance and motored to the anchorage.  Distance made was 820 miles,  Very windy, gusts 30-40 knots, but a protected anchorage.

Cape Verde Islands Lies just over 800 miles South West of the Canary Islands and is separated from the West African Coast by a channel some 325 miles wide.  Made up of ten larger and four smaller islands, which form a horseshoe open to the west.

Following day, Dave took the Genoa down and repaired the swivel which kept jamming.

Mindelo Town Square

We went ashore and found our way round the town and walked up the hill for a view to the otherside across to  Santo Antao island, and also overlook the harbour area.

We tried to hoist the Genoa and it caught on a sharp end and tore, too windy, so  we repaired the tear and tried again to hoist the sail  between gusts and  finally got the genoa up and quickly furled it.  Lift anchor at 4pm., on the 5th May and head for Barbados.   The wind was blowing  30-40-knots,  main with 2 reefs and ¼ genoa and we flew down the channel past Santo Antao island.  Once again we had good winds day and night and did 144 miles,   following day did 152 miles, same conditions.  By the 11th, it was cool during the night and the days warmer and  same sailing conditions, wind just off the stern.  The  15th we started getting lighter winds  and hotter during the days.   On  21st   we motor sailed all day and arrived off Barbados at 7am with no chart and called the harbour on the radio for directions to the harbour entrance.    We went alongside a very high wall inside the harbour.   Distance sailed was 2,187 miles, we had a pleasant trip, no bad weather for a change.   Dave went to check-in, took about 1 hour. We left the wall, and went out to the Carlile Bay anchorage, very clean water , lovely bay.

 We were only going to stay a week, but our credit card had expired and the bank said they would send a new card.   We  got a bus to the West coast of the island and went to the Port Charles Marina.

We walked to   The Garrison – in Hastings, near Bridgetown the capital, has the largest military Garrison in the Caribbean, the buildings are over 130 years old.

On the 5th June we got a bus to St. John on the East coast, drove through sugar cane fields.  We  walked  round a village and went to the old church and gardens.

St James

On the 14th we went to check if our card had arrived, still nothing, so we got a bus to the North end of the Island, about 2 hours, mostly farm land and very narrow roads and returned to Speightown.

Dave phoned the States again, and they cancelled the 2nd card, and said they would send another card, and could take  2 weeks. On the 21st,  Fedex delivered the card.  We enjoyed the 33 days in Barbados.

On the 24th June, we left Barbados for Grenada, just genoa and we were doing 6-8 knots,  and arrived off Grenada the following day and anchored in Prickly Bay.    I went ashore and walked  to the lighthouse.

then up the hill above the boatyard, and across to True Blue Bay hotel, and marina.

True Blue Bay

On 6th July we sailed to Margarita, and anchored in Porlamar.  Met other S.A. on ‘Saraband’ alongside us, Kenwyn & Johan, and  ‘Kamytoo’ was also there and we all met for lunch at Jackies.  On 11th July,we left for Cubagua. Spoke to the local kids and fisherman’s wife who asked us to bring them food etc. so the following day we went ashore and gave her cans of food, milk, clothes, paper and pencils and anti-biotics.  She gave us about 3 doz. fresh oysters which we had for dinner.

 On the 13th July, we motor sailed to Chimani SegundaWe walked on the beach and up the hill to the light house.

Playo Faro –  Chimani Segundo

Views from Hill!!

Stayed overnight and motor to Puerto La Cruz the following morning.   Bahia Redonda marina was full so we had to go to CMO.   On the 31st July, Tony and Noeline invited us to spend the weekend on their farm.

Back at the marina, “Saraband’ , ‘Watercress’,  then Roland and Lorraine on “Pisces 3” ,  ‘Double Dutch”,  and, “Fast Forward”, Audrey and Ken, arrived so we had a nice S.A. braai at the marina restaurant.

On 14th December,  we left the dock  and motored to La Borracha island for the day and the following morning we sailed to Piritu islands for the day then left for Tortuga, overnight sail and anchored in Cayo Herradura.  Kenwyn called us on the radio and they arrived about 2 hours later and anchored near us. Then Pisces 111 arrived, followed by  ‘Fast Forward’, and  ‘Philani’, 5  S.A. yachts and  ‘Wombat of Sydney’ also arrived, Mike and Lyn, Americans.  We went to them for diner, a delicious  curry.   On the 24th , we all went ashore for sundowners and snacks, a perfect  evening on the beach and a full moon.

 On 25th we decided to get away from the crowd for a while, and motored to Little Torgtuga islands.  The most perfect, windless day.

 We did a lot of snorkeling and Dave speared some fish, stayed 2 days and returned to Cayo Herradura.

Little Tortuga

Little Tortuga

Most days we swam to the  beach, walked on the beach and swam  back to the boat.  Evenings, we went ashore again with everyone else for drinks and snacks.

 On the 31st. Jan, we all made snacks for a beach party,  and many locals  on powerboats from Caracas  joined in the fun and watched the fireworks at midnight.

  Mike on Wombat took photos of S.A: yahts in Cayo Herradura anchorage from the top of  his mast.



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