Blog Voyage - the last leg!

 

New to Blog Voyage? Here's the links to the key days...

 

Day 1 - Séte to Estartit

Day 2 - Estartit to Barcelona

Day 3 - Barcelona to Pensacola, then Las Fuentes

Day 4 - Las Fuentes to Valencia

Day 5 - Valencia to Denia

Day 6 - Javea to El Portet Moraira, then back to Denia before flying home

 

Day 1 - Séte to Estartit

We (Glenn Harrison, a friend & client No64, Josh and I) arrived at Montpellier at 9.30am (8.30am UK) after an early start and a very disappointing evening watching the football (but we all agreed the England team did surpass our expectations and Gareth Southgate is the man for the job!). The French taxi driver speaks great English and is quick to commiserate us for being English. We arrive at Séte, and the boat an hour later. The boat next to ours is now two Brits on a Swordsman - a classic sports cruiser - he and his son are taking to Majorca. They’ve just experienced the French inland waterways arriving the previous day and are flying back to their home in London that evening.

Robert (left) and Toby Bell, nice chaps and we swap details and we’ll meet next year when Kathy and I tour the Balearics (on Quiet Storm - but don’t tell Kathy!).

We leave an hour after arriving at the boat, paid up, engines checked - the weather is good so we’ve changed our destination port to Estartit, making the journey to Barcelona on day 2 less distance. As we leave the boats temporary home after two weeks rest, we look forward to getting back on the open sea and the next stop Spain!

As we get into the Port entrance a Spanish Galleon is coming towards us - photo opportunity!

Glenn is enjoying the almost mirror flat conditions - as are Josh and I.

Cape De Cruz - the most dangerous stretch on the Spanish Mediterranean coast, but fortunately not today!


We arrive after 4 hours and a very pleasant journey, filled up (the last time we filled up was Avignon) and enquire about where we can stay. Med berthing, for the first time - hmm, wonder how Kathy is going to cope with this? Med berthing is basically reversing on to a dock and picking up lines - in Estartit, the two 'ground lines' are attached to a buoy. Then you have two stern lines (one on each side of the boat) which attach to the dock. With me at the helm, Josh doing the lines we get it right first time (well almost). The guy from the marina switches his attention from us to a couple on another Jeanneau motorboat and they make us look very good. The wife throws him ropes - as requested - but they aren't attached to their boat. As we watch the German couple make a complete hash of Med mooring (without them falling out or raised voices - very impressive). 20 minutes later, after the marina guy has jumped on their boat and basically done the mooring for them, he gives us a ticket to take to the marina office and pay for our nights stay.

From the office we follow two 'cheeky girls' into the town looking for a supermarket where we can stock up on the essentials, beer, wine, gin and tonic.

Having got back to the boat with our bounty, we toast the first day with a cold Estrella Damm, followed by a large G&T, then shower off the back of the boat (because we are too tired to walk back to the shower block) and go on the hunt for food. The restaurant overlooks the entrance to the marina, and the boats on the right are the visitor berths where Quiet Storm is moored. People are still swimming and the night is beautifully warm.

We have fish, wine and relax - a successful first day - back at the boat we continue with rum and ginger ale (couldn't find ginger beer at the supermarket) - it's as close as we can make it to a 'dark and stormy' before we retire to our beds - knackered!

Day 2 - Estartit to Barcelona

Glenn is up and off the boat desperate to buy a fishing rod, Josh and I surface, do the boat checks and get ready for Barcelona. Coffee, breakfast, then the Med mooring in reverse - we don’t want to start the day with a ground line getting wrapped around our props!

Everyone has a job and Glenn takes Josh’s challenge ‘not to get the ropes wet’ as he lets the stern line off. (He succeeds!)

The ground lines are off and we slowly push out past them as the sink - no disasters - we clear them with both ropes and props intact.

On the sea there’s a little more to consider, and as we leave Estartit, it’s fenders in, stowed and making sure anything that could bounce as we hit waves doesn’t, and we're fully prepared for the journey ahead.

Josh is concerned the wind is set to pick up and wants to get there before 12.00 noon. 25 knots and flat seas - what’s he worried about?


We leave port at 8.50am with a quick detour to Sa Riera bay (where Josh and I have stayed and used as a base to explore this coastline with our good friend Bob Watson).

Bob’s house overlooks the bay and holds lots of great memories - and will continue to build them as Bob and I have already pledged to meet when he takes delivery of his new boat. It's the one just above Glenn's head (Pic below).

It's 10.00am and the sea's flat calm, we're motoring along and it's beer o'clock in my head - I can't tempt Josh or Glenn - but that doesn't stop me as we 'overdose' on the magnificent coast line of the Brave Coast (Costa Brava).

An hour later and both Josh and Glenn succumb to 'beer pressure' and join me.

The conditions remain perfect and we sight Barcelona, the wind hasn't picked up - so the sea state remained flat.

The port is packed with cruise ships and we're looking forward to exploring the city.

Glenn and Josh both have a list of Bars 'we must visit' plus both my neighbour Tomas, and Glenn's friend who lives in Barcelona have recommended the same Tapas bar -  Cerveceria Catalana - so that sounds like a must.

We dock at the fuel pontoon at 12.15pm, we need to fuel as at Pensicola we'll be at anchor in the bay. Josh says there are hardly any super yachts here compared to when he was here on Elixir, a superyacht he and Jaz crewed on when it returned from St Kitts in the West Indies to the Med early spring this year - an Atlantic crossing I was very jealous of.

Did you spot the helicopter on the smaller of the two super yachts?

Josh gets to cleaning Quiet Storm while I go to pay and present the boats documentation - the first time everything has been properly scrutinised since we left Poole.

As I walk back from the marina office, the scale of Quiet Storm is apparent. A few weeks ago we were the biggest boat on the rivers and canals, now we are definitely not - but hey, were in Barcelona and we're now off to find that Tapas bar -  Cerveceria Catalana.

 

Cerveceria Catalana is packed, we get a table outside in much less than the 40 minutes initially offered by the waiter.

The food looked amazing, and it tasted twice as good as it looked - when we arrived we were very hungry and the waiter took our order (pretty much everything on the menu) and proceeded to bring it out - waiting for us to create room for the next barrage of tapas.

Next to us sit an American couple, not sure how we knew this - apart from he had a voice that made Jamie Peters sound like he was whispering and was bouncing around and clapping so much he made Adam Ball appear to lack energy. Ronnie and Melissa were from New Jersey and the next 90 minutes we listened to Ronnie and sympathised with Melissa - but it was entertaining to say the least!

A walk to the Sagrada Familia Barcelona, 133 years in the making and still not complete - Roman Catholic basilica in Barcelona, the work begun by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí in the late 19th century apparently is nearly finished.

 

The Arc de Triomf or Arco de Triunfo in Spanish. It was built, by architect Josep Vilaseca i Casanovas, as the main access gate for the 1888 Barcelona World Fair.

After a late siesta we go out on the town - it’s 11.00pm and the city is buzzing. The temperature is perfect and we hit a couple of bars and people watch. After a disappointing kebab stop on the way back we returned to our bunks on the boat at 2.00pm (Josh made it to bed a little earlier but more about that tomorrow).

 

Day 3 - Barcelona to Peniscola, then Las Fuentes

I wake to an alarm going off in my head - my holding tanks are full - It’s a long walk to the facilities and I leave Glenn & Josh dozing.

It’s 8.00am and the place is already alive with people jogging, cycling and making their way to the beach. I decide to take a walk to the beach and along to the Olympic Village - the beach is already getting crowded but I notice it’s a very mixed bunch. There are people who are obviously crashing on the beach having left Pasha - the famous nightclub.

There’s a strong smell of cannabis and I notice a group of guys - I can’t make out if this is how they start a Saturday or how they end a Friday night. The beach is filling up more as every minute ticks by.

I return to the boat and Josh and Glenn are up, covers off and ready to go - or so I think, Josh has a raging hangover - and looks green. A Borrocca later and he’s back with us. Breakfast and we’re off!


As we pass quietly under the cable car the stunning scenery mesmerises all three of us.


The cruise ships have been coming and going throughout our short stay.


As the helicopter following us mistakes us for a superyacht - we exit Barcelona Port


There must be 25 ships waiting to berth or at anchor - in amongst the ships, which must be 5 miles off shore we spot two paddle boarders, they must be crazy.


We get our last views of Barcelona and hope to see whales, dolphins or other marine life enroute - as we'll be going over 100 nautical miles and be a way off shore for most of the journey. Glenn spots the first whale, the great bald whale!

We've got a problem with the starboard engine, it's overheating and on inspection the raw water filter was full of seaweed - we don't stop, simply turn the starboard engine off and I work in the engine bay to clear the problem - the heat is incredible as there's little in the way of air and all the heat from the engines. I can feel the engine burning my feet through my flip flops! We get back underway and it overheats straight away - I've twisted the seal, so I have to go into the engine bay a second time - surely this has helped me lose a few pounds? The boat accelerates but still won't go faster than 20knts without overheating - so something we'll have to sort when we get to Denia.

Land-Ahoy! six and a half hours of boring wall to wall sea, and we sight Peniscola and it's Castle, Built by Knights Templar and home to the late Pope Benedict XIII. We’re no longer going to overnight here as the wind is blowing into the bay and it will make an uncomfortable evening. So Josh has spotted a marina half an hour closer to Valencia, and we’ll book in there when we stop for a swim, some culture and a beer.

Glenn takes the helm on the final run in.

The water is so warm, I take the opportunity to inspect the legs (the parts of the engines with the propellers on), everything seems ok - the overheating is still a mystery.

We go in to the beach on the tender and explore the old town, it's really beautiful - narrow streets leading to the castle.

The castle costs €5 each which on reflection is a bargain, we walk around it and appreciate how cool it is inside - and how high it is on the ramparts.

The fee includes entrance to the gardens, which are in view on this shot (below).

The gardens are lovely, but the big surprise is the collection of birds of prey - which are encouraged to fly in and around the visitors, lured by food.

Enough culture, time for a beer - we've got a schedule to keep so then it's back to the boat and onwards to Las Fuentes - there's not a lot there but it is a marina, so we should get shelter from the predicted southerly wind.

Berthed for the evening - we have to fill in more paper work than Barcelona - I thought it would be the French who were going to be the 'admin kings' - it appears I was wrong.

We walk through the marina complex and there’s a road with various bars and restaurants - Glenn did a recce as I wrote the blog and has spotted a nice bar. We arrive, get a couple of sofas and two G&Ts - Josh goes for what he calls the red ambulance (Coke-a-Cola).

Suitably chilled we retrace our steps and choose a restaurant, the meal was good and we retire to the boat for a Havana 7 Años and Josh goes to bed saying he’s looking forward to waking up without a hangover.

Stood on the bow sipping our rum Glenn and I enjoy a firework display in the distance - “time for bed said Zebedee.”

Day 4 - Las Fuentes to Valencia

The night was very hot and despite having all the windows open, there wasn’t a breath of air - must get some fans in Valencia.

I set out on a mission to find replacement supplies - milk, gin, tonic and coke for Josh. There’s a marked contrast between this time yesterday on the beach at Barcelona. The place is virtually deserted, it’s a marina complex and there are rows of houses on a mini canal system - the price of the overnight mooring, the meal and the fuel is 60% of what we’ve been paying but the whole place lacks character and the coastline is pretty boring.

As we leave Las Fuentes the water is oily smooth and all being well we’ll be in Valencia by 12.00 ish (3 hours)

The air is a little cooler, the sea is a flat as it can possibly be - the next photo is one I took from the bow cushions to show just how silky smooth the water was.  Josh and I had already witnessed a Garfish swim alongside the boat, keeping pace, with almost all of it's body out of the water (they look like a very thin swordfish), it looked like it was dancing as it matched our 20kts. We were telling Glen about this when all three of us saw a flying fish leave the water and fly alongside the boat for about 50m at 20cm above the seas silky surface.

12.30pm we arrive at Valencia, the best crossing we've had. Back to Med mooring and this time it's a breeze (honest Kathy). The marina is a little tired and unlike the one at Barcelona, it's a taxi ride to the old town. However, it's the cheapest we've stayed at only €20 a night.

It’s 34C and we’re all feeling the heat - plans to clean the boat get shelved and Glen and I have a bottle of wine, and another, and another.

As we are feeling hot and bothered we all shower off the back of the boat, the water runs out and we revert to the hose pipe on the pontoon - the water is warm.


As we exit the marina to explore Valencia old town we take a look at the beach - it’s Sunday and everyone seems to be on it.

The taxi driver drops us off and we find the Tapas bar with the great reviews Glenn had looked up earlier - Closed! But turning the next corner there appears to be lots of choice and we spot a TV - it’s the World Cup Final and we heard France go 1-0 up against Croatia when we were in the taxi.

There are two restaurants and as ‘three English blokes’ approach they fight for our attention and try and seat us at their respective tables. We go with the restaurant who actually has the TV, the chairs behind soon get filled with French people - who, reacting to the English cheers when the Croatians equalise - sing ‘footballs coming home’ and conclude with “at least we’re still in it!”


France go 2-1 ahead against Croatia in Moscow thanks in no small part to the VAR (video assistant referee). and the game ends 4-2 France, by which time we had great tapas, more alcohol and are ready for a wander.

The city is historic but the heat and the lack of any idea of where we’re heading means we’re soon looking for another Taxi to take us back to the marina - Glen and I had spotted some cool bars overlooking the sea we want to investigate.

Bingo - not a bar after all but a full on nightclub - as we go in Josh decides against it and leaves us to continue the drinking.

The place is packed and it’s got a great vibe, lots of beautiful people - sadly the vast majority a good twenty something years younger than Glenn and I. Most nursing the same drink or without a drink - not Glenn and I - we put away several G&T’s before the magic potion of vodka Red Bull.

Sadly the combination of age, heat, hunger and a few active few hours of alcoholic beverages finally kicks in and we go on the hunt for food. As we study the restaurant options my phone rings and Josh is ordering a take away pizza - do we want some? Deliveroo in Valencia, who would of thought it? Josh does the business and Glenn and I continue with more G&T’s on the boat - I remember the pizza was delicious but not a lot else.

 

Day 5 - Valencia to Denia

The next morning I wake with a raging thirst - instantly consume the 1.5lt bottle of water beside my bed, but feeling a little delicate opt to lay looking at the azure sky through the open hatch above my bed. The wind is nice and cooling as all the portholes and doors are open to capture all the available air flow.


The wind prevents us from leaving early - which I must say from Glenn and my point of view is probably a good thing. We listen to Josh describe how drunk we were - and explain how we made our own way back to the boat - something Glenn and I have no memory of.

We depart about 11.30am and the wind is still as strong offshore, which is forecast to die down about 2.00pm. We’ll hug a little closer to the coast and be in Denia in a little over 2 hours. We’re on the last leg of the last leg!!

The approach to Denia Port - made it, now I just have to arrange a berth!

We have a plan! Get fuel and while we do I’ll visit the marina office - I’ve been in, got a quote for an annual berth but given the unknown elements of our adventure I couldn’t supply a date for our arrival until we got back from Séte - which I did by email - and then followed up by phone a week later. The lady who answered the phone said they don’t respond to emails as they get too many! She would organise a quote for annual berthing, but she couldn’t commit as they were 'very busy’ - the quote never arrived - so I rock-up and say, "I’m here" - and they roll their eyes and say they are full - it turns out one of the ladies is English and is who I’d spoken to by phone. They talk in Spanish for the next 20 minutes - finally provide me with a berth until the end of August (when I’m back out with Kathy). We go and berth - Golf 12 - and I return with all the paper work - the English lady has gone but the Spanish lady says - you did the right thing, when you turn up we have to sort the problem out - and now she’s all smiles?? Whatever!

Josh and I have a 'celebratory beer' - it's been a huge adventure neither of us will forget!

We meet up with Adam & Karen, our friends through boating and who live in Wimborne - they are on a road trip and have their dog Maisie - they are staying in Javea. We have lunch and we decide to spend the night in Club Nautica Javea - they go by boat and I drive their car. I arrive just ahead of them and snap this pic as they enter the Club Nautica Javea marina.

Interesting watching Med mooring from the dock (it’s really easy Kathy - honest).

Team pic, me Josh, Adam & Karen

Full crew pic - Adam, Karen, Maisie, Josh, me and Glenn

Quiet Storm nestled in at Club Nautica Javea

We try out the latest bar 'The Beach House' and sample their Expresso Martini's - they pass with flying colours

The kitchens closed, it's 11.00pm and we move downstairs to Cala Bandida for a late dinner - we're all flagging and by 1.00pm were off to our beds, Karen & Adam are heading to Begur (Sa Riera Bay Costa Brava, where we were a few days earlier).

 

Day 6 - Javea to El Portet Moraira, then back to Denia

Waking up in Javea we have nothing to do and all day to do it in. The plan is a walk to La Siesta, a cool beach bar and get breakfast.

 

On the way back we pick up the important supplies - ice & tonic - before moving further south down the coast to Moraira. The weather is hot, the sea is flat and we leave Javea behind us.

Moraira is where we’ve had many family holidays and I anchor in a very specific spot - because this is an itch I’ve just got to scratch.


The area is called El Portet, and it’s where we used to stay and sit on the back, or at the beach bar looking longingly at the boats anchored.

Here’s a pic from 2012 with Josh, Libby & Kathy - we're under the parasols looking out at the boats, the opposite view of the picture above.

I read a book and when I get too hot, I dive off the boat - cooling down with a quick swim - before returning to a cold beer and another few chapters. I only really read fiction when I’m on holiday, and usually have some weird connection with the book based upon where I’m staying. This book is no different - it has a rendezvous which takes place in the Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris - a place we visited for the first time in Blog Voyage days 1-7.


We get back to our new home port of Marina de Denia and a couple of large G&T’s with plenty of ice. We have a recommendation ‘Canbroch’ - a restaurant in Denia, but first we visit the rooftop bar with a pool.


It’s got a great feel, DJ and chilled music…

plus a great view over the marina.

We enjoy people watching, finish our G&T’s, and then take a stroll into Denia for Chateaubriand times three.

With a nice brandy to finish we retire to the boat for the last time.


Having spent the last 6 nights onboard with Glenn, bringing the boat south in the Med, and not forgetting the fantastic adventures Josh and I have had over a period of three weeks, and a variety of people along the journey - which started June 9th at the RMYC Poole - Quiet Storm is now in it’s new home port of Denia, and many more new adventures (but on a much smaller scale).

Thanks again for all the great feedback - I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it, we’ve certainly enjoyed doing it.

 

Thanks


Steve & Josh!

 

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