Welcome to the Online logbook & blog of S/Y Stella Polaris
We are a Finnish family of 3 living onboard a Vancouver 32 sailboat. In 2017 we have been sailing the West Mediterranean Sea (Gibraltar, Spain, Balearics, Sardinia & Corsica) and are now exploring inland Europe as we motor across West-Europe from France to Germany.
From the Online Logbook below you can see where we are now and where you might find us next. You are welcomed to follow our journey!
DAY 439, 16.8.2017 – Not so smooth exit from the marina but lovely day cruising among vinyards
From: Neumagen-Dhron, River Mosel, Germany
To: Traben-Trarbach, River Mosel, Germany
Lenght: 27.1 nm
We found the bottom… The Neumagen-Dhron marina was not as deep as the staff thinks it is. When leaving the marina this morning we got stuck in the mud. We knew this was gonna happen because we touched the bottom when we arrived. Therefore, we did not turn on the engine when leaving – don’t want muddy cooling water into our system. With the help of Gerdie’s muscle power, we got out of the marina and to deeper water. The mud did no damage but we cannot recomment this marina because it is shallow and the staff… oh well. But what a wonderful day we had cruising the river in hot summer weather admiring the small German villages and Mosel vineyards.
DAY 438, 15.8.2017 – Meeting family in beautiful German small village
From: Schweich, River Mosel, Germany
To: Neumagen-Dhron, River Mosel, Germany
Lenght: 14.4 nm
DAY 437, 14.8.2017 – To Germany
From: Schwebsange, River Mosel, Luxembourg (marina)
To: Schweich, River Mosel, Germany
Lenght: 32.8 nm
DAY 434, 11.8.2017 – Taking a break and staying in a marina in Luxembourg
From: Schengen, River Mosel, Luxembourg
To: Schwebsange, River Mosel, Luxembourg
Length: 2.6 nm
We deserve a break! After motoring thru France and taking 147 locks we are tired and want to take it easy for couple of days. Started the break yesterday in Schengen with a lovely 10 km nature walk thru forests and vineyards overlooking the River Mosel. We’ll be also visiting Luxembourg city by bus.
DAY 433, 10.8.2017 – Moored in a pier where the Schengen agreement was signed
From: Thionville, River Mosel, France
To: Schengen, River Mosel, Luxembourg
We were walking in the town of Schengen and wondering where the historical agreement was signed because the village only has few small houses, a church and vineyards… Found out that the agreement was signed onboard Marie-Astrid at the pier where were moored to. Nice, free pier here (no electricity or water) but you have to leave the pier for 10 minutes to make room for passenger boats that arrive 0-2 times a day.
DAY 432, 9.8.2017 – Lots of grass floating in the river
From: Metz, River Mosel, France
To: Thionville, River Mosel, France (picture)
Length: 17.9 nm
DAY 431, 8.8.2017 – Moored to a spot that supposed to have only 1.2m of water
From: Pompey, River Mosel, France
To: Metz, River Mosel, France (picture)
Via: Pont-à-Mousson, River Mosel, France
Length: 27.8 nm
The village of Pompey had no services: no food store, no restaurants, no showers or electricity at pier like the guidebook said. We got a hint from a fellow cruiser that there’s a pier and Carrefour in Pont-a-Mousson. As we have been longing for a supermarket for the past 3 days, we decided to stop there. We were heading to the large city of Metz that would surely have a supermarket but we were not sure if we could make it to Metz city marina: the guidebook gave no depth of water to the approach and the marina did not answer the phone.
We motored very slowly under motorway bridges and in the narrow, marked canal to the Metz and randomly picked a free mooring spot from the pier that looked shallow but was our only option. Slowly in difficult wind conditions we made to the pier and managed to hook up. Only after this the marina staff shows up (I saw him at another pier when we were approaching the marina) to tell us that we are moored in a spot that supposedly only has 1.20m of water! We need 1.50 meters. But our log said we had 2.30m of water as did our plumb line that we use when approaching piers without marked depth. We were not pleased with the marina staff but the marina facilities and city of Metz were lovely.
DAY 430, 7.8.2017
From: Maron, River Mosel, France
To: Pompey, River Mosel, France (picture)
Length: 21.6 nm
DAY 429, 6.8.2017 – Happy to be out of the narrow and shallow Canal des Vosges!
From: Socourt, Canal des Vosges, France
To: Maron, River Mosel, France
Lenght: 21.4 nm
We are out of the narrow and shallow Canal des Vosges! And we did not touch the bottom! But we were very happy to return the lock remote control today in lock #47 and cruise to River Mosel that is wider and deeper. Had a maximum long day from 9am-6pm.
DAY 428, 5.8.2017 – No traffic but the port is full…
From: Thaon les Vosges, Canal des Vosges, France
To: Socourt, Canal des Vosges, France
Lenght: 10.7 nm
Rain shadows, sunshine and strong wind in the late afternoon. Locks today were 0.9-2.5 km away from each other. We decided to make a shorter day today but couldn’t stop at Charmes since the port was full and it seemed shallow already at the approach. It seemed that no one in the port had moved today because we had no traffic at the canal. There are very few stopping places around here. We continued few locks more downstream and moored in an old industrial quai with a German motorboat that kindly helped us tie-up to the quai that was high and in poor condition.
DAY 427, 4.8.2017 – We have reached the top of the mountain! It’s gonna be all downhill from here!
From: Quia de Girancourt, Canal des Vosges, France
To: Thaon les Vosges, Canal des Vosges, France
Length: 10.6 nm
Today we kind of were at the peak of our sailing career because we were 360m above sea level. The closest shoreline wad over 400km away so I guess you can say that we are inland. After reaching the mountain peak, we started the journey downstream. We had 15 locks lined up very close to each other and each of them took us 3m downwards. Couple of locks had some problems and it caused delay as we had to wait or call the service number. After these locks, we will have fewer locks but will cruise down the entire 360m before we finally reach the Baltic Sea.
Pictures below: In most of the locks you feel like being in a greenhouse! Canal des Vosges can be very narrow…
DAY 425, 2.8.2017 – Getting closer to the top of the mountain: only 1 lock to go upstream!
From: Basin d’Uzemain, Canal des Vosges, France
To: Quai de Girancourt, Canal des Vosges, France
Length: 5.7 nm
Hot and humid today. Did 17 identical locks. Followed a French boat that had crew of 4: 2 of them walked from one lock to anothing speeding up the locking process substancially and always helping also us with the ropes – thank you!
We did also had a plan to have one in boat, one on dry land since the locks today where only 0.3-1.3 km away from one another but we did not need to execute the plan. The idea – and this is what everyone does here – is that the one on ground can “order” the lock in advance with a remote control and the other one just drives into the lock without waiting. Saves a lot of time and there’s no need to stand still waiting for a lock which can be tricky in the narrow and shallow canal. There’s no waiting pontoons by the locks in Canal des Vosges.
We got into our locking routine and it almost got boring but then one lock had malfunction lights on it. We drove into the lock because the French went in infront of us. They called the service number and the lock was fixed in 15 minutes – thank you again. If we would have needed to call the service number ourselves and try to explain the problem in English-Spanish-German-Swedish-Finnish multilanguage mix, we’d probably still be in there!
Got also some injuries unfortunately today. Saku hurted is feet and was bleeding, and broused his heel. Sanna twisted a tumb and got bit by a bee (again!) simply by sitting in a restaurant table. No injuries for Anton.
In the afternoon we took our bikes throught the forest to see where the water to the Canal des Vosges originally comes from: the Reservoir de Bouzey (pictures below).
DAY 424, 1.8.2017 – In the middle of nowhere
From: Port de Bains les Bains, Canal del Vosges, France
To: Basin d’Uzemain, Canal del Vosges, France
Length: 5.6 nm
Did a shorter leg today and stopped to a renovated pier in the middle of nowhere. Time for barbeque and play!
DAY 423, 31.7.2017 – In “rainforest”
From: Corre, Canal des Vosges, France
To: Port de Bains les Bains, Canal des Vosges, France
Length: 14.3 nm
First day on Canal de Vosges was like motoring in a rainforest: everything was green and growing, we got some rain followed by sun that dried the wet surfaces so fast that they were steaming. The humidity was close to 100 (?) and the lock walls were crowing all kinds of plants – felt like in a greenhouse
Had a short stopover for breakfast and waited for the thunder to pass by. Very little traffic on the river, just us and few other boats. About 2-2.5m of water.
It took us few locks to get our locking process sorted out for the new kind of locks that clearly were not optimal for our sized boat. There was no ladder to glimb up at the end of the lock (we don’t go in front in the locks – too much turbulence for a long keel vessel) and we are so low that only Saku can reach the pollards with the longer boat hook. There’s no pollards in the lock walls. We figured that it is easier to hook up the stern first. Today we rose up the mountain 45m 94cm.
Tried to stop to 2 places at the riverbank but the river got too shallow for us before we reac
DAY 422, 30.7.2017 – As far inland as you can go inland on a river
From: Port sur Saone, Petit Saone, France
To: Corre, Canal de Vosges, France
Length: 22 nm
DAY 421, 29.7.2017 – 13 locks and 2 tunnels day!
From: Saint Martin, Petit Saone, France
To: Port sur Saone, Petit Saone, France (marina)
Length: 37.5 nm
This canal cruising surely is not boring! Massive day today in hot summer weather. Videos coming up but first we need drinks & dinner. Today we have truly deserved our gin&tonic!
DAY 420, 28.7.2017 – First day on River Petit Saone and everything suddenly gets smaller, a lot smaller…
From: Saint Jean de Losne, Saone, France
To: Saint Martin, Petit Saone, France
Length: 34.7 nm
Today everything got small: the locks, the bridge heights, depth of water and width of the river. The locks changed to self-service type and we have opered the locks ourselves today! Moored in a free finger pontoon in Saint Martin, no electricity or water.
DAY 419, 27.7.2017 – Easy day cruising at the river
From: Chalon-sur-Saone, Saone, France
To: Saint Jean de Losne, Saone, France
Length: 33 nm
DAY 418, 26.7.2017 – Morning haze motoring
From: Tournus, Saone, France (town pontoon)
To: Chalon-sur-Saone, France (marina)
Length: 16.9 nm
DAY 416, 24.7.2017 – Well… I guess we knew it is part of canal cruising: engine trouble
From: Port de Belleville, Saone, France (town pontoon)
To: Tournus, Saone, France (town pontoon)
Length: 31.5 nm
Today as we were cruising along Saone, the engine started all of a sudden to make an unusual noise and there was smoke. Engine off immediately, anchor down. Called on VHF the 120m long hotel boat coming behind us that we are sorry but we are in an emergency anchor in the middle of the river. The next boat with friendly Danish crew towed us to the neasarest city pontoon in no time – thank you very much for your help! See towing video. Safely tied-up to the pontoon, Saku inspected the engine and the problem was clear: a blockage in the cooling system. When Saku opened the hoses, checked this and that, the blockage suddenly just disappered and the engine is working fine again! What the blockage was remains a mystery and we hope it is not coming back. We were without the engine for 3.5 hours and didn’t particularly enjoy it.
DAY 415, 23.7.2017
From: Lyon, Saone, France (marina)
To: Port de Belleville, Saone, France (town pontoon)
Length: 29.5 nm
DAY 413, 21.7.2017
From: Les Roches de Condrieu, Rhone, France (marina)
To: Lyon, Saone, France (marina)
Length: 23.7 nm
DAY 411, 19.7.2017 – Honeybee attack
From: La Roche-de-Glun, Rhone, France (town pontoon)
To: Les Roches de Condrieu, Rhone, France (marina)
Length: 31.6 nm
The waiting pontoon at the Gervans Lock had a beehive right under the cleat that we tied up to. On our arrival two bees sting Sanna but the boat had to be tied up. It was windy and the current was pushing the boat so there was no time to waste. When departing, Sanna dressed up 3 layers of clothing and was more prerared to poke the beehive.
DAY 408, 16.7.2017
From: Aramon, Rhone, France (marina)
To: St-Etienne des Sorts, Rhone, France (town pontoon)
Length: 27.3 nm
DAY 404, 12.7.2017 – Start of our canal adventure! … was not what we expected.
From: Navy Service, Canal St-Louis, France (boatyard)
To: Aramon, Rhone, France (marina)
Length: 37 nm
Who has been sideways in a large lock among cargo ships? We have!
Here’s a story how our first day in the Rhone river quite didn’t go so smoothly as we expected.
The planned easy start of 4-5h passage upstream turned into a 12h fight. We found no place to stay along the river: the pontoons and the marinas marked to the map just weren’t there. We were forced to continue from one town to the next. The current was 1-2.5 knots slowing us down substantially. The temperature in shade was +38C.
As we motored along the river, we reached the second lock of the day. The Beaucair Lock rises 15.50 m. The lock keeper took us in after an hour of waiting but apparently miscalculated the lenght of the boats, or didn’t pay attention, and there was no space for us in the lock. We had to reverse out of the lock. It was a tricky place to reverse out with funneling wind and in current generated by the cargo ship motors. The lock is 12m wide and has indimitating concreate walls rising to over 20m. Saku did an excellent job reversing, Sanna acted as a bow thruster. We survived.
The second go in the Beaucair Lock about an hour later didn’t go so smoothly either. As the lock is mostly used by largo vessels, the points where you can hook up are very far apart. We made a springline attachment and Saku used the engine to keep us against the lock wall. The problem was that when hooking up, we couldn’t park where it would have been ideal for the springline. The lock wall had openings in it, eg. ladders. The springline attachment worked very nicely until half way up when the current got so strong that it suddenly pushed us sideways inside the lock! Luckily we are only 10m long and the lock is 12m wide. The lock keeper stopped the waterflow and we were able to make a different kind of hook up from the single boller we could use. So it all ended up well, we got only mental damage.
While we played with the Beaucair Lock, the mistral wind got stronger. The next pontoon marked to the map was actually there but came with a mistral warning – not recommended during strong mistral winds. And it was full. The forecast for the upcoming days predicted that the wind will rise to 80km/h, 40 knots. So it was 7pm, we still had no place to stay, you are not allowed and you are not allowed to motor during the night. There was poor or no mobile data connection. We tried calling the next big marina but no answer. We were forced to just continue.
We are using maps kindly loaned to us by S/Y Ifigeneia who did this passage last winter. Our saver was a new marina marked by them with a pencil 4km north from the Beaucair lock. In the Aramon marina, we were greeted by the most friendly marina owner and felt very welcomed. And exhausted.
The mast has been taken down in Canal St-Louis, France, and transported to Travemunde, Germany, with a truck. We will explore the European inland waterways for the next 2-3 months!!!
DAY 400-401, 8-9.7.2017 – Goodbye Corsica, hello mainland France!
From: Plage de Peru, Corsica, France (anchorage)
To: Navi Service, Canal St-Louis, France
Length: 189.3 nm
At 06.15am we picked up the anchor and started our voyage towards mainland France. The morning was beautiful but we saw a lot of smoke coming from Corsica and assumed there was a large forest fire not far from where we left. The day at sea was hot and calm. We saw birds, swordfish, a whale and dolphins come to say hi. Later in the evening we adjusted our course to take us directly to Port Saint-Louis instead of visiting the island at the French Riviera. This added 100 nm – an extra day – to our voyage. The mistral winds from N-NW were about to start and we decided it was better to use the tailwind we got instead of battle the headwind the following days. The second morning of the voyage was rain, thunder, choppy seas and weird, gusty wind from every direction. It was the kind of sailing that is tiring and unpleasant. By the time we arrived to Canal St-Louis, we were quite ready to take down the mast and head to the inland canals. But our departure from Corsica was so fast that we had no plan: no idea where to take the mast down, no clear idea where we actually wanted the mast to be transported, no transportation agreement etc. We were in for a full-days job the following days.
DAY 399, 7.7.2017 – Sailing backwards
From: Pointe de la Parata, Ajaccio Bay, Corsica, France (anchorage)
To: Plage de Peru, Corsica, France (anchorage)
Length: 18.5 nm
Left the anchorage at 10am with sails only – it is good to practice if we sometime find ourselves in a situation when we don’t have an engine. The light wind took us past the lighthouse but was not strong enough to push us north – at one point we were actually going backwards. Later in the day, with all our sails up, we did 1.5 knots… In the late afternoon we dropped the anchor to Plage de Peru and went for an evening swim to the beach. After analyzing different weather forecasts, we decide that it was time to say goodbye to the west coast of Corsica the following morning – mistral wind was coming.
DAY 398, 6.7.2017 – Hot summer day with evening breeze
From: Porto Pollo, Corsica, France (anchorage)
To: Pointe de la Parata, Ajaccio Bay, Corsica, France (anchorage)
Length: 19.1 nm
Sailed/motor-sailed in light wind towards north until the evening breeze turned the wind against us. Found a nice, sandy anchorage by the lighthouse – swimming and snorkeling!
DAY 397, 5.7.2017 – To deep waters of west Corsica
From: Cala Giunco, Lavezzi, Corsica, France (anchorage)
To: Porto Pollo, Propriano Bay, Corsica, France (anchorage)
Length: 39.9 nm
Today we needed to decide if we wanted the sail the west or the east coast of Corsica. Since the winds seemed more optimal at the west coast for the upcoming week, we opted for west. The shoreline in the west coast also has more potential anchorages. The first anchorage we tried, Mouillage de Campomoro, was so full that we sailed across the bay of Propriano to Porto Pollo. The bay is very deep and has significant current. In Porto Pollo, we took a mooring buoy for couple of hours to go to a food store and moved to an anchorage by the beach later in the evening for the night.
DAY 396, 4.7.2017 – A gem in the middle of the Bonifacio Strait
From: Cala Portese, Isla Caprera, La Maddalena, Sardinia, Italy (anchorage)
To: Cala Giunco, Lavezzi, Corsica, France (anchorage)
Length: 20.2 nm
After zigzagging with sails amongh the La Maddalena archipelago islands, we decided that it was best to cross the Bonifacio Strait in good weather conditions we had. On our way through the last time, we saw lots of boats anchored at the islands in the middle of the strait and we were curious what was in there… And we found a beautiful, isolated island with walking trails, beaches and a small cemetery. Cala Giunco was full when we arrived but we bravely motored through all anchored boats right in front of a small sandy beach and used the benefit of having a low draft. The island of Lavezzi is truly a gem – don’t miss it if you sail these waters!
DAY 395, 3.7.2017 – Lots of traffic in La Maddalena archipelago
From: Cala di Volpe, Sardinia, Italy (anchorage)
To: Cala Portese, Isla Caprera, La Maddalena, Sardinia, Italy (anchorage)
Length: 15.1 nm
Motorboats, sailboats, tourist boats, super yachts… this is Sardinia! Cala Coticcio was backed full when we arrived around midday and we sailed a mile south to Cala Portese which had more room and beautiful sandy beaches. The anchoring permission for the La Maddalena archipelago was 18.50€/night for our boat – get the permit online before your arrival.
DAY 394, 2.7.2017 – When the weather forecast fails completely
From: Olbia, Sardinia, Italy (town quay) (picture)
To: Cala di Volpe, Sardinia, Italy (anchorage)
Length: 18.8 nm
Pulled into a marina fueling pontoon in Olbia to fill-up the water tanks before leaving and met a Finnish sailboat at the passage. A nice evening sail to decreasing wind turned out to be beating against 20+ and increasing head wind. The Mediterranean weather forecasts are so crappy! It was good to be heading to a familiar anchorage that we knew was going to be sheltered for sure.
DAY 390, 28.6.2017 – To Sardinia over the Bonifacio Strait
From: Cala di a Catena, Bonifacio, Corsica, France (mooring)
To: Porto Pozzo, Sardinia, Italy (anchorage & buoy)
Length: 15. 2nm
DAY 386-388, 24.6.2017 – Saying goodbye to family and heading to Sardinia & Corsica
From: Cala Covas, Menorca, Spain (anchorage)
Via: Cala de Porter, Menorca, Spain
To: Cala di a Catena, Bonifacio, Corsica, France (mooring)
Length: 260.1 nm
DAY 385, 23.6.2017 – Midsummer evening piknic turns into seaking shelter from the waves
From: Son Bou, Menorca, Spain (anchorage)
To: Cala Covas, Menorca, Spain (anchorage)
Length: 4.3 nm
DAY 384, 22.6.2017 – A day sail with family
From: Son Bou, Menorca, Spain (anchorage)
To: Cala Covas and back to Son Bou
Length: 8.4 nm
Guest crew: Ella, Kalle and Marika
To: Sou Bou, Menorca, Spain (anchorage) (picture)
Length: 16.6 nm
DAY 377, 15.6.2017 – Fuel, water and provisions from Mahon
From: Cala Covas, Menorca, Spain (anchorage)
To: Cala Taulera, Menorca, Spain (anchorage)
Length: 17.3 nm
DAY 373, 11.6.2017 – To Menorca
From: Porto Cristo, Mallorca, Spain
To: Cala Satandria, Menorca, Spain (anchorage)
Length: 38 nm
DAY 371, 9.6.2017 – Escaping the massive swell to a marina
From: Cala Barques, Mallorca, Spain (anchorage)
To: Porto Cristo, Mallorca, Spain
Length: 5.6 nm
Guest crew: Charlotta
DAY 370, 8.6.2017
From: Porto Cristo, Mallorca, Spain
To: Cala Barques, Mallorca, Spain (anchorage)
Length: 6.0 nm
Via: Cala Magraner (anchorage)
Guest crew: Charlotta
DAY 368, 6.-7.6.2017 – Tailwind sailing on the east coast of Mallorca
From: Colonia de Sant Jordi, Mallorca, Spain (anchorage)
To: Porto Cristo, Mallorca, Spain (anchorage & marina)
Length: 28.0 nm
DAY 365, 3.6.2017 – Seeking shelter for the upcoming strong winds
From: Illa de Cabrera, Mallorca, Spain (buoy)
To: Colonia de Sant Jordi, Mallorca, Spain (anchorage)
Length: 11.2 nm
DAY 364, 2.6.2017 – Visiting a nature reserve
From: Playa Trench, Laguna del Salobra, Mallorca, Spain (anchorage)
To: Illa de Cabrera, Mallorca, Spain (buoy)
Length: 14.1. nm
DAY 363, 1.6.2017
From: Cala Portals (Portals Vells), Mallorca, Spain (anchorage)
To: Playa Trench, Laguna del Salobra, Mallorca, Spain (anchorage)
Length: 23.6 nm
DAY 361, 30.5.2017 – Sailing in the rain to a spectacular bay
From: Cala Santa Ponsa, Mallorca, Spain (anchorage)
To: Cala Portals (Portals Vells), Mallorca, Spain (anchorage) (picture)
Length: 9.00 nm
We played it smart: Cala Portals is very popular among sailors and day-trippers. We had been warned that it gets crowded in this cala. The weather forecast predicted some rain and possibly some thunder for the morning and we figured it might scare off other people. And we were right: when we arrived to Cala Portals in rain (no thunder) there were couple of boats there seeking shelter (from what?!) but other than that the cala was empty. We anchored in the best spot right at the beach and when the sun came out at 4pm, we explored the mysterious caves (picture) at the cala and just enjoyed the calm atmosphere and green pine tree hills. What a scent after the rain!
The following day was another story: we counted about 20 vessels from tiny motorboats to super yachts in the bay. But almost all of them were gone by 7pm and the tranquil atmosphere returned. This cala is a gem but play it smart – arrive on a rainy/cloudy day or after 7pm to get a good spot for the following day.
DAY 357, 26.5.2017 – Sailing in a convoy to Mallorca
From: Cala Portinatx, Ibiza, Spain (anchorage)
To: Cala Santa Ponsa, Mallorca, Spain (anchorage) (picture)
Length: 51.2 nm
With: Señora de Mar (Finland) and Bora Bora (UK)
Well… it didn’t turn out to be a sailing day. We motored or motor sailed the whole way. Good day though – got lots of things done onboard and arrived to Santa Ponsa in good time for sundowners.
Santa Ponsa turned out to be an excellent anchorage to get provisions and other supplies. We run into several familiar sailors there and it felt that the whole sailing community was there! The anchorage was sheltered enough to leave the boat for a day and we used to opportunity to visit Palma city with a local bus.
DAY 354, 23.5.2017 – This was not our day
From: Cala Vedella (Badella), Ibiza, Spain (anchorage)
To: Cala Portinatx, Ibiza, Spain (anchorage) (picture)
Length: 22.7 nm
Via: Puerto de San Miguel and Port de Beniras.
Cala Vedella was just beautiful but the swell came into this tiny cala during the night and resonated from the high rasing cliffs surrounding it. We hardly slept because the boat was rocking so violently. The buoy we took added to our pain by banging against the hull of the boat no matter what we did. We left Cala Vedella at 08am without morning coffee. Not because we wanted but because there was a block in our stove.
The rest of the day was not success either. The continued easterly winds created swell on the north side and we ended up motoring against the wind and the swell. We visited Puerto de San Miguel and Port de Beniras but we were unable to stay in either of them because of the swell. Finally ended up to Portinatx which turned out to be a wonderful place.
DAY 353, 22.5.2017 – To go around Ibiza clockwise or anti-clockwise?
From: Isla Espalmador, Formentera, Spain (anchorage)
To: Cala Vedella (Badella), Ibiza, Spain (anchorage) (picture)
Length: 14.7 nm
Desicions, desicions… We decided that the clockwise route would have less swell in easterly winds. Don’t know about that but Cala Vedella was just adorable! It had a white sand beach that extended all the way to the shops and restaurants. We picked a buoy because the cala is fairly deep and has very little room to swing around. There were 4 other sailboats in the cala with us with two of them anchored a long way outside the cala.
DAY 352, 21.5.2017 – Re-visiting the tranquil Isla Espalmador
From: Sabina bay, Formentera, Spain (anchorage)
To: Isla Espalmador, Formentera, Spain (anchorage)
Length: 4.0 nm
The west coast of Formentera was off limits because of strong easterly wind. So went back to Isla Espalmador that we really liked.
DAY 351, 20.5.2017 – Back to Formentera to explore it a bit more
From: Cala Talamanca, Ibiza, Spain (anchorage)
To: Sabina bay, Formentera, Spain (anchorage)
Length: 11.0 nm
DAY 349, 18.5.2017 – Provision stop in Ibiza City
From: Isla Espalmador, Formentera, Spain (anchorage)
To: Cala Talamanca, Ibiza, Spain (anchorage)
Length: 9.2 nm
DAY 348,17.5.2017 – Meeting more winter-time friends in Formentera
From: Cala Comte, Ibiza, Spain (anchorage)
To: Isla Espalmador, Formentera, Spain (anchorage)
Length: 19.2 nm
With: Spirit of the Sea (Gibraltar)
DAY 346,15.5.2017 – To an anchorage with crystal clear waters and friends
From: San Antonia bay, Ibiza, Spain (anchorage)
To: Cala Comte, Ibiza, Spain (anchorage)
Length: 4.4 nm
With: Let’s Dance (Australia)
DAY 345-346, 14.-15.5.2017 – Ibiza: here we come!
From: Valencia, Spain
To: San Antonia bay, Ibiza, Spain (anchorage)
Length: 84.5 nm
DAY 333, 2.5.2017 – Sailing 6 knots with reefed main sail only
From: Calpe, Spain (anchorage)
To: Valencia, Marina Real Juan Carlos I, Spain
Length: 62.7 nm
DAY 332, 1.5.2017 – Crossing over to the Eastern hemisphere (and a swordfish!)
From: Torrevieja, Spain
To: Calpe, Spain (anchorage)
Length: 55.2 nm
DAY 331, 30.4.2017 – Nice sailing day in increasing wind
From: Cartagena, Spain
To: Torrevieja, Spain
Length: 39.4 nm
We’ve decided to get to know Cartagena a bit better and wait for the waters to warm up before we sail to Ibiza, Formentera, Mallorca and Menorca. Therefore we will be staying in Cartagena for a month. You can find us in the YPC Marina Cartagena.
DAY 302, 1.4.2017 – The wind plays April Fool’s Day jokes on us
From: Carboneras, Spain (picture)
To: Cartagena, Spain
Length: 60.7 nm
With: S/Y Kastehelmi (Finland)
After motoring out of the fishing marina and admiring the beautiful sunrise, Saku went back to sleep. Sanna enjoyed the view and morning coffee while motoring in calm weather. At 9am, the sidewind started and raised to 25-28 knots in 10 minutes. We sailed 6-7 knots with reefed main sail and the staysail. But as quickly as the wind had arrived, it died out at 10.30am and we were motoring again. The wind did pick up again after lunch but died again before we reached Cartagena. However, when it was time to go to our berth (had to wait and motor around in front of YPC marina for 30-40 mins) the wind was back to 20 knots, very nice… It felt like the wind was playing April Fool’s Day tricks on us! We also might fooled couple of people in Facebook by saying that we are on our way to Cartagena, COLUMBIA. :)
DAY 301, 31.3.2017 – We found something unexpected
From: Almerimar, Spain
To: Carboneras, Spain (pictures below)
Length: 58.5 nm
With: S/Y Kastehelmi (Finland)
Early morning start from Almerimar to round Cabo de Gata (picture) and head north for a change. First motoring, then motor sailing and finally doing over 6 knots just with a reefed main sail. We checked out couple of anchorages in Carboneras and dropped the anchor to the beach just north from the fishing marina only to realize that it was too rocky to stay there for the night. Motored to the fishing harbour, tied up to the fueling station and were warmly welcomed to stay for the night.
Carboneras does not look very inviting from the sea with industry buildings and factories. After dinner, we went for an ice cream to the town. We expected a quiet industry-fishing village but found that we had arrived to a lively beach town with beautiful palm trees on the beach and busy city center. We will keep this town in mind for future holidays!
DAY 293, 23.3.2017 – This is surfing, not sailing – in Goretex!
From: Mortil, Spain
To: Almerimar, Spain (picture)
Length: 38.3 nm
The strong winds continued, cold air arrived and we felt like surfers in Goretex with a substantially bigger surfboard! We only had the genoa and we did over 8 knots time to time on our way to Almerimar.
We called in advance to check from the Almerimar marina office that it’s safe to enter the marina because the RCC pilot book says isn’t not a good entrance in strong SW wind which we had. But it was fine -nothing like Mortil. The wind was still 30 knots when we moved from the welcoming pontoon to our berth. It was not the easiest mooring we’ve done.
At first, the Almerimar marina did not appeal to us (e.g. the showers need renovation and Anton’s scooter was stolen from in front of our boat) but after some days we got the hang of it. We got a good berth close to a food store in a safe bay where Anton can sail his S/Y Amme.
DAY 291, 21.3.2017 – Gigantic gross waves at the Mortil harbour entrance
From: Marina Del Este, Almunecar, Spain (picture)
To: Mortil, Spain
Length: 12.3 nm
After visiting the surreal Caves of Nerja in the morning and hitchhiking back to the boat, we decided to sail a short leg towards east. At this part of the Costa Tropical, you can admire the wonderful snow topped mountains of Sierra Nevada (picture) from the sea. What a contrast!
We anticipated large waves and strong wind to give us good speed. The waves were large indeed and the wind only seemed to pick up. It was ok at sea – the larger waves came in sequences of 1-3. Saku hand-steered the boat almost the whole way which is exceptional in our boat.
But the Mortil harbour entrance was another story. The large waves resonated back from the breakwater generating gigantic gross waves to the harbour entrance. The wind was 25-30 knots and the captain reports seeing waves higher than our wind generator. The horrible sea state lasted only for couple of minutes but we were soaken-wet on the safe side of the breakwater. And very happy that we made it into the harbour safely.
The Mortil Puerto Deportivo was very welcoming private boat club and we enjoyed our stay but there is very little to see or do in Mortil harbour area. The city itself is a 5 km drive away.
DAY 290, 20.3.2017 – Postponed departure due to heavy winds
From: Fuengirola, Spain (picture)
To: Marina Del Este, Almunecar, Spain (anchorage & marina)
Length: 45 nm
We spend some weeks in Fuengirola enjoying Finnish sauna and rye bread. Stella Polaris was also on dry land for 3 days where we polished her sides and gave her new anti-fouling. Saku started the project of changing some of the Treadmaster anti-slip covers of the foredeck.
From Fuengirola we also took a day trip to walk the Caminito del Rey, the King’s path. Don’t miss it if you are in the neighbourhood, it’s a must do!
Our departure from Fuengirola was postponed for several days due to exceptionally strong wind that closed the entrance of the marina and splashed water over the breakwater to the marina. After the sea had calmed down, we left Fuengirola on a beautiful sunny morning and motor-sailed to an anchorage at Ensenada de los Berengueles, right next to Marina del Este. Jenny & John (who we had met last year in Ayamonte, Spain) met us at the beach and offered afternoon tea at their new apartment. It was lovely to see them again and catch up! After tea we returned to Stella Polaris to find out that our anchorage was not at all sheltered. Before the sunset, we lifted up our anchor and motored to the very beautiful but expensive Marina del Este.
From: Estepona, Spain
To: Fuengirola, Spain
Lenght: 31 nm
Alternating wind conditions from 2 knots to 20 knots and sudden change of wind direction (180 degrees) when approaching Fuengirola. The weather man did not get it right today but we enjoyed the ride anyway.
DAY 269, 27.2.2017 -Start of the Mediterranean adventure!
From: Marina Bay, Gibraltar, UK
To: Estepona, Spain
Lenght: 22.1 nm
We are off to the Med!!! :) Algeciras marina never managed to give us a lift up time so we left Gibraltar as soon as our postal packages arrived. Since our planned repairs are not urgent kind, we will lift up Stella Polaris later somewhere in Costa Del Sol.
We had a wonderful and challenging day sailing around the Rock of Gibraltar to Estepona, Spain. The wind was strong (15-25+ knots) and gusty at times. We sailed among the cargo ships anchored on the Med side of the Rock of Gibraltar and the wind would suddenly die totally followed by a gust that ones tilted us to 35 degree angle. The captain saw it coming and we managed just fine. We had a reefed main sail and genoa partly open. Our yankee would have worked better in these conditions. We were advised not to sail too close to the Rock just because of these winds but obviously the 1-1.5 nm distance was not enough. Likely these unsteady winds only lasted the time we were under the influence of The Rock. We remembered a time when we stood at the Rock looking at a sailboat going through a similar kind of wind patterns and now where were there ourselves… :)
The wind was supposed to calm down by the time we got to Estepona but did the opposite. We had about 25 knots of wind at the marina entrance where, in a controlled jibe, our reef line snapped. We took the sails down, motored to the marina and walked to the old town of Estepona for well deserved dinner.
We are back in Marina Bay, Ocean Village, Gibraltar. We are waiting for a lift-up time from Algeciras marina (El Rodeo Isla Verde) and hoping to spend couple of days on dry land. The exceptionally strong levante has mest up the schedules at the boatyard and we were informed that we won’t get up from the water this week either but have to wait until next week… Will keep on doing maintenance work on the boat and wait for the postal packages that should arrive any day now. After boatyard, we will hit the Med!
From: Ceuta, Spain
To: Marina Bay, Gibraltar, UK (picture)
Lenght: 17.7 nm
We sailed with genoa + motor back to Gibraltar in beautiful spring-like warm weather. The wind had died and the remaining waves rocked the boat. Efforts to sail ended quickly when we realized that we are only going to break the main sain in the waves and drift to Tarifa with the current…
Originally we expected to sail directly to Algeciras boatyard from Ceuta but since we got no lift-up time (the boatyard is full) we decided to go back to Gib and meet friends while we are waiting for our turn. And what a welcome we got! We got the same berth as we had for the winter weeks and truly felt like coming home. We were pleased to see that the crew of Catamaran Spirit of the Wind was back from Germany – now Anton has a playmate! Also, we experienced some heavy rocking at the Ceuta marina and figured that the upcoming exceptionally strong levante would not make the situation any better – we are better off at Marina Bay.
On our way to Gibraltar, we took a swing to see S/Y A – one of the biggest sailboats in the world – anchored at the Bay of Gibraltar (and that time arrested by the Gib officials.)
DAY 256, 14.2.2017 – Valentine’s Day cruise to Africa, perfect start for the sailing season 2017!
From: Marina Bay, Gibraltar, UK
To: Ceuta, Spain (picture)
Lenght: 17.0 nm
Imagine a perfect sailing day and you’ll get the picture how our sailing season 2017 started. :)
We had perfect side wind of 1-13 knots and passage to African continent was effortless. Everything worked in the boat and we were happy just to sit in the cockpit and enjoy sailing after standing still for some weeks. The dolphins came to say hi couple of times and wished us happy sailing season 2017.
There were lots of traffic in the Strait of Gibraltar but we only had to give way to commercial ships at the Ceuta marina entrance. The Ceuta marina (Hercules Marina) was nicely located at the city center and provided a good spot to make a day trip to Tetouan, Morocco. The staff was helpful & friendly but we found the marina a bit pricy and the facilities cannot be praised.