From St. Martin to Dominica to Grenada and back to Berlin

Since the beginning of August we are back in our dearly missed Berlin, refilling our cruising kitty. Autumn is freezing us to the bones already, but so far it’s not so bad, because we saved up so much sun during the amazing last year. We luckily both found jobs as freelancers very fast. It has been very strange for us to go back into everyday life in Germany with jobs and alarm clocks and stressed out people and overfilled public transport and so much traffic everywhere. The cheap prices and variety of food you can get at a supermarket here overwhelmed us a bit. I guess you can only really appreciate the advantages of your own city when you have been away for a while.

When we heard about Irma we were very worried about our friends in St. Martin. It was heartbreaking to see the huge damage she caused on the island that we called our home for 2 month. We were relieved to hear none of our friends got harmed during the hurricane. But it’s very sad that the greatest bar of the island, the JabJabs boat bar is now sitting on the bottom of the lagoon. We hope Stefan, Kristen and Daniel and  will be able to salvage her and reopen very soon. We had so many great sunsets and nights there and met so many great people.

By the way, Mila is safe and on the hard in Grenada. We are so glad that we brought her down into the relatively hurricane-safe south of the Caribbean before we left her alone.

Although it feels far away now I should still tell you about what happened between June and now. So here we go.

At the beginning of June we left St. Martin and sailed to Dominica. We left out Dominica on our way up the Caribbean and I was very happy we had a chance to visit it now. The contrast between St. Martin and Dominica couldn’t be bigger. While St. Martin is very busy, almost like one big city, Dominica is much more quiet and has amazing nature to offer. On the downside provisioning was a lot harder there. We anchored in a bay close to Portsmouth. The main attraction in this area was the Indian River, so on the second day we went to see that. As we were already more or less broke at that time we wanted to explore the river by rowing in our own dinghy. Unfortunately the local guides wouldn’t let us. So we had to hire one of them. He did a good job and told us interesting information about the river and the island but the tour still seemed a little bit overpriced to us. Nonetheless I am glad that we took it because the river is just magical, the trees on its sides look like out of a fairytale book or a drawing by Tim Burton. 

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Indian River, Dominica

I was lucky because the mangoes were in season and I could collect a lot of them on our walks. They were lying around everywhere. I even started to dry some of them under our dodger. Super sweet and delicious. Lukas in the meantime tried to buy some chicken at a butcher and all he got was some skinny turkey legs.

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Drying mangoes, starfruits and plantains, well, when it stops raining

We made friends with Alli and Dave from the Blog Finding Island Time who were in the same anchorage and went for an awesome 6 hour hike on the Waitukubuli National Trail with them. It took us trough beautiful rainforest from the west coast of Dominica to the east coast. We saw some goats, big yellow crabs, geckos, a parrot, a stick animal and many more animals. The stick animal was awesome, it was about 30 centimeters long, sitting on a branch directly on our path, but Lukas just passed it without noticing, because it blended in so well with the plant. We walked trough plantations of pineapples, bananas, limes and oranges. Also saw how cashews and avocados grow. It was so much fun. When we got back into civilization we were still quite happy that we made it before dusk. We had a well deserved Stag beer and even found a bus that took us back to our boats.

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Goats who stare at hikers
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Stick animal in Dominica’s rainforest
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Hiking the Waitukubuli National Trail

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Anchorage in Dominica

We liked the island a lot. The only thing that bothered us was that the boat boys were very pushy. They came to us on their surfboards as soon as they saw us onboard and wanted to sell us fruits or take our garbage away.

I think it was after Dominica that we decided to haul out on Grenada and fly back to Germany instead of going to Curacao. We were both very homesick, missed our families and friends, plus the lack of money and difficulty to earn some while on the way led to this decision.

After some days we left for Martinique to provision with some more cheese and bread before going to Grenada. We learned this much by now, that you always need to fill the boat with good food before you come to a british island. This time we anchored in Fort de France, in the middle of the city.

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Fort-de-France, Martinique
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We squeezed as many goodies from France into our tiny fridge as we could

When we made our way to Grenada we had problems with our steering again, so we had to make a stop at St. Vincent, an island we wanted to avoid, because we read on noonsite about several burglaries and murder cases on this island involving cruisers. We dropped our anchor in front of Kingston and decided to get some hours of sleep first, then fix our steering and leave as fast as possible without going on land and clearing in. That worked out ok, nobody came to rob or kill us.

On 24th 6. we arrived in Woburn Bay, which is located at the south of Grenada. We met our friend Gaute, who had his boat on land to get it repaired after it got stolen.

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Woburn Bay with Whisper Cove Marina in front and hog island in the background
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One of our barbecues with Gaute on Hog island

We met a lot of sailors in Woburn Bay and Secret Harbour, that spend the Hurricane Season in Grenada. There were regular volleyball games every week, evenings with live music at the brewery and chilled out nights at Nimrods Rum Shop. Every Sunday there was a trailrun through the bush, a hash, carried out by the hash house harriers (they call themselves drinkers with a running problem). Every time it was located in a different part of the island, the start and endpoint was always a nice bar with cheap beer for afterwards. We took part about 3 times and it was always great fun.

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Us covered in mud and showered in beer after our second hash (they noticed we skipped our virgin ceremony the first time, so they gave us a double beer shower the second time we joined)
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Dinghy Concert in Grenada

After some weeks on Grenada we sailed up to Carricacou for a couple of days to see something else and enjoy some sailing before going back to Germany.

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Sailing to Carriacou
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I went for a nice run on Carriacou

When we came back to Grenada we prepared Mila for hauling out. So we put away the dodger and main sail, as well as the bimini and stored all the food that was left in airtight containers, to protect it from insects.

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There were some pretty bad cases in the boatyard on Grenada
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Our lady gets out of the water
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Mila secured on the hard

We flew back to Berlin on August 5. Now the plan is to work very hard until January or February. Then we hopefully are able to fly back to Grenada, get some repairs and updates done on Mila and continue our journey towards the Pacific.

A visit from my mum, rain on Guadeloupe, music on Antigua and friendly people on St. Martin

We spent some days in the Marina Bas du Fort on Guadeloupe and waited for my mother to arrive. The day after she arrived we rented a car and explored the western part of the butterfly shaped island, which is called Basse-Terre. We saw some waterfalls and stopped at the Pigeon Islands for coffee and some coconut sorbet. On the way back through the rainforest it was raining heavily.

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Exploring Basse-Terre Guadeloupe
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My mother after her safety instruction

One day later we left for Marie Galante, a small island southeast of Guadeloupe. Contrary to the weather forcast, the wind increased to 30 knots and we had several squalls. My mother had no experience sailing on the ocean and got very seasick. When we arrived at the anchorage after about 4 hours there was still some swell. On the next day we went to land by dinghy. Unfortunately the weather was still very bad and we had to hide from the rain about every 10 minutes. The following day we had better weather and went to a nice beach and a cozy beach bar for the sunset.

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Lots of rain on Marie Galante
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Don’t forget to bring a towel
Beach Marie Galante
Beach of Marie Galante in better weather
Beach bar on Marie Galante
Beach bar on Marie Galante

Then we decided to check out the Isles des Saintes, a couple of small islands west of Marie Galante. As the anchorages there are very crowded we had a hard time to find a good spot. In the end we prolonged our chain so that we were able to anchor a little bit more outside. In the daytime the village Terre de Haut was full of tourists but still quite pretty. I went for a run up to the fort Napoleon, where I had a beautiful view of the bay. The other day we found a quiet beach on the nortern side of the island where we went snorkeling.

Sunset at Isles des Saintes
Isles des Saintes Dinghy pier
Isles des Saintes Dinghy pier

After 3 days we wanted to make some way to the north in direction to Antigua and take a stop at Deshaies at the west side of Guadeloupe. We had a pleasant sail with nearly no waves and good steady 15-20 knots from the East until the wind suddenly came from the West rather than the East and messed up our schedule. In order to still arrive before sunset we changed our plans and went to the anchorage at the plage de Malendure, behind the Pigeon Islands, the beach we have already been to with the car one week earlier. We had to anchor quite close to some other boats. At about 5 in the night we were woken by a loud sound, which made us rush outside. The boat behind us has hit Mila’s starboard rear corner while getting up the anchor. The good thing was that only a piece of metal protecting the corner got dented. The next day we decided we should check out the underwater life of the famous Jaques Custeau diving spot. So we went over to Pigeon island with dinghy and paddleboard and tied them up on one of the buoys next to the reefs. The snorkeling there was really astonishing with colourful fish and big corals. It was just a little bit annoying that there were so many people diving there.

Snorkeling at the Pigeon Island reef
Snorkeling at the Pigeon Island reef
Paddleboarding at plage de Malendure
Paddleboarding at plage de Malendure

The next day we only sailed 11 nautical miles to Deshaies, where we mainly went in order to clear out of Guadeloupe. The day we arrived we saw some dolphins in the bay, swimming very close between the boats!

When we wanted to leave for Antigua two days later the wind was gusting up in the bay so we had to wait a while before we could lift up the anchor. As a result of that we arrived in Freemans bay in the dark. Luckily there were two leading lights on shore to guide us in. When we got up the next morning we found ourselves in a beautiful and very protected bay with an amazing watercolour and a funny boat with zebra stripes next to us. Lukas requested to stay there for at least a week to relax for a bit and to recover from his cold. The bay is a part of English Harbour, which the british navy used as a hurricane hole in the 18th century. As soon as I finished clearing in (quite time consuming and complicated here compared to the other islands) my mother and me visited the museum of Nelsons Dockyard, walked over to Folsom Bay and to Pigeon Beach. The next day she took a taxi to the airport at the northern part of the island. Lukas and me spend some days doing boat projects like cleaning up all the spillages we ignored for the last days, removing algies from Mila’s hull and repairing the toilet. Also we found our favourite bar of Antigua, the Lime Lounge. The owner and one or two other musicians played live music almost every night. One night Lukas jammed with them. We went for a nice walk on the the rocky costline next to the bay and I rode the foldable bike to Carlisle bay, not knowing before that there was a big mountain in between English Harbour and there.

Beautiful anchorage in Freemans Bay, Antigua
Nelson's Dockyard
Nelson’s Dockyard
The hummingbird of Nelson's dockyard
The hummingbird of Nelson’s dockyard
English Harbour view from the mountain
English Harbour view from the mountain
A walk on the cliffs
A walk on the cliffs
Jamming at the Lime Lounge
Jamming at the Lime Lounge

After nine days we set sail to Jolly Harbour. On the way we were struck by the super clear water, we could see the ground of the ocean at 14 meters!

In Jolly Harbour there is one of the only big supermarkets of Antigua, it was nice to be able to get everything we needed again, although the prices were quite high. We took a minivan to Saint Johns, the capital of the island. We didn’t like it there too much. A big part of the city consisted of a duty free shopping mall for the passengers of the cruise ships and the other part was mainly quite run down.

Funnily we ran into Manu and Stian from Mira Polaris in the the Jolly Harbour supermarket. We already met them in Mindelo and then coincidentally in Martinique. They were planning to go to a bay a little bit to the north called Deep Bay, because there was a great spot for snorkeling at a wreck. We decided to join them. And Deep Bay turned out to be a very pleasant anchorage with only a couple of other boats. We went snorkeling and had a nice barbecue/bonfire at the beach. As we almost had no water left and there was no place to leave our garbage we left for St. Martin some days later.

Deep Bay, Antigua
Deep Bay, Antigua

It was the first over night sail after a while. St. Martin or Sint Maarten is a peculiar island because it has a French part and a Dutch part. We were told it was much more convenient to clear in at the French side. So we dropped our anchor in Marigot bay on the French side and planned to go into the lagoon after two days and anchor somewhere close to the Dutch side. Now we have been here about one week and still didn’t go into the lagoon. The bridge opening times don’t match with our shedule. But we did visit the famous Maho beach, right next to the Princess Juliana Airport. A good beach for us because Lukas normally gets bored on the beach very fast, but not if he can watch the constantly starting or landing airplanes. The motto of St. Martin is “The friendly island” and we must say that St. Martin people really are super friendly. One day we were carrying our groceries on the side of the street and a friendly lady with a pickup drove us back to our dinghy. Later at night when we were on our way back from partying, an other friendly lady also drove us to where we left our dinghy. Speaking of dinghys, we finally picked up our new dinghy now! We are super happy to get to places without being completely soaked. Still working on the planing with the two of us in the boat though. The outboard is not accelerating enough, so we might have to buy a different propeller.

The St. Martin lagoon is full of rusting wrecks
The St. Martin lagoon is full of wrecks
Maho beach
Maho beach
Unwrapping our new dinghy :) :) :)
Unwrapping our new dinghy, feeling like it’s Christmas

We want to stay in St Martin for a bit longer and maybe lift Mila out of the water to repaint her antifouling, which is already very worn off. Once that is done, we will get going for Panama. Oh, and we have to fix our toilet… again.

Canaries to Cape Verde and crossing the Atlantic

On december 27 we left Gran Canaria for Cape Verde. There was still a lot of sand in the air, so almost no sun and moon visible. We spend a very relaxed New Years Eve at sea, just had a bottle of sparkling wine and continued with our shifts apart from that. The young crews of cargo ships were going crazy on the VHF playing party music and exchanging new years wishes during the night. We had a bird visiting for 3 days, occupying all the floor space in the galley. We arrived in Mindelo on São Vicente after 6.5 days. After going to the immigration office we had some welcome beers in the floating harbour bar with the crews of Paloma, Mira Polaris and Isis. We liked the atmosphere of Mindelo a lot. There was a good live band playing in almost every bar and sometimes outdoors and most of the Cape Verdeans are happy and friendly people.

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Mindelo Harbour at sunset
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Mindelo city

Provisioning for the big crossing ahead of us was a little bit tricky as the supermarkets had only limited amount of food available and almost no vegetables and fruits. For that we had to go to the market, were it was difficult to get a good deal without speaking Portuguese. Lukas had problems buying fresh meat. Pretty much only fish was available. As the water quality in the harbour pipes was not the best, we stocked up on 35 five liters canisters of water. The good thing was that the supermarket had a very uncomplicated system of delivery. An employee just accompanied us to the marina with the shopping carts and took them back after unloading.

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Storing additional water under the saloon table

One day we went for a hike with some sailor friends on the neighbour island Santo Antão. We got up awfully early, caught the ferry at 7am and then jumped on a minivan to go up to a volcano and hiked down to the coast from there. The landscape changed a lot from being quite dry up in the volcano to super green and full of exotic plants when we went further down the valley. For the first time we saw banana palms, papaya trees, coffee trees, huge fields of sugarcane and many more. The vegetation on São Vicente is a lot more barren then the one on this island. We came trough little villages of the farmers and I managed to buy a papaya directly from the source. It was a wonderful day, when we arrived on the coast we were all exhausted and found a cozy art cafe, where we had some great typical Cape Verdean food. We waited so long for it that we almost missed the last ferry back to our island. The very laid back owner kept telling us not to worry and organized a faster minivan driver for us so we could enjoy our food. We were lucky that the ferry was delayed.

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Hiking on Santo Antão

After one very frustrating day of boat projects, a visit to the beach in Calhau, a nice barbeque on the pier with vegetables and fish from the market, some uno and drinks with the other crews, some more exploring of Mindelos nightlife, and some final provisioning, we decided it was time to go sailing for real and cross the Atlantic.

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Calhau beach

We left on January 11 some hours after Paloma. We already had about 20 knots of wind in the marina and dented our bathing ladder while getting out of our berth. In the acceleration zone between the islands we had about 30 knots of wind for a time. In the first night we had a hard time sailing because the wind behind the islands was not consistent at all, changing directions and sometimes dying completely. After sunrise the wind settled and we had about 20 knots from the East. We were starting to feel comfortable until I discovered that our beloved Booster had torn apart. I tried to tape it and sew it and gave up when I realized that we didn’t have enough repair tape onboard. We decided to postpone the repair until we had the right material. So we set our genua and still made a good speed of around 5 knots. On the next day we overtook the Paloma. When we were next to them, both boats caught a mahi mahi. As the fish was 95 cm long and I don’t eat fish, Lukas had some problems eating all of it.

Catching up with Paloma
Catching up with Paloma
95 cm Mahi Mahi
95 cm Mahi Mahi

On the next day we made 138 nautical miles with the boomed out genua and the boomed out jib. Every night flying fish were landing on the foredeck and in the cockpit. Whenever we heard a noise followed by some flapping we knew what happened, I got a torch and a glove and hurried outside to throw the little fella back into the water. About every second night I baked a bread or some buns in our omnia oven. The rest of the time we spend reading, watching stars and films, cooking, eating, washing up, taking deck showers, cleaning the boat, sunbathing, sleeping, playing guitar, fishing, snoozing, writing messages on our satphone and occasionally chatting to other boats on the radio. The days seemed quite short and resembled each other. Actually we did not have to do a lot during the crossing as we did not get hit by a single squall. Just sometimes a little bit of rain, but no wind gusts at all. We were a little bit disapointed that the sky was quite overcast for most of the time, but that got better in the second half. On January 20 we made half of the way, so I allowed us the last two beers that I had hidden to save them for that occasion. Thereafter we had two days of light wind, which made us miss our booster. At one time we needed to take in the sails and run the engine for a couple of hours. We did 6 hours shifts during the day and 4 hour during the night. When we approached Barbados on the 28th the wind increased and we had 20 knots again.

One of the many flying fish that died on our fordeck
One of the many flying fish that died on our fordeck
Fresh buns, one already missing
Fresh buns, one already missing
Reading one of the 40 books
Reading one of the 40 books
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Windpilot, doing its job great without ever complaining
Overtaking the Little Coconut
Overtaking the Little Coconut
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Mila, doing a great job as well
We can see the land!
We can see the land!

We had to come into the deepwater harbour of Bridgetown to clear in. That one is build for the huge cruise ships and was very bad to Mila and got her some black strains on the side because our fenders were too small for the gaps in the wall. Fortunately it didn’t take very long to get the formalities over with. We then went out to the anchorage in Carlisle Bay and dropped our anchor close to the Norwegian boat Isis. We were overwhelmed by the bright turquoise colour of the water close to the beach. The beach is quite noisy with some beach bars on it, jet skies, horse riding, these rocket thingies that I just know from the videos at McFit, ah flyboards they are called. We noticed that the sun was more intense here and both got our first sunburn on the trip. On the left side of the bay is a channel, which is convenient for driving into town with the dinghy. Landing on the beach is a bit hard due to the surf. We noticed that food is extremely expensive on Barbados. Now we are dividing our time between boat work and having fun, like we always do. On the fun side we went out with the dinghy to look for turtles. Didn’t see any yet, but instead we found a huge wreck with some interesting fish hovering over it, which was definately the highlight of our snorkeling experiences so far.

Anchored in the Carlisle Bay, Barbados
Anchored in the Carlisle Bay, Barbados

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Brownes beach, Bridgetown

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Snorkeling in Carlisle Bay
Mila's underwater hull needs some cleaning now
Mila’s underwater hull needs some cleaning now

We left Portugal, spent some time in Morocco and arrived on Lanzarote

We stayed in Oeiras for quite some more time, enjoying the heavily floured buns from the marina for 13 days. The reason was that we decided to sail to Morocco instead of Madeira and therefore needed a steady North. When it was finally there, we still had to wait for a packet with some spare parts from SVB in Germany. The good thing was that we could celebrate Lukas birthday with all our boat friends with a nice bonfire at the beach. Also we bought a foldable bike in Lisbon, which made us so much more mobile. Sadly we had to say goodbye to Landkrabbene and Rosanna. And also to Oda, whom we only met one evening. She is sailing to Australia on her own, quite impressive!

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Oeiras Marina
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Harbour wall Oeiras marina
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Beach promenade Oeiras

Finally our packet arrived and we left the harbour with Tuuli, which also was going to Morroco. We were very happy to be out at sea again. We had the best sail ever, with 10-18 knots from behind, perfect for our booster.

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Buddy boating with Tuuli

In the evening of the the third day we arrived in Mohammedia. The harbour was quite full, we had to go alongside to a Moroccan boat that lay at the end of the pier. The harbour master sent us to the immigration office. We were surprised that the officer there kept our passports and the boat papers. When we came back to the marina the harbour master told us to wait for the harbour master of the outer harbour, where the big container ships are docked. So we waited in his office, watching some Moroccan television. When he came he told us that we have to pay 26€ per day for being in the big harbour plus 4€ for the facilities of the marina, a hot shower and wifi in front of the building. We were quite shocked about that price as we expected something close to 13€, like we read it in the internet. But apparently they changed the fees a bit since 2004. We were told that the customs officer would visit us in the morning. So we tidied up the boat and were not sure if we should hide some of our booze or just be honest about it. We have not really found clear information about how much alcohol you are allowed to import. In the end we settled for being honest if they asked about it.

We got up at 10 in the morning and thought the customs guy would arrive every minute. But instead another guy from the marina arrived and told us to go alongside another boat and not be so much in the way for the fishers anymore. Another German boat shortly came alongside us. After some hours we saw a very official looking guy with an uniform heading for us. That was the customs officer. He requested to see our boat papers and passports. When we told him we had to leave them at the police station he said he will come back with the police officer. We waited some more and saw that all the boats that arrived after us got their clearance before us. So we asked him. Then apparently he had lost interest and told us we were free to go. Oh, in the meantime also a guy from the coastguard came over and wanted to see our papers. Well, we wanted to take the train to Rabat, so Kristy and Thomas from Tuuli and Lukas and I went to the police office and got our passports and a 3 day Visa which we had to show to the guards at the barrier and after just 3 hours we were able to leave the harbour. The street was scattered with feathers and smelled of blood. We manged to find the train station, which was very modern. In Rabat we strolled over a market and stood a little bit too long on a crossing checking our phones to decide which way to take. Suddenly we had a guide who took us to a beautiful cemetary at the sea and showed us the medina. Well the thing about „don’t worry about it, you just pay what you want“ was more like „pay at least 30€ or you are a very bad person, most people pay 50€“ Before catching the train back to Mohammedia we ate some tagine and drank some awesome coffe in a restaurant. The tagine is a kind of stew served very hot in a clay pot. That restaurant even had a vegetarian option.

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Huge cemetary in Rabat overlooking the Atlantic
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Kasbah of Rabat
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Stray cats of Rabat

In the evening of the next day Tuuli and Mila left the very noisy harbour of Mohammedia to El Jadida. Unfortunately we had no wind so we had to use the engine for the whole trip. When I tried to talk to the harbour master of El Jadida on the radio I got no reply, I guess women are just ignored on the Moroccan radio. At least we could hear his conversation with Thomas so we understood that we were supposed to anchor just under a fort in the harbour. The Royal Yacht Club of El Jadida consists of 3 little boats rotting away on a pier. There were no showers or toilets, no wifi and we had to pay 26€ just for anchoring. Quite a difference to what you pay for food there, 90 cents for a sandwich and fries. The harbour was crowded with traditional fishing boats and we felt a little displaced with our yacht there. Even tough the water smelled like fish some children swam around in the harbour circling Tuuli and Mila. The city of El Jadida was less touristic than Rabat.

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El Jadida
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Tuuli and Mila at anchor next to El Jadida Kasbah
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Fishing boats El Jadida harbour
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washing hanging everywhere

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The next day Kristy and I took a train to Casablanca in order to visit the Hassan ll Mosque, one of very few mosques you are allowed to enter as a non-Muslim. It was an impressive builing and we learned a bit about the Islamic culture on the tour. As we did not feel like going trough another struggle with all the authorities in the next harbour we decided to leave Morocco and head for Lanzarote next. We were definately glad that we visited the country and had a lot of impressions to process on our next passage. And also I had some amazing sugarcane and pomegranates to nibble on.

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Kristy and me at the Hassan ll Mosque in Casablanca
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Old town of Casablanca

When we approached Lanzarote after 3 days at sea we decided to first visit the Isla La Graciosa north of Lanzarote so we could arrive in daylight. The island is just about 29 squarekilometers big and looks like a mini desert with three volcanoes on it. It has no ashalted roads and just one village, the other village just consists of holiday houses. We climbed up one of the craters and went for some swimming and snorkeling in the superclear water. Also we had a very good pizza and some rum with honey for desert.

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We had a little visitor on our way to the Canaries, sadly it died from exhaustion after some hours and didn’t want to eat anything
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Approaching Lanzarote on the left and La Graciosa on the right
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Caleta del Sebo on Isla La Graciosa
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La Graciosa, view from the crater

The next day we left for Arrecife on the eastcoast of Lanzarote. The water was so clear that we could see our shadow on the ground of the ocean in about 20 meters depth. The marina Lanzarote is huge and very convenient, it has lots of shops and restaurants. There is a Burger King directly at the gate of our pier. So it is kind of hard to keep Lukas from going there at least once every day. We rented a car and explored the island. Visited some caves and looked down from the cliffs that we saw from La Graciosa. The next day Lukas drove me to the Timanfaya National Park, I took a bus tour through the volcanoes there and ran 29 km back to Arrecife. Especially the first part of the track was very beautiful with the black lava fields. It was interesting to see how the farmers here are cultivating plants on the black lava sand.

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La Graciosa seen from Lanzarote

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Cueva de los Verdes, Lanzarote
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Timanfaya National Park

Yesterday we found the courage to restart our project watertank. Since we found out in Hohensaaten that we couldn’t stop them from leaking, we have been using water canisters. We ordered new tanks to a shipyard in Oeiras and have been driving them around since then. We managed to install one of them and for once it worked, not leaking… yet. Big day for Mila and us. Let’s see when we will find the courage for the next tank.

Today we want to leave the marina and go to anchor somewhere close before we proceed to Fuerteventura.

I ran the Berlin Marathon, we crossed the Bay of Biscay to Spain and now we are in Portugal!

Olá dear readers, I am sorry I did not write my blogpost sooner, we were too busy enjoying our life the last weeks and I never found the time.

We have a new crewmember since sunday, our friend Moritz came from Berlin. I’m pretty sure he will catch a fish before Lukas, who still caught nothing but some seaweed and a bird. But more about that later.
About three weeks ago we left Mila all alone in the harbour in Brest and went to Berlin with the Flixbus, which only cost us about 60€ per person but was of course extremely uncomfortable. It took about 22 hours, with a little break in Paris.
We were happy to meet our families and friends and to have some drinks in our favourite bar, the Flop. On the 25th I ran my first marathon in 3:56. Five days went over really fast and then we headed back to Brest to continue our journey. It was a strange feeling to return to the harbour, like dropping into a completely different life again.
After we made sure everything on the boat was fine we drove to Camaret sur mer, just 11 nautical miles from Brest. We arrived in the dark and I was super tired from the travelling but Lukas convinced me that we should go to the Irish pub and eat a pizza and drink some pints. When we arrived there it was too late for pizza sadly, so we just had the beers and watched the barkeepers’ impressing games of darts.
Camaret is much more charming than Brest. We were especially fond of the ancient ships rusting away on the side of the harbour.

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Camaret sur Mer

The next morning we got visited by some customs officers that were anchoring in front of the harbour. As they were a lot of officers coming to watch one guy filling out some forms Lukas didn’t invite them inside but let them sit outside in the rain. Fortunately they still found nothing to complain about. So we paid the harbour fee, got some water in our canisters and bunkered 150 liters of diesel for the crossing of the Bay of Biscay.
Due to our detour to Berlin we couldn’t cross it together with Tuuli and all the other boats with young crews that they met in Camaret, so we went on our own.
The leg started pleasant with about 10 knots and a crazy crowd of dolphins hunting for jumping fish around us in the first night.
The next night was less pleasant with about 35 knots in the peaks. We sailed through it with just the jib up and were racing along with up to 8,4 knots. I took this photo the next morning, when the waves already got smaller.

Waves on the Bay of Biscay
Waves on the Bay of Biscay

In the evening the wind died and we had to use the engine until the harbour. It took us 63 hours from Camaret sur Mer in France to A Coruña in Spain.

In A Coruña we had a great time partying with sailors from Norway, England, Sweden, Germany/US, Belgium, South Norway. One evening we tried to fit 12 people into a tapas bar.
For sobering out Lukas and I wanted to visit the Hercules tower, which is situated on a cliff north of the marina. The tower was already closed when we arrived there, but the view from the cliffs below the tower was amazing enough anyways.

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Cliffs north of A Coruña
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My headache disappeared and I made a handstand to celebrate 🙂

We also got out our snorkeling gear and went for a dive with Sigurd and Tobias from the Landkrabbene. It was fun, although the water was too agitated to see anything.

Snorkeling on the big beach in A Coruña
Snorkeling on the big beach in A Coruña

When we had enough of A Coruña we left the harbour together with the sail boats Tuuli, Rosanna, Landkrabbene, Divina Remi and Danae. We were starting a bit later than the others because we had to get some diesel in the morning. I am proud to say that we still arrived in the bay of Camariñas first 🙂 Our colourful booster did a great job in the steady wind from the north, driving us forward really fast.

Lukas booming out the booster
Lukas booming out the booster

Oh, almost forgot the fishing story. Lukas came to wake me up for my shift and suddenly we heard the fishing rod making sounds outside. When we rushed out we discovered it was a big bird, we think a kind of grey gannet that bit on the rubber octopus Lukas was fishing with on the surface.
My stomach flipped over at the thought of Lukas having to pull out the feathers of that bird, spill blood everywhere and eat it, because when it’s dead anyway you should at least eat what you caught. I helped him to carefully pull the heavy bird onto the boat, trying not to break its neck. When it sat there in the net in the back of the boat it was alive and we saw that it spat out the lure already so we didn’t have to risk our fingers getting near its sharp bead. We got him back to the water as quickly as possible and were extremely releaved to see him fly away. Unfortunately there was no time to take a picture for the blog. After we were not shaking anymore Lukas started fishing again with a heavier lure, that was not staying on the surface. And … had bad luck again. The reel broke when he caught a giant bulk of seaweed. I have to confess that I was happy he wasn’t able to fish for some time then until he bought a new reel.

All the boats were anchoring next to each other in the bay in Camariñas and we had two nice campfire evenings with two guitars on the surrounding beaches.

Anchoring with boat buddies in the bay of Camariñas
Anchoring with boat buddies in the bay of Camariñas

I also paddled into the river with my paddleboard and found a beautiful little beach just for myself. See here:

Lonely beach at the mouth of Ria do Porto in Camariñas
Lonely beach at the mouth of Ria do Porto in Camariñas
View from the top
View from the top

Lukas came by with the dinghy and we went for an exploration up the river. It was really interesting to see the colour of the water changing from the shallow mouth towards the inland where it got a lot deeper. We could see a lot of fish under us in the clear water.

Further up in the river
Further up in the river

We pulled up the anchor on Saturday midday and had perfect sailing conditions until the Cape Fisterra, where the wind picked up a lot and we had to steer by hand as the windpilot started to steer a zigzag course which caused the boat to lean from one side to the other side in every wave which was slightly annoying.

Cape Fisterra - the Romans thought it would be the end of the world before America was discovered
Cape Fisterra – the Romans thought it would be the end of the world before America was discovered

In the evening the wind decreased a bit until it died completely. We had to use the engine and had some dolphins visiting us again in the dark. After a while a heavy fog appeared reducing the visability to about 30 meters. I started to sound the horn every two minutes making it impossible for Lukas to get any sleep. But as we still didn’t install our radar I was a little bit scared we might run into a boat without AIS. Luckily there were almost no ships around us except of some fishers. When we reached the harbour of Póvoa de Varzim in Portugal at 8 in the morning everything was still covered in fog and the harbour was filled with hundereds of mullets eating stuff on the surface of the water. We slept for a while and then visited the city centre to get some breakfast. We got breakfast and 4 pairs of shoes for 50€. And we also went to a Portuguese Lidl to restock our provisions. In the night Moritz arrived with the metro. The next day he had a walk in the city while Lukas tidyed up the boat and I went for my first run after the marathon.
Well, that was yesterday, in the afternoon we motored about 3 hours to Porto. When we arrived we were greeted by Emilie from a Norwegian Hallberg Rassy. Had some lovely cheese and port wine on a big new German boat without the Germans, but with an Irish guy and the Norwegian girls. When we moved to our boat we also conviced the Crew of the German boat Kobold to join us and in the end had about 11 people in the saloon heating up the air quite a bit 🙂
Was a really cool evening, thanks to everyone for making our first night in Porto awesome. We learned that it is really more communicative to park the boat with its butt to the pier, so that other sailors can see the home port, which is a great conversation opener.

Puh, I think I’m through now. As soon as Lukas is back from getting our outboard engine fixed we can finally go and explore the city.

Adiós for now, don’t let autumn get you down in Germany 😛
Well to be honest, sometimes temperatures are getting lower here as well, so it’s not the weather for t-shirts all the time anymore, actually I’m sitting in the cockpit at the moment with a blanket wrapped around me.

From Dover to Isle of Wight and back to France

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Our track since Dunkerque

In Dover we stayed in the Tidal Harbour, which was with 30.80 pound the most expensive harbour on our trip so far. Unfortunately we were stuck there for 3 days, due to weak wind and fog. But during our stay we met the crew from sailing boat Milan. The skipper participated in the Tall Ship Race the year before and now also wants to cross the Atlantic. We could have seen them in Aalborg last year when we came back from our first vacation with Mila on the North Sea. We had a little bit too much Jägermeister from Helgoland with them.
We liked the promenade, with its yellow to orange stones on the beach and smooth pavement, perfect for longboarding. We didn’t like that you couldn’t even look down from the hill with the castle without paying the overpriced fee.

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Dover Tidal Harbour at high tide
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Dover beach

After some foggy days in Britain we were happy to get wind force 3 from South West on Tuesday, planning to sail to a wild anchorage in France and hopefully find the summer again.

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On Friday midday we had to use the engine as the wind faded. After some hours one of the seals in our motor started leaking, so we searched for a Vetus Service nearby and it turned out one was on the Isle of Wight. Lukas was a little bit happy that he got to see this sailor’s mecca even though we wanted to skip it in order to get to the Bay of Biscay earlier.

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Racing sailing boats on the Solent

We moored at Cowes Yacht Haven. A mechanic came aboard the next day and fixed the problem and also did the next engine service as it was due again.

The people from the marina wanted us to leave as soon as possible because the whole harbour was booked for the participants of a race. So we went to Osborne Bay just West of Cowes to anchor there. We had quite a bit of swell there but we were happy not to spend any money for some time after having to pay for the engine service. Over the phone payment, by the way, if someone from payleven is reading this 🙂 The bay is private property of the Queen, so we were not able to take the dinghy to land. We spend two relaxing days in the bay as the wind was too strong to continue our trip. Lukas tried to catch a fish and failed. I got the guitar out of the rear bunk and practiced a bit.

As soon as the wind decreased a little bit we pulled the anchor and drove to the western end of the Solent and out in the Needles Channel. The sea can be quite rough there when you don’t pass it in high tide, it was not too bad when we went through.

Driving trough the Needles Channel
Driving trough the Needles Channel
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We were out of beer and wine since Osborne Bay, so we had to drink this strange beverage
Our navigation table at night
Our navigation table at night

After about 16 hours we arrived at 8 in the morning in a cosy little bay in Saint-Germain-des-Vaux. We slept for some hours and then took the dinghy to shore in order to explore the area. I went running for about 30 km on a beautiful track on the coast. Lukas bought some fish from one of the fishers, I stole some corn from the fields and we had a barbecue on the beach. Yesterday we visited the closest supermarket, which was 8 km away. Luckily the longboard carried the heavy stuff for us again, hill up and hill down and through tiny old villages.

Port Racine, Saint-Germain-des-Vaux
Port Racine, Saint-Germain-des-Vaux, Mila in the back, anchoring next to the small fisher boats
Getting ready for the Berlin Marathon in this beautiful landscape is easy
Getting ready for the Berlin Marathon in this beautiful landscape is easy

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New accessory on our outboard engine
New accessory on our outboard engine