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Date: 30 Oct 2010 11:12:29
Title: Benalmadena

24/10/2010                  Distance: 78 NM       "36:35.7N 4:30.7W"

 

We arrived to Puerto de Almeria on the 24th and got our boat into the pen, which was not easy in 20 knt cross wind. I did not mention in my last description of the Mediterranean-mooring that it is normally simple and easy: after securing the stern ropes me or the “sailor” from the marina fishes out the bow-rope that runs along the full length of the pen. I grab it with a boat hook, take it forward and tie it at the bow (front of the boat) cleats (used to secure ropes) thus eventually securing the front from drifting sideway. In this case, with the strong cross wind, simply there was not enough time to get fast enough to the bow with the rope. To make things worse there was only a small motor boat half of our size moored next to us on the lee side. At the end, with some tricky maneuvering, we managed to tame our beast and tie her up.

 

But, after we had a good dinner and a couple of glasses of the reasonably good local wine at the nearby restaurant, our nerves were calmed.  

 

25/10/2010

 

Health report: Steve                              in recovery

                        Liz                                excellent

                        Transmission                 excellent

                        Autopilot                      sick     

 

Next morning full of enthusiasm Steve got up at 6.00 am and we started to prepare to leave. I downloaded the weather reports. After all those weeks of work in Barcelona on the Iridium connection, the installation of the Mailasail software and getting rid of all those silly automatic Microsoft  updates, we have now a really good (though very slow) working sea-Email facility. I can get weather reports in text and GRIB (the sort of thing one sees on TV with the wind speed and direction superimposed on a map) format. We studied all the details and concluded that the conditions were unfavorable ie. head-on 10-20 knt wind from the West. Thus we delayed our departure by a day. The forecast was a favorable Easterly10-15 knts for the next day.

 

We had a great day lazying around. Steve consulted the local Volvo expert, purchased some metallic seals for “the nut” and some spare transmission oil. Just in case….

 

Considering that we were just about to return to civilization we decided to celebrate it with a haircut. The local hairdresser who attended to our over grown lawless locks was so pleased with her achievement that she encouraged us to take of photo of the result. (I expected something better)

 

 

 

26/10/2010

 

We started a 4.00 in the morning. This is not for us and we were quite grumpy as a result of our decision. It was dark until 8.00 am! Perhaps, this is behind the late start of work in Spain. You do not get decent daylight until 9.00 am.

 

But it turned out to be a perfect day! After the sun came up on the horizon the big waves smoothed and the wind direction changed to NW, though not quite the forecast E. We sailed towards our destination at 6.5 knts.

 

Beautiful, quiet and so peaceful. This is what sailing is about! I even pulled out a book to read, Don Quixote. Last time I touched it I was a teenager and I found it, how to say, quite boring. But now, there is a new, brilliant translation and the story is so engaging that it reads like a thriller. By the way Cervantes’ masterpiece is considered to be the pillar of Western literary tradition. All tricks ever used to engage readers are used in this book. Having finished the first 5 chapters I cannot avoid thinking that we all live in our imaginary worlds where we fight our windmills day by day. Who said that our endeavor, like crossing the Atlantic, was more worthwhile?

 

Cervantes served in the Allied Christian Army that fought the Turks in the Battle of Lepanto. Perhaps it was that experience which for once and for all taught him about the futility human efforts and human nature with all its weaknesses and strength.

 

History lesson: Lepanto was the site where Christian forces beat the Turkish fleet ending years of Turkish dominance of the Mediterranean sea and bringing Turkish expansionist dreams along the shores of the Western Mediterranean to an end.

By the end of the 16th century the Turkish occupation against the Venetian empire was real. The Venetians, after the terrible humiliating defeat at Famagusta in Cyprus, decided to challenge the threatening proliferation of the Turks. They found an unlikely supporter in Pope Pius V who took the initiative and established the Holy League. After long delays the League was cobbled together to include the Republic of Genoa, the Republic of Venice, Spain, the Knights of Malta, the Pope, Tuscany, the Duchy of Savoy, Naples, Sicily and Sardinia. Notably, France was absent.  Even that time back the French had other ideas about world affairs.  The Holy League was supposed to unite the great naval powers of the Christian Mediterranean against the Ottoman forces. However, like a modern day European Union the participants could hardly agree on anything: not least who was going to lead the European forces. After almost a year of bickering the Spanish King Felipe II named Don Juan of Austria, the bastard son of Charles V, as the commander but made sure that he remained under supervision: he had to seek the approval of his senior commanders Doria of Genoa, Barbarigo of Venice, Colonna of Rome and Cardona of Sicily. After lots of delays the Holy League ships arrived at the island of Corfu in the autumn of 1571 and started to look for the Ottoman Navy made up of 274 warships, mainly galleys. 

On October 6th, without the Europeans noticing, the Ottoman scouts took the news to their commander Ali Pasha about the arrival of the Holy League. Ali decided to completely abandon the security of Lepanto and sailed to meet the Europeans in the Gulf of Patmas. In spite of their bickering, the Europeans managed to put together a potent force of 206 galleys and 6 galleasses, strengthened by a series of significant innovations.  Most importantly, the galleasses had elevated front decks with a heavy cannon pointing to the bow. Their solders were positioned on the elevated platform of the bow behind the canon thus they were protected and their shots would carry further. The soldiers, for the first time in a naval battle carried arquebuses, an early form of the rifle. The Turkish forces were equipped only with bows. Finally the European ships were equipped with boarding nets. The sailors knew how to throw and climb these nets.

“Luck favours the prepared” and when the wind turned behind the Holy League’s fleet with their oarsman rested the European force got the upper hand. After the loss of the Sultana, the Ottoman flagship, and the beheading of Ali early in the battle the spirit of the Ottoman forces was broken. By sunset the sea was red not only from the rays of the setting sun but from the blood of 27,000 people, mostly Turks, and the battle was over. To the surprise many in Europe the Holy League won the battle. Finally, the Christian forces managed to stop the Ottoman expansion into the Western Mediterranean.

 

The story of Don Quixote goes for a thousand pages so it will entertain me at least until the Canary Islands.

 

In an interesting coincidence Steve has been reading a book by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, “Nomad”. Ayaan is an extraordinary woman of Somalian origin who escaped from an arranged marriage to the Netherlands. She became an MP and started a crusade for the rights of Muslim women. She now lives in the USA and ended up with a “Fatva” on her head. On the day before we left Perth she gave several interviews on Australian TV and I was so impressed with her articulate explanations that in spite of being crazy busy I rushed out and bought her book. She thinks that the world is heading for another “Battle of Lepanto” with an ever more fundamentalist Islam that has to date missed out on reformation and enlightenment.

 

We reached Benalmadena around 18.30. No dramas.

 

27/10/2010

 

Kynan and Mark arrived. It was nice welcoming them on the boat. Now Steve will have two strong pairs of hands to help him. We gave them a quick tour of the boat, they unpacked and we went out for dinner. Lobster hot pot and paella accompanied by, what else but Rioja red wine , and followed by divine Cream Caramel.

 

Kynan Wall

 

I have 25yrs sailing experience. I have been a member of Royal Queensland Yacht Club for 22 years but I moved to Perth, Western Australia in 2006.

 

I have raced dinghies since I was 6 years old:

·        Won Australian National teams racing championships in 1991 and runner up in 1992.

·        I raced contenders for a few years and have owned my 49er for 5 years.

·        I have done 5 x 49er national championships in a row with best result 5th.

·         I also attended World Championships in Melbourne in 2007 (had a shocker though and came 72nd!).

 

I own an S80 in the Swan river and recently sailed it to Bunbury for race

week.

 

In June last year I sailed with my parents in their 46ft Savage Oceanic

from Bali to Darwin over a month.

 

I have done 3 x non-stop deliveries from Brisbane to Sydney (4 nights

each), one delivery of a catamaran from Brisbane to Hamilton Island (5

nights), and a delivery from Langkawi to Phuket last year.

 

For the last 2 years, I have managed the Mounts Bay Sailing Club's

sailing programs.

 

I am currently production manager at a salad plant at Bibra Lake. I'm

more than happy to take time off to cross the pond!

 

Mark Cowling

 

I was educated at an outward- bound school in South Africa and learned initiative, self-confidence and decision-making as part of our general education.

 

I was given a boat when I was six, learnt to sail fast and my dad built me a mirror from a kit. Six years later I won the Mirror State title in South Africa.

I won the title three years in a row, but was unable to do the national championships due to school commitments.

I was selected to go to the World Optimist Championships in 1976 but due to politics, as a South African, we were refused entry.

My dad and I then sailed Lasers, Fireballs and then Hunters.

I also sailed off East London and Port Elizabeth (RSA) on some of the Cape to Rio contenders.

 

Due to work commitments, I did not sail for some time.

 

I then sailed a Spacesailer 22 and now sail on an Etchell and have been very successful this season.

I also worked on a professional tuna boat out of Port Lincoln (South Australia) and have experienced the Southern Ocean weather.

Having run my own retail business for 15 years, I sold the commercial property and now do home maintenance and handyman duties as a new venture.

 

I have been married to my lovely wife Deborah for 19 years and we have three sons together, Matthew (18), Luke (12) and Jake (10).

 

My family has given me total support to realise my dream to sail the Atlantic.

 

28/10 2010

 

We stocked up with food today. We ended up with five full shopping trolleys. There is no need for any explanation, just look at the photo. While busying ourselves with shopping Kynan delivered the boat motorbike to Manilva. It will be stored at his friends place during our time in the Caribbean.

 

 

 “Let me off!, Let me off!, Let me off!”….After procuring a new battery and eventually getting the scooter running after over a year of inaction I drove the scooter from Benalmadena to Manilva today. Unlicensed, unregistered, uninsured and on a dual lane highway for most of the way. The scooter’s top speed is around 55km/h and I managed to get stuck on the highway for approximately 30km with cars and trucks whizzing past at 130km/hr. That is until the policia pulled me over. I had no driver’s licence, no passport, and no papers for the scooter. They yelled at me in Spanish for a while and then told me to get off the highway at Marbella, which was absolutely fine with me!

From Marbella I flagged down a flat-bed tow truck and we loaded the bike onto it for the remaining 40km to Manilva. Goji is kindly looking after it for the duration. It was an exciting start to the trip! Mark and I went out for a well deserved few drinks in Benalmadena to finish off the day. Kynan.


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