Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Itching to sail away into the Mediterranean!

13 February 2013

 We can’t say we haven’t been enjoying our time in Gibraltar over the winter. The weather has been mostly very good and nothing like the bleak few months we had been expecting. We’ve done plenty of exploring, met some great people and had a lot of fun. Rob’s has made some serious inroads into a book draft of our 2011 sailing adventures in South East Asia. Karen’s been able to get a brush in her hand again and has turned out some very nice portraits and has also begun working on illustrations for Rob’s book. Marc was able to enjoy a trip back home to London and a catch up with family and a lot of friends and since returning has just about burnt out his Kindle churning through books at a prodigious rate. Yes it’s all been good with plenty of laughs.  Hell we even came second in the pub quiz at The Lounge this week so why are we all so mad keen to get out of here?
Gib has been a ton of fun but we're ready to move on
One of the illustrations Karen has done for the book about our South East Asian sailing adventures in 2011 Rob is working on. If you'd like to see more of her work follow the link to her Karen Oberg Artist facebook page

Sitting still obviously no longer suits us and we all can’t wait to throw off the lines and start heading east towards the coming summer’s cruising grounds around Southern France, Corsica, Sardinia, Italy’s Amalfi Coast and Sicily. The conventional wisdom is that the Mediterranean sailing season runs from about late May-early June to late September-early October but we have no intention of waiting that long. March to November is more our style and we’ll happily put up with a bit of cooler weather each end if it means we can get back to wandering from anchorage to anchorage discovering new places and new experiences.

So now we’re getting Alcheringa ready to take on another season. In fact from the time we tied up in the marina back at the end of October we have set aside a day a week to work on the boat. Some weeks boat day would simply involve a good scrub from bow to stern on deck and below. However, after cruising the Balearics and Spanish Coast for four months since buying Alcheringa, we discovered a lot about her and developed a pretty solid list of fixes and improvements that we’ve worked through during the winter. We’re pleased to say that our work list is now pretty short and continues to get even shorter.
There's a lot of bits in there. Fortunately after being cleaned, oiled and greased, they all went back where they were supposed to .

Today we pulled apart and serviced all four of our winches for the first time. It was a little daunting thinking about it but thanks to some excellent instructional videos on youtube it proved to be no real problem at all. It’s amazing what you find when you google ‘Servicing Harken Winches’. The next job we tackled was a safety issue that had concerned us since we first sailed the boat out of harbour. For some reason Jeanneau do not provide any secure anchor points at all in the cockpit which we could clip our safety harnesses to. After seeking some advice on the excellent Jeanneau Owners Network Forum, that’s now fixed and we have four secure fittings spread throughout. Our last job this afternoon was fitting a very neat, folding mast step which will make life a lot easier up forward for the vertically challenged amongst us when reaching up to the sail bag or attaching the mainsail halyard.
New safety harness attaching points bolted through the deck
Nice shiny, folding mast step for the shorter crew members aboard.

So we’re nearly ready to go. Basically we’re just waiting for a couple of parcels from Australia to arrive and then we’ll be looking for the first good weather window to come along and it will be back into the Mediterranean for us.

On our way back up the Spanish coast we will make a stop in Almerima Marina and have the boat lifted out of the water for a bum clean. We’ll also get our new AIS (Automatic Identification System) fitted there as labour costs are much lower than Gibraltar. There’s also an excellent supermarket at the marina with a very good range of everything we need at the best prices we’ve found anywhere. We’ll load the boat up to the brim with goodies and then it’s all systems go for the summer.

BRING IT ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We can't wait for more of this - warm days and great destinations

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  1. Came across your blog via the cruisers forum. Congrats on a very informative and entertaining blog, cant wait to read the book!! Just retired but sadly left it too late to follow suite. However, we have just spent many hours of enjoyment through your eyes. Look forward to many more posts. regards Sue & Tony

  2. Thanks so much for your kind words Sue and Tony. We love hearing from our blog's readers. Welcome aboard Alcheringa. We hope you enjoy sailing along with us on our travels. Where are you guys from?

    1. Really great to hear from you, makes the ride even more enjoyable. We are from the South West of the UK. Moved here from Poole in Dorset on the south coast and really miss being near the water. We have been to Gibraltar several times and glad to see you are all enjoying the Winter sunshine. If you get the chance then visit Sotogrande in Spain when you get going, you wont be disappointed. Kind regards.

    2. Thanks for the tip re Sotogrande. We're heading over to Ceuta first, the Spanish enclave on the North African Coast. Not sure exactly where to from there yet. Cheers.

  3. Just discovered your blog after reading a post on the Jeanneau Owners forum - yippee, another 43DS owner!!

    We bought our 2005 boat in Amsterdam 2 years ago and she now lives in the Solent. We would love to spend time on her in the Med so shall watch your blog with interest.

    I look forward to reading your blog from the beginning and seeing what you've done to your 43. Aren't they wonderful boats?!

    Very best wishes with your sailing,

    Julian and the crew of Amun Ra!

  4. Hi Julian, Great to hear from a 43DS owner. What we've done to Alcheringa since getting her in July last year is get to know her mainly. That and a lot of cleaning, fixing, maintaining and the usual. We've got a wish list of additions we'll put on over time begining with AIS next month. We absolutely love the boat and are looking forward to a couple of years in the Med before heading west with the ARC. Cheers

  5. I fitted AIS last summer and am delighted with it. As a regular UK south coast sailor and with occasional trips across the channel having AIS has proved a real comfort. I rely on the radar, but having the AIS feed into the C70 as well just adds the extra degree of comfort at substantially less power drain.

    My DS had a complete Raymarine system fitted inside the port after cabin cupboard so I was able to add my AIS unit in there and wire it into the Raymarine system.

    I think the biggest, and most useful upgrade that we have done was to fit a cockpit tent. For British weather it's invaluable, nay essential.

    Cousins of ours, Martin and Jean Holden can't be too far from you with their 43DS - they are based southern Portugal/Spain and sail in the western Med. I will find out where they are currently and give them the link to your excellent blog.

    Unfortunately (in one respect) we aren't quite as free as you to sail as we please, with three children at 10, 8 and 5. We keep toying with a plan to take three months out and spend a summer in the Med. That's why we shall follow your adventures with great interest!

    Today was engine service day and given the weather in UK, better inside changing filters, oils and coolant over a warm engine that out! I'm happy that the engine is now ready for another season of exploring.

    Best wishes



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