Saturday, July 30, 2022

An inside boat tour of Oyai, our Amel Super Maramu 2000, and home for the next year (plus some more travel bloggin'!)

As promised, you will find an interior tour of Oyai in the post below.  She is from 2002, and is in amazing shape for her age.  Stu searched for a few months for the right boat, and flew to a few different locations in the Caribbean to look at boats.  Our search was narrowed down to the Amel boat before we even had feet on the ground (that's one of the incredible things about our digital world - you can find out a lot of information without leaving the comfort of your own home!)  Oyai was in exceptional shape and had been maintained and upgraded very nicely.  She came with all of the supplies we needed for cruising, right down to the dishes and cutlery!

If you just want to see the boat, please skip ahead because I am about to expound about boats and the various things that make some boats great for crossing oceans, and others not-so-much :)  First on our list of priorities for our chosen boat was safety, of course.  A lot of things go into safety at sea, and I am by no means an expert, but here are some of those things:  A good design:  many boats handle big wind and big seas better than others, and the way the naval architect drew the boat makes a huge difference.  Solid construction:  so many details about how a boat is constructed can lead to a boat being well suited for offshore sailing vs. more suited for coastal sailing (when you can hide from a bad weather forecast in port).  Comfort at sea:  this seems frivolous, but is super important because an exhausted crew can make bad decisions.  If a boat's motion and interior are well suited to life at sea, people are happier and more well-rested, etc.  The list goes on-and-on about safety, but you get the idea. 

Other things on our priority list included:  

1)  Large enough for 4 people to live on for one year (and we didn't want it to feel like camping).

2)  No big projects to finish because the timeframe for our trip was tight, and even small projects can snowball quickly and delay things significantly.  

3)  Having an expert to consult with should things break on the boat (and things always break on boats!).  Luckily Amel's have an amazing community of sailors supporting them, and even an Amel expert "on-call" to help 24/7 when things go wrong - Thank You Bill Rouse! 

4)  Getting a boat that will be relatively easy to sell once we have completed our sabbatical year.  Nobody can predict the boat market in a year's time, but buying a sought-after boat in great shape is a good place to start.  Hopefully once we are done with our year of sailing, Oyai will be relatively easy to sell, and we can make another family very happy!  

Anyways, onto the inside boat tour...

We had a couple of overnight passages between the various Balearic Islands, and will never get tired of the sunsets at sea.  The seas were quite calm, and we mostly motored during these passages.

We stayed a few days in Palma de Mallorca which is a beautiful city rich in history and has a really interesting old town.  The narrow, winding streets with very artistic buildings inspired long walks.

We were able to anchor Oyai just off the city, right in front of the 13th century Cathedral, and took a photo of the boat from the water and also from the land while we were walking around the city.

From Mallorca, we sailed up to Menorca (the northernmost Balearic Island) in idyllic conditions.

Sadly, our time in the Balearic Islands was coming to an end, and we decided to sail over to Sardinia,  which is closer to Italy.  The passage was relatively quick and took about 34 hours because we had good winds and sailed the entire way.  That made for bumpy seas, and the girls had their first taste of true offshore sailing (which can be an acquired taste :)

Our landfall in Sardinia was in a town called Alghero on the northwest coast.  The moorage is free on the public town quay, which is quite unique.  

The atmosphere on the public quay in the evenings is quite upbeat and festive.  Check out this video that was taken at around 11pm.

The views from the walls of the ramparts were amazing.  Trying to beat the heat, everyone adopts the siesta culture here as well, and comes out for walks around sunset.

Walking around the city of Alghero we came across an old trebuchet and sat down for traditional Italian pizza, pasta and calzone!

We plan to spend a few days in Alghero, and then head either north or south around Sardinia (the winds will decide!).  We will enjoy the anchorages for a few days, then head to Rome to tour that amazing city.  We have been reading a bit about Roman history, which has always fascinated us, and hope to see many of the incredible ruins while we are there.

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Friday, July 22, 2022

Our journey continues... (and an outside boat tour!)

 We sailed up the west coast of Ibiza Island in the Balearics and anchored at some really beautiful beaches.  Ibiza is known for it's all-night parties, and had a very festive vibe at all times.  Our first couple of anchorages had a quintessential Mediterranean feel with lots of friendly neighbours and sun soaked beach-goers.  Try to spot Oyai in this photo... she is centre left, near the back (she has a dinghy hanging in davits on the back of the boat).

We are in the water for most of the days because Europe is currently having a historic heat wave.  We have been lucky and haven't seen any evidence of forest fires where we have been.  I think out in the middle of the Med on these islands is somewhat less hot and dry than the mainland right now.  

We have been taking advantage of the amazing public transport systems in most of the places we have stayed so far.  We bused over to Ibiza (from our anchorage on the west coast) and checked into customs, then we walked around the incredible fortified city of old Ibiza that dates back to the 1600s.

Not all of our time is spent in the water, sightseeing or on buses!  We have started to play family rounds of chess and the girls are soon going to be beating their parents!  We've also introduced the girls to Foosball which I'm sure goes by a different name over here in Europe, but I couldn't tell you what that is :)

Yesterday, we did another overnight crossing from Ibiza to Mallorca and toured around Palma de Mallorca today.  What an amazing city!  It is, not surprisingly, filled with lots of history and culture as well.  The impressive cathedral in Palma was started in the 1200s and wasn't finished until the 1600's.  It is taller than Notre Dame in Paris, and just as awe-inspiring.

We have been enjoying getting to know our boat "Oyai" so much and thought we would share some shots of her with you.  Also, there is a short 360 degree tour of her from the outside here, if you are interested in seeing our home for the next year.

We are going to keep the updates and videos coming, so stay tuned!  We will also take you on a tour of the deck and inside of Oyai in the coming weeks.  Next we plan to sail up to Menorca, the northernmost Balearic Island.  From there we will likely cross over to Sardinia, and the mainland of Italy.  Here is a parting shot of yet another beautiful sunset!

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Sunday, July 17, 2022

We sailed into the Mediterranean from Gibraltar to Ibiza!

 We left the familiarity of Gibraltar behind (but we will be back in October).  It is a unique, welcoming place with heaps of history and it has a nice easy vibe.  It's also a place that is currently not part of the EU and is out of the Schengen Visa Zone.  The Schengen Visa applies to all EU countries and only allows a 90 day stay for the entire continent (except for the UK and Gibraltar after Brexit).  We will need more than 90 days over here!  In this photo, the Rock is shrouded in a solitary cloud when there are easterly winds blowing, and they were forecast to continue for at least a week.  That was the direction we needed to go, but luckily the winds were light and we motored into the Med without too much difficulty.

Next, we had a 24 hour passage ahead of us, and that meant traveling at night in the boat.  Stu had done this a few times during the Atlantic crossing, but Lana and the girls hadn't done it yet.  We set up a watch schedule, and Lana was on from 9pm-3am, and Stu took over from 3am-9am.  The girls got to stay up as late as they wanted and they lasted until about 11:30pm in the cockpit with Lana while Stu napped.  Here they got to see their first sunset at sea!

Lana is enjoying the watches as well, and everything on our new (to us!) boat makes doing watch a treat.  You're always close to everyone with the spacious centre cockpit.  The crew mostly chooses to hang out in the cockpit with you because there is lots to see, and it is so safe, and comfortable.

We were lucky that the full moon was with us for this trip and the skies were very clear.  The moon was so bright at times that the moon shadows were really well defined and clear.  

The sunrise during Stu's watch was equally amazing and this clip gives you an idea of what it's like to be motor sailing in the Med during the wee hours.

Our first landfall in Spain was a town call Almeria on the southern coast call La Costa del Sol (the Sun Coast).  It is hot and dry, and we can certainly see why the Spanish people take their siestas during the heat of the day!  This is our boat "Oyai" crammed into the marina at Aguadulce in Almeria.  We stayed for two nights and wandered around getting out bearings and visiting the beach which was a 1 minute walk away.

Our next leg was a 48 hours sail from Almeria to the Balearic Islands off the eastern coast of Spain.  The longer passage allowed us to adjust to passage life, and we settled in pretty nicely.  We had lots of downtime, lots of silly time, and some great motor sailing.  We all took turns sitting at the front perch on the boat, and saw quite a few dolphins swimming right under our feet!

Stu decided to teach the girls what an "autotune" was and we started with watching "Ain't Nobody Got Time for Dat", his personal favourite.  It was quite a hit, and the girls really wanted to do a reenactment.  Watch at your own risk - then google the real thing if you've never seen it.  It is internet time-wastage at its finest :) 

Both Aria and Micah had their turns on watch and have really thrived with the responsibility.  Of course, the little ones need constant supervision, but they both are learning to read the chart plotter, radar and AIS systems for safe navigation.  Keeping a lookout for other ships is also great when the weather and visibility are perfect.

We made our first stop in the Balearics at Formentera Island.  It was beautiful and has crystal clear water which is the perfect temperature.  We staying in the water swimming and snorkelling all day.  We were able to see the anchor hit the seafloor 10 meters down as clear as can be.

Aria is getting really good at snorkelling and holding her breath and has taken to pulling herself down the anchor chain to see how deep she can go.

We had to untangle a snarl of fishing line from the propeller during our snorkelling, but because our boat has a rope cutter on the propeller, we didn't even notice it was there.  As soon as it started wrapping around the propeller (which could have happened anytime in the previous 3000 miles of sailing), the rope cutter would have cut it and we would have kept right on going.

Oyai is very well equipped for open ocean sailing and has done one global circumnavigation already with a previous owner.  We plan to make a blog about the boat itself in the next little while, so if you are interested, stay tuned for that!  This photo was taken just before we had her surveyed in Martinique.  This was the 4th boat we looked at and the 3rd we had surveyed.  The sordid story of her purchase is worth waiting for.

Thanks for visiting our blog and being a part of our adventure!  Please share the link with anyone who you think may like it.  As the year progresses, we are going to use more than our iPhones to take the shots :)  There is a drone and a GoPro in our future, so stay tuned to see if we can figure out how to use them and post entertaining content.  It should be interesting!

Friday, July 8, 2022

Reunited! After too many weeks apart, our family is back together and traveling around Europe.

We then flew to Gibraltar together, and Lana, Aria & Micah got their first look at the boat.  She was resting comfortably in the marina in Gibraltar, right where Stu left her.  We have settled in nicely, and the girls' jetlag is slowly wearing off.  We have been exploring Gibraltar for the last 3 days and there is lots to see in this very small area.

We hiked all over the Rock yesterday!  This is a suspension bridge in the upper Gibraltar Rock Nature Reserve.

King Charles V commissioned for a huge steep wall to be built in the mid 1700's to keep out pirates.  It was crawling with monkeys and we had quite a few close quarters interactions.

This was the dizzying Skywalk (which was inaugurated by none other than Mark Hamill in 2017).  Under our feet was a 500 foot drop to the ground.

These monkeys are all over the upper rock and have been known to steal food right out of tourists hands.  They are extremely cute though.

The tunnel systems and cannon ports (often 200 feet off the ground) is unbelievable.  Many were constructed by hand in the late 1700's when the Brits were fending off the Spanish during "The Great Siege" which lasted 4 years.  The last photo is of a surgery happening deep within the rock's tunnels around the time of WWII.

Before the Spanish & British, the Moors from Africa ruled Gibraltar for around 500 years.  This was inside The Moorish Castle which was built in around 1100 AD.

After the big exploration of the Gibraltar Nature Reserve, we decided to have a town day, and did some bowling.  Much to the girl's amusement.

Goodbye Oyai & Hello New York City!

After leaving Annapolis, we explored the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay for a couple of weeks.  We sailed to a quaint little town called St...