In Australia leaving the country takes effort. It requires a passport, planning, packing and usually a wallet full of cash. Not so in France.
This week, all it took was a bit of wind and fuel and we had a sleepover at the next door neighbours in Spain. On morning of departure it seemed like a nice day so why not. Personally this was a moment of significance in life.
As we sailed from one border to another the process did my head in. I could only stand on the foredeck and watch in wonder.
I felt like a kid on Christmas morning getting a new bike.
The tower marks one country to another.
“Hey Mum I’m In Spain – Can You Believe!”
Our first action was to pull up and anchor in a nice little bay with a few others.
OK that’s bollocks, there were around 60 boats in this little bay ranging from big power boats to tiny sailing yachts. The place was alive with young teenagers and adults, bikini clad girls and tanned young men. The music was beating, the sun shining and the water blissfully warm.
I felt like I had moved into the pages of someone else’s story. It was a laugh out loud kind of moment.
This is the magic I signed up for.
After a swim and enjoying the moment, we decided to move around the corner about 3.5 nautical miles to El Port De La Selva so we could go ashore and have a Pope kind of moment, you know kiss the Spanish ground in this very Catholic country.
I told the Captain this was his duty but for his own reasons he wouldn’t play.
We parked our boat via it’s anchor, taking particular care to double check that our anchor had a solid hold on the sandy soil. As already mentioned parking is the high drama stuff so double checking will be the order for a long time to come. Then we got to use our yet to be named dingy for her intended purpose – getting us ashore from anchor.
When I stepped onto Spanish soil and was away from eyes, I actually clicked my heels as it seemed like a very appropriate action for the occasion.
After a day on the boat a casual stroll around the streets of the village was fitting.
When we arrived you could hear the church bells ringing so we made our way towards their call. We were in time for mass as it was just starting, and if I had been on my own I would have happily stayed but empty tummies won the day. As in the travel magazines, the village was filled with white washed buildings, cobbled streets, small balconies, tiny alleys with solid brass handles and big wooden doors, everyone speaking Spanish.
When In Spain Do Spanish
The time was about 8pm and a little early for a Spanish dinner so we were able to have front row seats at the open restaurant overlooking the marina and sea. The decor had a mum and dad kind of feel to the place. The waiters were obviously brothers and like the South of France there was a very laid back feel to it all but more so.
Our first order was to try the local drink of red wine with marinated fruit, Sangria. You order it in a one litre carafe and by nights end we had partaken of two. We have since been told that this drink is dangerous to the unwary, and if you start eating the fruit you are in trouble… oops the fruit was ok but the sangria was better.
As for ordering the second helping, I blame the weather, it was really hot and this local drink tastes like a harmless party punch. We count ourselves lucky that no harm befell us as we drove our dingy home to our first night at anchor. Maybe our Australian constitutions are better?
The Language Pact
It is at this point in my story that I must tell you, well before we started this adventure the Captain and I had a pact. I would learn basic French and he would learn basic Spanish.
The moment had come for the big reveal, the Captain’s big moment to communicate with the neighbours.
His word, one and only Spanish word “Grassy Arse” spoken as written.
Oh my stomach hurt from laughing.
The more red punch I drank the more at risk I was of not saying “Gracis”.
(We may not be able to communicate well with the locals but life certainly won’t be boring with this man of mine.)
Our meal consisted of local cheese, bread with a fresh tomato paste, baby baby octopus in brown gravy, fresh anchovies on toast and local smoked ham. Simple fare that was off the scale in flavour. As much as I love French food I have found the local food to be as rich as it is delicious. The simple flavours of the Spanish appealed.
The one flavour that I love and haven’t had yet is spice. A decent hot chilli wouldn’t go astray. Maybe spice in Turkey…?
The only negative of the meal was the chap next door smoking multiple times whilst we ate. Strewth, what is wrong with some people. Don’t they know that smoking is totally disgusting around people eating, babies and pregnant women. My right up close next door neighbour did not seem to care that he shared his space with all of the above.
Yet I digress….
The other funny incident of the evening was at the end of the meal, I went in search of the nearest toilet. I got directed to the restaurant across the road and in I go. Once inside the cubicle I had just started my wee when the lights went out. It was pitch black, but the process had begun so finish in the dark I did. Although I could not find the light switch and I did search, I did stumble into the basin so managed to wash my hands and find the door out.
Freedom. I called it my overseas Schapelle moment! Another laugh out loud moment and the waiters seemed to be in the know as I was telling my tale to my Captain.
The Trip To Spain Was Above And Beyond
This trip was one of those occasions when you set out with little expectation and it turns out to be sublimely perfect. It was the first taste of life once we had finished preparing our boat and set off in earnest.
Our sailing was not perfect and we certainly made mistakes as we went about this journey. We put up the Gennaker for the first time on our own and managed to twist the ropes at the top, resulting in a journey to the top of the mast to untangle. Lucky Captain. We put out the anchor chain with only links to spare before we realised the end wasn’t tied on.With much effort we managed to work out the GPS and navigational systems and realise how much we don’t know. Yet we did manage to set a route and follow it safely. We are learning.
On the seemingly ever long to buy list, goes some new paper charts.
I Am Pleased To Report
I can now tie a bowline correctly. This can be added to a figure 8, half hitch, reef knot, buntline hitch and to put the fenders on correctly. I can also set an anchor alarm and use my fancy Garmin watch to instigate man overboard!
Our boat electronics are soooo fancy. The man overboard is carried out in an instant, it takes the coordinates, records and sets up the radio ready to transmit a distress call if needed. Once you press the man overboard button the autopilot immediately takes over and steers the boat in a tight circles. This would allow the second person onboard time to mayday and rescue if you so desired… Or if the person on board is slow once the watch is removed from the boat for a certain period it puts the man overboard into action for you. Nice.
Sailing is becoming more second nature. I love the times we have the sails up, these are the best moments.
Our first sunrise in Spain. Life is Good.
Cheers the Miss & Grassy Arse For Reading!
PS the Sangria, for some unknown reason came with a thumping big wooden spoon in the jug. Maybe to beat your Captain about the head for having one Spanish word in his vocabulary.
(No Si and Barcelona do not count as learnt Spanish.)