Back at “home” in Valencia, it was time to get serious about addressing any remaining concerns and needed preparations prior to the big Atlantic Crossing. Our primary goals for the haul out to was to get a good look at the bottom of the boat, address minor thru hull leaks, a potential fiberglass repair on the port hull, get a bottom cleaning, replace a flooded underwater light, and give the hydraulic steering a good flush/bleed. We messaged a few places capable of pulling out our 44’ catamaran and one thing I can tell you in all our communications with anyone in the marine industry is that you will make A LOT of money if you JUST RESPOND to inquiries. You’d have a serious leg up on the competition.
Initially we were scheduled to get a hauled out at Varadero Valencia , conveniently around the corner from our dock. However, their lift broke about a week prior to our scheduled date and word was floating around the marina that the number of boats needing a lift was getting more backed up by the day. Getting any updates out of them on when it would be fixed and how it effect our haul out and requested work was near impossible. So the day prior, to our haulout with their lift still out of commission, we cancelled time and looked elsewhere. We found two potential places, one around the corner at a neighboring marina in Valencia and one a 30 mile sail south in Gandia, Spain.
The first option, VMG Refit and Repair, around the corner, quoted us 15 days to do the requested work and the costs associated appeared to be quite expensive. Varadero Puerto Gandia down south said they could do it in 4 days and was all round cheaper. They were also much more communicative and timely in their responses. Huge difference! We also knew a boat that had just been through there for a repair and had good things to say about them. It seemed like a no brainer.
One other thing we decided was necessary now that we were going to be on the move more was a better mode of transportation. Up to this point we had been using heavy mountain bikes that we purchased locally on Facebook Marketplace to get around Valencia. We left chained up to a bike rack at the marina. Now that we were traveling south and would need transportation, the thought of getting them on the boat and taking them with us was a bit daunting. So we rode 5 miles to the sporting goods store, Decathlon, in Alfarar for NEW BIKE DAY! and bought ourselves BTwin Oxylane 500 aluminum folding bikes. We now had 4 bikes, 5 miles from home. Logistics are always fun to figure out with live-aboard life. How do we get them all back?…We locked our old Ebay specials up outside the store, rode the new ones back, grabbed a cab back to the store, retrieved the old bikes and rode them back…lot of bike riding that day. Normally don’t mind that 10 mile round trip, but 2x in one day in the late August heat, no bueno! 🙂
On Sunday, September 4th, 2022, we awoke with the sun to start our 30 mile sail south to Gandia; a trip that would have taken an hour in a car took us 6 hours by boat. Winds were light and pushing us off the dock, so I actually backed us off the dock and out of the marina, something Kevin normally does. It felt good to be successful at this. It still feels like so much boat to move around! With 9 kts of wind pushing us from behind, we put the asymmetrical spinnaker up and sailed along at about 6-7 kts for about 4 hours. It was a nice calm sail day. After about 4 hours the wind died, we stowed the completely useless sail and started motoring. Upon entering Puerto Gandia thankfully there was space available right next to the travel lift for us to dock the boat. Being Sunday night, we were locked into the marina and there was no one around, so we just opened everything up on the boat and relaxed.
As the sun set, the city of Gandia lit up around the port with bright lights, sights, and sounds. There was a small fair in the distance with a giant big screen television playing LaLiga, the Spanish futbol league, and of course the second game that comes on is the team from Valencia! We sat on the back of our boat and watched. Monday morning we woke up early and cooked up a nice breakfast, which was a good thing. Unlike everything else in Spain, the haul out workers were READY to go at 8 am sharp, waiting on us to get situated and get the boat in the trough for the haul out. This being our first haul out, it was a fascinating and nerve-wracking process watching an enormous tractor lifting the boat up and out of the water, then driving it to its “docking” spot. The team was incredibly professional. We chose well coming here.
Once the boat was parked and blocked, we met with the project manager and went over our long list of fixes and concerns. Once complete, the team got right to pressure washing the hull and trying to figure out where we we were leaking into the port hull was coming from. A number of times we thought we figured it out, only to be thwarted. It finally came down to a small screw hole for the induction stovetop vent under the boat. We also determined that some of the plastic thru hulls were likely leaking as well. One thing the yard workers were impressed by was the construction of the Vision444 hull. That made us feel good about the boat we chose!
With the work day drawing to a close, we headed out for la comida (essentially a late lunch. For a longer explanation about the eating habits in Spain please see our Valencia: Part 2 post) to check out the town. Gandia, the 2nd largest city in the province of Valencia, is a thriving coastal city located on the Costa del Azahar (or Orange Blossom Coast). It has a rich heritage that dates back to the 10th century and was home to famous poets, writers and nobles such as Ausias March, Joanot Martorell and the Borgia family. It’s a popular tourist area with a long and wide sandy beach and a busy beachfront promenade. The city itself has a rich bohemian artistic vibe all while holding on to its extensive history. We were looking forward to exploring the area while we were here. Our first stop was a quiet Mediterranean restaurant on the water and then rode down to the beach and through town a bit. We found some gelato, never hard in Spain, and stopped for a beer at a bustling outdoor spot.
Late getting back to the boat, we enjoyed a beautiful sunset over the mountains to the east. The guy on the boat next to us offered us to come over for Tequila…oh, go big? LOL. We passed 🙂
The following morning, Kevin worked with the mechanical guy, talking through our autopilot issues and how to build a radar mount and most importantly where to put it! We wanted a working radar for our crossing and due to having a rotating mast, we couldn’t just mount it in a normal spot higher up.
Late morning we had hit the point where we just waiting on parts, so took that as a sign it was time to go exploring. We went out for desayuno (second breakfast) to a pastry place, hit Mercadona for some groceries and founda random “Merca China”…definitely appropriately named. So much junk! At least they are honest about where the goods came from. We then grabbed sodas and biked around to the other side of the port to see a river and beach area. For as highly touted as the beach here was, we found it a bit dirty and way overcrowded!
Next, we biked into the downtown area of Gandia. There was a lot going on! A lot of stores and bodegas. And graffiti everywhere. While a lot was of the standard tagging sort, there was also a lot of skilled decorative art on the walls. Our original destination was the Museum Faller de Gandia, which highlights a lot on the culture of the area. Today, was the one day it was closed for some conservation work. UGH. So we audibled and went to the Palau Ducal dels Borja, the 14th century residence of the Royal Dukes of Gandía, then from 1485, the Borja family. It was the birthplace of Saint Francis Borja. We enjoyed the walking tour with English audible narration and the beautiful detailed architecture. On the way back to the boat, we stopped or a beverage at a random cerveceria in a pretty park-like area of town. It looked nice, but smelled a bit and was weirdly hot, so we headed back to the port area to to sit and watch futbol and have some beers. Actually turned out to be quite a fun night.
Upon return to the marina after dark, we realized we realized we forgot the key to the locked gate. Kevin had to scale the fence, hop over and go get the key to let me and the bikes in. Never a dull moment.
On day 3, a number of parts having arrived, we started to wrap things up. We replaced the flooded underwater light, replaced the cracked plastic thru hulls with sturdier metal ones. We also determined the hydraulic pump for the automatic steering system was bad. At $700+, not a cheap replacement part. 🙁 (as far as literary foreshadowing little did we know how cheap this actually is compared to some other future projects.)
Later that day with work finished, we headed back to the Museum Faller De Gandia now that we were sure it was open. It was a fun little find in the heart of Gandia dedicated to the famous Fallas Festival of Valencia that occurs every March. The “Fallas” is a month long celebration commemorating Saint Joseph. The term Fallas refers to both the celebration itself and the giant Falla monuments displayed throughout the city. The Fallas are 3-20 meter high artistic monuments composed of figures called ninots, which typically encircle one or more bigger central figures, called remates. The fallas are placed in the streets during the festival. The monuments usually deal with a satirical subject connected with recent news or public controversies, and is covered in posters with words, verses and statements of a humorous nature. Made of combustible materials, they are burned in the streets at the end of the festival.
The museum displays a number of the Fallas, some from as far back as 1934, that were “pardoned” and not burned at the end of the festival, the normal fate of these amazing works of art. The details and craftmanship involved in each piece is unique. The museum takes you through the history of the festival and the making of the Fallas. Everything was well displayed and presented and provided some deep insights into the culture and Folklore of the area.
Finally on our 4th day on the hard, with the autopilot hydraulic pump being the only remaining item, we got put back in the water and enjoyed some air-conditioning and hot showers! Everything was working well with the exception of one small leak coming in through the starboard maintenance closet thru hull. Grrrr. It was managable and we would deal with that back in Valencia. On Friday morning, we go the new hydraulic pump and reconfigured everything. Ready to head home, we pulled away from the dock and headed 6 hours back north to Valencia. We ended up sailing the whole way in 8-15 kts downwind. We started with mainsail and Jib up, then tried the Asymm, but the main was blocking it, so pulled it down and continued on with only the mainsail. Overall, we had a great experience at Veradero Puerto Gandia. We had a great team working with us and would highly recommend them. Even more notably, we felt good about the hull and were more confident taking her across the Atlantic.