Return to Valencia
After pulling away from the dock at Puerto Gandia we ran our autopilot configurations, then we were off for our 6 our journey north back to Valencia. It was a nice sail with 8-15 kts of wind pushing us the whole way. We had the main and jib up, then swapped to the Asymmetrical, but it wasn’t giving us enough of a boost with the main blocking the wind, so we just pulled it down and sailed the rest of the way on mainsail alone and hand steering… Our autopilot was still not working properly even after we replaced the hydraulic pump, which was frustrating. Before we knew it, we were back home parked at our dock and listening to the constant deedle deedle deedle from the shipping yard across the street. Seriously, the sound is never-ending!!
As the year moved into late September / early October, the air was finally cooling and you could just feel the autumn vibes. Fall is my absolute favorite time of year. I cherish the break from summer heat, pumpkin flavored …everything, October beers, football Sundays, crunchy leaves under foot, and, of course, halloween decorations! Spain, of course, had zero halloween spirit, most likely because it’s heavily americanized holiday. La Liga Fútbol and 2€ pilsners while constantly hitting update on my phone to refresh the Eagles & Phillies game scores would have to do! I could really go for a pumpkin donut though. At one point, we did stumble into a pub, Portland Ale House, that had American football on and nachos. Score! It became a regular Sunday night trip for the remainder of our time in Spain.
A New Name
More exciting was the fact the “decal guy,” Carlos from Sunscreen, that I had been off and on in comms with randomly showed up one day for measurements with no warning. Glad we were there! We walked through what we were hoping for and he took our vector diagrams and ideas and off he went to make the magic happen. Then two days later, on a rainy day of course, he showed up with our new decals! We sent him away to come back to tomorrow when the sun was out and the boat was dry. So, It’s official! We became “Water Wings”. A name Kevin, for over two decades, has had in mind for a retirement boat. Talk about a long time coming 🙂 The boat has been renamed Water Wings! We purchased the necessary provisions and performed the renaming ceremony. There is always concern renaming a boat. You must appease Poseidon and make sure he knows it’s out with the new and old with the new. We were also hoping to rid the boat of what we considered some bad [previous boat name redacted] juju!
Side Trip to Barcelona
As the days were counting down to departure, we took a 3 hour train ride ride up to Barcelona to soak up some culture, architecture, history, food and most importantly to cross paths with some of my favorite humans who were traveling through on their own world adventure! Overall, we didn’t get to travel as much as we had hoped while we were here, so this was exciting! Check out our highlights of Barcelona here:
The last two weeks before we left. We got the Code 0 repaired (Thank you Velas Lluch S.L.) and re-raised then wrapped up. We had torn it on a particularly windy day and slightly incorrectly rigged furling line. That meant a trip up the mast to untwist the halyard. If you have a fear of heights, don’t look down because it’s worth the climb for the unbeatable view!
We sailed only twice during this period since we were busy prepping for passage. The first was to test out the new Code 0 rigging and second, to show some of the guys, who helped us with some boat work, how the boat actually sailed! Both went well and our confidence in an off-shore plans. Bonus, we had our first dolphin encounter aboard (of which there would soon be many!).
Other last minute projects included Kevin building a new “fuel polishing and transfer system” to keep our generator running strong. Through some googling, he developed and installed it in the generator room (aka “the garage”) iso that it would clean the tanks as well as easily transfer fuel between tanks from jerry cans (simultaneously cleaning) to the internal tanks. We also installed the wooden bungs at each of our through hulls in case one came loose and started leaking.
I then actually went in the water in the marina (gross) to try and Sika the outside of our Starboard plastic through hull which was still leaking. After doing proper battle with some old Sika, I managed to most seal it off and get the leaking to stop. (Of note, skiaflex will immediately “skin” when it comes into contact with water. This will make working with it underwater a challenge.)
We set up our IridiumGo and Predict Wind, which would allow us to communicate with land via text, email, emergency phone call and receive weather updates via a satellite network.
We scrubbed the decks down any time it rained, trying to get the saharan dust off the boat. We would have this dust and dirt on the boat all the way through the Caribbean at least.
The auto-pilot pump had to be replaced yet again after being burned out by improper settings that were triggered way back when we arrived at the boat and all the batteries were drained. This also eventually turned out to be part of our Generator problem. Turns out, when we had to recharge all the batteries and turn the system back on, all the generator settings reset to their original configurations. Lesson Learned.
We also determined our Fridge Pump was installed incorrectly, which caused it to burn out and have to be replaced a little too often. So Kevin remounted it the correct way.
Passage provisioning began in earnest. This is often times one of the most difficult tasks to complete and involves quite a bit of stress. We were going to be a way from land for an extended period with 4 crew on board who need to eat! You only have so much storage space including limited fridge and freezer space to cover enough meals and snacks to keep everyone happy and healthy! And what happens if we lose our pump again and no longer even have that! You have to prepare for every contingency not to mention any dietary restrictions and/or allergies of those on board. It’s a lot to think about! I will talk about provisioning and how did it in a later post closer to the crossing!
We had planned to be off-shore for about 3-4 days on this first stretch, so it was going to be good practice planning. Though we were already stocking up canned goods and non-perishables for the crossing since we knew what was available here and weren’t sure what we would find in Gibraltar and Canary Islands. I was able to set up a delivery from the local Mercadona grocery store and talk the driver to our boat with my very limited Spanish. We also rented a car for 2 days prior to departure for last minute items and to pick up our crew from the airport.
One fun find for provisioning was a a “Taste of America” store we found deep in the heart of the city, which had quite a few items we had been missing for some time and some we didn’t even know we missed until we saw it on the shelf! The store should have been called “All the sugar” because it was mostly full of any US junk food you could think of. It wasn’t cheap either. Cereal was going for $10+ a box and a jar of peanut butter was well over $7. I grabbed a Dr. Pepper and at least 3 jars of peanut butter (thankfully on sale).
One other big item was medication and first aid materials. I went to a Spanish pharmacy with a long list of items from antacids to anti-nausea pills, pain relievers and much more. Additionally I ordered a number of items, such as a dental kit, splints, applicators, bandages, and various tools.
And finally, safety equipment. We needed to make sure we had everything we needed on board from extra batteries, to flares, a fog horn, get our fire extinguishers and life raft etc checked and make sure our personal PFDs were ready to go. We were busy!!
One Last Hurrah
With the provisioning done, the boat preforming decently, and the cabins ready to welcome the crew, we were ready to let off some steam and enjoy one of the last remaining nights here at the marina. The marina restaurant just happened to be throwing a Oktoberfest party. It was a great way to say Auf Wiedersehen to Valencia and our “home” for the last 5 months!
Finally, Geoff, an incredibly seasoned sailor, and his son, Louis have arrived. We spent our last night in Valencia cheering on Geoff’s favorite Futbol team, Liverpool, and meeting some fun people in a local bar before heading to bed. The passage party has begun!