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Aannsha’s Blog #34 – A week of many intense firsts

Adventure movies

Watching an adventure movie can cause you to feel excited and nervous. The outcome isn’t assured, so there’s often a sense of sitting on the edge of your seat willing the heroes on to the final triumph, where they get to their destination, reach their goal or find that priceless artefact. It can leave you feeling exhilarated and joyful as you identify with the hero, delighting in their daring-do and courage, and their triumph at the end of the movie.

Well, we’re all heroes in our own movies aren’t we? And for Baz and myself this week has definitely been one of those daring-do times, where we’ve faced many first times for so many things, and for many of these we’ve each had to dig deep and pluck up the nerves to take care of our own assigned tasks in order for Team A B Sea to achieve our desired outcomes. Some of our firsts have been fun things like taking the dinghy to shore at Playa L’Albir for the first time. Some have left us feeling crappy, like when I got motion sickness. Many others have been immensely intense.

Because I was out of action for a couple of days feeling very rough due to sea sickness, which was exacerbated by being in a rolly mooring, I’m having to get this blog out the evening before you read it, so please forgive that I’m writing it partly in point form, and partly as notes.

So what first time moment stand out for this week?

  • First time out of the marina on our own – boy was this a doozie! Our big maiden voyage into the big blue!I was looking forward to setting out on our real sailing adventures, but I’d also been having anxious thoughts about the boom slamming.I’d put it down to my nervous uncertainty as to what to do if there was an accidental jibe (as I wrote about in last week’s blog). Maybe my spider senses had a hunch that it wasn’t going to be plain sailing this day.

  • First thing to break – it was the block that held the main sheet to the traveller. Fortunately we were only 3.25 nautical miles out from the marina on our first day into the unknown, when BAM! There was a loud noise and the boom went slack, swinging to one side. I missed what happened as I’d been checking the wind direction to keep us pointing into the wind while Baz raised the mainsail. Luckily, Baz did some lightning fast trouble shooting and temporary fixing and we headed back to the marina. What’s interesting for me is that what happened that morning closely resembled what I’d kept picturing in my head previously and had interpreted as an accidental jibe. I’d certainly felt very nervous the morning when we left the marina, but once the block broke and we had it fixed that afternoon, my nerves settled. It turns out it was one of the original 23 year old fittings. We’ll have to get some spare blocks in case any others decide to break.

The moment the block broke!

  • First time for seasickness, that hit me as we left the marina – of course, nerves can be a contributing factor to motion sickness and I was very wound up that morning. But it didn’t help matters that I couldn’t instantly help Baz very much that morning due to feeling absolutely debilitated by seasickness. I did take a pill the moment I realised things were going pear shaped, but that didn’t kick in until we got back to the marina. I wouldn’t mind but I haven’t had it before. Even when we’d been sailing in Force 6 seas in Gibraltar on our sailing course I was fine all the time. So why, on a comparatively calm day, did it happen? Who knows. It has left me cautious though. My biggest concern is that it may happen to me again. And when you’re a short-handed crew, both people are vitally important. At least I have a stash of motion sickness pills and also ginger essential oil, plus (now) know where the acupressure points are (3 finger widths down on the inside of each wrist – press in between the tendons).

  • First time out of the marina and actually getting somewhere – Yay! Sunday morning we left bright and early and felt very confident it was going to be a great passage. We were planning to go to Tabarca island, but decided against it as it looked as if it would be packed (well it is high season in Spain), so we made an executive decision to head towards Javea as it was so early.

  • First sail – we did get some good wind and while I was at helm, Baz unfurled the mainsail and the genoa like an old pro. (Some who know his past life as a professional DJ would probably agree with that term, but have different connotations … but I’ll leave it at that!)

  • First motor sail – the wind wasn’t constant though, and we decided to do a spot of motor-sailing, hoping the wind would pick up again.

  • First motor – the wind didn’t pick up, so Baz furled away the sails while I helmed again. It would have been nice to have sailed a bit more, but we were so happy to be out on the beautiful blue sea, that we really didn’t mind that much!

  • First time the autopilot decided to go in circles – we knew where we wanted to go, Javea. We set the course, pressed the magic autopilot button and hey presto! Darling A B Sea started to do a grand circle to starboard! What the?! Baz has since done some investigation and it seems as though the autopilot thinks the rudder is pointed hard over to port.So when we tell it to go in a certain direction, it autocorrects by doing circles! We think it’s happened since we had the rudder stock quadrant replaced and needs to be reprogrammed to the correct setting! So for now, we have Navionics and charts, AIS and direction, but we are steering manually. We’re okay with that though, because it lets us get a feel for the yacht.

  • First mooring ball – Motoring took a tad longer than we realised so when we knew we wouldn’t make it to Javea before sundown we made another executive decision to stop at a random place on the chart. L’Albir turned out to be a very pretty bay and there were free mooring balls positioned quite close by to the beach, so we decided to stop there for the night.Somehow we managed to look like two old pros (again, with the old pros!) and got ourselves into a good position for the night. We stayed two nights, but because the second night’s sleep was so disturbed by the rolly motion of the boat caused by constant swell, we decided to leave early and head for Javea on Tuesday morning.

  • First swim off the back of the boat – The first afternoon we arrived at L’Albir however, we had a lovely swim off the back of the boat. It felt so special getting the little ladder out of the swim platform, and then just sliding gracefully into the water. That evening gave us the opportunity to congratulate ourselves on a fantastic job so far!

  • First dinghy ride from the boat to shore – the next morning we let the dinghy off the davits and rowed (well Baz rowed) to shore. We had a full English breakfast – the first in weeks – at a lovely café called Caspers; and with full bellies, went shopping for a few provisions.It was awesome coming back to the beach and looking at our yacht – our yacht!! – sitting out there in the bay. We’d dreamed of this for so long, had made many hard decisions and taking a lot of concerted action – and there it was – our manifest dream, A B Sea, sitting in the bay looking beautiful in the blue water. That was one moment I’ll remember for a long time. A very nice beach official did come and tell us we weren’t allowed to bring our tender onto the beach again, but would have to row to some place marked by red and green buoys in future. We thanked him and rowed back to our boat. What a pleasant man.

  • All of those firsts and it was still only Monday!

  • First rolly night at the mooring ball (at L’Albir) – the second night at L’Albir wasn’t so ideal. There was a swell coming in across the bay and because there wasn’t a strong enough wind to keep the boat’s bow pointing towards the swell, the boat ended up rolling from side to side. It would build up in crescendos and then stop, pause, and start all over again. That plus the noises coming from the bow where the lines connected to the mooring ball, screeched, so sleep didn’t come that easily.

  • First night moored at a place we knew – from the other side of the harbour wall (Javea). Early Tuesday morning we shut the hatches, closed the seacocks, untied our very twisted snubber lines from the mooring ball (they looked as if they’d been in a tumble dryer!) and we set sail. After a very pleasant motor north, past Benidorm, we arrived at our first home in Spain, Javea. It felt wonderful cruising in and spying one of the mooring balls outside the marina wall that we’d talked about tying up to way back in April. However, mooring this time was a bit more – eventful…

  • First time losing the boat hook – I got the boat hook stuck in the very small loop of a very old rope hanging off the top of the mooring ball. Baz didn’t manage to stop the boat quickly enough. I couldn’t hold 9 tons of moving boat with the boat hook, and it slipped out of my hands. Luckily, after brief instruction from Baz, I got in with fins and mask and retrieved it before it sank to the bottom of the sea. We’d have been pretty stuffed if we’d lost the boat hook. We’re considering getting another one for redundancy. And a wooden handle to replace the slippy aluminium one that we have at the moment.

  • First really bad rolly night moored at Javea. Oh. My. God. I’d wondered what all the fuss was whenever I’d heard sailors complain about a rolly anchorage or mooring.we’d had a taste of it at L’Albir. But that first night was no fun. The rolling was worse there and again, neither of us got a lot of sleep. I was feeling dodgy every time I went down below, which I obviously had to some times, and at night too. I began to wonder if my no seasickness record was somehow an delusional alternate life I was imagining. The second night there was worse still. Things fell off shelves and I ended up moving to the back cabin because the noises in the Princess Suite were just too loud. We rolled that much, we had to shut the lowest side hatches to prevent water coming in! I didn’t sleep at all. I lay there, wedged between the computers which were safely tucked up in pillows and the bulkhead. It was a very long night. Baz had a similar experience.

  • First time taking several motion sickness pills – my friends know I'm not someone who likes to take pills unnecesarily, but not wanting to be debilitated again, I managed to work my way through half a packet of seasickness pills, which did help. Then a friend told me about the acupressure points and this was endorsed by a couple of other friends, so I’ve got various treatments if I find myself in that situation again.

  • First trip without instructor off shore to head from Javea on the mainland to Formentera, the closest island in the Balearics. Before sunrise, Baz was surprised to find me bunched up next to cushions and laptops! He asked how I’d feel if we checked Windy and Predict Wind and if all looked good, make a run for it over to Formentera. I said “hell yeah”.

  • First time finding anchorage – which took 2 hours as it was so packed and 4 goes as the first place wasn’t ideal as we were a bit close to a multi-million dollar boat and were nicely asked to move away, the second place we were very nicely requested to move from by an official anchorage lady, and the third place wasn’t that ideal either so when the fourth and current position became available as a yacht upped anchor and left, we snaffled it. The whole anchoring thing was very intense as there’s such a lot to take into consideration: Baz at the helm (46 feet away from me) had to avoid the very heavy traffic going at all speeds in all directions; he also had to avoid anchor chains, then find a spot that was in about 5 metres of water with a sandy bottom that wasn’t close to anyone. I had to work out the windlass, and fairly accurately count the right amount of chain that was sliding out of the anchor locker. We had to coordinate moving with either paying out the anchor, or bringing it back in. The first time the anchor got stuck and I thought it was caught on a rock. Turns out the chain that had been hauled up had bunched up under the windlass so I had to carefully untangle it before continuing. That’s a lesson learned right there. You’ve got to be so careful with the whole windlass and anchor chain area. Enough said.

  • First time setting the anchor app which uses my phone’s GPS to let you know if you’ve dragged anchor. We downloaded the app as an aid to sleep, as an alarm goes off if the GPS detects you’ve moved beyond a certain range. We set it for the second position, so when we moved quickly, we forgot to disable the alarm, which of course went off and sounded like there was a catastrophe about to happen! It did go off at our current position after we swung around on our anchor, so we’ve re-set the distance and it’s now happy keeping watch for us.

  • First time to rush this blog as I lost a couple of days of typing due to motion sickness and just general brain fog after taking lots of drugs and then sleepless nights. So I do apologise for the way this has been laid out, but I think it gives you a good run down on our last week’s happenings.

I’d really like to say that Baz and I feel like courageous daring-do heroes given our latest week’s events, but the reality is, we’re feeling like stunned mullets as we sit here just about to crack open a bottle of champers some new friends gave us for our first anchorage. Cheers!

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