July 01, 2004

Join Chris and Jackie Lambertsen sailing the islands of the western Mediterranean during the summer of 2004.


SHIBUMI Sails to the Islas Baleares

On the second day of April, SHIBUMI sailed out of Rota Harbor on our spring “shake down” run to Gibraltar.  A shake-down cruise is defined as the first time out after you “relax” on a finger dock for six months varnishing and repairing both the engine alternator and boom.  The winds were stiff and the ocean currents swift off of Trafalgar as we jibed down the coast and arrived just at dark at the Customs dock in Gibraltar.  After, that is, the weld for the newly fabricated attachment for the preventer on the boom broke off less than five minutes after its first use.

Gibraltar customs informed us that we could not anchor north of the airport runway due to heightened security after the Madrid commuter bombings this spring.  So they suggested that we anchor in Spanish waters and dinghy to Gib.  We remained legally cleared into Gib as long as we did not touch Spanish soil.  A truly wonderful suggestion as the Spanish anchorage was quieter and much more secure. As the picture suggests, the view was superb.

Our main reason to visit Gibraltar was to “gas up” as the Shell diesel prices there are the best in Europe. By topping up all four tanks with more than 2500 liters, we secured the lowest price available.  SHIBUMI sailed away from the gas dock a lot more sluggishly than when she arrived!

After walking the rock and enjoying the tour of the World War II tunnels, we sailed off to Motril, a commercial harbor serving Granada.  The British left Gib in haste at the end of the 80’s and life has not necessarily improved.  Unfortunately we sailed off sans the depth sounder to our dinghy as it was “liberated” from our dinghy the last time we were ashore. The charm Jackie enjoyed in the 70’s is gone;  we became leery of being “taken” even when ordering afternoon tea!  For us, Gib is now a place to buy fuel.

The port of Motril is a safe, but busy harbor.  We remained there for a week waiting to sail to Almerimar to store the boat “on the hard” while we traveled back to the States for the month of May.

Almerimar is a port within a resort nestled at the base of an industrial complex west of Almeria.  Its many advantages include good restaurants, an apartment hotel with reasonable rates, a good internet connection for laptop computers, car rentals, and a good lift operation for haul-out.  Lift and docking prices were reasonable and service efficient although the resort shows age and wear.

We lifted the boat so the yard could paint the hull during our time back home.  And then we flew back to the States for the college graduations of Chris’s daughter Emily from the University of Pennsylvania and her cousin, Kate, from Duke University.  In the midst of all these events, Chris’s father celebrated a birthday!

Returning to the US after one year in Europe was similar to visiting a theme park.  We enjoyed the relief in prices as the dollar/euro rate has been unfavorable to us since our departure last June.  And we relished the time visiting with our family and friends.  As the visit to the States had been a welcome whirlwind of events, returning to Spain offered momentary tranquility.

Once back in the water, we realized again just how much dirt a boat accumulates in a boat yard,  It took a week of cleaning and  provisioning to prepare SHIBUMI for the overnights up the coast of Spain to Formentera.  We decided that we would wander through the Costa del Blanco as neither of us had a feeling for the southeastern coast of Spain.  It was a completely new terrain for us:  magnificent cliffs and unending coastal development.  Cranes appear to be a permanent fixture of the Spanish skyline.

Jackie’s prayers for more rain were finally answered in Formentera with a storm with 50 mph winds and two inches of rain.  Unfortunately, at the time we were stranded ashore unable to return to the port as SHIBUMI plowed her way through an anchorage of boats off the beach.  Thanks to the skill of several cruisers who jumped aboard and found and set a second anchor for us, we caused no harm to ourselves or anyone else.

The Islas Baleares or Balearic Islands beckon. Formentera was our introduction to the Islas Baleares.  It is low and mostly beach.  Beautiful like home but with little to attract us inland.  Ibiza, although known as a party island, is by contrast high and ragged.  We ran the West and North coast on a fine day and got our first taste of the breath-taking views which have made these islands home to so many of the rich and famous of the world.

Mallorca is a day’s run from Ibiza.  We chose to land at the port of Andraitx rather than Palma and it was the correct decision.  Andraitx is surrounded by mountains and cliffs with good anchorages and has everything a cruiser might need within very easy reach…except a good chandlery.  But Palma is close by bus or by car and has every marine service known to mankind as well as a harbor full of megayachts of all descriptions.  We deliver the boom to Palma for a second weld.

After eleven months at sea, we finally decided that for their own safety Nevis and Saba should return to the States permanently. Both of them wanted to go ashore and romp with the birds and the land critters.  They were wonderful companions for us but six months at the docks in Rota were tiring for us all.  Saba fell in at least once and Nevis twice.  The docks were two feet above the water so they required “rescuing”.  Thankfully we were there both times. They became rather good swimmers.

We bundled them up and flew them home with us where they were adopted at their old homestead.  We miss them in the morning when no one rushes into our cabin looking for a rub, when we arrive back at the boat and no ears are cocked waiting for us, and when we turn on the engine and no one runs for cover!  But we are happy knowing that they are free to roam and play and hunt rodents, birds, squirrels, and lizards.  We thank them for the joy they gave us and wish them happy sails and fair winds .. on land.

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History:   2003 Horta, Azores
2003 People of Azores
2003 Galicia, Spain
2003 Rias Biaxas, Spain
2003 Porto and Lisbon
2003 Rota, Spain
2004 Andalucia, Spain
2004 Gibraltar to Mallorca
2004 The Baleares
2004 Western Med
2004 Canary Islands
2005 British Virgin Islands
2005 New England USA
2006 Cruise to Venezuela
2007 Venezuela Review
2007 Retun to San Blas