October 20, 2012

I loved that bucket

Whizzing through the streets of Portugal, stuffed in the backseat of a small taxi with Alex and Amelia and Graham in the front seat wishing he knew at least 1 word of Portuguese so he could at least make an attempt at a conversation. You know those moments where everything feels so right? Like you are totally where you are supposed to be? This was that moment. I turned to Alex with my eyes glistening with emotion and said, "We are so lucky". He said, "Come on mom pull it together." lol

So much has happened over the past couple of weeks. Our adventure has most definitely begun. Today we arrived in Lisbon. It feels hugely momentous. Once I had realized how crazy the coast of Europe could be I wondered how the heck we were going to make it happen but we did it. Hard to believe that it has only been 2 and ½ months since we have owned Salty Ginger and only 1 ½ mths since we all began living on her.

The sails have been very eventful. We left La Coruna, Spain in HUGE waves from all different directions. Wasn't more than about 15 minutes out and I was asking Graham if there was anywhere we could pull in for the night rather than an overnight sail. Luckily though the waves calmed down a bit and dolphins joined us at sunset for the most amazing family moment together. The dolphins along the coast seem plentiful and they surround us in the dark. It is so strange. I was actually freaked out that night as they jumped and puffed around the back of the boat while I was on watch. It was so freaky that …..I hate to admit this…I had to wake Graham up. I seriously thought they were going to land on the boat and I was playing out scenarios for what I would do. Picture me standing in the middle of the cockpit watching the acrobatic show with high anxiety. Geesh eh……I can hear you all in unison saying…"Calm down Julie"!

On our next sail Alex and I opted for sea sickness pills and we could not believe how much better we felt…almost 100%. Alex ended up sleeping for the majority of the trip and waking up in time to throw out our first line and catch us a TUNA. It was totally insane because we were again surrounded by dolphins. Once Alex had hauled it in, Graham hung it from our dinghy engine hoist and the dolphins jumped about looking for dinner. I couldn't believe what we were watching. Oh and our bucket fell in the water and I was slow on the recovery and when I finally had the boat turned around and Graham had finally located the boat hook the bucket had sunk and we hear Amelia exclaim….."well if that was mom she would have sunk!" yikes….we all laughed….as Graham said, "I loved that bucket!" fyi….Alex made us the best sushi on our arrival!

Last night was our sail here to Lisbon. It was a freaky night. The lightning was full on. You could see forks hit the water. The sky seemed almost clear at times and then totally illuminated and then the thunder. It was so dark and the land and cliffs seemed so much closer than I am sure they were. Graham and I ended up hardly sleeping and it was FREEZING cold. The boat again though was surrounded by speeding bullet dolphins shooting around us waking all the fish and in Graham's words…"The water seemed to boil with fish!” It was like hail…only all these jumping fish and dolphins. Yes I was freaked out. Oh and then Graham notices as he scrolls in on our chart it reads…."Caution avoid area. See lower zoom"…WTH? we quickly divert our course and he runs and checks our other charts and it turns out the area is poorly charted and should be avoided. Oiy…..I also forgot to mention that the coast is riddled with crab pots, so we spent every moment with our faces to the cold wind searching them out. We did not want another fishing net or rope wrapped around the propeller!

We have seen some amazing places though. We stayed at Baiona, Spain. The marina we stayed at had this huge castle at its gates. The castle or maybe fortress…is a better description lined the bay and you could walk forever along the top of the fortress walls which overlooked the bay. In the middle of these walls was this huge pine forest which totally seemed enchanted. It smelled so good and at one point I saw two beautiful bunnies…in amongst the wild lilies and I swear I heard chimes like the Harry Potter chimes in the distance. Really great time.

We also stayed at Porto, Portugal which is where Port wine is aged and bottled. We walked the ancient city and of course had a tour of the Sandman Port Wine cellar and port tastings!!! yum.  

The scariest moment of the past week was yesterday though…..the marina we were staying at in Porto was in through a tiny pass and up a river. When we came in things were fairly calm but Graham noticed that even though he was going 7 knots the boat was only moving forward 1 knot. We thought the way out would be a lot easier since …in Graham's words again, "We would basically be flushed out."….but as we approach the pass to leave we could see the huge ocean was crashing at the entrance….we considered aborting but we were already into it and it seemed that one side wasn't quite as bad as the other…..Graham rev'd up the engine and it was terrifying….heading straight into standing waves. Amelia held her face in a pillow and Graham had his game face on. I was yelling, "Come on Salty"!! NOW IS YOUR TIME!!!” omg, thank goodness she delivered! We pounded out of the pass….crash, crash, crash,….and then finally relief washed over us as we realized the worst was behind us. Coming out of moments like these it takes a while for us all to digest it and begin to discuss…..I think we all just were in shock for a while. We had just never imagined it could be that bad. Good to know what Salty and crew can take though.

Ok…..sorry the blog is all over the map. So much to tell and I was way behind. Time to watch, “The Walking Dead”. The kids have finally pulled Graham and I into the madness…..could be because we don't have anything else to watch….I am not hooked yet…and I am still very much grossed out by it but strangely we keep watching. Season 1, episode 6 tonight. Oh funny story…Amelia says to me as we sailed last night…"I had a nightmare mom but I was a zombie….so I guess it wasn't a nightmare!" lmao

Plan is to stay put in Lisbon for a bit and get some school work done and see the town! Amelia should be writing her blog soon. I anxiously await her take on things. I would be remiss if I didn't mention that on our overnight sail last night she made us crepes and stuffed them with peaches and made whip cream for on top and all while the boat tossed back and forth! Love that girl.


  1. Sorry you lost your bucket Alex. Glad it wasn't Julie overboard. Lol
    Love hearing of all your adventures!

  2. I loved your blog, some was scary as I pictured it in my head but I have faith in you guys and Salty to get through anything. Love you, keep on writing.......

  3. So glad you are in my country, I was born in Lisbon but my parents lived about 170Kms n/e of lisbon, I used to visit very often, 2- 3 times a year. and while I was in the Portuguese navy I spent 4 months in the Azores islands but mostly in Lisbon, there's lots to see and you can have a draught beer at McDonald's.
    Luis in Toronto

  4. Love your blogg Julie.enjoy Portugal...it's always been on my bucket list of places to visit. Sounds like you guys are quite the sailors. That passage sounded really scared. So happy you all arrived safely. Thinking of you all. Love trese

  5. Dolphins are not scary. :)