The trawler fleet return to Vilanova harbour in the watery afternoon light.
The more elderly wooden boats have a distinctive sheer and pleasing proportions.
The more modern boats have the aggressive features of natural predators.
Not all returning boats trail a cloud of seagulls. Please tell me that this is because they have already sorted and stowed the catch and not that the nets came up empty.
Friday, 25 December 2009
Sunday, 20 December 2009
Despite inauspicious beginnings with the local rowing team I’ve continued, training when ever time is available. I even participated in a couple of races over the summer and just about avoided spewing my guts into the bilges.
Our destination tonight, announced by Pegleg the cox, is the local brothel.
Away from the shore the stars are brighter and the cold is biting but Pegleg drives us hard with series of 10, 15, 20 long, strong strokes. Our only navigation light is Pegleg’s head torch. We all move as one, powering the boat through the oily waters. We reach our destination and turn. The distant pulsing pink nubile silhouettes and the green lights atop the bawdy house ladder up and down like, ahem, well, like a whore’s drawers.
By contrast, over to port, a more traditional navigational aid hangs huge in the night sky. Orion. There’s a sharp edged beauty out here, the scattered constellations above and more immediately the boat, the pale bow wave, the heaving rowers. A shooting star arcs over Rigel. It would be enough to bring a tear to my eye if I weren’t concentrating so hard on not ‘slicing the ham.
Tuesday, 15 December 2009
I can’t go to a neighbouring beach without stopping to look at a particular boat and firing up a little pipe dream. Rationally I’d be better off avoiding the beach altogether but I’ve found myself making excuses to wander in that direction whenever I’m in the area with a few minutes to spare.
The boat was apparently built on the Costa Brava assuring her pedigree as a traditional Catalan llaüt or llagut or, being fairly small, gussi. Carvel built of thick pine, distinctively vertical at stern and stem and bathtub beamy amidships she looks to be on the precarious cusp between restoration and rebuild. The name painted on the side is Rocamar (literally ‘rock-sea’) a name often given to houses built on cliffs overlooking the sea.
But I’m in no position to entertain plans for restoration. Onawind Blue is the largest, most complex boat that I can afford to maintain and own. However, I can’t help feeling a genuine desire to take some positive step to save a piece of Catalonia’s maritime heritage.
I couldn’t resist leaving my name and number at the sailing club though, in case the owner comes by. Just to find out more about the boat’s history and to know if he has any plans for Rocamar.
Wednesday, 9 December 2009
Late autumn in Catalonia can bring some beautiful days. After a week of cold, roof-tile-flinging winds and crashing swells with fierce undertows that move more sand in an afternoon than a regiment of bulldozers could in a week, a Mediterranean jewel of a day is conjured from the chaos. And it begs to be lived to the full.
Dutiful as always in the face of fine conditions I pack the boat and go for lunch on a little beach that, during the summer months, is inaccessible due to buoys and bathers and rules and regulations. I see no other sailing boats on the three-mile reach and there are no people on the beach. Feeling luckier than a lottery winner I give a OB a salt water clean out and cook a simple lunch. I wonder why people round here use the coast seasonally, why they pack their beach towels and boats away in September. But I don’t wonder for too long, I don’t really care. Today I’m just glad they do.