Wednesday 21 September 2011

A cruise through blues 4

Perched on a headland the Catalan flag, four red stripes on a yellow background, simply refused to flap. Southerlies were forecast from 10 am onwards. They were two hours late and I felt indignant. But as the flag’s lethargy infected my mood my irritation evaporated.

I lay back in OB, this was a good anchorage for a little boat, shallow, protected and with a little beach to visit and paths over the headland and up the cliffs. There was no view of the crowded little waterfront at Sa Tuna though the noise filtered round the cliffs.

The peace lifted like fog around noon with the arrival of a good part of the motorboat fleet. Craft crammed in, anchors splashed overboard. Shouts, screams and general loudness echoed from the rocks and I remained boat-bound and head down except to fend off when the entire crew of a nearby vessel leapt into the briny leaving me to watch how their boat slowly swung towards OB.

There are just 20 miles, if you take the direct route, from Sa Tuna to Cadaqués, but they are 20 miles of a special breed. It’s more like a crossing than a coastal passage as you’re up to 10 miles offshore at mid-point while you cross the Gulf of Roses. The feared Gulf I might say as when the Tramontana blows it can be very nasty indeed.

20 miles could take 6 hours or more depending on wind strength so when light southerlies arrived at 3 pm I knew it was too late to start. I thought about shifting a few miles up the coast to make for a shorter crossing but having climbed up to the flag and seen the open water I was put off. Too many motorboats.

As evening came and the crowds moved off I rowed round to SaTuna and parked on the pebble beach. A small crowd of children arrived and subjected me to an interrogation. As OB’s story unfolded they became more still more excited and inquisitive. ‘Have you seen dolphins?’ ‘Aren’t you scared of sharks?’ ‘How do you sleep?’ ‘How do you go to the lavatory?’ All the usual questions. By the time I got to a bar I found that the story had travelled ahead. ‘You’re the one who’s sailed to Ibiza in that little boat down on the beach, tell me, how the hell do you go to the lavatory on that thing?’

I decided to eat in a narrow street away from the sea front and as I tucked into a plate of grilled sardines the gang of children returned, now with an ipad. They wanted the address of this blog and the link to the Catalan documentary. It was interesting to talk to children who understood something of the sea, though 3 knots seemed impossibly slow to them accustomed as they were to engines.

In the darkness I rowed away to my anchorage, basking in the glow of OB’s minor fame and marvelling at the phosphorescence.


Brandon Ford said...


I'm a fan of your blog. Hope you're feeling fine. I'm glad you are back to voyaging in OB. And gladder still you write about it. I noticed this series of four posts back in September, but I wanted to save them until I had some time to savor them. Yesterday was the first real winter storm on the Oregon coast and your brilliant writing was just what I needed to warm my soul.

Steve said...


I've just been browsing your cruise posts. Very nice journeys, and a wonderful boat too.


Trip said...

I ran accross your videos on Youtube quite a while back but I have watched your series of your Cruising in the Western Med. several times since then. I thoroughly enjoy them, what great videos! I have sailing website that I run and I have featured your blog and videos on the homepage this week. I wonder if I could request a friendly backlink from your blog to my website? Check it out,

boatwithnoname said...

Hello Ben,
Just a simply brilliant blog, had me nicely distracted from the Scottish Highland winter!! I do hope you and your family are well. Please get back to blogging soon, I'm getting withdrawal symptoms.....

Gavin Atkin said...

I hope the world's treating you and your folks kindly Ben. We wish you a happy Christmas, with love from Julie and Gav.

George said...

great blog mate!

George Marikas
Sailing Education & Training