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How to avoid expensive mistakes when you buy a new or second-hand yacht. 

Available on Amazon here


Icom IC-M35We review the Icom IC-M35 handheld.  Read the full review here.

GMDSS A User's Handbook

By Denise Bréhaut

GMDSS A user's handbook








The Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) provides a fast and efficient way of calling for assistance at sea, whatever the size of craft or its geographical position. Since it was first published, this book has helped explain the system for anyone using GMDSS and has been excellent pre-course reading for students.


Rose & Brian 12: Spain, Spain & more Spain

Rose & BrianWe follow Rose & Brian's cruise as they sailed from Holyhead in the summer to the Mediterranean, and then onwards...

As planned, we stayed in Almerimar for over two weeks.  The Eberspacher parts were finally ordered from the UK by the chandlers – it would have been faster to do it ourselves so that is a lesson learned.  The Spanish dealer in Madrid helpfully emailed parts lists which we were given, but they didn’t seem to match up with what we wanted.  Anyway the exhaust tube kit and outlet tube, filters and plug finally arrived and Brian spent an uncomfortable afternoon and morning fitting it all back together.  We tested it and it worked much better than before as the glow plug filter had been all but completely encrusted in scale.


Finally we set off on the next leg of the journey, heading east and north to cross over to the Balearics.  Again, our progress consisted of quick dashes up the coast in-between strong winds, then waiting for the swell to die down.  This allowed us a bit of time to do some exploring where there was some interest, and to carry out more fixes to the usual string of equipment glitches. 

 There are a lot of trawlers on this side of Spain, with some particularly awkward types who just do not want to move from their set course when heading back to harbour with their catch.  When trawling it is fairly easy to sail around them giving them lots of room as they move slowly, but as soon as the nets are up and they are sorting the catch, the helmsman seems to join in, leaving the boat on autopilot and to hell with anyone in the way!  We have had to manoeuvre quite drastically a couple of times to avoid collisions.

As we head up the Mediterranean it is noticeable that the proportion of large motor cruisers to yachts in the marinas is increasing dramatically, and now almost all the boats are motorboats rather than sailing yachts.  An awful lot of them are for sale too.  The boat cleaners are all hard at work keeping them gleaming.  We were recommended to buy a pot of Ferronet by the chandlers in Almerimar to remove rust marks from swarf that had blown onto the deck (including some we put there as well).  This stuff is magic!  Even 50% diluted it clears rust marks with ease – no scrubbing just paint it on, leave it for 15 minutes and rinse off.  Now Alixora is gleaming white again and the steel work is shiny (on the topsides anyway)! We were amazed how yellow the deck had got overall, not just the rusty bits.

Hilltop townOne of our early stops after Almerimar was Garrucha – a very pleasant change with a real town and real people!  The marina was small but helpful and friendly as we squeezed in to a small space away from a fairly heavy swell.  We knew that bad weather was in the offing, and prepared to stay for a few nights.  The local attraction is Mojacar – a hilltop town about 5 miles away.  We caught the bus there and had a very pleasant lunch with wonderful views over the plain and the bay.  We walked all the way back (down hill) and nearly got blown off our feet in the gale along the seafront.

Cartagena is a lovely city, with a bustling pedestrian centre only yards away from the marina (and the accompanying interest shown in anyone tied up along the promenade pontoon as we were).  The marine archeology museum was open on Sunday and we updated ourselves with the history of maritime trading in the Mediterranean, from Phoenicians through Punics to Romans and modern times.  It is extraordinary how the Phoenicians sailed in small open boats (the one recovered from near Cartagena was only 20’ long), all the way from the eastern Mediterranean around Spain and up as far as Cornwall to trade raw materials and goods.  I was also able to push buttons on interactive displays to demonstrate how underwater archeological recovery works!

Our final port of call on the mainland was Denia, crossing the Greenwich Meridian on the way so we are finally really East.  Denia marina is famed for its wonderful washroom facilities – a block of self-contained private bathrooms activated by a swipecard. Sometimes small things make all the difference. We stocked up before heading for the Balearics, the wind picked up and our desire to get to Ibiza in daylight was thwarted as the marina ruled that we had to leave before midday or pay another day’s fee. We sailed very fast on a beam reach without the engine the whole way - what a treat!

coveAs we reached the passage between Ibiza and Fomentera in the early hours a very fast and large motorlaunch approached.  I was on watch at the time, helming as we had light following winds and a fairly bumpy following swell so the autohelm was complaining.  After being blinded by their spotlight for a while (no loudhail or shouting) I risked the autohelm and went below to enquire what they wanted on the radio – it turned out to be Spanish Customs.  After answering the usual questions, we were allowed on our way and they sped off into the distance.  Brian then woke up!  We wallowed through the passage and turned towards Ibiza Town, finally putting the engine on about 3 miles out.  Here, being a bit bleary, we headed for what we thought was Botafoch marina in the dark. 

At the entrance we saw a large dredger working with floodlights, but thought there was plenty of clearance to enter the marina (which by that time we realised was the next marina along).  Then suddenly we noticed unlit steel hawsers from the dredger across the entrance, only about 20 feet in front of us.  A quick shout and Brian managed to turn us around and finally headed for Botafoch – what a fright.  Ibiza (Eivissa in Catalan) was great to explore, with the old town on the hill above the port and lots of comings and goings including a five masted cruise ship (Wind Surf).  We got the bikes out and went around a few of the sights and inland too, swam in the bay just to the north of the marina and generally relaxed.  

Cruising chuteA couple of nights were spent anchoring in a delightful cove (still raising the anchor manually as the footswitch broke, and then the chain jammed under the gypsy), then a further few days waiting for gales to blow over in Santa Eularia, joining up with a family we met in Cartagena for a day’s car hire and tour of the island.  We finally managed to get away from Ibiza and had another great sail to Santa Ponsa, Mallorca. Alixora has a cruising chute which we got out for the first time on this trip as there was a bit of time to work out where all the ropes should go and the sea was wonderfully calm. We were a bit nervous about using it, but it has a snuffer and we managed to let it out and pull it in a couple of times for practise.  It worked a treat and is very bright!

Mallorca north coastWe decided to tour the island clockwise, taking advantage of a week of very good weather albeit light winds.  A glorious two days were spent in Cala Deya on the very dramatic north coast and where Robert Graves once lived.  We managed to raise the anchor on the windlass all the way without Brian’s muscle to pull it in for the first time – he is most relieved.  A handheld switch replacing the original footswitch makes all the difference, and the gypsy and clutch are finally behaving themselves.  The previous months of marina bashing will be leavened by more anchoring now that it is more reliable.  A week or more will be spent in Palma, while Brian pays a four day flying visit back to the UK, and then we wait for another good week to head down to Tunisia for winter warmth, trying to avoid the weather that tracks south east from the Gulf of Lyon.  


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