Late start but we are finally underway 


It's always hard to know where to start the first seasons blog. Do you bore the reader with the daily detail of what we have been up to since leaving Katherine in late August of last year (2018) or just skip to the here and now. Hopefully somewhere in between is a good starting point. 

181124 1 Picnic at Eastpoint with Paul Paul Andrew Kirsty and Kelly181207 4 Lifting Katherine out

Our time home in Darwin was as always busy spent travelling interstate to visit family, catching up locally with friends and of course working back in a more conventional office rather than our floating office onboard Katherine.

We returned to Katherine in December to begin one of our busiest maintenance seasons. The antifoul was completely stripped back to the epoxy, re primed and a new antifoul called Seajet 038 applied. We are hoping that it gives us better protection in the warmer waters where growth particularly after last years limited sailing was a real problem. When Katherine was hauled out for her inspection she really wasn’t looking the best, more like the home for a potential coral reef. That said when we recently returned to Cartagena just on three weeks ago we were impressed with how clean her waterline looked after sitting in the marina for several months. Here is hoping she stays that way with this new antifoul. Andrew performed gymnastics throughout the boat replacing seacocks, dragging new wires for services, servicing of all things mechanical, discarding our old anchor chain that didn’t look too bad until we placed it on the dock  and generally giving Katherine the once over.

181225 7 Christmas Day Lisbon Tobias Lauren JJ Scott Bek and Andrew Lunch time (1)

Christmas Frivolity in Lisbon 

190104 3 The view from the top Olympia Run Lee and Andrew

Of course we did manage to squeeze in as many side trips during our winter visit to Katherine as possible including Christmas in Lisbon, touring with our son Scott and his partner Bek from Lisbon back to Cartagena, skiing the Sierra Nevada (twice) and a 50th Birthday celebration back in Lisbon just prior to our return to Australia. We certainly can say we made the most of our short return back to Spain. 

190625 2 Another workday onboard sorting out the tracking190627 10 Time to sort out the mainsail

The plan for 2019 was to return to Katherine at the end of May. Well that was the plan. Instead we found that there were just too many work commitments to see us leave Australia so we opted to delay for one month. The only problem with the delay meant our first guests were arriving now on the day we were landing and not even into the same country as we had originally planned. So it was agreed at the last moment that plane flights for all of us be redirected to Alicante Spain where we landed literally five minutes apart from good friends Barry and Kim Mounce from Louisiana. 

Now normally when friends arrive their cabin is waiting, Katherine is washed, stocked and ready to sail. Not this time. Barry and Kim had to not only make their own bed they had to find it first as everything was sealed and stored from winter. We now officially had friends come crew onboard once more!

Extra hands certainly make the jobs easier to complete and over the next few days together we restored sails, tackled the issue of the sticking mainsail track, fixed the usual unexpected failures like water pumps, resolved the issue of the hydraulic ram for our garage door that kept opening, reprovisioned the pantry and then finally we were ready to get underway. 

190622 5 Experience 43 Tour Andrew Barry Kim and Lee

The Experience 43 tour

190622 7 Experience 43 Tour Andrew Barry Kim and Lee

Before departing Cartagena there were a few things we just had to do before letting go of our lines one last time. Cartagena is home to the spirit called 43 used in the local desert coffee called Asiactico. An apperative that lies somewhere between a Gran Marinia and a Contreau but we would argue much better. So before leaving Cartagena we managed to organise a Experience 43 tour at the home of 43. Not really knowing what the tour would entail we were fortunate to discover on arrival the tour was to include an additional 15 people but as they had cancelled it was now a personal tour for 4. Normally lasting 50 minutes we left some 3 hours later after having learnt the operations of the factory, the brands the company now marketed, the refreshing alternative cocktails to make with 43, oh and of course a bottle or two. 

190626 10 Stepping out at night in Cartagena

Beautiful buildings of downtown Cartagena

190623 3 Catching up with Alan and Maggie

Barry and Kim had the opportunity to wander the streets of the city that has been our winter home for the last three years and get to appreciate why we have enjoyed it so much. From Roman ruins to international Chain stores to quaint tucked away tapa bars we feel Cartagena has it all. 

Farewells were said to Maggie and Alan who have been our neighbours for the last two winter seasons. It was sad to leave the harbour knowing we won’t be back for the foreseeable future as we are heading east to our new winter home in Ragusa Sicily. 

190628 2 Setting sail out of Cartagena

Heading out of Cartagena 

190628 5 Cabo De Palos Night lights

It was decided the best plan for Barry and Kims time onboard was to sail north to Valencia stopping on our first night out for the season at Cabo De Palos.  We are pleased to say we did not find the same bommy that had entrapped Katherines anchor on the previous visit and were able to pull up our anchor the next morning without any issues or delays. 

190629 3 On anchor  Ilse Tarbaca

On Anchor off Tabarca

190630 4 Ilse Tarbaca Walking the streets Festival Time190630 8 Ilse Tarbaca Walking the streets Festival Time Local Band

Thanks to weather conditions being favourable our next anchorage was off the Isle of Tabarca near Alicante, a new anchorage on this coastline for us. This islet is apparently the smallest inhabited islet in Spain with only 50 permanent residents in the off season and an elevation of just 15m. The islet gained its current name Nova Tabarca or New Tabarca when a group of Genoese Sailors were shipwrecked off the coast of Tunisa near an island named Tunisian Tabarka. These sailors were settled on Tabarca with a Spanish garrison and the fortified town, walls and barracks were constructed from around 1770. The main industry on the small islet has always been fishing but tourism in summer has become the most important source of revenue today. We happen to arrive for the Genovese Festival. It was like stepping back in time when you walked through the fortified gates into the small village contained within. The several streets of the village were all adorned with hand made decorations, a local band marched the streets belting out a volume that defied their numbers and canons were fired regularly. The church of St Peter and St Paul which was completed in 1779 is still in used on the island. It was certainly worth a visit to this surprisingly quaint and interesting village. 

190629 13 On anchor  Ilse Tarbaca Sunset

Hard to beat a beautiful sunset on anchor 

190701 2 Calpe Restaurant View of Katherine Calpe

Moving slowly further north we put down anchor in one of our favourite bays, Calpe with the Penyal de fac as our backdrop. We stayed in the southern anchorage for two nights allowing Barry and Kim time to walk the long esplanade but they declined the climb to the top of the rock. Instead we found another great restaurant overlooking the beach and within view of Katherine to enjoy a good Spanish lunch of paella.

190703 10 Out to dinner Azul Barry and Lee

Sunset from the Azul Cafe Valencia Marina

190703 3f Riding home barry kim lee190703 3i Riding home Kim

Our final run to Valencia saw us as always sailing up wind. It had been the general sail pattern since leaving Cartagena - wind on the nose and gunnels in the water! 

In Valencia Marina we found ourselves on the last wall of the marina just a very short distance from the Azul Cafe that provided not only a great place to eat but also provided us with great background music for around 12 hours a day. 

The bikes were dug out of the depths of the garage and we spent one day riding the river again into the old town as we had done in 2017 with our son Chris. No matter how many times we explore Valencia we are always in awe of the vision to redirect a river and to provide an area devoted to the people for education, relaxation and entertainment. 

190704 12 Downtown Valencia La Lola for a long lunch

LaLola where a most enjoyable lunch was had 

190704 13h La Lola

Barry and Kims final day onboard Katherine we opted for a long Spanish lunch. Many years ago we dined at a restaurant called LaLola down a lane in the old town of Valencia. Well we can happily say the experience was as good as we remember from almost ten years ago. Three hours later after having sampled some amazing paella and Valencia Rosada we could definitely say we were feeling very Spanish and in need of a siesta.

190704 19 Barry and Kim heading home

This trip onboard for Barry and Kim turned out to be more about the sailing. Learning the processes of the boat and definitely being more involved. We enjoyed as always their time onboard and were happy to have changed our plans to stay a little longer to savour a little more of Spain.

But now we do need to get going. 

A little bit of preparation to be done then we are heading to the Balearics to wait for the right winds for Sardinia. 

(For more photos click here.) 

© SV Katherine 2018      Cover Photo: Katherine on Anchor Isle Tabarca Spain