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Shake-down week!

So..it is Sunday 26th of August, over one week later than we planned to sail south from Canet, where the Catana boatyard is, to Sant Carles marina, south of Barcelona, where we were to keep Polaris for a few weeks before making the trip to Sicily. But it nearly the end of August and our contract to rent a mooring at Marina di Ragusa, Sicily starts on September 1st and we have a completely free of charge mooring here in Canet. Not to mention access to the boat yard! It’s a no brainer, we decided to stay put and organise for the extra crew members to join us here instead of in Spain before setting off for Sicily.


The ensign is up

No rush

So what has delayed things by 7 days? France basically goes on holidays for the first two or three weeks in August which for us has meant that many small jobs we required as part of the handover could not be completed until this week. For example, we have two fridges, both of which should be capable of acting as a freezer if set to the right temperature however this is not working. In addition, when the boat was anti-fouled, the dagger boards were also painted over however they obviously need to be able to go up and down, and they are not. Both works require specialist help who have only come back from their summer holidays. Anyway, this has actually worked out better for us because it has given us a chance to get things better prepared, save money we would have spent on the marina in Spain and given us more opportunities to practice manuvering the boat around the marina under the watchful eye of Alain.


It doesn't get any better

Getting to know Canet

It hasn’t been any hardship at all being here in Canet. We have done work on the boat, bought a tender, bought a stand-up paddle board and spent a little time lazing around the beach, playing beach games and trying out the new board! There is also a nice beach bar and a few restaurants nearby. The beach itself is actually gorgeous when it’s not super windy and it’s a real benefit that it is practically in our backyard. The days here seem to fly by at the moment because we always have something to do or something to wait for. Before we know it, its evening and time to cook, eat and play backgammon.. bliss. We have also exhausted the local eating options which is a good thing for our budgets and we are greeted with familiarity in the shop and the bar and restaurants. But since it was looking like we had some time to kill we decided to explore some nearby anchorages.


Captian Jim Hooper x

Mini shake-down sail to Port de la Selva

We took a trip south to the beautiful Port de la Selva just over the border in Spain, on Alain’s recommendation. It is a lovely place to stop and stay the night and it would also be a further opportunity to identify issues with the boat. So we got up on the morning of the 22nd of August and off we set. This was our first trip on Polaris completely by ourselves. Unfortuantely there was not a breath of wind at all, so we had to motor to Selva. It was a beautiful day though and Jim managed to conduct several conference calls while we were in transit which was pretty cool! We arrived just after noon and I immediately jumped in for a swim off the back of the boat and had a swim around with my mask and snorkel. We were tied to a mooring buoy and there were about 10 other boats in the bay enjoying the calm weather and glorious sunshine. We both messed about on the paddle board. How unbelievably privileged are we to be able to just jump off our own boat and do that kind of thing. We never forget this. That evening we hopped in the tender and went ashore to an excellent restaurant for fish dinner.


Into the blue

Working from (Polaris) home

We arose early and had the mandatory morning coffee and breakfast. We tidied up the deck and unhooked our lines from the mooring buoy. We started the engines (still no wind!) and off we went, leaving Port de la Selva in our wake, a stunning sight at the time of the morning with mist still hanging around as the sun broke through. We were trying to strike a balance today again. Jim was working full time, while I still had a day left of annual leave this week. We wanted to get going back to Canet to avoid some potential storms that were forecast which meant leaving early but Jim had various conference calls. The journey consisted of me keeping a look-out while Jim sat inside at the nav station also keeping an eye on things but writing emails, working on spreadsheets and on conference calls. After about an hour we found a lovely beach and dropped anchor where we had a swim (to check the anchor and that a few agreed repair works had been done) and ate lunch. We seem to be eating a lot of hard boiled eggs, cous cous, and tomatoes. As I was still an annual leave day I had a little lie down on the trampoline and fell asleep for a few hours. Initially we had planned to leave at 5pm after one of Jim’s conference calls but dark clouds soon started to cover the sky over head and we could hear menacing thunder. The weather quickly turned from still and sunny to blustery and stormy. It was definitely time to go. Jim muted his line on the conference call and it was literally all hands-on deck. The rain was pouring, and we decided to get back to Canet asap, observing that ALL boats around us were quickly upping and leaving!


First evening in our first anchorage- Selva

Mooring up on our own for the first time

We got back to Canet fairly quick and then had the task of mooring up for the first time. It’s a bit tricky in windy conditions firstly because the boat is big, so it really does catch the wind and secondly because here in this particular spot there are five points of contact to be tied which is more than most other places in Europe. You reverse so the mooring will be stern to. Then there is a lot of back and fourth with the two engines trying to achieve a delicate balance of getting one side as close to the dock as possible so that I can jump off the boat but obviously not crashing the boat into the dock on either side or either boat on either side and also avoiding all the buoys on the way in. Once there is one line tied to the dock things get slightly less frantic. Then it’s a matter of trying to get the length of the line right. Then it’s time to get the second line attached from the boat cleat to the dock cleat on the other side, play with the length again. Then get a ‘spring’ on and then while keeping the engines running, I run up to the bow and Jim gets in the tender and drives through the hulls to the bow and catches the ropes from the side where I throw them from. Then he ties us on and throws them back and I tie them back to the boat cleat. Then repeat for the other side. Then it’s back to the boat for Jim and there’s a bit of adjustment of rope length on all sides as we try to guess how much slack to leave keeping in mind the probable wind expected overnight and its done. Engines off!


Tomorrow we hope to set sail for our new home, Marina di Ragusa, Sicily and we have two new crew members joining us! Adventures await, watch this space!



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