Author Archives: JennyDurnan

Fishing and sailing in 2020

 “You will go straight to your vessel and not disembark for a minimum of 14 days. Non-compliance will result in a penalty of up to $25,000 and up to a year in prison.”  This was the greeting that awaited the arriving crew on the charter flight into Dutch yesterday, delivered by one of the local cops all decked out in bio hazard gear.

 Fishing is considered an essential business in AK, so we have been able to get a plan approved that involves any crew coming up documenting self-quarantining for 14 days prior to flying, additionally anybody coming up from out of state isn’t allowed off the boat for 2 weeks, and they have to document twice-daily temperature checks that need to be logged.

 In any case, we’re finding a way to keep working, which we are all quite grateful for, considering what’s happening all around the world right now. Fish prices are tanking pretty badly, and we are facing shipping difficulties into Asia, but for now the wheels are still turning up in Alaska.

 For my part, I’m sitting in a hotel in Anchorage for 2 nights, about to fly to Adak to take the helm of the Constellation. I’ve been running the Alaska Spirit since mid-February. I had the good luck to make it North prior to all of the restrictions.

 Our timing for the Atlantic crossing turned out to be perfect as well. We managed to get RS stored ashore and make it home just as Covid-19 was coming onto everyone’s radar. Those who came behind us have not been so lucky. Port closures around the world have the cruising community reeling. Many are trapped where they happened to be as lockdowns began, unable to leave by any means-air or sea.  Some of them are unfortunately in places that are subject to tropical storms outside of the normal cruising season. If the restrictions continue into the hurricane season, many will be faced with some very difficult choices-hunker down in case of an approaching storm, or head to sea to try to get out of the way. Scary business all around.

 Our friends Ryan and Elena on s/v Skua left the Canary islands just as things were really taking off with the disease, arriving at the other end of their 25 day passage to a completely different world. Jenny spent quite a few hours trying to find them one of the Caribbean islands which would take them. Grenada looked like it was a go for them. Then a COVID case was recorded on the island, and that permission was instantly revoked. This happened when they were 3 days out. Finally, they were able to end their trip in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, where they are now hunkered down. This is still in the hurricane zone, but hits are rare, and they are within a day’s sail if they need to get S. of the hurricane zone.

 Such is life these days. Everyone take care of each other.

Atlantic Crossing # 2

 We relaxed for a few days in La Palma, not for any particular sailing reason, but just to enjoy a few quiet days prior to the big crossing. The distance from E-W is substantially higher than our W-E route, about 3000 miles vs 1800. Also, we were expecting much lighter winds than we encountered up around 50N, so this was going to be a long ride. Might as well relax for a bit. Besides, we like La Palma a lot, even though the marina is terrible with surge. It’s a beautiful island, with a tranquil vibe.

On a rainy day we visited the local museum
Each year La Palma exports about 60 000 bananas.

 We set off with a reasonably strong wind in the forecast, and after getting clear of the surprisingly long wind shadows of the islands, managed several days of fairly fast sailing. We sailed RS well short of her potential, both because we really didn’t want to break anything with the long distance to go and a desire not to intimidate our third crew too much. Our beast does take some getting used to when things are breezy. We only exceeded 20 knots of boat speed on one occasion during this time, so we were mostly successful in our efforts to rein things in. We would come to regret not pushing harder during this early part later in the passage, unfortunately.

Rocket Science in beast mode
It took longer than expected for the weather to warm up

 Anyway, things went quite well for the first 5 days. Then, Friday the 13th arrived. Good god. The cursed day’s events began shortly after midnight. We had been charging the batteries, and as I walked back to shut down the engine, I got pegged directly in the chest by a pretty big flying fish. These things travel fast, and it was a bit of a shock. After tossing him back into the sea, I went to complete the task of shutting down, which requires pulling the stop cable, and the little handle for it broke in my hand, causing 2 nasty gashes in my fingers. Wonderful.

 Next up, I discovered that I’d closed a line in the hatch over my bunk, resulting in a huge puddle right where my pillow sits.

 Later in the day, during another charging session, it was discovered that the main cable from the alternator to the batteries had failed, that was a 4 hour jury-rig, with the added bonus of working on energized cables.

 And finally… during a gybe, the traveler line somehow sucked itself into one of the sheaves in a big knot, requiring us to essentially disassemble the entire mechanism to get that sorted. This was at about 2330. Should have waited 1/2 hour. Sigh.

The dawn of December 14. Hallelujah.

But, all things do pass, and the 14th dawned as another standard day underway. The wind had been drawing more and more astern, to the point where there really wasn’t a favored gybe anymore. It’s a bit of a mental exercise to recognize that pointing at Brazil on one gybe and at Canada on the other (I may be exaggerating a bit) is really the most effective way to sail. We even tried sheeting the staysail outboard to weather and running under twin headsails for a bit, but that idea proved to be a rather dumb, high-maintenance failure.

TJ pretending to be a Volvo ocean racer.

The second half of the trip saw conditions get lighter and lighter, and our 24h runs get smaller with each day. At this point, I really wished we’d pushed a bit more at the beginning. We’d probably squandered 400 miles of potential progress by taking it easier than we should have. But, hindsight is always 20/20, so I tried not to let it get me down. We did the best we could, using a bunch of different flying sails, and we did manage to keep our progress reasonably good.

 With about 600 miles to go, things went essentially dead. 10 knots or less, and from dead astern. A quick fuel calculation revealed that we had just enough range to motor the rest of the way if needed. We had sailed 100% of the time to this point, and were keen to make the entire trip under sail, but with many days of the same in the forecast, we gave up on it and turned on the motor, sailing when things picked up a bit.

Rocket Science can sail faster than the wind!

 We had one final failure during this time-the seawater pump for the engine’s seal gave out, so that had to be replaced with the spare. Really, our laundry list of mechanical issues was pretty light for a passage of this length.

 On the last night, we had to slow down a bit to avoid arriving in Antigua in the dark. We picked up a mooring in Falmouth harbour exactly 16 days, 20 minutes and 2940 miles days after departing La Palma. A bit slower than hoped, but the boat and crew were in good order, so the passage was definitely a success in our book.

 We’ve been enjoying Antigua for a week and a half. We’ll be here for a few more days, and will store the boat on the hard here. We failed utterly at finding a berth anywhere in FL or GA that can accommodate our draft (!), so Antigua is home for the time being. The yard here has some great concrete pits for the keel to sit in, with anchors in the ground for straps. It’s almost surely a safer hurricane arrangement than anything we’d find in Florida in any case. We’ve been busy for the last few days removing all the sails and halyards, cleaning everything, varnishing, lining up work, and just tending to all the details that need to be looked after prior to laying the boat up.

 And, with that, we’ve managed to secure our winter getaway for another year. Bonus!

Europe-It’s not you, it’s us.


Over the fall, we had some opportunity to ponder just where RS should live. We weighed the pros and cons about keeping her in England, but the truth is that the cruising season is really short there, and I typically work well into July each year. We would basically have a month per year to cruise if we kept her over there. She would turn into a little-used dock queen. Couple that with the long flight over and back each time, and it just seemed a bit of a waste.

So, the current plan (this is version 4, rev.6), is to bring the boat to the E. coast of the US, and then stick her on a truck and home port her in Anacortes, WA. She’ll get a lot more use there, being close to home and all. Of course, there’s also some really excellent cruising grounds close at hand. Seems like a winning plan.

I’m writing this from La Palma, our last stop in the Canary islands. We expect to leave Saturday for the Caribbean.

For those of you who don’t have it, we have a tracker aboard, and Jenny also made up a little facebook group to have a look at if you wish.

Stephanie will be joining us on this leg as well. We met her on Lanzarote last year while she was finishing up her Yachtmaster credential, so we’ll have another capable hand aboard for the crossing as well. We had been a bit undecided as to whether or not we wanted to sail doublehanded, but in the end the prospect of a lot more sleep and good company won the day. Welcome, Steph.

Europe, we just can’t get over you!

 It’s been a while since we’ve done an update, mostly since RS has unbelievably been in the Canary islands for a full year. How did this happen?

 As those of you who have been following us for some time know, we were getting a bit sick of cruising. Jenny was getting tired of getting ditched by me in various places every few months, and I, after 22 years of continuous living aboard, had also found that I was enjoying myself less than usual. The disappointment of most of southern Europe (from a sailing perspective) sort of brought things to a head.

 So, we bought a house. Besides, the dog’s really too old to sail offshore at this point, we figured letting him spend the last of his days enjoying a home that doesn’t move around and a big yard to frolic around in was just the right thing to do for our old guy.

 Our plan was to sail the boat across the pond last year, basing her in either Maine or Rhode Island, taking summer cruises each year to Newfoundland and Greenland for the next few years. However, between the interminable wait for Jenny to get her immigration status for the USA and closing on our new home, we simply got too pressed for time to get across to the Caribbean without being rushed. There wasn’t really any hurry to get across anyway, so we enjoyed cruising the islands a bit and decided to berth her in one of the excellent marinas on Lanzarote.

La Palma – one stop on the abandoned Atlantic crossing

 Fast forward to the present day-Jenny is still waiting for US immigration to issue her permanent resident card. They lost her paperwork, so it has to be done all over again. We have no idea how long this will take. With the way things have been, we are assuming that she will not be able to leave the USA until sometime next year. Lost paperwork means that while she’s legal to be in the USA, somebody at a port of entry may not understand the situation and would deny her entry-this according to  our attorney.

 So, she’s stuck, and probably not able to sail to the Caribbean this fall. I was going to grab a friend or two (here’s looking at you, Andy), make the crossing, ditch the boat, and then fly home as fast as possible from the Caribbean to rejoin my abandoned wife. Sounds great, right?

 Honestly, coming back with the boat to the US never felt exactly right to either of us. So, during a recent call, we were discussing that we both regretted not spending more time in N. Europe. We missed Scotland, Norway, the Baltic, and plenty of other delights on our first trip through. Why leave?

 As is our way, we’ve changed our plans again, and we will now be keeping RS in Europe for probably the next few years. We’ll sail to England via the Azores next summer, likely using Berthon’s fine marina and yard in Lymington as our base for the first year.

 This feels very much like the right call to both us. It’s funny, we have been off the boat for 7 months. That’s all it took, and we’re back fully interested in getting back to adventuring afloat again. I’m surprised it took that long…

Marina Rubicon on Lanzarote

Adios, Europe!

We’ll be leaving soon for another Atlantic crossing, destination Caribbean. We’ve been in Europe for not quite two and a half years.

It was a good change for us. We’d essentially been in the tropics (mostly Mexico) since 2009, and I had kept Star Path based in Vallarta since 2002. We were ready to do something different. While we do love Mexico, central and S. America, it does all sort of begin to feel the same after enough years. Our time on the E. coast was also mostly great, Portsmouth, VA being a notable exception. Newfoundland was also a real highlight.

In fact, we’ve decided that we’re going to base Rocket Science on the E. coast for a few more years-we really want to explore Newfoundland some more, and also have a trip to Greenland in our sights. So, it’s most likely that we’ll sail out of Rhode Island or Maine for a few summers before bringing the boat over to the W. coast. When we’re not doing that, the plan is to live somewhere N. of Seattle. I can report that Jenny has been enjoying shopping for houses. Me too, actually. Change is good.

Anyway, our view of Europe from a cruising perspective is mixed. We really liked our glimpse of Ireland and our winter in England a lot. We did end up in more marinas than we would have liked, but that’s ok. Being dockside does come with a lot of perks.

Our trip last summer from the UK to Gibraltar was also great, particularly the rias in NW Spain. That was really an unexpected treat. I wish we would have had more time to enjoy the place.

Portugal was just a short stop for us, with a brief visit to Cascais, and a couple of weeks in Portimao.

I’ve already reported on Gibraltar, nothing further needs to be said there.

Cruising in the Med? I’ll say it-we thought it sucked. Hot, crowded (10,000 boats at Mallorca alone, or something like that), expensive, and generally not very friendly either. Also, the old adage of there being too little or too much wind is pretty close to the mark. I think that if we’d gone further E, like to Greece or Croatia, it may have been a little better, but Sardinia was far enough for us. There’s a lot more that we’d both like to see in the region, but going by boat is a drag, at least during the high season. If we’d had the opportunity to cruise in May/June or September/October, I suspect we’d feel differently.

In retrospect, we should have spent another season in N. Europe, particularly Scotland and Norway. I’m sorry to have traded the Med for missing that. But, we’d been sailing in cold conditions for a couple of years, so some warmth was attractive.

I’m writing this from about 900 miles NW of Seattle. We’re bringing the Constellation down for her annual maintenance, then I’ll be jumping on a plane to get RS out of the water for some annual maintenance of her own. We’ll then spend Christmas in Germany, and shortly after shove off for the 2800 mile passage to the islands. It’ll be our longest trip together so far. Hopefully we can maintain a 200 mile/day average and knock it off in a couple of weeks.

Stay tuned.

Winter in Gibraltar

We spent last winter in Gibraltar. We knew little about the place, except that it was a big rock with some famous apes, and British.

Of course, we also knew that it was outside the EU, and outside of the Schengen zone, and both were needed to keep me and Rocket Science from getting sideways with the authorities. So, we had the good fortune to find a spot in one of the two marinas.

It’s important to understand a couple of key things about the place. First, being outside of the EU, it is an attractive place to folks looking to find some tax advantages in banking, properties, and such. Also, being a low-tax zone, it also attracts people for whom cheap booze and smokes are a major selling point. Turns out, the latter is a little more problematic in daily life.

We arrived in our slip, a little surprised that our neighbors took no interest in our arrival, nor did they offer to lend a hand, adjust their fenders (when med-mooring, all the boats are in contact with each other most of the time, so you need to mind that your fenders are actually doing something), or even really offer a friendly word after we got all tied up. No matter-we had by then become rather used to aloof Europeans. We didn’t mind.

However, it turns out these folks, we’ll call them Klaus and Kunnigunde, were firmly in the booze and smokes camp. The party raged until the wee hours, glasses clinking, raucous laughter, smoke billowing into our cabin. We said nothing, and hoped we just arrived on a special occasion.

The next night, we discovered this was our new normal. How awful. The marina has a ‘quiet after 2300’ policy (as does all of Gib, incidentally), but this mattered nothing to these folks and their buddies from down the dock. Finally, at 0130, Jenny respectfully asked if they could just please take it inside? 30 minutes later, after turning off the music, but still smoking, laughing, and yelling, she popped back out to ask a little more forcefully to please show some respect to the marina rules and us. This was met with some seriously furious anger, and a suggestion to put in ear plugs. Great. This was supposed to be our spot for 6 months, and the marina was completely full, so we couldn’t find another spot. What a nightmare.

Of course, Klaus and co. were pretty overtly hostile any time we saw them for quite a while after. They did tone it down, but it was never comfortable there. Fortunately, we weren’t there the whole time, and the cooler weather kept the outdoor partying to a minimum as the fall wore on, but it still sucked.

Of course, the terrible surge and damage to the boat did little to enamor us to the place as well. RS still bears some nasty scars from our winter in Gib.

Anyway, we made the best of our time there, taking every chance to hike up to the top of the rock. It was always a welcome reprieve to get around the back side of the rock, and away from the constant noise and bustle of the place. We were also happy to be able to get some proper British goods at the local supermarket, and we had a fine Indian restaurant nearby, and even some decent Thai and delivery pizza.

But, the place is really chaotic. The traffic’s a nightmare, with cars and especially scooters blasting around like mad. A bike ride was always a roll of the dice, one which Jenny had the misfortune to lose one one occasion. She got hit by one of the nutty drivers in a roundabout, pitching her off her bike and onto the pavement. There were only minor injuries to her, but she was definitely shaken up. Shortly after the accident, a cop rode up and asked if she needed to go to the hospital, and when it was determined that she didn’t, he rode off. No reports, no ticket for the driver. Just another cyclist run over, no biggie.

Ultimately, we didn’t make it the whole winter. Gib has a limit of 6 months before taxes are due. You just have to go to Spain with the boat for 5 minutes to reset the clock, so during my week home in March, we set about getting this done, booking a slip for a couple of nights just across the border in La Linea. We had a nice T-head, and a view of something other than concrete and the hulls of the boats on either side of us. We had already booked our stay in Gib, though, so we were planning to head back.

In the end, Jenny quietly let me know that the thought of going back to Gib was just too much to bear. So, with great relief, we stayed in La Linea, settling in to our new digs contentedly. For about 12 minutes.

On minute 13, Baxter saw a dog on the quay behind the boat, and let out a single bark. Immediately, a very hostile, tattooed Brit popped his head out, and said: “In all seriousness, am I going to have to listen to that shit all day? I come down here for quiet, and I don’t want to hear your damn dog barking!” He muttered some more pleasantries, and went down below.

For god’s sake, out of the frying pan and into the fire.

I decided to nip this one in the bud. I stood outside his boat, and told him rather loudly and sharply that he really ought to come out and introduce himself properly, and civilly. We did manage to become friendly-we assured him that we were responsible dog owners, and while little B would never be absolutely silent, we wouldn’t just let him run amok. He informed us that he was á miserable bastard´and on those grounds he turned out to be pretty ok in the end.

In the end, it was a necessary stop, but not really the greatest experience for us. Compared to N. Europe, and our delightful winter in England the year prior, we did find the place a little bit of a disappointment. But, the beauty of cruising is that one can always toss the lines and sail off to greener pastures. For our part, we were pretty happy to leave the rock in our wake.

Cartagena to the Islas Canarias

After our welcome foray into the mountains, we returned to sweltering Cartagena to handle a few small maintenance items before the last 900 or so miles to the islands. The plan was to make this run with just a single stop in Gibraltar.

First, though, we had one last bit of business to take care of while in Europe- Barcelona! I’d never been there, and Jenny had only been there once as a teen, so it was high time for both of us to head over there.

Joining us there were Bob and Cheri, another Alaskan fishing couple. I’ve known Bob for 25 years or so, and he’s a valued ally on the fishing grounds, but we’ve never really had the opportunity to spend time outside of a work setting. Nice.

Barcelona was great. We hit as many of the highlights as we could in the couple of days we were there. We had planned to spend 3 nights there, but only managed 2-Westerlies were expected to fill in our our route to Gib, so we had to cut it a bit short to avoid that. Such is the life of a sailor.

Next up was the 275 mile trip to Gib. The 4 of us had a fine time of it, even managing an 8 hour uninterrupted spinnaker run, which is pretty rare in the fickle Med. Good stuff. We motored the rest of the time, of course. The trip took a little under a day and a half.

We had a couple of days with our amigos in Gib, Jenny spent one day hiking up to the top of the rock with them-13 miles and 1400′ of vertical gain. I stayed home with B, and after seeing them drag themselves back home, I was pretty happy to have been nominated babysitter.

The following day was a little trip to Cadiz, which mostly involved a little walk around and lunch in this ancient city. It’s reckoned to be the place that’s been continuously inhabited for longer than about anyplace in Europe, so it’s well worth a visit if you’re ever in the neighborhood.

Finally, we bade Bob and Cheri farewell, and enjoyed a couple of quiet weeks aboard before our passage to the islands. Finally, the weather looked light but favorable, and we chucked the lines for the 600 mile ride to the islands. The first 24 hours were basically windless, contrary to the forecast, leaving us motoring uncomfortably in a big swell. Finally a bit of breeze filled in, and we had some really spectacular, fast sailing. It was nice to be back out in a proper ocean swell again, surfing away on our trusty ride. Jenny hit 16 a couple of times while I was snoozing at 3am. I came up for my watch to find her grinning away, claiming to have been nervous during the fastest runs. I’m not so sure, it looked like she’d been having a ball to me.

So, thanks to our little speedy part in the middle, we arrived in Lanzarote in just a few hours over the 3 day mark. We’re settled in here now until the hurricanes stop blowing, and the winter trades get established, and then we’ll head for the Caribbean via the Cape Verde islands.

Baxter, the freezer dog

We’re back in the heat of Spain after a nice, cool break in the Alps. Yesterday was a particularly hot, windless day, with the temp in the cabin at a rather oppressive 94F. Baxter was pretty unhappy about it, panting and lethargic.
Then, I hit upon a brilliant idea! The freezer didn’t have anything in it yet, and it happens to be just the right size for B to fit in. He likes small spaces, and he likes cool, so why not give it a go?
So, we gently lowered him down into our top-loader, and he immediately pressed up against one of the cold plates and gave us this contented look.
10 minutes later, properly cooled, he asked to come back out. He wanders over there every couple of hours now during the hottest part of the day and requests a session is his personal cooling chamber.
Cute stuff.

Jenny would like to note to all who might find this to be a little gross that we’ll be thoroughly cleaning the freezer out before we put any food in there.

Cruising the Med in summer, being written from the Alps

I finally got home from my epic stint at work during the first week of July, rejoining Jenny and RS in Gibraltar. On tap was a mini-cruise of the W. Med. A few stops in the Islas Balaeres, then some cruising in Corsica and Sardinia.

We had been warned by those who had gone before us that July and August were pretty awful in the more popular areas. Boats crewed by folks of little to no skill, chaotic anchoring, heat, and super high costs for marinas were all mentioned.

But, how bad could it really be? We certainly weren’t going to be going to Ibiza or Palma de Mallorca in July, but we figured that we could get off the beaten path enough that it would be pretty much ok. In most cases, we did ok.

So, we slipped the lines and headed East shortly after getting RS stocked up with provisions. Our first stop was Cartagena, Spain. We spent a few days in this attractive town. This is a really popular place for folks to winter on board, and it’s easy to see why.

So far so good! We enjoyed our time in Cartagena, but were sad to say goodbye to our dear friends Judith and Poppy on Just Browsing. They had been our across the dock neighbors in Gibraltar and we had been very happy to see them again in Cartagena.

Next up were a few days in Alicante. This was our first taste of the marina pricing we’d been warned about-about 140 USD per night. It’s a nice town, and a pleasant place to visit, but headwinds kept us there for longer than we would have liked at that price.

Then, we sailed direct to Menorca, the least crowded of the Balearics. On the way there we were enjoying a good, fast sail with our Code 0. The wind was gradually increasing. Just as we were discussing that the sail was loaded up and maybe it was time to furl it there was a tremendous bang. We both watched in mild annoyance as the top of the sail flew down wind into the water. We hove to, fished the sail out and discovered that the halyard shackle had broken right in half.

We looked initially for a place to anchor, but found anyplace that looked good totally packed with boats. I wasn’t too happy to try to wedge in, so we went dockside in Mahon for a few days. They have some floating pontoons out in the harbor, and we used one of these.

We liked Mahon a lot. The dinghy saw a lot of use, Baxter found a great beach to hang out on, and the town itself was a treat.

Finally, it was time to go, and we sailed direct for Cagliari, Sardinia.

This is a port of entry, and we understood from the cruising guide that we needed to register with the maritime authorities. Having duly performed this duty, we did some shopping and got out of there as soon as we could The marina we stayed in was really a dump, and we weren’t digging it that much. It seems to be a place where boats go to die-a big portion of them were in a seriously derelict state.

Leaving Cagliari, we headed back SW to sample some of the anchorages. Our first stop was Pula. It’s a bit of a rolly anchorage most of the time (as most seem to be on that coast), with a long beach behind. We’d gone there mostly to meet Ryan and Elena from SV Kittiwake. They’re planning to join us on our upcoming Atlantic crossing, so we wanted to meet up and get to know them a bit.

We had our first clue that all was not well in Pula shortly after we arrived. We took the dink off to an unoccupied corner way off at the end of the beach, and we were promptly surrounded by glaring Italians. We pulled the dink up the sand, and took B for a little walk on a trail back away from the beach. Upon our return, a new set of hostiles surrounded us and kept staring daggers at us until we were nearly back to the boat.

What the heck was going on? We made sure we landed well away from anybody-just like we’ve done on beaches in many parts of the world without anybody taking issue with it. There were no makers, no buoys, no signs-we didn’t get it.

Anyway, we figured we must be doing something wrong, so the next time we went ashore, we went about 1/4 mile from where we could find anyone, landing through the small surf onto a rocky beach. This was better.

The next day, we got together with the crews of 2 other boats, Kittiwake and Songbird, and took 2 dinks in to the beach on the other end of the bay from where we’d been anchored. We had seen dozens of dinghies going ashore by this point, motoring right up to the shore, leaving them on the beach while the crews were in town or in a restaurant. We figured that we were fine to do the same. Wrong.

Anyway, we motored slowly, relatively close to shore, and then shut down our engines and paddled in the last bit, as there were folks on the beach. As soon as we got ashore, a couple of local cops were there, ticket books in hand. Fortunately, Elena’s Italian, so we could at least figure out what was going on. Turns out that every single one of the dinks that we’d seen were operating illegally. We just happened to show up at just the wrong place at the wrong time. When we pointed out that we were operating more responsibly than anyone we’d seen, it didn’t matter a bit. We had to head back to the boat in one dink while teenagers threw rocks at the other one to retrieve passports and boat papers, and then received a summons to the police station for the following day. We were really pretty gobsmacked by it all-even with our native Italian researching the rules, we couldn’t find any rules published-there was simply no way to find them.

But, you can’t really fight city hall, and we turned up at the appointed hour to face the music. 160 euros lighter, the matter was settled. The cops were pretty apologetic, really. We also learned that it was illegal to put your dinghy ashore, if you want to go to a restaurant on the beach, for example, the dink needs to be anchored 200m from shore, and then you can swim in. Dogs weren’t allowed anywhere on the beach we couldn’t even carry him across without risking a fine of 500 Euros.

Wow. Time to get out of Pula.

Together with Kittiwake we visited a couple of other anchorages which were a little more remote, and they were fine.

But, during all this, we came to a realization. We were in the least congested part of Sardinia, and we were already feeling like it was too crowded. Further north? Chaos. Everyone we had contact with further north was pretty traumatized. One boat had a superyacht anchor right on top of them, and then had the same yacht wind their chain up in its propeller, causing extensive damage to their boat. The national park was stuffed, no moorings available. The marinas? Huge money-if you could even get in. It really didn’t sound like a lot of fun.

The solution? The Alps!

We decided that we’d bag our little cruise a couple weeks early, head back to Spain, and enjoy some time in the blissfully cool mountains.

I’m writing this from Chamonix, and it’s GLORIOUS up here. We’re going to spend 10 days or 2 weeks up in the Alps, then will resume cruising after Europe’s vacation time is mostly over. Most experienced Med cruisers tend to hide for July and August, and we now understand why.

This isn’t to say that it’s all been horrible, but we both felt like our time would be better spent doing something completely different than sweltering with the masses during the high season. So far, it’s been great.