Adios España…Bom dia Portugal!

Okay…so trying to stay motivated with frequent updates on the blog…this is what happened in the past +24 hours.
Allow me to turn the clock to this past Friday evening…amazingly we met two fellow boaters from the marina we stayed at in Dunkirk, France here in Portosin, Spain! We all had the intention of leaving for Portugal once there was a good weather window. With great company and delicious pasta graciously cooked by Guy (merci!!), we talked about our navigation plans. Initially, since there are quite some nautical miles between Portosin and Porto, Yves proposed that we stop first at Baiona (at the border between Spain and Portugal) and then on Sunday we leave for Porto. Stéphane and Guy had more or less the same idea as us…so being the ever sage sailors that we are, we called it an early night and got ready for our sail.

Guy, Yves et Stéphane_2014-09-12.jpg

Guy, Yves et Stéphane in Portosin, España!

Yves had informed me that it was best for us to arrive at Porto before Monday because there were going to be some nasty swells and just all around crappy weather. We left in the morning without too much wind and just a bit of a swell. All was pretty much the same when night fell but frustrations with the wind conditions rose. To say this was a good weather window would be highly exaggerated. It was more like…what is the crappiest sea conditions that we can more or less handle!?!? Moreover, as night came, my seasick resistant resolve started to go. I left Yves to once again sail singlehandedly. Wanna make things even better!?! Thunder storms started to accompany us on the starboard side (that means ‘right’). Thunderstorms are not something one wants to see at sea. But still all was more or less okay…for precaution, Yves left me with a bucket at my side and stood vigilant as storm after storm strolled right by us. By dawn, it seemed that all would be better…the swells calmed a bit as so did my stomach. However, just when we thought we were in the clear?? A huge thunderstorm came right on top of us. I clung to the bucket inside the cabin as Yves braved the rain and lightening outside until we arrived safely at the entry of the river Douro and the city of Porto. I managed to crawl outside just when the storm stopped and the skies cleared up a little. Yves was completely drenched but somehow was still going about getting ready for our entry into the marina. We docked at the marina with the help of two nice marina officials. With the drenched sails all dried up and neatly put away…I am eager to explore this city…however I will need to wait just a little bit…somebody had a very full day and night!

 

Stopover in Cherbourg

Even though the journey to Cherbourg was not as long as our previous ones, this particular sail was another difficult one. With the winds picking up and the sea becoming more agitated, the boat wobbled from side to side the entire night. Needless to say, we did not get a good night’s rest. I was anxious to head to Cherbourg in order for us to stay on schedule and be able to head out to the Channel islands the next day. Despite our fatigue, we prepared the boat and headed out into the sea. This was definitely not an easy navigation. The water was more agitated than what the weather forecast had predicted and without proper rest, it was difficult to stay on top of things. It was one of those days where nothing seems to go right and I truly wondered what was the whole point of sailing…just like when we went to the Bay of Somme. And then…Yves cried out

Look! Over there! Dolphins!

A friend when needed!

A friend when needed!

It was amazing! We had heard from a couple in Ouistreham that they had seen dolphins but I never thought we would be able to too! It was wonderful and, at that precise moment, I said to myself “Ok…I can handle the bad AND the good.” After that, the sea was still choppy, we were still tired…but we felt like it was all worth whatever we were feeling. The icing on the cake (la cerise sur le gateau)? More than just spotting dolphins? The next morning after a wonderful night’s rest, we were greeted by a friend from Dunkirk who also arrived the night before. It was so nice to see a familiar and friendly face! We felt pumped and ready to attack our journey towards Guernsey…and we needed as much energy as possible if we were to cross Raz Blanchard!

 

D is for Departure…Dunkirk…Dimanche!

2014 is finally the year where we could finally tell ourselves…this is THE year that we are sailing off! The year started off with a thesis completed, a few small refit projects  completed and loose ends tied up in Switzerland, it was only a matter of good weather that we needed to finally set sail. Unfortunately, the winds and the sun decided NOT to help us out. Typical regional weather around Dunkirk. 🙁

We decided to take La Nomade for a small daysail since it was several months since we last took her out to sea. I was a bit apprehensive because the weather report announced rain and periodical gusty winds, but Yves reassured me that all would be ok…can’t you tell from my face?

Of course I don't look worried

Of course I don’t look worried!

However, for the first time, we encountered our very first storm. Of course, it was not at all like what one would see in the film “A Perfect Storm”, but I can assure you, it was definitely what I felt! In the end, I can proudly tell myself that I survived it…Yves even told me that I survived with flying colors! But I wasn’t so sure if I wanted to get back into sea just yet…

After some hesitation and some last-minute anxiety (thanks to the aforementioned experience), we finally left on Sunday. I could tell that it was about time that we left the port. We said our goodbyes to our local friends, convinced the marina officials that we were really truly ‘cross my heart’ leaving, and thankfully with a little wind and sun, we were off!!

Bye-bye Dunkirk, hello adventure!

Bye-bye Dunkirk, HELLO ADVENTURE!

We finally arrived at Boulogne -sur -Mer after 10 hours of navigation. This trip was the longest that Yves and I have ever sailed together and ALONE. This was the first test for the both of us since we’ve only sailed for a couple of hours at a time. Yves has quite a bit of experience, but me?!? Not so much. Needless to say, when we arrived at the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer, you would think we just crossed the Atlantic ocean. Oh, did I mention that one can travel from Dunkirk to Boulogne-sur-Mer in an hour and a half by car?


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Has it been this long??

Hello there…
It’s been a long while since we’ve showed any signs of life on this blog but the time in-between has been wisely spent. La Nomade is finally in the water after four long years of being on the dry dock in Dunkirk, FR!

In midst of working (Yves) and trying to finish her PhD (Joanna), La Nomade was finally fit to float on water on May 18, 2013. I can’t describe enough the emotion felt the few days before the launch…how the boat was actually going to be in the marina and not on concrete like we were so used to. That morning I was so stressed in thinking that it would rain but finally sunshine prevailed and all went without a hitch, motor and all. Even now, it almost feels surreal all the hardship that was endured to get La Nomade into the shipsail shape she is presently.

Our sailing adventure is getting closer than ever finally. A few loose things to tie up (like a PhD…) and we are off! Of course, crossing the English channel is not my first sailing course of choice but I hear it can be a memorable experience to coast on down to Brittany…and of course, what doesn’t kill me only makes me stronger, right?

 

DSC_1938

Happy to be back in the water!

Heigh ho heigh ho, it’s off to work we go!

Bonjour tertous! (i.e. ‘Bonjour tout le monde!’ en Ch’ti)
Nous sommes enfin à Dunkerque! On s’est bien installé dans un appartement à Malo les Bains où on est 15 min à pied du port et notre bateau! Les travaux commencent bien et par miracle Joanna a cassé aucun outil…toc toc sur le bois! On attaque les travaux à l’intérieur du bateau pour le moment afin qu’on soit protégé par le vent et le froid!

Tout d’abord, notre ‘salon’!