We’ve been on the road for a while now and we realise that it is a bit much to expect anyone new to the blog to read all the daily entries in order to get an overview of our story. What follows is a very short description of the journey with links to each section of the blog and some taster photos.
Trouble leaving the gravitational pull of the UK
Our journey starts with a manic couple of weeks getting every thing organised, dealing with the odd ‘yacht being arrested’ crisis and moving back in with Mum & Dad!! We do find time to fit in some lovely site-seeing as well though.
15 years on
15 years since the last time we set sail for The Canaries, the big day arrives and we join “Skyelark of London” in Ocean Village, Southampton ready to go off on our adventure. We stop off in a cold and windy Yarmouth (IoW) and a warm and sunny Baiona (Spain), experiencing some awesome downwind sailing in a gale coming out of the Channel and across The Bay of Biscay on the way. This turns out to be a complete contrast to the leg from Spain to the Canaries when the ocean turns to glass and we get to go for a swim at a depth of 3500m
Return of the Las Palmas 2
Having arrived safely in Las Palmas we take time out to do what we should have done 15 years ago and tour some of this beautiful island. Back in port we get to hone our flapjack baking skills whilst playing an interesting game of musical boats before finally being invited aboard New Dawn for the trans-Atlantic trip. Before setting sail we find time to visit the WOMAD festival and kick-ass in Don Pedro’s Annual Dinghy Race as Team Tropical.
A New Dawn: Sailing & Cape Verde
Leaving the day before the ARC we set off for Cape Verde about 800 miles south of Gran Canaria. Lots of fishing, lots of Dolphins and loads of boobies (that´s a type of sea bird people!!) make for nice relaxing trip. Arriving in Mindelo on São Vincente having had the perfect shake down for the Atlantic crossing. We have 4 days in the Islands, just enough time to fit in some hiking, snorkelling, reprovisioning the boat and … to work through a moral dilemma!!
Crossing the pond
1800 nautical miles to St Lucia – that’s the mission. It takes us just over two weeks of adventure and sunbathing. We sail in the company of minke whales, eat like kings (and queens), catch enormous fish and Huw even goes for an unplanned swim.
Land ahoy! It feels pretty weird to be ashore after all that bobbing up and down for so long – but great too! We say goodbye to lots of new friends and head off to explore St Lucia … and in the process promptly find lots of new friends. Tropical beaches, poverty stricken local communities, hurricane damaged roads, extraordinary natural beauty; this place has it all.
One short stop-over in Miami later, and we are in Panama – what a great place! We spend ‘New Year’ in Panama City and explore the canal before joining Pippistrelle for a weeks sailing in the San Blas Islands, the home of the Kuna.
Deciding that crossing the Pacific with Pippistrelle is not for us we leave them to continue their journey without us. A new plan is needed! Checking the weather, it’s rainy season in the north of South America so this seems like the perfect time to head off further south and check out Patagonia. But not before a detour further west to Boca del Torro. In Boca we go back to school to learn how to dive and improve our Spanish, Huw even finds time to fit in some surf time.
Our gateway to South America is Buenos Aires where we have a great 10 days renting an apartment in Palermo Viejo checking out all the sites and the nightlife.
The next 4 weeks are spent exploring Argentine Patagonia from Puerto Madryn on the Atlantic coast to Bariloche in the Lake District and then south on the infamous Route 40 to El Chalten and El Calafate. This was the land of great hiking, fabulous landscapes, getting stuck overnight on the muddy bus, Mount Fitzroy, 1 million penguins and the unbelievable Perito Moreno glacier.
After crossing the border into Chilean Patagonia we hike for 5 days in Torres del Paine. Going back to sea, we head north from Puerto Natales on the Navimag ferry, 4 days cruising through the slightly damp Chilean Fjords.
Back on the buses we make our way north from Puerto Montt, visit the Chilean lakes at Puerto Varas, laugh at the fat sealions in Valdivia and climb the Villarica volcano in Pucon.
And then we are done with mountains and glaciers for a little while. We spend 10 days relaxing and checking out the art scene in Valparaiso and after a brief stop in Santiago make our north up the coast. In La Serena, we explore the Pisco Valley and see Saturn’s rings at an observatory, and Bernice makes some leather sandals. Lastly, we travel on up to the desert landscape of San Pedro de Atacama for our final stop in Chile.
It is with no small amount of trepidation that we cross over into Bolivia. Poorest of all the Latin American countries, except Haiti, and with a reputation for poor infrastructure. We had no real idea what we were letting ourselves in for!?
Our first experience was spending 3 days on a 4×4 safari crossing through the most incredible landscape imaginable and culminating with a drive across the insane Salar De Uyuni. This amazing trip set the tone for the rest of our time in Bolivia.
Visiting the Silver Mine in Potosi, hiking into the Maragua Crater, riding the worlds most dangerous road, learning Spanish in Sucre or climbing 6088m to the top of Huayna Potosi — it is hard to put into words what a great time we had in Bolivia. There was only one bad day!!
So with a slightly horrible taste in our mouths we head of for Lake Titcaca and Peru. Maybe because we are a bit down or maybe because it was a dump we moved quickly on from the Lake side town of Puno and made our way to Cusco – home of the treks to Machu Picchu, Lost City of the Incas.
After a couple of days research we pick an agency for a trek to the Inca Site, the 5 day Salkantay Trail. Just before we set off on for the trek we hear of a boat looking for crew from Panama to Vancouver….new plan anyone?
A tiring but really rewarding 5 days later we have completed the Salkantay Trail and celebrate by racing 30mins uphill to win the privilege of climbing even more hills – Huayna Picchu this time, Go team Inca Kola!! But that’s OK as Machu Picchu turns out to be even better than we expected.
Back in Cusco we decide that rather than continuing north to Ecuador and Colombia, we should join Bananas in Panama for the yacht delivery trip to Vancouver.
So after just our 3rd flight of the trip we find ourselves back in a hot and humid Panama City preparing for an ocean voyage as delivery crew. And what an epic it turns out to be, sailing through electric storms, hiding from hurricanes, visiting El Salvador and Mexico whilst improving our , sushi making and boat maintenance skills on the way.
But in the end, the thought of going 1000miles out into the ocean on a boat that wasn’t ready for such an undertaking felt like a step to far!!
So we decide to leave Bananas and become Land Lubbers again in Cabo San Lucas on the end of the Baja Peninsular, Mexico. This is where we remember how great diving can be before setting off north. Weaving our way up the Baja for next next couple of weeks, we see Todos Santos, La Paz (the other one), stop off for some more diving in Loreto then finish off with San Ignacio and Ensenada before reaching the border crossing at Tijuana.
USA and Canada
So against all expectations we find ourselves in the US of A! After checking out the California cities we decide we need a vehicle to really see the country and get the cost of accommodation down. So, we hire a car and set off on a 6 week road trip aiming to see as many National Parks and friends as possible along the way…