At this point we were getting fairly excited about Barcelona. We started planning for it months ago. It started with our search on the Internet to find a suitable a berth for the boat for two weeks. Carol and I are both pretty handy on the web, so it did not take us long to find a website of some sort of a broker for marinas in the Med. Their website had an easy form to fill out and within a few seconds, we had pricing (gulp) for our two week stay. I knew Barcelona would be expensive, but $1500 per week? We were disappointed. ONE of our blog readers, I know, is going to say we are just being cheap, but that price is VERY steep. We then decided that instead of two weeks, we would stay just one. After all, we had our hearts set on spending SOME time in Barcelona.
Carol then had a novel idea: ” let’s contact the marina directly and see if their prices might be lower than the broker’s”. Sure, why not. We were pleasantly surprised to hear from them that they could accommodate us for TWO weeks for $1500! Then, they offered that for just $200 more, we could stay for the whole month! needless to say, we were very happy. On top of that, One Ocean Club is a first class modern marina in a perfect location in the city of Barcelona with finger piers, so no Med Mooring for Seabird!
The cruise from Calle de Sant Vicenc, where we had been anchored for two days, was going to be 93 nautical miles straight or about 11 hours of cruising. The weather report was very favorable and the predicted 6 knot winds and < 1 foot seas was music to our ears. We decided that we should leave at 5:00 am, just before sunrise.
The “beep beep” of my iPad signaled us to get up at 4:30 am. After doing my usual checks in the engine room while Carol did her thing, I headed up to the pilot house armed with my flashlight, as it was still dark out, to flip on the numerous switches and knobs that took the sleepy Seabird into full awake mode with chart plotters, depth finders, Radars and running lights all glowing in red, green and blue. We started the main engine, wing engine, the generator and hydraulics and we were ready to go. I normally don’t like to leave in the dark, but we were in a huge anchorage all alone with a well lit beach on one end and the wide open Mediterranean Sea on the other end. Pulling the anchor in the dark takes a bit more concentration. We first turn on the large LED floodlights on the bow and Carol works the foot pedals on the anchor windlass, peering over the bow with a flashlight and telling me which way to steer the boat while we are pulling up the chain. We never have the anchor windlass pulling the boat toward the anchor. That is a good recipe for overloading the windlass and breaking something mid pull. We hauled up the anchor without incident and after a few minutes the sun started to rise and we headed out to sea. It looked just stunning out and we knew we were in for a beautiful trip.
In my last blog, I charactarized this as a sunset….oops!
This was the SUNRISE as we left Calle de Sant Vicenc
The cruising conditions were far better than forecast. The seas were completely, glossy flat and there was no wind whatsoever. If you were on a sailboat, you would be cursing, but for us, it was liquid heaven.
After a few hours in calm seas, I started thinking about my drone again. When would I ever see conditions like this again, which were just perfect for launching it and taking videos of Seabird underway? It was fully charged this time so we prepared everything and launched it, watching it soar up to about 250 feet. Then, my worst nightmare occurred…..I lost sight of it and the boat was moving fairly fast… the drone was off in the distance somewhere now and we were moving away fast. If it got too far away from the control, it would automatically return and land where it took off from. The problem is, we were nowhere near that place any longer, so it would land in the water and sink. I had Carol stop the boat. The camera on the drone transmits the image that it sees through my IPhone, so I peered into the screen to see if I could spot the boat. I used the controls to spin the drone remotely and finally, I spotted a pinprick of an object far off in the distance on the screen, which turned out to be Seabird. Relieved, I jutted the lever forward, sending the drone toward us and I could finally see the boat getting larger on the screen. Soon after that I spotted the drone with the naked eye. The link below starts the video as the drone was getting closer to Seabird.
Click on the link below and then click on the arrow to start the video with music.
After the video was taken, amazingly, we landed it without incident. Actually, I was afraid to land it on the angled deck so I brought it close and Carol snagged it out of the air, a true hero.
With the drone secured, we headed out back on course and everything would have been find except for my tendency to not leave well enough alone. I have been trying for a few years now to get my autopilot to operate in “Nav Mode” consistently. Nav mode is when your autopilot interfaces with your chart plotter to keep it on a specific line generated on the plotter rather than simply following a compass course. In Nav mode, the autopilot will constantly correct for currents and wind, eliminating the need for any adjustments underway. It will even automatically change course when you arrive at your waypoint and steer to the next one.
Our autopilot is old and I just recently, with the help of the best autopilot guru that I know, Rich Barnes of West Coast Marine Electronics in Seattle, got the interface working. For some reason, it stopped working again and instead of just continuing on with the autopilot in compass course mode, I started fiddling around with settings, pushing buttons and proceeded to render the AP completely unusable. worse than that, the boat started meandering left and right like it had a drunken captain. Even worse than that, these big Nordhavns, as good as they are, are not meant to be steered manually, so as unskilled as I am, I was the only electronic technician on board at the time and it had to be fixed. After 20 minutes of reading the manual and weaving about, I figured out what I had done. I had somehow “uncalibrated ” the autopilot’s internal compass. Once I had figured that out, I fixed it and we were underway again.
We arrived at our at 5:00 pm, still in flat calm seas. Barcelona is a huge commercial port. Within a few miles of arrival, you start to see fleets of large container ships converging on the port or anchored in front, awaiting a call from the harbor master to proceed in to pick up or unload their cargo.
This is by no means the entire port. It is huge and
the picture does not show all the freighters waiting
to come into port.
When arriving in a busy commercial port with a boat like ours, you need to know the rules and follow them. Taking them seriously has always kept us out of trouble. There are two entrances to the port. One is for commercial ships and the other is for pleasure craft, the latter leading to the two major yacht marinas in Barcelona. You don’t want to take the wrong one.
Once we got close, we contacted the marina by VHF radio and after a brief discussion over a disagreement on whether or not we actually had a reservation, we were directed to our berth. Our marina, One Ocean Port Vell is beautiful and kept in top notch condition. Each berth on our dock has a finger pier for side boarding, water, a good electrical connection, and most importantly, FIBER OPTIC INTERNET with unlimited usage!!!
This is a picture from the internet of the marina taken by
someone who is a far better photographer than me.
A happy Seabird in her berth with a fingerpier
I will get more into it in a subsequent blog, but Barcelona is a vibrant, clean, well oiled party town full of young people and we were docked right in the middle of it. Just steps from the dock there is a boardwalk where literally hundreds of happy people stream by every minute until the wee hours of the morning, miles of beaches and an endless supply of restaurants and shops.
Taken from the aft deck of our boat. You can see the
boardwalk with its many restaurants and people streaming
by. At night, the crowd triples.
My next few blogs, since we will not be cruising, will be more about our stay in Barcelona and the other towns we were to visit.
Picture of Seabird from across the way
Barcelona at night from the deck of Seabird
The two major marinas in Barcelona are adjacent to one
another. There is a third, not pictured here which is a few
Kilometers down the road which is the original marina built
for the 1992 Olympics, held in Barcelona. That marina is
much larger than both of these combined, but nowhere
near as nice.
And, last but not least…..
7:30 am on the boardwalk…
And my mother told me that there were no such things as Leprechauns..
Carol did not want me taking this picture as she thought it might be a
private moment for this poor fellow. I had new shoes on so I didn’t go close enough to ask his permission.