Driving to Spain, Asturias, Oviedo

The Town Hall Oviedo
The Town Hall Oviedo

A quick reminder of the last post maybe needed.  We have been kindly loaned a car and have decided that instead of wasting money renting a car in Spain and paying for flights that we would drive from the UK to Spain; a trip we have made in the past and are happy to complete again.

We departed Wolverhampton around 16:00 as we had to make our ferry from Dover at 02:30 in the morning and due to it being a Friday it was suggested that we gave at least seven hours for the journey and to expect long delays.

We met only a couple of delays and stopped off for some dinner off that boot of the car before setting off again and reaching the check-in at Dover by 00:30.  We had two hours to kill and apart from adding our headlight deflectors there was nothing much to do except trying to sleep as we had a long journey ahead.


The cruise over to Calais came and went; luckily we managed to get some sleep amongst the torturous screams of what seemed to be 100 children.  Before we knew it we were called back to car to continue our journey through France and onto Spain.

If you have ever driven through France you will probably agree that it is a somewhat drab experience and it is not until you reach the border to Spain that the land scape becomes interesting.  I know that France is a stunning country and it is a shame that whilst passing places such as Boulogne-sur-Mer, Abbeville, Rouen, La Mans, Nantes and Bordeaux that we could not stop, but we had already experienced how uncomfortable it is sleeping in the car and we just wanting to make it to a bed and the comfort of Carlotta’s home.

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Tiredness crept in 3 hours into our trip as I had not slept for nearly 24 hours. I have found through experience that the first 5-6 coffees may make a difference to alertness but after that there is no point in drinking more as all you feel is sick.  We had covered 400 miles before pulling over at a French service station and sleeping 4 hours.


After a much needed break we carried on through France looking at the same monotonous land scape with only the money grabbing tolls to distract / upset us.  It cost us over £100 pounds in French tolls alone.  I may complain but actually the roads are good and can you believe that we hit no traffic at all?  Take a look at the below photo.  Can you spot the difference?  One shows rush hour into London and the other shows rush hour on one of the main roads into Oviedo, the Capital of Asturias.

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We enjoyed greatly our drive through the North of Spain.  Nothing had changed since the last time we drove these beautiful roads.  The scenery is stunning.  You follow the Picos de Europa though out your journey  with dramatic cliffs on your left and the Atlantic on your right.  The roads are empty, smooth and dotted with spectacular bridges that cross sleepy winding rivers.  Apart from unbelievable fatigue I felt happy and at piece.  I love this part of Spain, I love everything about it and we have not got to the best part.

Entering Spain
Entering Spain

We made Carlotta’s house by 16:00 Spanish time and were kindly welcomed by her father (Carlos) and her Mother (Maria).  There were a few reasons for coming to Oviedo, one: to spend time with family and friends, two: I need to improve of my Spanish and three: to look for a house / apartment for the future.


Since I first arrived in Oviedo I knew it would be a city I would be more than happy to call this home in the future; maybe the time is nearly right.  It is nice to know that since my last visit nothing has changed.  Oviedo is immensely historic, founded as a city in 761.  It is a clean city being awarded several times as Europe’s cleanest city.  You can still get a coffee for 0.78p and a pincho for the same price.  I have breakfast out every morning and it costs me no more than a small Starbucks coffee in the UK and tastes much better.  You can walk around the city at any time at night and not worry when you here footsteps behind you.  The food and wine are exquisite.  Life is based on the streets and it is not uncommon to see young children playing without supervision; why would they need it, even at 23:00hrs? Girls between the ages of 7 to 13 are still allowed to be children and not dressed up in clothes that make them look like 18 year old mini whores and that is so prevalent in other western Cities.


I could carry on listing why this city is so spectacular but it is better that you come and see it for yourself.  Outside the City the sea awaits only 20 minutes’ drive away  at Gijon.  The Picos de Europa creates a stunning back drop and offer unbelievably walks and other outdoor pursuits.

Anyway, I hope the photos do this fantastic city justice.  We also travelled to Avilez and Gijon; a few photos are included.  Enjoy.


Peter Island, Norman Island and Tortola


Well, it has been a busy couple of weeks.  We headed back to Road Harbour shortly after the last blog to stock the boat up with food, water and fuel.  We were still with Rafiki and enjoying every moment of their company.  After a couple of days in Road Harbour we decided to both sail back to Dead mans Cay with Rafiki.  We spent a glorious day there sipping tea with Calley and Rob and swimming with Emily and James.


We saw the most amazing wildlife below the water and had an absolute shock when we saw a Spotted Black Stingray glide gracefully past us. Rafiki had to depart but we spent the evening enjoying the quite of Deadmans Cay.


The next morning we headed to Norman Island, where the parties and beaches are meant to be the best around.  We met up with another yacht called Fabiola and anchored next to them.  When Rafiki arrived we all met on the beach for cocktails and lunch, kindly provided my Rafiki and Fabiola.  In the afternoon Calley, Emily, James and their new crew member Andy took us to some caves just around the corner from the bay we were anchored inIt was a great day and Carlotta and I decided to finish off the evening by visiting an old schooner that has been converted into a bar/restaurant.  The boat is called Willi T and the parties are said to be legendary.  So off we went for a few drinks.  As soon as we had sat down a couple of guys start naked decided to throw themselves of the stern, followed by another naked girl and and then 10 more.  Apparently this is all part of the party and whoever jumps off naked gets a free T-shirt; we declined to take part on this occasion.


We set sail the next day heading for Gorda Sound.  This is a beautiful spot situated on the north western side of Virgin Gorda.  There we found paradise again.  This is a huge protected bay. There are a few reefs to navigate when entering but once in you are clear of most dangers.  We anchored briefly in Gun Creek to do some shopping and then to Biras Creek where we were to spend the night.  Our main concern at this point was to make Happy Hour at Saba Rock, which is literally a rock with a small beach and an amazing bar/restaurant.  We topped up with Painkiller Cocktails and had a great meal although service was not a strong point, thankfully the food was great.


The next next day we sailed to Leverick Bay as this would be the departure point for Rafiki and the time for us to go our separate ways was fast approaching.  We spent the day swimming in the resort swimming pool and after that we went aboard Rafiki and were treated to an amazing ‘fry-up’ before they had to leave.  The time had come for Rafiki to leave us and what a sad occasion it was.  We said our fair wells and amongst all the tears Rafiki departed into the sunset.


We had met another yacht called Rufian, which is a Sadler 34. The lovely couple onboard are called Fiona and Ian and they invited us over for a fantastic Chilli.   The following day we were surprised to come across our friends in Limbo who had sailed their 26 foot yacht from England to the BVI’s.  We all decided to go for a walk around Virgin Gorda and experience the pleasant views.


The next day Rufian had to depart and continue their passage up the East coast of America.  We sailed with Limbo down to Tortola as they have to have their boat shipped back to the UK although they would be staying with us for a few days before they catch their flight back to England.


Sint Maarten’s to The British Virgin Islands



So, all was in order.  The wind had decreased and we were set to leave Marigot Bay for our sail to the British Virgin Islands where we would meet up with a friends onboard Rafiki.  The journey was 80 miles and the winds favorable with a lovely Easterly pushing us from behind.  We lifted anchor at 02:00 in the morning and sailed off into a full moon and calm sea.  An hour into our sail we poled out the Genoa and I managed top get some sleep whilst Carlotta took on the first watch.


The journey was pretty uneventful, which is just what we needed after a few hard sails in previous weeks.  The journey took 15 hours to complete 83 miles, we were certainly not rushing and the winds went light as we approached Virgin Gorda; the first Island of the BVI’s. As we rounded Virgin Gorda and Ginger Island we were greeted into a new world of calm sees and stunning scenery.  It was very much like enetering a forgotten world with islands doted around us in every direction and lush green mountains dropping down to golden sands below; it almost looked fake and nothing like what we had expected.  Our first stop would be Savannah Bay, which is located just North of Spanish Town, which is the main town in Virgin Gorda.  We radioed Rafiki and let them know that we were approaching the reef-strewn bay.  Kindly Rob and the children took to their dinghy and met us at the entrance to guide us into the bay, which was absolutely gorgeous.  We had settled down and had dinner with Rob, Cally and the children whilst catching up on the past months events; it was so nice to be with friends again and to be surrounded by such bewildering beauty.


The next day we needed to check in so we sailed, or rather motored, to Spanish Town and whilst the Rafiki’s took the chance top victual along with Carlotta I began the process of filling out 4 different forms and being nicely questioned by several members of Customs & Immigration.  All of this done we set off to Trellis Bay to join in on one of their Full Moon Parties, which take place every last Saturday of every month or the closest weekend to the full moon.


We had a great sail from Spanish Town to Trellis Bay making sure we took photos of each other as we went.  The thing about Trellis Bay, especially near party time is that the anchorage gets very busy but we found space and were settled.  We headed to the party around 18:00 and were in for a great surprise. The atmosphere of the party hits you as soon as you arrive.  There are plenty of craft stores, bars and restaurants on the side of a white sandy beach.  Later on the music got going and the atmosphere increased.  They have metal sculptures dotted around and filled with wood, which the light after 21:00.  It seemed like a bit of a hippy set up with plenty of odd people dabbling in crafts of all kinds, but it was pleasant and we had an amazing evening with friends, beers and great entertainment.


The night unfortunately went sour.  When we reached Troskala we found a Catamaran was trying to make love to her and had damaged her Pull-pit and navigation light not to mention a lot of damage to our rubbing strake.  The damage caused to the catamaran looked far greater and we dreaded speaking to the owners the next morning.  We finally re-anchored and had a sleepless night.


The next morning I went to investigate the damage and speak to the owner.  He had sustain a lot of damage to his port side and bow and I expected the worst with insurance companies and the like.  We had come in last the previous night but were located far away from the Cat, the only thing we can assume is that he had way too much chain out and as the wind died he came to greet us.  Anyway, we were in luck and met a lovely Greek gentleman whoi was very understanding to the situation and did not want to exchange details.  We felt much better and decided to continue our journey.


We were heading to Cane Garden Bay http://www.bvitourism.com/wtd/cane-garden-bay-beach on the North side of Tortola.  As the winds were light we had to motor but the scenery made up for the noise of the motor and soon enough we found ourselves anchored in a glorious bay.  We went for a swim after the rain had ceased and walked up to a view point to get a better perspective of our surroundings.  So far we love the BVI’s.  It has a Caribbean feel but the people are more friendly and the scenery is much more diverse than previous islands.  The BVI’s have also to succumbed to mass tourism so places feel like they would have been twenty to thirty years ago.


We were joined later by Rafiki and after swimming with Emily and James we had a lovely meal onboard Troskala whilst the moon moved slowly across the sky; it was a perfect end to a perfect day.

The next morning brought more sunshine.  Carlotta and I went to get some ice and were joined by some other friends on Easy Rider who we had met during the ARC.  We departed Cane Garden Bay Shortly after and decided to head to Sandy Cay Spit, which is a small island just off Tortola and Little Jost Van Dyke.  It was, as you would imagine from the films, a small island with white sand and a few palm trees.  We both picked up a mooring buoy and went for a swim in crystal clear waters.  We decided later to investigate the island but after a tricky entrance with a confused swell and then followed by a full-on attack from sand flies we decided to make a quick exit.


We sailed on to a small anchorage just off Little Jos Van Dyke.  Nearby you could see the angry swell of the Atlantic crashing on coral reefs but we were tucked in close to some rocks and forest; it was a blissful spot and the moon again provided the evening entertainment followed by a lovely meal on Rafiki.


The next day we were joined by another yacht and a few of us decided to explore Little Jost Van Dyke. The main attraction is a bubble pool, which is basically a rock pool that is ravaged by the Atlantic swell.  After a short work through scrubland and forest, and being careful not to touch any poisonous tress we reached our destination.  The pool was literally a bubble pool and every so often huge waves would crash through a small gap in the rocks filling the pool with white spume and bubbles.  It is a dangerous place if not respected and two people had already dies this year after being swept through the gap and into the Atlantic beyond.  Unfortunately we had no battery power in our camera but Rob took photos, which will be posted shortly but if you cannot wait please see the following link: http://www.virginislandsnewsonline.com/en/news/update-us-tourist-dies-after-bubbly-pool-incident-at-jvd and a nice one: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g580449-d2461948-Reviews-The_Bubbly_Pool-Jost_Van_Dyke_British_Virgin_Islands.html


After our lovely visit to Jost Van Dyke we set sail for Sopers Hole on the north east side of Tortola.  This was a lovely place although anchoring is very limited and the harbour very deep.  If you do not want to pay the $30 dollars a night your only option is to anchor in the far corner, which is not so idyllic.  We however managed to grab a spot and spent the afternoon looking around the shops and stocking up on some wine at the supermarket.


The next day we were in baby-sitting mode and as Rob and Cally had work to finish off before setting sail to the Azores we offered to take Emily and James for a day sail to Peter Island and visit Deadmans Cay.  Unfortunately the wind was on the nose and we had to motor all the way there but as we are in the BVI’s the distance is not more than 7 miles.


The motoring was worth it and at around midday we entered Deadmans Bay.  Again it was idyllic with beautiful sand and green mountains.  We had a fantastic swim with the children and we enjoyed our time in their company although I was completely worn out after two hours of ‘lets push Oliver out of the dinghy’.


We sailed back to Tortola to drop Emily and James off at Nanny Cay where Rafiki was now located and then we sailed on to Road Harbour where we anchored for the night after a few attempts.


Anyway, the plan is to stay in the BVI’s for the next month before we decide on our next plan of action.  We will post more photos shortly and will keep you updated on all the islands visit.  We wish you all the very best and we look forward to posting more soon.

All the best from the BVI’s J




Deadmans Cay
Deadmans Cay



Rob and Emily on Sandy Spit Cay
Rob and Emily on Sandy Spit Cay

Carlotta with Emily & James
Carlotta with Emily & James