From La Rochelle to Greece May-June 2011

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Alma Libre Too actual trip 28.05.11 – 2.07.11

Route plan from France to Greece (Screenshot from MAXSEA Marine Software)

Click here to see quick information on the mailasail trip log.

Days 1-6 Monday to Friday May 23-27 2011, Location: La Rochelle


Captains Commentary:

We arrived in Paris and we rent a car to drive to La Rochelle, where the Amel yard is located. The boat was going to be handed out to us in Port de Minimes.The car was essential to buy all the necessary things for the boat. The day we arrived we had to stay in the Hotel and on Monday we had to be onboard for the Amel training week and to know the systems of the new boat and sail around La Rochelle to get familiar with the boat. Sunday evening we went to the Amel Pontoon and saw the boat for the first timeIt was such a nice moment. The weather was fine and immediately we started to notice the differences with the Amel SM 2000.


wood platform to cover the gap








I was happy that Amel had prepared a special case in order to avoid the step in the entrance as I am sure that I was going to fall many times till I got familiar. Over all I think this was a good decision especially if you are a previous SM owner.

Fort Boayard

With the help of Pierre who was familiar with the various shops in La Rochelle we bought what was essential for the trip and fully equiped the boat, Amel had brought the things in La Rochelle fron Hyeres that we have emptied in Hyeres the previous year from our SuperMaramu.

We bought of course a lot of bottle waters and foods for the trip which we estimated to last for one month.

Pierre was following the weather forecast in order to find out the best possible day for our trip across the Biscay which for me was not familiar and I needed to have an experienced skipper to help me in that trip.

Days 7-9 Saturday to Monday May 28-30 2011, Location: From La Rochelle to Viveiro Northern Spain 310nm

From La Rochelle to Viveiro

Captains Commentary:

We were lucky that the weather forecast was favorable for leaving on Saturday morning. Anny was leaving the same day and my other two friends Antoni and young Pierre arrived on Friday so we completed the training and we were ready to go the boat tested as much as possible and equipped for the long trip. The first day we departed from La Rochelle at 2.30 in the afternoon in order to arrive with daylight in our next Port in Northern Spain.

port Viveiro

The Crew from La Rochelle to Cascais:


Pierre, the young (Roberge)Pierre BougratPierre Bougrat

Pierre Bougrat

Antonis Xygakis


Days 18-21 Wednesday-Saturday June 8-11 2011- Location: Crossing the Biscay

Captains Commentary:

The weather was excellent and in the beginning of the trip we put some sails which we lowered after the sun went down around 11 o’clock in the night The total distance we have made was 310 nm in and we arrived in the port of Viveiro in Galicia with fog and rain around 10 in the morning of the third day we moored the boat in the marina which was in the entrance of the river and it was very very cold and wet.During the crossing we have seen a lot of dolphins which is always a nice encounter in the empty ocean.

We used the engine for 42 hours and our mean speed was a little bit over 7 nm/h.That is important to know for our future route calculations.decided to go to a mobile phone company and try to establish internet communication with the router I brought from Greece. After long discussion with the mobile operator we bought a mobile sim card which young Pierre installed and we were all able to have internet connection on board. Internet connection was very important for the weather forecast and we used mainly www.usgrib.comand and following the weather development.


dolphins in the Biscay

          Click on the picture below to see a video
Days 10 -12 Tuesday to Thursday May 30 to June 2 2011 Location: Viveiro
Captains Commentary:


Pierre who was checking the internet all the time informed us that the weather was very bad in Cap Finistere our next way point the swell was very high in the Atlantic and we had to wait for a few days in Viveiro.




I tried with no result to persuade Pierre to leave for La Coruna which was not far away.

Instead we had rented a car and all together we drove to La Coruna some 100 km away and had a nice visit in this very nice town.

We bought also Nespresso coffee for our espresso machine which was not easily available in Viveiro. And we negotiated again for a few hour in the Vodafone store for an internet connection for our router

Alma libre Too in Viveiro


La Coruna port

Day 13 – Friday June 3 2011 Location: From Viveiro to Sada 60 nm

map from Viveiro to Sada

Captains Commentary:We left from Viveiro finally after 10 o’clock in the morning and arrived in Sada 18:00 in the afternoon. Total distance 60 nm. Sada . Sada has a nice marina and a very nice fish

restaurant which I believe was the main reason we were there.

Days 14,15, Saturday&Sunday 4, 5 June 2011 -

Location: From Sada to Bahiona passage of the Finistere cape 125 nm

Sada to Bahiona

Captains Commentary:Leaving for Baihona very early in the morning.The weather was very dull and all my efforts to persuade Pierre to moor in La Coruna or Vigo were without any result. He wanted to stay only in small fishing villages and avoid the big cities. I was happy that we started again our sailing voyage. It took us many days to overpass the cap Finistere which it seems that is the most difficult point of the whole trip as the low pressure system crates there bad weather fog and the swell of the Atlantic creates there especially confusing seas. It was not without reason that the coast has the name Costa del Morte. The cap was covered with fog which it seems is very often and we did not had the chance to see it.We had the weather on our back so we sailed downwind with 25-30 knots of apparent wind just with the gib and I was surprised how stable the boat was although there was some swell and some big waves. The autopilot was able to keep the boat on track. We had to keep a track over the 200 m depth contour, in order to avoid fish nets and crab pots that were plenty near the coast. We only sighted some big fishing boats that were clearly indentified with the AIS system.On this trip a post pigeon was tired and he landed on the boat for some rest.Note the green and red marks on his feet.The pigeon stayed with us till we reached the coast of Spain again and it flew away near the coast. We put him some water and bread crumples to eat. It was the 5 crew member for a few hours..


Day 16 – Monday June 6 2011 Location: Baiona
Captains Commentary:Bahiona is a very pleasant place with a nice castle a nice marina and at that time the ARC was staying in the Royal Club of Bahiona waiting to leave for the next destination Lagos in Portugal. So Bahiona was having a sailing atmosphere with sailors mainly from England on their way for the Atlantic crossing with the ARC from Las Palmas to St Lucia in the Caribbean.In Bahiona in order to stress the nautical heritage of the place is also a nice replica of PINTA one of the caravelles that Colombo was using for his trip to America. It is worth visiting it and to see how the people were crossing oceans at that time.


Baiona port





Day 17 Tuesday June 7 2011- Location: Vigo

Royal Club Nautico

Captains Commentary:As Pierre didn’t want to sail to Vigo so we decided to take the bus and visit this nice city. We visited the Royal Nautical club and the harbor.We had a nice lunch in a small restaurant overlooking the sea.the next destination in Portugal.

view from the restaurant

                                                                from Bahiona sailing to Cascais 225 nm

From Baiona to Cascais

Captains Commentary:We left Bahiona around 9.30 in the morning on our way to Cascais Portugal.
Day 19-21 Thursday-Saturday June 9-11 2011- Location: Cascais


Lisbon, 25th of April Bridge

Captains Commentary:

We arrived the next day around 2 o’clock. The weather started to become better and more warm for the first time. In the evening it was cold. The Cascais marina is very well situated very close to Lisbon and has a very nice waterfront and very good connection to the capital. The marina personel was very helpful and they provided us with a nice to stay for a few days as I was waiting for Anny to come.The pump arrived from Amel and we had to replace it by now we had more experience how to do it.In the SM I had never a problem with this pump, but this time I was not lucky. The day before it broke I sawed the pump to young Pierre explaining to him how reliable this pump is. Never again.In the evening we had an excellent dinner with entrecote de Paris in the marina restaurant.The next day Anny arrived early in the morning from Athens and we met her at the railroad station in Cascais. I was happy that Anny will stay with me for the rest of the trip.In the evening we went by the train to Lisbon and we were very lucky that there was a big fiesta of the Sardines and the roads were crowded and everybody was eating sardines grilled on the streets. We had dinner in a very simple and traditional restaurant and Churos to go we were very glad to be able to have a porto in a very typical Fado restaurant, Parreirinha de Alfama,perhaps the most famous in Lisbon in the Alfama district.Click on the picture below to hear a tradional Fado

Fado restaurant

Lisboa to Cascais waterfront

The Padrão dos Descobrimentos ("Monument to the Discoveries") in Lisbon

Cascais city centre


Cascais Castle
Day 22 Sunday June 12 2011- Location: From Cascais sailing to Gibraltar 310 nm

Cascais to Gibraltar

Captains Commentary:

We left Cascais around 12 o’clock after refueling on the fuel dock. The wind was good in the beginning as we came south but in the night after crossing the cap of Sao Vincente it was rough and difficult to sleep.I persuaded Pierre to stop before Gibraltar in Barbate in a marina to have a night rest and to avoid to enter Gibraltar in the night as there is a lot of shipping and traffic around.The entrance of the marina was very difficult as there was a net for tuna fish that was marked with flashing lights that were very difficult to recognize in the night. We arrived very late around 2 in the morning and they left us to moor inn the fuel dock and to leave very early in the morning.

Barbate is very close to Trafalgar the place that the famous naval battle took place between the French and the English and where admiral Nelson was killed.

Barbate marina
Days 23&24 Monday&Tuesday June 13,14 2011- Location:Gibraltar

Hoisting the British flag

Captains Commentary:

We started our trip to Gibraltar very early in the morning and it was nice to make this with daylight first to avoid the tuna net and to have a look on the coast you could even see the African

coast and to hear Arabian music on the radio.So we sailed along the coast over Tarifa which is usually very windy and arrived in Gibraltar which is a milestone for our trip. It is about half the distance around 1082 total distance from La Rochelle and after that we are entering the mediteranean sea without tides and more familiar waters.The fisrt thing was to refuel as the diesel is without tax and then we moored the boat in the Queensway Quay Marina.After the long trip we had a lunch in the marina restaurant and in the evening we visited the Rock with the monkeys. They are the Barbary Apes of Gibraltar, Macaca Sylvanus and a popular belief holds that as long as Gibraltar Monkeys exist on Gibraltar, the territory will remain under British rule. We went up the rock with a funicular and the view is breathtaking. We resupplied the boat from the excellent super market Morrison and we were ready to leave the next day. My friend Antonis was leaving from Madrid so he had to go by bus to the Spanish city of Algecira close by and fly from there to Madrid and finally Athens. We were going to miss him.

Days 25-27 Wednesday- Friday 15-17 2011- Location:sailing from Gibraltar to Formentera 380 nm

Gibraltar to Formentera

Captains Commentary:

We could not leave early in the morning as heavy fog was around Gibraltar you could not see even a few meters away so we had to wait for the fog to go away. You could hear the fog horns of the boats and the lighthouses it was not a very pleasant sound.So we left around 10 in the morning passed Capo di Gato and arrived in Formentera around noon on the 17 of June.It was hot and the beach in front of the harbor was very nice so we decided to take our first swim of the trip.We tried to persuade Pierre to go to Ibiza but he was not willing to hear us he suggested to take the fast boat and go there.We had wonderful Mojito drinks, watched the sunset and talked with our dear friends… Ah! it starts feeling like the Med.

We stayed overnight in Formentera and had our first Paella which was not very tasty and some sangria that Pierre refused to taste. Formentera was very touristic and relative expensive but we found a good super market to replentish our supplies and early in the morning we left for Mallorca.

fog at Gibraltar

Formentera beach

our first swim


Day 28 Saturday 18 2011- Location: sailing to Mallorca, Plaja Sa Rapita 85 nm

From Formenteira to Sa Rapita

Captains commentary:

We sailed along Ibiza and the wind had picked up a lot. It was force 6 on the nose. I tried to persuade Pierre to sail to Palma the main Port of Malliorca as the wind had a better angle but he was insisting to sail for Porto Colom on the east side of the Island. At the end we decided to stop in Plaja Sa Rapita to overnight there as it was no reason to sail in the night and arrive in Port de Colom as we planned to leave the next day anyway.

Sa Rapita bay, Mallorca

Day 29 Sunday 19 2011- Location: Mallorca, Port Colom 25 nm

Sa Rapita to Port Colom

Captains commentary:

After a swim in the sea we left for our final destination Porto Colom on the east side of the Island.

Porto Colom is a very protected bay with a fishing village and a small primitive and very expensive marina.After mooring there we decided with Anny to visit Palma. We took the bus and after 2 hours wandering around the Island we arrived in Palma which is a very nice and elegant city with a lot of nice marinas and nice restaurants. I could not understand why Pierre was insisting not to go there it was very strange to me as the marina was half the price of the primitive marina in Porto Colom. Palma was nice and it was a pity that we did not stop there for the first night as the wind was very favorable to sail there the first day. I tried to explain that to Pierre with no result. When you make such a long trip you have to keep a balance between the places you want to see and the places that are favorably located on your way but also the wind is helping you to reach. I always try to keep that balance. I left all the trip planning to Pierre so that he could not argue to me in case of a delay as we had agreed to bring the boat together in Greece without any time constraint but I felt that we were a little bit late as we lost a lot of time in Galicia in the beginning of the trip but this was all decisions of Pierre. We were following his planning all the time.

After the incident in Malliorca I was a little bit more demanding as he has made a planning fault.

Lighthouse at the entrance of port Colom



Palma is beautiful

Day 30 Monday 20 2011- Location: sailing to Sardinia 245 nm

Mallorca to Sardinia

Captains Commentary:

We left Port Colom around 6 in the morning with quite seas and we had a nice sailing to Carloorte a small Island close to Sardinia. Carlo Forte has a pleasant marina and it is the favorable place of Pierre.

Day 31 Tuesday 21 2011- Location: Carloforte
Captains Commentary :

We arrived around 4 in the afternoon the next day in Marina Sifredi. The place was very friendly and the marina well protected.Carloforte was very quite.In Carlo Forte we had to change the oil of the motor as we had already 246 Hours. After the oil change we visited again the super market and we has excellent dinner in a nice fish restaurant.

Marina Sifredi




Day 32, 33 Wednesday&Thursday 22,23 2011- Location: sailing to Sicilly 410 nm

Carloforte to Sicilly

Captains Commentary:

We decided to leave for Zakynthos as the wind was favorable for the passage of the Ionian sea but we have noted also that there was a gale coming in the Adriatic sea influencing also after a few days also the Ionian so we had to be in a hurry in order to avoid the bad weather. So we canceled our plan to stop in Lipari and decided to sail straight to Greece.



The problem was that after leaving the marina strong winds were blowing on our way and our speed has been dropped tremendously due to the big waves between the capes Teculado and Spartivento in the southern Sardinia and we lost a lot of hours trying to sail against the sea. After the capes in the bay of Cagliari the wind started to drop but it came from the east which reduced our speed as we are unable to open some sails and gain speed.We decided to sail straight to Messina and check the weather once again before making our final decision if we should cross to Greece or wait for the weather somewhere in Sicily.



After checking once again we made the decision to postpone our crossing and to stop in Riposto marina in Sicily.The younger Pierre had to leave from Catania due to a family problem and for that Catania which has an International Airport was suitable for his trip to Rome and from there to Canada.So after a long trip sailing past the volcanoes of the Aeolian islands we arrived 11 in Messina straight where there was a contest for swimming through the straight.After our decision not to cross we were not in a hurry anymore and we stopped in Taormina (Tauromenion, the word comes from the greek Taurus (bull) – ), which is one of the nicest places in Sicily and had a swim after the long trip


.After our stop and lunch there we had nice sailing to our final stop in Sicilly in Riposto the Etna marina.

leaving Sardinia

Messina, swimming contest


Marina Riposto


Day 34-36 Friday-Sunday June 24-26 2011- Location: Riposto
Captains Commentary:

As we had a lot of time and young Pierre was leaving from Catania on Sunday, so we decided to rent a car and visit the volacano that seems to be very close.We started the road to the crater but due to bad signage we were not able to find the road so we had just excellent view saw the lava around us and at the end we decided to go to Taormina by car this time and gave a visit to this nice place which was build by the Greeks when they had colonized Sicily.We had a very nice lunch overlooking the Taormina bay and we were not lucky to visit the ancient greek theater as the car was not properly parked and we had to leave.On our way back to Riposto we found that there is a huge parking place to leave your car and to visit the city by feet unfortunately the parking was on the way to the city coming from Messina and as we were coming from the south we could not find the parking.I put a picture from the Theater any way just to know its existence .Riposto was our longest stay: we had a very good rest, we bought all necessary supplies, did our shopping and dine a la italiano a lot.

Acireale at the restaurant

On the last day before we left, we visited three little fishing beaches, Acireale, Aci Catena and Aci Castello.

Aci Castello

We had fish and wine by a beach tavern and had a relaxed sightseeing day.

It started smelling like Greece…

Etna volcano


Naxos, ancient theater

Leaving Riposto, view of Etna


Day 37-39 Monday-Wednesday 27-29 June 21 2011- Location: sailing to Greece From Ripost to Zante 280 nm

Crossing to the Ionian sea

Captains Commentary:

As the forecast was favorable and the strong north wind that was blowing all these days in Riposto has stopped we refueled on the fuel dock paid the marina and left as early as possible. The sea condition was very good and the last passage to our home was smoothly. Only close to Zante we had good wind to sail. It seems to me that only Greece has the best sailing conditions.We hoisted the greek flag as we passed the border and arrived around 8 o’clock in the evening to Zante port. The port is nice well protected and it was good as we had to try our first med style mooring with the new boat using the anchor windlass and bowthruster simultaneously.

Entering Zante port

I was so glad that I had ordered the remote control of the windlass as the lewmar control on the cockpit is very difficult to be operated blindly and is also locking we you leave it for a few minutes a nightmare.

If you plan to sail in Greece do not forget the remote control option for the windlass it can save your life. We decided to use this port mainly because we left from the same port last summer for Hyeres and Zante is a little bit more far away from Argostoli but closer on our route to our next port Galaxeidi. Dinner at Portokali was a reward.



Day 40 Thursday June 30 2011- Location: Galaxidi From Zante to Galaxidi 90 nm

Zante to Galaxidi

Captains Commentary:

We left as usual early in the morning in order to enter with day light Galaxeidi one of the nicest ports in Greece .We passed the Rio Antirio bridge and the wind started to blow very strong over 30 knot,s but coming from the west so we were able to sail fast and enjoyed very much the sailing in familiar waters.As we reached Galaxidi, we asked the port police by VHF if there were available places in the port as we saw very big cruising motorboats and the wind was very strong in order to enter without place as there were places available we entered with strong wind but the boat was very manouvrable with the strong bowthruster and we moored easily in a very nice place. I was glad to be once again in Galaxeidi which was full of memories for me. Pierre also enjoyed it very much and we had a nice dinner with fish in the yacht club.



Day 41 Friday July 1 2011- Location: crossing the Corinthe canal and finally to Kalamaki 75 nm

Finally crossing the canale of Corinthe

Captains Commentary:Anny left by bus to Athens so Pierre and myself were making the last leg of the trip. We sailed through the Corinth Canal and arrived in Kalamaki in the afternoon in my well known mooring place after 2455 nm around the atlantic and the med.

arriving in Kalamaki

 A few friends had come to greet us and we drank a bottle of champagne to finish the trip.

finally in Kalamaki


Rio bridge


passing under the Rio bridge


It was a long trip with a lot new places and we have enjoyed the company on board.

There were some difficult moments but if you have experience you can overcome them easily. It was a good test of the boat and ourselves to be ready for even longer trips.

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