Hey look, maybe this should be in "off topic" but there is a bit of sailing at the end. Ah to hell with it, You can move it if you wish yon moderators. I leave it up to you.
Quick trip but a good trip.
Decided to give Korean Air a go. Mainly cos the fare was too good to pass up and I've been eating a fair amount of Korean food in Sydney. Wanted to try the real thing. In short, good airline. They didn't manage to kill me, the food was excellent for airline food, wine was drinkable and the cabin crew were efficient and friendly. Over nighted in Seoul. I do like this thing of Asian airlines giving you free accomodation when they can't fly you straight through from Oz. It breaks up the journey which I approve of plus you get to sample, albeit briefly, the local atmosphere. If, like me, you enjoy raw seafood, miso soup, saki and Korean bbq then you will fly on happily.
Obviously sushi and sashimi are very Japanese influenced but Korean bbq is whizzbang lovely. I had salmon sashimi (as good as I've ever had) , eel sushi (don't knock it until you try it), cuttlefish sushi and salmon roe sushi followed by a kind of bbq pork belly (yummy) and a great big flask of good saki (cold). Hey hey, life could be worse. Didn't mind the Korean beer either and like what they do for breakfast. You'll like it too if seaweed soup with bits of fishy stuff and tofu floating about in it is preferable to you than corn flakes. Oh stop your gagging, it was good good good. Need to go back there some day. Don't know if cruising Korea is a viable plan. Must find out. I'd reckon spending some time anchored off the odd Korean fishing village would be a fine thing.
Pretty much ignore the Germany part , trade fairs are not much fun although catching up with some of my professional friends and colleagues was good. Germany is a dry old place but their sausage, sauerkraut, dumplings and beer make up for a lot. Hmm...do you see a trend developing here ? Can't help it, I travel to eat and drink I'm afraid. Scenery is something you see from a nice restaurant.
Portugal was a hoot. Funny how things turn out. I checked onto my flight to Lisbon and could only get a centre seat which put me in a bad mood but I happened to find myself sitting next to a guy from Chicago by the name of Tom Holland. He's a blues guitarist from Chicago, band "Tom Holland and the Shuffle Kings", he was in Lisbon to do a festival playing with James Cotton. Nice bloke I have to say. Young fella , up and coming from what I read and he turned what was looking like a really crappy flight into a gem. Not feasible for me to catch his gig but I'm downloading his CD today and very much looking forward to having a listen. Although most of what I listen to these days is countryish I've always liked the blues and am thinking that this might be a good opportunity to expand my musical horizons. If any of you know of Tom and his music let me know. I'd like to hear what you think of it and him. (Have obtained TH songs and if you like the good old Chicago blues have a listen. Tasty. Chicago Shuffle style.)
Alex picked me up at Lisbon airport and we headed off pretty much straightaway to meet and greet both the Giuliettas and the kid from hell , the master trimmer, Luis. (Fred was in school). Everybody in this world has different tastes and the uses we wish to put our boats too will dictate the type of boat we sail. The Lady G is not an outright racer but pretty damn close and it was great to meet her. Those of you who have had the pleasure will testify to the fact that she is a fine piece of work. What won me over was the intelligence that has gone into her design and systems. Really clever thinking and quite frankly for a near as damnit out and out racer she has quite a nice cruising interior. Not really set up for long term liveaboard yes, but I've seen plenty of dedicated cruisers that are not half as comfortable. The old fart cruiser in me tut tuts at that front opening fridge and draft that would leave me permanently aground but holy sheep dip peoples she was fun. Well, except for when I kind of fell asleep and she gave me a quick kick in the twins for my trouble. This lady demands attention but when she does that voodoo that she do so well, its promotes a warm inner glow.
Now it may well be true that a good old girl like the new Womboat would be a more comfortable thing in dirty weather both at sea and at anchor but it does have to be accepted that while a Womboat slouches about in the dirty stuff and would probably keep her crew warmer and dryer the Lady G has probably arrived in port days earlier and missed the nasty stuff altogether. Yes I know this brings into play lots of oft debated arguments re displacement, hull shape, draft and even number of hulls but its horses for courses my darlings and for her course the Lady G looks like a pretty fine mount to me.
As for sailing her , more on that later but my smile pretty much said it all.
Next up my first taste of Portuguese food and wine. I think I've dribbled on about this in a couple of the short posts I made from the Casa de Alex but suffice it to say I am a fan. Simple lunch of prawns (shrimp) cooked in olive oil, whole cloves of garlic and fresh chilli followed by a lump of dead cow and fries. Good enough for me thank you folks and don't get me started on the olive oil. Oh OK then if you insist......seriously good. Can't wait to drizzle some over some sourdough toast with tomato and fresh basil.
All that the smug bastard has said about Portuguese wine is true especially when it comes to value for money. Those buggers sell $10.00 plonk in the supermarket that takes your breath away(in the nicest possible way). Australia does produce some very good wines but not for that kind of money. $10.00 plonk down here is more inclined to cause your taste buds to decamp leaving no forwarding address. I have never been a big red wine drinker but my visits to Spain have given me quite a taste for their reds. What we drank in Portugal was every bit as good as the best Spanish and/or French that I have ever drunk.
Next stop Cheese and Ham. Again simply top notch. (Alex that cheque better be in the mail). Portuguese Patta Negra (sp ?) again is at least as good as the best I've ever eaten and I can tell this old fuzzy fella lurves that stuff. Oh and the cheeses! Shite, it's only 0800 down here and I want lunch !! Hmmmmmm....
Oh, sorry, kind of drifted off there. Where were we ? Damn Tom Holland is good. Lovin' it.
Ah yes, weathers crap. It's cold but dry and it's blowing a gale. Down at the marina the waves are breaking over the sea wall, big balls boys out there in Lasers but not a keeler in sight. Fella in an old Beneteau who is circumnavigating sets sail, gets a couple of hundred metres past the sea wall and heads back into the bay and drops anchor. Smart boy, next time read the bloody forecast. Nah, just kidding. Hey those old Bendys were good looking boats though. Wish I'd got to meet him. Would have been a good old chin wag.
So it's off to Lisbon for some museuming and then lunch. I really don't think anorexia is ever likely to be a problem for me. Jeronimus Museum and a quick lesson on pillow biting Portuguese Kings (queens ?). Damn royalty is a worry. Inbred the lot of them and didn't quite get the idea that if all you do is root boys you are unlikely to produce an heir. Bye bye Portuguese colonies. Sad but true. From the likes of Henrique (him what is known as Henry the Navigator) to the absolute effete in stockings, shorty short shorts and lipstick. Look, I don't give a dam where you want to dip your wick but a bit of forward planning wouldn't have gone astray.
Anyway, Jeronimus Museum is basically Templar. Very impressive especially the church. This is where the late great Vasco de Gama is buried plus sundry Portuguese royalty. I defy even the most hardened of atheists (that would be me then) to fail to recognise how these medieval churches could invoke a sense of the religious in the soul. Awesome stuff. The chapel is not huge by Cathedral standards but glorious nonetheless. I'm often overawed by old churches, maybe I was a catholic monk in a previous pink carnation. Nah, never was much into altar boys, so I guess not.
The Maritime Museum (see post re feathering propeller in Gear and Maintenance) is housed in the same complex as Jeronimus. A certain Portuguese lady confided that a certain Portuguese lad took her there on their first date. Figures doesn't it ? I love it and I want that day sailer.
Sod the debate on whether they are as good as a Marconi/Bermuda those Lateen rigged boats do it for me. The idea of wafting about Sydney Harbour in a lateen rigged daysailer puts a smile on me dial. Different is good even if it only for the sake of being such in many cases. I sincerely hope that as the years go by my eccentricities hold sway (not not THAT Sway) over any tendancy towards normality. Grow old disgracefully. Way to go Wombat.
What next ? Oh yes. Portuguese Tarts. Oh please, some of you simply have no sense of decorum. Edible Portugues Tarts. Now stop it. Pastries. Snacks. Puff pastry filled with custard and sprinkled with cinnamon and icing sugar, served warm. Cold White Port Aperitif. Portuguese beer on the side. How many did we demolish Alex ? I think maybe we had three or four as an entree then a cheese and ham toasted sanga main course followed by another couple of tarts. Life is good. You ought to see this place. Way cool. Packed with happy campers while across the road Mcdonalds languishes. We slipped out to the back room which was empty. Don't care what you ratbags say, Yurrup is Civilisation writ large.
Did I mention Tom Holland ? No fluff, just the stuff. Evil Empire you may be USA but the music redeems you. Hey, by the way, Any of you seen Walk Hard - The Dewey Cox Story ? Caught it at 36,000 feet over Mongolia. What a hoot. Also August Rush (sentimental crap) and The Golden Compass (has that awful Kidman woman in it, absolutely appalling).
Oh, sorry. Jaysus I hope I can navigate a little more lineally than I can write. Although come to think of, navigation involves following great circles, looping as it were, and I'm about as loopy as they come.
Sooooo.....next day, after dinn dinns lovingly prepared by the wonderful Mrs G things are looking somewhat sailingish. Oh yes, must not forget to mention Mrs G's Cabbage soup, Bacalao casserole and Portuguese Shepherds Pie kind of sort of thingy. mmmmm. Winds dropped, suns shining, birds singing, wombat warbling and awayyyyyy we go. Armed with ham and cheese baguettes we motor out of the marina , head the Big G up into the wind, raise the main, unfurl the genny and off on a lovely beam reach towards Lisbon. Muttering along at 10 - 11 knots. Good Lord those fish trap buoys. Everywhere. I've never seen anything like it. Ah well such is life, but the G just burbles along. Fine line between go and whoa I must admit and it took me a while to get the hang of her but when you find that groove, hey baby, let's dance. I'm told that Joel got her up and running faster than me but I was a happy chappy nevertheless. Glorious. God must have been in a good mood the day he gave us the beam reach. I reckon the go is only ever go where you can go with the wind abeam. Sailing for dills like me. To hell with no pain no gain. Don't know about gentlemen but wimps and wombats or even wimpish wombats don't sail to windward.
Round the headland whats name I'se forgot and into the entrance to Lisbon Harbour. Wind up our arse now so potential for gybe which given my somewhat dithery personality is always a worry. Fishing boats. Scores of the buggers. Hauling clams today. Another day it might be squid. Cool. They obviously know the Lady G cos it's all waves and shouted hellos. Past the Belem Tower that we had visited yesterday and the memorial to the explorers, under Lisbon's Golden Gate Bridge.
Wind dies to nothing much as we slide by one of the plug ugly yankee cruise liners docked near the bridge. Wombat drifts off. Lady G pokes her nose out behind the stern of the liner. Wind rushes around the liner. I won't go on. Please don't make me. Oh for heavens sake, what's a gybe all standing between friends . Boom was scratched anyway. Talk about bite me. I'm still having trouble sitting down. Seriously, it was more embarassing than anything else. No damage done but I felt a complete dill. Alex took it in his stride.
Then again it did save us the trouble of having to turn around to head home. . Which was not a bad thing as it turned out. Alex touched on the squall that chased us down the harbour. Yep we reefed which Alex does not like doing, even took a few turns out of the headsail. Sensible thing to do but in the end we dumped the sails and motored back. Why ? Room to move or lack thereof. There's a rather nasty bar at the entrance to Lisbon Harbour that was breaking quite heavily and deserving of space. To get out of there would have meant quite a few tacks and , well, we couldn't be bothered. Hey, it was getting on for lunchtime. Priorities kiddies, priorities. I may be insane but I am not a masochist. Fair weather sailor ? Yah sure ! Anywho, don't care, had a great time and my thanks to the Lady G and her skipper.
Twas a fine time in all. Last Supper at a little family restaurant. Grilled Sea Bass. Perfect. Next morn we went to Fred's sailing club but I had to bugger off to the aiport before he started racing which was a shame. Lovely kid. Real gentleman. Credit to his parents.
But now its back onto the big white bird for the lonnnnnnnnnnnnggg haul back to the land of Oz from where I send this missive.
Ms Wombat is coming around to the idea of a charter in Portugal later in the year maybe, if not some time next year. She'll have to come round eventually or I'll shanghai the poor woman and make her crew Womboat the New to Europe. Evil Wicked Grin.
Thanks for reading if you made it this far. Contributions to the "Keep that bloody Wombat from traveling fund" may be sent via PayPal or Visa. If you don't contribute I'll be forced to go away again and write even more of this drivel another day.