Archives for 2012 | Distant Shores Sailing Newsletters

ARC At Sea

Winds 25-30 with higher gusts as we start the ARC. It is still cool and we are wearing foulweather gear for the first few days as we head south.
ARC crossing01
ARC fleet on AIS - note more than 50% of the fleet are not on AIS so there actually twice as many as show up here!! It made for an exciting and crowded first night. Luckily it thinned out after that first night.
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Paul tries to send a SMS with the Satphone. Not a very satisfactory experience. Remember when you had a "non-smart" phone years ago? But tweeting from the saphone did allow us to update the website from sea...
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Frequent visitor - flying fish came on board at least 3-4 per night - more during rough evenings. Paul had the distinction of being hit twice by a flying fish! Once one hit in the head and once in the leg :-)
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We had one day of calms during the crossing...
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We ate quite well with a special steak meal on the calm day when we could set out a proper table!ARC crossing06ARC crossing07
We saw ARC boats every day - very unusual for us to see other yachts. This is the 56 foot cat Poco Loco who kindly took some shots of us as well.
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We are sailing wing and wing for much of the crossing. I will do more on this in a blog...
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3-4 meters swell were a constant feature...
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We surfed regularly at 12-13 knots and hit 15 on one occasion. It was our fastest passage ever at just 15.5 days!!
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We arrived at 0158 on Thursday 13 December and were warmly welcomed by neighbouring yachties and ARC committee despite the hour!!
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Morocco - Rabat

Hello Everyone,

Just a note to say we arrived safely in Morocco after a great overnight sail from Gibraltar and are now in Marina Bouregreg in Rabat.

Attached is an account of the passage. We've posted photos about it on the Home Page. On the website you will also find past newsletters and blogs from this year's voyage from England through the French Canals then along the coasts of France and Spain to Gibraltar.

Passage to Morocco
We left Gibraltar around 3:30 PM on Sunday. This was 2 hours after HW which is the recommended time to take advantage of tides and currents when heading out of the Mediterranean. The sail out of the Med through the narrow Strait of Gibraltar is always a bit like being thrown around in a washing machine with the tides, currents and winds being funnelled between the Pillars of Hercules, but once through it and out into the Atlantic the seas settled into a familiar and gentler rhythm. 

There was a full moon which lit our way and sparkled on the sea throughout the night and we had soft warm winds behind us. We had 3 other sailboats in sight all night and were in touch by VHF so had a very pleasant night sail down the west coast of Morocco towards our destination, the port of Rabat also the capital city of Morocco.

In the morning as the sun came up and the moon went down we had hundreds of dolphins come play around the boat and we got some great footage! Most of the morning we were sailing past huge sand dunes along the shoreline. Just beautiful. The winds were offshore all day which gave us smooth seas down the Moroccan coast.

Before we arrived at Rabat the wind built a little, right on the nose, but it was light and we were soon in port just at high tide at 13:50 UTC which we'd timed so as to get safely over a bar at the harbour entrance (not really an issue with a Southerly but the required pilot boat that guides you up the river to the marina needs the water as do most other sailboats). We called the marina on VHF 10 and were instructed to wait at the entrance until the pilot boat came out to guide us in past the fortress and up the river to the customs dock and then to our assigned berth in the marina. We waited at the entrance for an hour with 2 other boats until the pilot boat arrived.
Clearing in with customs in Morocco was a record-breaking experience. We've been cruising on sailboats internationally for 23 years and thought we'd seen it all. But after the hour wait at the harbour entrance, we were at the customs dock for another 3 hours filling out paperwork and waiting in-between for new officials to arrive and go through each of the 3 boats. We heard the Call to Prayer 3 times before getting safely moored in the marina at 1800. And we had every kind of official on board including a dog to sniff for drugs. That was a first!
The dog assigned to go through Distant Shores II was a cheerful black lab called Boris. The officers were all very friendly and nice but, wow, what a procedure. Welcome to Africa. And to add to the fun, by the time we finished the paperwork and were directed to our berth it was pouring rain. We had a hot shower and decided to cocoon for the evening.

So after an exciting sail from Europe to Africa, we and Distant Shores II rested in a cosy berth in the new very protected marina in Rabat. We used this as a base for exploring inland.

Here are a few shots from the old town at Rabat, and from our trip inland to visit the amazing city of Fes.
The old gates of Rabat’s Kasbah. A Kasbah is a fortified city and was our amazing landmark as it guards the river when we sailed up!
Rabat Kasbah street
Spotless streets in the Kasbah -
Fes Atlas
Fes is near the Atlas mountains - this is the view from our rooftop of our hotel "Riad".
Its very busy in Fes on a typical day - many surprising sights and sounds for us "western" visitors. It is a maze of narrow streets - in Fes there are apparently over 9000 streets! But we were both surprised that this huge Medina (walled old city) was not as noisy as most cities.Due to bans on motorized transport, the pesky motorcycles, scooters, crd and trucks we are all so used to was absent. We spent 2 days without leaving the old city area and it was quite a revelation!
Fes Donkey
Narrow streets with no cars/motorcycles allowed. Heavier deliveries by donkey.
Gas deliveryCooking gas delivery by horse in the Medina - old town.
Riad Soup CU
Slightly overdecorated restaurant entrance...
Sheryl reclines in our very luxurious guest house (just 75Euro/night!!) after a tough day filming in Fes!

Next we continue on to the Canary Islands to prepare for the ARC

Best regards,

Sheryl and Paul Shard
Aboard Distant Shores II
Rabat, Morocco

On to Gibraltar

October 11, 2012
Sailing in Spain - Valencia to Gibraltar

We set sail from Valencia on Thursday October 4 under main and jib to continue down the Spanish coast 61 nm to Calpe, the most northern port we had reached on previous trips to Spain (1990 & 1999/2000). So we felt that we were closing a circle by coming to Calpe from the north this time.

The winds quickly petered out unfortunately so we furled the sails and motored southwards. Throughout the day, the wind was up and down and round and round, coming from almost every direction of the compass. With the mountains along the coast and the afternoon sea breeze it is very hard to get an accurate wind forecast since there are so many local effects but the "sierras" or mountain ranges here are so beautiful that we never complain. Well mostly.

We arrived in Calpe about 1700 (by chance meeting up with fellow Southerly owners aboard an Southerly 110 from Denmark). To our delight Calpe was very much as we remembered it from 12 years ago with some expansion to the marina and new hotel development. But the thing that makes Calpe distinctive is the Peñon de Ifach, a towering rock that looks like a small version of the Rock of Gibraltar. We hiked up here with the cameras on our last visit documenting it for Distant Shores episode 2 which you can see in the Distant Shores Season 1DVD.


We pushed on the next morning, Friday October 5th, since the wind forecast was good, destination Torrevieja (meaning old tower) about 60 nm along the coast. Once we got off-shore a bit and out of the wind shadow of the mountains, we had a lovely wind from behind, so poled out the genoa and sailed wing and wing for a while. Ahhh. We have a carbon-fibre downwind pole built by Seldén (see how it was made in Distant Shores episode 80 on the Season 7 DVD) who also manufactured Distant Shores II’s mast. The pole is so light you can carry it with one hand and Paul can rig it on his own.

At around 1500 we passed Cabo de Santa Pola and the hazardous off-lying island of Tabarca, once a pirate stronghold. There is an active fishing community there and we had many fishing boats for company at sea in this area.

We arrived at Torrevieja at around 1830 with plans of just anchoring off the beach behind the breakwall as we had done in the past, since we were going to leave early the next morning. We love being at anchor. It’s like being on your own mini island! And going into marinas take so much time if you’re day-hopping - setting up fenders, going to the waiting pontoon, doing the paperwork for check-in, moving to your assigned berth, returning gate keys before leaving - these procedures can add another hour to your day. We don’t begrudge the cost of marinas since they are convenient and comfortable but they are time-consuming if you’re on the move each day.

Unfortunately, they were doing construction on the main breakwall at the harbour and anchoring didn’t seem like the thing to do so we went in and checked into the new Marina Salinas in Torrevieja which is lovely. We also had the pleasure of meeting new cruising friends, an Australian couple who recognized the boat. They told us they had used the Distant Shores DVDs to prepare for their current voyage through the Mediterranean and came to say hello. it means a lot to us that people love the shows and find the episodes helpful when planning their own voyages.

As we entered Marina Salinas we were impressed by the large custom aluminum yacht moored there with matching amphibious car, a two-propellor number!

Enormous custom aluminum yacht in Torrevieja with matching amphibious car.

The amphibious car has two-propellers.

Punta de Azohía
We had a relaxed morning on Saturday and left Torrevieja at around 1030 with the idea of heading to the major port of Cartagena where we had visited before. It was another calm day of motoring. At 1345 we rounded the major cape, Cabo Palos, and when we got to Cartagena at around 1630 we decided to continue on. Since it was so calm it would be a good night for anchoring in the usually exposed and rolly anchorages on this coast, so that night we dropped the hook off the village of La Subida at Punta de las Azohía, just east of Mazarrón, and were greeted by another delightful cruising couple, this time from England, who were Distant Shores fans. They had all our Mediterranean DVDs on board to help them plan their voyages. We really were touched.

Cala de San Pedro
Sunday October 7 was another glassy calm day which pleased us that day since we were headed for the pretty anchorage at Cala de San Pedro beneath the "castillo" or castle of San Pedro. You need calm conditions to stay there. You can only get to the beach and castle here by boat or a very long hike over the hills to arrive at a natural amphitheatre-shaped cove. There are caves around the castle that "hippy nudist troglodytes" had moved into on our last visit. They were still there, or the next generation of free spirits perhaps, but had to smile when we saw that they had added solar panels to their camping equipment so they could receive internet and keep the beer cold :-)

Castillo San Pedro

Distant Shores at anchor beneath the castle in Cala de San Pedro

Cabo de Gata
The forecast was good to continue south so we upped anchor from Cala San Pedro and continued south along the very natural undeveloped coast here to round Cabo de Gata, leaving Spain’s Costa Blanca behind and starting along the Costa del Sol along the south coast. There are very dramatic rock formations at Cabo de Gata, the most distinctive being the white marking beneath the Torre de Vela Blanca, "the tower at the white sail"

Sheryl at the helm passing the distinctive white rock at Torre de Vela Blanca (tower at the white sail) at Cabo de Gata

After successfully rounding the cape, which in any kind of wind can be very rough, we stopped for the night at the large marina at Puerta de la Almerimar where we had "wintered" the boat in 1999/2000. Again we saw lots of improvements and expansion including a large excellent supermarket on site. We also had an excellent dinner out, at "Fresh", one of several good restaurants within the marina resort. In the morning we woke up to thick fog but were only delayed a couple of hours until it cleared.


Caleta de Velez
We could see that in a few days there would be headwinds and we wanted to reach Gibraltar at the entrance to the Mediterranean before they set in. We could still make it despite the morning’s delay with the fog if we really pushed it. It was another calm day and we timed the daylight to the minute to reach the anchorage off the fishing harbour of Caleta de Velez, near Malaga. All was going well until around 1400 when, off Punta de Carchuna, we were approached by a Spanish Customs launch (Aduanas) who signalled us to stop. They wanted to board us.

Boarding by Customs (Aduanas) and Check for Red Fuel
In 23 years of cruising we have only been boarded by Coast Guard or Customs about 5 times and we normally welcome it as a cultural experience but today we were on a schedule. However it usually doesn’t take long since all they mostly do is check your paperwork and ours was in order, so no worries.
Spanish Customs (Aduanas) Launch

But this was the day they had decided to do spot checks on recreational boats to see whether or not they were using illegal "red diesel". This is a special tax-free diesel fuel available for use by working fishermen and farmers which is coloured red to identify it. The officers, who were extremely courteous and careful with the boat, took a sample from our fuel tank (we passed the colour test), and then asked to see the receipt of our most recent fuel top-up which had been in Almerimar. This was to prove that we had paid the tax. Then lots of paperwork followed so Paul asked in his best Spanish (this always helps if you make the effort) if we could keep motoring while we were filling it out so we wouldn’t be too delayed. They were happy to oblige. As in the past it was a very interesting and pleasant encounter.

Paul holding the sample of diesel removed from the boat’s fuel tank by Spanish customs officials who were checking recreational boats who might be using illegal red fuel. We pass the colour test.

Caleta de Velez
We waved goodbye to the officers and pressed on to Caleta de Velez which has a small marina mainly for use by the local fishing fleet but if you call ahead you can arrange docking for a yacht. However you can anchor off the beach at either end of the harbour in the protection of the breakwalls and, since the marina has limited space, they are happy for you to do that and that’s what we preferred. It was a perfectly calm night and we sat out in the cockpit admiring the scene for a long time.

Just before bed, a thick fog rolled in, which is so unusual at this time of year and also at night! We left lots of lights on throughout the night in addition to our anchor light so that any fishing boats moving in the dark would see us. Yay LED cabin lighting! Barely a drain on the battery.

We woke up next morning, Wednesday October 10, expecting another morning of thick fog but it had cleared during the night. Very confusing but who were we to argue. There was barely light in the sky when we had raised anchor and were on our way, Gibraltar ho! There were tons of fish pots and floats, sometimes hard to distinguish from floating seagulls at a distance so zigged and zagged and exchanged friendly waves with the crews of fishermen out in the bay around Caleta de Velez. Once out in deep water we were clear of the fish floats.

It was another day of motoring but fog rolled in and out at times with visibility reduced to less than half a mile. We have Raymarine radar and chart-plotters and the radar image lays right over the chart which makes it really easy to interpret. It is quite sensitive and was picking up small fishing boat, kayaks and inflatable dinghies. These we saw 4 to 5 miles offshore in some cases - dedicated fishers in the fog!

By mid-afternoon the fog had cleared and at 1515 I spotted the famous Rock of Gibraltar ahead. We really felt quite emotional since we’ve spent a lot of time there over the years. Then the headwinds started to build. We hugged the coast for protection and at 1630 rounded Europa Point and were docked at Marina Bay in Gibraltar, a second home for us, by 1900.


Time for Gin and Tonic!

Until next time,

Sheryl and Paul
Aboard Distant Shores II

Spain - Barcelona to Valencia

October 4, 2012
Sailing Mediterranean Spain - Barcelona to Valencia
We arrived back in Spain to
Badalona Marina near Barcelona, late in the evening on Sunday September 23. We had left Distant Shores II stored there in the water for the weekend while we flew to England to speak at the Southampton Boat Show. We were pretty tired from the journey but Barcelona is party capital in Spain and Monday was the last day of the city's big annual festival, La Merce Festival, so there was no rest for the weary :-)
From Badalona it is about a 20-minute train ride into the heart of Barcelona and throughout the throng-filled city there was music and dance demonstrations...
theatrical performances including street puppet shows...
competitions of people building human towers several stories high and Parades of Giants ...
The next day, when things had settled down a bit, we took the train back to see the most unusual and inspiring cathedral we have ever seen (and in 23 years of cruising we've visited a lot of cathedrals!), the Sagrada Familia meaning Sacred Family, the monumental Modernism creation of the devout architect, Antoni Gaudi. Wow!
Finally, on Thursday September 27, we sailed away from the inspiring city of Barcelona to sail 54nm down the coast to Tarragona. We knew we would be here for a few days since there was a very strong gale with lots of rain in the forecast. The history there interested us so we thought it would be a good place to wait out a storm and it was.
Tarragona was once an old Roman provincial town. The ancient amphitheatre is located right by the sea and there are many interesting ruins throughout the town which we explored the next day.
The day after that the storm hit with a vengence. The sky was green, the seas were crashing over the breakwall, and the rain came down, down, down! Sadly 13 people died in the flash floods that resulted and there was much destruction. We were safe and sound in the very secure marina here.
The storm passed quickly and we were able to leave Puerto Esportivo de Tarragona the next morning casting off at 0730. The full moon was just setting over the town as we left and the sun rising. Magic.
It was calm in the bay close to Tarragona but we got hit with some strong winds in the acceleration zones funnelling through the valleys of the mountains so soared along the coast. A tired little bird, buffeted by the wind, landed on deck and sailed with us for a while then, as the wind levelled out, he left us to sail on alone. There was lots of debris in the water from the storm - branches, twigs and roots mostly but unbelievable amounts of them. Further south where the storm struck the hardest, our Swedish friend, Christer, and his crew sailing aboard SY Crystal Magic encountered palms, full-sized trees, and a dead pig! Apparently small animals such as pigs faired badly in the violent storm which centred near Valencia.

Castellon de la Plana
We were still at sea at 1930 when the moon rose again. Hello old friend! We saw you set this morning on the same voyage. Welcome back! At 0800 the sun had set just as we arrived in the near dark at Castellon.
The friendly
marinero (dock hand) at the Real Club Náutico de Castellón helped us moor then called (literally shouting over the fence) and made dinner reservations for us at a really good local seafood restaurant called El Galeon, right by the yacht club on the waterfront, (this usually means a touristic restaurant but it was all local people eating there, always a good sign) where we enjoyed an excellent seafood paella before hitting the pillow.
Our next daysail on to Valencia was short, only bout 35 nm, and the winds were gentle so we sailed slowly down the mountainous coast. Just before reaching the harbour
Marina Real de Juan Carlos I formerly America's Cup Marina in Valencia, Sheryl saw a rare Mola or Moonfish (also called a Sunfish) jump right beside the boat. 
Mola also called Moonfish or Sunfish

When we went to visit the fantastic Oceanographic Museum in Valencia the next day, they had a very large Mola in an amazing 70m tank so we could get a good look at one close up. There were also seals, beluga whales, penguins and numerous reef displays and schools of exotic fish in enormous tanks.


Paul and I went back to the boat itching to carry on to the Caribbean to do more scuba and skin diving there. I can't even begin to explain all the interesting displays, information and fantastic architecture at this very special aquarium so check out their website to learn more if you're interested.

We spent one more day in Valencia exploring the old town and enjoyed the old city market buying a few goodies to take back to the boat.
The Marina Real de Juan Carlos I is very good and surprisingly very inexpensive - 26 euros per night including water and electricity and wifi which is the least expensive we've seen on this coast so far. And there is a huge beach which is great. However it is quite far to get out of the marina even to reach a bus stop or tram/train station. Bikes are helpful but prepare to do lots of walking or budget for taxis. But despite this, I wouldn't miss it.

See you on the water,

Sheryl and Paul Shard
Aboard SY Distant Shores II

Spain - L'Estartit to Barcelona

Sailing Mediterranean Spain - L'Estartit to Barcelona
The morning of Monday September 17 was grey and overcast as we prepared to leave Port Leucate, our last port in France, to sail down the coast - destination Puerto de Estartit in Spain.

The grey gloomy weather was a change from the sunny conditions we had been experiencing since reaching the Mediterranean coast of France. But there was no rain and the visibility was good so we counted our blessings and set off around 0930 after stocking up on a few groceries at the small SPAR grocery store just outside the marina gates.

People are very keen on recreational fishing here and there were lots of boats small and large anchored a couple of miles offshore with fishing rods over the side. At least a third of the boats we saw anchored were sailboats which looked very strange to us! You don't often see sailboats anchored in the middle of nowhere a couple of miles offshore. Offshore they're usually moving, hopefully under sail, and later anchor in some peaceful protected cove. Sailors here use their boats as fishing boats a lot so as we travelled down the mountainous coast we kept dodging all these anchored craft.
Cap Cerbere
At 1330 we rounded Cap Cerbere, 27nm from Port Leucate and another 27nm to go to L'Estartit. This cape marks the border with France and Spain so Sheryl lowered our French courtesy flag and raised the Spanish courtesy flag to show respect for the host country whose waters we were sailing in. Courtesy flags are flown on the starboard halyard on a sailboat. We had cleared into the European Union (EU) in the Shetland Isles in the north of Scotland after cruising in Norway the previous summer and have an 18-month permit to cruise in the EU so while still within the EU we don't have to fly a yellow Q-flag first and formally check into the country before raising the country's Q flag. Since we're foreign (non-EU) cruisers we always check with Customs/Immigration anyway when possible when entering another country within the EU just to be sure since the rules are confusing, Often the marinas take the information and pass it on.

Cabo Creus

An hour later we rounded Cabo Creus.
At Cabo Creus we changed from a southeasterly course to a southerwesterly one and just then the sun came out, a very nice welcome to Spain!
As we were sailing we had very good internet reception (See Paul’s New Boat Blog "iPhone - Sailing the World"). The towers must be on the mountaintops since we were a few miles offshore! In a few days we would be leaving the boat in Barcelona and flying to speak at the Southampton Boat Show in England so Paul was booking plane tickets online and printing our boarding passes as we sailed down the coast! Boy, life has changed and improved from when we first started international cruising in 1989.

Puerto de Estartit
After the sun came out the wind picked up and we had a lovely sail for the afternoon. We'd had the mast down for most of the summer going through the canals so we had planned the first leg of our voyage along the Mediterranean coast in daysails to test and re-tune the rig before heading out into the Atlantic after we reached Gibraltar.
The offshore islands and headlands as you approach L'Estartit are dramatic. Such a fantastic place to make landfall in Spain!
We arrived just in time for dinner so wandered the streets of this pretty tourist town to choose from a vast selection of choices for our "arrival in a new country dinner out". After being in France since May we had to switch our brains into Spanish and found the gears needed a bit of oiling!However in Spain they really cater to tourists and almost all the restaurants had menus printed in English, French and German as well as Spanish and the locals really make an effort to try to speak to you in your own language. It makes you feel very welcome as a visitor. We never like to rely on this however and always make an attempt to learn at least a few important words and phrases in the language of the country we’re visiting. The effort is always appreciated.
Badalona Marina (Barcelona)
We woke up to thick fog the next morning, Tuesday September 18, which was a complete surprise since we hadn't seen fog since we'd left England in the spring! As soon as it started burning off and there was sufficient visibility we headed out once again our course set for Badalona, a suburb of Barcelona where we would leave the boat for the coming weekend while we flew to England to speak at the Southampton Boat Show and for the Southerly Owners Dinner (our boat is a Southerly 49) about cruising and our recent voyage through the French canals. We chose this marina rather than Port Vell or Puerto Olimpico right downtown Barcelona since, due to their location, have high rates. We were quoted prices of 85 euros per night which we accept if we were going to be on the boat enjoying the city but to just store the boat in the water while we were away 43 euros per night at Badalona Marina made more financial sense. And it was a very nice marina with a very friendly staff both in the office and on the docks.
Southampton Boat Show - England
Thursday September 20 we were up in the wee hours of the morning to catch a taxi to the Barcelona Airport and by lunchtime were landing at London Gatwick, picking up a hire car and driving on the left side of the road down to Chichester Harbour on the south coast where we stayed with friends, Hermione and Douglas, who had joined us in the French canals for a while aboard Distant Shores II with their then 10-month-old son, Arthur, and had minded our beloved boat for us the 2 winters that we had stored her in Itchenor at the Northshore boat yard. We also had a good visit with Douglas' mother, Elizabeth, a cracking-good racing sailor (as is Douglas who is an International 14 champion). Elizabeth stars in Distant Shores episode 79 - Chichester Harbour that you'll find in the Distant Shores Season 7 DVD
SB Tower
Friday September 21 was my, Sheryl's, birthday and the 23rd Anniversary of the beginning of our international cruising life. In 1989 Paul and I set sail from Port Credit Yacht Club on Lake Ontario in Canada on my 30th birthday aboard our first boat, Two-Step, a Classic 37 sailboat that we built together from a bare hull and sailed for 18 years putting 60,000 nm under the keel. But Birthday and Anniversary celebrations had to wait. We had a full day speaking to people at the Southampton Boat Show which was a complete pleasure and that night in the dramatically beautiful Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth we gave a presentation about our "Voyage through the French Canals" to 90 people, fellow Southerly owners, at the Southerly Owners Dinner. Although it was a whirlwind working day it was an absolute delight and in the end a perfect way to celebrate birthday, sailing anniversary, and the many blessings and friendships that the cruising lifestyle has brought us over the years.
Saturday and Sunday were spent at the boat show again meeting up with fellow cruising authors, the infamous Donald Street and ever-charming Liza Copeland, meeting up with show sponsors, and answering questions about long-distance cruising.
We finished the weekend visiting sailing friends, Richard and Julie, who are about to take delivery of a new Southerly 42, and their youngest son, James, who had just completed 6 months of ocean voyaging. Lots of good sailing stories to share! We flew back to the boat in Barcelona on the Sunday night energized and ready to explore more of the Spanish coast starting with the fascinating city of Barcelona...

Til then,

Sheryl and Paul Shard
Aboard SY Distant Shores II

France - Port St Louis to Leucate

September 18, 2012
Sailing Mediterranean France - Port Saint Louis to Port Leucate
We're a sailing yacht again and have been cruising along the Mediterranean coast of France! After having the mast down and being a motor yacht for most of the summer as we travelled through the inland waterways of France, it's great to be in open water and under sail once more.

Casting Off from Port St. Louis
It was late in the day on Monday September 10 that we finally got away from the dock at Navy Service in Port St. Louis saying our farewells to the wonderful staff there and with all jobs completed - the main ones being the installation of a Mastervolt isolation transformer; the addition of a Lewmar 54 Ocean Electric winch to handle the main, jib, and genoa sheets; the installation of a new IC-M802 Fixed mount HF marine SSB radio well under way; repairs completed to chafes in the mainsail cover, and a new window in the sprayhood/dodger which made a huge difference to our comfort at sea.

We weren't going far that first night - just around the corner to anchor out in the large natural bay off Port St. Louis - but we find it's always good to get off the dock and get sorted before heading out to sea. Moving out to the bay was literally a breath of fresh air since it's always quite hot and dusty in boat yards (you want them to be as protected from wind as possible) and Port St. Louis is quite marshy, so being at anchor meant we got away from the mosquitos. Ahhh! We had a very very calm night "on the hook" and set off early next morning relaxed and ready to sail east along the coast to Port Camargue.
Port Camargue
It was a lovely warm sunny day with a gentle breeze so we were able to ghost along past the Camargue, the vast marshy delta of the Rhone River along this stretch of coast, which is rich in wild life and has long sparkling white sand beaches along its shores. These looked brilliant against the clear turquoise water we were sailing through and we felt so happy to be back in the Mediterranean. We sailed for many years in the Mediterranean from 1998 to 2006 which we documented in Distant Shores Seasons 1-3 so feel very at home in the Med.
We savoured this day since we knew that a Mistral (strong cool northerly gales) was in the forecast for the next few days and we'd be in port for a while before moving on. From what we'd heard, Port Camargue would be a great place to spend some time for a few days. With berths for 4,800 yachts, it is the largest marina resort in Europe, and second in the world after Marina del Rey in California. (This world record may soon be broken upon completion of the Dubai Marina.)
A nice thing about a Mistral is that although the wind is strong and cool, it comes with clear blue skies and brilliant sunshine, so if you're in a protected harbour it can be quite pleasant. This is what we experienced in Port Camargue. Although the marina is big, it's cleverly designed. There are lots of lagoons with groups of boats so you're not looking at a huge boat parking lot. There are lots of restaurants, take-away places, food stores, boutiques, 2 large beaches and every type of marine service and supplier that you can imagine so we were in heaven while the winds blew!

New Protectors for Dorade Vents
One of the jobs we had done for the boat while we were there was having stainless steel protector cages made for our dorade vents. On previous cruises a sheet would occasionally get caught on one of the dorades and although it always came safely clear we just felt it would be prudent to have them more protected, especially with a transatlantic passage coming up. We "dock-walked" looking at the designs of these cages on so many of the yachts in the harbour and Paul created a model for Distant Shores II out of cardboard and plastic wiring conduit. Then he spoke to Sun Marine's stainless expert who did careful measurement, made suggestions, and before we knew it they were done.
French Customs
Shortly after our arrival at Port Camargue we received a visit from French Customs (Duane Françaises). The 2 male and 1 female officer were very friendly and efficient. They spoke English but appreciated our efforts to speak French as they checked our ship's papers and passports. Whenever we receive a visit from Customs or Immigration officials I always ask for a badge number or stamp or some sort to record their visit in our Ship's Log Book. (In Brest the officials had a paper receipt they gave us when we asked. In Camargue they used a rubber stamp.) They always oblige but rarely offer this information/proof of visit yet when the next crew come on board and ask where we were last checked it's easy to say and prove that the previous team had already approved us. Needless to say, this always makes the new team more relaxed and friendly. It also shows you're organized with your paperwork.
While we were in Port Camargue we had a visit from cruising friends, Dave and Fiona from MV Warrior, an historic Dunkirk Little Ship. They’re restoring the boat and plan to run charters on it in the future. They were wintering the boat up the coast in Aigues-Mortes a medieval town and harbour famous for it's pink salt flats, and drove down to see us, then helped us stock up the boat with provisions using their car.
Walled City of Aigues-Mortes
Our friends then took us up to Aigues-Mortes to explore the amazingly well-preserved medieval walled town there. We were quite protected from the Mistral winds blowing overhead the ramparts.
We wandered the narrow streets within the old town and enjoyed a lazy afternoon chatting in a cafe in the town square, a very Mediterranean activity, before going back to Warrior for dinner. New friends are one of the gifts of the cruising life.
It would have been easy to get stuck at Port Camargue. If we're ever back in this region again we would definitely consider it as a place to "winter" or store the boat and recommend it as a very nice place to stop for a while to do maintenance or upgrades. 
Port Leucate
But we were itching to get back to sea and get sailing again so when the Mistral finally blew itself out we cast off on September 16. The wind was up and down throughout the day but we got in plenty of sailing and the atmosphere was festive since there was every type of boat out on the water that day, their crews enjoying a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon.
We were so keen on sailing that we resisted the temptation to turn on the engine even though we risked arriving at our next destination Port Leucate, in the dark. The entrance there is a bit tricky. We sailed on and arrived a bit after sunset but had enough light to make our way into the harbour.
All the local sailors were heading for port too so we had company making the entrance. 
There is a very large Waiting Pontoon there so we tied alongside with a few other transient yachts and had a nice evening on board, our last in France.

Next, on to Spain.

Sheryl and Paul
SY Distant Shores II

Sailing France

Hi Everyone!

It was so good to be home for the month of August after a very enjoyable 10-week voyage through the canals of France in the spring.

Where We Are
It's hard to believe that it's just been over a week since we got back to the boat where we left it hauled out in the Navy Service boat yard in Port St. Louis on the south coast of France. We're just west of Marseilles at the mouth of the Rhone River. The area, called the Camargue, is a large dry but marshy river delta where there are salt flats and lots of exotic birds such as flamingos, and wild horses, and a type of bull fighting in pens where guys get chased by bulls and try to jump out of the way, and unfortunately at dusk there is an abundance of mosquitos.


What We're Doing to the Boat
But Port St. Louis is a great place to prepare a sailboat for sea since it's a large port commercial as well as recreational port with 3 good chandleries and 3 boat yards with all related services - sailmakers, canvas workers, machine shops, carpenters, etc. so the week has flown by as we complete projects, repairs and new equipment installations. 


This week we have installed a new Mastervolt isolation transformer so we can handle 110V power when we reach the Caribbean and North America (our British-built boat is set up for 220V power), another Lewmar electric winch for the main and jib sheets so now we have 2 in the cockpit and we’ve started installing a new ICOM marine SSB radio. Repairs have been minor - replace a plumbing fitting in the shower that snapped when we turned the water pressure on, replace snaps on the spray hood, have new plastic installed, and the patch the mainsail cover where it had developed holes from lines chafing.


The weather has been hot, dry and calm which is great for the work we're doing on the boat. If there's any wind it can be pretty dusty in the boat yard. We've been using our folding bicycles a lot making runs to town and to the chandleries, so haven't had to rent a car which is usually necessary when we're working in a boat yard. The town is really set up for this as there is a very nice 2-way bike path out to all the boat yards and marinas and right through town. It's a great way to burn calories! There's an excellent restaurant on site which we have been enjoying since when we're out of the water it's too hot and awkward to cook on the boat - well that's our excuse :-)


Fans of Distant Shores
The atmosphere in the boat yard is super nice since there are lots of other international cruising sailors here preparing for a season in the Med or getting ready for a transatlantic passage like us. The other day a young Russian couple stopped by the boat to say hello. They had been watching Distant Shores in Russia where it airs on Travel Channel as inspiration for their dream cruise. They have just bought a new boat and are on their way to the Greek Islands so were really surprised to see us here at the start of their adventures! Our programmes are dubbed in Russian versus subtitled so Konstantine and Anna had never heard our real voices until now. We have also met Distant Shores fans here from Belgium and South Africa. It is so nice for us to learn that so many people around the world enjoy our TV programmes!

Launched on Saturday
By the end of the week we'd completed all the jobs we needed to do out of the water - grease the AutoProp feathering propellor and add a new thruhull for the watermaker we're planning to add later for remote cruising in the tropics - so launched on Saturday morning. Wow! It feels good to be back in the water and floating again! It's much cooler too so we've enjoyed cooking on board again and eating out in the cockpit in the shade of the bimini.


Where We're Going
The mast was down for most of the summer while we travelled south the canals of France which have very low bridges. The mast is now back up and we are checking and re-tuning the rigging, putting the sails back on, and generally getting the boat back in shape for all the passage-making we'll be doing over the next few months as we leave the Med to cruise the Canary Islands and then do a transatlantic passage to the Caribbean.

This Coming Week
All going well, we'll stay at the quay here at the Navy Service boat yard until Tuesday morning when we'll head west down the French coast for a 50 mile shake-down sail to Port Camargue, one of Europe's largest marinas with berths for 4,800 boats and all services. Should be interesting! Our friends from Warrior, the Dunkirk Little Ship featured in our first 2 shows about France, are there so we'll be having a rendezvous with them. There's a Mistral (gale from the north) forecast for Wednesday night until Saturday so Port Camargue will probably as far as we'll get this week but at least we'll have moved on and we will be in a good place to fix any problems that arise from our shake-down sail.

We'll try and write when we can. We're also posting stuff on the Distant Shores website, Facebook and Twitter.

Have a great week everyone!

Sheryl and Paul
Aboard SY Distant Shores II

Voyage through the French Canals May to July, 2012

August 12, 2012

Voyage through the French Canals May 13 to July 21, 2012
1 Paul with Wine2

Hello Everyone,

The Distant Shores Season 9 voyage will take us from England through France to the Mediterranean, then transatlantic to the Caribbean for Christmas 2012. We have now completed Leg One – a fantastic 10-week trip through the French Canals!
2 Chi Harbour
We began the season in Chichester Harbour on the South coast of England where we had stored the boat for the winter at the yard at Northshore Yachts.

On May 13 we set sail for France from there with light winds for a gentle sail across the English Channel to the large commercial and recreational port of Le Harve on the north coast of France.
4 Channel to Le Harve
From Le Harve we travelled all the way through the country on inland waterways to Port St. Louis on the south coast.
5 Boat in beau place
During the 10-week voyage we travelled 1,344 km or 726 nautical miles (835 statute miles), negotiated 179 locks, and crossed 3 amazing aqueducts.
6 Aqueduct Briare 21a
Routes and Resources
There are 8,000 km of navigable waterways in France so there are numerous options for routes to the Mediterranean from the north coast of France. A good online resource is the website Aboard in France
We referred to this website extensively for determining what the route options are and which ones were best for us taking into account our starting location, our boat (considering depth, air draft, width and length overall) and our schedule.

Cruising Association (CA) based in the UK and the Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA) based in the USA have good reference guides and cruiser updates in bulletins/forums.

The CA has a special publication called “Cruising the Inland Waterways of France and Belgium” written by members which is great. (You need to be a member to purchase but membership is worth it.) We downloaded it as a pdf onto our iPad. We also purchased a pdf version of the
Aboard in France website for our iPad. Both were excellent searchable guides to use in the cockpit while en route.

We're using more ebook versions of cruising guides these days. They're searchable, less expensive, take up less space, and reduce weight onboard.

The series of chartbooks/guides we and most boaters use are Fluviacarte guides to navigation which you can order online through the Aboard in France website under the Resources section All information is given in French, English and German in each guide.

Books we used were:
“Inland Waterways of France” 8th edition, by David Edwards-May, Imray Pilot Guide
ISBN 9781846230141

“Cruising French Waterways” 4th edition, by Hugh McKnight, Sheridan House
ISBN 1-57409-210-3

“Through the French Canals” 11th edition, by David Jefferson, Sheridan House
ISBN 1-57409-233-2

Here's a brief summary of the route we took:

Canal table
7 Boat stuffed in lock
Preparing Your boat for the French Canals
Paul has written several New Boat Blogs about setting up the boat with fender boards and fenders and options for taking your mast down so I'll direct you there for this technical information.

8 Boat grey day
We had a mixture of very wet weather and lovely sunny spring days in May and early June but after spending previous summers in the cold wet climes of Ireland, Scotland and Scandinavian countries we were so happy to be warm that we didn't mind the rain!

Late June and July, as we moved further south and were further inland away from the cooling effects of the sea, we had quite hot weather – up to 32ºC (90ºF) – but we didn't dare complain about the heat after moaning about the cold wet weather we had experienced in the UK and Scandinavia the previous summers. Here's a link to average temperatures and precipitation for various cities in France:,Paris,France

10 P in fleece
A very enjoyable aspect of travelling through the canals with regard to weather is that no matter how wet or windy conditions become, you are very protected in the canals. There is no danger of big seas so you are rarely held up for bad weather.
11 us alone in canals
When to Go
The spring shoulder season was a good time to be in the canals since there weren't a lot of recreational boats. We mostly went through the locks on our own during the first part of the trip. Once school got out, traffic really built up in the smaller canals with charter boats and summer vacationers. This meant lock delays and a high percentage of inexperienced boaters on the canals. However, with patience and awareness and being careful to give everyone lots of space and encouragement, this didn't at all affect our enjoyment of the voyage in high season.
12 forest halte
Hiring/Chartering a Boat in the French Canals
Hiring/chartering a boat is a wonderful way for people to be introduced to the joys of the boating life and we definitely are great supporters of this! There are a variety of styles and sizes available in various locations throughout France as well as hotel barges with captain and crew. For more information check out

In my next newsletters I'll write more about details and highlights of each section of the trip through the French Canals.

Hope you're having a great summer!

Sheryl and Paul Shard
SY Distant Shores II

Season 9 - All 13 Shows available now for HD Download

Join global adventurers, Paul and Sheryl Shard, on one of their most diverse voyages ever starting with small historic canals, a Mediterranean cruise, a transatlantic passage and island-hopping in the Caribbean. The voyage begins on the north coast of France as they sail up the River Seine to Paris then transit the inland waterways through wine country south to the Mediterranean Sea. Leaving the Med they sail out into the Atlantic Ocean down the coast of Morocco to Rabat to explore the charms of this medieval port as well as Fez. Then offshore passages begin as the Shards sail out into the Atlantic to the Canary Islands which becomes the jumping off point for a transatlantic crossing where they join the Atlantic Rally for Cruising Sailors (ARC). 2800 nm later they arrive in St Lucia and begin a winter sailing to tropical Caribbean Isles. Includes the British Virgin Islands, a voyage to Saint Martin for Carnival, lush Dominica and dealing with a tropical storm in Martinique.
The season includes 13 Episodes.
Season 9 - Visit the Page on Vimeo for HD Digital Downloads


Aqueduct Crossing - Briare France

Today we crossed the aqueduct across the Loire River. Amazing construction over 100 years old takes the boat right across the wide Loire River valley. Designed by Eiffel (of the tower fame) it eliminated the need to unload barges to cross the Loire river and joined the two canals on either side.

It is very strange to be so far up in the air in your boat!

Not much clearance - the aqueduct is 6.2 meters wide. I was worried it might be hard to keep the boat centred but it wasn't difficult. Crosswinds are a concern and we wouldn’t go if winds were high. We have been getting better at close quarters handling. The wind makes it more difficult but you do need to have the boat well protected by fenders anyway. I did a blog on our fendering system and so far that has been good. We spent about another $200 on extra fenders plus the boards as "insurance".

You look down the canal to see if anyone has started in from the other end then you head out. Obviously there is no room to pass on the bridge.

Sheryl took the tripod and HD Video camera down to get shots from the river bank.

Its was the longest aqueduct in the world for over 100 years - over 600 meters long. In 2003 it was eclipsed by the Magdeburg water bridge in Germany at over 900 meters long.

Why would Eiffel make the entry point so narrow. It it just 5.2 meters but the aqueduct is 6.2. It makes it difficult to get started. But once underway it was quite simple - and a big thrill!!

Th nearby town of Briare is very nice as well!

Best regards

Paul & Sheryl
SV Distant Shores II
Briare France


Paris via the Seine - Cruising France

Coming up the Seine and entering Paris - It is a great thrill for sure to sail one's own boat into this magic city. It took us over a week but we stopped along the way. The weather has been perfect these last few days and we have just tied up in the Arsenal Basin right at the Bastille in the centre of the city. We will stay a few days and film for the Distant Shores TV show of course!

Best regards

Paul & Sheryl
SV Distant Shores II
Arsenal Basin - Bastille - Paris

Up the Seine
The seine is tidal until up past Rouen. Tides flow up to and above 3 knots and tides of a few meters make anchoring and mooring difficult. This part will be our last couple of days with the tides to contend with.

Then we lock through into the Canalized Seine river. There is still a strong current - we saw 2 knots and sometimes 3 knots...

Passing Chateau Gaillard
Richard the Lionhearted built this castle to defend against the French... Normandy was controlled by England at the time.

Not the most direct route
The Seine winds quite a bit from the sea at Le Havre up to Paris... luckily we had gorgeous weather. You can do cruises on this river and we passed quite a few large river cruisers (100 pax)

Entering Paris
Wow - from your own yacht entering Paris you see the Eiffel Tower for the first time!

Paul is obviously so excited!


Sheryl and Paul Shard
SY Distant Shores II


Crew Changes at Distant Shores & Upcoming Cruise of French Canals

April 24, 2012

Crew Changes at Distant Shores & Upcoming Cruise of French Canals

Welcome Spring! The vernal equinox has passed and everything in nature is moving towards renewal and change. What fresh new ideas and projects do you have on the go? What new things are happening (or do you want to happen) in your life right now? Such are the questions I find myself asking at this time of year as Paul and I are making plans for upcoming voyages and new episodes of the Distant Shores sailing TV and DVD series. And by the way, we enjoy receiving news and photos from you about your sailing plans through the Distant Shores website or Distant Shores TV Show Facebook page. Thanks for sending.

Lots of new things are happening with us this spring and our first news is that we've had some crew changes on the Distant Shores team:

Jill Schaffner
(For many years Jill Schaffner has been managing the Shard Multimedia office answering your calls and e-mails while we're immersed in filming or at sea, fulfilling your DVD orders, serving as a liaison with broadcasters and members of the media, assisting with line producing, doing the books and handling the day-to-day administration required in the smooth operation of a television production studio. Having just moved to a beautiful new home in the heart of recreational boating country in Ontario's Lake Country, Jill has decided it's time to make the move to semi-retirement so that she has more time to spend with family and friends. She is still on the Distant Shores team, however, handling bookkeeping and other administrative tasks on a part-time basis and serves as an advisor to new crew members. Jill and her husband, Peter, both avid sailors, joined us aboard Distant Shores II in Scotland this past summer for a trip through the Firth of Clyde and Crinan Canal then up the coast to Oban so you'll see them in the Crinan Canal episode which is one of the new episodes in Distant Shores Season 8. Thank you, Jill, for all your hard work, patience, diplomacy, charm and dedication over the years.

Dawn Cox
We'd like to introduce you to Dawn Cox, our new office manager who will be taking over the day-to-day operations at Shard Multimedia. Besides bringing many years of office and management experience to Shard Multimedia we're delighted to tell you that Dawn and her husband Phil are avid boaters and anglers. Every day that it's physically possible to be on the water, Dawn and Phil are out on Lake Simcoe and the Trent-Severn Waterway (Ontario, Canada) aboard "Recluse", their Chaparral SSi 215 powerboat. So now both Power and Sail are represented on the Distant Shores team! But Dawn and Phil are good sailors too. They sailed with us in the BVI for a week aboard our first Southerly sailboat, the 42-footer, Distant Shores. Dawn and Phil's love of boating is shared by their children as well. Son, Zeke, and daughter-in-law Jaime, own and operate Brennan Marine in Gananoque, Ontario, Canada. Welcome aboard, Dawn!

Tony Cook

We'd also like to take this opportunity to thank Tony Cook of who for many years has been webmaster for the Distant Shores website. Tony, like the rest of the Distant Shores team, is a very keen boater and he and his wife Annie, are especially dedicated to boating safety education. They both are active members of the Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons. Over the years they have served on the Bridge of the Toronto Squadron and York West District and are currently National Officers. Tony is the National Communications Officer and Annie is National Recording Secretary and the Chair of the 2013 Annual Conference committee and AGM which will be held in Toronto. Tony is a man of many talents. Besides his passion for boating and skills as a journalist and webmaster, Tony also has a passion for art and he paints magnificent watercolours. Tony has decided to focus his attention on his painting so has closed down since he is now involved in many art shows displaying his work and working in his studio creating new works of art to keep up with demand. We wish Tony all the very best with this exciting new venture! You can see samples of Tony's paintings as well as learn about upcoming art shows in the Toronto area where you can view and buy his beautiful watercolours at

Follow us on Twitter
Another new thing for spring is that we are now on Twitter and are sending out daily Tweets with helpful information about cruising, boating safety and equipment, and travelling. Starting on May 1st we will be back on board our Southerly 49 sailboat, Distant Shores II, in England preparing to cross the English Channel to France heading south through the canals to the Mediterranean so will be sending out daily (when possible) Tweets about what's happening on the voyage. Follow us @DistantShoresTV and please re-tweet any messages you think your friends would find helpful. Thanks for helping us to build our following!

Cruising the French Canals this Summer
The biggest “what's new this Spring?” is that we are beginning new sailing adventures starting on May 1st when we return to Distant Shores II where she has been stored in the yard at Northshore Yachts on Chichester Harbour in England for the winter. We'll spend about 10 days in the area preparing the boat for her summer cruise to France and when the weather looks good will cross the English Channel to Le Harve on the north coast of France.

(This is a Photoshop extrapolation of what it WIL LOOK like...)
Our plan is to travel the inland waterways from there to Paris and all the way south to the Mediterranean coast travelling through delightful and historic countryside while we do. This will definitely be a delicious cruise since we're travelling through wine and cheese country! Food is definitely going to be highlight but we've planned lots of walking and cycling along the canals as well to keep the calories in check.

We will take the mast down at Le Harve and have it stored rather than carry it on deck through the canals and then it will be shipped to us on a truck when we get to the south coast. Over the years, we've made transits through many canals with the mast on deck and it makes manoeuvering awkward so on this canal trip we're not going to carry it. We'll write more at the time about how we've arranged this, what the cost is and how it all works out.

Our route plan is to go south through the River Sein to Paris, then down the Nivernais Canal to eventually meet up with the Rhone River which we will take all the way south to the Mediterranean coast. However, due to a lack of rain, we've learned that the Nivernais Canal is experiencing very low water levels so, depending on conditions at the time of our arrival, we may have to go to Plan B and take the Marne Soane route to the Rhone.

Here is a map showing the two possible routes.

We'll be posting blogs on the website and updates on Facebook and Twitter throughout the trip and invite you to share in the adventure!

Well, we must get back to packing. The next post you receive from us will be from England.

Until then,

Sheryl and Paul Shard
SY Distant Shores II

Sailing in Ireland & St Patrick's Day

March 17 is St. Patrick's Day so I've been thinking about last summer's cruise to Ireland.

My maternal grandparents immigrated to Canada from Ireland before my mother was born. I still have relatives in Northern Ireland, who we keep in touch with, and Paul and I had nice visits with them while we were in Bangor, near Belfast. They were quite surprised that their Canadian cousin sailed over in a 49-foot sailboat to see them!

Sheryl with cousins, Drew, Mary and Robin Carlisle

Arriving by sailboat was a very special way to visit the homeland of my grandparents. They lived and worked in many different places in both the north and south of Ireland so it was fun to travel along the coast of the Irish Sea and stop by to see those places and imagine my grandparents as young people with hopes and dreams for the future.

Paul at the helm in the estuary at Waterford on the southeast coast of Ireland

Although Nana and Papa embraced their new life in Canada they never lost their love of “the old country” and my childhood with them was filled with Irish stories and songs as well as good Irish food. So in celebration of St. Patrick's Day (when everyone can be Irish for a day!) I'm sharing my grandmother's recipe for Traditional Irish Stew. It's not only a great meal to enjoy on St. Patrick's Day, but good anytime you need a simple comforting warm meal. It's especially good on the boat when cold weather cruising!

Traditional Irish Stew

Ireland's national dish is traditionally made with mutton (less tender sheep over two years of age which has a stronger flavour than lamb) but lamb is what Nana always used. You can also make this recipe with beef if you don't like lamb or it's not available. Nana also added carrots and onions and occasionally parsnips or barley but the true traditional recipe is said to be with mutton (probably neck bones, shanks and trimmings) and potatoes only. I think this hearty peasant dish was made with whatever affordable local ingredients were available at the time so feel free to be creative. Root vegetables add flavour and nutrition plus thickens the stew as well.

  • 1-2 tablespoons of oil for browning meat.
  • 2 lbs boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces or as you prefer.
  • 1 large onion roughly chopped.
  • 2 carrots peeled and cut into large chunks.
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and cut into large chunks (optional).
  • 3- 4 potatoes depending on size and preference.
  • 3-4 cups of water or beef stock, enough to cover meat and vegetables while simmering.
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Herbs of your liking such as thyme, rosemary, etc.
  • Fresh parsley chopped for garnish
Heat the oven to 350F/180C/Gas 4
  1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large frying pan or Dutch oven. Add half the lamb pieces and cook, stirring gently, until evenly browned all over. Season with salt and pepper. Remove, repeat with remaining half of meat. If using a frying pan move half the cooked meat into a casserole dish and layer with half the vegetables. If using a Dutch Over return meat to the Dutch Oven in the same fashion layering with the vegetables.
  2. Stir in enough water or broth to cover the meat and vegetables saving any additional liquid to add to the stew while cooking to keep it covered. Cover the casserole or Dutch Oven with a tight fitting lid and cook for about 2 hours or more in the oven or until meat is tender. If using a Dutch Oven you can also cook this on the stove top by bringing to a boil then simmering at low temperature for an hour or more which is faster. A pressure cooker speeds up the process even more if cooking onboard. At home you can simmer it all day in a slow-cooker. Just make sure the meat and vegetables are cooked through. If you don’t like your vegetables mushy, you can add them half-way through cooking.
  3. When everything’s cooked but if stew seems too liquidy, leave lid off for a while and continue simmering.
  4. Serve piping hot in bowls garnished with fresh parsley.

Our cruise of Ireland

Paul and I began our cruise in Ireland on the southeast coast in Waterford and New Ross where we received a warm welcome from harbourmaster, John Dimond, and the New Ross Boat Club, and explored some of the Barrow Navigation with local power boater, Marty Murphy. Click here to see a Sneak Peek video clip of this from episode #92.

Here is an excerpt from the new Season 8 where we started north from England and sailed to Ireland. At New Ross we were befriended by local boaters and did a day trip on the Barrow. Then some good “craic” at the boat club!

Travelling the Barrow Navigation, one of Ireland’s inland waterways, with local boater, Marty Murphy

Hook Lighthouse at the entrance to Waterford Harbour, one of the world’s oldest lighthouses.

We then sailed north to Kilmore Quay and into the Irish Sea sailing to Arklow before arriving in Dublin where we stayed at the Dun Laoghaire Marina in Dublin Bay, our base while exploring Ireland's the capital city of Dublin. We were held up there for a week at the end of May during the worst gale of the summer.

Sheryl exploring the old district of Temple Bar in Dublin, Ireland’s capital city.

While we were in Dublin waiting out a gale Queen Elizabeth and USA President Obama came to town so security was high.

Next we sailed to Carlingford Lough, a large sea inlet or fjord, a former Viking harbour, which marks the border with Northern Ireland which is one of the four countries of the U.K along with Scotland, Wales, and England. The Republic of Ireland is a separate sovereign nation not part of the UK.

A chilly summer. Sheryl at the helm in Carlingford Lough in Ireland in June.

Carlingford Lough is a mini-cruising ground and we had great fun with local boaters from the Carlingford Marina and Carlingford Sailing Club who included us in pub crawls, hillwalking and club suppers.

From there we continued north to Northern Ireland where we stayed at the marina in Bangor near Belfast for family reunions and a visit to the Titanic Exhibition at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum The ship was built in Belfast and, as the locals say, “She was all right when she left here!” April 15, 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the tragic sinking of the Titanic. As a legacy many of the safety regulations brought in after the disaster such as the required monitoring of specific VHF radio channels allow us to have safe experiences while travelling the high seas.

More family get-togethers with the Hobson cousins Evan, Robin & Simon

Paul also made many posts about this cruise on the Distant Shores TV show Facebook page throughout the summer.

More News

In parting we wish you a Happy St. Patrick's Day and
For sunlight after showers―
Miles and miles of Irish smiles
For golden happy hours―
Shamrocks at your doorway
For luck and laughter too,
And a host of friends that never ends
Each day your whole life through!
Irish Wish for a Friend

Sheryl and Paul Shard
SV Distant Shores II
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Boat Show Season

The Cold months of winter are a great time to dream about the boating season ahead and attending one of the many boat shows happening during the winter months is a great way to cure the winter blues.

Paul and I recently attended the Toronto International Boat Show where we conducted seminars on the first weekend about "Sailing to Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea". Using excerpts from the Distant Shores Season 7 DVDs we talked about preparing and equipping the boat for this voyage, route planning, favourite destinations, provisioning, costs, and tips on cool weather cruising. If you haven't seen the 13 episodes in Distant Shores season 7 they are available on our secure online store on DVD.

We also wrote an article about our voyage to the Baltic Sea that's in the February 2012 issue of Canadian Yachting magazine. You can read it online at

It was a real pleasure to meet up with friends and fans of the Distant Shores TV series and to hear their comments and ideas about the shows. Dave and MaryLou flew from the Maritimes to attend our seminar and see the boat show.

Many new viewers in Canada have been discovering the Distant Shores TV series since it is now broadcast daily Monday to Friday across Canada on Travel and Escape channel at 6 PM ET / 3 PM PT. It's also on at 6:30 AM, 9:30 AM, and 12:30 ET. To find the channel that it airs on see

It was also great to meet up with fellow seminar leaders at the Toronto Boat Show and, as we plan for future voyages, attend some of their presentations to learn about the cruising grounds that they are experts in . This year friends John Neal and Amanda Swan Neal presented at the Toronto International Boat Show for the first time.

 We met this dynamic duo many years ago at the Strictly Sail Chicago show and have followed their global adventures ever since. John and Amanda operate Mahina Expeditions, serious offshore sail training voyages in exotic locations, and also conduct information-loaded seminars on various topics at boat shows all around North America.We attended their "sailing the South Pacific" seminar as we are planning a Pacific voyage in a couple of years time. Very inspiring! Check out their website for more information on their books, manuals, upcoming seminars and voyages.

And of course the boat show is a wonderful place to check out the latest equipment available to add to your boating safety, comfort and fun!

We spent a lot of time at the Raymarine booth talking to Jeff Fink and Robert Barkley of CMC Electronics, the Canadian distributor of Raymarine equipment.

The new thermal marine scopes are fascinating tools for improving night vision and they have handheld versions. Cool! The photo above shows what you see on the screen.

And we also liked the new remote for connecting your iPhone or iPad to the system. See the Raymarine website for more on this and other great gadgets.

We also dropped by the ICOM---- booth to learn more about what's happening with radio. We'll be installing an ICOM 802 on our Southerly 49, Distant Shores II, for our upcoming transatlantic passage.

Happy dreaming this winter!

Sheryl and Paul Shard
Distant Shores II