One year out …

It is one year since Otra Vida left Saaremaa, Estonia, and although we are not on board at present (we´re in the mountains of Bolivia) it seems an appropriate time to reflect on the last year of sailing.

The year in numbers
  • Latitude: 58N to 7S
  • Longitude: 22E to 34W
  • Countries visited with Otra Vida: 13 (Estonia, Sweden, Denmark, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Wales, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Canary Islands(*), Cape Verdes, Brazil). 
  • Highest elevation: 4067m (Jebel Toubkal, Morocco).
  • Lowest elevation: a few metres below sea level, scrubbing Otra Vida´s hull
  • Actual distance travelled by boat: 7384nm
  • Fastest speed over ground: 11.3kts, Islay, Scotland
  • Engine hours: 781
  • Fuel used: 1490l
  • Estimated distance under engine (i.e. excluding charging): 3200nm
  • Percent of distance travelled under engine: 43% (dreadful)
  • Mainsail seams ripped: 2
  • Anchors lost: 1
  • Times ran aground: 0
  • Times anchor dragged: 1 (Las Palmas, Gran Canaria)
  • Coldest water swum in: 13C, Loch Ness, July
  • Fish caught: 1 (a bonito in southern Portugal)
  • Bottles of Laphroaig drunk: 3  (only because we haven´t found more of it)
  • Cockroaches discovered on board: thankfully just 1, in March, so I think we are OK


The sailing separates into two parts.  The first part, from Estonia to the Canaries, was characterised largely by either no wind (meaning motoring) or wind strongly against us (meaning we stayed in port).  Most of our motoring was done during this period.  The second part began with our arrival in the Canaries just after New Year.  The wind was mostly favourable from then on, so we sailed almost all the time and motored little.

Memorable anchorages

Loch A´Choire
  • Santa Luzia, Cape Verde Islands
  • Ensenada de Barra, Ria de Vigo, Spain
  • Ilha da Culatra, Faro, Portugal
  • Loch A’Choire, Scotland
  • Vueltas, La Gomera, Canary Islands
  • Enseada de Baleeira, Cabo de Sao Vicente, Portugal
  • Cedeira, Galicia, Spain
  • The Caledonian Canal, Scotland.  The whole canal is a delight.

Memorable mountains
  • Our highest elevation this year was Jebel Toubkal in Morocco, at 4167m.   This is the third time I have been in the High Atlas, and each time I said I wanted to spend more time in Morocco and do more hiking there.  Next time perhaps …
  • Dreamy days hiking the ravines and valleys of La Gomera in spring sunshine.  Stunning.
  • Scrambling up the north ridge of Tryfan, North Wales.
  • Pico de Fogo, Cape Verde Islands.

Memorable food experiences

  • The best meal in the last year, by far, was lunch at Aponiente in El Puerto de Santa Maria, Spain.  Once again demonstrating that some of the most innovative food in the world originates in Spain, we had their degustation menu which featured plankton as a recurring ingredient.  It was accompanied entirely by different sherries, a feat I would have through impossible had I not experienced it first hand.  One of the top 10 meals of my life.
  • A tiny stand in the market of Sale, Morocco, serving grilled merguez in fresh Moroccan bread with salad and chilli sauce.  So good.
  • A small bar in Cedeira, Galicia, serving fried fish and seafood, washed down with local white wine.  A lovely lunchtime treat.
  • Avocado and pistachio smoothies for breakfast in Morocco.
  • Delicious traditional Massada (fish stew) in Lisbon.
  • Quiejo de Serra, a runny cheese with a rind wrapped in cloth, in Portugal.
  • Worst cocktail: equator crossing cocktail of rum, lime, seawater and Sargasso seaweed.

(*) Yes, I do know that the Canary Islands are part of Spain, but they are sorta kinda a separate country.  The question of how to count countries could be mildly interesting if one had run out of more worthwhile things to think about … e.g. is French Guiana a country?  Technically not, as it is a department of France.  However I would count it as one.

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