The following pages chronicle the journey of the sailing vessel Pelagic and her crew. We are a family of 5; Michael, Amy, Zander, Porter and Anakena, taking our 42' Hallberg Rassy as far as we can comfortably go in three years. We left Oregon in September 2014, participated in the 2014 Baja Haha, continued on through the Panama Canal, into the Caribbean, up the coast of the US to Maritime Canada and from there crossed the Atlantic. After an arrival in Ireland we toured Scotland, then sailed down to France, Portugal and on to Morocco. In January of 2016 we slowed down considerably and enrolled the kids in a local Spanish school in Sanlucar de Guadiana for a few months. In the spring of 2016 we crossed the Atlantic towards the Caribbean. We are now in the Pacific, officially on our way home, albeit via a very circuitous path. We are currently in French Polynesia and looking at weather windows to Hawaii before finally making landfall back in the Pacific Northwest.

Currently our exact location is not available. Our spot coverage will pick us back up in Hawaii towards the end of May, 2017.

Our favorite sailing quote:

"If anythings gonna happen, it's gonna happen out there boss!" Captain Ron






Sunday, December 6, 2015

Morocco December 3

Week one in Morocco.  One word......awesome!  OK, many words; beautiful, frenzied, raucous, stimulating, colorful, fragrant and home to the friendliest people ever and simply spectacular!  To say the old city centers, medinas, of Tangier and Merrakech are impressive is an understatement.  It is more like they are alive!  They are a labyrinth of passageways, some just large enough to walk through.  In just slightly larger passageways merchants lay out there wares, shoppers peruse and bikers and moped riders seem to move seamlessly in some  pre-orchestrated dance.  Why there aren’t more accidents amazes me.  We seemed to always be in the way.  Fanatical jihadist were the furthest thing from my mind, not getting hit by a speeding grandma in a burka on a moped was an ever present possibility it seemed (how’s their peripheral vision in those things anyway?). 

After leaving the boat in Marina Smir near M’Diq on the Mediterranean side (yes, there were many jokes about the name, most coming from the very immature adults on the boat).  We spent a whole day in Tangiers because we wanted to get there early to book the overnight train to Marrakesh. The guidebook makes Tangiers sound like a nightmare with ferry loads of tourists coming over from Spain to buy cheap goods and set a foot on the African continent, so our expectations were low.  We were expecting to get a bit hassled, but instead we were pleasantly delighted with the town.  It is the off season, and maybe tourism is down due to the current world affairs, but we didn’t see a single tourist the whole day.  We browsed through antique stores, wandered through the maze of city streets and had our first tastes of savory Moroccan food. Sure, there were a few “aggressive” sales-men, but most were pleasant and very engaging with friendly banter.  Moroccans love kids and ours appear to be little ambassadors traveling with us. We never felt hassled.

The night train in a sleeper car was a first for the kids and I.  While not the Blue Train of South Africa, it was comfortable and we slept well.  We awoke to a brilliant African sunrise coming up over the foothills of the Atlas Mountains.  Refreshed, we had a great day exploring Marrakesh.  Words cannot convey the complexity and the enormousness of the Marrakesh Medina.  It is a maze to end all mazes and you just get pushed along with the flow of humanity, passing souqs (colorful markets) full of everything you can imagine from leather wares to exotic spices to pet chameleons.  Occasionally we’d get expelled from the river of people and get to rest in a hidden square with a cup of sweet mint tea only later to plunge back into the mass again if we eventually wanted to get back to our riad (old mansion converted into a guest house in the old part of town).  I can’t describe it other than to say it felt alive and pulsating with energy.  In the large square we had fresh squeezed fruit drinks for $.30, watched snake charmers......charm and musicians jam.  I had boat cards with contact information in all the kids’ pockets, strict instructions “in the event of separation” and a death grip on Ana’s hand.  You don’t just visit Marrakesh, you experience it!  The energy was amazing, but we were exhausted by the end of the first day.  After the first day we got the hang of how things worked and were able to relax a little.  At some point we realized we had been there too long when Ana didn't even flinch when a snake charmer tried to drape, yet another snake, around her shoulders.

Along with experiencing Marrakesh, we took a tour out to the edge of the Saharan Desert.  We joked that nothing the tour guide promised us came true, but it was one of those adventures that we ended up enjoying in the end and in a few weeks we will have a completely different description of.  The 3 hour ride turned into 6, but it was through the Atlas Mountains and beautiful.  None of the included guides at stops along the way were actually “included” and our group had to pay for additional guides.  The hour sunset camel ride to our tents in the Sahara was really a 20 minute ride in the dark to our camp still within sight of the lights of the road.  It literally was the edge of the Sahara, not the big towering peaks we were expecting.  That said, camel riding is, as it turns out, really, really uncomfortable and 20 minutes was fine for most of us.  The sound dunes were small, but sandy and we had sand everywhere!  You can get upset about the inaccuracies, or you can embrace the awesomeness of what you still have.  We decided to embrace it! We watched the moon come up over the smallish dunes, reclined out on rugs around the fire to listen to our guides sing traditional songs and slept in Berber tents under thick wool blankets.   A full breakfast was actually a hunk of bread with some paste (maybe camel butter, maybe rancid margarine), and sweetened mint tea minus the mint and sugar!  Z was not happy, but we scrounged through our packs and ate a few pistachios and dates we had from the day before and survived until lunch.  On the way back we stopped at a few villages, wandered around some viewpoints in the mountains and unsuccessfully looked for geodes during breaks from the van.  It was an adventure!

Back in Marrakesh we split up and Mike took the boys and bartered for antiques with a variety of merchants and apparently he “bargains like a Berber”, or so he was told on more than one occasion Porter later confided to me.  Ana and I did some X-mas shopping and brought home some treasures of our own.  

One of the things the Atlas Mountains are known for is their trekking.  My only disappointment in visiting this part of Morocco was not getting to do some real trekking.  We did a few short walks into the hills during our tour, but we just weren’t prepared to do any of the big hikes.  They have fantastic multi day treks that would have been fun to do.  Another day, another trip......

While driving through the Mountains life looks like it hasn’t changed in the last 2000 years.  We passed shepherds guarding their flocks as they have for thousands of years.  We saw adobe villages that, with the exception, of a few lightbulbs have not changed in a thousand years.  Driving down from the mountains there were aqueducts that moved high mountain snow melt down hundreds of miles to the dry land near the desert.  Small houses clustered around oases’s in the valley overflowing with date palms and citrus laden trees.  There were fruit trees here and there, but I never saw huge grooves of trees, yet the markets were overflowing with produce that was all local in origin.  I don’t know where it all came from, but we bought clementines, navel oranges, pomegranates and dates for next to nothing.  Everything in the markets looked so fresh and tasty.  

After a few days in the interior it was back on the train, back to the boat and a few days of catching up on homework and boat chores.  The boat was filthy from the desert sands being blown across the continent to the coast.  Mike has been busy watching u-tube videos about changing regs between propane and butane tanks (apparently they use different regulators in Europe and it is harder than it seems to convert between the two systems) and he is a wealth of information that he loves to share about freezing points, and PSI standards on different gases used for heating.  Thrilling! 


We will spend a few days here on the coast, checking out the less touristy towns and then head back to Gibraltar. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Morocco

A few pics of our stay in Morocco.  We didn't take our big camera into Morocco since we were traveling by train and only carrying backpacks.  In fact most of our pictures have been taken with iPhones lately.  Obviously the pictures are not quite as good, but I find that I miss magical moments when I am trying to get the best photo.  You almost need to travel twice to a place.  Once to experience it, the second time to capture it on film.  Anyway, I'll write a little about our visit later, but for now enjoy the pictures.



olive stall, not a great picture, but imagine a market with 1000 stalls like this


spice stall

Atlas Mountains

deserted ancient city, now used as the backdrop for many movies; Gladiators, Indiana Jones, Cleopatra, Alexander, Game of Thrones, Jewel of the Nile among others.

kasbah


ancient adobe city
Saharan sunrise




visiting the Sahara near the Algerian border

Camel trekking into the Sahara

Camels always look so cool!
market snake charmers


The meal we had in a market stall before we got on a 10 hour, one bathroom, overnight train.  Getting brave!

getting our motor heads on

A few more from Gibraltar

upper rock ecosystem management program

we never get tired of these monkeys

walking up the old Charles V wall that protected the city from pirates before the British moved in

famous rock of Gibraltar, or Pillar of Hercules


monkey stealing out of Z's bag

back drop city of Gibraltar


one of the 34 kilometers of tunnel throughout the rock

Cadiz, Spain

Cadiz, Spain

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Bradford family 0 Barbary Apes 3

We've been enjoying our visit to Gibraltar.  Our first two days here have been spent on the upper rock checking out some of the 34 miles of tunnels that criss cross the Rock of Gibraltar, taking in the amazing views of the Straits with the Atlas Mountains in Africa in the distant haze and of course hanging out with the monkeys.  They are cheeky little guys.  We had a water bottle stolen out of a pocket on the backpack, another one jumped on top of Zander and unzipped his backpack to pull out a bag of crackers and a third pulled Ana's ponytail to keep her from assisting her brother.  She is no longer a fan, but hey, how many people can claim a monkey pulled their hair?  We are enjoying out time here while we figure out what is next.
Home in Gibraltar for the next couple of weeks

Still in the decision making process phase, but his may be home for the next 4-5 months if we stay

More of the river around Sanlucar de Guadiana

Add caption

two monkeys on a rail

Just monkeying around
sometimes they actually look like they like each other

moments after the monkey pulled her ponytail


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

November 16 weighing options

We are currently in Cadiz, Spain and trying to make plans for the next year. We have two options. One, we can sail back to Oregon via the Panama Canal and be home by July. The second option is to go back up the Guadiana River and stay over the winter. We spoke with the local school director on the Spanish side and they can admit the 3 kids for the school year. The school and village is quite small. Classes average 5-8 students and all instruction would be in Spanish. The kids are excited about it, we would be on a very calm river located between a Spanish and a Portuguese town and there is a small expat community of Dutch and English boats. The downsides are that it is a small community, remote area and it would delay our return home by another year. 
We are waiting to hear if the renters will want to stay another year (plans hinge on that decision), whether we can leave the dog another year (kids miss her, my aunt's family are probably quite tired of her), and deciding whether this is the best decision for the family.  Lots of pros and cons to weigh.  I don't want this to be one of those things we regret not doing our whole lives.  
What to do?



Sunday, November 15, 2015

November 14 Homeschooling afloat

I thought instead of doing the blow by blow of our daily adventures, I’d share some of the less glamorous aspects to this lifestyle.  The least glamorous, in my opinion, is Homeschooling.

How is the homeschooling going?

This continues to be our biggest source of stress and argument while cruising.  I continually make them (the boys in particular) do something they quite frankly don’t show a ton of interest in doing on their own.   We have changed the structure of schooling in several different ways in the hopes of maximizing their efforts while minimizing my frustration, and while we don’t have a perfect set up, the latest seems to work best for us.  Dare I say almost good? I write out a three day schedule out and they have 4 days to complete it.  And repeat. If they get it all done in 3 days, they get a 4th day mostly off (mostly because I’m often accused of finding “educational opportunities” on many off days).  Knowledge isn’t enough of an incentive, they need to be bribed with a free day.  Sometimes the free days get eaten up with a sea day, but it does lessen the pressure of schooling on the tougher sea days.  This schedule also allows the kids to have some structure which satisfies me, while also giving them some flexibility to plan their day.

Our curriculum is pieced together from several different sources: 
MATH - We use Saxon Math for math and complete 1-3 lessons at a time, depending on how much is new and how much is review.  The Math is self regulating and we probably do the best in that subject because there isn’t any room to fudge.  If they understand the concepts, we can move on quickly.  If they struggle with a concept, we work on that concept ad nauseam.  I’m good at math, so math is a subject I enjoy teaching.  

HISTORY - We have some fantastic history textbooks and we read those together and discuss.  We started with a broad focus on the history of the world and now we are studying US history, which is super fun for me, because I’m learning a lot!  This is usually an enjoyable teaching/learning experience and I’m generally happy with what they are retaining. 

LANGUAGE - Spanish is via a few apps and what they are absorbing in Spanish speaking countries.  It is fairly rudimentary at this point.  

SCIENCE - Science is more reading and discussing as a group.  We have a few citizen science projects started, so that helps with the big picture.  Zander is also doing a multi year science project where he is studying how fast tin and aluminum cans will oxidize in salt water.  We are trying to decide which is the lesser of the two evils; tossing cans overboard (legal until 2013 when offshore), or letting them sit in a landfill.  I’ve mentioned before, we have participated in some cool projects; counting sea turtles in Mexico, collecting water samples across the Atlantic and we hope to do plastic trawls when we re-cross the Atlantic for another organization.

WRITING - Writing is the most frustrating subject for me to teach.  For one, Zander is dyslexic, so he does not enjoy it at all and is not fantastic at it.  Nor am I, so that makes it more challenging.  Z’s spelling is quite abysmal and the reality is, that may never change.  I’ve read articles that say spelling tests don’t help poor spellers, they just reinforce that good spellers are good.  That doesn’t help us much, so we avoid spelling tests.  I try to go through his writing assignments and find the words he misspells repeatedly and at least work on those.  We are working on ways for him to find his own mistakes.  Dictionaries don’t really help dyslexics when they don’t even know where to start.  Counterintuitively, dyslexia is not so much a reading disorder, but an auditory processing disorder, but it manifests itself in reading and writing.  Sounds and letters are arbitrary and they just don’t make sense to the brain of a dyslexic.  That said, you can’t get through life without being a decent writer, so we focus on ways he can help himself and we keep it simple.  He’s a wicked smart kid, it sucks that he can’t always convey that on paper.  Porter on the other hand, as you can imagine, is quite creative in his writing and doesn't mind the assignments.

LIFE LEARNING - The world is our classroom approach.  Geography, world studies, religion, learning about different cultures and many other subjects are all the things we hope the kids are getting out here via osmosis.  For example they practice their flag identification when we enter a new marina and guess boat origins, we try to identify stars on night watches, we practice fish ID when we are snorkeling or fishing and we learn about different cultures simply by observing them and talking to locals.  The kids hang out with kids from different countries and get a wider understanding of the world at large (or maybe they are just discussing if the Ferrari or Porsche has the faster 0-60 speed, it's probably not all literary critiques of western authors like I imagine their conversations to be.  In fact, Porters big discovery about Scottish kids was "they sure drop the f bomb a lot.  Fantastic!).  Our hope is the worldly gains they make will far outweigh some of the setbacks they may experience in the traditional classroom when they return to that setting.  

Where did they start and where are they now?

I mentioned Zander is dyslexic and the writing is what suffers.  Fortunately, on this trip, he has really started to read for pleasure and we can only hope the more he reads the better his writing/spelling will be.  He reads 2-3 hours a day, so that has to benefit him at some point.  He was not doing that, nor do I think he would be doing that if we were at home. Zander is fantastic in math and I think we have continued to keep his forward momentum, so I’m happy with his progress.  History and Science also come pretty easy for Z as long as he doesn’t have to write about them.  His discussions are awesome and he retains more than I do about historical events.  

Since we had one dyslexic child, we were pretty worried about Porter as early as preschool.  When he didn’t show any signs of having the same disorder we were so thrilled and turns out, we may have let his studies slide a little.  I always worked in Z’s classroom because I thought he needed the help.  I helped with a lot of parties in Porter’s classroom, but didn’t really help with the academics.  When we left for our trip, Porter’s grades were average, but when I actually sat down with him and spent time on his skills, I was appalled at how poor his math skills were and how many fundamentals he was missing in the subject.  I totally take the blame.   We spent the first 6 months of our trip retracing some serious math steps, but I can happily say he is doing great now and we’ve taken some standardized tests to confirm this.  

Oh yeah, and I have a third child to teach don’t I?  Fortunately Ana also shows no signs of being dyslexic (it is hereditary, so we worried for a long time).  She is very good at math and the reading seems to be on level.  We have workbooks for her and she reads a little every day and since she is only missing kindergarten, I think she will survive without traditional school and under the Mommy influence.  She is at the point where school work is still fun, so I try to enjoy that, one of the few educational moments of Zen!

Will I continue to homeschool when we return?

Hell no!  OK, I do feel guilty admitting this, but I’m pretty sure future homeschooling is not in the cards for our family.  It is a fantastic schedule and I’m convinced you can fully keep up with traditional school in about 1/3 of the time it takes to actually attend traditional school.  Imagine the extra time for extracurricular activities, play time and/or down time?  Unfortunately I’m not sure my blood pressure would survive much more of this!  Homeschooling exhuasts me most of the time.  Some days it is so rewarding, but there are some pretty frustrating days as well and I'm not very good at balancing the two.  Maybe with one child I could do it, but juggling three is hard for me.  I’m pretty sure I made a good call not studying to be a teacher in college.  I don’t have that gene.  Some days my mantra is simply “I will not kill my kids today”.  I probably won’t have to dust off space on my shelf for my “teacher of the year” award.  That said, there are indeed, actual moments of Zen.  We get in long discussions about world affairs, historical events, scientific principals.......unfortunately most of those moments do not translate into lengthy written compositions, but learning is definitely going on.   If my kids end up living in a van down by the river, I’ll beat myself up.  If most of their future academic endeavors are a success, I’ll try to take a little credit for that as well.  

steering up the Guadiana River



Thursday, November 12, 2015

November 11

game night in the cockpit

buggy ride around Seville

watching Madrid get spanked

Cathedral in Seville

November 10 Seville and the Guadiana River

We motor sailed the 180 miles from Lisbon to the Guadiana River, forming the border between Portugal and Spain, with flat seas. Although we didn't have the best sailing conditions most of the time, we did have a fantastic night sail. A November meteorite shower lit the cloudless sky up, making the night watch very pleasant. On our previous cruise (14 years ago) Mike and I did a two hour on, two off, watch schedule. It was a brutal getting up several times a night to go on watch, but without the modern stimuli we have now, two hours was about as much as we could handle. Now we do 4 hour watches and with pod casts, music, electronic reading and the occasional movie on a calm night, the night watches are much easier this time around. Now one of us stays up until about 11pm, a pretty easy shift, we each get one tough middle of the night watch; 11pm - 3am or 3am to 7am, and then the last watch includes a lovely sunrise and a couple of daylight hours before everyone else gets up, while the person off watch can sleep as long as they need to, to catch up (or at least until the kids wake them up). It seems to work well for us. The kids seem to need more sleep at sea, so that is helpful having them sleep in. What makes up a watch you may ask? It is pretty easy. We have either an autopilot of a self steering wind vane, so we don't usually need to steer with the wheel. Most importantly we keep a look out for other traffic, monitor the radar if is foggy, watch for wind shifts and tweak sails if needed. The toughest part is keeping awake and warm. Anyway, we are happy to be back in the land of clear night watches. Having the stars for company and not having to stare at the radar makes for a much more enjoyable night watch.

We anchored about 20 river miles up the Guadiana River, half way between the two countries. We hiked up to an old castle on the Spanish side and then had ice cream over in Portugal. There is a Portuguese village on one side of the river and a Spanish town on the other. You can literally throw a rock between the two, but there is a time change and language that divides the two from each other. The second night we were in the river there was a festival on the Portuguese side that included American music, roasted chestnuts and homemade wine. It was pretty fun and most importantly we have found our first kid boat in months. Ana is in heaven with a 5 and 6 year old girl to play with. Interestingly enough we have not seen another American boat since we left Canada. We are very much enjoying the aridness of this area and it is a refreshing change from up north. The skies are clear, the air is dry, and it smells of wild rosemary and Eucalyptus.

We left the boat for one night in Ayamonte, near the mouth of the Guadiana River, to take an overnight trip to Seville. The highlight of which was probably Mike and Zander watching Seville beat Real Madrid in a 3-2 victory. We all wanted to go, but since Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably the best soccer player in the world, plays for Madrid, you almost need to take a personal loan out to watch Madrid play. Zander pooled his birthday money and Mike and I drew straws to see who would be the lucky one to take him. Considering riots can break out at these events and fans are diehard, they cheered very quietly and discretely for Madrid. No bleachers were set on fire, no fans trampled, it was a very civilized soccer game and Mike said the security was pretty efficient at keeping a buffer zone between the rivaling spectator sections. Oh yeah, and there is some culture to be seen in Madrid as well. Although, the kids are getting a little tired of culture. Another amazing cathedral, another palace another tomb. This time it was the largest church in the world; Santa Maria de la Sede, which houses the tomb of Christopher Columbus. There are some doubts as to the authenticity of the claim of holding the remains of the great explorer ("great" depending on your perspective)and there are two other churches in the world that make a similar claim. Mike continues to attempts to light the fire of interest in art and architecture of the middle ages in the boys, but I'm not sure how much sinks in. They are more interested in the sword shops, the military museums and the battle sites. My personal favorite was seeing every street in Seville lined with orange trees. This Alaska girl will never tire of fruit trees!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

November 5

We will be leaving the Lisbon area this afternoon and if the weather cooperates our next port will be a Spanish port.  Portugal looks so small on a map, but when you have to dash between weather windows, it can take quite a while to get around.  We are still about 180 miles from the border.

Another Birthday at sea

Is it sad that one of the highlights of my day was seeing all my Facebook birthday wishes?  I sure miss my friends about now!  One of the things we have always loved about cruising before, was meeting all the wonderful cruising boats.  There is an instant camaraderie with most other cruisers and we love meeting up with them and seeing them again in a future port.  Unfortunately, we haven’t seen many other cruisers since we’ve left the Caribbean.  We’ve met some fantastic locals in Canada, and cruising the UK, but its not the same.  For the last week or so we have been buddy boating with a Dutch and Norwegian boat and just that little bit of socializing is a nice reminder of what it will be like as we get further south.  And, it isn’t all about cocktails in the cockpit!  We call each other on the radio during passages, check on each others status on the AIS, compare notes on gear and weather. We share cabs, spare parts and information and of course enjoy time in port. Buddy boating offers a little security and in general it is a refreshing change from the feeling of being all alone out here.  Anyway, it has been awhile since we’ve had that.  It has been even longer since we’ve seen a cruising boat with kids, Cuba in fact, so we are very much looking forward to catching up with some of the fleet....maybe in Morocco or the Canaries.  We did have a fantastic month of July in Maine, socializing with many of the fantastic Birch Island families and individuals.  In 15 years of marriage, buying the cottage on Birch Island is the only thing I truly give Mike credit for doing without my approval!  He took a chance, bought a run down cottage on an island off the coast of Maine, against all my better judgement, and we then proceeded to meet some of the most incredible people on the planet.  The house is looking better, but more important than that, the friendships we have made are priceless and we really treasure our friends there.  Since we have rented the cottage to a lovely family for three years, it was a great treat to anchor off the coast this past July and still see friends there.  
OK, where was I going with all this? Fast forward to November and I really miss family and friends!  We’ve seen so many wonderful places and had so many wonderful experiences......but it is a treat to get an email or to see a familiar face on FB and feel some connection back to our old lives. 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween

I wrote my last post as if we had left Porto.  We expected to leave yesterday, then today, and now it will most likely be pushed back until tomorrow.  Weather is still strong out there and they have not opened the river bar.
In expectation to our departure, we celebrated Halloween a day early.  Although celebrate is a relative term.  Halloween is not a big deal here, so the kids were bummed about no trick or treating.  Last year we trick or treated the other Haha boats in Turtle Bay and that was a huge hit.  This year they settled for a scavenger hunt around the boat for treats.  For their 5 minute costume prep we came up with Little Red Riding Hood, a serial killer and a bandit (not to be confused with a Mexican fisherman that often look like bandits when you see them at sea as they are avoiding the sun).

Galicia and Porto



offshore wind 


the bookstore in Porto that was the inspiration for the Harry Potter library



Michael and Jens in Germany
Galicia and Portugal

We spent 4 days in Galicia, on the NW corner of Spain, after crossing the Bay of Biscay.  It was a relief to be back in a Spanish speaking country.  Mike has some French and German skills, limited ones mind you, but I have zero such skills, and it is frustrating to be in a country and not speak any of the language.  You miss so much.  Sure, more and more people speak English, but it seems so presumptuous to expect the locals to have to speak to you in a second language for them, in their own country.  Anyway, we missed the small conversations that are much easier in an English or Spanish speaking country.  Granted, my Spanish is not great, but I can get anything I want, get my point across in Spanish.  Of course when I fail, Mike and his perfect Spanish usually save the situation, so for obvious reasons we love being back in Spain.  
In Galicia the local specialty is boiled octopus, served in olive oil and paprika.  Mike and I loved it, Zander tolerated it and Porter and Kena enjoyed taking the suckers off and sticking them to their faces!  The boys bought an octopus trap, so even though they don’t like eating it, they really want to catch one.  Octopus are very abundant here and they even have aquaculture farms to raise them.  Considering the octopus is the smartest invertebrate and arguably smarter than many mammals, I warned the boys to watch their backs if they ever do catch one.  I can just imagine an octopus wrestling a knife away from one of them!
From Galicia we spent a week in Portugal before heading back into Southern Spain.  We spent most of that week in Porto.  It was a lovely place to stop, but the weather was so nasty, we didn’t really have much choice in the matter.  We crossed the river bar in Porto and tied up in a marina to rest and explore after our 24 overnight crossing.  The weather deteriorated shortly after crossing and the port captain later closed the entrance to all boats due to the dangerous conditions.  There are worse places to get “stuck”, but unfortunately it rained most of the week we were there and we had to time our excursions to take advantage of the drizzle and avoid the torrential downpours.  Even it what the locals call the “sad” conditions, Porto is an interesting city to explore.  
Porto is the second most important city in Portugal.  The wine trade flourished here in the 18th century after English merchants began to lace the best of the local (Douro) wines with brandy.  Today you can still visit the warehouses where the Port is stored and wine tasting is a favorite activity.  We are, by no means, big drinkers, but you’d think from our visits we are alcoholics; The Guinness breweries in Ireland, Whiskey distilleries in Scotland, Calvados from Normandy, French reds and now Port from Porto.  Our bilges are being packed with “souvenirs” from our visits. Five years from now we will still be nursing the Port we bought after touring the warehouses of Porto.  And, the distilleries provide good science lesson for the kids in filtration, condensation, fermentation....any sacrifice to educate them!  Making moonshine is still a job skill in some places in the US isn’t it!  Anyway, Porto was fun to walk around, we wandered through the little alleyways and up through colorful markets.  Portugal is still a developing country, so it is still a little gritty, but very charming.

communal washing house in Porto

Port warehouse

Porto

Port tasting

Porto


Porto by dinghy



drying outside the communal wash house