First outings on Pandora

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Since the acquisition of Pandora in March of 2016, I’ve enjoyed a couple nice outings to start to learn how Pandora handles herself. The first of these was during Easter 2016 with five kids and three adults where we enjoyed several day outings returning to a warm and dry home every night, the other, a long weekend with only Aurora and I sleeping on Pandora.

During Easter, we arrived late in the afternoon in the city of Vigo and settled into our Airbnb accommodation in the city. Although still chilly in March, we were lucky to have great sunny weather the next day and all went to the mooring where Pandora sleeps. After a short briefing on safety and handling and fitting everyone with life jackets, we head out to Islas Cíes, some 12 nautical miles or 20 kilometers away.

While in the Ría (Bay), the wind was very light and being the first trip, we motored. I didn’t feel it appropriate to put up the sails and heal the boat over with so many kids. The kids loved it, spending most of their time on the bow and having turns at the helm driving the boat. The dolphin watch turned up negative but they still very much enjoyed being on the water.

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As we approached the heads, the wind picked up and as everyone was relaxed, I decided to hoist the main sail. She healed over a hell of a lot and with a couple kids still on the bow as we entered the waves, a nice big splash soaked two of them. I had to laugh as they screamed from the shock. They obviously didn’t expect it.

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The healing over and the waves proved to be a bit too much for the first outing for some of the crew so we faced her into the wind and lowered the main sail and went back to motoring. After that, we then proceeded to get close to the Island, have a nice look around and head back to base.

The next day, I met with the previous owner to pick up a few items that were still due. The dingy, outboard, man overboard ring, and a small etc. I worked on a couple of minor details and we then spent the rest of the day enjoying the city.

The next outing, my younger brother and his daughter decided they’d rather visit other parts of the city. So Aurora, the 4 kids and I headed back out to the Island this time with a permit to anchor and the dingy. The kids enjoy the trip out and even did really well at the helm as they started getting the hang of Pandora.

My depth sounder doesn’t work, something the previous owner still has to fix, so I anchor what I considered to be a reasonable distance from shore and used other another anchored sail boat as a reference before dropping the anchor. After a while I was confident she was firmly set and we worked on getting the outboard on the dingy.

Once in the water, I boarded the dingy “Loreto” and tried starting the engine. And tried, and tried, and tried. Not even close. Yep, remounted the dingy engine on board and rowed everyone to shore. First 2 kids, then another 2 and Aurora. No need to visit the gym that day… I forgot I’d have to jump out at shore so I left my shoes on – yep they got soaked along with the bottom part of my trousers. A good thing it was still sunny.

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The beach was beautiful with it’s white sand and mountain behind us. We then walked to the end of the beach where they have a bar where all the tourist wait for their ferry ride back to the city. Aurora and I enjoyed a beer while the kids explored the marine life on the rocks. What a great day.

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Pretty soon it was time to head back. Sunset was still pretty early this time of year so we wanted to at least be back in the bay before night sets in. We enjoyed an extremely beautiful sunset between the Islands as we motored back and as it became dark, it started getting pretty cold so the kids went inside to play.

As we crossed Vigo at night, a pilot boat which seems to have been working with a large commercial ship later crossed our path and flashed aggressively us before passing us. I later found out that the only nav lights I had working were the green & red at the bow so they obviously didn’t see us until pretty close. Another project for Pandora – fix the lighting.

Needless to say, we all very much enjoyed the outing and the kids slept like rocks. The only other visits to Pandora during that week was with my younger brother Robert to resolve a few task such as a new shoreline power cord, fixing the man overboard ring properly, repairing the rear light and trying to evaluate the outboard which we could fix. This is now added to the growing project list.

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A quick catch up after a slow start


OK, it’s been a while since I have written a post and I’m now 44. Yep, time is flying. So let me tell you what’s evolved since my last post besides Christmas and my birthday.

The biggest step towards the dream I’ve taken to date is the acquisition of an intermediate vessel, a sailing vessel to get some more experience and get my companion of my life adventure, Aurora, motivated in the world of sailing.

“Pandora Hormiga” is a 1989 Beneteau Oceanis 350 now based in the Ría de Vigo, Galicia, Spain. She comes with only one set of sails, a Genoa and a Main, an Autopilot, VHF with SOS button, a house battery and an engine battery, GPS, fridge, although the Clipper Marine wind indicator and depth sounder have issues still. Her 28 horse power diesel engine works and the clean hull puts her at up to 6.5 knots. Very good speed for this size and category of sail boat. With the sails, we managed a max of some 7.6 knots. I can only imagine, apart from a clean hull, that the recently replaced shaft and propeller may be slightly oversized so I’m careful on the engine.


So during the Easter school holidays, Aurora and I rented a place for a week near the mooring with our four kids, my younger brother Robert visiting from Australia with his eldest daughter Amalie. This first full day trip outing was quite an adventure, but more about the outings in an upcoming post.

So in line with my targets, I’m getting more experience and I’ve also been studying my next boat licence up in Spain – Patrón de Yate – which basically will allow me to navigate Zone 2, 150 miles form a coast or protected waters. Here I’m a little frustrated. After letting go of some good hard earned money for an online course with email support and being promised up to date content & information, I didn’t get what I paid for.

The prestigious school, Cenautica, left me high and dry. Nearly one thousand euros for online material from the 80’s and a self printed book, which is NOT updated to the current legislation. Worse yet, my emails and online messages were ignored. I sat the exams in April and needless to say I’ll have to redo the Navigation exam although I did well on meteorology, legislation, safety, etc, with little thanks to the school but more on my own research and experience as a pilot and previous boating studies. In June, I’ll be sitting the Navigation exam and that should be this licence complete. I definitely won’t be doing the “Capitan de Yate” studies with this school.

I’m yet to decide on options, if look for a good online school (I travel a lot for work so online is my best option) or I find some good books and self study and go on my own. I’m open to ideas here if you have experience.