On June 21, 2015 Julia, Nuria, Julio and Ron are said goodbye by a group of friends on the beach of Barra (Ría de Vigo). During the next two years, the four will be the crew of the Alba Plena sailboat, which will be their home, in an experience that will change them forever.
Julio and Nuria have been together for almost two decades and their daughter Julia has at that time 8 years. Since the couple got married in 2004 and made their first long journey (in that year they had sailed for six months), he does not stop thinking about the possibility of making a new trip longer, and with his daughter. They wait until Julia is the right age.
Finally, the Alba Plena hoists its sails on a Sunday of summer and will not return to that place until 24 months later.
The plan is that for two years the crew must have made this journey: Vigo, Balearic Islands, Sardinia, Sicily, Southern Italy, Croatia, Montenegro, Greece, France, return to Gibraltar, Canary Islands, Cape Verde, Brazil, the Lesser Antilles, Colombia, Panama, Honduras, Belize, Mexico, Cuba, Bahamas, Florida, Bermuda, Azores and Vigo. According to Nuria in the travel blog that published (www.albaplena.weebly.com), as a logbook, the day they left had “very little wind. We were motoveleando practically all the day. Yes, sun and heat, so we stopped the boat and bathed. It is incredible to bathe with 1500 meters of water under your feet! “From the beach of Barra they go to Portugal, they pass through El Estrecho until they reach the Balearic Islands, Sardinia, Sicily and the Adriatic. They anchor in Croatia, Greece and France, go down to the Canary Islands and from there cross to the Atlantic. 11 days of navigation until arriving in Cape Verde.
The boat carries all the necessary equipment, supplies for enough time and spare parts. “We had to carry many things from here. We were going to be in places like the archipelagos of San Blas that the nearest town is six hours away, “says Nuria. The Alba Plena has two cabins, full kitchen, washing machine, freezer … “We also took the third and fourth grade books for Julia. I was in charge of giving him classes “, explains Nuria. Julia was not adversely affected, not even the least, by the educational experience. His mother gave him classes. On the contrary, her level of English grew throughout the trip and the vital experience that was for her was crucial, according to her mother: “Julia learned something that she will not forget in her life. That limits in life are put only by her and also to think that we are very lucky. My daughter has played with all the children we met during the trip and has also seen how little many of them lived.”
In the Alba Plena his crew chat, read, dive, give or receive Primary class, sail, fix some damage, buy fruit from the locals or fishing, is carried away by the wind or by the current to another place. Thus until reaching the coast on the other side of the Atlantic.
Cape Verde Nights
On November 17, 2015, they leave Las Palmas for Cape Verde. They are accompanied by volatile fish, tuna and sea breams that end up, in some cases, in the on-board kitchen. They do 870 miles in five days until they reach Mindelo Bay. They stay with friends who reside there and Nuria, who sings like the angels, is encouraged to accompany on warm Cape Verdean nights, a singer during a show in the yacht club, with classics such as Summertime, Corcovado or Garota de Ipanema. They leave Cape Verde behind and head to Salvador de Bahia and Fortaleza.
“We are not scared,” Nuria tells us, “except for worse weather conditions at times.” The worst thing that could have happened was to find pirates, but for that, we followed the news of a web about the assaults that were taking place in the Caribbean and We decided to avoid the coast of Venezuela as a precaution.”
When arriving at the French Guava, they anchor in the island of the Devil. They decide to visit it because before there was a prison, well known thanks to the novel (and film) Papillon. There are no remains of the passage of Dustin Hoffman or Steve McQueen, protagonists of the film, or any prisoner, but the old prison is very well preserved and now its inhabitants are peacocks, monkeys, iguanas and macaws. From there they go to Barbados, but they refuse to stay longer than necessary since it is a very expensive place for them and their boat. The urgency is to get a washing machine and repair some things of the Alba Plena. And they know that in Martinique there is a delegation from the Amel shipyards, where the sailboat was built. They have already traveled 13,000 miles of passage since they left the beach of Barra.
During the nights, Nuria and Julio make guards. In the oceanic night adults realize how small they are on the immense mass of water. “It helps you relativize everything,” Nuria tells us. “And from the emotional part of the experience you stay with the people you know, with scales like the one we did to the Lost City in the Sierra de Santa Marta, in Colombia, with the Kogui Indians, who live isolated from everything.” “And the privilege of anchoring in deserted islands – continues – to be whole days without seeing any person. The Caribbean is a gift for those who dive.”
Sea of plastic
They remain eight months in Colombia and Panama sheltered from hurricanes. When the danger passes, they continue to Belize, Honduras, Mexico, and Cuba. On the island, Nuria, who is a vocalist of a jazz group in Vigo, lets herself be carried away by the connection generated by the music and receives enthusiastic advice from a Cuban guitar master. They are saddened by the Honduran coast to see the plastic sea of several miles with which they are: “It had a depth of five feet. There you could find everything: flip flops, bottles, toilet closures … pollution is a reality. We have awareness in the First World. People think that they throw it into the sea and it disappears but it is not like that,” he stresses.
The next destination is Bahamas, where they visit Pig’s Beach, a beach where pigs of considerable size live (they are half a dozen) and enjoy diving in the most transparent waters they have visited for now. After Nassau and Florida, where it touches space tourism (Cape Canaveral) and dedicated to Julia, who had been promised, visit Universal Studios. So it’s time to mingle with SpongeBob and the Minions.
At this point in the journey, Nuria and Julio decide that their daughter must return by plane to Spain. The return journey is much more complicated than going and do not want to expose Julia to any danger. On March 29, 2017 the crew of the Alba Plena is left with only two members. It’s time to organize the return home. On the way back, from Titusville, Florida, to Azores, they are accompanied by their friend Kako Castro.
The distance of return supposes to cross more than double of what the going supposed. Now they must face 4,000 miles passing through areas of strong storms. From Florida take the Alba Plena to Bermuda and from there Azores to enter through the mouth of the Ría de Vigo. But the 800 miles that separate the East Coast of the United States with Bermuda become harsh. Among other problems, the genoa is cracked, some nets are attached to the propeller … Everything is solved but the next stage becomes even more complicated, until the Azores. The weather reports fall short in their forecasts. And Alba Pena’s crew looks for allies among the ships that are in the same latitude. Dan with the Atlantide, Leo, or with a longliner A Guarda (Pontevedra), with which Nuria and July speak for a while: countrymen who are in the middle of the ocean. At last they arrive in Horta and celebrate having overcome the odyssey with colleagues like Leo, who has also managed to get there.
On May 25, 2017, they pass by the lighthouse of Cabo Silleiro (Pontevedra) at 11 pm, which illuminates them. They return to the same beach two years ago where a group of friends receive them. Finally, they take the boat to Bouzas, the marina where Alba Plena has not been sleeping for two years. Another welcome with cava and empanadas. They hug and leave the sailboat there, only for the first time since June 21, 2015.
“My husband and I were three nights without sleep. We were missing the wiggle of the ship. We also had a little bit of a dream about the guards. It cost me to get used to the noise again. Enter a bar and listen to all those voices facing the calm of our last two years, “recalls Nuria. “The experience has influenced all three of us, now Julia is 12. It is not time to repeat, it will be a pending account.”
Cruise Blog: https://albaplena.weebly.com/