May 14, 2014

Life Treats Us Good In Portugal!

Rather than writing long stories, we thought we could give you an impression of the last three weeks through pictures. Our first attempt on this blog to include an album. Just click on the first picture and view/read the story. Have fun:


All the best from Kosta, Stefanie and Teddy.

April 30, 2014

The Farting SeaDog

We didn't write anything on this blog for two months now, even though a lot of things happened and kept us busy. Unfortunately those things didn't have to do anything with sailing and exactly this is why we thought we take a break from writing. 

We are still in Portugal and Ikoko is happily swinging in her box in the Marina of Portimao. Our life is almost normal now. We work (don't like it), we meet with friends (wonderful) and we explore the area. In the meantime the not so good weather of the last three months turned to be splendid. High temperatures during the day with a little breeze and cool during the nights to get a good rest. Our dress-code is back to Flip Flops, T-Shirt and Shorts. Life is good. 

Exploring the beaches of the Portuguese West Coast

At the beginning of our two months break on updating this blog we had a reason. Our farting seadog Teddy. He thought he had to wake up every night at around 3 to go for a walk. Big business was the program and either Stefanie or I were trotting through the marina with a flashlight (to detect the bombs) and a bucket with brush to wash them away. We did all this, because we thought ... well, it is like it is - better outside than in the boat. One thing lead to another and we introduced a nap time after lunch, which stirred up our whole day routine. Man, we were really "pooped". In the meantime a little routine set in and we only have to wake up at 6ish in the morning to go empty Teddy. 

I am hungry?

Speaking of Teddy: We love our little farting machine and are beyond happy that he is with us. Sometimes he is driving us crazy, but only sometimes. Teddy has a become a "socially responsible" part of this family and is doing absolutely great on the boat. He has a great character and you can see that there is a lot more potential to be uncovered in the future. Well, anyone would say this about their dog, right? :-)

Playing and feeling happy after lunch

Teddy loves to play (even though is doesn't understand the concept of catching a ball). Most of the times he playing with things that are not labeled "Teddy Toy", though. When it is hot during the day he loves to hang out lazily on the bathing platform, the cockpit floor, or underneath our table in the salon. Fortunately he is living on the floor and is not climbing the settee or even our bed. During the night the salon is his bedroom and he stays there once we say "bedtime" to him (us retiring in the fore-peak). He also does a couple of commands by now. He "sits" when we say "sit" and sometimes he lays down when we say "sit", which he shouldn't. But at least he is doing something. And if he is really awake he is giving us a "high-five" as well. 

Swimming is one of his favorite things. Usually, when we are coming back from somewhere, he is pacing back to the gate of the marina, us panting after him. Most of the times we are not fast enough and he starts climbing down the rocks to swim back to the boat. At least he knows which one belongs to him. Good thing. 

Some tiny problems are still left. We still don't know what happened to him in the first 6 month of his life. He is very frightened of other people, men in particular. He doesn't like bicycles, and kids with surfboards. The first 4 weeks we couldn't even think of going out with him of the fenced Marina area. The whole dog was a shaking picture of misery. In the meantime we can go out with him without any problems. Well, the "going out" bit is still a challenge, but once he is out and we are walking him he is doing fine (not great). The worst thing for us is the barking. Every stranger who is passing the boat gets a sensational barking show and at the beach he is sometimes chasing away people even in 200 meters distance. Sometimes he behaves great and sometimes you can literally see that something clicks in his brain and starts his show. Maybe it is our own nervousness. 

Enough from Teddy for now. 

Southern West Coast of Portugal

Now, what did we do over the last weeks? As mentioned in the beginning of the blog, we have a pretty normal life at these days. We work during the day, which is pretty cool. Sitting on a boat with your computer and earn money is way better than doing it from the desk in an office. On the other hand this is a real limitation on our adventurous life. We do things over the weekend usually. Not much of a difference to a normal life on land. We found some good friends outside of the sailing community. On Easter Sunday we went to a friends farm and grilled a lamb, which was absolutely great and we eat for several hours. One other night we found ourselves sitting underneath a baldachin on a long table. This table was full of friendly and chatty people. The setting was awesome. A house 200 meters away from the beach, lots of food, music, wine, stars above us and the sound of breaking waves from the beach. And sometimes you can find us in one of the cafes in Portimao, while shopping for groceries. When walking with Teddy on the beach we usually rest at "Farols" Restaurant, which is directly on the beach and we have a coffee or wine, depending on the time of the day. We also explored the region quite a bit. Great beaches on the westcoast and lovely little villages in the mountains more inland. Whereas the touristy part of Portimao isn't all that nice... the rest of region is absolutely stunning and so are the people. 

Beach in Portimao

At the end of this week our Ikoko will be lifted on the dry dock. We have to do some major repairs on the drive shaft (I don't want to go into details here) and work on a long list of other things. Mainly boat improvement things. Because of that and because of Teddy we rented a little apartment at the beach a couple of miles away from the Marina. We just don't know if we like this or not. Living off the boat that is. Strange feeling. 

Trip to Monchique. Really "chique" this little village.

Wonderful path with a spring water near Monchique

However... the apartment is really nice. Not "nice" in terms of furniture, which is more Southern-European practical style, but very clean. We like the area though. It is a house at the beach and and very lovely (older) couple is living there with two dogs. They have a little apartment on the first floor, overlooking the ocean, which will be ours for the next weeks. The plot is really extensive and reaches almost 200 meters right down to the beach. Great for Teddy as we can take him to the beach every day. This couple welcomed us with open arms and the day we looked at the apartment was a very long one as we celebrated (I don't know what) and eat and drink till late in the night. I the meantime we are part of their extended family and friends. It is a great and welcoming atmosphere there. "Open House" would probably describe it best. 

Not so welcoming is the distance to the boat. About 4 miles according to Google Maps. Naturally we started thinking about transport. Shall we rent a car for two month, or even buy one? We even thought about buying a scooter. Well, in the end we were too avaricious and bought a bicycle. A mountain bike that is. Nothing fancy, just a bigger bike compared to our foldable ones. I couldn't imagine myself to cover 10 miles each day (to the boat and back) on one of those small ones. Now we have three bikes on Ikoko. :-). 

In March we celebrated our birthdays. One of them very quiet...

... and the other one with a lot of people (20) on board of IKOKO. 

The next two month (May and June) will be full of work. Work on the boat, work to earn more money and work on another project.

This Friday it will be IKOKO hanging in there to get lifted on land. Hopefully everything will go alright. 

If everything goes according to plan, we want to spend July doing our road-trip through Southern Europe. From Portugal through Spain and France to Italy and maybe even Germany. We will pick-up Kosta's mother in Italy and drive all the way back to Portugal and go sailing with her for two weeks. She has never been on Ikoko and is very excited to experience this lifestyle. 

More friends will be coming in August and September, so we will be living off the grid from August through to October. We already know what we will do after October, but will write about it when the time is right. 

All the best from
Stefanie, Kosta & Teddy

See you!

February 23, 2014

It's a dog's life

The Free Dictionary says to "It's a dog's life": Something that you say which means that life is hard and unpleasant.

I don't think our lifestyle complies, even though we are living in a cramped space and sailing can be unpleasant at times. Nooooo, life is good on a boat. 

There are some sailors here in the marina with dogs. Quite a lot actually. The most famous example would be Sven and Ulrike with dog Frida. Frida sailed all the way from Germany to Portugal and probably is one of the happiest dogs on earth. Now this is not only because she lives on a boat (a sad dog's life ;-)), but has a lot to do how Sven and Ulrike treat her Frida. The definition from the dictionary definitely doesn't fit with Frida's life. 

The definition fits better to those thousands of dogs here in Portugal that live on chains, stray around or languish in shelters. Some of the sailors here help out in the shelter. They clean, go with the dogs, feed them and generally try to be there for them once or twice in a week.

Last Friday we went with them. I tried to avoid shelters all of my life, because the word alone makes me sad. We were a bit excited, not only because we would see a shelter for the first time in our life, but we had a reason to go there :-). 

It wasn't that bad a all. In fact the contrary... Here is a little video clip Stefanie took with some uber-sweet puppies that the shelter received recently. 

If you want a dog, please let us know. We can put you in contact with the right people. 

WELLLLLL, the reason we went to the shelter in the first place is this little dog. 

What do you think? Would he be a good boat dog and companion? to be continued :-) ....

February 15, 2014

The gasman who wasn't here officially

Gas is something on a boat that seems to cause troubles all the time. At least on Ikoko. We need gas for cooking, that's it. However, every time our big bottle is empty we have a serious problem to fill her up again.

Slowly springn is coming. You asked yourself what this has to do with gas? Nothing. We just wanted to post one nice picture.

Some of you might remember our odyssey of getting a re-fill for our German/Dutch bottle along our trip down here from the Netherlands to Portugal. We weren't really lucky in all ports we visited. In the meantime we have another big bottle on the boat - a French-one. This particular one doesn't fit either. Our friend Michael A. bought a Euro-Adapter Set for gas bottles and sent it to us last year. Even with this set of adapters we weren't able to hook-up the French bottle. The whole gas experience culminated in a row of unbelievable events during our stay in Porto, Portugal last year. Only because we wanted to have gas, NOW. 

We found ourselves standing in front of a refinery, because somebody told us they would fill up gas bottles... well... yes, sure... in a huge refinery. We were standing in small gas bottle shops, trying to communicate with arms, hands and legs, drawing things on paper, tugging our bottle from gas station to gas station in 90 degrees F. ... only because we really wanted to happen this exactly now. No waiting anymore. There must be a solution to this. The whole thing found its almost end in an accident we had in a Taxi on a crossroads including a crowd of people discussing the accident. The cars were a constructive total loss. Our gas bottle survived the accident - we too. ... and because this whole story is too good to believe and cries for Stefanie's hilarious, honest and emotional style of writing, we will post this story in two days... stay tuned. I just need to translate all this into English.

Wellllllll. And now here is the second round of the never ending gas bottle story. 5 month of gas are coming to an end. 

The day before yesterday it was about time again. I (Kosta) celebrated my first coffee - traditionally in my Bialetti and Co. set-up. 7:30 AM is my time to wake up. I sit there with my coffee reading the first Emails and slowly start working on my project (filling up the cruising kitty). Around 9:30 AM I hear the chirping sound of Stefanie's voice through the two doors that separate the salon from our "bed-chamber". I close them in the morning so Stefanie won't hear me doing phone calls. "Hellllloooooo" it chirps. This is the signal for tea-time. I open the doors and usually storm to Stefanie: "Good morning my darling....". It always makes me happy to see her waking up. Never get tired of it. Back in the salon boiling water for tea followed by tea service in bed.... JUST NOT TODAY... bummer, the gas quit on me this very moment. Bad timing. Stefanie without tea in the morning... no good. 

At least we had our new French gas bottle. Easy project - we thought. We eventually found the European gas adapters, changed the bottles and.... nothing. Not fit... nothing. It just didn't fit. The European Union is putting standards on everything... from the size of apples to the amount of seeds that would grow on trees (just kidding with the last one), but there is no standard with gas bottles?!?!? I just don't get it.

The French bottle that doesn't fit. 

The German/Dutch bottle that fits, but can't be re-filled without huge problems.

Next thought. We go over to Lou-Lou. Lou-Lou is French and lives on a catamaran across with his wife Francoise and dog Marissa. Who better to ask than a French, when dealing with French gas bottles. 5 minutes later Lou-Lou was on Ikoko. As a French he knows about the importance of not being able to cook. If it is about "gourmet" there must be something done - immediately. But also Lou-Lou didn't know what to do. Even after scratching his head a couple of times.. no solution. 

Since I had to work, Stefanie was going downtown to a gas shop. They weren't able to fill-up the bottle, but said she should go to another place. That would be a company called "Galp". They basically do all the gas stuff in Portugal. The refinery we went to in Porto was Galp as well. Nice story on the side. The guy in the little gas shop used to live in Austria for 4 years and speaks German. David is his name and his girlfriend's father owns the shop. A young adorable couple. We stopped by there today again on our way to grocery shopping and had a little chat. Next weekend they are going to visit us on Ikoko for a coffee with hopefully new gas.

Galp finally could help Stefanie. A technician would stop by our boat at 5:30 pm sharp. Sharp? In Portugal? Usually this means "in a couple of days". 

5:30 pm, Daniele was standing there in front of our boat, prepared to have a well-informed look at our gas situation. Pressure here, Portuguese, French and German systems. Why are the fittings left-turning? Nobody does that anymore (except the Germans obviously)... mmmhhh. He mulled over things again and again. Finally the solution. We need to change to Camping gas. This wouldn't cause us any troubles at all along our future travels. He could do this for us. If he only had time. Mulling... again. Eventually he took our German bottle and drove off, promising that he would return the next day with a full bottle. ...because... no cooking.... not possible. This is an emergency.

Two of the many adapters that won't fit.

Fast foward. Two hours ago Daniele was here with a full gas bottle - at 5:30 PM sharp. I think it was never that full. We exchanged 30 Euros and tipped him 5 Euros. What we didn't know until then? He did that after his work hours and brought the bottle to a different shop than Galp. The Galp office supported all this though. Since he didn't get our mobile number right, the office called us and coordinated the whole project. So the whole thing wasn't all that official and he just meant that he was never here.. on our boat.

We WILL change to camping gas now. Even though this produces stories to remember, we don't really see us hunting for gas all over the world. Daniele will handle this for us in a couple of months. 

The first tea with our new gas tastes pretty good right now. All is well on Ikoko otherwise. Slowly we are starting to work and plan on boat projects again. More on that next week. ... because we made a plan and already started to execute it over the last weeks. 

February 5, 2014

The Bluewater Magazine is online!

We get this question a lot: What are you doing on the boat? Isn't it boring to just sit on the boat? 

Well, apart from sitting around on the boat we are doing plenty of stuff off the boat. Meeting people, sport, walking, going places, shopping (for food mostly)... there is always something to do. And then there is this working situation now. We need to fill up our cruising kitty again and started to take on some projects a couple of weeks ago. This keeps us busy from early in the morning till late in the afternoon. Right now we are back to the good old routine. Working from Monday through Friday with the weekends off. 

Colorful Stories

However... before January we had plenty of time to work on some creative stuff. One result is "The Bluewater Magazine", which is an online magazine all about awesome stories from cruisers around the world. Its aim is to be your one-stop source for inspirational stories from and about our oceans. 

Next to the colorful reports from our cruising friends we also mixed in some cause-related stuff. You see, when we sailed down the Western European coastline we could see that there is a lot of bad stuff going on. 

Plastic Pollution

Industrial plants, who let all their bad smelly waste directly into the ocean, waste all over the place. Especially plastic in all forms on the water and on the beaches. Fishing trawlers with nets that clean the whole ocean from top to bottom with hundreds of meters of nets hanging out. Eliminating every life that comes in their way. 

Creating Awareness

This made us think about our own waste situation and why we have so much plastic rubbish on the boat all the time. And then it was clear to us. We wanted to create awareness and get the message out there first hand. Who else can better report on what is going on in our oceans than those who live and sail on them? Travelers of the oceans. Cruisers. 

We spent November and December to get in contact with some interesting cruising folks around the world. Most of them were enthused to contribute to The Bluewater Magazine. But we did more than that. We also contacted some bigger organisations, which write about environmental issues in general, but also a lot about ocean related things. We are pretty happy to have and as strong partners. 

The result of all this is The Bluewater Magazine. It is published every Friday and is giving you some interesting insights of people who live on and with the ocean as well as plenty of insightful stories around environmental issues around our oceans and this (our) blue marble. 


We put a lot of energy in this project and try our best to curate the best content out there for you to have an easy and diverting but meaningful read over the weekend. The Bluewater Magazine is available for free on your computer and any other device like your tablet or smartphone. 

I want to be part of it, what can I do?

  1. Please spread the word on your social sites with your friends (or those form whom you know they would be interested). Facebook, Google+, Twitter or what have you. 

  2. Subsribe to The Bluewater Magazine. You will get one Email every week on Friday with a link to our latest edition. There is a link on the top right of the magazine for you to subscribe.

  3. Be part of the discussion on our Facebook site. Like us and again.... spread the word. 

And now... happy reading and thank you for taking the time to read all this. 

All the best from Ikoko, Kosta & Stefanie

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