So when we set off back in 2018 the plan was to sail around the world, Across the Atlantic, cruise around the Caribbean taking in Cuba, Mexico Central & South America, Eastcoast & Westcoast USA, through Panama across the Pacific Oz, New Zealand, back up through Malaysia, Indonesia Thailand, India and finally avoiding the pirates in Somalia, coming into the med from the Red Sea and Cruising there and ideally ending our travels by buying a little property in Spain to end out our days. taking between 5-10 years depending on what we bumped into on the way. However, covid put paid to that, we thought it would just be a delay, but it so badly affected the smaller islands and according to friends “out there” still hasn’t recovered, we decided that perhaps we should curtail our adventure and so we ended up back in Europe.
At the beginning of 2021, the intention then was to cruise through the med, taking in the Balearics, Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily, Italy, up through the Adriatic back down through the Corinth Canal, cruise through Greece and Turkey for a few years and then return to Spain and look for property. Our heart has always been rooted in Spain and so after this extensive Odyssey, it seemed fitting we should end up there.
They say that “Cruisers” plans are written in the sand and then the tide comes in and washes them away, so their plans are ever-changing and ever-evolving, so what you decide on Monday can fundamentally change by Friday, you always have to take into consideration, firstly the weather, Secondly sometimes something inevitably goes wrong with the boat and then thirdly other outside influences that you haven’t even thought about!
This time it was the third thing that neither of us saw coming, but it hit us both like a steam train!
Whilst spending our time in Spain during late 2020 and early 2021 lockdowns whilst waiting to obtain our residencia, we dreamt of where and what our end house would be like. We browsed through Idealista the Spanish equivalent to Zoopla or Rightmove for an area we knew well and where we were staying at the time, we pondered whether we would want a flat on the beach or a house up in the mountains or a little project or a doer-upper? You know the kind of thing, nothing serious just browsing, or so we thought…
A couple of places caught our eye, then the worm started, we could sell our London flat, buy something in Spain, rent it out during the summer and continue to sail round the med, possibly leaving the boat in different countries and coming back to the property during the autumn, winter and spring, then setting off again the following summer for as long as it took us to fulfil our dream.
The search then became a little more focused we could buy quite a lot in Spain for the equivalent of our property value in central London, possibly enough to buy, titivate and have a few bob left in the bank for rainy days, renting out the Spanish property would pay for us to “sail the med” until we had enough.
As mentioned we spent the back end of the summer and winter of 2020-2021 in a lovely little place called Cucarres, just outside Calpe in the foothills of the Olta mountain, it was idyllic, quiet and with amazing views looking over Calpe and Ifach
As well as amazing mountain walks which were perfect for our newly acquired dog
However, all was not as idyllic as it seemed, during December, January and February although we didn’t notice it at first, the sun was much lower in the sky, and the villa in Cucarres faced east so the aspect was stunning in the summer months but during the winter by 2 pm the sun had disappeared around the mountain leaving the villa and pool in the shade and by 5 pm darkness. Now we know Spain in the winter isn’t cold like UK cold but during the day it can go down to 15°C (60° F) and is quite chilly in the afternoon/evening, cold enough to put on a jumper or the heating!
So we then shifted our focus on the possibility of something in the valley south facing that would get sun all day, we opened up our net to encompass Fustera, Fanadix and Moraira, but found property much more expensive and much closer together.
It was difficult to find any true privacy, with a million-pound house literally overlooking someone else’s garden. Not that we were in anything like the million-pound house market but the cheaper they got, so your space around your property got smaller.
These factors helped us decide that space was important to us and that we would want views and properties of character, we viewed a few wrecks which seemed like a lot of work and a few properties that would seriously stretch our budget, also investigating these properties opened our eyes to Spanish property law, planning consent and legal and illegal extensions and outbuildings, very common in Spain.
By the summer of 2021, the lockdown and restrictions were starting to be lifted and movement was much easier, so went back to the boat in Bilbao and sailed her down to Cartagena where we spent the winter of 2021, by which time we had seen a property we liked and proceed to check it out and put a deposit in it!
The Finca (Farmhouse) is just outside the town of Benissa, just inland a bit from Moraira and Calpe, it has been relatively recently renovated and sits on 7800sq metres of land, complete with its own olive grove of 30 odd trees, it is really well done and in great order. The Finca was originally a traditional Farmhouse with the upstairs as living quarters and the downstairs as storage or where cattle would sleep, although the renovation has only encompassed the upper floors the lower area is virtually untouched. So we can live there and at the same time it is also a project we could style to our own design, the Finca sits across 2 terraces so you can enter at ground level and exit via an internal staircase to the lower level, where we will dig a pool.
We obtained a pool licence, sold our London home and bought the property and immediately started to dig the pool.
So as you can see this is a much larger project than we probably wanted, it will be stunning when finished and has amazing views, the land is manageable and will produce an abundant crop of olive oil and fruit as well as more lemons than all the G&Ts were likely to drink and will, we hope to be a real sanctuary to share with our family and friends, the harsh reality concerning our sailing is, however, that the med cruising will have to wait, for the time being anyway.
So sorry if you’ve tuned in to see a sailing blog, but for the time being its been hijacked to blog about our Finca, which we have named after a beautiful little island off the coast of Lanzarote called Graciosa, so we now live in Finca Graciosa, which roughly translates to “Funny Farm” very apt we think!
We will post more pictures as and when we complete sections of the work.