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Travels from UK to Spain, vis France and Portugal in 1969 : The people you meet: The people you meet

By Colyer, David

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Book Id: WPLBN0100302340
Format Type: PDF (eBook)
File Size: 2.04 MB.
Reproduction Date: 3/29/2020

Title: Travels from UK to Spain, vis France and Portugal in 1969 : The people you meet: The people you meet  
Author: Colyer, David
Language: English
Subject: Non Fiction, General Works (Periodicals, Series, idexes, Almanacs, etc.), random travels
Collections: Adventure, Authors Community
Publication Date:
Publisher: self
Member Page: David Colyer


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Colyer, D., & Colyer, D. (2020). Travels from UK to Spain, vis France and Portugal in 1969 : The people you meet. Retrieved from

It's a day to day account of travelling by car, through France, Portugal and Spain, with 2 companions. Encountering various people who helped us along the way, from one random adventure to another, playing football for a local team in Portugal, but ending up in Southern Spain and encountering the various ex pats who were trying to settle there.

This is a true account, from my diary in December 1969, of my travels with 2 companions, through France, Portugal and Spain and how accidental meetings led from one scenario to another. Ending up with whisky and cigarette smugglers in Southern Spain.

Monday 1st March 1970 After finally getting all the sails back, window replaced and everything in working order and all previous cargoes sold off, funds available, we were ready to sail to Gibraltar, with one ‘paying’ passenger, Anita, a quite attractive lady, Ralph’s wife, aged about 50, who had a flat in Estepona and where Nikki sometimes went for a bath and have her hair done. ( I can’t remember If I ever went there, but it wasn’t far from Ralph’s bar, where I’d first met Nikki.) Plus John the Dog. Although I’d been living on the boat for about a month, on and off, we’d never left the marina and I was a bit taken aback with the first time we went out to sea. I’d thought I’d be used to it, but when we got out to sea and hoisted the main sail, I was shocked when the yacht heeled over at an angle of about 45 degrees and thought we were going to capsize! But John and Nikki assured me this was supposed to happen and was the ideal position for maximum speed, as most of the boat’s hull would be under water, making it lighter. Luckily, it was a smooth trip and I felt a bit more comfortable. With engine off, the Muffin glided smoothly though the water, with all 3 sails up, about 6 knots speed and I began to enjoy it. We saw a fishing boat and John wanted to go over and have a chat with them, although they looked a bit dubious as we loomed over them and we narrowly missed colliding with them. We continued on our way, on a beam reach, at a rate of knots and reached Gibraltar in 5 hours, having a bit of lunch on the way. Lowering all the sails, we switched on the motor and motored in, looking for a place to moor and it was pretty full on the moles, so we had to moor alongside some other boats, in the middle, tied up to the outside one, before dropping the anchor. We then rowed ashore on the ‘Crab’, although Nikki stayed on board.I found Gibraltar to be a strange place, with mostly English bars and shops, but with mostly Spanish workers, although I guess the bars belonged to English people, in places with names like ‘The Bull and Bush’ Hare and Hounds’, Jolly Roger’, ‘Kings Arms’ etc. There was even a Woolworths and a Marks and Spencers and the police wore normal English Police uniforms, but mostly speaking Spanish. It all felt a bit bizarre. JR had some business at an Indian store called Bindra and Co, where he bought a consignement of Bells’ whisky at wholesale price, which he would sell in Estepona for double the cost. After the transaction, we had a meal at an English restaurant and visited all the bars above mentioned. Then JR, Anita and I returned to the Muffin, on the Crab, with JR trying to upset the boat, standing behind me and rocking my shoulders, while I was trying to row. John the Dog had stayed onshore at an hotel. We went to bed eventually, at 3.00 am and I slept in the aft cabin, Anita in the saloon and JR and Nikki in the fore cabin. It started to blow during the night and the boat was rocking quite a bit. At 7.30 am, a fisherman knocked on the side and woke me up. When I got up on deck, I was amazed to see that we’d come adrift from our mooring, without realising it and were no longer in the middle of the harbour, but nestling up against 3 fishing boats moored to the jetty. Luckily there was no damage, as we had fenders out all round, but it was amazing that being out of control all that time and nothing bad had happened. It looked as if our anchor had dragged, probably because not enough chain had been put out. I went below and managed to wake John up and he came up to sort things out, and we eventually moored alongside a large tug, which was better, because it meant we could walk across it to get to shore, without having to use the Crab. During the morning, we got a delivery of the purchases JR had made yesterday and we stowed them away in various compartments, some concealed, some not, with a few put in the kitchen for current consumption. JR, Nikki and Anita went ashore, while I stayed on board, to kind of keep guard and deal with any emergency, which fortunately didn’t arise. They came back at 2.00 pm, with what looked like half the American fleet! Who were in dock on the other side of the harbour, in a large missile carrier, called USS Little Rock. With the new guests, Frenchie, a bit beligerent, but otherwise a good chap and non stop singer, Jesse a massive fair haired engineer with a crew cut, Cliff Spence navigator and a couple of others. In all, there were 10 of us in the cabin and a couple of bottles of Bells were opened and I had a new bottle of anis. A good time was had by all and we went ashore at 5.00pm to have something to eat and visited the bars again, staying out till 3.00 am. During the evening, the US sailors were happy with our hospitality and invited us on board their ship the next day, for a tour. During the night, Frenchie had got even more drunk, after making Communist arguments in a fish and chip bar, before wandering back to his ship. Jesse, Anita and I ended up in a bar called the Chimney Corner and I can’t remember where everyone else went. Some fell asleep in bars and were left behind. I was woken up next day, asleep in the saloon, by Jesse, who had also slept on board. Spence had brought some spare charts of USA charts, of the Med from Spain to Greece, to give to JR. As an expert rigger, he also checked everything on the boat, including the engine to make sure everything was OK. All in all, a good bunch of guys. At 1.00 pm I went ashore to buy some anis. On the way, I heard a little girl say, ‘Say goodbye to Phyliss’ to her brother, which for some reason stuck in my drunken mind, maybe just hearing an English voice. I took a bottle of vodka back, with gin for Anita and whisky for Nikki. We finished them all off in a few hours, with JR entertaining us with his impressions of Admiral Nelson and balancing his drink on head, which they used to do in RAF Mess. Then Frenchie turned up in a taxi and took JR, Anita and myself back for a tour around the cruiser USS Little Rock. see Wiki- She had a crew of about 1200 and there didn’t seem to be any problems taking us on board, even though it was armed with nuclear missiles. We were shown to their cabins etc and had an excellent meal in the canteen, being served with metal trays with separate sections for veg and meat etc, plus a cup of coffee to go with it. Just before we left, they gave us each a pair of bell bottoms and a T shirt, plus one set for Nikki. We left and walked back towards the Muffin, but stopped for a drink at the Castle and Keys, accompanied by Frenchie and Jesse. With host Ed Baker, a small chap from Somerset and a good bloke. Frenchie asked me a question, which felt like I was being put on the spot ‘What are you doing on the boat and are you learning anything?’ I replied ‘I’m just a cabin boy but enjoying the experience and learning a bit more as I go along’. He replied , ‘That’s the best answer you could possibly have given’ and then went out to be sick. We didn’t see him after that and we left, leaving Jesse asleep in the bar. Later, we stumbled into Nikki, who also stumbled into us and we went into a bar and had a sing song, with some Scottish guys, stationed on the island in the ‘ Black Watch’ regiment. One was playing guitar and another a mouth organ. We were singing hundreds of songs and were later joined by some American and Russian sailors, who had also sailed into port. I left here about 2.00 am and drifted into The Chimney Corner bar, but things we petering out so I returned to the boat, climbing across the tug, to which Muffin was still tied. (Chimney Corner Club still there- Anita had been out with a taxi driver called Sandro and returned to the boat around 3.30 am and Nikki was delivered in a police ambulance at 5.00 am. Seemed just another normal day aboard Muffin. The Yanks left the next day and Gib was flooded with Russian sailors who came ashore.

Table of Contents
Each heading is dated from 3rd December 1969 to 10th March 1970 (88 pages)


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