We’re very lucky to be living on a boat and being able to experience such beautiful places as Cartagena.
“Touch wood” we’ll carry on doing it for a while yet.
My American friends would have said “Knock on wood”. Here in Spain they’d have said “Tocar Madera”.
It’s a superstition engrained in many cultures and countries around the Western world.
In Arabic it’s “امسك الخشب” (Imsek el-khashab).
In Finland they say “Koputtaa puuta”.
In Greece “Chtipa xilo”.
No one knows where the phrase originated. Some say it started with the Pagan practice of tapping on trees to ask protection from friendly spirits who were believed to live inside. Others that it could be a Christian superstition related to touching wooden crucifixes or rosary beads.
Another theory suggests that the practice originated in the 15th Century during the Spanish Inquisition under the infamous Tomás de Torquemada. Jewish people in Spain were being persecuted and needed to hide. Their synagogues and temples were predominantly built from wood. Secret knocks were devised so only those being pursued could get in. Those lucky enough to gain entry to these safe houses may well have escaped torture and death so “knocking on wood” became synonymous with good luck.
The truth will never be known. What I do know is that last theory has provided me with the means to make some tenuous connections between Spain, Touch Wood and people of the Jewish faith.
Why would I want to do that?
Because a few days ago another Wharram Tiki 38 catamaran arrived here in Cartagena Spain. Her name is ‘Touch Wood’ and she’s owned by an Israeli named Zvika.
I’ve ‘known’ Zvika for a few years now. He’s one of my global network of friends with a common interest in the Wharram designs and life philosophy.
Zvika found my blog a while back when he was considering building a Tiki 38 for himself. He was living in China at the time and wanted to take advantage of the fact. A good choice of build sites, access to materials and cheap labour topped the list of benefits.
Unfortunately it wasn’t to be. He had to relocate back to Israel and the build plans got shelved. Plan B was to buy.
It’s no exaggeration to say that Zvika travelled the world looking for a suitable boat. He spotted ‘Luckyfish’ for sale in South Africa during 2014 but Stuart beat him to it.
More recently he’d pretty much decided he wasn’t going to find one and had been looking at SeaRunner trimarans in the States.
Then in October of last year Tiki 38 No13 ‘Touch Wood’ came onto the market in Tenerife.
The boat was pretty well known in Wharram circles.
‘Touch Wood’ was built in the UK by David and Anita Barker. After launching in 2004 they sailed South to the Portuguese Algarve and lived aboard for 3 years.
They fell in love with the place, bought a little house and decided to settle. ‘Touch Wood’ was sold.
The new owners were a German couple Sandra and Michael. After 3 years of Mediterranean cruising they crossed to the Atlantic in 2010 and spent a year cruising the Caribbean along with their two young children Smilla and Quinn.
‘Touch Wood’ then changed hands once again and headed to the island of Saint Martin for a short while before a Swiss/German guy named Mike bought her. He kept her for some 3 years.
He sailed her back across the Atlantic to Tenerife. From what Zvika told me Mike is quite an adventurer. There was mention of paragliding off Mt Tiede but I don’t know much else. Zvika also told me that Mike had sailed down to the Cape Verde Islands with his girlfriend but that for some reason ended up sailing back to The Canaries single-handed. That voyage took 11 days and Mike encountered some serious weather. Both he and ‘Touch Wood’ survived but both were knocked about quite badly. The damage was repaired but Mike never sailed her far again.
When Zvika first saw her she had been sitting ashore in San Miguel de Abona for some time.
Long story short, he bought her. His next challenge was to get her back to Israel. He told me he wanted to make Cartagena a stopping point en route. He wanted to see ‘Gleda’, meet Gail and I, to show us ‘Touch Wood’.
Geography makes face to face meetings a rare and special event so we followed their progress keenly.
‘Touch Wood’ left Tenerife on the 1st August with a crew of three. Zvika and his friend Yoav plus an experienced 1st mate. A Spaniard from Puerto Rica by the name of Eugeno.
Their original plan was to head directly to Gibraltar but that changed.
They encountered twenty to twenty five knot Northerly winds, occasionally gusting to thirty knots. To add to their discomfort there was a three to four metre cross swell.
It was a tough test for them and the boat and led them to divert towards the island of Madeira.
It took 5 days and 4 nights for them to travel the 320 nautical miles.
After six days in Madeira to recuperate they set off once more bound for Gibraltar. Better conditions and a couple of days of decent sailing saw them cover the 600 plus nautical mile passage in 5 days.
The trip was not without problems though as one of the engines packed up on day two. Then they had to make a scary nighttime approach into Gibraltar in thick fog and a flat calm with only one engine to rely on.
They stayed four days in Gibraltar making repairs and resupplying before heading directly to Cartagena.
Zvika’s original plan was to make only a quick pitstop here before continuing on to Israel. Once again things changed though.
As an aside this is one of the important lessons we’ve learned since starting out on this adventure – Plans and sailing are incompatible.
We no longer make plans.
We have thoughts and ideas.
If we take actions based on any of them we do so with full expectation that they will change.
We’ve never been disappointed.
Anyway back to Zvika. The engine previously ‘repaired’ in Gibraltar had stopped again and needed more work. A foremast halyard had got loose, there were other things that required attention.
With my recent experience of climbing ‘Gleda’s’ masts I was soon able to sort the halyard problem for them but the engine looked like taking longer.
Time was running out for Zvika as he needed to get back to his business.
All options considered there was one that stood out. Leave ‘Touch Wood’ in Yacht Port Cartagena for the Winter and start again next year.
So now there are two Wharram Tiki 38’s here. Berthed almost next to each other. With luck Zvika and his family will be back for a visit soon. Whatever, he can rest easy that ‘Touch Wood’ is being looked after.
Amazingly just a day after ‘Touch Wood’ arrived another Wharram appeared in YPC.
There aren’t too many Tiki 38’s around but I suspect there are even fewer Ariki 46’s. That made it even more pleasurable to welcome ‘Te Fiti’ to Cartagena.
Recently purchased in Palma Majorca by a young Belgian couple Pierre and Anne Sophie, she’s been rescued from neglect and they have big plans for her.
Any advance on three Wharram catamarans in Cartagena?
She too is staying here for a while and I hope to tell you more about her later.
The boat was previously named ‘Dabede’. Pierre would love to find out more about her history. Does anyone know anything?
I’ll finish this Wharram themed post with a couple of videos. They’ve been recently posted on YouTube by my friend Jacques. They were shot this Summer while sailing his Tiki 38 ‘Pilgrim’.
It’s fair to say these videos sum up Mediterranean sailing perfectly. I have thoughts and ideas around meeting up with ‘Pilgrim’ next Summer.
Don’t worry Jacques. I won’t be challenging your speed record anytime soon. But two Tiki 38’s sailing in the sunset. That would be something eh?