Sailing Red Rooster
I think waking up in Ibiza in the beautiful Cala Basa the morning after our crossing from mainland Spain encapsulated the image I had in my head when I first thought about setting off in Red Rooster. I woke, I don’t think anything woke me. I climbed out of bed quietly, Claire mumbling something unintelligible as she turned over. I slid back the hatch and climbed the 4 steps up into the cockpit. All was quiet save the noise of the small waves lapping on the white sandy beach about 40 meters away. The sun already had some warmth to it. The sea was a beautiful shade of blue / green, aquamarine I suppose. I could clearly see the anchor chain snaking down onto the sandy seabed even though the water was over 10m deep with colourful fish swimming around the boat. The smell of pine from the trees on land completed the scene. This is what I was looking forward to.
I know lots of people have probably experienced this scene many times but Claire and I had sailed our own boat here. We hadn’t flown and chartered, we wasn’t on a package tour with a trip around the bay on a pleasure boat. We were on Red Rooster. It had something to do with sailing to the Balearic Islands. It was another milestone in our adventure, like crossing the Bay of Biscay or sailing into Gibraltar. I’m not too sure why, it just was.
We stayed there for three nights, it was just perfect. We swam, we went ashore and had drinks in the CBbC (Cala Basa beach Club) admiring RR as the inevitable DJ was mixing chill out tunes, we met a nice couple, Ken and Elizabeth on board their Halberg Rassey ‘PALA’ we explored with the RIB and lazed about in the sun. It was brilliant.
We heard that Ian and Lynne on ‘Infinity’ had also made it across to Ibiza going to anchor outside of the marina in San Antonio. We needed food so we moved on to San Antonio also. Our friends on Scarlett and Toy Buoy decided to forgo the dubious comforts of marina life and joined Infinity and Red Rooster at anchor in the bay. It was good to see them all again and it wasn’t long before we were all on one boat drinking and catching up with the gossip.
The next morning we went ashore. This place, after the calm of Cala Basa was a bit of a shock I must admit. This is where all the clubs are, and of course all the drunk, loud, semi naked tattooed youffs that frequent them. We could hear the music easily on the boat which was quite a distance from the shore. Oh well. Live and let live.
Tuesday 17th May saw us meeting our friends Neil and Erica for a few drinks and a curry. I know, another curry!! But that’s what Neil and Erica fancied and we didn’t want to tell them that we had had curry the last two meals we had eaten out. Oh well it was very nice to see them both but unfortunately Neil had a couple of boats with problems (if you remember Neil and Erica had come to Ibiza to manage a very large yacht charter company) and he wasn’t able to get off of the phone until the problems were resolved. This was almost nonstop up to 2230 hrs. I think Erica was worrying about Neil too, he had a lot of pressure on him. They were also both really tired as they had been working long hours 7 days a week trying to prepare the yachts for charter. We decided to call it a night with all of us determined to meet up again before we left San Antonio for a more relaxed and enjoyable night out.
Liverpool FC were in the final of the European cup and I’m not sure if I have mentioned this before but Ian and Lynne are from Liverpool, the posh part apparently? So we all agreed to meet up in a bar to watch it. We went for a nice bite to eat beforehand with Graeme and Jayne then walked to meet everyone else at the Itaca bar / club that was showing the footy.
Unfortunately Liverpool lost but instead of leaving after the match ended I suggested that we should stay, have a few more drinks and dance to the music that had started thumping as soon as the final whistle was blown. Well Jayne was up on the dance floor in a flash, she loves whatever passes for music now in these clubs and it wasn’t long before we were all dancing. We really had a good laugh. Even (I don’t do dancing) Ian was spotted on the floor giving it large. Jayne doing ‘the winch’ was my favourite. I thought it was ‘the sumo wrestler’ for quite a while but she put me straight!! We got more than a few strange looks and I apologised to the manager as we left because I think we were responsible for keeping most of the youffs away from his club. One look at us lot and they moved on pretty quickly!!!
We had a bit of a slow start the following morning but we had agreed to visit Ibiza old town with Ian and Lynne. We picked them up in the RIB tying and locking it up on the small jetty near the pleasure boats. We walked for 5 minutes to the bus station and caught the No 3 bus which took 20 minutes or so to the centre of the old town for €2 each.
I love traveling on the buses. The old town was a complete surprise to all of us. We managed to find our way into the narrow winding streets that were hidden inside the castle walls. It was absolutely beautiful. We stopped for a jug of sangria and soaked up the atmosphere. Then climbed to the top for the breath taking views across the bay to Formentera.
There were little restaurants dotted here and there, small boutiques that Claire and Lynne struggled to pass without looking in. What a contrast to the cheap T shirt shops and Kentucky fried chicken and Big Mac world we found in San Antonio.
When we got back we were all invited for goodbye drinks on board Toy Buoy as they were off in the morning with Scarlett. It was sad to see them go as they pulled up their anchors the following day but we won’t be too far behind them and I am sure we will meet up again.
Later that day, Friday 20th Claire and I went to the chandlers for some varnish as the cockpit table needed some TLC. I also bought another non return valve for the shower as the two I have bought previously keep returning! We agreed to go and watch the sunset with Ian and Lynne walking along the promenade stopping for a drink at a bar as the sun dropped into the sea. It's something you should do when you’re in San Antonio, Ibiza.
Saturday was a work day, we have the weeks off and work Saturdays now. Sunday is still a day of rest. I would like to point out that we don’t work every Saturday, sometimes we have no work to do!
I took the washing to the launderette while Claire sat in a bar to update the blog. When we got back to the boat I fitted the new non return valve, rubbed down the cockpit table and gave it a good coat of varnish. Then we started the elastic blind project. This was one of my better ideas but it was a complete pain to do. Let me explain, Claire suffers from being tasty to mosquitos, they bite in the night so to keep them out we bought a couple of those beaded hanging door screen things. The only trouble with them is the noise they make swishing about and rattling on the door frame as we rock about when we are at anchor. So my idea was to re string them with elastic then you could fix them top and bottom, no more swishing and rattling you just had to be a little careful as you passed through on your way in or out. 26 drops on each door with hundreds of beads on each in a pattern!! It took us about 7 hours to do one!! The other one isn’t going to get done anytime soon. It works though.
We also talked to Grace, she was at the Shearwater TT at Minnis bay, it was another cold and windy day and I wished I could have been there to help her with the boat. I feel pangs of guilt every now and then. Thinking I should be back in England, helping the girls out when and where I can. I sort of go quiet for a few hours when this happens. Claire recognizes the signs and leaves me to sort myself out which is the best solution.
Grace had a battle with the elements on the Saturday, capsizing in the very strong wind but did a lot better on the Sunday, getting first to the windward mark in one race. Well done you. You make your Dad proud.
Sunday 22nd as I have said was a rest day. We also received a message from Neil and Erica to say that they were going to leave work early and we were welcome to meet them on their boat for a few drinks before going into town for some food. Great.
We met them at 1730. Claire and I were both pleased to see them looking a lot more relaxed, things had gone smoother over the last few days and it showed. We had a few cans of beer and some wine before heading off for some food in a very nice tapas bar. We all get on very well and it was a great night. Neil insisted on paying as recompense for the previous meeting, we tried to pay our half but he was having none of it. So thank you both.
On Monday our main task was food shopping as we were off on Tuesday morning. I had the bright idea of taking one of our bags with wheels on that we use for traveling back to England etc. to put all of the heavy stuff in like bottled water, beer, wine etc. instead of getting a taxi. Well it worked for the first 5 meters then both the wheels gave out so I ended up dragging \ carrying it back to the RIB. It nearly did me in as it was a very hot day.
We got it back to the boat and packed it all away, I say ‘we’ but I mean Claire. We invited Ian and Lynne over for a beer to say farewell. They were staying on a bit longer then going to Cala Basa for a few days. Young Jack came over also, we first met him and his girlfriend Bernice in Altea. He is a nice lad and he reminds me of my son George a bit. I think they are going to travel with Lynne and Ian for a while.
Tuesday morning saw us pulling up our anchor around 10.30 to fill up the water tanks at the fuel birth. Confusing I know but you have to pay for water here which I can sort of understand. It was just under €9 for us. I quickly washed the boat down at the same time. As we motored past the marina we spotted the unmistakable shape of Neil. I whistled and he turned round, Erica also appeared from inside one of their charter boats. It was great for us to be able to wave goodbye to these two nice people.
Our trip to Cala Torida was perfect, we motored out of San Antonio bay. Claire made us both a fried egg roll with tea and coffee. After I cleared up the wind started to fill in and we had a great sail all the way to the bay. It was very open but the water was the clearest we have seen so far. We had only been there an hour when a massive Cat called ’Le Passion’, we had seen this boat before in cala Basa anchored next to us. We also recognized a boat we had met in Almerimar, with a German couple on board we think the boat was called ‘Paloma´.
There was also a group of young Germans on a charter yacht, they had all gone ashore but I think their boat wanted to join them as it started to move, dragging her anchor quite quickly a short time after they got off. I managed to attract the attention of a couple of lads on the boat nearest to it and they paddled across in their canoe, climbed on board and managed to let more chain out. Meanwhile the Germans were running along the beach, their outboard wouldn’t start so one of them was rowing out as fast as he could, he looked like Popeye. Our outboard was still clamped to the back of Red Rooster so I shouted across to the skipper of Le Passion whose large RIB and outboard was in the water ready to go asking if he would go and help but he just shrugged his shoulders and went inside, I shouted again for him to help them but he turned away. I was surprised by his action or lack of it. I think that’s the first time I have witnessed one sailor not offering to help another out. Shame on him.
Well the boat had stopped as the anchor had reset. It had moved about 75 meters. He had got to the boat and climbed on thanking the two lads and got the engine started bringing the boat back into the bay. By this time we had our outboard on the back of our RIB and I went across to see if I could help. The windlass was slipping and they had no spare rope on board, nothing!! So I went back to RR to get some. They could thread it through the chain onto their two bow cleats to stop the chain slipping. I also went and picked up the rest of the crew from the beach. I don’t think the lad had it in him to row back to pick them up himself.
We settled down for the night but the boat was rocking quite badly and we had very little sleep. I’m not sure if we will ever get used to this but we will need to sort something out. We knew we were safe because we had both swam over the anchor earlier seeing that it had set perfectly. In the morning we had a chat and decided to move on. Our initial destination was Cala Badella a few miles along the coast but when we got there it looked really small, rocky and we could see the small swells rolling into the cala which meant another sleepless night. Onwards then to Espalmador which is a very beautiful, privately owned sandy island in between Ibiza and Formentera. Fortunately the owners don’t seem to mind the many visitors who turn up there by boat and passenger ferry.
As it was out of season (1st June it gets busy) we managed to pick up a mooring buoy, well when I say we I mean a nice young chap in the boat next to us dived in and passed my line through the shackle under the buoy! How nice was that, I intended to take him a bottle of wine but he left a few minutes later.
When we went swimming later in the day we could see that all of the pickup buoys were temporarily tied to the mooring lines so that they were a couple of feet under the water!! I suppose this was to prevent them being used out of season.
The place was beautiful and very relaxing with calm clear water with nice beaches to walk along. We stayed for two nights then moved onto Cala Llonga.
There were two reasons for stopping at Cala Llonga the first was because we had been told by others we had met that this was a beautiful, well protected bay. The second was our good friends Roger and Joy Crooks regularly stay in an apartment here. We had talked to them about meeting up at the Shearwater mid-winter dinner but unfortunately we were a few weeks too early to see them. However our stay there was interesting as it turned out.
The Cala (Bay) is quite long and reasonably narrow. After our previous restless nights I wanted to drop a stern anchor as well as a bow anchor straight away. To do this we needed to be away from other boats as when you drop a bow and a stern anchor you don’t swing, as a boat would with just a single, bow anchor. Basically a boat with one anchor down can swing in a big circle dependent on the length of the chain whereas a boat with two anchors down is held roughly in the same place, in our case facing the waves so we needed to be on our own…..
We first dropped our anchor in a good spot but it didn’t set properly, I felt it bumping along the bottom through the chain. Claire confirmed this by swimming to take a look, so I pulled it up and we had another go this time it set well. I started to sort out our second anchor when a ferry boat came in motoring right over the spot I was thinking of putting it! I didn’t want to cause a problem so I decided to wait until the ferry´s stopped running normally around 1900. By that time there were boats everywhere so we swung like everyone else!!
The forecast for the next few days was for quite strong winds through the night. We went to bed as usual but I leapt out of it around 01.00 when the anchor alarm went off. I went out on deck the boat seemed ok but the wind was howling. I turned on the instruments and we had 30 knots funnelling straight down the Cala from the beach. Claire got up as well and we sat in the cockpit watching as the crews on other yachts got up to check their boats. Two of them must have dragged a bit as an English cat, and a larger Dutch cat started their engines and reset their anchors.
Another boat, a 42 ft French mono hull dragged it's anchor for about 100 meters passing very close to three other boats finally stopping a few meters away from the rocky cliffs. Claire shone a very strong light on them as did another boat but they were oblivious. We talked about whether I should go over and wake them as they did look very close to the cliffs but I had not put the engine on the RIB and the sea was very lumpy as the waves were bouncing around inside the Cala. A few minutes later we saw lights go on and heard their engine start. I can’t imagine what finally woke them but they must have had a hell of a shock when they saw how close they were to the cliffs. They started off about 30 meters from the beach in the centre of the Cala!!
The next morning we struck up a conversation with the family on the English cat that dragged. It was called ‘No Worries’ and Nick and Jen had decided to take a year out with their two young sons Aidan and Corann. The boys had slept right through the drama of the night before!!! They had been sailing slowly to the Balearics for the last 10 months or so and were now hurrying back to England to get the boys back into school for the new term starting in September. They were preparing to leave as soon as the weather sorted itself out with a hop to Cartagena. They brought us back some bread from the shop and we invited them on board for a drink later that day. We had a nice couple of hours chatting I was surprised when the boys said that they were looking forward to going home mainly to see their mates again. They said that they had met very few children their age while they had been cruising and that they missed playing. I didn’t think about it before but I suppose mixing with people your own age is very important.
That afternoon we took the RIB to shore and walked up the hill to eat in a restaurant called the Wild Asparagus recommended to us by Roger and Joy. Unfortunately it was shut but we had a very nice meal in the place next door with a great view of the Cala.
We were expecting more wind so we checked our anchor again before it got too dark and it was well and truly dug in. I tried putting a second anchor out from the bow in a V but although it seem to set OK it wasn’t as effective as when we did the same thing in Portimao.
A very large English motor yacht in excess of a 100 ft long called ‘Tinkerbell of Cornwall’ entered the Cala and dropped her anchor. There were a lot of strange goings on on-board culminating in a fancy dress party and a fireworks display!!
Well the wind didn’t disappoint and we were awake more than we slept. All the other boats stayed in roughly the same place as did we which was nice.
We were meant to leave the following morning but the wind just kept on blowing so we decided to stay put for another day. The wind started to ease as the sun went down and we finally got a decent night’s sleep. In the morning we waved our good byes to Nick, Jen and the boys, wishing them luck and promising to stay in touch. (we heard from them after they had left and in fact they went all the way from Ibiza to Almerimar, as the winds were good. 52 hrs nonstop!! well done everyone).
We motored for an hour then the wind started to arrive so we hoisted all sail and had a very nice few hours sailing around the headland with the very distinctive lighthouse into Portinatx.
We had heard from ‘Scarlett’ and ‘Toy Buoy’ that this Cala was quite rough when they had the same wind we did the other night so we positioned the anchor in a sandy spot reversed back and checked that it was well set, we sorted the boat out but inevitably the swell found its way in and for a while we were rocking all over the place far too much for me to sleep so I sorted out our stern anchor and spent a solid hour sorting out the tangled mess of rope that went with it. By the time I was ready to lay it the swell had gone and we had a reasonable night’s sleep.
The following morning I set the stern anchor and it did the trick. While the other yachts were rocking badly RR was facing into the waves rising and falling gently.
We had clothes and bedding washing to do and food to get so we took the RIB ashore. Jayne (Scarlett) had told us about washing machines and dryers in a hotel but you had to pretend you were staying there to use them. All the guests had blue wrist bands on as I think it was an ‘all inclusive’ hotel. Well as luck would have it I had some blue electrical tape which was almost the same colour and width so I made a couple of bands up and off we went. Well in we walked as bold as brass, to the launderette area and spent a nervous hour or so washing and drying our stuff. It worked like a charm. We took the washing back to the boat then went back to shore for food shopping. We had a bite to eat in a nice restaurant overlooking the bay then went back to the boat as we were off at 0700 on the 1st June 2016 for the trip across to Mallorca. Portinatx is a lovely spot, we really liked it there.
In the morning before the sun was up we had to retrieve and stow the stern anchor in the RIB, winch the RIB on-board and lash it down, check the engine, then I had to pull up the bow anchor. All of this was completed with no raised voices, no confusion. I am really pleased that Claire and I can work so well together. We motored out to sea, all was quiet, I went below to make us a cup of tea and we sat in the cockpit looking at the vague shapes of Mallorca on the horizon about 50 miles away. After a couple of hours the wind started to fill in from the NW. The sails went up and the engine went off. Bliss. I think we have done more sailing already this year than we had done in the whole of last year!
Our route was a dead straight line, nothing to worry about apart from other boats. We kept seeing these little floating pod things. Like the ones we saw on the trip to Ibiza. I didn’t have ‘Scarlett’ to ask to catch one so I went below and got Claire’s flour Sieve and taped it to the boat hook! Claire moaned a bit but I caught one quickly and before she knew it, it was washed up and back in the cupboard!
The thing I caught was very interesting and you can see in the picture that it has evolved into this very clever shape. It floats on top of the sea with the ‘sail’ catching the breeze propelling it across the sea. After a bit of research I have discovered that they are called ‘Velella velella’ apparently they are cnidarians (a diverse phylum of animals including corals and jelly fish) they are not dangerous and they can be found in all of the warm oceans of the world. There you have learnt something new as well as a couple of good scrabble words!!
We entered the small port of Andraitx it looked and was beautiful. After a call on Ch 9 a marinero came out and directed us to a buoy helping us with our lines. After we were secure we asked him where the office was to check in and he said he could do it all from his RIB. He took pictures of our passports, insurance docs and boat details on an ipad transferring them over the WiFi to the office, we paid by card for three nights and got a receipt. All this while he was bobbing about by the side of our boat!! Technology eh. The buoy was 30€ a night, it went up on June 1st the day of our arrival the cost doubled from 15€ as we were now in ‘high season’ a spot in the marina was double again. We prefer to be on a mooring or at anchor. I have put a lot of time and money into making RR self-sufficient. It’s definitely cooler on a mooring, you have a nice breeze all of the time and just being able to dive off the back of the boat for a swim is the icing on the cake.
We went ashore for a stroll around the town, it was obvious from the restaurants, the type of people and the expensive cars driving slowly along the seafront that this was a prosperous place. We stopped at ‘Tim’s’ as there was live music, a brilliant guitarist being accompanied by his friend on drums. We had nice food and drink there. We struck up a conversation with an English family that owned a property on the outskirts of town. It was good being able to tell them that we had sailed RR from England. The wife kept looking out at RR swinging on the mooring shaking her head as she struggled to comprehend just what that meant. ‘You must get on very well’ she said. What a perceptive woman.
After a lot of confusion it appears that we will be able to meet up with my son George before he flies back to England on the 6th June. He was still working on-board ‘Freya’. He was without a phone so communicating was via messenger but he needed to move his stuff off of the boat and he also said that we could see a bit more of the island if we had a car so we decided to hire one. Extravagant I know!!
We got the bus from Andraitx to Palma 5.50€ each for the 1 hour trip. I do like getting the buses. It was really good returning to Palma we had been here before to see George and I had started my trans-Atlantic crossing from here with George in 2014. It is very high, I would say it's at the top of our ‘places to live’ list at the moment. I can’t really explain why but we just love it here. So we needed to find a cheap car hire company, we avoided the big names choosing instead to wander the back streets of the city. Claire spotted a sign ‘Ibacar rentals’ and we rented a newish Ford fiesta for 4 days at 27€ a day!! The return bus fare for us back to Andraitx was 22€ result.
We drove it to the STP marina where all of the super yachts park up. It wasn’t long before George and I were raising very large glasses of beer at one of our favourite bars right next to the marina. It was great to see him, we had last raised a glass almost a year ago when he came to see us in Porto for a week. He was looking very well but tired as he had been working hard these last few days organising the ‘hand over’ to the new crew as he was leaving Freya and helping with the removal of the mast.
We took his stuff around to Dan and Gemma’s apartment which they had bought only a few weeks ago. They were very kindly letting George stay there for a few days. It was great to see Dan again. He needed some stuff bringing back from STP to his house in the car as well so I was very pleased to be able to help him out.
Georges last day was Friday 3rd he was getting off work early to have a few drinks then going out for a meal with Joph and his wife Georgie, they were the skipper and chef on-board Freya. A few others that were involved with the work to get her ready for the Mediterranean season were invited too. George said he would ask if we could also come along. We were very pleased to hear that we could so we met up later that evening for a really nice meal with nice people. The best bit for all of those invited was that the boat paid!!
I was used to this having sailed Ptarmigan to St Lucia in 2014. There is a maintenance \ wages\ marina fees \ food and everything else budget for the boat. Included within that is an allowance for crew meals ashore. This was one of them!! We finished eating just after 2300 then went onto a cocktail bar where Claire and I bought a round of drinks for everyone who was at the meal to say thank you. I enjoyed several Expresso Martini’s. We finally left George to carry on the celebrations around 2 in the morning saying our goodbyes and thanks to Joph for a great night out in Palma.
Dan and Gemma had invited us over for a bit of breakfast the following morning, luckily it wasn’t until 1100. We just about made it. While Gemma and Claire got things ready, Dan, George and I went to STP in the car to bring some more stuff back to the apartment including an old 49er sail that Dan hoped would provide shade up on his roof terrace. When we got back we rigged it as best we could, it wasn’t ideal. I think we were lucky it didn’t take off in the stronger gusts. Anyway Gemma cooked us all a lovely brunch. We helped clear things away then Claire, George and I left to do some shopping, mainly to find a flight bag for George. I was also hoping to buy him a watch for his 21st birthday but he couldn’t find one that he really liked.
After shopping we went for a drive to the north of the island to a beautiful village called Deia. The main part of the village was up in the hills and it really was beautiful. We enjoyed a very nice meal there in a place George recommended. George and I had a Monkey 47 Gin and tonic with red berries in. It looked very nice and tasted even better.
George said that there was another restaurant near the small beach at the bottom of the cliffs that was famous for being used as a location in the recent TV series ‘The night manager’ now Claire and I really enjoyed that series. We watched the first four episodes whilst we were staying with my Mum and Dad over the winter and my parents recorded and sent the last two episodes out by post, well it was the last episode twice but that’s another story. As we parked the car and started walking down the steep path towards the tiny harbour I couldn’t think where this location would fit in the drama but as soon as I saw it I knew. It was where Roper and his entourage were eating and a group robbed them and they pretended to kidnap the son and Tom Hiddleston’s character rescued the son and beat up the baddies. It was brilliant to be standing where all of that took place. Claire and I would like to see Ropers house on the cliff’s the one with the bedrooms in the tower. That is supposed to be on Mallorca too. Anyway George had a swim to cool down a bit then we walked back to the car and made our way back to Palma. We dropped him off at Dan’s then went back to the boat for a rest. Late nights and hot days are no good for me anymore I was exhausted but what a great day.
Sunday 5th June saw us back at Dan’s. No one was in so we guessed that they might be at STP marina again so we went there and there they were. Unfortunately Gemma was working but Dan and George were just finishing off some tidying up, we were all hungry so we went to a nice little bar that served an excellent full English breakfast. We each had a couple of bottles of Magner’s cider to wash it down. Perfect.
Back at Dan’s Claire helped George pack his stuff ready for his trip back to England in the morning. We all felt a bit jaded so we sat down and watched the French Tennis open between Djockovitch and Murray. Murray lost but it was a good game. Later that evening we went out for a curry George wanted to meet up with a few sailing mates to have some goodbye drinks so we left him to it promising to pick him up at 0830 the following morning (6th June) to take him to the airport.
We had a quiet night on board as we had to be up at 0700 to make sure we were at Georges for 0830. We were really lucky deciding to stay at Andraitx whilst we were meeting up with George. There was a free carpark right next to a boat slipway that had a few spare mooring rings. We left the RIB tied up there for hours at a time especially that night we went out for the meal we didn’t get back to it until 0230!!
We picked George up and stayed with him at the airport until he went through passport control. His bag weighed exactly the correct amount I couldn’t believe it. I was sad to see him go especially as I was going to miss his 21st Birthday celebrations but I believe that our relationship is solid I truly hope it is and I am looking forward already to the next time we meet.
Claire and I went shopping again dropping the car off in the afternoon. I cannot quite believe how it all worked out so well with the car. Being able to help not only my son but also Dan and Gemma who are in turn helping George was brilliant but it also allowed us to see a bit more of this fantastic island as well as giving us the freedom to enjoy the crew meal with George and not having to worry about taxis and buses at 2 in the morning it was worth every penny.
Tuesday 7th saw us filling up with fuel and water before leaving the beautiful port of Andraitx for the very short hop around the corner to a very secluded spot. Cala Marmacen had absolutely nothing to offer apart from beautiful clear blue water, peace and quiet. There wasn’t a beach, a bar or a German tourist to be seen. By the way there are a lot of Germans, I mean a lot of Germans on the Balearics at this time of year.
It was just what we needed after the last few days in Palma. We dropped a bow and stern anchor, we swam to make sure both anchors were set then sat back and relaxed. We stayed here for two nights. It's odd but having nothing to tempt you is as good sometimes as having plenty to see and do. Somehow it came up in conversation that Claire couldn’t dive!! So I started giving her diving lessons from the back of the boat. She can sort of dive now and she is getting better all the time. Something about teachers being the worst students kept springing to mind!
We moved again on the 9th to Cala Camp de Mar. This is a very nice spot tucked into the corner of a very large bay. The main attraction is a small restaurant on an island accessible by a long wooden bridge from the beach. It reminded us both of GiGi’s a restaurant that Dave and Lauri took us too when we met up last year in Vilamoura.
We set up the boat again with two anchors diving to check that they were both set. The water here was beautiful too. I have been swimming a lot and I am feeling more confident each day. Claire swam about 100 meters to the shore where we had seen an old man sort of taking care of lots of small piles of stones that had been balanced on the rocks at the water’s edge, one on top of the other by him and added to by tourists I suppose to make small wobbly towers. I waved to her indicating that I was going to swim across to her. We have both found it easier to swim with a mask and snorkel as your breathing is easier, especially for me as I prefer front crawl. Well I got there but it was a long way and towards the end I was struggling a bit having to spit the snorkel out and use breast stroke telling myself not to panic over and over as I swam the final twenty meters.
The old man was nowhere to be seen but the stacks of stones were nice to see and I placed one or two on top of a tower. It reminded us of our dear walking friend Maria from Almerimar. Claire said I needed to make a wish…….Well I wished that I didn’t have to swim back!! But after a few more minutes’ rest I set off and it was fine. I felt as if another little mental barrier had been pushed out of the way when I got back on-board.
Later that day we went ashore in the RIB, taking all our rubbish with us to put in one of the many bins to be found. We had a little stroll, Claire looked in the shops, I didn’t. We then walked across the wooden bridge and had a drink and a plate of French fries (sounds more up market than chips!) It was lovely there and not to expensive so I booked a table for lunch the following day. We bought some bread for the following morning’s breakfast then went back to RR.
We slept well and spent the morning swimming, washing the boat and tidying it up. Soon we were back in the restaurant sharing a large jug of sangria and eating a tropical salad and a lemon chicken with potatoes and Mediterranean tomatoes while we looked out across the blue waters at RR swaying in the sunshine. After we had finished our meal we walked back through the shops. Claire bought the dress she had seen yesterday, I am so lucky to have Claire you know as the dress was in the sale and an absolute bargain. She has saved me so much money!?! She placated me with a promise of ice creams as we walked along the sea front back to the RIB.
We had a bit of a restless night as the wind got up from dead astern. Now here’s the problem as I saw it. We had two anchors out, the bigger in the front with the smaller one at the back. The smaller one was doing all of the work now as the boat was being pushed by the wind from behind. We were quite close to the rocks on the Port (left) side and I was worried that if I let the smaller anchor go the boat would swing around in the wind with the back hitting the rocks. So I decided to leave things as they were until the morning as we intended to leave then anyway another reason was that the wind normally reduces in strength during the night, diurnal variation apparently. Well it did calm down a bit but there was enough wind about to keep me going up on deck all through the night.
About 8 the following morning I couldn’t stand it anymore, the wind was getting stronger again so I got Claire up, something you don’t do without a very good reason and told her what we were going to do. The problem was still the same. I was worried that as I lifted the stern anchor in the RIB the back of the boat would swing into the rocks. So the plan, and it was a cunning plan was for Claire to start RR’s engine, for me to get into the RIB with the outboard engine running, Claire would then untie the stern anchor passing the end to me. I would then use the RIB to push the back of RR through the eye of the wind making sure she swung away from the rocks. Well it worked like a charm. As RR started swinging away from the rocks I went and pulled up the second (kedge) anchor using the trip line which was attached to a small pickup buoy. Once this was in the RIB I went over to RR and she was settled now on her bow anchor facing into the wind. Result. After half an hour or so we were ready to leave so I pulled up the anchor and we motored out of the bay, hoisting the sails as we headed towards our new destination,.
Cala Portals is a beautiful but very popular anchorage. Boats of all shapes and sizes squeeze into this place. It has three little bays with four nice beaches at their ends. Two of these had good fish restaurants set back in the trees. When we arrived mid-morning on Saturday 11th there were already about 10 boats tucked away around the edges. After the experience we had just had Claire wanted to drop the anchor a bit further away from any obstructions so we could relax a bit. There was a nice spot right in the middle so that’s where we dropped the hook. I dived to check that it was ok and we sat back to admire our new surroundings. There are three square openings in the rock on one side that were burial tombs dating back to Phoenician times.
As the day wore on more and more boats turned up and at one time I counted over 50!! It was like the London boat show with vessels of every shape and size crammed in where ever they could find space. Then, then a large ferry boat came in!! In amongst all of the normal speed boats and fiberglass yachts like ours there were a few beautiful boats that there owners had bought out for a spin at the weekend. I was already thinking about moving on but as the sun started to drop they all slowly left leaving just three boats to enjoy a peaceful night.
You do see some funny things though, there were two blokes on a French boat. One was leaning over the side of the boat with a great big spear gun whilst the other tempted the fish closer with bits of bread. He fired a few times but never caught one.
We heard via the Almerimar jungle drums (Face book messenger) that Ian and Lynne were coming into this bay tomorrow so that was something to look forward to.
Monday 13th June saw Infinity turn into the beautiful Cala Portals and it wasn’t long before they were on board RR. We get on well with Ian and Lynne and it's always nice to catch up after a few days or weeks apart. They too have been very impressed with what they have seen of Mallorca so far. It’s hard to explain as it’s like Ibiza but better!
We had a walk on shore to visit the Phoenician burial tombs. It was hard to make out what parts were very old and what parts were just old. One thing I did notice was the thousands of gouge marks in the stone on the ceiling that must have been made by someone with a hammer and chisel. I know this type of stone is pretty soft but that must have been hard work.
We had a nice surprise as Angus, a bloke we met when we had the meal out with ‘Freya’ in Palma swam out to us from the shore with a girl he knew. He is a nice lad and it was impressive that he remembered the name of the boat. We had a beer and he told us some nice places to stop when we eventually get to Sardinia.
Later that day, well just before it got dark Ian and I raided the small marina in my RIB. It was like a well-planned marine assault to fill up our solar shower bags. (These are basically 20 litre black plastic bags with a shower attachment. You fill them up, lay them on the deck all day and by the evening the water is perfect for a nice warm shower with the sun having done all the work). As we rounded the harbour wall in near darkness there were two men smoking cigarettes at the end of the pontoon. They caught us red handed. Ian shouted out in his best Spanglish ‘Amigo, Para mi agua?’ ‘Se Se No problemo’ came the reply. Oh well it was sort of exciting for a little while.
The following morning Claire and I left for Cala Nova to meet up with Graeme and Jayne on Scarlett. Ian and Lynne were going to follow in a day or two. We had a nice sail down with only the Genoa out as there was a nice 15 – 20 knots blowing from astern. We passed Magaluf to port arriving at our destination after a couple of relaxed hours sailing down the coast. We anchored in close to shore tucking ourselves into a corner behind the sea wall and we deployed the stern anchor straight away. We swam to check that both anchors had set well.
It wasn’t long before Claire saw the familiar outline and colours of Scarlett. We waved as they swept around the sea wall and into the marina. We shouted that we would come and find them in our RIB in an hour or two for a drink and a chat. It was great to see them again, the last time we had met was in the marina in Palma as they were preparing to travel to France to attend Graeme’s daughter’s wedding. We talked for an hour or two then Claire and I walked into town to get some food shopping in the local Eroski. Leaving our RIB tied up next to Scarlett. When we returned we agreed to meet up again in the morning.
As we motored out of the marina in our little RIB we knew that it was going to be a restless night for us as the wind was still quite strong and the swell was sweeping into the corner where we were, bouncing back from the rocks which were about 40 meters behind us. I talked to Claire as we looked back longingly into the calm entrance of Cala Nova marina. ‘We could ask if they have a berth for a night or two’ I said. ‘No way’ came the immediate reply, ‘Graeme and Jayne are paying over 60€ a night and I’m not paying that!’ ‘OK that’s fine with me’ I replied ‘but if it gets unbearable or we start having problems with the anchors during the night we are going in, we will tie up to the empty fuel pontoon and we’ll sort the money out in the morning’.
When we were back on board RR Claire produced another brilliant meal, we watched some NYPD Blue episodes (these really are still very good) before getting ready for bed. I had already decided to try and sleep in the saloon so as not to wake Claire when I went on deck every now and then to check that things were OK. The wind had died a bit but the sea around us was still very disturbed.
Well the night was quite bad but the boat was OK meaning that we were ok too just tired as sleep proved very difficult to come by. At times like these I always think of my old mate Colin Gautry from Cornwall. We used to drive from Hayle to Brands hatch in Kent for the festival of a 1000 bikes every year in his rusty old van leaving on a Friday afternoon after a hard day’s work, we took turns to drive during the 6 – 7 hour trip. Our classic motor bikes were strapped down in the back, we had flasks of coffee and snacks to keep us going. When he was driving I could not get to sleep no matter how hard I tried, when it was my turn to drive Colin used to pull his oil stained baseball cap down over his eyes and say ‘good night luv, wake me when it's my turn’ and fall immediately into a deep sleep, snoring within two minutes!! It used to drive me mad.
We were back with Jayne and Graeme by 1100. We needed more food shopping, Claire wanted to update the blog and we also needed cooking gas. I tried to find out where to get the gas cylinder replaced (we like most other cruisers use the blue camping gaz bottles) but I was told that the nearest place was Palma!! Graeme needed some too so I decided to get the bus into Palma. I walked to the bus stop but the first bus driver refused to take me with the empty gas bottles. I decided to get a taxi as it wasn’t far and we would have problems on RR if we ran out of gas. While I was waiting for a taxi to drive by another bus came along. I decided to have another go and got on in the middle of some other people, this time it was OK. I recognised where we were as we entered Palma having driven in the same way when we had the car. I got off, walked to the chandlery changed the two bottles, asked them for two large bags to put them in so the bus driver on the return trip wouldn’t notice and caught the bus back. All this within an hour and a half, Perfecto!!
Claire was still in the marina office downloading the blog. When she was finished we went shopping with Jayne to get the last of the food and drink we needed before going for a quick shower in the marina to clean up and cool off. We didn’t want to hang around too long as we wanted to move to a better anchorage before nightfall. We felt a little guilty as we had used all of the marinas facilities but hadn’t paid a cent. Graeme and Jayne were fine with it so what the hell. As we were making ready to leave Ian and Lynne turned up, deciding to book into the marina also. They had a bit of a shock as the only berth available was for a 12 meter yacht and they had to pay the same price as Scarlett!! We had a quick chat then we were on our way, packing everything away when we got back to RR and getting ready to sail in record time. We only moved a couple of miles to Las Illetas where we anchored in shallow water behind a small island that was protecting us from the swell. Bliss, oh yes we slept very well thanks for asking!
In the morning after a swim and some breakfast we moved the boat again around the other side of this little anchorage protected by small rocky islands. I just felt we would have more shelter on the other side as the winds were due to come in from the North for a day or two. It was perfect and before the day was out Scarlett was there too. What a beautiful bay we could get fresh bread just a few minutes’ walk away, the water was calm, warm and clear.
While we were there, we were on board Scarlett actually, eating and drinking for a change, Claire got a call from our friend Al Long who is Claire Wood´s (One of Claire’s best friends) fiancé. He was anchored nearby and asked if it would be OK if he turned up in about an hour or so if he could borrow a tender from the superyacht he was working on. Al is the chief engineer so the chances were pretty good and turn up he did, as it happens he was anchored very close to where we had been outside of the marina at Cala Nova. More importantly he bought a bottle of vino tinto as we say out here, two bottles of Guinness and 24 Cumberland sausages!! What a guy.
It was great to see him, he stayed for a couple of hours then shot off back to his ship. It’s great when you meet up with old friends. Don’t get me wrong the new friends we have met are just brilliant but there is something about seeing old friends from our other life. Especially when they turn up baring gifts. I mean Guinness, come on!! Turn up again mate anytime.
We stayed in this lovely spot until the 20th June. But before we ventured much further we needed to fill up RR with water. The nearest marina to us was Puerto Portals, which has the reputation of being one of the most expensive marinas in the whole of the Mediterranean Sea!! We joked that there water was probably sparkling water from Perrier but we couldn’t have been more wrong, the staff were great, the water was cheap at 5€ for a boat full and they were ok to let me give RR a good wash down with fresh water. Great.
We motored out into the freshening wind quickly setting all sail with one reef in the main and turning the engine off. We had a cracking sail across the Bay of Palma to the very snug Cala Pi.
Cala Pi is quite narrow with room for about 5 -6 yachts, the pilot book advises you to anchor in the middle taking a line ashore from your stern to pull your back in and to prevent you swinging across the entrance channel to the beach as the wind changes direction. It's a bit like backing your car into one of those angled parking bays in a busy town. Claire handled this perfectly, I didn’t want to tie a rope around a rock as others had done because we intended to stay here for a few nights and they looked sharp and could easily cut through given time so I had the idea of taking a small anchor to shore, wedging it in the rocks above the waterline. The first 5 – 10 meters of our small anchor line is made up of chain so that was now rubbing on the rocks and not the rope.
It was around this time that I heard back from a popular sailing magazine called Yachting Monthly, I had submitted an excerpt from our blog (the time we sailed to Holland in 2014) around December last year. My friend Kevin McCarthy read through and tidied it up before I sent it in. They have a section for cruising sailors and it would appear that my piece has been accepted. I am not sure what month it will appear but I will receive £100 when it goes in. How about that!
Cala Pi was perfect apart from one thing, actually there were loads of them, Jelly Fish!! It was so frustrating. The water was beautiful but you couldn’t swim, Claire looked them up on tinternet and the type we had did sting. We had a nice meal on shore though, and relaxed in the sun on board.
Wednesday 22nd saw us leaving this lovely spot as we sailed, I know we have sailed so much this year already. To the island of Cabrera which lies about 5 miles off the coast of Mallorca. Of course the wind was bang on the nose but we threw in a few tacks and in no time at all we were flaking the main down onto the boom as we prepared to enter this special place. Cabrera is a National park, and a National treasure there are only 50 buoys available in the well sheltered natural harbour. You have to book in advance and you can only stay one or two days in the high season. There are no tourist developments, no jet skis, no loud music, no fishing you have to take all of your rubbish away with you when you leave.
Just 50 boats swinging on their moorings, a small bar selling beer and wine, a 14th century castle to walk to and a bit of history to read up about. What a place to visit. The water was warm and there wasn’t a jelly fish in sight. We had a great time there but could only stay for one night as all of the buoys were booked.
Disaster struck whilst we were here though, the camera went wrong, this is the second one as the first had problems with the zoom but this one, our back up, had problems with the memory card and I have lost about 200 pictures!!!! I realise that only two or three would have been any good but I am really angry and it has taught me that I must download the pictures from the camera onto the PC more often. Bugger!!
On then to Colonia de Sant Jordi back on the coast of Mallorca, we anchored just outside of the marina in a very calm bay. We saw ‘Paloma’ again and waved hello. We needed food shopping, to buy another camera if possible, Claire needed a haircut, I didn’t! Claire also wanted to wash the bedding so we have decided to stay here for a few days. We will post this on the web site too.
Colonia de Sant Jordi is another one of those places that has surprised us. We have not heard of it but it's a very nice town with lots of good beaches and restaurants. The anchorage is also very sheltered.
We managed to get most of our jobs done, Claire got quite a good haircut for 12€ I sorted my watch out 6€ thank you very much, two runs from the Eroski back to the boat, the first with alcohol and water, the second with the food. Although we buy a lot of alcohol the cost compared to the food we buy is always cheaper. For example this time Drink, 29€ food for a week 70€.
There was nowhere really that we could buy a camera and washing the bed linen was proving to be a problem a as we couldn’t find a launderette in town. We felt we deserved some light refreshment so we stopped at a waterside restaurant. We caught up with everyone using the WiFi. When it was time to pay I asked the very nice young waitress, Sara. (She had very good English and when I asked where she came from she said she had spent a lot of time in Thailand and Ireland) if she knew where a lavandería (launderette) was. She went to ask, returning with good and bad news. There was no lavandería in the town but she said that it would be OK for us to use the washing machine that was in their other restaurant at the other end of the beach!! We agreed to meet her at 1300 the following day and she would take us there and sort it out. How nice was that!!
Well meet her we did, we walked along the busy sea front to a restaurant called S’Arrosseria which has a very good reputation for making the best Paella’s in Sant Jordi / Mallorca. So while we sat and had a jug of sangria and an excellent sea food Paella between us our washing was being done out the back. They wouldn’t accept any money for the use of the washing machine either. I think there’s a niche in the market for this kind of service!
We had to hang it out to dry when we got back to the boat, that sounds simple but it was very windy and Claire was worried about losing it all so I had to stand there holding it on the line. Luckily it was very warm and in less than 20 minutes the quilt cover, sheets and pillow cases were bone dry!
We were thinking of moving on but the strong easterly winds we had been getting were due to last another 24hours so we decided to stay put as even though it was blowing the water was very calm which meant a good night’s sleep. During one of our daily swims we discovered that our anchor chain had got itself caught under a large rock and although it wasn’t too much of a problem it did give us a nice sense of security as it meant we were going nowhere no matter how hard the wind blew!
If we were staying another day I needed something to do…..the wire guard rails that run from the front of the boat to the back on both sides were looking pretty shabby I would guess that they had been there since the boat was built 26 years ago. I had some Dyneema that was the right size (Dyneema is a very strong synthetic rope, stronger than steel wire of the same size) so I set about removing the top wire on both sides and replacing them with Dyneema. It went well, I had to splice the Dyneema and I looked at a You Tube clip to see how to do it. I didn’t want to waste our data card looking at it every time I did the splice so I went on line and played it once on my tablet and I filmed it using Claire’s tablet, Simples!!
The only problem using Dyneema instead of wire is chafe, there is a possibility of this where it passes through the stanchions. To try and alleviate this I used the outer covering from a spare piece of rope to cover the Dyneema at these points.
The next morning (28th June) the wind had calmed a bit so we got ready to leave I dived to look at the chain, it was still stuck but I could see what we needed to do to get it out. I climbed back on board, Claire started the engine and I pulled in as much chain as I could then Claire motored hard to Port with me pulling hard and it popped out. The rest came up easy and we were on our way. We still had 10 – 15 knots from the East. Yes, on the nose so up went the sails and off went the motor. It took us approximately 5 hours to sail around to Cala Gran. It was perfecto.
As usual we dropped the sails outside of the Cala. We do this by first starting the engine, next we wind in the genoa. Claire then puts the engine into gear, going very slowly and heads us into wind before putting on the auto pilot so she can move to the front of the main sail. I then slowly lower the sail following Claire’s lead so the folds, or flakes of sail are in the same place every time, to help with this we have marked the front edge (luff) of the sail where the folds are with spots of indelible ink.
The idea behind this is that the sail slowly develops a ‘memory’ being folded in the same place every time then, in theory it almost starts to fold itself!! Once it's down Claire goes back on the helm to take us in whilst I take the main halyard off, zip the sail bag up and start preparing the anchor. This time though as Claire increased the revs on the engine there was a serious amount of vibration coming through the boat. Claire put the engine into neutral and then tried again. Same result. I also had a go, also trying it in reverse but still the same problem. The most likely cause was something wrapped around the propeller, an old fishing net maybe, the worse scenario was that one of the blades had fallen off of the 3 bladed folding prop, if you remember I had it all apart during the haul out in Almerimar but I was confident that I re assembled it correctly. I mean I didn’t have any screws left over or anything!
By leaving the engine in forward on the lowest speed setting we could creep, very slowly into the Cala. We dropped the anchor as soon as possible and I went in to have a look with a snorkel and mask, oh the relief it was a large piece of plastic netting wrapped around the prop. I wasn’t really worried that a blade had fallen off….honestly. I gaffer taped a sharp knife onto our boat hook went back in and cut it away in a few minutes. We started the engine and everything was fine. I am sure we are all aware of the growing problem of plastic waste in the seas around our world. We try very hard not to discard anything that will add to this problem but we see evidence of it virtually every day.
Cala Gran was a beautiful spot but it was very busy. We went ashore in the evening for a bite to eat and a stroll. We both agreed that it was far too touristy for our tastes. Unfortunately the meal we had was pricey and not very good.
We made our way back to the boat and that’s when our problems really begun. The swell was making its way into the Cala rocking the boat badly. I put a stern anchor out but it made little difference this time as the waves were bouncing around inside of the little bay coming at us from all angles. I think it was the worse night we had spent on board so far. We decided to move on the following day as soon as we were ready. We only travelled for about an hour or so before we dropped anchor off a lovely little beach in Porto Colon. What a difference. It was perfect and we stayed for three nights.
Not far from the boat a small pontoon was anchored in the cordoned off swimming area with a slide and a diving board so one afternoon we swam to it from RR to continue Claire’s diving lessons. It was good fun and we swam from there to the beach where we sat for a while enjoying looking at the kids playing in the sand.
We spoilt ourselves having many showers off the back of the boat, Claire caught up with the rest of the hand washing also. The water tanks were almost empty but it was ok as we knew from reading the pilot book that we could fill RR up with water from the fuel pontoon in the marina when we were ready to leave.
We found the supermarket in town and stocked up with food before pulling up the anchor on the 1st June. We motored across to the fuel berth telling the marinaro that we only wanted water and not fuel. ‘Sorry there is no water here’ he said, just diesel or petrol!! That was the first time, and I know it won’t be the last that I felt the shock of realising that something we took so for granted could be denied us. Something that is fundamental to our enjoyment and I suppose survival. As I have said before I have spent a lot of time and money making sure the RR was self-sufficient but fresh water was and is something that I thought we could get anywhere in the Med. We are considering installing a water maker but only when we are ready to venture into the more remote areas on our trip. I didn’t think we would need to fit one in Spain!! I understand and accept that we might need to pay to fill up our tanks but to be told there is none available came as a bit of a surprise. ‘No’ he said pointing to a pontoon under 10 meters away ‘you have to go over there’…. Ok so I am being a little melodramatic but I am sure that one day it will happen and I made a mental note not to get too complacent about the availability of fresh water.
So with full tanks and a boat still dripping having been quickly washed from bow to stern with fresh water we made our way out to sea heading for Cala Molto. It took us about 4 hours and for the first time in a long time we had to motor almost all of the way due to the very light winds. We were looking forward to getting there though as we knew ‘Scarlett’ was waiting for us.
We were very close to the Cala when we heard a message on the VHF. ‘Sailing vessel Red Rooster, Sailing vessel Red Rooster this is Palma Radio, Palma Radio do you read me over’. Both Claire and I looked at each other in amazement as we had never heard our boats name called on the VHF other than from friends wanting to chat. I went below and replied. Palma radio was relaying a message to us from the Spanish coast guard. The coast guard came on and explained that they could see us on AIS (automatic identification system) and that we were very close to a boat they would like to get in touch with? They gave us the boats co-ordinates and asked if we could tell them the boats name and type of boat. I confirmed that we could and signed off. We sorted the boat out and motored into the cala. Claire went below and entered the coordinates we were given as a way point on our chart. Sure enough there was a yacht there called ‘Sea bel 2’ I contacted the coast guard and gave them the information they wanted. They thanked me and then asked if we could ask the skipper of the boat to contact them on their VHF radio. Claire and I anchored RR and had a chat about whether we should get involved any further. What if they had stolen the boat, what if they were suspected of drug running or people trafficking?? I thought our imaginations were on overdrive and reasoned that if it was anything more serious than incorrect AIS information being transmitted from the boat they would have sent armed Guardia Civil over in a big black RIB.
We rowed over to the yacht and tried to explain what they needed to do but they were Spanish with very little English and at first thought we wanted to borrow their radio. Eventually we got them to understand what they needed to do and we left them to it. Claire is still a bit miffed that she didn’t get to hear their end of the story. But I am confident it wasn’t anything serious.
Minutes later we were on board Scarlett, drinks in hand catching up with our good friends Graeme and Jayne. Everything was OK with them and we invited them on to RR later in the evening when the sun had lost some of it's strength. Claire and I decided to move RR into a better spot once all of the day boats started to leave. We anchored a bit closer to the beach, went for a nice long swim in the clear, warm water before sorting the boat out ready for our guests. This was a lovely spot, quite quiet as there were no beaches just a rugged shoreline with the odd nudist sunbather wedged in between the larger rocks.
The following day we all went into town, this meant taking Graeme’s RIB around into the next cala, the difference was amazing as there was a long sandy beach which was packed with mostly German tourists. (I haven’t mentioned this before but the whole of Mallorca is packed with Germans. Everywhere we have visited on this island there have been lots of Germans on shore as well as on boats of all shapes and sizes. It's not been a problem, I just thought I would mention it.)
We had a stroll into the small town for a beer and a WiFi fix. We also make sure we take all our rubbish with us whenever we go ashore as it quickly starts to smell a bit in the heat. Making our way back to the boats we started talking about the evening meal and we decided to have a BBQ on the beach, neither of us had done this before and Graeme and Jayne had a Cob BBQ we could use. So around 1900 we went to shore taking everything we needed and we all enjoyed the experience. It was very relaxing and we all get on very well. It was a bit tricky getting everything and everybody back into the RIB as the swell had started to build. We had talked during the evening about whether we should leave in the morning as the wind was due to pick up along with the swell and if the forecast proved correct it would be coming straight into this cala. On the way back to the boats we noticed that a large, posh tender was still at anchor in the cala with no lights on, no one on board or left on the beach? This was quite unusual as this kind of boat usually left before the sun went down. Oh well bed time.
I woke several times in the night as the wind had picked up quite a bit and by 0400 the waves had started to grow in size making themselves felt. By the time the sun rose our tranquil little bay was quite rough and thoughts of leaving started to enter my head. I went up on deck for a look around and I couldn´t see the tender anymore? I assumed it must have left during the night. Then I noticed that it had been washed up onto the rocky beach and was being pounded by the waves. Oh what a shame I hate to see things like that. I was confident that there was no one on board and until this wind and sea calmed down a bit there was very little that could be done to re-float it.
Graeme shouted across saying that he had had a bad night and that he was going to move on in about an hour. Claire and I had a chat and a look at the forecast deciding that we would leave too. There was to be a few days of NW winds and we could anchor outside of the marina in Alcudia gaining protection from the marina wall and the surrounding hills.
We started to sort RR out ready for sea, and were entertained by the almost continuous stream of people coming to look at the tender still wedged on the rocky beach, two or three different types of police turned up, then three guys who looked like they were responsible for the tender started to try and manoeuvre it back into the water, before long all of the nudist sunbathers were helping out too all pulling and pushing with little effect, I know you shouldn’t laugh at other people’s misfortunes but it was funny, it reminded me of the Benny Hill sketches.
I got back to thinking about our impending trip, the sea was really beginning to build now and I suspected that when we got clear of the land the swells would be quite large and the wind was bound to increase in strength. I had already pulled one reef in our main but after a chat with Claire I decided to pull in the second reef (For those who are unsure what ‘reef’ means it just a nautical term which means to reduce the size of the sail. As the wind gets stronger you need less sail area to move the boat forward, it’s better for you and the boat if you have the right size sails up. It's less strain on everything and everybody) I also try to do as much preparation for sailing whilst we are still anchored as it's easier and less risky than when you’re out at sea.
We started the engine, pulled the anchor up and started to make our way out of the Cala. Both Claire and I felt quite nervous. It didn’t help when we saw the size of the waves, probably about 2 - 3 meters. Claire went below and came back with our life jackets ‘put that on’ she instructed. We couldn’t put the sails up straight away as the angle would have had us tacking in under the rocky headland after about 10 minutes sailing so we motored until we could clear the headland. It didn’t take too long but I hated every minute of it. The hull of a yacht isn’t designed for this, crashing through waves under engine. RR was making a terrible noise as she banged down off of the larger swells. The engine was OK but in seas this big it makes odd noises as the exhaust goes under the water, and as you start to pick up speed down the bigger waves the sound from the propeller changes because it's not working as hard.
Scarlett looked fine, she was about 100 meters ahead but with no sails up she was getting thrown around as we were. I decided to pull the main up as we were motoring into wind and get it ready for when we bore off. It looks tiny with two reefs in but we were seeing 20 knots of wind now so it would be fine. It looked like we could pass the headland now under sail so I asked Claire to change her heading and get us sailing. The noise changed immediately, everything quietened down as RR settled down, I pulled the genoa out, again with two reefs in as Claire put the engine into neutral. Its unbelievable how different the sounds and motion is once your under sail. It's the same boat, in the same sea with the same amount of wind but it feels completely different. It must have something to do with the sails pulling the boat rather than the engine pushing you. Whatever it is I just love it when that engine goes off, especially in conditions like this as I trust the sails and our ability to sail this boat 100 % but I have doubts about the engine or more accurately the fuel for it as it gets sloshed about in the tank, stirring up all the crud and sediment that I assume is in there somewhere threatening to block the fuel lines at any moment.
I looked at Claire clutching the wheel and she smiled for the first time that morning, she said she thought these were the biggest seas she had sailed in. The waves definitely seemed bigger than those around the headland of Cabo de Gata as we left Almerimar back in April. The sun was shining though and the sea was so blue it was great. I went below to get the sandwiches and cold drinks Claire had prepared before we left and we sat there safe and happy in the cockpit of our boat Red Rooster.
Before long we were entering the Bahia of Alcudia and the seas started to calm down, I pulled out the rest of the genoa but left the main as it was. We had been making 5 – 6 knots and we were happy with that.
During all of the day’s drama my mind had been straying to thoughts of my son. It was his 21st birthday and I hadn’t managed to talk to him yet. It was great that we had seen him a few weeks ago but I felt a need to wish him all the best on this special day. Our little MiFi unit has been great but it seems that we have poor coverage in the smaller bays that we had been anchoring in. To add to the frustration George had broken his mobile phone so I couldn’t call him and he isn’t the best at getting back to you if you leave him a message. I turned on the 3G on my mobile but all I could do was leave comments and best wishes on his FB page.
By coincidence it’s Alan’s (Claire’s dad) birthday on the same date. She had managed to call him on his land line at home and had a good chat with him, fortunately Wendy (Claire’s mum) and Denise (Claire’s sister) was there also. It was nice to see Claire talking to all of her family but it made me even more determined to get through to my son. George eventually called me just before midnight and it was nice to say happy 21st. He told me that he would probably return to Mallorca on the 9th July so there was a very good chance that we would see each other again before we left for Menorca.
It's at times like these that I have misgivings about the new life I am / we are leading. I know lots of other people miss important family events because of work, or other responsibilities that take them away from home but it doesn’t make it any easier.
Alcudia was a nice place, the sea front was a bit touristy but we walked about 20 minutes or so to the old town which was very pretty and well worth the effort. I say effort not because of the walk but because of the heat. It was one of those hot, humid days with very little breeze. There is a nice old fortress wall around part of the town that you can walk along which finishes just before the bull ring. This looked very small compared to the one we visited in Ronda.
We stayed anchored in the bay for 3 days enjoying eating out with Graeme and Jayne. Scarlett sailed around the headland to Pollensa but we decided to stop in a pretty spot called Cala Aucanada for the night before joining them on Thursday 7th July. We were looking forward to Pollensa for a few reasons the first was that our friends from England, Paul and Alex Bruce were visiting the town on holiday and we hoped to meet them later, the second was that this was the last port in Mallorca before we hopped across to Menorca. The third was to see ‘Ropers’ house!! Yes the one that was in ‘The Night Manager’ we recognised it as we sailed into the harbour, dropping our anchor just across the bay.
RR had only been stationary for about 5 minutes when a man called across to us and asked if we would like some fresh tuna. He had arrived on his boat ‘sea witch’ about an hour before us crossing from main land Spain and had caught two large tuna during the trip which he couldn’t eat or keep as he didn’t have a freezer. We rowed across and he gave us a very large piece which would of cost well over 60€ in the supermarket. He wouldn’t take any money but I went back later with a few beers and spent a nice hour chatting with him. He was German and he gave me lots of tips about fishing, anchoring in France and making bread!!
I hadn’t been back on board too long before my phone pinged with a message from Paul and Alex suggesting we meet up that evening for a drink. We went ashore just after 7 and met them near the taxi rank in the centre of town, it was great to see them again. We all had a great night culminating with Tapas in a very nice restaurant just off of the promenade. Alex and Paul asked if it was OK for them to go out on RR while they were here, which of course it was so we agreed to meet up the next day for a trip around to Formentor which is a very exclusive bay. I picked them up in the RIB the following morning and after a drink or two as we watched a large sea plane take off (I think it's used to help put out forest fires. These are a big problem on the islands as it's so dry during the summer). I pulled up the anchor and we motored around ‘Ropers’ house to Formentor with Alex enjoying being at the wheel. The whole bay is cordoned off for swimming so we anchored in 15 meters of water and enjoyed a swim around the boat and a bit of lunch. After a couple of hours we headed back as Alex wasn’t feeling too good and the wind had started to fill in so we sailed for a bit with Paul at the helm for the return trip. We dropped them off and said our goodbyes. It really was good to meet up with old friends especially as we hadn’t planned anything, we just happened to be in the same place at the same time.
While we were in Formentor Alan and Bijuca on ‘Serene’ and Keith on ‘Dawn Star’ had arrived. It was great to see this lot again. If you remember Alan had had serious engine problems and we last saw him as we left Mar Menor on mainland Spain. We agreed to meet onshore for a few beers that evening. My phone pinged again, boy am I popular!! This time it was a message from George, will wonders never cease! Confirming that he would be landing at Palma tomorrow afternoon. He then called me telling me that he had got a job on ‘Elfje’ a very, very nice superyacht starting on Monday so he could stay with us for the weekend. We agreed to hire a car so we could pick him up from the airport and bring him back to Pollensa to stay on RR Saturday night.
We went ashore with Graeme and Jayne around 1930 leaving them in the bar with the others while we found a car hire place. That’s when the siesta thing pays off, everywhere is open late. We rented a new Fiat Panda for 3 days for 85€. We then joined the others for a very enjoyable evening.
I was really glad when my head hit the pillow that night, Friday 8th was a hectic but brilliant day!!
So the next morning Graeme offered to take us to shore so our RIB wouldn’t be left tied to a pontoon all day what a nice man. We got the keys to the car from the hire shop and drove towards Palma. We were just thinking we were going to be too early when we got a text from George telling us that his flight had been delayed. That settled it, we had missed going to the historic and beautiful port of Sóller as it was on the northern side of the island so we decided to pop in there on the way. The drive to it was fantastic, inland Mallorca is as beautiful as the coast.
Sóller was very busy when we arrived. We managed to find a place to park the car and walked back into town. As it was a Saturday there was a street market with stalls everywhere selling anything and everything. We meandered through the pretty town and heard the unmistakable rattle and ding, ding of a tram watching it as it wound its way through the tiny streets on it's way down to the port which was about 20 minutes away. Claire went to have a look around the beautiful old cathedral in the main square. We stopped for a quick drink but we didn’t have time to wait in the long queue for a ride on the tram which was a shame deciding that it would be quicker to take the car down to the port for a look at the bay.
The port of Sóller, the name derived from the Arabic word Sulliar meaning ‘golden valley’ has been a very important trading centre since the 13th century. It has a large, deep natural harbour, the only one on this side of the island. The town was intentionally sited well back from the sea as a first line of defence against the many pirate raids that had happened in the past. It really is worth a visit and we were glad to have had a chance to see it.
It was a bit of a rush to get back to the airport but as we drove up to the arrivals collection point there was George. It was great to see him again and in no time at all we were having a drink and a bite to eat in Palma. He was excited about starting his new job. It's a great opportunity for him and he realises that Dan, his cousin did a lot to help him secure the position and was nervous about letting him down. While we were in Palma we looked again for a watch to buy him for his 21st but he wasn’t really sure if it was what he really wanted. Claire bought herself a full face snorkelling mask and I got a new camera to replace our faulty one. It was to be my birthday present and I was very happy.
We drove back to Pollensa, that nice man Graeme picked us up and we just about made it back to RR before his dinghy sank under the weight of four adults and all of George’s luggage. As soon as we were back on board we got our swimming gear on and dived over the side to cool down. Claire liked her new snorkelling mask which was lucky as it costs 40€!! She had also got a mask for Jayne so we invited her and Graeme over for a few drinks and something to eat. It was nice for them to meet George too.
Later that evening Claire and George spent an hour or so copying each other’s films and TV series. We didn’t have much that George wanted but he had loads of films we hadn’t seen so many in fact that we had to leave the PC on overnight copying stuff from his hard drive. We went to sleep hoping to be able to take RR for a sail in the morning but unfortunately when we woke there was not a breath of wind. Scarlett was leaving for Menorca this morning so we made sure we were up to wave them goodbye. After they left we had some breakfast and decided to go for a bit of a drive as we had the car before dropping George back into Palma.
There is an old lookout tower high on the hills overlooking the approaches into the bay that was accessible by road so that’s where we went first. The road was very narrow with a hairpin bend every few hundred meters which reminded me a lot of driving the final hour up the mountain to go skiing in Switzerland. No snow here though and the A/C was on full blast in the car. Also missing were the bunch of great friends standing around chatting in the hotel bar when we finally got there!! Oh well.
The views from the top were stunning and you could easily see Menorca in the distance. We then drove for just over an hour to Colonia de Sant Jordi. I know we had been there before but George hadn’t and we did enjoy our time there. We stopped for lunch. While we were in the restaurant I face timed my mum and dad so they could have a chat with George. They were both looking very well and it was nice to hear their voices. We also got a FB message from Ian and Lynne saying that they were also in Sant Jordi but unfortunately we missed each other.
We then moved onto Palma meeting Dan outside of the STP marina where ‘Elfje’ was currently on the hard (‘On the hard’ is an abbreviation of ‘on hardstanding’ which basically means out of the water) for repairs/maintenance. We drove in through the gates using Dan’s pass and helped George carry his gear on board and down to his air conditioned cabin!! I know. He is sharing with someone else but I mean, come on. We had a look around this wonderful boat for an hour or so then went for a pint. We met Ben Galloway in the bar, it was great to see him again and he seemed pleased to see us too he also congratulated George on his latest appointment.
I went into the pub to get the drinks in and I put my brand new camera down on the bar while I put the cider on a tray and carried it outside. About 5 minutes later it dawned on me that I was missing my camera. After Claire had emptied her bag to prove that she didn’t have it I went back inside slowly realising what I had done. Two or three blokes were at the bar, the same ones that had been there when I ordered the drinks. I asked them about my camera and the barmaid heard me. She reached up onto the top shelf and handed it back to me with a smile that said ‘you dipstick’. Phew. When I went back outside Dan said that he would have been surprised if it had been taken as this was a ‘yachties’ bar. (Crews from the superyachts use it) and I was equally surprised that I got it back. Still all’s well that ends well.
It was time for Claire and I to think about heading back so we started saying our goodbyes. Dan said that he may drive up to Pollensa with Gemma and George tomorrow evening after work to see RR before we left for Menorca. I had been trying to get Dan and Gemma out sailing on RR while we had been in Mallorca as a sort of thank you for looking out for George but they had just been too busy what with work and trying to get their house together so it would be fantastic if they could make it and of course it would be great to see my son one last time before we left for Menorca.
We drove back to RR at Pollensa without a problem and we had a swim in the dark which felt a bit odd before getting into bed, we were not used to all this rushing about. We had had a great weekend but we both sighed as our heads hit the pillows.
The following morning Claire and I had a chat and we decided to move on to Menorca early on Tuesday 12th July. There were strong winds forecast for the next few days and we wanted to get going before they arrived. That meant we had a few things to do. Clothes washing, getting another gas bottle, food and drink shopping, giving the car back and filling the boat up with water and fuel. In amongst all of this we wanted the boat to be ready in case Dan, Gemma and George did pay us a visit later. So, we cleaned the boat inside and out, I took Claire in the RIB to the marina washing machines, she started sorting the clothes / sheets out while I walked into town to find a shop that sold gas. When I got back one load had been done so I took it back to the boat to hang up. It was quite windy and I had strict instructions from Claire to put three pegs on everything!! I finished cleaning the hull of the boat then went back to get Claire. The clothes / bedding she had was already dry as she had put it all in a dryer so we decided to go and get the shopping at a Lidls which was on the outskirts of the town using the car which was a nice treat for us and it meant we could buy lots of heavy stuff which when translated generally means alcohol!! We got everything back to the RIB and got soaked transferring it all on to RR as the wind was quite strong and the water was rough.
I had text George several times during the day asking him to let us know if they were coming but I had not received a reply, what a surprise. I left Claire to find a home for all of her Cava going back to shore to sort out the car and hand the keys back. By the time I returned the wind had dropped quite a bit and the fuel berth was empty so we decided to take the boat in for fuel and more importantly water as we remembered that Jen on ‘No Worries’ told us that the water quality on Menorca was questionable during the summer. We were just coming into the berth and I was ready to jump off onto the dock with the bow and stern lines when my phone started ringing, bloody typical, I knew it would be George but I couldn’t answer it. It rang a few more times before I could pick it up and I was right. ‘We’re here’ he said!!!! A bit of notice would have been good but actually the timing was perfect as we were now in the marina and they could just step on board. It really was good to see them all again and when we were ready we motored back out into the bay and re-anchored. Dan and Gemma had a look around the boat which didn’t take too long and we settled down in the cockpit for a drink and some food that Claire had prepared. We had a very pleasant couple of hours before they had to leave for home. I gave George a hug when I took them back to shore. I wasn’t sure how long it would be before I saw him again but as he walked away with Dan and Gemma I realised that I was missing him already.
I had a pretty good sleep which was surprising as the plan was to be up at 0430 ready to leave at 0500. It was still dark as we motored out of the harbour heading for open sea and Ciudadela in Menorca. I wasn’t expecting any meaningful wind and I wasn’t disappointed as we motored all of the way with no issues. We saw a beautiful sunrise and some dolphins but that was all. Which isn’t bad really.
We made sure we were anchored properly in Cala Degollador which was just outside the entrance into Ciudadela as the strong NE winds were due in a few hours’ time. They didn’t disappoint either reaching 32 knots at times. I bet you could add another 10 or more if you were unlucky enough to be out on the ocean. The wind blew on and off for three days. I didn’t get off of the boat except to swim and check that the anchor was doing its job so I was getting a little stir crazy. Scarlett was close by wedged into another little Cala and they came to collect Claire on one of the day’s to get some food shopping in town.
Some of the larger boats in the cala had a rude awakening one morning as a pilot boat woke them up at 05.45 asking them to move as the large ferries could not enter the commercial harbour. They had to up anchor and move immediately!! Another reason to have a smaller boat.
When the wind finally started to ease on Friday afternoon we took the opportunity to jump into the RIB and motor up the pretty inlet into Ciudadela. What a beautiful place, it used to be the capital until 1722 when the British moved it to Mahon which had the better harbour. There is evidence that man has settled here since prehistoric times. The city has been occupied by all and everyone through the centuries even the Turkish Pirate Barbarossa laid siege in 1558 destroying most of the prominent buildings and throwing the majority of its inhabitants into slavery when it eventually fell into his hands.
The town was lovely, very clean with a nice mixture of shops and café / bars. We stopped in the main square for a drink and to get some WiFi as we were planning to meet up with my sister Julie and her husband Steve in Mahon on the 21st July and we needed to confirm the final arrangements.
On the way back we stopped to have a chat with Graeme and Jayne. They intended to leave in the morning and we discussed a couple cala’s where we may meet again as Claire and I were going back into town in the morning as there was a market on and we wanted to spend more time exploring. We had another slightly unsettled night as the wind was still making its present felt.
In the morning we said our goodbyes to Graeme and Jayne then took the RIB back into Ciudadela leaving it tied up next to the bridge and walked up the stairs into the main square which was now covered in stalls selling crafty things and clothes. We walked into the town centre and was pleased to find a busy fruit market along with many small shops and restaurants. Ciudadela is lovely place.
When we were done we made our way back to the boat, Scarlett had left by this time so we got RR ready to sail and headed off along and around the southern side of the island. RR was flying and Claire saw 7.8 knots come up on the SOG (speed over the ground) gauge. All of the cala’s we passed were packed with boats as was Cala Macarella, where we found Scarlett. I suppose it was to be expected as it was the weekend. We dropped the anchor next to Scarlett and waited until all of the day boats started going home before we pulled it up and re set it in a better position further into the bay. We sat back and people watched for a few hours before inviting Jayne and Graeme over for a BBQ. We have a gas Magma BBQ on which we cooked some marinated chicken and a couple of thin steaks, Graeme and I were happy I’m not sure what the girls had!! As it was getting dark we all heard the unmistakable sound of goats bleating. Jayne was getting all excited as we looked around at the steep sided rocks that encircled the bay, it was a few minutes before we spotted them walking perilously close to the edge on rock so steep you felt sure that they were going to fall. How do they do that??
We woke up to the sound of outboard motors as the day trippers returned early to try and secure the best spot. We also had a Spanish couple on a hire yacht anchor very close to us, so close that I was forced to put fenders out. I also shoved our RIB into the gap between us as I was sure we were going to hit as the two boats moved about. We had a bit of a jobs morning with Claire deciding to make bread rolls from a packet of Harimsa bread mix that looked like flour. She said it was very quick and easy. The smell of bread cooking on the boat was fantastic and they tasted even better when we had them for lunch with a bit of cheese, ham and tomato.
Later in the day the Spanish couple moved on which allowed us to relax a bit. We went swimming a few times with Claire enjoying bobbing around on her lilo. The wind started to build and it looked like we were in for another uncomfortable night. I started to think about putting the stern anchor out but realised that we had a yellow buoy near us that marked off the swimming area. I got a long warp (Rope) out of the locker and with Claire’s help I lassoed it making the warp off onto a cleat which held the bow of RR nicely into the waves. We settled down and had a reasonably peaceful night.
Monday 18th dawned bright and clear. We had a bit of breakfast and called across to Scarlett to see if they fancied joining us for a walk ashore. Cala Macarella has a history of being used by Barbary Pirates as a hideout in medieval times and as we climbed up and along the narrow paths at the edge of the cala I could imagine old square rigged ships gently rocking in the clear blue water with lines ashore holding them fast while the pirates went about doing piratey things. It really was a magical place. There was a nice café tucked away at the back of the beach under the shade of the tree’s which we decided to frequent. As we approached I jokingly said ‘I wonder if they do egg and chips’ well would you believe it was the first item on the snacks menu so we had four plates of egg and chips with a beer each, except for Claire she had a lemon Fanta. Perfick.
We were going to leave around lunchtime to make our way to Mahon so we got back to the boats and started preparing them for sea. It was still reasonably windy blowing around 15 – 20 knots bang on the nose!!! I know, I know. We followed Scarlett out and we enjoyed a few hours chasing her across the water as we tacked back and forth up the coast. We had quite a way to go so around 16.30 we reluctantly decided to turn the motors on for an hour or so to get us around the headland for the final sail under the guns of the forts guarding the harbor entrance into Cala Taulera, Mahon. This is a very sheltered anchorage and we slept like babies.
The next morning Tuesday 19th Graeme and Jayne were going to move again to spend a few nights secured to a floating pontoon in the middle of the harbor. We thought we would go up and have a look for ourselves so we tied our RIB onto the back of Scarlett and went with them. The wooden pontoon built in a square could hold about five or six yachts on each side. It had running water and electricity but no toilets and of course you had to use your dinghy to get to shore but they bought you a fresh baguette every morning for breakfast. It was virtually opposite the old town and they had a small dock for your dinghies when you went ashore. Claire and I thought this would be perfect for my sister and her husband when they stayed with us as the boat would be more stable (Steve suffers quite badly from sea sickness) also the trip across to go into town only took a few minutes from here but from where we were anchored it would take about 40 minutes each way. After Scarlett was secure we talked to the marinaro’s booking a spot for RR tomorrow. We said to Jayne and Graeme that we would see them in the morning before taking the RIB to shore for a quick walk around the town before heading back to RR.
By 11.00 the next day we were tied safely to the pontoon. Claire bought us in stern to with the help of the marinaros catching our lines. One of them asked if we had a bow thruster? When we said ‘No’ he jumped into their powerful RIB and used it to push the nose of RR round as I heaved on the slime line. This would be the first time that we had stayed in a marina since we left Altea nearly two months ago!! Think of all the money we have saved. We spent the rest of the day cleaning the boat from top to bottom. We moved a lot of stuff from the front cabin and Claire made up the bed in there. It was very hard work anyway but the heat, 34+ degrees made it harder still. When we were done we felt like we needed a bit of a treat so we invited Graeme and Jayne out for a beer in a café that we could see from the pontoon. While we were there Mike and Suzy from Toy Buoy made an appearance. It was great to see them again and we spent a pleasant hour or two catching up.
July 21st saw my sister Julie and her husband Steve arrive to stay with us for 5 days. It would be the first time this year that we had guests onboard for an extended period and it was great to see them. When they arrived I was pleased that they hadn’t bought too much stuff and that they had packed hold all’s / ruck sacks rather than suit cases. We had a nice meal on the boat and a few drinks to celebrate they’re arrival.
The next morning July 22nd was my Birthday, I had a few cards and presents to open before sitting down to a full English breakfast cooked by Claire. It was fantastic. We got ourselves sorted, inviting Graeme and Jayne out for a meal in the evening before taking the RIB ashore and exploring the town with Julie and Steve. We stopped to book a table for the evening at a restaurant called ’WAY’ that had been recommended to us before going back to the boat for a swim and relax.
We got to the restaurant around 20.00 Jayne and Graeme gave me a very nice T shirt, thanks again you two. Julie and Steve had bought me some face mats! It’s kind of hard to explain what they are, but they are pictures of the lower half of a person’s face stuck onto thick card with a cut out that hooks onto your nose! It’s probably best to look at the pictures but the staff thought they were brilliant. I had the cake with the sparkler in and we all sang happy birthday to me. The food and the company were exceptional Then the head chef came out to make sure our food was OK and he couldn’t wait to put a face mat on………What a great evening. I had a very memorable 59th birthday.
We had a slow start the following morning, all were OK just to stay at the boat swimming and recovering.
For the last few weeks I had been getting messages from a very old and good friend of mine Peter Hawksworth. Peter had wanted to know when we would be on the island of Menorca as his partner, Sarah had a place here and there was a good chance that given a bit of notice he could make it out to meet us. My phone pinged and it was a message from Peter ‘meet at Latitude 40, Mahon at 13.45 lunch is on me’. I talked to Julie and Steve and they wanted to come along so I sent Pete a reply confirming that we would meet him and that we would be splitting the bill. We found the restaurant OK, it was really good to see him and it was nice to meet Sarah. Peter had also met Julie and Steve before so it turned out to be a very enjoyable afternoon. The time passed so quickly and we were soon all hugging our goodbyes. We made our way back to RR enjoying a drink onboard Scarlett before getting some much needed sleep.
During the drink onboard Scarlett we decided to take the RIB’s down to La Mola fort on Sunday 24th. It was somewhere we all wanted to visit and it would be nice to motor down the estuary to get there. We left around 11.00 and enjoyed looking at the different houses that lined the water’s edge. We saw the house called ‘Golden farm’ that Lord Nelson stayed in during his stay here in 1799. We left the dinghies on a small beach and walked to the entrance of the fort where we bought tickets at 8€ each. The fortifications were massive, you could easily spend all day walking around the place. We picked out a few high lights with the loophole gallery winning hands down for me. I know it’s a funny thing to say but I could not get over the quality of the masonry work. It was built by the Spanish between 1848 – 1875. Every large block of stone was set perfectly. Every opening started exactly in the center of a block. It was brilliant. The loophole gallery just confirmed how accurate the workmanship was with a series of arches all identical receding into the distance. The views from the firing steps and gun emplacements were fantastic too. It just needed somewhere that you could buy a coffee and a bit of cake.
We walked back to the dinghies having a swim for an hour before making our way across the estuary to Es Castell. We had read that there was a Mahon horse festival taking place there that evening. We tied our dinghies up at a small quay and we were please to find a little restaurant there as we were all hungry and thirsty. It was called Ana Luisa and although the chef had gone home the two owners were more than happy to make us salads and sandwiches with some chips thrown in for good measure. I wanted a ham, cheese and tomato baguette and I asked the waiter how long the roll would be he said I could have it as long as I wanted. I joked and said I could eat the whole thing. We all laughed and he went off to prepare the food. The food started coming out with mine arriving last. It was a whole baguette cut in two down its length with one side covered in cheese and the other covered in ham. He was laughing when he said ‘you can joke about anything you like except the food in my restaurant’!! We all laughed, the food was delicious and the girls had a jug of sangria made with Cava. We were told by the owners that the festival was about to begin so we paid our bill and walked up into town. Graeme and Jayne had to go back to the boat to check on ‘Izzie’ the cat but promised to return later.
It was very busy in the town with lots of people lining the streets looking up the road as if expecting something!! The something was these fantastic Mahon horses that came trotting down the street a few minutes later. Some of the onlookers ran forward, standing in front of these horses with their arms held up shouting. You could see that the riders weren’t bothered by this at all and I was amazed as the horses reared up onto their hind legs some pawing the air with their hooves before dropping back down just missing the people. This was repeated over and over again as the horses made their way through the streets to end up next to the church where they slowly walked away.
I had never seen anything like this before. It was a fantastic spectacle.
We thought that was the end of the evening for the horses but the large crowd started to gravitate towards the town square. This had already got a funfair, a stage with a band doing their sound checks, loads of food and drink kiosks and a small arena about the size of a large tennis court. It was currently being used to parade very tall figures with huge heads?? It was a bit like ‘it's a knock out’ while this was going on we had a beer or two and listened to the band.
Eventually the tall big headed parade came to an end and lots of people began moving towards the arena. When we got there we could see that there were 5 or 6 tiers of seating on three sides and a large brass band seated at one end. The floor of the arena and the road leading into it was covered in thick sand. More and more people moved onto the floor of the arena no tickets seemed to be required but you had to pay to have a seat? We managed to get a place to stand just outside with a reasonable view. After a while the band started to play a strange little song that went on for a few minutes then they started playing it again, and again, and again!! I couldn’t, for the life of me figure out what was going on. The centre of the arena was packed now but no one was dancing or clapping they just seemed to be waiting. Then a pair of horses, the same ones that we had seen earlier trotted past us entering through the gate nearby. The crowd clapped and cheered, the band was playing louder now, it was deafening. There didn’t seem to be enough space for the people and the horses, then the horses started rearing up onto their hind legs with some of the crowd rushing in to pat the horse’s breast in between its front legs!! Crazy, I was sure someone was going to get hurt. The horses kept moving through the crowd in this very small space rearing up every few seconds. When the music started again they left and another pair entered to do the same thing! I asked someone what it was all about. As far as they knew the ones who managed to touch the heart of the horse, the space between its front legs were sure to receive good luck!! Graeme and I patted the horse’s side as it went past that was enough for us two. I am not sure how many pairs of horses there were, probably about 10 pairs but they kept going around the block, waiting their turn with the others until it was time for them to go in again. This went on for about three to four hours with the band playing the same bloody song. We all needed a drink after watching for about an hour so we made our way back down to The Ana Luisa restaurant for a night cap, which included three bowls of chips. What a day, what a day.
Monday 25th saw another lazy start to the day, we had after all been on our feet for hours the day before. We had planned to catch the bus into Ciudadela first thing but that got pushed back a few hours. We left the pontoon at mid-day saying our goodbyes to Jayne and Graeme as they were moving around to Cala Addaya. We will meet up with them again somewhere soon of that I am sure. We walked through the town to the bus station and caught the air conditioned coach. It cost 4€ (£3.50)each for the 1.5 hour trip. Both Claire and I were pleased to go back to Ciudadela as it is a really nice town. By the time we got off the bus my knee was throbbing like mad so I found myself a shady bar to sit in while Claire, Julie and Steve wandered around the town. They found me after a couple of hours sightseeing and we made our way back through the town to the bus stop. The bus was bang on time and we had a nice trip back to the boat. We were all tired so Claire made us a nice meal on board. Later that night we saw a good fireworks display that signalled the end of the horse festival at El Castel.
Julie and Steve were heading back to England today, the time they spent with us went very fast and I think they enjoyed themselves with us in Mahon. We enjoyed having them on-board as they fitted in well with our routines, they didn’t break or block the heads (toilet) which is the one big fear for boat owners who invite non boat owners to stay. The rule on most boats is ‘he who blocks the toilet fixes it’. A boats toilet can be very temperamental, some needing so many pumps before you turn a lever and pump some more all this while you pray to whatever you believe in that it works. You are normally not allowed to put toilet paper in the bowl, it has to go in a separate bin. Our heads is quite simple to use. I installed a vacuum toilet before we left England, all you need to do is lift a pedal with your toe to let water in then, when you’ve finished you push the same pedal with your foot and a trapdoor opens in the bottom of the bowl sucking all you have done down into a holding tank which we empty when we sail off shore. Simples.
After they had packed, checking that they had left nothing behind we walked into town stopping for a nice lunch. Afterwards we sat in a shady market square for an hour talking before they walked the last 100 meters to catch the coach to the airport from the bus station. We will be seeing them again soon as we plan to fly back to England to attend Stuarts, my nephews wedding at the end of August.
When we got back to RR an Italian boat, ‘Geisi’ a Bavaria 40 was alongside us on the pontoon. They were a very nice, friendly bunch they told me that they normally sail around the south of France, Northern Italy and Corsica only coming to Menorca for a bit of a holiday. I asked if they could give me some information about anchorages and marinas around their home port. They were happy to oblige. Claire bought a bottle of wine over and our pilot books. We enjoyed a very pleasant hour with these nice people. After we had finished they had a good look around RR promising to look at our blog when they got back, they also asked if they could follow us on Face book with us in turn promising to get in touch with them when we reached Italy.
We had a cleaning, washing putting the boat back as we like it day. This really just means putting everything we took out of the front cabin back in. Claire washes everything in sight, clothes, bedding etc. We had unlimited fresh water and with the boat plugged in to shore power we also had hot water so although it was hard work in the heat it was a job well done and unless it's all done Claire has trouble relaxing.
What was I doing while all this was going on I hear you ask? Well I dropped the genoa and replaced the halyard. I changed the lazy jacks on the mainsail. (Lines to help control the mainsail when you’re raising or lowering it) I serviced the engines fuel system, replacing the filters which showed no sign of the diesel bug sludge I discovered in Almerimar but there was evidence of a darker liquid layer in the bottom of the clear fuel bowl so perhaps the bug treatment we have been using has been working. Fingers crossed.
I am also thinking more and more about our service battery bank. On most, if not all boats you have two battery banks. The first is normally a single battery whose sole job is to start the engine. Nothing else. The second is normally made up of one or more, RR has four batteries wired together which provides power for everything else on the boat this is normally called the service battery bank. The whole boat runs on 12 volts, all the navigation equipment, lighting, inside and out, the fridge, toilet everything apart from the gas cooker, thinking about it even that has 12v electronic ignition so although the batteries are often neglected they are very important. I have had our batteries for about 5years, which is a long time in the scheme of things but ours are arguably the best you can buy, although I didn’t buy ours but that’s another story. They are Optima Yellow top and they have been brilliant but I think they may be coming to the end of their little electric lives so I am going to be keeping a closer eye on them as I am sure one or more of them are not holding their charge.
Alan and Bijuca on ’Serene’ were being lifted out on Thursday 28th and they have asked me to have a look at the bottom of their boat as they struck a rock a few days earlier and were worried that the fiberglass may have been damaged. Alan had dived in to have a look when it happened but the water was a bit murky and he could only feel that there was some damage but he couldn’t be sure how bad it was. There were no leaks but he needed to have a look. When it was out we could see that the bottom of one of his keels (Alans boat has a bilge keel, basically it has two smaller keels running parallel with each other instead of one fin keel like RR) has a thin stainless steel plate fixed to the bottom and this had been lifted and peeled back a bit when it hit the rock. Phew relief. I hacksawed the loose piece of plate off and hammered down the edge. We had a quick look around the rest of the hull while it was out. We saw nothing untoward so ‘Serene’ was put back in.
We needed to update the blog so later that day we found a café spending over 4 hours updating the web site. We always have a few drinks and a bit of tapas as a reward for us and to say thanks to the café in question for letting us sit in a corner of their bar, often with the laptop plugged into one of their sockets for power. For clarity, as we get asked this often. I write it all and sort the pictures out in a word document off line, then when we find somewhere with a good signal Claire up loads it onto the website. It takes a lot of patience from her to do this especially if the internet access is slow. We try to do it little and often but this time we had a lot to put on as we had been without a decent signal for a few weeks.
We were leaving on Saturday morning so on Friday afternoon we walked to the large Mercadona (Supermarket) on the outskirts of town. It took us well over an hour to get there and I was already looking forward to the taxi ride back. We stopped at a fishing tackle shop on the way to by a new lure, a blue fish looking thing that Mike the German told me to buy when I was on his boat in Pollensa along with some stronger fishing line. I was really hoping to catch some fish when we crossed to Barcelona. We also stopped at a car accessory shop buying fuel and oil filters for the engine as well as two 12v electric fans as it was getting hotter on the boat in the evenings now.
We made it to the Mercadona and spent an hour or more filling a very large trolley up with everything we would need for the next week or so. We paid for it all and asked, as we had done many times in this situation for the manager to call us a taxi. It took a bit of time for the checkout girl to find the manager but when she did Claire went into the office with her while she called telling Claire that it would be outside in a few minutes. We stood outside for ten minutes before Claire went back inside to find the manager again. The manager told Claire that she couldn’t get through the first time as the line was always busy and had forgot to try again!!! She said she was too busy at the moment, I must admit the place was heaving instead she gave Claire the number for her to try. The line was still busy but after 5 minutes or so of trying Claire finally got through only to be told that there were no cabs available!! Hahaha I thought what are we going to do now. It looked like the only thing we could do was push the very heavy trolley back to the marina which was over an hour away. I tried chatting to a few people, telling them of our plight all the time hoping that they would offer us a lift, everyone was polite but too busy. A nice woman did use her phone to search the internet for cab companies but only one came up in Mahon and it was the one we had!! While all this was going on a cab pulled into the carpark. We flagged it down and I started loading the bags in before the driver had a chance to say anything. I was pretty sure the cab was for someone else but he was mine now and before long we were standing by our dinghy with all our shopping loading it up ready for the trip across the harbour to RR. Result!
We left Mahon on Saturday 30th, I am going to miss this place. It was great on the pontoon in the middle of the harbour, swimming to the little beach and back to cool down and practice my breathing. We decided to sail around to a sheltered bay called Addaya. The wind started off light but by the time we were ready to drop the sails to enter the small channel into the bay we were seeing 20+ knots from the East which was dead astern (behind). I was goose winging, this means the main was out on one side of the boat and the genoa was out on the other. With the sails set like this every square foot of canvas is being used and we were flying. There are two quite big risks in sailing like this in strengthening winds, the first is an accidental gybe, this is when the wind gets around the back of the main sail slamming it across to the other side of the boat. It can damage the boom, rig, the sail and you if you happen to be in the way. I always rig a preventer when sailing downwind, this is a line taken from the end of the boom to a strong point forward of the mast to help ‘prevent’ this happening. Even with this the sail can try to whip across often damaging it in the process. The second thing is you don’t realise, often until it's too late that the wind is building in strength as you are not heeling, the boat is upright and your speed, because you are going with the wind decreases the apparent wind strength. It is exciting sailing though and I matched Claire’s 7.8 knot speed record. We prepared to gybe the boat, (Gybing is when the back of the boat goes through the eye of the wind first) I took the preventer off, centred the traveller and sheeted in the main quite a bit while Claire concentrated on keeping the wind on the right side of the sail. All of this reduces the sail that can ‘see’ the wind thereby reducing your speed. You don’t want to slow the boat too much though as your speed through the turn, because you’re going with the wind helps reduce the pressure on the sail. Claire slowly put the helm over, as the wind got around the main sail whipping it across the effect was much more controllable as the boom was in the middle of the boat and the sail was sheeted in. I then quickly sheeted out the main on the new side and winched in the genoa. We were still flying but both sails were on the same side now and RR was heeling a lot more.
Normally in wind this strong we would be reefing down but we only had a mile or so to go so we left it as it was and enjoyed the ride with me holding the line to the traveller ready to dump it if a stronger gust came through.
Addaya was very nice, it has a slightly tricky entrance to navigate and I wouldn’t want to come in here after dark or in a strong Northerly wind but once you were in you were well protected from any wind whatever the direction. We spotted ‘Paloma’, ‘Toy Buoy’ and ‘Supertramp’ all boats that we knew. Jayne and Graeme on ‘Scarlett’ had been in here a few days before us. They unfortunately caught an underground cable with their anchor and had to pay a diver 50€ to free it. They noted the coordinates of where this happened and passed it on to us so we wouldn’t suffer the same fate. Thank you, you two.
We hadn’t been there long when Norbert and Ulrike from ‘Paloma’ came past us in their dinghy, we said our hello’s and we invited them on board for a drink and a chat. Now it's a funny thing but we have known these two very nice people since we talked to them in Almerimar over 6 months ago. They had their boat in the same part of the marina as us. We have also seen them in many anchorages since then but we have never really talked to them because we have no German and we thought, after our few brief exchanges with them that they had very little English making conversation awkward but we soon realised that this was not the case and I feel as if we have missed too many opportunities to get to know them better. To be clear, I didn’t suddenly realise that I could speak and understand German!! Rather that they could speak and understand English. We had a really nice few hours with them discovering that they had sailed for a few years in Holland visiting many of the same places Claire and I went on our test trip in 2014. We agreed to visit them on Paloma before we left.
Mike and Suzy from ‘Toy Buoy’ came over in their RIB to let us know that they were going ashore for a meal with Steve and Fiona from ‘Supertramp’ and that we were welcome to join them, we already had food on the go but promised to meet them for a drink on shore after they/we had finished. We met up for a night cap in Le Cantina the only restaurant in the small marina. It was good to finally meet Steve and Fiona from ‘Supertramp’. We had first seen their lovely boat, a Beneteau 57 in Cala Basa Ibiza. I remember them as they cheered when I finally pulled the anchor on board after sharing the bay with them and a few others for a day or two.
The following morning, early just before the sun made an appearance I got up to check the voltages on the batteries. I wanted to do this before the solar panels started to charge them so I didn’t get a false reading. All of them showed approximately the same 12.75v except the first one in the service battery bank, this one showed only 12.1v. I have two spare batteries on board that I acquired at the same time as the others so I used one of these to replace the poorly performing one. After a day of charging from the solar panels I checked all of the batteries again and they now all show roughly the same voltages. I took the duff battery ashore leaving it the recycling area of the marina.
Steve from ‘Supertramp’ invited us to join them for a BBQ later that evening. Mike and Suzy were also present, all of us get on well and we had a very nice evening. We were talking about courtesy flags as all of the different regions of Spain have their own flag based loosely on the country’s flag. We happened to mention that our Red Ensign needed replacing as it was now fraying badly. Steve jumped up and rummaged in a locker producing not one but two Red Ensign´s. Unfortunately both were too big for our flag pole. ‘Don’t worry’ he said looking in a different locker he pulled out a wooden flag pole too!! He wouldn’t take anything for them. They look very good on RR. Thanks once again Steve. I told them of my early morning job with the batteries on RR and Steve asked if I could help him check his batteries which I was glad to do.
August 1st saw us walking into town to the small but well stocked supermarket. We got some bread and a few other bits we also picked up a bottle of Bacardi for Steve and Fiona to say thanks for the flag and pole. We also bought some cheese, rolls and orange juice so we could have a picnic in a little park we found on the way back. As we were making our way to RR Ulrike from ‘Paloma’ invited us for a drink on board later that afternoon and we were very happy to accept. ‘Paloma’ is a nice boat of German design constructed out of steel plate. It felt nice, safe and comfortable inside. We had a great time with Norbert and Ulrike. They were leaving early in the morning for Sardinia, a 50 ish hour crossing for them and we wished them safe sailing. I am sure we will bump into these two again.
The following morning we sailed RR with ‘Supertramp’ and ‘Toy Buoy’ around to the large bay of Fornells. It was only a very short hop with us soon anchored close to the shore in 3 meters of water. The bottom was all weed, grass over mud but we seemed to be holding ok. ‘Supertramp’ was further out in deeper water with ‘Toy Buoy’ picking up a mooring buoy. We had them all over for a few drinks on RR. Steve thought it was great that I was called ‘Derek’ and was from Peckham as he was a big fan of the sitcom ‘Only fools and horses’ Later we went into town for something to eat and I think I can safely say that we all had a very good time. As we were paying the bill, Alan and Bijuca form ‘Serene’ walked passed the restaurant so we all went for a nightcap.
The weather forecast for the next few days looked interesting. A ‘Tramontana’ (which is the name given to a strong northerly wind that builds over land in France and is funnelled between the Pyrenees and the Massif Central out onto the Mediterranean sea via the Golf of Lion. It still has enough energy to make it very uncomfortable by the time it gets to the Balearics hundreds of miles away) was due to hit Menorca. Although the bay at Fornells is quite protected by surrounding hills etc it would be better if we were on the south side of the island however we were hoping to sail over to Barcelona soon and it made sense to stay where we were.
There was a large sailing school close to where we were anchored tempting Claire and Fiona ashore to see if they could hire windsurfers unfortunately the place only catered for large groups. When they returned we invited Steve and Fiona onto RR for a beer and to look at how our spinnaker pole was rigged as they had just had one installed but was unsure what additional control lines they required. RR has a few downwind options in her sail plan. The first is ‘goose winging’ (main on one side genoa on the other) the second is a ‘poled’ out Genoa this is where you rig the spinnaker pole so it holds the clew of the sail out, third is our asymmetric spinnaker (this doesn’t need a pole and is good when sailing at angles downwind) and last we have a symmetrical spinnaker which requires a pole and is perfect for sailing dead downwind.
Later that evening I decided to put a second anchor out as the wind started increasing in strength, we had success with this in Portamao. It is a small ‘fortress’ type and has about 10m of chain and 60m of rope. I placed it about 30m in front of RR and about 30m to the left of our main anchor. I went across to help Steve do the same thing on ‘Supertramp’. During the next few hours I kept an eye on it as the wind strength increased only to discover that our smaller, second anchor was holding and our main anchor was dragging!! Claire and I reset the main anchor twice but with no real success. When doing this we left the second anchor down, motoring forward to pick up the main anchor then motored on a bit more before dropping it again. The wind, now around 25knots was pushing RR all over the place and during our second attempt the rope from the second anchor got caught in our propeller. Luckily, and I do mean very luckily for us the rope cutter on the prop sliced through it. If it hadn’t it could have stopped the engine leaving us in a very serious situation, we would have definitely gone aground. As it was we were holding ok on the main anchor so I got in the RIB and retrieved the second anchor using the trip line and marker buoy that I always put on. Steve was helping us out during all of this, I replaced the line and re set it. Whew what a nightmare
A French guy in the boat behind called me over suggesting that the best way to set two anchors was to attach one to the other with about 2m of chain. The first one helps keep the second one down and holding. I had nothing to lose so I went back pulled in our main anchor attached our small CQR to it with 2m of chain and set the anchors as he suggested. I was knackered by now, anyway everything looked good so we went over to ‘Supertramp’ for dinner. I was moaning to Steve about all the hassle I was having and he said ‘it beats bending conduit and chasing out brick walls any day of the week’ and of course he was right.
At about 01.30 (6th August) both our anchor alarms went off. Our anchor alarms work using GPS, sounding out if they detect significant movement. Fortunately I wasn’t really asleep I was resting on one of the saloon settees. The wind had picked up to 30+ knots and when I got up on deck I could see that we were moving backwards pretty quickly. I got the engine started just as RR touched the bottom, I felt her heel as the keel started digging into the weed. I used full throttle and we moved forward a little then we were off. I couldn’t move to far as the chain and anchors were still out. Claire was by my side now and I had to shout to her over the noise of the wind. I asked her to turn on the deck lights, then take the wheel keeping us away from other boats while I tried to pull the anchors in, once they were up we could motor out into deeper water. She looked really scared but we had been through this before. When she was ready I went forward and started heaving at the chain. Claire moved the boat forward as best she could but the wind was trying to push the nose around with me then having the weight of the boat on my arms. It’s a wonder I didn’t burst a blood vessel or something.
I finally got all the chain in but now I had the two anchors to deal with. Boy were they heavy, I couldn’t get the main anchor into the bow roller because the second anchor wouldn’t let it flip up!! Bugger bloody French men and their clever ideas. I tried a few times before tying it off where it was. I went back to Claire. We were ok to move into deeper water now but with the anchors still in the water they could damage the front of the boat if we went to fast. Well the girl did good, she weaved through all of the boats, many of them unlit, while I shone our powerful torch on them until we were clear and in deeper water. The wind was really howling out here with spray flying everywhere. The waves were quite big in the channel, as I struggled to get both anchors on board I had to hold my breath a few times as the larger ones went over my head. I finally managed to do this by getting a line through the roll bar of the Rocna, pulling like mad until it came up and dropped into position. This just left the other one but it was a lot lighter, only 15kg. I wanted time to sort things out so I asked Claire to do whatever she needed to do until I was ready. I moved the other two anchors out of the way putting them by the mast, I ran out all of the chain that I was going to use so that it would run free moving anything and everything out of its way. I checked the rode (this is the name for rope on an anchor) that was attached to the end of the chain. The splice didn’t look to clever so I attached a second line to it as a safety precaution. I went back to Claire at the wheel and helped her find a good spot to try and re anchor. I was exhausted by now, I couldn’t bear the thought of having to pull it all up again if it didn’t reset so we had to try and get it right first time.
We picked a spot in deeper water reasoning that there may be less weed and grass with more mud here as the sun would struggle to penetrate to this depth. When we were ready I went forward and let the anchor go, the wind was really blowing hard now pushing the boat back and side wards as the chain roared out. I managed to get the end into the jaws of the windlass before it got to the rode. I was watching the chain, desperate for it to go taught meaning that the anchor was holding us. We dragged for a bit then the chain started rising out of the water as it tightened. Please, please hold…. Well hold it did. When I was sure we were OK I put out the rest of the chain and another 15m or so of rode meaning we had 30m of chain and 15m of rode in about 9m of water. A scope of 5-1. It's funny how things change. During all of this I was cursing our new Rocna anchor, calling it all the names under the sun, wishing I had kept our old one but when it bit, holding us in 35+knots it suddenly changed into the best thing I had ever bought.
It was 0330 now. 2 hours of hard graft!! We were both mentally and physically exhausted but there was no way either of us could sleep. We reset the alarms, found our visible transit lines to check that we were not moving. ‘Supertramps’ lights had been on for quite some time and Steve called on the radio checking we were ok and asking if we needed any help. There was really nothing he could do but it’s nice to have good friends looking out for you and we have met many good friends since leaving England. I replied that we were now OK and would call him in the morning. I made us a hot drink and we settled down in the cockpit together discussing what we had just been through, lessons to be learnt from it as well as thanking ourselves for looking after each other. It was nice having nothing more to do than wait for the sun to come up.
The wind blew for another two days, rarely falling below 20 knots but we didn’t move, well done Rocna! We did venture off of RR to visit Steve and Fiona on Supertramp for a bit but apart from that we stayed on-board. I had strained my back, not pulling the anchors up the other night but getting something out of the bloody locker. It was very painful and I had trouble sleeping. The wind finally started to ease Sunday lunchtime. Claire and I downloaded a new weather forecast and were dismayed to see that the winds were due to return on Tuesday afternoon lasting until the following weekend. We had to make a decision as we needed to cross from Menorca to Barcelona on the mainland. We had booked flights from Barcelona to return to England for my nephew, Stuart’s wedding. If we waited until the next weather system blew through it may leave us tight for time. So we decided to go tomorrow morning (Monday 8th) we didn’t need to stock up really as it was a 24hour crossing and we were going straight into a marina.
We let ‘Supertramp’ and ‘Serene’ know our intentions deciding to meet up for a farewell meal ashore that evening. Before we got ready to go out Claire and I went to help ‘Supertramp’ lift their kedge anchor. Steve and I went out in our RIB. Both of us tried pulling it up but with no luck. Luckily for us a marinaro came past and we asked if he could help us. I tied a line from his RIB to the anchor chain and he struggled for about 10 minutes before he managed to free it using his powerful engine. Steve also gave us some water for our trip as we were a bit low. They have a water maker don’t you know. That night we had a nice meal ashore with Steve and Fiona with Alan and Bijuca meeting us afterwards for a beer. Alan surprised me by saying that he intended to cross to Barcelona too. I let him know that we couldn’t go together as our boats sail at different speeds. That said I didn’t think we would be too far apart during the crossing.
We had a good night’s sleep although I was up several times because my back was so uncomfortable. I cannot believe how much it hurt just trying to get off the saloon settee where I was sleeping as there was no way I could get into our bed. Having a bad back on a boat has it’s good and bad points, the bad is it never stops moving and it’s almost impossible to get comfortable. The good is that there are plenty of good hand holds within easy reach to help pull yourself about.
We started getting RR ready. Claire made up some flasks, the red ones my mum gave us with tea and coffee while I went up on deck to start taking the covers off the instruments etc. I happened to look up and I saw a dinghy floating slowly away from the boat, ‘that’s funny’ I thought. I had seen two dinghy’s drifting during the strong winds having broken their painters but there was very little wind this morning. As I looked at it I thought it looked familiar realising far too late to do anything about it that it was ours!!! What’s happening, I could not believe it had stayed with us all night only to drift off now. It was too far away for me to swim after it. I called Claire up on deck, she tried to call ‘Supertramp’ up on VHF but they were still sleeping. I decided that we had no other options than to pull up our anchor and go after it. Claire started the engine and I moved to the front of the boat. As soon as I bent to start heaving on the rode my back let me know that it didn’t think that this was a very good idea. 45m of rode and chain later the anchor came into view and with a gasp I pulled it on board. We managed to get to the dinghy before it got into the boats moored behind us. Claire snagged it with the boat hook and tied the painter to the guard rail. What now? The thought of lowering the anchor, then pulling it up again didn’t appeal to me but we could see no other alternative as we were not yet ready to leave, we had to winch the dinghy on board and strap it down amongst other things. There were no spare mooring buoys that we could pick up. Oh well, we went inshore this time to find somewhere shallow so I wouldn’t have to let too much chain out. When we were re anchored we got the dinghy on board and readied the boat for the trip.
Finally we were ready to leave, Claire started the engine and I pulled the anchor up one last time. It was just after 10.00 we motored passed Alan and Bijouca they said that they would be leaving about an hour after us. We told them we would monitor channel 16 and 77 during the crossing. We then went to say our goodbyes to Steve and Fiona. We were sad to be leaving these two as we all got on very well and I for one hope that we meet up again.
As we motored out of Fornells into the swell left by the strong winds Steve called us up on the VHF the radio went quiet for a few seconds then we heard a tune we know very well ‘ No income tax, no VAT, no money back, no guarantee, Black or White, rich or poor……….., now that was really funny to hear that theme tune again, especially as we were leaving Menorca. Oh well, this time next year Rodders we’ll be millionaires………
The sea was quite disturbed, not really big but very confused, no pattern to it. We had the main up, Claire had pulled it up as my back was bad now and we tried to sail a few times but the wind just wasn’t strong enough yet. We cleared Cap Roig and Illa d’els Porros with the wind finally starting to fill in, we set the Genoa and turned the engine off.
Our track was a dead straight line, we talked to Alan a couple of times on the VHF and apart from seeing a Mediterranean fin whale, yes a whale!! I first spotted the spray of mist as it vented. We were motoring again at this point so I went closer Claire was a very happy woman. It seemed to be happy just lying there on the surface. We took some pictures and left it in peace. We radioed Alan to keep an eye open for it as if it was sleeping or resting it may still be there when he passed this point. Apparently Whales don’t sleep as we do. Their brains are split into two, with one side shutting down when it's tired leaving the other side awake to control breathing etc.
About two hours later we got a call from Alan and they had seen the whale too, brilliant. We settled down for the night, the wind returned from the west as the sun dropped into the sea, Claire went below and I wedged myself into a corner of the cockpit trying to keep my back still. RR was flying we were doing about 6 knots in a force 3 -4 perfect. I had to get up every 5 minutes or so to have a look around which made me sweat a bit from the pain but apart from that all was good in the world.
We covered 120 miles in 22 hours arriving at Badelona marina just before 0800. We waited on the fuel pontoon for an hour as the reception hadn’t opened yet.
We heard from Alan and Bijouca they had tried to anchor a little further along the coast but the swell made it very uncomfortable for them so they came into the marina too.
Sitting on the fuel pontoon Claire and I thought back to all of the brilliant times we had in the Balearic Islands and we really hope to be able to return there one day.