When we wake up in the morning to bird song from the shore, we are almost entirely alone in this beautiful Cala; just a couple of other sail boats bobbing about. We gaze up at the surrounding headlands that are tree covered and verdant and lush. There is a lone worker rearranging sun beds and cushions on three newly swept little beaches nestled in between promentories. Beach goers will arrive later by car or on foot. The view out to sea across the Bay of Palma is clear and cloudless. Bliss!
On the southern most headland are incredible Phoenitian caves which have been here for 2000 years and where there is an amazing shrine carved into the limestone rock. There is a tomb tucked away in there too and cavernous rooms that go back far under the surface and are cool and damp. The ground is sandy under foot and above there are only the tiniest of stalactites illustrating how little water makes its way through the rocks to the cave.
Huge square arches have been cut to let in as much light as possible and you can really imagine an ancient community of people living here, safe and invisible from marauding pirates. Around them there would be access to water, sea food and some limited vegetation as well as the chance to do some hunting of wild boar, wild goats and other mammals that would have lived in the densely wooded areas around here.
So, breakfast can be enjoyed sitting on the deck in serenity. The lapping of the waves, the wind wafting the branches of the trees, the sun twinkling on the water and the sea bream darting beneath the surface of the azure sea.
Then the fun begins. Being only 8 miles or so from Palma de Mallorca the day boats and tourist glass bottomed boats start to arrive.
One or two sailing yachts make their way in. Everyone wants to be as near to the beach as possible, they want to anchor over sand, where the water appears most turquoise in order to enjoy the day.
Gradually, this small Cala fills up. Mostly large, stealth-style, motor boats with snarling mouths and jagged shark-like anchor teeth. Their smooth lines, glistening metalwork and gleaming gel coats glide in; shining and beaming out to the world around,
‘Look at me, haven’t I done well?’
They anchor in pole position with the aplomb and supreme confidence only those who exude success can do. On board, heads begin to emerge like meerkats, curious to see where they have arrived.
We give them names! The East End Bank Robbers! The Boy Band, The Frenchies, The Oiks on the Black Boat, The Britannia Jet Submarine Day Trippers (with a slide on the side ), The Hamburgers , The Danish Bacons, The Five, No Six, Times a Day (lots of anchor practice) , The German Industrialist, The Gin and Tonics, The Sales Reps Team-Building Outing, The Boat That Rocked, The Nosy Missing an ‘I’, The German Space Invaders….
The stern hatches open and jet skis scoot out and roar off with whooping youngsters aboard, paid crew dart about like anchovies, pumping up paddle boards and lowering dinghies.
Wine, beer and food appears on sun decks to the waiting owners and friends.
There are shrieks of laughter and lots of guffawing. Then a period of quiet whilst people digest their lunch and drink more hospitality wine. Suddenly, an urge for activity strikes, and jet skis tear about, ribs and dinghies chase their wake and girls scream with delight. Men paddle about sedately, chatting companionably to each other, as they glide along.
Music starts to beat out a rhythmic tattoo and the high hat and bass compete for attention. People are heating up in the sunshine and the leaping, diving and jumping begins. Increasingly daring jumps of bravado are made from higher and higher parts of the boats. Some of those on The Sales Reps Team-Building Outing leap in naked to shouts of abuse.
Meanwhile, there is much to entertain Ian, as if naked people wasn’t enough!, as he watches and notes dropping and weighing anchor techniques.
The wind constantly shifts in the bay and so we all swing round, the noses of the boats sniff out the wind direction. This leads to some hasty fendering as crews realise that boats are too close together and they will need to limit damage when they collide. Luckily, most of these vessels have bow thrusters so they can avert any imminent catastrophe. We work on the theory that we were here first so others need to watch out for us, especially as we are the least manoeuvrable.
As the sun dips down over the headland, the jet skis disappear back into the lockers and lazerettes the size of a small child’s bedroom. Pink bodies head for the shade and more refreshment. The sun loungers and mattresses on the beach are stacked up like the bed in The Princess and the Pea. The shouts and shrieks gradually fade away. Boats weigh their anchors and creep away in to the dusk.
Peace at last.
Oh, wait a moment, The Nosy but Missing an ‘I’ boat decides to stay longer and spends the next two hours tearing around the bay creating unnecessary waves on their rib. The rest of us tut and raise our eyebrows and finally cheer a silent cheer as the drunken lot head off back to Palma.
After two glorious weeks in Port de Soller Mallorca, we set off for our new anchorage. An email from friend and fellow sailer from landlocked Wharfedale, has prompted me to jot down a little of what we do in preparation for a trip out.
A couple of days beforehand we look at various weather forecasts. (Although we are looking at the forecast everyday even if we are parked up or at anchor) They all seem to be slightly different so we kind of judge the average of them all, particularly in terms of wind speeds and direction.
Using this prediction, we can access how easy a sail may be to where we want to head.
We would rather not beat into the wind if possible, preferring to wait until the wind is blowing the right way! Also, I would prefer that the winds are manageable in strength, so up to 20kn being about my limit in terms of comfort zone. Often, we have found that if the predicted wind speed is 20kn, once you are out there it is usually much more!!! If it’s going to be blowing a hooley, then we’d rather stay in port!
So, having settled on a destination which would be within range, say 25 – 50nm, we plot a course on the open CPN navigation software; putting in various way points and checking the entire route in close up for any potential hazards.
We look at the destination port in the pilot guide and take a note of the course to follow for safe entrance. Checking the things to look out for on the headland and mouth of the harbour. We have the Navionics App ready on the phone so we can see the plan of the marina.
In addition, we check tides and currents, if necessary, and generally make a note of Barometer readings the previous day and evening.
I always like to have a plan B just in case the wind changes and the original destination becomes more difficult to enter. Sometimes we have to have a plan C as well! I write down this plan in RYA fashion with a little drawing of the destination port, etc.
I open up a new ships log on the computer and fill in as much detail as I can about the weather, (from forecasts and observations) barometer, temperature, humidity, provisioning plan, etc.
Once that stuff is complete really it’s practical preparations of the boat and crew. A visit to the shower block ashore, last minute provisioning, back to the boat, shore shoes sprayed with cockroach killer so we don’t bring the nasty little critters’ eggs aboard inadvertently. Boat shoes on, breakfast, tidy up, teeth.
Life jackets are to hand, MOB alarms are worn, shoes are on feet as there have been injuries when sailing in bare feet, factor 30 (soon to be 50) sun cream is applied, jackets at the ready in case of chill, binoculars on deck and water bottles filled.
We have already done the provisioning, filled the water and diesel tanks.
After our experience with the sail drive and head gasket we now complete a daily engine check (WOBBLE) and also one once we are underway.
Below decks we stow all moveable items in lockers or on deep shelves, etc, and shut all doors or pin them back. We close and lock all hatches and lock off the heads, after we had a flooded forward head one day.
Ian switches all the instruments on; AIS which transmits our position, speed, heading and also receives the same information about other vessels in the area; VHF is tuned to Channel 16; wind, depth, speed, navigation and autopilot instruments are activated. The course is activated on Open CPN and the first waypoint is sent to the navigation instruments at the helm. The MOB alarm is switched on.
Then we come on deck and put the engine on so it can be warming up.
We take sail covers off, attach the main halyard and check that everything we’ve moved whilst in port is back in the right place. For example, we always fix the main halyard away from the mast so that it doesn’t clank all night. We also attach one of the preventers on the boom to the breast cleat so that the boom doesn’t squeak as the boat rocks.
Next, we stow the fenders in the stern lazarette.
Now, it’s time to lift up the anchors. When in Soller, we deployed a kedge anchor off the stern in addition to the main anchor because we wanted to be kept facing into the swell which comes into the bay. Also, other boats around us were moored up to two mooring buoys so we didn’t have the space to swing at anchor. (It would have been uncomfortable in any case!) Once the kedge anchor is recovered and stowed, we attach and hoist the dinghy and finally, lift and fix the main anchor. Then the anchor ball comes down.
We motor out of the port giving a jaunty wave to new friends who we are sure to meet up with again soon.
We check that the course has been sent up to the console at the helm and I make the second entry in my shop’s log noting the time of departure.
When possible I try to make an entry in the log every time we change the sails, or tack or when I remember, or when I am below decks.
So, there you go, Nick Chown, all recorded for you. We don’t have paper charts for this area which is a shame, because I prefer to use them and see the whole route in detail. It’s also good to be able to plot your positions on it regularly as a back up to electronic stuff.
From starting to lift anchors, etc it was at least 45 minutes ’til we motored out of the bay. It would have been longer but luckily the dinghy winch decided that it would continue to work just long enough to pull up the dinghy on to the davits after a teasing halt to its smooth action. Another thing to add to the repair list that grows on a daily basis!
After a wonderful evening catching up with news from T’ Shire the following day, Friday 29th April we caught a bus to Palma and met up with Ian and Alice after a brief interlude at a beer and food festival near the Cathedral. We set off walking around the historic part of town. Of course, we hadn’t gone far before we were very thirsty and diverted to Can Toni a little tapaseria near Santa Cruz church.
A lovely setting. Food soon arrived….pimiento de padron, boquerones, salami, cheese. All delicious. We took a stroll round the contemporary art gallery and enjoyed views of the city and then wandered back towards the fabulous cathedral building.
On our way back, Amelia called to see what we wanted to do. We agreed to meet them in Gallaleo. However, on reflection it seemed that it might be impossible for us all to squeeze into the Fiat 500, so we caught the bus back to Andratx and collapsed into us beds!
The next day was fair weather so we decided to set sail and head for Soller since that was where the rest of the gang were staying. We departed quietly but didn’t see the Frenchman; his hatch was open so he was up and about probably.
We had to motor most of the way since it was so calm. Along the way we spotted what looked like blobs of plastic in the water. There were hundreds of them. Intrigued to find out what they were, I attached the plastic sieve to a string and managed to scoop one of these things up. On closer inspection it appears to be some kind of jelly fish with a ‘sail’ to propel them along the surface of the water. The first one was pink and the second one was a bright blue.
We arrived nice and early and parked up on the completely empty PortsIB temporary summer season transit pontoon which had just been installed. As is the sailing way a couple of gentlemen from the boat next door hopped ashore to take our lines, there was a vague hint of recognition on Ian’s face and it eventually clicked they were crew from the 2011/12 Clipper race, Stuart Miller and John who had just arrive on Chibas. In fact Ian spent several days in NZ with Stuart when they were both injured en-route to NZ. Mooring was a bit of a challenge as there were no cleats on the north side of the pontoon at all! We, nevertheless, attached ourselves to the pontoon using cleats on the far side. Most definitely NOT the RYA way, but we were secure.
Next day brought calmer weather and more cleats; divers were busy reconnecting new lazy lines. It was fascinating to watch all the goings on.
Later that day, we were so pleased to see the gang from T’ Shire walking towards the pontoon. They arrived and we rustled up drinks and then pasta to keep them going. Amelia and Charlie had to disappear off for an appointment. We all met up later on the prom and plumped for tapas (with pimientos de padron, calamari, boquerones, potato croquettes, patatas bravas, chipirones, amongst others) at the Cava/Albatros restaurant overlooking the marina. We had a lovely evening with live music. Everything was by Neil Young or Jefferson Starship! Such fun!
Back on Linea, the wind picked up and we were subject to a huge swell coming into the bay and ricocheting off the steep walls on the SW side of the bay. We bounced most of the night. The temporary pontoon was bucking like a bronco and giving a good impression of the Loch Ness Monster. We were astonished to see people negotiating the bridge after dark, which was cordoned off by orange straps. They were walking, or rather staggering, down the pontoon just for a look at the view! One man brought his very young children, and his beers. I hovered near the transom to warn him about the trip hazards of our lines across the pontoon. Before they had walked very far the little boy quickly and sensibly back-tracked so that his Dad had to follow him. Thank goodness!
In the middle of the night we were all woken by a couple of big thumps as we connected with the pontoon. The ‘fat boy’ fender had popped out. We were all out on deck really quickly and David and Ian pulled in the lazy line as tight as possible as I released the stern lines. I tied a bit of line between to other long fenders so that they couldn’t pop out around the sides of the transom and we fixed two breast lines to the pontoon.
Back to bed but a fitful sleep because of the squeaking of the lines.
The next day, we cadged a lift with Charlie and Amelia over to Sa Calobra and Cala Tuent. We drove over the long and winding roads that snake down to Sa Calobra and it was stunning. The hills are incredibly high and full of hair pin bends. It is amazing to think that cyclists enjoy slogging up these hills. We all felt quite queasy with vertigo on the way down because you can see so far below you. Finally, we arrived at sea level
and had coffee (and a pint of fresh orange juice for Angela!) in one of the many restaurants in the small bay. The waves were pretty big as they curled round in to the small Cala. Next we drove up and over to the next bay along and took a beautiful walk across the beach with a collection of the most ancient and gnarled olive trees in a plantation just to our left. We slid through the sand, meeting a track up to a restaurant.
We had a pleasant lunch on the terrace under the trees overlooking the spectacular bay. As we set off back we noticed that we were very low on petrol. By chance, at the junction at the top of the hill we spotted a sign promising fuel in 9 km. We took the turn (in the wrong direction and away from Alice and Ian in our support vehicle, and wove our way along the curving road beginning to believe we had been duped. Suddenly, up ahead, amongst a herd of cyclists at least four deep, we saw the petrol station and thanked our lucky stars. Now that we had re-fuelled, we decided to take a look at Lluc Monastery which was close by. It is set in the most gorgeous spot. A large piece of flat land in an otherwise mountainous and precipitous area. Lovely.
Next morning, had agreed to meet Alice and Ian in Soller but we were a little slow off the mark and so it was mid morning by the time we walked along the tram tracks up to Soller town.
It was a lovely walk and when we arrived we found the town square and settled down for a coffee. Angela and I decided to do a little bit of window shopping. We walked towards the railway station and visited the Pablo Picasso ceramics exhibition and the Joan Miro painting exhibition, we had a look at the railway station where a miniature train departs regularly for Palma and stopped off at the Hotel de Guia (where Ian and I and the girls had stayed ten years previously) and ah-ed over the beautiful tram that trundles back to Port de Soller.
Angela and I went for a wander and some shopping and then headed back to meet the boys after our walk round town…yes they were drinking beer already!
We took the tram back down to the Port…because you really have to travel that way. It is the most appealing experience. The tram hoots affectionately all the way back down to the port. Even though it is a throw back to the beginning of the 20th century it seems to fit in to its more modern surroundings.
We had a fantastic meal out that evening in Port de Soller and the next day it was an early departure for Angela and David. Hoping to see them soon. The rest of the day we all just chilled on the boat because by then we were sure that we had a further problem with the sail drive. The oil level was rising, which could only mean one thing. Sea water was getting in! Not a good time to be going out for a sail. So after a relaxing afternoon of Scrabble, sun and conversation, we bid a fond farewell to the gang from the T’ Shire and are already looking forward to seeing them again in June.
The next day, the engineer came to look at the engine and after some consultation and discussion in Spanglish, it was decided that the boat would have to come out of the water again!
Fortunately, there is a crane lift in Soller so we motored round there and Ian negotiated a fantastic turn in a very tight spot and Pieri and his Dad carefully edged the cross frame in above the mast and between the spreaders with millimeter precision.
The boat came up and out with surprising ease.
The boat yard is right in the midst of the promenade and restaurant area so, from our vantage point high above ground level, we had a great spot for people watching.
We were back in the water by the afternoon and Tommy, the engineer, spent a further two days replacing the head gasket and the morse cable and tweaking this and that until he was happy. Phew!
We do hope that this is the end of any more problems as we are now thinking of changing the boat’s name to Hokey Cokey because we have been in, out, in, out so often.
After the extra expense of this repair work we were delighted to discover that we had been wrongly charged for water and electricity during our stay. Hurray, we were due a refund!
More settled weather meant that we were going to anchor in the bay. After the third attempt to bed in the anchor we were happy that it was secure. Ian went swimming and diving down to check! We put out an anchor at the back to keep us facing the swell and we had three of the most comfortable nights yet; albeit with every kind of alarm on. Wind alarm, depth alarm, anchor alarm, Drag Queen!
We wanted to be out in the bay so that we would be in pole position for the Moors vs Christians Festival and battle re-enactment that was to take place on Monday the 9th May. We had already met up with a couple called Nicky and Mark on Mezzo Magic who had kindly invited us to join them for a bit of a party on the Monday on their boat.
At 1350 we went ashore to meet up with Amanda Spencer (yeah!) who was here to stay with friends living in Soller and another couple who live aboard their boat in the Port de Soller. We were amazed to discover that Amanda had been at school with Mark! Small world.
We watched the re-enactment from their boat and it was quite baffling. The Pirate (Moors) attacked from the sea. The Peasants (Christians) tried to repel them. There was a lot of noise from firecrackers and fireworks and smoke bombs and flares. But really it was all just a great excuse for everyone to get drunk!
We retired to Linea at a suitable juncture and left the partying on Mezzo Magic. Amanda and friends made it up to the town square and watched the procession into the church and the hanging of the Moor king, apparently it was very moving.
We spent a couple of lovely evenings with Amanda and her friends and during the day we were off exploring the island on bikes. Ian using his trusty bike from home and me hiring an electric bike from Tramuntana Tours We really enjoyed the cycling.
I was especially pleased with my electric boosting bike. Just using gears 1 and 2, ‘eco’ and ‘tour’ boosts, made all the difference between an enjoyable experience or an absolute bloody trial! I confess to switching to ‘Turbo’ (gear 4) on one occasion to zoom past Ian on a steep incline, at about 30kph! I still had to push hard to get up those hills but I also had time to take in the views, marvel at the terraces and the dry stone retaining walls, which are a work of art, notice the wide variety of flowers, shrubs and trees, spot wild goats, fighting billy goats gruff, rabbits and cats and to breathe in the scent of Mallorca in early summer. It is a heady and divine combination of orange blossom, broom, roses and pine trees. Gorgeous!
On our return to Soller in the late afternoon we were pleased to receive a visit from Peter and Annelies who had driven over from Andratx where they had moored Skadi. After we had caught up on our travel news they told us sad news. The Frenchman we had parked next door to in Andratx had been found dead on his boat by Spanish police after his family reported that he wasn’t answering his phone. He was only 48 years old and had sailed solo from France. Angela and I had a nice chat with him, as we moored up, about his home region of Brittany. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family.
Planning for our longest single trip yet…and knowing that we had David Heane, maiden voyager extraordinaire, arriving to assist once more, we intended to provision at the nearby Mercadona supermarket. Unfortunately, it took us hours and miles of walking due to catching the wrong bus!
Anyway, we finally arrived back at the boat (by taxi) and unloaded just in time for David’s arrival. Before any beers could be opened we had a serious job to complete. The fitting of the fog horn. (Foghorn, Leghorn!). David and I
hauled Ian up the mast to the first set of spreaders, a second time so he could fit the refurbished fog horn. But this time he also wanted to be pulled all the way to the top of the mast so that he could inspect it completely. A lot of effort for David. I was on the safety lines.
Beers were opened but not too much as we had to be up at 0430 to leave enough time to get to Ibiza so we could rendezvous with Angela.
We negotiated the busy fishing area outside Altea. By sunrise we had passed most of the fishing craft around us. We had a good days sailing, even Genevieve made an appearance but she broke her shackle around the bowsprit so had to be put away again! But whilst she was up, we saw dolphins on about three occasions. Large pods of them that came to play around the bow. It was fantastic to see them. We arrived in San Antonio, Ibiza at about 1730. Our first impressions were good.
We were tied up in a nice space near the toilets and the Capitania. David and I had put the boat to bed before Captain Moulding came back from booking in, with his free handy zippable folder, useful lanyard and, most importantly, drinks vouchers.
We spruced ourselves up and set off for the bar. Three beers and three cavas later we headed back to the boat for dinner. Next day, would be a quick hop round the island to Sant Miquel where we were to pick up Angela.
We arrived early afternoon and anchored over sand.
We took the dinghy to the beach to suss it out and peruse the menu of a beach front restaurant – possibly one of the the most expensive ever! And then we were back at the boat for tea. Sleep by 2130 so that we would have a few hours kip before Angela arrived from her flight to Ibiza. The boys got up to go and collect her from the beach. The taxi driver was most perturbed to be leaving her alone on the beach at 0130. She assured him that the lights heading to shore were indeed coming to collect her.
We were up and at ’em by 0500 hrs and off to Mallorca in a very wallowy sea; whether motoring or sailing. We made fair progress. Mostly motoring because of the swell. We arrived in Andratx in the afternoon and parked on the floating pontoon stern to next to a friendly Frenchman. No sign of the Ports IB marineros so we set off to the bar and were delighted to meet the gang from T’Shire. The Daggets and The Vyvyans. How special!
We had made it! 790 miles over the course of 7 weeks. They had provided the incentive to arrive at a certain place by a certain time and we had done it!