Social Mallorca

CADV23Upon leaving Palma Bay, we made good progress round the East coast of Mallorca due to reasonable winds and stayed for one night is IMG_3268[1]Cala S’Emrelda, the only boat in the small cala, overlooked by luxury bijoux hotels and houses with infinity pools.  It was lovely.

Next stop after a long day was Pollensa Bay.  A huge almost entirely enclosed shallow bay on the northern tip of the island.  We crept forwards carefully eyeing the depth gauge.  The winds were strong but after all our anchoring practice we were confident.  We found a spot about 200m off the elbow of the Real Club Nautico de Puerto Pollensa’s breakwater on the outer edge of all the boats moored or anchored nearer the shore. IMG_3269[1]

Fantastic!

Ian checked the anchor was well bedded in as very strong winds were forecast for the night.  All was good and we had a lot of chain out.

Eager to set out to meet the Chowns, we jumped in the dinghy but realised that we had not properly put the boat to bed, so headed back to finish the job properly.  Sail bag zipped up, mast cuff on, preventer pulled out tight to breast cleat. Just as we were about to leave for the second time we heard the most almighty racket of engines revving and saw , to our dismay that we were parked right in the midst of a series of buoys marking a race track for jet skis! IMG_3078[1]

Like hornets playing tag, they chased each other round and round the circuit, unsettling the already lumpy waters and creating an eddy around us.  We were imprisoned by wake. Making a beeline for the shore was impossible until they had finished their race.  A little while later, with Ian still countering about antisocial behaviour, we made it to the shore and set off for a welcome walk to stretch our legs and to meet up with the Chowns IMG_3285[1]after their day’s cycling.

 

They had bravely elected to cycle over to Sa Colabra and, more to the point, back up again!  They confessed by text that their legs were suffering and so it was decided that beer was needed.  It was so lovely to see them all, glowing from their exertions and clearly proud of their achievement!  Their route includes a continuous series of incredible hairpin bends and vertiginous views all the way back up from the Cala, and then they had to continue on to Pollensa.

We were just catching up with them when Karen spotted someone out of the corner of her eye!  It turned out to be Sarah King’s sister. IMG_3272[1]

Small world.

 

We enjoyed a fabulous evening of  chatting, barbecuing and hot-tubbing back at the Chown’s rented apartment CADV2and managed somehow to wobble back to the boat at about one in the morning before the winds had really started to get up.  All was well.

CADV3

Next day, the Chowns wanted to cycle out to the lighthouse on Formentor so we agreed to meet up on the boat during the afternoon for swimming and snacks.  The wind was blowing at a steady 25kn and it was really choppy, and chilly, in the bay so we just chatted and relaxed.  A lovely way to spend the afternoon.

We waved them off and wished Ben luck in his search for marketing work, Adam enjoyable studying for his architecture degree and Leah all the best for a fantastic summer with Camp America sailing in Maine before starting at Newcastle University!guest3

 

The next day the winds continued and we saw a number of plastic inflatables flipping past us across the bay to come to a rest on the opposite shore a couple of miles away. We watched with amazement as the seaplane taxied into the water and glided away to anchor in preparation for take-off.  A chunky bright yellow butternut squash of a machine which propelled itself up, seeming to defy gravity and circled gracefully around the bay completing a fly by directly over our mast.  (Unfortunately, I couldn’t get to the camera in time.)  Later on, we were treated to a view from the inside, as the speed boats took to the water for their chance to froth up the waters of Pollensa bay a far cry from this sedate form of transport.IMG_3279[1]IMG_3284[1]

Through some kind of psychic telepathy, we went ashore and I reserved a parking space right on the jetty.  As if by magic, Ian and Alice Daggett appeared and as soon as they were safely parked up, without further ado, we whisked them out to the Linea and had a fabulous lunch, complete with cava!  Then we made a trip out to the town of Pollensa and had a walk through the square and up to the church.  Beautiful.

After a smash and grab shop at Lidl we took all our provisions back to the boat and somehow managed to stuff it all away.  We rustled up some supper and retired for the night.

Our first sail took us down the East coast.  We anchored in a large bay called Cala de S’Agulla and decided to swim ashore for a beer.  In fact Ian and Alice swam and we took the kayak.  We had a beer as the sun set and it became chilly.  Back to the boat for a shower and drink before dinner. IMG_3295[1] IMG_3089[1]Lovely.

 

 

Next day, the wind was fresher and we were sailing so well on a reach.  CADV19Alice was at the helm and we were doing about 8kn, which isn’t bad for an old girl weighing over 13 tonnes, the boat, I mean, not Alice!  On this tack, we were delighted to reach our first milestone….ONE THOUSAND NAUTICAL MILES since leaving Portugal.CADV12 Uplifted by this achievement, on the spur of the moment, Alice enquired, ‘Why don’t we go to Menorca?’

 

We thought it was a fine idea and so we continued East.  We were aiming for Cala son Saura on the south coast.  We arrived late afternoon and anchored off the beach.  Part of a nature reserve and utterly undeveloped or altered.  The seaweed is left on the beach and their are no facilities.

Over our morning tea and coffee we were delighted to spot through the binoculars, under the shade of the trees, a couple of small cabins that seemed to have a pictograms of a woman and a man on the doors.  Feeling the need for a proper loo we headed off in the dinghy and walked along the desolate shore.  The beach was covered in brown balls of different sizes.  Strange!  They look like coir bristles bundled together in a matted tangle, like spherical dreadlocks.  Despite its unkempt, weed covered appearance it was very appealing.

 

Along a rough track towards a farm house behind the beach was a gate made from olive wood.  All wonky and curved.  Organic and rustic. I have commissioned one from Mr D, who can make anything!

 

We set off walking from the beach inland, aiming to find somewhere for coffee.  We walked about three miles and no cafe appeared.  It was a beautiful walk between fields and dry stone walls.  We saw these incredible wedding cake stone constructions and on further investigation discovered that they were hollow, barn type constructions for animals to shelter in.

We returned to the road.  Having brought no water or sun cream we decided it would be sensible to thumb a lift back to the beach. We were kindly offered a ride by a civil engineer who worked for Menorca Tourist Board.  She explained that she was here to check the newly built road and car park infrastructure that had recently been built to aid easy access to the National Park.

We moved round to Cala Trebelujer. Later in the afternoon and as soon as the tour boat had left we took the dinghy to the beach intending to lift it over the sand bar and thence to the small river in the Northern corner of the bay.  The pilot guide referred to being able to paddle up stream, through quiet marsh flat land, in order to spy turtles, dragon flies, birds and fish.  Alice and I were tempted by the prospect of our very own African Queen moment, so dressed to repel mozzies, and, sporting matching straw hats we headed ashore and jumped eagerly from the dinghy to pull it up over the sand bar.

Alice was in the lead and first to step into the fresh water of the stream.  The sand underfoot was almost like quick sand and taking a step too far, Alice disappeared up to her hips in the squidgy sand.  Luckily,she grabbed me and amidst much laughter, we were able to pull her out.  Weak with the giggles, we collapsed into the dinghy and in that few seconds seemed to have managed to scare off every wild creature that we had hoped to see.

We paddled up stream in a kind of unison, zigzagging between the reeds.  The wide mouth of the stream began to narrow and we squeezed through the vegetation until we could go no further.

It was so peaceful and tranquil.  We did see fish and dragonflies, but no turtles.  It was a pleasant way to spend an evening in the sunshine.

We set off back to Son Saura for the night and the following day had a speedy run all the way back to Pollensa.

We enjoyed refreshing showers in Pollensa and had a wander around deciding to eat out.  Returning from the restaurant Alice spotted the fish tank place where you can have your feet nibbled.  We tried it.  What a strange experience.  Kind of nippy and tickly at the same time.  But after only five minutes we had wonderfully soft feet.IMG_3093[1]

 

Next day, after breakfast Alice and Ian kindly drove us to Lidl so we could restock all the heavier supplies!  With a delicious lunch sorted, too, we went back to the boat.  All too soon, Alice and Ian had to head back to the airport via the Lluc Monastry and Soller and we were alone again.

A wonderful wine-filled and fun-filled week.

Go Fish!

IMG_3248[1]On the first evening in Cala Portals Vells I announced to Ian that I was going to do some fishing!  He smiled ruefully, remembering his frustrating childhood experiences of fruitless fishing trips, perhaps?

Well, I prepared my line, which is four little hooks and a wine bottle cork, for a float, a very rudimentary affair.  I happened to have made some popcorn the night before and thought that it might make good bait, especially since it floats quite well. Looking down I could see shoals of sea bream all around the boat.  I tested their hunger levels by lobbing in a few morsels of popcorn.  They were immediately snapped up.

No messing, this was the time to get my line in.  Ian walked away to do some kind of job.  I threw out my line with another handful of popcorn and immediately I felt a tug. Disbelieving my own luck I looked down to see a silvery wriggle below the boat.  I shrieked over to Ian who thought I was having him on as he had barely had time to walk the full length of the boat.  He rushed back in time to see me pull up my line with not one, but two sea bream on it!

We dispatched the fish, removed the hooks and dipped the line again.They were only small….we needed more.  This time I just caught one more unsuspecting fish.

 

Subsequent attempts revealed that the fish can learn.  They would not come near my popcorn bait until it had drifted far off leaving my constellation of popcorn hooks looking so obviously fake.

They did not bite.

So we made do with three.  I gutted them and de-scaled them and we had three little fishes on a little dishy, for us tea!IMG_3026[1]

Next day, buoyed by my success I had another go and caught one more fish.   Just enough for a small lunch. But after that the fish had wised-up.  No more were tempted by my popcorn, bread or tortilla wraps.

We finally managed to drag ourselves away from the turquoise waters and the comings and goings in Cala Portals Vells and, on the morning of our departure, a huge motor cruiser pulled into the bay and dropped anchor.

Staff were busy polishing the stainless steel, laying out fluffy towels on the sun beds and  frothing the bubbles in the top deck  jacuzzi.  Speculation mounted on our boat that this could be Bruce Springsteen since he played in Madrid the night before!  Apparently,  he had a similar kind of holiday in Mallorca three years ago between gigs.  So, we hung around a bit more and sticky beaked through our fabulous binoculars but just saw lots of white uniformed crew members.  A quick look on the internet revealed that the cost of chartering this cruiser for a week, low season, was $470,000 plus expenses which would add a further $70,000 on top!  Mere bagatelle!  We sat in the same cove, with the same sun rise for a lot less than that!

We set off towards Andratx (and thence to Palma)  and our surprise assignation with Ian’s parents who had rung the night before to tell us they had booked a last minute cruise to the Mediterranean.

We anchored in the bay and I went ashore in the dinghy to restock supplies as we were virtually out of wine, and less crucial supplies, like fresh fruit and vegetables!

It was sad to see the poor Frenchman’s boat moored up and collecting a light dusting of Saharan sand and salt.

The next day we retraced our route and dodged the race regatta boats that were skimming along around us, and then headed round to Paguera but on looking at the small Cala we decided it wouldn’t offer enough protection against the forecasted strong northerly and northeasterly winds so we continued round towards Santa Ponca which is a wide bay surrounded by tall, sheltering buildings.

We set both anchors just in case and had a very good night with no buffeting at all.  Ian had even figured out how to stop the wind turbine so I wouldn’t feel the vibrations from it rotating all night!

We spent three lovely days here.  Although the beach front and town are not so attractive as other places we’ve seen, we were able to replenish food stocks again and suss out a great anchorage.  All jet skiing is regulated here and must be done from a floating pontoon way out in the bay, so it is a really quiet place to be, even though it’s so huge.  Whilst sneaking in to the marina to do our laundry we were pleased to meet up with fellow Soller pontooners on Moondance of Cork.   We had a lovely catch up chat, and their dulcet tones reminded us once again of Fascinating Aida’s rendition of Cheap Flights!  If you’ve not heard it, please do Google it!

On the 25th we sailed round to Palma de Mallorca, to one of the many marinas there and predictably arrived in time to park up in the strongest wind we had had for days!

We were down to our last drops of water which we had eeked out.  So whilst Ian sorted out the recycling and the gas cylinder, I refilled the tanks.  We then set too scrubbing the decks, windows and covers so that the boat would look her best for Henry and June’s visit.

Meanwhile, we spent some time marvelling at the super yachts parked up around us.  Across the way, in the boat yard, an enormous yacht waIMG_3327[1]s having it’s mast stepped.  There are 850 berths in this marina, there are eight marinas in total here – that’s a lot of boats and a great deal of wealth is evident.IMG_3324[1]  This must be one of the nicest back drops for a marina though.  Here we are tucked under the Cathedral and beside the Museum of Contemporary Art and four incredible old windmill towers and sails.

Such a beautiful city.

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Mum and Dad visit us on Linea
We were up and at ’em early; my first proper shower in five days!  Bliss.  Then we walked all the way along the fantastic promenade, people watching the whole time, to meet up with Henry and June outside the Cruise Ship terminal building.  It was soooo lovely to see them and we all had little weep.  So bizarre to be unexpectedly together in this lovely city, chatting as we wandered back in the warm sunshine.  We gave H and J the full guided tour (which takes about two minutes, by virtue of the fact that everything is very compact) In fact, it probably took longer for us to shoehorn them both down the hatch and into the main saloon!  ‘From the sublime to the ridiculous’ springs to mind when I think about the difference in size of their ship (20 floors high) and our dinky little boat.

We wandered through the old part of town to eat in a lovely tapas bar called 13 Prozent which had been recommended by a friend of a friend who lives in Palma.  Delicious and reasonably priced lunch and then back to our respective ships.

By the time H and J had walked back to the Ventura, we had left our mooring and were motoring across the bay within the breakwaters.  We did a sail-by and happened to spot them as they were boarding the ship.  We were all waving like crazy things.  It was a very special moment!

We then made our way out to the bay to hang about whilst the ship departed.  We sailed along with her until she sped away at 16 knots towards Italy. We waved again but couldn’t make out anybody on the port side promenade deck as it was in the shade.

We continued to sail across the bay to our anchorage at El Arenels.  The evening sun warm on our backs.  As soon as the anchor was down we dived in to cool off and check it was well bedded in.

We watched the sun go down over then distance hill and gazed up at the stars.  It is simply heavenly tonight.  Very little wind, safely anchored, only one other yacht, and a view of the lights around the whole of Palma Bay!

We left the bay of Palma and sailed off out round the Cabo Blanc with the dark clouds brooding overhead.   It was akin to driving the wrong way down a one way street.  IMG_3065[1]We passed so many charter boats that were returning to Palma after their week away.

 

Keen to try out my tuna hooks I carefully removed my new line from my fishing tackle box and tied on my hook and lure.  Within minutes I had created the most confounded and inexplicable messIMG_3062[1] and tangle of line from what was a perfectly looped coil!  Confident that I could untangle it I had a go, but no, it became even more mangled and knotted.

I gave up, threw it away and reverted to using my mackerel line.

We trawled that hook and lure most of the day.  Not a bloody thing!!!

Since arriving in Mallorca

IMG_2968[1]
Velella Velella
we have not seen any dolphins or tuna.  We have seen sea bream, jelly fish and Velella Velella, (the jelly fish with the sail on their backs!)

 

 

Tomorrow, we set off to Porto Pollenca to meet up with the Chown family.

 

Guest blog – An outsider’s perspective

guest2Having cycled 70 miles from Puerto de Pollenca, through the stunning mountains in the North of Mallorca, the 5 of us arrived at around 4pm to our favourite little beach bar where we’d arranged to meet up with Ian and Sarah.  On a high from our exertions, and dehydrated from the heat of the day, we eagerly gulped down our beers while we waited. There was no mistaking them when they arrived, but gone were the shackles of life in the Dales – I couldn’t now imagine Ian wearing a shirt and tie and conforming to the routine of a steady job.  They both looked somehow ‘nautical’ and at one with their new life bobbing around the Mediterranean in their boat Linea.  It was good to see them and to catch up with their latest exploits.  After another round of drinks (or two) spirits were high and we headed back to our apartment, just a hundred metres away, and retired to our private rooftop terrace, complete with barbecue and hot tub.  While Ben, Adam and Leah went off to shop for food for the evening, we chatted about home in the Dales and the stark contrast of their new life on the boat.  More drinks and a fabulous barbecue later, the kids disappeared to go and find a bar where they could watch the Champions League final, while we opted for a soak in the hot tub. The space of the villa struck Sarah in particular, who, having lived aboard for around 3 months already, was clearly aware of the tight spaces inherent in any yacht design.  The wind was strong and once we’d dried off, it was sadly time for Ian and Sarah to head back to Linea to keep an eye on her overnight as she pulled on her bow anchor, bobbing and yawing in the bay throughout the night.

The following day, with the wind still blowing strongly, we headed off for another bike ride – this time heading out towards Cap de Formentor, the lighthouse at the end of the most North Easterly peninsula of the island.  It wasn’t too long before we realised that the excesses of the previous day (both cycling and drinking!) were having an adverse effect on our ability to pedal, so we turned back, had breakfast and did a spot of sunbathing before walking to the marina where Ian had agreed to pick us up in the tender to have the afternoon aboard Linea.  The 15hp outboard pushed all 6 of us very nicely into a strong headwind out into the bay and towards Linea at anchor.  As we approached, there was Sarah, waving from the stern ready to take our painter (technical term for the line that attaches the tender to the yacht).  Having chartered many yachts around the Med (in Greece and Croatia) it soon became apparent that this was no ordinary charter yacht.  This was a solid yacht, built for sailing and for living aboard.  For a start, a slab-reefed Mainsail took the place of the now common in-mast furling sails (which perform very poorly upwind by comparison).  Once aboard and furnished with yet more beer (after all it was 3pm by this stage), Ian took us on a tour around the deck.  Everywhere I looked this yacht was different.  There was more mast rigging and a more substantial mast to start with.  On top of that, all the deck gear (pulleys, winches, cleats and jammers) looked like they’d come off a much larger yacht – all very substantial.  The Spinnaker pole and foresail pole were both solidly built with beautifully crafted stainless steel fairleads and cleats at bow, stern and mid-ships.  An array of other kit was festooned on the mast and spreaders including radar, VHF antenna, Foghorn and lights.  Mounted to the tender Davitts (used to lower and hoist the tender when not in use), a powerful guest3floodlight, directed at the mainsail area could be switched on to highlight the sail like a triangular beacon in case a passing craft should fail to notice the navigation lights during a night passage.  It would be impossible to miss Linea (unless of course the watch were asleep!)  A powerful wind generator and array of solar panels mounted at the stern meant that Ian and Sarah could run their fridge for free without running the engine – not important when you’re on a 1 week cruise, but expensive in diesel, and noisy, if you live aboard.  Beyond this, the boat has an incredible array of electronic ‘clutter’ – some of which works and some of which doesn’t, covering all manner of requirements – man overboard, more VHF antennas, wi-fi booster, etc. etc.

The deck is coated in a sandtex type product which affords excellent grip, but also takes the skin off your knees – and it’s surprising just how much time you spend on your knees on a yacht, especially as a Catholic!  The cockpit has plenty of space and is very comfortable for 2 – perhaps a little crowded for the 7 of us – as the spilled bowls of crisps and broken glass confirmed later.  It’s surprising just how far tiny pieces of toughened glass can scatter when crushed by Sarah’s bare foot!  Talking of bare feet, at my suggestion, Ian took a great shot of my cod-like lady white feet (which had, to be fair, been in cycling shoes all week) next to his very brown, weathered man feet.

Down below, the electronic wizardry continued with a myriad of kit, without which, one wonders how Magellan, Cook and Shackleton ever managed.  I’ve never seen a Bavaria like this one.  This was from the early Bavaria stables and the difference between it and the typical modern day budget versions (though they have improved of late) is staggering.  The quality of the joinery wouldn’t be found on any, but the most expensive of modern yachts.  Overall, a very nice 44ft yacht which is larger than one would imagine for its size.  There are cubby holes in abundance –  Ian has somehow even managed to get his bike on board!

On to the reality of life aboard … Having only ever once spent 3 weeks in one stint at sea, I can only imagine what this must be like.  Surely this must be the true test of any relationship – and in reality, an unfair test.  How many couples spend 24 hours per day, 7 days per week together, in the same 44ft long space – with nowhere to go and no decent doors to slam after a tiff?  On the positive side, there are no shelves to hang and no wallpapering to do.  In their place though, is an apparently, endless list of things to repair, replace, scrub and clean.  I don’t know how many of you have ever been around a yacht chandlers?  As an engineer, I happen to love them – but it won’t surprise you to know that you don’t get much change out of £100, regardless of what you need to buy!  In terms of the general routine of life aboard – whilst there are certain routines that need to be adhered to (weather checks, engine checks, etc.), there is no fixed plan, no final destination, no need to go anywhere in actual fact.  It must, therefore be quite pleasant to have a reason to go somewhere and to have to be there by a certain time.  In the week we had been in Mallorca, Ian and Sarah had had a visit from Ian’s father who just happened to be sailing into Palma on a cruise ship for a day or two.  This had given them a reason to sail from Soller where they had been based for several weeks, to Palma at the Western end of the Island. Following this, we had agreed to meet them at the end of the week at Puerto de Pollenca, diametrically opposite Palma at the other end of the Island.  So, after saying their goodbyes to Ian’s Dad, they had sailed via the Southern coast to see us.  The effort was very much appreciated – we had a lovely time.  Sarah is doing a great job with her blog and Ian in keeping them both safe at sea.  There are many followers looking out for details of their latest adventure.

Your friends are here in Wharfedale thinking about you both.  Keep plugging away.  It can’t be easy sometimes.

Nick

Nick Chown and family, on board May 2016