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.