What’s that noise?
It’s tins sliding in the lockers;
The mast creaking at its base;
The headsail sheet a-clanging;
Wind whistling, as we gain pace.
It’s the bilge pump pumping water
From the gap beneath the floor.
The sound of wood a-knocking;
Someone’s not pinned back a door.
It’s the loose lines that are clanking,
They just need pulling tight.
The turbine making ‘lectric
That we need to power our lights.
It’s the engines and the thrusters
And the noisy anchor chains
Of other boats around us
That are causing you dismay.
It’s the whistle of the kettle
Saying it’s time to make a brew.
It’s the chugging auto pilot
As it does the work for you.
It’s the fish nibbling at the hull,
The coral crackling below.
The large blue straps vibrating,
On the dinghy; don’t you know?
It’s the radio that has static
when there’s much chatter between
Boat owners and marinas,
And more sailors, yet unseen.
It’s water coming from t’engine
That’s cooling it as we drive.
It’s good to hear that splashing
‘coz the impeller’s alive.
It’s children shrieking on the beach
People having such a lark,
I wonder why they choose to be
Where we decide to park?
It’s the Man Over Board alarm,
It alerts me if you fall,
And the smoke alarm detects
Vapours that are abnormaal.
It’s the breathing of the dolphins
As they come along to play.
Your screams, clicks and shouts of glee
mean you scare them far away
It’s ‘Drag Queen’, the anchor alarm
making noise that’ll wake the dead.
It’s just as well; we’ll hear it!
When we are asleep in bed!
So safe to say, no worries,
noises are quite the norm
As we get used to Linea;
She’ll care for us in a storm!
Having 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 floodlight, 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.
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!
Saturday, 9th April brought more gentle weather and winds so we set off for Benalmadena for a second time in rather less fraught circumstances than before. The winds were so pleasant and light that I was able to cook coq au vin en route!
Predictably, by the time we arrived in the enormous marina the wind had picked up to a healthy 20 knots however, we managed to park on the waiting pontoon without incident. Half an hour later we were squeezing into the smallest space between two motor cruisers, juggling fenders on either side.
What a strange marina. It is an enormous basin within which are islands with apartment blocks topped with turrets and rounded edges, covered in twinkling tiles and bits of broken mirror; with arching road bridges so that cars can drive directly into the garage areas underneath. It’s very Disneyesque! It does mean that just to walk out of the marina onto the main road for banks, supermarkets and so on takes about 25 minutes.
Similarly, a walk to the Capitania’s office takes about 20 minutes so when I went to pay I was dismayed to hear that I had to go back to the boat to retrieve the receipt for the key in order to be given my €20 deposit back. It’s all good exercise.
We set off to Caleta de Valez.
The minute we rounded the breakwater the wind was strong. The shelter of the marina giving the impression that it was a calm windless day. Sneaky! The waves soon got up and we had three reefs in the sail again. This time the wind didn’t abate and as we neared the marina we came across an unmarked fish farm ahead, which we just managed to avoid. The height of the waves making it difficult to see the yellow buoys marking the four corners of the farm.
I can explain the strength of the wind at this point by telling you that there were wind surfers everywhere! One of whom found himself on the wrong side of us! Luckily, he was able to steer away. I was on the helm as Ian pulled down the last bit of mainsail, and I had no idea what to do to avoid him! Phew! Next thing..how to get into the marina with a very strong following wind and no clear idea of where we were to go.
After a few shouts down the radio and incomprehensible responses because of static, we saw a man in hi-viz waving at us. We parked up at 1715 in gusting winds, bows to on a pontoon near the boat yard. Fantastic. By 1815 all the wind had completely disappeared! Typical.
So, trundled off to the showers and thence to a bar for a drink and wifi and sat there catching up with the world whilst gradually becoming more and more aware of the unpleasant conversation unfolding between four Brits behind us in the bar. The content of their conversation became more vulgar, graphic and inappropriate and finally Ian, in his own inimitable style, called across to them to ask them to stop.
One of the men thought that Ian was threatening them and suggesting a fight. He made as if to stand up but his friends pulled him back into his seat and calmed him down. However, minutes later he was up and out of his seat and moving towards Ian with his fist drawn back. I grabbed his sleeve to stop him punching and his friends, two Spanish men, and the bar tender were all trying to hold him down. Ian’s woolly jumper had a huge hole pulled right out of it. It was all very horrid.
As the man was dragged away by his friends, disappeared into the early evening night shouting about how he was going to kill Ian
Minutes later, the friends came back and said that they had put the man on his boat and that he was fast asleep. They explained that he was ex SAS soldier who had fought in Iraq. Further, it transpired that he had been given an antidote to Anthrax, which was a biological weapon that was thought to be in use in Iraq. This antidote had caused great problems with the psychological and bodily health of the soldiers. Even now, this man was having monthly blood transfusions and psychological counselling to help him. The cocktail of drugs that keep him alive and relatively functional can cause great disturbances in the delicate chemical balances in his brain when mixed with alcohol! Great! We just happened to be on the receiving end of his complete lack of inhibitions and his excessive aggression.
We left Caleta as soon as we could; firstly to be sure we didn’t bump in to Crazy SAS Man and secondly because a pneumatic drill had started up in the boat yard next to us. After a brief altercation with a lazy line of the boat next to us, we were clear and setting off by motor as the wind was non-existent. All the upset of the night before disappeared as we saw loads of dolphins near one of the fish farms.
Soon, the headland of Marina del Este came into view. We were given a bottle of wine on arrival at the waiting pontoon, which slightly softened the blow of having to re-park. We had another snagging of a lazy line on the way in but the calm and relaxed assistance of the Brit on the yacht next door made it bearable.
We met up with our Dutch friends from Ceuta on their boat Skadi for a quick drink, which was nice, and then the next day had a visit from Pim, the previous owner. He was in the area looking at flats to rent and very kindly offered to come over to answer our queries about the boat now that we had sailed her a bit.
Later, we walked, the long way round to Herradera the nearest town, where we saw at least thirty para-gliders
bobbing about above the headland. The marina and its setting is certainly the prettiest we have stayed in, with cute little white apartments gathered all around the edge and a huge limestone outcrop protecting the seaward side.
We left Marina del Este at 1000 in light winds and swapped the Genoa for Genevieve, the large genaker sail, which is about as big as a tennis court. With the wind behind us it is a fantastic sail to push us along quickly in light winds. However, we should have realised that the winds would only get stronger. Having run through a verbal ‘what would I do if Ian fell off now’ scenario, I tried to pull down Genevieve’s snuffer myself from the front deck. In the strong winds that had built up, this is like trying to pull a narrow tube over a plate. The power in the sail is massive. At the point when my entire weight was being lifted up of the deck, I decided I just didn’t have the strength!
So, Genevieve has gone away in her cupboard; only to be used in LIGHT winds.
Arrived in Almerimar in 23 knots of wind from the SW so surfed into the marina! Parked in a quiet and windless corner only a few boats away from our Dutch friends on Skadi.
Had a day in this massive marina for shopping and chandlery. Ian spent €75 on a bow fender which took the both of us two hours to fit!
On Friday 15 April we set off for Aguadulce. The winds were wonderfully light in the morning so we tried a little fishing and within five minutes had caught our first fish. A spiked little orange thing with a wide mouth! I unhooked it from the rusty hook, and threw it back in and then I dropped the lead weight and hooks back in to the water. Unfortunately, Ian had only a lot hold of the fishing line and the swivel stick. So the whole lot was pulled out of his hand and plunged down into the sea below!
I cracked on with jobs and covered three fenders with neat and tidy fender socks. Ian did some polishing. See my other blog regarding ‘Routine’.
Soon after this incident, the winds picked up from a nice 10 knots to 20+ knots. We arrived in Aguadulce and had a bump with the fuel jetty putting a bit of a dent in Linea’s side and stretching the top guard rail. Oops!
Nice and safe in Aguadulce, and after phone calls to Andrew Lowrey and a lovely chat, it seems unlikely that we will be able to get together this time. So we caught the bus to Almeria and visited the most fantastic municipal market. There were polished vegetables and fruit, hams, olives and fish. It was an absolute education watching the fishmongers, fillet, de-scale and de-bone the fish. There were astonishing displays of sword fish swords, whole tuna and massive lobsters, langoustines and prawns and glistening examples of every kind of edible fish.
Almeria also has an amazing Moorish Castillo,
which is the size of a park, complete with gardens, rills,
rivulets and fountains. Beautiful, but VERY windy at the top of the Castillo.
After our sightseeing day we departed fairly promptly for a big sail to Garrucha. With decent winds predicted we were sure we could make it.
We put the second reef in the mainsail and with the wind right behind us we sailed on a perfect run with the sails goose winged.
Garrucha is a commercial port and has the most enormous breakwater surrounding its Northern and Eastern extremities. It can shelter the huge cargo ships that come in to load up with enormous quantities of concrete, sand and gravel. There are around 60 lorries an hour delivering quarry loads of stuff to an area at the end of the breakwater. A team of ten man-sized diggers scoop the stuff on to conveyor belts that pour the piles into the holds of the ships. Gradually, the water line creeps up the sides of the ship and they are not so towering after all.
Anyway, I digress, as Ronnie Corbett would have said. This particular day the waves were crashing against the breakwater and spikes of water were firing right over the top and jabbing into the piles of stone. I imagine that the wall must have been four, or even five stories tall. It dwarfed the lorries as they beetled back and forth along the road towards the loading area. And yet the sea was so big that waves were crashing up against it and coming right over!
We left Linea in her sheltered position and took a trip to a little hilltop town down the coast. Mojocar.
We jumped on a bus but it was only going to the beach. We walked back to another bus stop and found the right us to take us up. To the top of the peak…Mojocar. Hmmmm a funny kind of place and most definitely a tourist attraction. But why? A beautiful ancient tree, a church, a statue, a peak with views, narrow streets, but other than that, not a great deal.
We took a bus back down and walked along the front, with waves crashing to our right, back to the marina.
After a day of jobs, we set sail again, this time to Cartegena.
Another big day’s sailing heading for Yacht Port Cartegena. The entrance was most confusing; we were directed by the Guardia Civil, in their motor boat, as to the correct course to take to enter the harbour. It appears that the cruise liner pier is being extended and the preparatory work is to drop tonnes of rock and debris in the harbour. Unfortunately, it is not clearly marked off and we skimmed the very edge of it! How pleased was I to have completed 49 miles and parked up in strong winds, next door but one to Skadi! I needed that hug from Peter and Annelies!
More culture was to be had in Cartegena. We visited the superb museum of Sub Aquatic Archeology and then walked around the city and up to the castle. It is the most amazing collection of eras.
Moorish, Roman, Christian. There is an incredible amphitheatre,
a bull ring (being renovated), and loads of fantastic buildings in the historic centre. There is much clever and considerate renovation going on, where the facades of numerous houses have been preserved and the building that used to support it is about to be replaced with a modern equivalent.
It’s probably a city to visit In another five to ten years. They are on a mission. The museums are interactive and impressive. No expense has been spared in the presentation of artifacts and information. The centre is compact and attractive. The views are amazing. The history, incredible. You can imagine the hive of activity that there must have been years ago when Cartegena was the hub of commercial activity of ships from all over the world and also an important port of refuge for war ships.
We left Cartegena for Santa Pola, Marina de las Salinas.
We had to motor today as there was virtually no wind. We arrived and as directed in the Pilot Guide and we headed for ‘the cheaper of the two marinas’. Where we paid €50 (!) including electricity, water, wifi and car parking space! Oh, and the added privilege of being directly under the flight path of the local airport. Ouch!
After leaving San Pedro we headed further north to Altea, our final stop on the Spanish mainland We knew that if was a fair way and that if we got there today we would have two days to provision and do jobs before David Heane’s arrival on the Monday.
So, we decided to crack on which meant another night sail. We passed Benidorm and noted the high rise skyline, reminiscent of Hong Kong. We managed to clear the headland to Altea Bay as the sun went down so we could see where we were heading. Our French friends on Moriannee were anchored in the bay….we contemplated a drive by… briefly.
We motored straight to the marina by now in pitch dark. We radio-ed in and asked for a berth. We were allocated P12. Which is fine, if you know where P12 is. By now, the wind had completely dropped so we were able to hover until we saw a man waving a torch. We headed to that spot and parked up bows to. We were handed lines to attach and a lazy line to fix the stern: Proper!
Altea is pretty; narrow streets, hills, churches with blue tiled rooves, quaint squares, stunning sea views, a long promenade, yellow beach and cute shops. Well worth a wander round the steep and narrow streets of the historic centre.
So glad we are here for a few days of jobs and recuperation before the next big leg to Ibiza and Mallorca.