Today we are setting sail for an overnight sail to the Balearac Islands. We are very excited and can now put all the frustrations of fixing the rudder and solving issues with refitting the rigging (the sail makers and riggers were working on the boat until 3.45am this morning!) behind us.
We are now really looking forward to enjoying being on the boat and being out on the sea after a busy few days preparing Impulsive. (We actually arrived in Barcelona 5 weeks ago today).
Peter and Andrea, Charlotte and Saul are leaving today with us for a week. Peter and Andrea have been a wonderful help with the provisioning from the Santa Catalina market near them, especially with my very limited Spanish. We are looking forward to fun times ahead!
The weather forecast is excellent so we are set to leave at 5pm.
Sunday 20th. June
Sadly we have to postpone our departure.
There is more frustration when on our trial run we find the G.P.S., the depth sounder and the wind transducer are faulty, which is more than likely a result of re-rigging the boat.
Also the weather is against us. Apparently the seas on the crossing to Mallorca are up to a 3.5m swell and we would be heading straight into it . We have dinner on board and the Churchers decide to stay on board for the night. This gives them a chance to acclimatize to the boat, especially as we are planning an overnight sail for their first sail.
Monday 21st. June
The weather is against us again. There has been a huge storm in the Gulf of Lyon which is producing the large swell on the crossing to Mallorca. (There has been snow falling in the Pyrenees). We hear later that strong N.W. winds from the Gulf of Lyon, and also S.W. winds from Valencia meet somewhere on the west coast of Mallorca producing these strong winds and seas. It was very fortunate we delayed our departure again as there was a lot of damage there and it was where we planned to go.
Julian, who has helped us prepare Impulsive, suggests sailing along the coast to Sitges, to stay the night which is about a 4 hour sail. This will be a good trial run for Impulsive to ensure everything is working as it should after all the work we have had done on her. This way we can get underway and out of Port Olympic marina. We have been on the hard stand and then in the water nearby where it is impossible to keep the boat as clean as we would like with all the other work going on around us. A fine black dust settles on everything. (Port Olympic itself is very attractive with many water-side restaurants and bars and views).
We have a very rough and choppy sea so the Churchers are thrown in on the deep end of sailing especially after feeling some sea-sickness. Then when we arrive at the fuel station at Puerto de Portito de Aiguadole, the port next to Sitges town and we have a difficult tie up. The waters inside are protected and quiet but there is still some current.This was quite an experience for their first sail.
At 6am. Ross speaks with another skipper who gives us the forecast which is perfect for the thirteen hour crossing to Isla de Mallorca.
Charlotte dolphin watching
Some dolphins visit us at the bow of the boat, several times. We are able to sail for the first third from Sitges to Mallorca with a wind from the s.east, and then we motor sail. It is amazing that the human eye can see land about 25 n.miles away.
We tie up at the wharf at Soller, on the N.W. coast. We think Saul and Charlotte are quite pleased it is beside a small disco where we are invited for a free drink at 8.30. p.m. Luckily this is a low key affair and after Peter asks them in Spanish to turn an amplifier away from the direction of our boat it doesn´t disturb us at all, and we can enjoy some people watching.
Most of these ports have their towns higher up and inland a small distance away , dating from much earlier days when pirates were a problem and they needed more protection. The tram ride from the port up to the town here is a wonderful way to get one´s perspective of this place.The old town is very attractive with its very pretty centre square with plane trees, which also line the streets.View from tram across fruit trees and farm lands up to the mountains in the background
Tram up at the main square
Soller - Old town
Tram up at the main square
Soller - Old town
This area is well known for its citrus trees, which we see in abundance, as is its marmalade made from these local fruits.
View across to Impulsive from the tram
Local fisherman´s catch
View across to Impulsive from the tram
Local fisherman´s catch
Then we track along the north-east coast to round Cabo de Formento and anchor at Cala Murta.
Our first stop is further east to Cala de la Calobra (via Cala Truent) where we swim and have lunch on the boat. It is a really beautiful place with several small coves and a thin slit in the rocks behind which gives an opening to the sea from a lagoon. In these otherwise crystal clear, turquoise waters there is some flotsam and jellyfish, probably brought in from the swell resulting from the storm.
This picturesque cove is what you dream about, and what we have been looking forward to for so long. We are so fortunate that there are no other boats here. The crystal clear, turquoise waters in different hues greet us and they are lined by steep rocky cliffs, studded with pine trees.
It is wonderful swimming in this water of the perfect temperature, which they say is about 22 degrees. Wearing goggles we can see many lovely small to medium size fish swimming underneath us.
Returning to Impulsive in the dinghy
Peter and Charlotte cooking Paella
The Churchers explain that being the longest day of the year the Spanish combine this celebration with a saint´s day. Apparently these celebrations usually last through the night. After dark we suddenly see a very organized large ring of lights being organized on the beach, then some music begins mainly with the low beating of drums, and then the dancing begins. This of course looks very impressive from the boat. Later there are fireworks. When we go ashore the following morning there is no evidence of this event at all. All that is there is the one attractive large white house nestled into the landscape - lucky people!
This cove seems delightfully isolated until about mid-morning when other boats start arriving. The walk along one side of this cove with its views is stunning, especially looking into the beautiful surrounding azure waters.
We leave and track across to Isla de Menorca. The one positive thing about the recent storm is that usually after that you can expect a stretch of good weather and conditions for anything up to 9 days. Often the winds are too strong to track across to Menorca so we are very pleased we can do this. We anchor with a stern line at Ciudadela, on the west coast.
This fascinating harbour has been used since prehistoric times, and has had an interesting history since that time. We are one day late (we had planned to be here) to see their famous festival with its incredible horse feats in the ancient town. We see some shop windows boarded up in the narrow, winding streets with the houses of beautiful soft salmon and sandstone colours, and often with green shutters. Apparently the horses have to walk on their hind legs with people supporting their fore-legs. The posters illustrating this are amazing. It is still a public holiday here so everything is pleasantly relaxed.
Taking the provisions back to the dinghy
We track around the s.west cape and then east to the small and delightful Cala Turqueta. The swimming here is brilliant and Saul and Charlotte have a great time jumping off the rocks.
Saul is becoming a very enthusiastic and helpful first mate. He and Ross set off in the dinghy to check out Cala Macarella , only one n.mile away. We decide to move there for the night. This cala has been very crowded but by nightfall, which is now about 10pm., there are only five boats here. There is also a swell coming in and the boat is rocking slightly.
The swell increases by the time we all retire to bed and soon Ross decides we´ll put out the flopper stoppers (the anti-rolling devices). However we can´t sleep as the swell increases and the boat is rolling quite heavily. Disappointingly, at 3am.,we decide to up-anchor and leave. We were all looking forward to waking up in this beautiful place.
Ross insists I go back to bed which is very generous of him and I wake up about three and a half hours later aware that the anchor is being dropped. Apparently Peter is just being introduced to driving the boat!
We are at Mahon , one of the largest natural harbours in the world. It is on the east coast. In hind sight Ross is pleased to come here as there are many scenes set in this area in the Patrick O´Brien books he has read dealing with the late 18th. century. The British held Menorca for about 100 years so there is a lot of history involved here. It holds such a strategic location. There are many white-washed buildings and blood-red georgian villas.
We track back west along the southern coast to where we planned to be today to Cala Covas, considered the most beautiful cala in the Balearic Islands.
Tracking west along the southern coast to Cala Covas
We are very pleased we can just "fit" in here as it is not a large area. A kind American skipper who has been here for several days comes over in his dinghy to help us. There is a narrow entrance between rocky cliffs and up to 150 caves which were lived in in pre-historic times. The swimming and snorkeling are lovely here. Some people are rock climbing. Peter, Saul and Charlotte find a large hippy cave with a vegetable garden, probably used by the fisherman. Ross, Andrea and I enjoy a walk, and the view back down over the Cala is spectacular.
After an early, light dinner we set off on an overnight sail back to Mallorca.The Churchers are all keen to do their share of night watch with us. Charlotte does the first watch with me. It is Andrea´s birthday tomorrow so we make a birthday cake and a card. We are also running the boat eg. watching the radar and we have to bring in the headsail. Saul does the next watch with Ross at 12.30. Saul not only dutifully stays awake but is interested in learning about the way the radar works and following the progress of ships on the radar,
Andrea and I take over the watch at 3am. It is her birthday and under a full moon. What a different birthday! Also we have a bit of action. The auto-pilot goes "out" for three quarters of an hour just as we are nearing rounding the cape. Fortunately it is a clear night and we can work out the relevant lighthouses and their flashes.
Ross takes the last watch and excuses Peter. We all know how artists like to sleep in! Peter helps Ross coming in. We actually enjoy having the support for night watch. It certainly makes it easier.
We anchor at Las Illetas, firstly at a small and protected anchorage between Islote de sÉstenedor and Illeta, and we are the only boat here. When a S.E. swell comes in and we are now too close to some rocks we move to the west anchorage which is larger and has many boats there enjoying this lovely small group of islands four n.miles south west of Palma.
Andrea´s birthday morning
Andrea has chosen to celebrate her birthday by having a day relaxing on the beach. Ross takes them all ashore and we plan to meet them after a walk around Illeta and a swim near the boat where it isn´t so crowded. Las Illetas IslandThis is a good decision as the wind blows up to about 30 kts. very quickly with no warning just as Ross and I are returning to Impulsive. It also changes direction by 180 degrees and so turns all the boats. This causes a drama as we obviously have more anchor chain out than the cruise boat that was in front of us and so Impulsive in now falling down on the other boat. Fortunately the owners are on the other boat and can start fending us off until we can board Impulsive and drive her clear of them and re-anchor further out. The wife is yelling obsenities at us but we only understand the tone. She isn´t pleased, understandably. There is no harm done luckily. We gather this sort of incident happens frequently in the Mediterranean in the summer months when these anchorages are so crowded, but we prefer to avoid it. The wind settles in 20 minutes and all is calm again.
The cuisine on this leg of the trip has been very special. Peter really enjoys cooking and is an excellent chef.
Later we track the short distance to Palma, to the Real Club Nautica marina. As we come in the views of the Cathedral are quite grand. We have never seen so many boats in the one place. We have dinner on board which is delicious. Peter cooks a seafood fideua, and we have the birthday cake for dessert.
The Churchers have another two days and nights with us so they can explore Palma before they fly home to Barcelona.After the six of us have been scrubbing her down and polishing the stainless steel work she is gleaming.
We have a final dinner together on Monday night, which is also to celebrate Andrea´s birthday. We walk along the very attractive foreshore of the bay in the soft evening light for about an hour to the restaurant the Churcher´s find , S´Eixerit. It is in an old house filled with antiques, on the eastern side of the city in the port area of Portitxol, and is reknown for its seafood paella. The cuisine here is sensational. The restaurant itself is attractive with its terrace and courtyard garden. Another very late Spanish night!
We have had great fun and a reminder of teenagers ready for when our grandchildren reach this age. e.g. the amount of sleep they can enjoy, their energy and enthusiasm and the fun they can bring on board. Also it has been interesting to learn how Charlotte and Saul feel about living in Barcelona and how it may influence their future plans.
The whole family now seem to be keen sailors!
Favourite recipes this leg:
Peter´s Seafood Paella - for 6
1 pinch saffron threads mixed with pinch of salt and stir in 1/4 cup of boiling water and allow to steep 5 to 10 mins.
1lge. pepper - finely diced
4 grated cooking tomatoes - grated
2 garlic gloves chopped finely
pinch of paprika
pescado (fish stock) 1/2 Litre
calamari rings (and or other bits - more tasty)
Mussels and clams - soak clams in salt water for 10 mins.
In a paella dish:
spray witholive oil
fry chicken pieces - place on platter
fry fish pieces - place on platter
fry calamari quickly and add to platter
add to paella dish - garlic, tomatoes and peppers - reduce
add heated stock and 2 jugs of water (1 litre) - reduce
add veges e.g. beans and small artichokes
bring the liquid to the boil and add the saffron
add chicken and fish
then the rice
have enough liquid to cover the ingredients
cook for about 20 mins.
Peter´s clam dish
Soak 1/2 k. c lams in salt water
Spray bottom of heavy saucepan with oil
add: finely chopped onion (1) and 2 gloves of garlic and 1 lge. cooking tomato grated
Add 174 L. pescado (fish stock)
1 cup white wine
bring to the boil and then simmer
Add clams and cook until they open - about 6 mins.
(if desired thicken with 1 dessert spoon p.flour
add coriander for flavour and serve with crunchy bread
Ross and I spend most of Monday and Tuesday on Impulsive. To be able to leave Barcelona when we did Julian organized several issues to be finished in Parma.The B&G technician is very competent and we feel confident all these systems are working well now. He also organized for a new head to be fitted (one of the old ones has sprung a leak). We enjoy the odd break at the friendly marina cafe.
Also we discover the "moviestar" office is nearby where we set up internet on the boat via the mobile phone so we have better access to the weather reports when we are at sea.
We are all surprised how much we enjoy Palma and particularly its old town which we can walk to from the yacht. We take the self guided walking tour which soon puts it all in perspective for us. The highlight is the Cathedral which houses a large piece by Gaudi. The stain glass windows are particularly impressive. We meander through narrow winding streets past mansions and the smaller artisan houses of mellow colours of ochre and salmon, and Gothic churches. We walk through the Llotja (Exchange) area with its many cafes and bars.
We end up at the Santa Catalina market to prepare for our stowing for the next leg. This is not a large market but of high quality and variety. They sell the local Sobrassada (a rich, chorizo sausage which is made into a spread) and ensaimadas, (a pastry using pork lard and similar to a brioche). They have the usual hanging air dried hams as do most bars and restaurants.
Ross buy some wine from the wooden barrels, a rosado and local red , as good as everyday drinking wine. We also buy a pot plant to enjoy for the rest of this trip.
We have a late lunch afterwards at cafe Zanzibar, in the lively area opposite the market.
This evening we have dinner at Cafe Ca´n Toni - Menjar i Beure , a cosy family run business in a small street near in the Llotja area (near the gothic merchant´s stock exchange building). There is a soccer match on between Spain and Portugal. Luckily Spain won because the atmosphere was electric, with lots of tooting of horns while we walked back to the boat. There have been numerous matches on, and we were disappointed for Australia they didn´t do better.
Wednesday 30th. June
Everything seems to fall into place today.We have our last visit from Tony, the B&G technician. We have a new auto pilot aerial organized to pick up in Gibraltar, thanks again to Julian. (We are told these do not last long. It would be so good if all these parts and pieces of equipment were made to last for years as you would expect. Also they are not cheap)
La Boveda in the Llotja area is oozing in atmosphere with its old stone floor and wine barrels used as tables. It is reknown for its tapis. We have a chance meeting here with a skipper from Australia who helps us order the traditional favourites. Also, he has been working here for 12 years so helps us plan our next route.
Courtyard at Abaco
This evening we visit the Living Rialto store off Passeig de Born which is a very elegant street lined with plane trees. From here we venture to the most wonderful bar, Abaco. This has to be seen to be believed with it´s beautiful flowers and enormous arrangements of fruit and the decor to go with it. Classical music is playing in the background. The courtyard has a lush garden with water displays. Only cocktails are served here and they are outlandishly expensive.
Courtyard at Abaco
Later in the night we meet Pam who comes to sit next to us. She is a hostess on a cruise ship crossing the Atlantic and is looking for a break from her clients. She has so much information for us for our planned crossing next year, and has given us her phone number in Antigua. We hope she is there when we are.
Thursday 1st. July
We arrive at the market at opening time and find it´s an excellent time to be there. We are both served with undivided attention which is a bonus with our lack of Spanish.
We are about to continue on our explorings of the Balearic Islands and are very pleased Ross´ back has stood the test of normal sailing rigors. He does his exercises religiously and is very fit.