Oops! Really tardy this time, eh?
28 September 2011 | Mahon, Menorca, the Balerics
We have been remiss about updating lately and I offer no excuse except to say that too many places we have been lately the Marina didn’t have it or it was poor signal strength. However now that we are in Spain we bought a Broadband Modem from Vodaphone/Orange and anywhere we have cell phone coverage we will also have internet while in Spain, so we should do better at updating on a regular basis.
From Messina Sicily we had a decent sail to Portorosa, Sicily on the north coast. Portorosa Marina left a lot to be desired, it took us forever to get someone out in a RIB to guide us to where they wanted us to tie up and then the power boat traffic with the Macho Sicilians in their big boats was a constant annoyance. They lack basic boating courtesy if not skill.
We walked out of the Marina and found a nice place for dinner along the water as most everything inside was closed, the high season being over. Next day we went to the fuel dock only to realize that our clocks should have been changed and we arrived after they had closed down for their 3 hour lunch. Seems their 24 operation is really only 21 hours. We decided we had more than enough fuel onboard to make it to Palermo without adding to the tanks so we just left the dock and moved on.
Our overnight passage to Palermo was calm and without incident and we entered the Commercial Harbor, going to the far end where the small yacht club basin was. It was indeed a “Commercial” harbor with all the foul water and other distasteful smells you might expect. Palermo, at least this area was old and decrepit looking having been hastily and shabbily reconstructed after WWII had all but leveled it. Clearly Sicilians were not into doing maintenance or urban renewal. There was one bright spot and that was a Carrefour grocery store a few blocks from the port. Amazing how such a mundane thing can become so significant. Nice to have something more than a 7-11 sized mini market to shop in! We spent two days there resupplying and resting. These two and three day passages are tiring with only a crew of two. You do 3 hour watches, which means no one gets more than a few hours of sleep out of every 6 hours. They tell me that you adjust to it nicely after three days, but unfortunately we have only had shorter passages to make and haven’t found out first hand yet. So, when we make port our first priority after securing the boat is securing a long nap!
On the 15th we left Palermo and arrived in Cagliari, Sardinia, on the south coast of Sardinia, and docking on a clear morning with only a light breeze at Marina del Sol we napped for several hours. The Marina is described in the Pilot Guide as a “family owned friendly place”. Well certainly it is family owned, but as to friendly that is a mixed feeling. I suspect that things here have deteriorated some since the folks that wrote the book visited in 2009. The water and electric are reliable much to the credit of the owners, but the docks and the rest of the facility need much attention. Oh, and the thing in the book saying “self service laundry” ended up meaning one washer and no dryers. So on Saturday afternoon we walked a considerable distance through town dragging our two wheeled grocery cart behind us with the wash to find the “real” self service Laundromat.
After finishing the wash we went to the grocery to get something to take to the BBQ being held Saturday night at the Marina bar later Saturday evening. The BBQ was quite nice, it was a bring your own food (meat, fish etc) and something for the common table. There turned out to be wide variety of stuff on the common table even including a big bowl of steamed black mussels. Lots of spirits (alcoholic variety) were imbibed and it seemed all had a good time despite beginning the evening as a group of 20-25 total strangers. This is a Marina of a “different color” populated by a splash of transient yachts like ours mixed together with a, well, with a colorful collection of eclectic people and boats that seem to reside here permanently. So nothing is first rate, but it is enjoyable anyway. We met up there with the three guys off of the yacht tied up next to us and had a great time with them, finishing off with nightcaps on Integrity around midnight. As much as they had to drink I was surprised when they actually got up at 0600 and made it out to the train tour of Sardinia they had planned on. We went out to dinner with them last night. So, new friends to keep in touch with. This morning we exchanged email addresses and they left to catch a flight back to the UK.
So, backing up a bit, on Monday we did a big shopping to re-provision and conveniently the grocery delivered to the boat so we stocked up on bottled water which is heavy and a pain to carry yourself. On Sunday the wind picked up and a Maestral started to blow and got up to 43 knots (near 50 mph) it is now Tuesday and it has just begun to die down so our arrival timing was very fortuitous to say the least. We had planned to leave today but the fuel dock is positioned such that the remaining wind makes it a touch too dicey and we have decided to wait until Wednesday to go on to Menorca in the Balearics about 225 nm away.
Today we confirmed with a young Dutch girl that she could join us for the crossing as crew. She doesn’t have a lot of experience but has basic qualifications and seems eager and very intelligent. We will meet her in person in Gibraltar in October barring any change of heart. That will give us a chance to make the passage for 5-6 days to Madeira and 2 days to Grand Canary to see if we get on together OK before we trap each other on a small yacht for three weeks.
On the 21st we left Cagliari and began what turned out to be a five day passage that should have been 2.5. We started out with light winds which then turned to 25 knots and rough seas for about 10 hours. Later, the next day, the wind was down to 3 knots. About 120 nm out of Mahon, Menorca our water pump on the engine went out, shaft seals leaking badly and impeller disintegrating, so no more engine. OK, it is a sail boat after all right? So we put out all the canvas we had and sailed for a day, albeit slower than motor sailing, but we were moving forward. Then the wind went the way of the water pump and we came to an utter and complete stop, dead calm, flat seas, for the next ten hours. Finally, the wind rose and we could make good 3.5-4.0 knots and on the morning of the 25th we pulled into the estuary and to Menorca, Marina.
So now it is today, the 28th. The water pump is rebuilt, the refrigerator is chuck full, and we are going to head out for Ibiza. On a sour note, our anticipated crew member for the Atlantic crossing emailed and backed out of making the trip. So, back to looking for crew again.
Lastly has to do with today’s picture. This is what we found in Cris’s dinner in Cagliari that was supposed to be Calamari, Shrimp, and Fish. The Calamari and Shrimp were obvious and this is the ‘fish’.