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Time Bandit
Crash Gybe!
18/08/2014, Ocean Village, Gibraltar

Shortly after Bob on Quintessa recommended the Raymarine engineer in Gibraltar we thought we might need this guy.

After waiting for the wind to fill in we shipped out of Cartagena and headed south initially thinking Almerimar as a quick overnighter.

However, just a few miles out of Cartagena we noticed we were heading for Greece rather than south. The violent shaking of the rig and sales was the clue.

For some reason, our Raymarine self steering had packed up. We switched it back on and off we went. "Brilliant" I thought. That was a quick fix. However, 5 minutes later, same deal......and this continued for the next 42 hours.

The first 24 hours was great. A solid 8-10 knots all the way and we might have set a record, 177 miles in 24 hours. Given the steering situation we should have stopped at Almerimar. However, we rocketed past at 9 knots about 3am and a night approach with a 3 metre swell wasn't that motivating. Also, with the recommendation of a wonder technician in Gibraltar, we pressed on.

At some time during the night we gybed. Didn't mean to but the steering gave up and before we knew it we crash gybed. Ironically, the only casualty was the Scott Boomlock. The expensive, gybe prevention bit of kit I bought a few years ago. Completely useless. It hangs there for three years, tripping you up on its lines as you go up the side decks then, the moment you need it to do its job it simply disintegrates.

Compounding our woes, it seemed like someone had tied a long piece of elastic too us in Cartagena. As we got closer to Gibraltar we got slower and slower. Not only was the wind dying but there was a two knot current against us. The pilot books say the Med is 1 metre lower than the Atlantic owing to evaporation.

The result is this flood of water into the med. Most of it under our keel. We slowed to an agonising 2-3 knots and so, after setting our 24 hour fastest record we proceeded to set the slowest.

Eventually we got into Gib, tied up and went looking for Tim, the Raymarine magician.

Good news is we found him, between jobs and within two hours we had a new motor so hopefully fixed and ready to rock and roll.

Back to Cartagena
16/08/2014, Cartagena

From Ibiza and our nightmare rock and roll night of no sleep we upped anchor at 07:00 and headed south.

Once again we had a great breeze and enjoyed a sun drenched 8+ knot reach all day and night landing in Cartagena at 06:10........just as the nightclub on the harbour wall where we tied up was closing!

Cartagena is a smart town. A good mix of the old and new and seemed nice to be back in civilisation, away from pure tourist ville.

We met some NBF's (new best friends) from the US on Quintessa a Hylas 49, who live near where we used to. A jolly pleasant evening swapping yarns and, a bit spookily, a recommendation for a Raymarine engineer if we needed anything done.

The next stop is either Almerimar or Gibraltar. We will see how the wind shapes up.

South 'Till the Boat Stops Rolling

We departed Majorca this morning, 09:00 Magaluf to be exact.

A favourable forecast for the next few days gives us a fighting chance of getting to Almerimar under sail.

It's all going well so far. We left in 7-8 knots and although heading more for Africa than Ibiza. The forecast said the wind would veer to the SW and later, the NW

---------- later that day.....

Great news is the forecast is coming true. 15:00 and the wind has shifted, we're bang on course and skelping along at 8.5 - 9.0 knots ...... in blazing sunshine. Doesn't get much better than this.

We will make Ibiza about 7pm and anchor for the night. The wine is due to go SW overnight. As that's the direction we're heading I think we'll anchor, sleep through that and head on again tomorrow.

The new main looks great and with the old Chinese genoa we have a few more square metres and the extra power is noticeable. A good 8-9 knots is order of the day off the wind in anything over 15kn.

Nearly Ready to Go
12/08/2014, On board, heading south

Well, finally, nearly six weeks late, our new main arrived. This signalled the beginning of the end of our weeks stuck in this Hell hole, Port de Pollenca. The end of swimming around the boat, balmy nights in the Pool Bar with Eric and our pal Peter and meals out with the cruising bods we've met.

Anyway, the new sail was duly fitted. Battens cut to size; well actually cut 25mm too short necessitating a return trip with a new stock to cut and fit correctly.

A quick test sail around the bay, an exchange of cash and we were free to leave. Free to "press on". Something we've been pretty poor at this year.

So, after a final dinner with 15 other cruisers in the bay we levered our anchor out the mud and headed out to circumnavigate Majorca and head south and ultimately Las Palmas for the ARC start in November.

Our new sail was built with a large roach. Not quite a "fat head" but did seem to give us more power. It's also ten shades whiter than the old one so we're a bit blinded.

A good upwind bash in 15 knots got us up to the north end of the island where we anchored for the night. It was now pretty gusty with 25 knots coming down off the hill.

Out of habit we usually set a trip line. However, one of the power boat muppets in PP ran over it and hopefully now it is quietly wearing out his stern gland.

We therefore aimed for a sandy patch and dropped the Spade as fast as we could. Unfortunately, patch turned out to be a sand covered patch of rock which, good news hooked the anchor and held us solid all night. Bad news; 30 minutes of cursing while motoring around the anchor finally pulling it out backwards.

Tonight we will be in a relatively sheltered lagoon, Porto Colom but paying for he privilege as the council have laid mandatory mooring buoys. If we can find a place to anchor we will as paying just encourages more anchoring bays to be buoyed.

............ it turned out Porto Colom was mobbed and open to the large swell so we ended up overnighting in Port Jolly then headed over to Magaluf (where even the babies have tattoos) to get a new leech line fitted.

The wind moves east tomorrow so the plan is to make a 150 mile dash for the mainland, perhaps Cartagena or further south. We will see where the wind takes us.

Port de Pollenca
07/08/2014, Pool Bar

Tonight, a Spanish boat arrived, came up to half a boat length or less behind us which was about 5 boat lengths ahead of the next boat and dropped his hook.

A lovely bit of parking IF there wasn't two square miles of empty bay
around us

These muppets make you scream. Well actually, we find taking photographs works really well. Before long he upped and offed..... 30 metres to the left. Aaaaarrrggh

Next night. Same thing but closer in 50 foot cat. Too dark for photos so we put the torch on them, woke them and suggested they were too close. Gallic shrug of shoulders and the idjit goes back to bed.

It's like driving into an empty supermarket car park. Somehow you end up parking between the only two other cars.

Highlight of the day was finally fixing our solar / wind generation problem. This saga has gone on for a long time so pleased we now have full power and don't hVe to top up batteries with the engine.

It's very hot here now with 32+ C being the norm. Anne is struggling but hopefully we will get acclimatised before we start moving further south.

Rubbish Blog; Rubbish Cruisers
22/07/2014, Cafe Joker, Port de Pollenca, Majorca

We're not doing so well this year!

By this time last year we'd sailed from Almerimar to the Arctic Circle and back to Scotland for Fiona's wedding. This year, we've done about 10% of that! holing up in various fleshpots in the sun just too lazy to get going. (That and I'm working most mornings).

We had a good sail over from Valencia then a week or so in Santa Ponca at the bottom of Island where we finally bit the bullet and bought a new outboard. Just as well as we are now anchored just over the horizon in the huge Port de Pollenca bay.

My brother Eric joined us for a few days and stayed for three weeks. He thinks we should call the boat a Limpet 45 as we seem stuck here. (The watertight excuse is we are waiting for our new mainsail to be stitched together and delivered).

Part of our reluctance to make (other than work - did I mention that?) is that it's getting pretty busy here now with Majorca's 700 charter boats filling up many of the anchorages.

Quite how France produces so many world class sailors when their cruising compatriots crash around like beginners in pedalo's is beyond me. The preferred anchoring technique is to enter the bay, find a small space between two yachts, drop the anchor, put out fenders all round the boat then abandon ship and head to the pub.

So, basically, as per Limpet 45 we're just chillin', seeing the island, bit of diving, maybe hire a Hobie or the rather lovely Suzuki 650 up the road waiting until we head for the ARC.

So, hee haw of interest to report. When there is, I'll be back!

Formula 1
28/05/2014, Valencia F1 Race Track

Here we are, back in the Western Hemisphere, in the marina just before the bridge on the Valencia Formula 1 track.

We've cycled it a few times now but not setting any records!

Portinatx had its day and so, with a favourable forecast at 4pm we struck out for our first overnight sail since last year to Valencia. Two hours motoring before the wind filled in and gave us another scorching 7-8 knots reach across the channel. This lasted half the night before it died to nothing for an hour. It then filled in 180 degrees from where it had been and off we went again, screaming off into the dark heading for the loom of Valencia.

Our passage plan was set for 6 knots to get us in at 08:00. However, as we'd been going so quick (relative to plan) we arrived just before dawn. A cold grey dawn finally working our where the new marina was and tying up just after 7.

The marina was built to host the 33rd Americas Cup. It seems like the AyuntMiento flattened the old docks, built facilities and docks for the boats and an accompanying race track.

The only downside is that it is miles from town. We hired bikes and have spent the last few days peddling around getting fit and tanned.

Tough life.

Anchor Test
22/05/2014, Majorca - Ibiza

Back in Santa Ponca waiting on Yamaha engineers and an appointment with our sailmaker.

A week ago our main ripped finally giving notice of its intention to retire. We had hoped it would get us across the Pond once more where in Florida there is a brand new, unused one waiting on a best offer.

Faced with possibility of the thing disintegrating we've ordered a new one from OneSails.

Anyway, Santa Ponca turned out to be as rolly as Soller. This time, we had the space to put out a stern anchor and so, a bit optimistically we dropped our tiny 2.2lb (that's 2.2lbs; a couple of bags of sugar) dinghy anchor with 5 metres of chain on the end of my old stretchy climbing rope.

Just after we bought Time Bandit I read an Anchor Test in Yachting Monthly. They tested 12 anchors. New generation to old favourites. We had the "old favourites"; a Bruce and a CQR. They came bottom of the table. 11th and 12th respectively!

We therefore changed, buying the two at the top, a Spade and a Fortress. When I ordered the Spade I went up a size. However, they didn't have one in stock so I just took the next one up. Consequently, we have this very powerful anchor which, after a few days in Soller in a decent blow had dug itself so deep only the trip line allowed us to get it out.

Back to the tiny dinghy anchor.

To our amazement not only did this hold 13 tonnes of boat but, come the morning, lifting it was an effort.

Lifting also happened in the dark at 03:00 as we couldn't take the rolling any longer. So, there I am, rowing around in the dark try to lever this daft wee anchor off the bottom. Amazing holding for such a small anchor.

So, by 04:00 we were off, heading for Ibiza on a broad reach in 15+ knots. We averaged over 7 knots the whole way; 43 miles to Portinatx at the north end of the island.

Portinatx is a reasonably pretty little cala / tourist resort. A few apartment blocks off the beach with the usual bars and restaurants milking the sunburnt tourists.

Since we got here however the wind has been on the nose for our penultimate leg to Denia or even an overnighter direct to Valencia. So, once again we are sat at anchor, (in the pub actually) bobbing up and down which is 100 times better than rolling. Shame we're 20 metres from the rocks but we have faith in the Spade.

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