The beginning of April remains quite blustery , the wind comes through central Europe , funnelled by mountain ranges and originating from deep in the North Atlantic, the wind is both strong and cold at times, it prevents us from making any great progress East into the mediteranean.
To the East of our location is the Gulf de Lion this 100 mile bay separating Southern Spain from Southern France is where the wind enters the med, to the West behind us is another mountainous wind funnel that exits into the med at the Rio Ebro, the internet weather sites , such as Passage weather shows the stronger winds in bright colours , thirty knots being yellow and forty knots going into orange then fifty knots as purple, the usual feature is windy in front of us and windy behind us , with a small gap in the middle that may be comfortable - but a risk
WE like to see the colours as Blue or light green, thirty knots or over means wet weather kit and no sun bathing which seldom makes for a pleasant sail, sometimes when the sun is shining and the sea is flat, thirty knots can be an excellent sailing day and a little respite from TOO MUCH sun (if thats possible), fifty knots however is just painful and for us .... best avoided !
Mallorca beckons , like the sirens wailing in the night , I could hear the mermaids calling from afar begging me to set sail, to hoist the main , to up anchor and make the 120 mile crossing from mainland Spain back to the Balearics .... Ok it may have been Nelson whining for his breakfast but it sounded like mermaids and it sowed the seed.... So let's go !
07:00 the alarm went off , so 10:00 when I finally got up I checked the weather forecast for the last time , we had two days of good weather before a gale hits Menorca to the East of Mallorca (different island - similar name , just to confuse you all) , the wispy tendrils of that gale was set to reach far enough East to have an effect we neither wished nor desired, so off we went to find a safe harbour before it was to late.
Nelson was the first to complain as par usual - he loved that beach and the walks nearby , he adored the people in the marina as they brought him biscuits ( cheap dog) , so he sulked for the next 22 hours . it wasn't a rough crossing but I was feeling a bit green , which is most unusual for me, fortunately I have learnt to quell the feeling and just get on with the job in hand , but that first lonely night watch , when the sun has disappeared and the moon was firmly stuck behind ominous dark clouds , I sat and wrote the for sale advert for the boat , it was cold , spray was hitting me in the face , it stung and first two hour watch felt like forever. The following morning as land came into view the mood rose and the smile came back, the feeling of achievement that occurs with every new land fall is usually enough to perk me up , that and a nespresso coffee, or ice cream or chocolate or ...........
Puerto soller was a recommendation from Jesus
- literally , Jesus owns a boat next to us , an Amel , I try to hide my jealousy , but I love Amel boats , 15 years ago I drooled over the super Marimu model ( great name NOT) ,had I enough money in the bank back then to buy one I would have , but they were beyond my budget, now I have the money in the bank but I am too attached to this rusty old tub and spent WAY to much money fixing her up to sell her ...... theres a moral in there somewhere, doing the sums Ive spent way more fixing this old thing than the Amel would have cost in the first place !
So we find ourselves sitting at anchor in a small natural harbour, the sea is clear like bottled spring water, the bottom clearly visible in seven meters f depth, our shiny new anchor chain snaking along the bottom , nestled atop the golden brown sand, with a mountainous back drop to die for, the old tram toots it's whistle as it passes along the sea front, the cafés are bursting at the seams with tourists and it's only just the beginning of April. the beach is starting to fill and a few brave souls plunge a toe into the crystal clear waters of the bay to cool off.
A dinghy trip ashore rewards us with an amazing sea front, high quality cafés, quality old school homes, no high rise tat or seedy amusement arcades, we wander the streets with our heads a whirl trying to take in the scenery, each new street corner producing a wow factor. We walk to the light house perched atop the cliff looking out to sea, it's light guiding sailors for centuries and the mechanism still turning during the day , the top of the hill houses a walkers hostel, the pathway continues on it's rocky way into the distance, so we did a few miles before the dog collapsed in the heat.
Inland and connected via a very old and amazingly well preserved and restored tram system is the small town of Soller its self , distanced from the port many years ago in an attempt to protect themselves from moorish pirates , the tram is now a tourist dream , running through the towns old cobbled streets , steeped in history, the narrow winding pathways revealing yet more stunning architecture and a decadent history of trade and commerce for many generations. The tram line runs from the port to the main town of Sollar and then a connection onwards to the capital city of Palma , not on a new train oh no, but yet another old school tram , the service is packed and the streets are heaving, it reminds me of old movies in India where even the roof of the train is covered in passengers all clinging like limpets to its hot tin roof.
Sponsored by Yakemoto pot noodles - a delicious and nutritious meal for any dog
The anchorage at Soller is both beautiful and popular with many boats coming and going throughout the day, we stayed at anchor for a couple of nights and then pulled a few strings to come into the marina for a week so we could explore further in land without worrying about the boat or the dog.
We paid a visit to Palma, we had high hopes of finding a city similar to Barcelona, maybe our hopes were to high - WAY to high , maybe the clouded grey skies took the away the glamour , perhaps it was the drop in temperature? Either way , we found Palma to be a let down , very little architecturally to get excited about, the little there was , was surrounded with Africans selling plastic toys or charicature artists selling their wares, it didn't meet with our approval so we did what we normally do - we left.
We have hired a twist and go scooter for the day and will explore some of the other areas of the island that have our interest , ridding it back to the yacht late in the evening after we had collected it , highlighted how cold it can be in shorts , T shirt and sandals whilst riding a motorbike - sometimes we do things we tell the kids off for ...., should be fun !
Some history about the tram :
Mallorca Tram to Port Soller
Majorca | Spain
Mallorca Tram to Soller, Majorca Spain On 4th October, 1913, Mallorca’s first electric tram line was inaugurated, running between Sóller and the Port of Sóller.
Construction of the Sóller tram began after the inauguration of the Palma to Sóller railway line in 1912. The project was designed and directed by Pedro Garau and used 4868 metres of track exactly! The design has many outstanding features, one of which is the iron bridge, constructed by Maquinista Terrestre y Marítima to cross the Torrent Major.
The continuous 600 volt current needed by the tram was provided by a 65 horsepower combustion engine driving a Siemens-Schuckert dynamo.
Although the Sóller tram was designed for the transport of passengers, it was often used to transport merchandise to and from the port. While fresh fish was whisked away from the port, coal came back being delivered to the former military submarine base and the “El Gas” factory. At times, mines and torpedoes were also transported from the Caubet magazine.
The three motor trams, numbered 1 to 3, and their trailers 5 and 6 are originals dating from 1912 and were ordered from Carde & Escoriaza in Zaragoza. The open ‘jardinera’ trailers were acquired from Palma trams in 1954.
The Sóller tramway also has five motor trams from Lisbon, numbered 20 to 24, all re-gauged to fit the 914 mm track gauge.