24 August 2015
Had a few busy weeks Instructing in Menorca, lovely people good sailing, hot weather and Mahon getting busy at last.
Things are always breaking when cruising, the dinghy is the latest casualty. The inevitable compromise between a small light unit and a durable one we misjudged and the beach toy we bought in Brest has been literally falling to bits at the seams after two years. Since it is my daily transport when working and lifeline when at anchor it's very important!
In anticipation of its demise I had inherited a baby RIB (see above) which the school had spare. It required a bit work to keep water out and air in. A day away from its launch after repair I came on deck at 8am to go to go to work,10 mins across the harbour in the old dinghy....Looked over the stern and the outboard had disappeared, along with the transom which was dangling submerged underwater, just two tubes and a floor left on the painter!
John rescued me that day. I recovered the outboard which is fine after a thorough wash, carb stripped and two oil changes. Old dinghy in the bin! Now when I'm working I use a school Walker Bay RIB with a15HP- great little unit (middle dinghy in pic) it's the equivalent of a company car - Bit of a change from the BMW 5 series but hey it's a cabriolet!
The other one in the photo is Squidge, one of the school RIBs for teaching....it really shifts! ....on it later this week!
Jellies and Frogs
29 June 2015
Spent most of June anchored out round Menorca.... living cheap. The weather has been fairly settled mid 20's every day, an odd shower, one thunderstorm. The anchorages are almost all Cala's with nice wee beaches, which are open to swell from at least one direction. The trick is to keep a very close eye on the weather and keep moving round the Island to stay in the lea. Not as easy as it sounds with the wind directions very unpredictable beyond a day or two.
My swimming pool see above, which is generally clear glistening blue has been invaded on a few days by jellies. The first sting I received from a blob no bigger than my fist proved incredibly painful. I now need to put my glasses on and do a jelly watch before my morning dip! The Spanish, ever tiding, have little jelly patrol boats with nets trawling to keep them under control! They realise they are torment to their precious tourist business.
I managed to visit The Fiesta of San Juan in Ciutadella on June 23rd/24th. Anchoring within the harbour to get ashore for the festivities and see the old city at its most colourful. The fiesta is famed for the daring equestrian displays in the streets....Reminded me of New Year in Edinburgh but with horse poo on the cobbles!
Called away from all this lazing to deliver a new Jenneau 50ds from France back to Mahon....a quick flight, a double decker train ride at 300 KM and a taste of French arrogance/ignorance.... Prefer the Jellies to the Frogs!
Holidays and Work!
12 June 2015
Yvonne flew out to Palma at the end of May with some Scottish weather. The 30 plus degrees of the previous week replaced with some cold winds from the north and cloud. After a couple of days at anchor we retired to the marina in Porto Pollensa.
The second week of her holiday I had an offer of work in Menorca and flew over leaving Yvonne for a peaceful week on Malibu. As usual she interviewed the entire marina before I returned. Great to have her back aboard if only for a short spell this time.
The job went very well and I’ve been asked back to do more, but the challenge is to find an economic berth for Malibu when I’m working. The Islands become prohibitively expensive in the summer months. Menorca is however a beautiful cruising ground and Mahon a classic harbour so despite everyone’s doubt I’m going to try and make it work.
The week in Mahon was special with the Maxi series racing yachts in attendance. 20 Maxi and “Wally” class super yachts where practicing and then racing, moored just along from our boats. Apparently these things cost 20 Million and you can see why. Professionally crewed and fully supported it’s like the formula one circuit hitting town.
Going in and out the harbour each day alongside these machines was a great experience, their sheets grunt and groan with the strain at each adjustment gliding past as if we were standing still.
It was a windy week but I had a game set of students. On the windiest day we set off for a two day cruise along the south of the island, running before 25 -30 knots in big seas for a time in our Bavaria while the Maxi’s chickened out and stayed in port!
12 May 2015
The sail from Sant Carles to the Balearics (just over 100 miles) on my own felt a little daunting. However I had the choice of weather and although wind direction and strength was vague there was nothing extreme on the horizon. Passage plan: leave the harbour and sail to whichever Island the wind blew me to!
Ended up at Soller Majorca. A delightful sail till midnight when the wind faded, motored overnight and then had a brisk morning sail to arrive midday. The Hydrovane self-steering did most of the work and a dozen small dolphins joined Malibu for half an hour at breakfast just to raise the spirits, doesn’t get much better as passages go!
The anchorage at Soller is spectacular, a beautiful inlet with a small harbour surrounded by quiet tourist bars etc. A charming old tram service toots and clangs serving the main town inland.
After a couple of days wondering what the flags were; some similar to St Georges Cross and others Turkish style red flags with a white scimitar. The answer came on Monday morning with wild bangs of fireworks every few minutes -The Nuestra Senora de la Victoria; a fiesta to celebrate a victory over Moorish pirates in 1561. The tee shirts read, "Soller Firo". The racket continued as the peaceful town began buzzing.
The anchorage had been very busy the previous night but everyone seemed to be leaving or going into the harbour? The port captain’s launch had chased a couple of the big motorboats nearby early in the afternoon but ignored me, leaving only Malibu and a couple of older ketches in an almost deserted anchorage.
From the safe (I thought) distance of the boat I watched the parade starting at about 3pm from the west end of the promenade about half a mile along to the harbour; hundreds of folk marching, singing, shouting and firing fireworks, shotguns and flares. There were bands and fancy dressed groups spilling onto the beaches. When they got to the harbour more fireworks and carry on. A square rigged ship anchored off and fired cannons onto the harbour just to destroy what eardrums we had left!
Thinking that must be the climax I breathed a sigh, but then realised that the throngs on the prom where now flooding back along to the west end beach matched by an armada of small boats charging across the anchorage, past yours truly in the middle. The little boats were crammed with pirates, blacked faces, firing rockets at the shore and each other, right over Malibu!
Fire extinguisher at hand, you’ll be pleased to know we suffered no direct hits. All good fun, but mixing alcohol and fireworks looks reckless and probably is! On reaching the west beach the flotilla bombarded the beach where a mass re-enactment of the battle took place with dozens of costumed participants charging at each other, curved swords flying amid palls of smoke and bombs going off.
Amazingly when I dared to go ashore at 8pm the whole thing was over, dozens of binmen tidying up the litter, shotgun cartridges by the dozen amongst the debris. By Tuesday morning tranquillity resumed, picture perfect combed beach, not a pirate in sight, paradise restored!
Gone Sailing (again)
07 May 2015
Sorry no photo, but the camera's charged!
Quick update ..winter has seen Yvonne working hard in Aberdeen while I've literally been flying around. Was working in Doha, been training in Tenerife then in Scotland and back to Spain in between! Now as a commercially endorsed Yachtmaster offshore , RYA Cruising instructor and Diesel instructor I hope to pick up some work in the yachting industry....
Malibu has remained comfortably afloat in Sant Carles de la Rapita. All ready for another season, the jobs list almost empty at last.
The big problem here is the fouling under the boat, which is the most extreme anyone has ever seen. I was pleased to see that my antifouling appeared to have coped, however on a trip across the marina to get fuel I realised that the propeller was not driving "properlly" due to shell growth.... On with the scuba kit and a full 15 mins underwater to reveal the prop again!
Richard on Strongbow has been a great friend to us since we caught up in Portimao, He has been with me in Sant Carles over winter but this morning headed north for the Bay of Roses..... always strange to wonder when cruising paths will cross again.
Our plan for now is to sail back to the Balearics, Yvonne will be out for a couple of week's holiday late May, then I expect to return to Gibraltar for a time. Will try for some photos in the meantime!
20 December 2014
Malibu is at rest for the winter in Sant Carles de la Rapita. A modern British managed marina attached to a small Spanish fishing town, adjacent to the Ebre delta. The weather has remained very pleasant through to Christmas with a couple of heavy rain days and a couple of windy spells but they are short lived and the sun seems always willing.
The ever present boat jobs list is the shortest ever and allows me to return to Scotland for festive time, before a spell of work in Doha. Yvonne is meantime working in Aberdeen so we are being very productive for a change.
The stay at Sant Carles has been an interesting contrast to previous destinations. The Marina itself is nicely appointed with swimming pool etc and the staff extremely helpful but the location has some challenges;
The river Ebre enters the Mediterranean with Sant Carles on the south of its delta - it is apparently only second to the Nile in terms of size of river feeding the Mediterranean!
Immediately adjacent to the Marina the delta area is a birdwatchers paradise I'm no expert, but the place is hoatching with varies types of Herons, variant diving birds, Egrets, Flamingos and best of all the Kingfishers. However the insect life is equally vociferous. Thankfully the problem has receded for the cooler winter, but although I saw only the last of the real heat, it was ten times as bad for mosquitoes as I have ever seen elsewhere. This wetscape is being "managed" with paddy fields and irrigation schemes. The story goes that since spraying from planes was stopped recently, due to human health problems the mosquitos have gone on the rampage, eating locals as well as us!
Underwater the problem is an equal challenge. The Marina does a free lift and clean of your hull for annual visitors because the fouling is so extreme. Basically they are lifting boats that have been in for two years with 20 years equivalent growth anywhere else, you need to see it to believe it!. Everything living here is having a party including the guy selling antifouling. Standard practice when leaving you boat here is to bag your propeller otherwise all you'll have is a rotating mussel farm when you return.
Despite plenty evidence of recession blues in typical Spanish style they pull out the stops for a party.... Sant Carles alone spending more on Christmas lights than all of Scotland put together!
I think Bon Nadal is Catalan for "good no flies"