Alcudia

1 August 2016                               Pollensa to Alcudia

Having run out of water it was now essential that we filled our tanks. The gale that had been blowing all night had subsided, but as we left our anchorage, the after affects were still to be seen. We had only to travel around a point of land into the next bay to the south, a distance of around 15 miles, but the gale had whipped the sea into the consistency of a washing machine. The ride we experienced became more and more wild so we hooked onto the boat as a safety precaution, something we had rarely felt the need to do in daylight hours before. Turning the boat across the sea to enter the next bay proved to be somewhat difficult and we moved well off shore to slight less confused water before we attempted to do so.

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Night Manager Location as we left Pollensa

However, we completed the manoeuvre and the motion became easier as we entered Alcudia Bay. This was the roughest ride that we had experienced to date. Off the coast of Portugal the swells had been large, but with a long interval between crests they gave a smooth ride. The short confused swells of that two hour trip were far from comfortable.

Arriving at Alcudia we filled up with fuel and water and I made my way to the marina office to see what they had available. No space at all came the reply. “But, but, you said get here before 1200 and there would be a berth available,” was my reply. “Sorry.”

Back I went to the boat. Neither myself nor Jacquie could face another night on the anchor if we could possibly avoid it. We were on the east coast of Majorca with an easterly wind and just about everywhere was exposed to the weather. Jac decided to have another try, so she went back to the office to do some serious grovelling of which she is a master. They did have a berth and, yes, we could stay for 3 nights. Great. Peaceful nights and hot showers! We know who is going to do all the negotiation for berths in the future.

2 August 2016                                 Alcudia

After the excitement and short nights of the past few days we spent a quiet day on the boat and then walked into town in the evening. Quite a nice place, but very much an English holiday destination. It didn’t seem particularly wild though……….more of a family holiday spot and certainly nothing like the carnage of Magaluf which I had the misfortune to visit a few years back. But that is another story. We found an Irish bar and then another one. It’s strange how there are so many Irish bars around the world and few are anything like the ones to be found in Dublin. However, the beer and wine hit the spot.

As we went back to the boat we watched a very impressive group of drummers doing their thing on the beach and we found that the path back to the marina was packed with stalls selling various goods. We bought a collapsible wooden fruit bowl to replace the old one we had that had fallen to pieces.

3 August 2016                                      Alcudia

On the recommendation of some neighbours on the pontoon we went for breakfast to a cafe called, The Boathouse, run by a Brit from Bishop Stortford. It really is amazing what the British will do to get away from the weather. After a full fry up, just the thing in the heat of August, we made our way to Alcudia town. It turned out that we were in Alcudia Port, whereas Alcudia itself was a couple of miles away up the hill. We stopped for a respite from the heat at the Mosquito Bar, unsurprisingly empty with a name like that  and then walked up the hill to the town.

Alcudia is an old Roman settlement and the ruins of that civilisation are extensive, if not much explored. Jac and I spent an hour wandering around the ruins and then made our way into the old, walled medieval town which was equally interesting.

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Alcudia
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Church Front, Alcudia
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Alcudia Street
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Alcudia Town Hall

We wandered around the old town which was very picturesque and decked out in ribbon for a festival. We then visited the museum before heading back to Alcudia Marina, this time by bus.  An evening spent hunting for my hat, which I had inexplicably left in one of the Irish bars and then to a steakhouse for a meal. And so to bed.

 

Pollensa

30 July to 1 August               Pollensa

On reaching Pollensa, our first stop in Majorca, we encountered the overcrowding issue that we had been warned about which causes problems for yachties around the Balearics in July and August. The Islands are expensive at any time of the year, but in high summer most of the privately-owned marinas would be charging around 100 Euros per night for our 11.6 metre yacht. Consequently a month of marina dwelling would cost around 3000 Euros: fine if one has very deep pockets, but for the average yachtsman it is prohibitively expensive. However, there are alternatives. Ports IB, the Iberian Ports Authority has berths for approximately half the private marina rates. These berths have to be booked online and getting registered is difficult. We did everything that we thought we had to on the computer, but it still took a couple of phone calls before we were able to get the system working properly. Another alternative is the fixed mooring buoys which are laid by Baleares Life Posidonia, an organisation dedicated to protecting the extensive sea grass beds which help to keep the water clean. The mooring buoy that we had used at Fornells was laid by that organisation. Again these bookings usually have to be made online but the cost is less that a quarter of the private marinas. Anchoring of course is free, but we found on some occasions that our planned for spot was so full of boats that there was not enough space to anchor safely. We even heard stories of people anchoring with all their fenders down in case they touched in the night.

It was with some  relief therefore that we found our first night in Majorca, if not snuggled up in a marina, at least in a sound anchorage with room to swing.

30 July 2016

The following day we took Tommy across to the town to dump our rubbish and buy some provisions. The town proved to be more populated by German and English tourists and expats than Spanish people, but it served our needs. This was the first time that we had left the boat unattended while at anchor and we became a little apprehensive when the wind and chop in the bay started to pick up. We quickly jumped back into Tommy and motored the half mile or so back to Synergy to find her all safe and sound still with the anchor not having dragged an inch. So far so good and we were starting to develop some faith in the effectiveness of our ground tackle.

31 July 16

The morning’s entertainment was provided by water bombers. On the shore at the western end of the “Night Manager” peninsula stands a water bomber station. Because of the prevalence of forest fires in  Spain during the summer months these aircraft are based in many sites and airfields. We had encountered these big yellow aircraft when they were fighting a large fire near A Coruña. The water bomber base must have been changing aircraft because one came in and landed and, as amphibians can do, taxied over to the shore and up the ramp to park outside the hangar. Later another aircraft taxied into the water and took off across the bay. Neither aircraft was far from us and it is a mystery to me how they avoid collisions between the water bombers and the pleasure boats. They must have some close calls.

In the afternoon we talked to one of our neighbours who was also an expat Briton. He recounted a nasty incident from the previous evening when he and his family had been coming back to their boat in their tender in the dark. A motor boat with no lights, being driven by a couple of young English lads had run them down in the dark. The lads hadn’t seen them and stopped to help. Miraculously no one was hurt and no damage done.

Later in the evening of 31 July the wind and swell really picked up and, even tucked behind the peninsular, we were having a rough time of it. We had laid 5 times the depth of water in chain, which had worked to date, but we were not sure that these conditions were going to cause our anchor to drag. We decided to mount an anchor watch so Jac and I did 4 hour shifts keeping a constant check that the boat was not moving. Day dawned with both of us quite tired but again, we hadn’t moved an inch despite the boat having swung right round through 360 degrees.

By now we hadn’t been near a marina for nearly a week and our water in the tanks had come to an end. We had drinking water but nothing with which to wash and we were worried that other boats might avoid sailing downwind of us. We called Pollensa Marina to see if we could refill our tanks, but they couldn’t even give us access to a hose pipe for half an hour. We had not been able to access the online booking system, but we called Alcudia Marina on the phone and they said if we arrived around 1200 then they might find us a berth. At least they had water on their refueling pontoon so we should start to smell a bit better.

 

Around Menorca (Part2)

25 July 16                              Mahon

With the Tramontana still howling we were still penned into Mahon Harbour so we spent another day pottering around on the boat followed by dinner in the Paput Bar again.

26 July 16                              Mahon to Fornells

Early in the morning we left Mahon for the last time and made our way down a very busy harbour to the open sea where we turned left to make our way along the north coast of the island. A gentle force 3 enabled us to motor sail in bright sunshine. Our destination was Fornells on the north coast. By this time we had travelled the south coast of Menorca 3 times and we now wanted to see some of the north coast while the weather was relatively calm.

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The Old Naval Hospital, Mahon

The compass heading in the autopilot had appeared to be in error for some time so we tried to reset the compass system. Unfortunately this required turning very slowly through 360 degrees, several times and the traffic was so heavy that we were getting in the way of other boats, so we had to abandon the attempt.

It was a very pretty run along the north coast until we arrived at Fornells, a large open bay with the town on the western side. We hadn’t booked a berth, but on calling on the radio we were met by a man in a rib who led us to a mooring buoy. Our initial impressions of Fornells Bay were not good; the town looked very modern and uninteresting but, as is often the case, first impressions were wrong.

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Sunset at Fornells

27-28 July 16                       Fornells

We were so impressed with Fornells (pronounced Fornays) that we decided to stay for a couple of days. We were nice and secure on our mooring buoy, there was almost no wind and the sea was warm enough for us to just step off the boat and go swimming. Fornells Bay is a haven for water sports being almost completely enclosed, only the narrow (ish) entrance to the bay being exposed to a north wind.

We spent our time swimming, reading and watching the multitude of sailors, paddle boarders, canoeists and wind surfers who were having fun in that idyllic spot. It was a tough time! We made a couple of trips ashore in our tender (now firmly nick named “Tommy,”) for provisions and to try the local restaurants. The old town, proved to be really pretty and well kept.  A walk around revealed some lovely views of the bay and took us to the castle, although little was left of it.

We stopped for a meal at a restaurant which was punctuated with the waiter pouring a glass of wine over Jacquie. He was very apologetic and claimed that it was his first day. Jac wasn’t sure whether to be upset by the wetting or the wastage of wine but, being British, we didn’t make a fuss. On the way back to the boat we took our first pictures on Synergy at anchor.DSC_0983

29 July 16                      Fornells to Pollensa

We had originally intended to make our way to Greece in 2016 but, having seen the Balearics, we decided to spend our time around the islands and delay the departure to the Eastern Med until 2017. Our plan was then to make our way slowly back down the island chain to the Spanish mainland. We thought another stop at Ciutadella would be nice so we left our mooring buoy in Fornells Bay and turned westward along the north coast of Menorca.

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Leaving Fornells Bay with the distinctive tower to the west of the entrance

Sailing in the Med seems to be motoring between storms and 29 July was, for us, no exception. With light winds and almost no other traffic, we motored along the very pretty coast and took the opportunity to reset the compass system in the chart plotter. Having driven around in circles at the prescribed rate of turn for a while the system reset and reduced the compass deviation from 15 degrees to a far more sensible 1 degree. How it had become so in error is a mystery, but now our compasses agreed which made passage making a lot easier.

Arriving at Ciutadella, we called on the radio and the port authority had no spare berths. We were now firmly into the mid summer in the Balearics lack of space that other sailors had mentioned to us.

Change of plan and with a little bit of wind (force 4) we motor sailed across to Majorca heading for the port of Pollensa. On arriving at Pollensa the marina again was crammed to capacity, but the bay, reasonably sheltered behind a peninsular, was a large natural anchorage and there must have been around 300 boats all swinging on their ground tackle, some of them very large and very expensive motor cruisers.  We found sufficient swinging room to drop our anchor and, having established that we were indeed stationery we settled in for the night.

Built on the peninsular is a large structure which, after dark, was illuminated by coloured lights accompanied by loud music. We could not identify what this place could be and we decided that it was either a Casino, a nightclub or a brothel. Oh, those first impressions again! It transpired that it was a private estate owned by Lord Lupton, a Tory fund raiser and the most expensive property in Spain. What we had witnessed was a lavish party, supposedly attended by the Spanish King and Queen. This was also where a large chunk of “The Night Manager” had been filmed. If you haven’t seen it this is a great series to watch, but at the time we hadn’t even heard of it.

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Lord Lupton’s Estate (In the trees)

 

Around Menorca (Part 1)

17 to 29 July 17

17th July

With Steve safely with us from the UK we left Mahon and headed eastwards down the harbour towards the open sea. The Tramontana was still in evidence and we decided that , after a few days of blowing hard we should probably have an easier ride if we stayed on the south coast so we headed south and then west back towards Ciutadella. There were plenty of picturesque Calles to explore and we decided to take a look.

According to our pilot book, Cala Covas, a few miles west of the south eastern tip of Menorca is one of the most beautiful inlets in the Balearic Islands, so we decided to go there for the night. We then had our first encounter with the overcrowding that is evident throughout the islands in the summer. There was no space in the cala for us to anchor so with plenty of daylight left we moved on and found an anchorage at the eastern end of a long beach called Platges de Son Bou which, in the calm conditions, suited us perfectly for the night. Steve went swimming and rock climbing up the low cliff, while Jac and I remained on the boat.

Later in the evening we witnessed a bit of nature’s brutality in action when a herd of wild goats made their way along the cliffs. One individual seemed to have upset the others and was being picked on by being butted mercilessly by the others. Eventually, although we could not see the outcome, it appeared that the poor goat had been severely injured by the others. A group of goats was standing around a hollow in the rocks looking (sheepishly?) at something on the ground. Eventually they all wandered off leaving the mortally injured party behind.

18 July 16

The following day we again encountered the problems of lack of space in the Balearics in the busy season. We moved along the coast to Cala Trebelujer where we had previously anchored with Sarah and Claire on board. Arriving around 10 in the morning there was plenty of space and we found  a prime anchoring spot, or so we thought. It transpired that we had stopped almost on top of a buoy used by a day trip boat and we were in the way. We moved further along the coast to Cala Galdana where we stopped for lunch but the conditions were too rough for it to be a tenable overnight anchorage so we went back to Cala Trebelujer in case there was some space. No luck! So we ploughed on to Ciutadella to see if there were any berths available. No luck again. However, we were fortunate  to find an anchorage just south of Ciutadella that was not marked in any of our documents  where we were able to spend a quiet night.

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Quiet Anchorage near Ciutadella

The Balearics were proving challenging just to find somewhere to spend the night!

19-21 July 16                         Ciutadella

A quick call on the radio to the Port Authority in Ciutadella, to our great relief, secured us a berth in the port for 2 nights. Phew!

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Ciutadella

We spent a couple of days exploring the town more thoroughly than on our previous visit and made good use of the “Pearl Hamburg” restaurant.

21-22  July 16              Cala Trebelujer

We left Ciutadella on our way back towards Mahon at 1030 and found Cala Trebelujer almost deserted so we anchored in a prime spot away from any buoys.

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Synergy at Cala Trebelujer

We went swimming, scrubbed some of the gunge off the hull,  and Steve and I went exploring up a small river at the top of the bay. This required dragging the tender out of the water over a sand bar and into a river on the other side from where it was then possible to make our way about a mile up the river before it became too small to navigate. The river was an oasis of peace and quiet, populated by terrapins, we were assured although we didn’t see any.

Jac and I repeated the exercise the next morning when, if anything, it was even more peaceful.

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22 Jul 16                       Back to Mahon

After Jac and I made our way back from the river, we raised the anchor and motored back to Mahon, there being no wind at all. We had booked onto a floating berth in the harbour, but as we had to get Steve and his bags to the airport we took up the option of a berth in Marina Menorca at the western extremity of the harbour. This was a bit out of the way, but the marina provided electric bikes for usage with only a deposit against damage and they proved an excellent and easy means of transport.

23 Jul 16                        Mahon

This was Steve’s last day with us so we walked up the hill to the old town and went exploring. We spent a fascinating hour in a museum in the town before returning to the Can Xavi for lunch, where we had previously been with Sarah and Claire. It didn’t disappoint.

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Steve and Chris in Pierro’s Restaurant

In the evening we walked all along the waterfront almost to the Marina Mahon to Pierro’s Restaurant where we had a final evening meal before Steve’s departure in the morning.

24 July 16                               Mahon

We breakfasted on the boat and then ordered a taxi to run Steve to the airport. The marina provided baguettes which were delivered to the boat each morning free of charge. However, at the prices the marina was charging for an overnight berth they should have been providing a 4 course meal!

We accompanied Steve to the airport and said goodbye and then we had intended to move Synergy to a less expensive mooring, either on an anchorage or on a floating pontoon in the harbour. However, the Tramontana had started to blow again so we stayed put in Marina Menorca, well sheltered as far up into the harbour as we could go. After a lazy day on the boat, Jac and I went to a nearby cafe called the Paput Burger and Cocktail Bar which did good food and great music. Jac and I were on our own again.

Mahon

11 -16 July 2016                             Mahon

If you have never read Patrick O’Brian’s books about the Royal Navy during the period of the Napoleonic Wars then I can thoroughly recommend them. They centre on the exploits of Jack Aubrey, a naval officer and his great friend, naval surgeon and spy, Stephen Maturin, and they have been acclaimed as masterpieces of historical fiction although, like most great historical novels, they contain quite a lot of historical fact as well. The title of the first of the series of twenty books was used for a Hollywood film, Master and Commander, starring Russel Crowe and Paul Bettany, but despite being a reasonable film it didn’t come close to doing the books justice.

The reason that I am blathering on about this is that the book, “Master and Commander,” was set in Mahon in 1802 at the time when it was a Royal Navy base and being a great fan of the books, I was really looking forward to seeing the town.

Mahon harbour is hugely impressive being some 3 miles long from the cliffs of Cape Mola to the western end of the reach. It is easy to see why the Royal Navy valued it so much as a safe haven dominating the Eastern End of the Mediterranean and within easy reach of both France and Spain both of whom we were then at war with. Much of the history of the time remains, with the old naval hospital on the Illa del Rei, the dockyard (still a Spanish Navy base) and many of the old defences still standing. The harbour is wide enough and deep enough for cruise ships and ferries to mainland Spain to negotiate, which can be quite intimidating to those on small boats.

Over the next few days we explored Mahon, which is a delightful place and, at the top of the steps to the Old Town, boasts the best ice cream shop in the world! We also discovered a great cafe called the Can Xavi which had an extensive menu at reasonable prices. We went there several times for lunch.

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Clare and Jacquie outside the ice cream shop

Sarah and Clare left us to return to the UK  12 July and we then waited for my son, Stephen to arrive on 16th. The weather turned awful as the Tramontana, a wind which howls across the Gulf of Lyons from France blew up. It was blowing up to 50 kts outside the harbour so we were glad that we were safely tied up in a marina. Even so, on 13th July we couldn’t risk leaving the boat as she was moving around so much that there was a danger that she would smash into the pontoon.

On 14th July a Spanish flagged boat called Ermita del Conde arrived alongside us. The lady skipper turned out to be the owner of a vineyard in the north of Spain near Burgos and she gave us a bottle of her red wine to sample. It was delicious. Thank you Marta.

On 16th July Steve arrived from the UK so we could now move from Mahon which was proving to be very expensive.

 

 

 

 

A Digression

It has been a long time since I last wrote a blog post. Last July to be exact, but procrastination has once again taken over on a grand scale. We were having such a great time in Menorca that all thoughts of documenting our experiences was forgotten. However, I have now the time, and more importantly, the inclination to write again.

Temporary disaster! I can’t find the boat’s logbook which we might have left on Synergy and we are now back in the UK. W e use the logbook to remind ourselves what happened and without it all would be guesswork.

All is not lost however as I thought I would try to include a video recording, something that I have never attempted before. This has nothing to do with sailing as I don’t have any sailing videos, so this can be regarded as an experiment.

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My Pitts over Andalucia

Before we bought “Synergy”, I owned an aircraft which I had bought in the USA, had it broken down and shipped across the Atlantic to Liverpool, transported to Wickenby in Lincolnshire where it was reassembled before I flew it down to Jerez de la Frontera in Spain, where I was then working. I kept the little red machine in Jerez until I left there in 2010 when I flew her back to the UK. I sold the aircraft in 2012 as I had hardly flown her for a year. A combination of work and the lousy English weather kept her in the hangar.

This is a video of my Pitts Special S2b, N5329X, which now resides in Belgium. The video was mostly filmed and produced by a Flight Training Europe student, Tom Stebbing, who is now a Boeing 737 captain with Ryanair.

Cala Trebeujer to Mahon

10th July 2016

At 1000 we raised  the anchor which came up easily and made our way along the coast on the 20 mile run to Mahon. The wind was so light as to be useless for sailing, so we motored all the way until we entered Mahon harbour. We had intended to anchor behind the Isla de Lazereto in Cala Taulera, but the electric windlass for the anchor decided to break down at that point, so we motored further up the harbour to Marina Mahon to find a berth.

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Claire and Sarah

 

The arrival in the Marina Mahon berth was one of the most tragic that I have yet accomplished. Foolishly, I decided to leave the tender hanging on the back of the boat as we reversed into out slot and this proved to be more of an obstacle that I had anticipated. Before we could hook the lazy line and secure the bow, the side wind caught Synergy and we were blown considerably sideways and I was too slow too catch it. Another embarrassing lesson learned.

A quick call to Pete Smith at the East Anglian Sea School identified the electric windlass circuit breaker switch, which I had never noticed before.. With the circuit breaker reset reset the windlass was working perfectly again and we could have anchored after all. An expensive experience as berthing in Balearic Island marinas requires taking out a mortgage.

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Mahon Harbour