Saturday, September 24, 2011

Balearics -Dan's adventure

Mallorca - Palma to Puerto Bonaire


Dan arrived that evening and after a quick shopping trip in the morning we headed off for Playa Trench, we were supposed to go further but after beating up wind for hours and only making around 30 miles we called it quits.  It was dinner and then to bed.

The long sandy beach was nice but the colour and clearness of the water was amazing so we had to get in for a swim to the beach before leaving,


the sea was the clearest we had experienced, such a stunning colour.  After a few miles we rounded Punta Salina and the water was still such an amazing colour. 



 We sailed (hurrah we had wind again!) 19 miles to Porto Petro which was slightly bigger than some of the Calas as there was a small marina but we were able to find shelter off a small beach.  Again we all jumped off for a bit of a snorkel, what was really shocking was the amount of human debris in the water -  plastic bottles, rubber tyres, crisps bags – yuck!  The night was a lightly rolly with some swell rolling and we were joined by 2 other sail boats but all pretty quiet.

The morning could not go without a quick swim but then we headed off as we knew we were expecting strong northerlies that night and we needed to find some good shelter.  Just under 4 miles up the coast and we spotted what looked like a nice Cala and from what we read in the pilot book it would be sheltered from the north east.

Cala Mitjana  was a tiny Cala but really beautiful.  It seemed to be surrounded by a private garden and amazing house/hotel, we could not see any residence but the gardens were beautifully kept.  Then there was a tiny sandy beach.  We were joined by various small powerboats during the day and at one point a huge tourist boat but it was all relatively quiet.  Swimming was a concern for us all of us once we saw a jellyfish but we had to get in as there were some amazing fish and the cormorants were also making the most of the fish.

Bay from Magnum
We also dingyed ashore had a little walk around the ground (yes we were probably trespassing!) it is always nice to get a photo of Magnum peacefully sat in the anchorage.

Stunning Grounds

Amanda & Magnum

The only negative about the anchorage was the absolutely awful night we had with probably the worst swell hurtling into the Cala and off the rocks, all night! We had warps out to the rocks either side plus the anchor and it still made for an uncomfortable night.


Dan taking a line ashore
Next day we were glad to see the sun come up and headed off 10 miles to Porto Cristo, we were able to anchor just outside the marina (yes we are on a budget).  Porto Cristo surprised us is being a very pleasant little town, some of the normal tat souvenir shops but not completely overloaded with English pub, etc.  Nice having Dan here as feels like real holiday and even treated ourselves to an ice cream mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm yummy.

Mark & Dan with Magnum in the background

We had a quiet nice once the wash from the glass bottom tourist boats had died down.

The following day we were treated to a display by the local sea plane, it was really low over the water.

Sea Plane

We were lucky to be getting wind everyday for at least a couple of hours and usually northerlies and although winds were light we had it a good angle which made for some lovely sailing allowed us a speedy course north up the coast. 

Next stop Cala Gat just east of the resort of Puerto Ratjada.  We had the strangest snorkelling experience; there were full size trees under the water! They were cut and at some point had been washed into the water!  We did manage a dingy ashore after a very peaceful night, the resort was really nice with selection of seafront restaurants, bars and cafes and a long promenade, it was very much a German resort and we were probably the only Brits wandering around.  



Dan at the helm

Wind came up and we were off again, round to Cala Gaya (less that 4Nm) for lunch, this anchorage looked so scenic in the pilot book that we had to stop.  It didn’t fail to please, the beach was slightly busy but we were able to anchor in shallow, clear, water over sand quite far out.  The snorkelling here was fantastic; we were seeing different fish all the time.  We all had a swim before and after lunch but then we had to get on our way.

I was a bit sleepy by this time and collapsed on the foredeck and feel asleep for over an hour whilst we sailed along! Shouldn’t really have allowed myself to get that tired but nice to have a sleep!

We finally made it round into Alcudia Bay and it was stunning much larger than I had pictured and surround by fantastic mountains.  We anchored Cala Es Calo, as now seemed normal with it being later in season and being further north on the island we were the only boat in the anchorage, the sea was calm, the wind dropped off and we had a beautiful sunset.


The next day we got up early and headed off for a mountain trek.  I wasn’t too impressed as I had shorts on and my legs were cut to pieces but Dan & Mark were like mountain goats, the view over the bay was beautiful (shame our camera is not the best).  It was hours before we saw any other walkers and we had a good couple of hours before it was getting too warm.

Magnum all alone at anchor

View of mountains across Alcudia Bay (about half way up)

Mark & Dan enjoying the walk

This was another fantastic snorkelling Cala, clear water and lots of different fish.

We then had another great sail, we headed across the Bay (around 10 miles) to Port Alcudia, we anchored in the murky water outside of the harbour. The night was spent singing along to the pub entertainment from the marina (whilst still on boat), she had a wide repertoire with Madonna, Dolly Parton, Carpenters, Fairground Attraction and many many more!

We found a bar by the marina with a small area where we could pop our dingy and head into town for a look around.  Mark was pleased to find a couple of chandleries to search through for some boat bits and pieces although it is all a bit pricey out here.  Beach was long and clean but it was a bit filled with completely tat shops and British pubs.  Dan treated us to a lovely cake at a bar in the marina, good job we do not have visitors every week – cakes, ice creams, alcohol!

We sailed round into Pollensa Bay in the afternoon and anchored in the bay just outside of Puerto Bonaire ready to go into the marina in the morning.  We were all woken in the night by the rain which seemed to bring the swell!

We spent Dan's final day walking into Alcudia town but the weather was awful with torrential down pours all afternoon, so we settled down to some food and a bottle of wine.  Even with the rain Dan was still not keen to be going home and back to Uni on Monday!

First Mate (or possibly 2nd) has been at sea for 8 days and over 120 miles sailing and probably nearly as much as that swimming.














Monday, September 19, 2011

Balearics - Mallorca

Ibiza to Mallorca

We left the Ibiza worrying that we were not going to get any wind but within 30 minutes of setting sail we had 10-15 knots of wind which stayed with us for the 60 miles to Mallorca.  The journey was a bit bumpy at it was all hard on the wind which was a bit of a wearing for the entire day (especially as I/Amanda was having a tired day) but at least we did not have to motor.  We also had a surprise and were surrounded by dolphins we think these were Bottlenose dolphin rather than the Common Dolphin we had been seeing in the Atlantic as they were much larger.  They passed to the bow and stern and then they were gone. J

Look how much Mark is enjoying himself

Magnum speeding along



Mallorca

We arrived in Santa Ponsa to a fiesta, there was a parade taking place through the streets which we could vaguely see but could hear for hours! There seemed to be a marching band and even bagpipes at one point! We were happy when this died off early evening but that was when the stage started up and the music went on to the early hours, it was a strange combination of dance music and all your favourites from Abba!

We dingyed into Santa Ponsa, it has a nice sandy beach which was still pretty packed with British and German tourists.  There is a nice little park behind the beach with parakeets making lots of noise in the trees.  There are lots of tat shops and huge number of restaurants but still seems like quite a nice tourist resort. 

Santa Ponsa Bay



Mark was pleased that we found somewhere to watch the Monza Grandprix, only the 2nd one he has seen season.  That night there was also an amazing firework display to mark the end of the Fiesta, we dingyed out to the middle of the Bay to get the best view. 

We headed round to Palma Bay on route to Palma to pick Dan (Mark’s son) up.  Some really amazing rocks/islands along the way.


We anchored in Cala Portals a really busy Cala especially full of huge powerboats.  We were starting to notice that the powerboats in the Balearics (particularly around Palma) are in a league of there own, much larger than anything we see in the Solent.  Luckily the Cala emptied out as the evening went on and there were just 4 sailboats left by the time we went to bed.  The Cala was really lovely for snorkelling with lots of new fish but only any good in the morning before it overloads.  The Cala was not too pleasant in the afternoon, far too many boats anchored too close together.  We headed off in the evening to Las Illetas, which was just one step closer to Palma for the next morning.


Cala Portals


It felt quite special sailing in Palma when it is such a huge sailing destination and it was quite spectacular seeing the Cathedral from the sea.
Palma Cathedral


We only had a day in Palma and tried to pack in as much as possible but as we had not been in a marina for around 20 days, we needed to wash the boat, do some washing, shopping, go to chandlery and I wanted to do some sightseeing.

Palma is a beautiful city with lots of old buildings including the cathedral and city walls, it is also maintain really well so it lovely and green.



After hanging our washing out all around the boat we headed into town and just had a wander around.  We then went to see if we could locate the Volvo Global Racing area of the marina to find Nick, Phillipa and Di who we had met in Cartagena.  They were busy preparing the boat for their 2 handed World Race which commences on the 25th September and they found time for a beer with us which was really nice.  I also had a chance to have a look on the boat, it was very professional/sparse/technical…. It was amazing! I couldn’t believe they were going to be living like that for the next year, wow!  I also had a chance to meet the third member of the crew Pippapotamus – yes I know I look a bit warm in the photo but their boat is soooooo hot!  Such lovely people we can’t wait to follow their progress and I am in ore of how brave they are.

Phillipa, Pippapotamus and mega hot Amanda!



Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Balearics


Cartegena to Balearics

We left Cartagena at around mid day to start the 150ish mile passage to Formentera. We were pretty laid back about it as we knew the wind was forecast to be light and we were determined just to enjoy the sail even if it took a couple of days.
Tinfish 2 left at the same time but they soon disappeared over the horizon as they had a deadline to meet and were happy to burn diesel to get there.
As luck would have it the wind filled in and we had a good sail for the first 4/5 hours, then it was engine on time for a while. Night fell and we experienced an amazing variety of conditions and for brief periods had wind from every compass direction, we were determined to make the most of any wind we had so it meant many changes in direction and of sail sizes ….a busy night !
We were also treated to the most amazing lightning storm I have ever seen, huge bolts of forked lightning hit the sea all around us, never more than about 5 miles away but never close enough to be really scary.
Morning dawned windless, sunny and HOT! So after motoring for a little while we decided engine off and in for a swim. We were “off soundings” as in our electronics couldn’t “see” the bottom, but a quick check on the chart showed water depth of 600-650m. With slight trepidation we lowered the stern bathing ladder and armed with some shower gel jumped in for a cool off and a freshen up.
Very spooky being in water that deep, but we are now running a competition to find the deepest water possible for a swim !!
As we were breakfasting the wind filled in and we then had a great sail all the way to Formentera arriving around 5 in the afternoon.
About 2 in the afternoon we had another hitch hiker a ring necked dove we named Doris. She was obviously in distress and managed to just about land on the top of our pitching bimini cover whilst we tramped along at 7 knts. She stayed there for a couple of hours until I spooked her trying to get a photo and she then landed on the pull pit (after 3 crash landing attempts, obviously no training in moving dove cots !) and there she stayed until we sailed her within 250m of land.

Doris on pullpit


First Stop: Formentera – Ensenada Del Cabrito
Arrived anchored, rested, night full of ferry wash! Next morning the family from Tinfish who had left Cartagena at same time spotted us in the anchorage and headed over to see if we fancied a snorkel, it was good timing as we were feeling lethargic so we jumped up and headed in to see the fish.  Not fancying another rolly night we decided we needed to head off and with southerly winded forecast we had to move on from Formentera as there were no other sheltered anchorages.

Ibiza
A breeze picked up and we managed a leisurely sail with just the foresail.  Ibiza looks really spectacular when approaching from the sea, really mountainous and lots of little off lying rocks/islands. 


Just less than 13 miles and we arrived at our first anchorage: Cala Basa, small cove with beach at far end. Off for a swim but didn’t make it ashore particularly as weren’t sure how well the anchor was held in the mass of weeds and rocks on the bottom.  We were just round the corner from San Antonio so no surprise that a couple of party boats passed through the anchorage but thankfully none in the night!

Moved on the next day, first attempted a Cala across the bay but completely full so then back to Port Del Torrent which we thought was going to be a good pick when the anchor quickly held in sand but no it was not to be! Mark jumped in the water and was stung on the top lip by a jellyfish!  After desperately trying to find out what to do on the iPhone we used the Balsamic vinegar  and I did not need to pee into a bottle!  After the tourist boats started ploughing past us at 9am we were desperate to move on!

A short hop up the coast, motor sailing due to light winds we rounded the headland for Puerto De San Miguel but before reaching the Cala we passed a small island just attached by spit of sand to mainland which had the most fantastic house on it, what a place to live!

Stunning scenery

House on island - Tracy Island


This was the first Cala where we actually made it ashore and we really enjoyed our stay here.  Although quite busy in the anchorage there was still enough swinging room and it was really picturesque.  It was an easy row (well for Mark) ashore and the dingy could just be pulled up on the beach.  There were a couple of over priced shop so we could keep stocked with fresh fruit and veg.  There were also a couple of large hotels, couple of bars and restaurants but not much else.

Magnum all alone in the distance

Island at end of anchorage with house, Magnum far right in foreground with pedalo too close to front!

Cheesy photo overlooking anchorage


This seemed quite a nice little family friendly resort, with quite a few British families passing on their pedalos a bit too close to the boat!  We also had the enjoyment of the cheesy hotel entertainment which we could hear from the boat – how & why do the same songs maintain popular – Agadoo, Superman song, “We are going to Ibiza” to name a few! But I am sure the kids love them!

There was also a free dance party on the beach on the Saturday night, the music was at least 10X louder than the hotel but we decided to venture ashore, we were in Ibiza party isle after all!  We had a drink and did some people watching but after a couple of hours (before it really got started) we headed back to bed with our earplugs in!

We also had some reasonable snorkelling here so nice to get back into swimming which had not always been possible on the Atlantic coast.

After a couple of nights we moved off round the corner to Cala Charraca, a big wide Cala and found a good sandy spot to anchor.  We spent the afternoon washing the boat down and having a nice swim, again we found the follow you fish that seemed to be following the boat!  These are grey/silver Dori looking fish that congregate under the boat and then when you get in for a swim they follow you, every time you turn around there are at least 50 of them behind you just looking!  Unfortunately a big swell started to grow and grow and we could not stay for the night and the safest option was to head back to Puerto De San Miguel, the swell was still creeping into the anchorage but not quite as big.  Anchorage was really busy probably as other boats were trying to escape the swell.  By the morning after a really rolly night at least 50% of the boats had already left and we were close to follow.

We didn’t go far the wind was on the nose and increasing so after 5-6 miles we headed into Cala Portinatx knowing we could always move on later.  The Cala was surrounded by small hotels and bars, after a quick dip to cool off we headed ashore.  Restaurants all looked quite nice; beach was clean and filled with families. We attempted a bit of shopping but very limited unless you want a lilo, postcard, holiday souvenir – which we didn’t! Also very over priced but we made do.  In the evening we were treated to Grease (the musical) from one of the hotels, we expected everyone to be joining in from their boats but think that was only us!

Next day we decided to head around the north coast and head south, we were really lucky as a breeze picked up and we were actually able to have a good sail. The scenery really nice with rocky cliffs and green pines over the hills just will a small scattering of white houses. We past round yet another small Island, Isla Tagomago really pretty and continued down the coast to Cala Cana; this is just by the resort Es CaƱar.  We crept into the anchorage avoiding the dark patches as we were now getting used to the rocks.  We anchored in sand but we already knew there was too much swell and we were not very sheltered but looked so lovely we decided to stay for a quick swim.  Once we got in we realised how lucky we had been the pilot book had not warned that the rocks were so large on either side that we could have easily run around.  So off we set to find somewhere safer.

Isla Tagomago


We headed back north knowing southerlies were forecasted and we would not be able to find many places to shelter on this side of the coast, the night was spent at Cala LLeo. Rocky but sheltered from the wind.  It was actually so full of rocks that as soon as we went down into the boat we could hear the crackling of the corals all over the rock, very strange sound to fall asleep to.  Mark jumped in for a swim in the morning and after just one jellyfish sighting it was time to move on.


Sea and sun battered hair at sunset!
We headed towards Cala De San Vincente hoping it may have just been sheltered from the southerlies but unfortunately not so the anchor did not even hit the ground.  Even further north and we headed into Cala Serra and found the most stunning Cala of all we had visited.  Only really big enough for two boats with 2 tiny beaches, 1 with tiny little beach bar.  Beautiful clear waters over sand for the anchor but enough rocks that fish were everywhere.  We spent 2 relaxing days’ snorkelling and swimming; we did manage to dingy off the boat and walk up the hill to admire the view.  We could have stayed for another week but the weather wouldn’t let as we had a deadline to get to Mallorca!

Magnum seen all alone in Cala Serra, fishermen huts to left

Mark at top of hill enjoying morning walk, Magnum in Cala Serra

Look at the colour of the water! Tiny little beach!






Thursday, September 8, 2011

SE Spanish Coast

Gibraltar to Cartegena


We left Queensway marina at about 08.30 and motored round to fill up with duty free diesel. Then we said goodbye and set of on what would possibly be our longest single passage to date, just over 400 miles.

Gib from East, flat area of Rock in water catchment system


Zero wind in Gibraltar translated to 20knts of westerly when we reached Europa point and turned east. This lasted for most of the day and we made spectacular mileage, as night started to fall the wind started to increase and the sea state quickly deteriorated soon we had 35knts and were barreling downwind through the night. We had 3 reefs in the main (the smallest it will go) and a scrap of headsail set on a pole to stop it collapsing as we surfed and rolled our way down the waves. This still proved too much sail and soon I was on deck again dragging down the remainder of the main sail.
Myself and Amanda managed zero sleep all night as it was just too rough and noisy below, we did try but as soon as we settled something would happen and we were required on deck again.

24hr mileage was about 180 which is 7.5knt average which included motoring around Gib for and hour and a half sorting fuel out so pretty impressive for a boat Magnums size, but I would have settled for a few less miles and a good sleep.

Morning broke and the wind dropped slightly as we rounded Cabo de Gata. We picked up another yacht on AIS at this point, S/V Melody, who were to stay with us for the next few hours. We also picked up our first phone signal for hours so quickly checked the weather. It wasn’t promising we had about 12 hours of SW’lys and then the wind was due to swing northerly and build to gale force.
As we were both tired we decided to cut our losses and head inshore where our chart showed a couple of small marinas. We reached the first one, Garriche at about 17.00 and radioed in we were met with static filled Spanish, I tried again but then they decided not to answer. As we were almost there we dropped sail and motored in, it was a tiny place with no room to swing a cat, there was obviously no space for us and despite hanging around nobody came to greet us as is normal in Spanish marinas. The message was clear, we had to keep going.
Our next port of refuge lie 45miles to the north of us and with the threat of gale force head winds we made best speed out to sea and onward.  It was a pretty sobering moment knowing that the wind could change any moment and it would take us between 8 and 9 hours to reach safety !
We made best possible use of the remaining favorable wind and then as it started to drop we had the engine straight on to ensure we made good time. We also picked up Melody again at this point as she had stayed offshore and we had caught her again.
It was a long evening and night and then when we were about 2 hours away from Cartagena the north breeze started to fill in. we both held our breath. All was fine until with and hour to go we had 25knts on the nose, this slowed progress but with each mile we gain more shelter from the land until about 02.00 we made out the channel lights and entered the harbor. While we were sorting out which lights were which and how to enter the harbor safely we noticed Melody had tucked herself onto our tail about 300m away and was following our every move, they obviously trusted our pilotage and were too tired to do it for themselves!!
Anyway at 3 in the morning we were safely tied up and crashed out for the remainder of the night. Zzzzzzzzzzzz



Cartagena


A lovely place for an unexpected visit and we were really lucky that the Audi Cup Racing Series was there for the week so we were treated to seeing some fantastic race boats in the harbour. 

We had a really nice walk up to park on top of the hill which gave us a really good “free” view of the remains of a Roman Amphitheatre.

Audi Race boats in Harbour

Audi Race boats along quay

Roman Amphitheatre


Also we have met some nice people over the last couple of weeks and hope that we catch up with them along the way. We were really impressed by a race boat which arrived next to us in Cartagena (3am and still being nosey at who was coming in!), Phillippa and Nick were off to Palma to start a round the worked 2 handed race, she is certainly a braver person than me! Fantastically fast boat, we are looking forward to watching their progress.  We also meet the Russell family on Tinfish whose kids Jenny and Peter are having the time of their life!


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Gibraltar & La Linea


The first couple of days we stayed on the Spanish side of the boarder as we thought that the marina was cheaper, always looking to save money! Also this made it quite interesting for Abbie when the next day we walked across the Spanish/Gibraltar border which also involves walking across the runway to the airport and it was actually closed for a plane landing. 

Over the next couple of days we pottered around Gibraltar taking advantage of some home comforts including delicious muffins from M&S and I finally managed to book a hair appointment – what a luxury! Thought it would be easier to get my hair done there by someone that spoke English but the hairdresser I went to turned out to be Spanish and spoke little English but did a fantastic job at cheaper than UK prices.

We moved the boat over to a marina (Queensway Quay) in Gibraltar as we thought it would be slightly easier with the site seeing, not sure it would have made too much difference as Mark & Abbie became experts on the buses and knew which one you needed to get on for an destination around Gibraltar!

We did a whole range of tourist activities including getting the cable car to the top of the Rock, visiting the Apes, St Michaels cave and the Great Siege tunnels (Gibraltar has a maze of tunnels that have been used by the British forces since 1700 up t0 1963) and Moorish Castle, this is all done on foot and in the heat it is quite a challenge. I will not go into detail but there is so much history in Gibraltar from the Phoenicians, to the Greeks, to the Moors, Nelson (Battle of Trafalgar) and all the battles to gain control over this strategic piece of land.  Feels quite nice that it is still British with the importance it has had over the years, worth a visit if you have not been but can see it all within a couple of days.

Ape in Gibraltar


St Michaels Cave - Mark & Abbie

Moorish Castle

The Apes are mainly confined to the Rock but we did also come across them a few times at Catalan Bay, they must know that they can get a tasty snack from the bins but it does not seem right when you see them eating McDonalds!

Mmmmm McDonalds
The museum in Gibraltar was also worth a visit we never been before, but had some great photos of how Gib had changed over the years, particularly interesting as it is now very built up with very tall apartment blocks covering any available space to accommodate the population.

We had a trip out to Europa Point which is the furthest point south in Europe and it was windy! But clear skies to fantastic view over to the Atlas Mountains in Morocco.

Atlas Mountains Morocco

Europa Point from the Sea

I also had a lovely girly day with Michelle who drove down to see me again, nice to be able have a good gossip!

Abbie caught her flight home from Gibraltar there were lots of tears but at least the airport was easy and a very reasonable flight price and time.

We had our final day in Gibraltar rushing around mainly provisioning, Mark rushed off to chandlery whilst I suffered yet more pain at the chiropractor, we then both spent well over an hour being overwhelmed by what we could get at Morrisons, who would of though we could have been so happy about Muesli, dried fruit, fresh milk, sweet potatoes………….. the list could go on as shown by the amount we spent!

So much more we could say about Gibraltar but we have now moved on but just to mention it turned out that the marina was a really reasonable price so we were even happier.