The long way home …

•Monday, 18 April 2022 • 2 Comments

Back in sunny Seytroux, sitting on the terrace in the sunshine – just gorgeous! Feeling a little tired … think that I am still recovering from our time on the boat and the long way home. Talk about trains, planes and automobiles!

We decided to go from Palma to Barcelona by ferry – aiming to avoid piles of security. No such luck on the security; guards, machines and searches everywhere. A 6 hour ferry trip which started an hour and a half late! We had done well though with our hotel in Barcelona – in the Saint Gervasi area quite close to the Sagrada Familia. Fabulous restaurants and bars everywhere – delightfully, everywhere seemed more oriented for locals than tourists. Sagrada Familia was magnificent. A lot had changed since my last visit more than 15 years ago and with the exception of the security to get in, all for the better. We toured the key landmarks of Barcelona on a ‘hop on/hop off’ bus and had a second fabulous dinner in a local tapas bar.

Sunday didn’t quite go to plan. It transpired that the reason we were unable to book train tickets on line was that the train was full … also full Sunday evening and through until Tuesday. Flights to Narbonne were all via Paris so we bought coach tickets for Sunday pm, paying the extra 2 euros for a ‘panoramic view’ at the front of the bus. Not all bad, as I managed a Sunday morning salsa in the park and a trip to the modern art museum in Barcelona as we wiled away the day. Got to Narbonne 8 hours late and to Laura’s at midnight.

Fabulous 2 days with Laura in her beautiful home. Much great conversation, delicious food, wine and exploring the bucolic countryside. A 9 hour drive home – via our friends in Bezier to support them by driving their car back to Seytroux for our neighbours. Long story and long drive but ‘tout est bien qui fini bien!’. Home at last.

Laura & Zoe, the dog

I had my final day on the ski slopes with Fran & Sean yesterday – blue sky, full sun and very gloopy snow! It’s back to the UK next week for a few days. Truly the lives of international travellers …

Gorgeous sunny day with gloopy snow!

Heading home …

•Thursday, 7 April 2022 • 4 Comments

It’s the end of week 3 on the boat. Finally, I am sitting on deck in the sunshine with a beer after 3 weeks of cold, wet windy weather. All the people who work on the boats are overstretched and stressed … the spate of bad weather has prevented much outside work so everyone is behind schedule. This of course, includes us!

The old teak toward the bow of the boat has been removed but the new has not been put down. The work to the mast has not been started. Winches still need servicing. On the plus side, we have a new TV … Chris sneaked this in without my knowing. Bigger and better of course!

2 new motors for the toilets finally arrived at vast expense. It transpires that the motors are not quite the same size as the old ones so adjustments need to be made … so frustrating.

We leave the boat in Mike’s capable hands. He is in charge of galvanising all the various folk who are helping us and quality controlling all the work. We head off to Barcelona tomorrow for a couple of days of tourism. I’m excited to be going back to the Sagrada Familiar – the Gaudi designed cathedral in Barcelona and one of my favourite pieces of architecture in the world. After that, we are on the train to Narbonnes to collect the car and then a couple of days with our lovely friend Laura who is back at her home in Tillac in the Armagnac region of France. Back to sunny Seytroux next week.

Progress …

•Monday, 28 March 2022 • Leave a Comment

Beginning of week 3 on the boat and finally the sun is shining. Yay!We’ve made some good progress over the week and of course – lots more opportunities to learn the boat. This week, I’ve learned how to change the pump on the toilet (positively the most crappy job in everything sense of the word!) and learnt that the pump wasn’t the problem – the motor was; I’ve checked all the sea cocks so now completely familiar with all the places where the boat can sink; have learned about grease pumps for the prop shaft and the steering wheel; I’ve mended blinds, done piles of washing and started the process of re-polishing all the chrome on the boat. Chris has been working with the engineers – upgrades to chart plotters; instruments to better monitor the boat systems, managing all the data bases, logs etc … quite a team!

And this weekend, we hired a car and went exploring. A lovely lunch in the ‘cuitadella’ (old town) of Alcudia; another lovely lunch spot in Santanyi – exploring the north east and east coast of the island. Gorgeous in spite of it being pretty cool and cloudy. Really lovely to get off the boat, do a road trip, eat tapas and drink delicious wine!

Today, back to the grindstone … workmen arrived to replace the teak decking at the front of the boat and some real progress on the electronics. We met a provider of category 3 medical kit and we’re likely to sign up for a 4 day advanced first aid course, an all inclusive medical kit (splints, antibiotics, dental equipment, sutures and skin staple gun amongst other things!) and on demand medical advice anywhere around the globe. Taking no chances.

Gruissan to Mallorca … a good blow!

•Thursday, 24 March 2022 • 3 Comments

We finally made it off the pontoon on Friday … 4 days delay. A 7.30am start on a grey day. No surprises that no sooner had we set off than a trip down to the aft cabin revealed a loud noise – totally not normal! The prop shaft (for those readers who know about this stuff?) was spinning and water dripping through into the boat. Electrical tape reduced the flow and the Captain made the call that we could get to Mallorca without sinking. Onward!

We decided to go straight to Mallorca – the original plan had been a leisurely 3 day cruise down the eastern coast of Spain before trekking across to the Balearics. Instead, a 29 hour voyage in Force 6 to 7 winds. Well reefed in, we had planned to share the watch between the 3 of us but unfortunately, rough seas got the better of Martin who spent half of the trip with a bucket beside him. 3 hours on/3 hours off for Chris and me saw us safely through the night. We sighted land at 11ish and anchored in Soller on the north side of the island sometime after 1pm. A good sleep and a fab Spanish dinner on dry land and I felt like a new woman. Another long sleep and we were ready for the final leg to Palma on Sunday.

The weather remains miserable – grey, cold, threatening rain, big waves and lots of wind. Forecast to stay this way for the couple of weeks we are here. The boat has heating – thank goodness.

Our lovely project manager Mike arrived on Monday … once more in safe hands with a list of jobs planned to get the boat well and truly ready for the big voyage later this year. Unfortunately, the prop shaft damage is serious – we need to take the boat out of the water to get it fixed. We are hoping to see most of the work done whilst we are here but that maybe a touch optimistic. So far this week, quite a lot of talk but not much action. Lots of cleaning and polishing – re familiarising myself with all my products!

Back in Palma

And we’re off once again …

•Thursday, 17 March 2022 • 2 Comments

The travels begin once again – and par for the course, they do not begin quite as planned! The drive from Seytroux to Béziers was a very wet one – rain hammering on the car roof as we travelled south to collect Yacht Mistral. We had a lovely evening with Bill and Sheila who once again, kindly put us up for the night ahead of going to the boat. We woke to a flat tyre on the car. So much for the early start. We managed to arrive at the boat yard at the appointed time ready to watch the boat being put back in the water … no go. Too windy (gale force 7/8 forecast) and in truth the boat yard had forgotten we were coming. A day’s delay and another lovely evening with Bill and Sheila.

Our friend Martin joined us – he had his own issues as EasyJet have managed to lose his bag. Luckily, with the delays we had the time to shop for vital supplies for him.

The following day the boat went into the water but it was too windy to put our new sails up or to begin the sail south toward Mallorca so yet another evening with Bill and Sheila – where would we have been without them!

The boat is in much better condition than last winter but even so – water in the bilges and the bilge pump mechanism had packed up so another quick fix before we could leave the boat safely. Finally yesterday, we got the new sails up – thoroughly pleased with ourselves. They look great. An evening in the port and our first night back on the boat ready for what we hoped would be an early start. A chilly night and a discovery this morning that the bathroom tap is leaking badly … needs sorting before we head out. This is the story of sailing … hoping we will get to Argeles tonight.

The jib goes up first
And the Genoa

Last leg

•Tuesday, 2 November 2021 • 4 Comments

We had planned to leave Argeles first thing in the morning for Gruissan, where the boat is going to be parked for the winter – a 30 mile trip that would see us parked up by lunchtime, leaving plenty of time to get the boat ready for winter. The best laid plans … the mega gust of wind that blew out our sail heralded the beginning of a severe weather front that saw winds of gale force 10 through the night and well into the morning. We were safe but the noise of the wind was deafening; palm trees were dangerous as huge palms were torn off the trees and the boat was pressed right into the quay, challenging every fender to do its job in protecting the hull. The forecasts all predicted a short weather window in the afternoon when we would be able to motor up the coast. Hallelujah … the forecast was right and we set off at 2pm, arriving soon after 6pm, tired but in one piece. Large G&T’s all round!

We spent the following morning preparing the boat for haul out – cleaning, filling up the fuel, taking down sails, bagging up lines and all in the rain! We made it to Bill and Shiela’s for a very welcome late lunch looking somewhat bedraggled. A 6 hour drive saw us back at the chalet – rain, snow and autumn colours welcomed us. The end to a wonderful summer … next time we get the boat, we will be off around the world!

Seytroux

An eventful crossing …

•Saturday, 30 October 2021 • 3 Comments

We made it … 26 hours and 200 miles across from Andratx to Port Argeles (about 100 miles north of Barcelona). Before sunset we manoeuvred our way around the back of a thunderstorm (so glad to have 2 pilots on board!) and were set for a night on the motor with very little wind but the swell remained. Having taken my trusty Stugeron (seasickness tablets), I was all set for the first watch from 8pm to 10pm. No dramas, all ships kept clear and the night sky was beautiful. My 2pm to 4pm shift was a little more tricky – not least because it took 30 minutes for my eyesight to adjust to be able to see the chart plotter. Batty very kindly stayed with me until I got my bearings! A number of random fishing boats that looked as though they might come to close required a little course adjustment but aside from that, a quiet watch. Batty negotiated a fleet of fisherman blasting out of the nearest port at 6.30am and then 8am to 10am was my final watch. The sun rose and the wind picked up – finally, we were able to set the sails and turn off the engine.

With full crew on board by 9.30am, we decided to fly the Code Zero sail. Winds of Force 4 and a clear sky were ideal conditions for the sail and it unfurled beautifully. 30 minutes later the wind starting gusting more strongly. We reefed in the main sail then … mega gust of wind, very Big Bang and the code zero sail had gone. Chaos. The wind shredded the sail, the furling line had gone and our only choice was to lower the halyard (line that keeps the sail up) manually and try to drag what was left of the sail from the sky and sea. We managed it with Batty doing most of the heaving of the sail from the water. An hour later we were in Port Argeles, glad to be safe and with the boat undamaged – albeit down one sail. The Captain took his crew out for a well deserved breakfast beer!

Farewell Mallorca

•Thursday, 28 October 2021 • 3 Comments

I can’t believe the day has come. Work on the boat finally complete (for the time being!). We’ve said our farewells to Mike (amazing project manager) having enjoyed a fab dinner with him and his girlfriend, Claudia, at Sa Fulla. With Batty on board, we headed out of Palma yesterday. Final stop over in Andratx with one more wonderful sunset and here we are – en route to the mainland.

No wind but quite a swell … we’ve clocked 10 miles and we have 135 miles to go until our next stop. We’ll be sailing overnight so the watch system starts at 8pm – 2 hours watch followed by 4 hours sleep. Yikes!

Sailing for real!

•Friday, 22 October 2021 • 1 Comment

Joined by our friend Andy who is with us for a week, we asked Mike (our brilliant project manager) and his business partner Rory, to spend a day with us teaching us how to use the 2 huge sails that have been in a locker at the back of the boat until now – a cruising chute and a code zero – both huge sails designed for light winds. A brilliant day! Rory has crossed the Atlantic 25 times and skippered a racing yacht around the world a couple of times and Mike is a hugely experienced sailor so we were in really good hands. The cruising chute really needs 3 people to operate safely so we’ll be saving this for our ocean crossings when we have crew with us but the code zero is manageable with just the 2 of us. SO lovely to be out sailing and learning … Starting to feel like proper sailors!

Cruising chute … perfect for reaching in light winds

Andy brought his road bike – a little challenging to accommodate on the boat but he has managed one ride so far and I’m sure there will be more!

Andy in Lycra and ready to go!

Life in Palma

•Tuesday, 19 October 2021 • 1 Comment

It’s been a while … it feels like we’re really living here now. Miraculously, all the work planned whilst the boat was out of the water was completed on time and Mistral was re-launched 5 days after we took her out. She looked shiny new having been polished all over and even more importantly, the bow thruster was repaired as well as the rope cutter in front of the prop. A lovely weekend motor sailing (very little wind) and we were ready for a social week!

Polished Mistral in Cala Blanca

Ruth & Jo were staying in a hotel in Palma and we had a very special few days with them. 2 fab days motor sailing, paddle boarding, snorkelling and lunching with time in the week for girls shopping – such a treat! Lovely friends Spider & Jill joined us for a day of sailing and then our London friend Carol, joined us for the weekend. Sadly, other London friends were unable to be with us – a positive Covid test for Paula – so quieter than we planned but, happy sunny times in Andratx and sailing the Palma Bay Area.