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!


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.

Finally … we managed to sail the boat!

•Monday, 4 October 2021 • 2 Comments

After a month or so in the marina, we were finally able to get away in the boat for the weekend – ahead of a week when we are pulling it out of the water for work on and around the hull. We left in the pouring rain – the only boat to venture out at 4 o’clock on a wet and windy Friday afternoon. We motored to Portal Vells – a gorgeous little bay we haven’t been able to get into so far this season as it is always crazy busy. Of course, not so, in the wind and rain! Saturday saw the sun shine again so we stayed for the day, swam, read, swam again – a lovely day at sea. We sailed around the Palma Bay on Sunday – faith restored in our beautiful boat!

Portal Vells – busy on Saturday!

Monday morning and the rain came again but we were up bright and early to get the boat to Cala Nova where it was being hauled out. Successfully on hard standing, we checked into the Joan Micro Hotel just up the road – fab swimming pool and best of all – a bath!

A week in port …

•Sunday, 26 September 2021 • 1 Comment

We have been in the marina for a week whilst a variety of workmen come and go. Slowly the jobs are being ticked off the list and we do feel as though we are in the hands of experts. We continue to learn a lot about the boat and how to look after it – I have been re-varnishing port lights (the small hatches around the side of the boat) as well as cleaning holding tanks and waterproofing the Bimini. Chris continues to splice and dice – making soft shackles to replace many of the metal ones on the boat. One of the riggers has offered Chris a job as a splicer! We are becoming real boat people. Cleaning duties continue as a southerly wind brings red sand and dumps it all over all the boats … and we’ve had a bit of rain this week too.

Sunset from our berth in Port de Mallorca

I’m making myself at home here – I have signed up for Pilates classes at a fabulous studio about a mile away from the marina. Have also found a hair dresser and beautician – body maintenance still a priority I’m pleased to say! We have a regular bar where we now know the owner and continue to discover restaurants. Making the most of life in port!

Soft shackles

A lovely week with Jane & Janice

•Sunday, 19 September 2021 • Leave a Comment

Jane & Janice arrived to have a one night cross-over with Shirley – lots of chat! Fond farewells to Shirls on Saturday morning and we set off for Sa Rapita on the east end of the Palma bay. In spite of Jane’s worst fears of sea sickness, all was well! A relaxing couple of days in the bay before heading back to Palma for a couple more days of maintenance.

The boom is separated from the mast whilst the furling mechanism is at the workshop so we can only motor very gently in flat seas until mast and boom are reconnected. The boom is held up, down and at the sides by tight lines but the thought of it falling in some way has me with butterflies in my stomach each time we are out at sea.

Feels a bit precarious!

A fab couple of days in Palma – shopping, eating, drinking, biking and exploring. Palma is delightful … could definitely live here for a while … exploring real estate options as long term option?

Glad to say that we managed another couple of days at sea – off to Port Andraxt for the night. As ever, beautiful sunsets, great gin and super paella. More lovely memories.

Major maintenance!

•Tuesday, 14 September 2021 • 2 Comments

Nobody told me that I had to find joy in maintenance, cleaning and repairing a boat as well as sailing it! Good grief … the work goes on forever. Scarily (and sadly?) I am getting into some sort of routine with all the cleaning – very focussed on getting the right product and spend an increasing proportion of my time in the chandlery cleaning section. I have also seen sense and paid lovely day crew to come on board for a couple of days and polish the chrome! Love welcoming all the various specialists onto the boat – boat riggers to sort the furling mechanism out, electricians to sort electronics, sail makers to service the sails. Another week of learning!

Fortunately, first mate to the first mate, Shirley, was still on board last week so we managed some shopping, biking, lunches out and an afternoon zipping around the bay in the tender … Shirls officially checked out now!

And last news to report but definitely not least, we had a lovely day celebrating Shirl’s birthday … another big number but who’s counting!?

Birthday girl!

The second half of the island – to Port Pollensa, Portopetro & back to Palma

•Thursday, 9 September 2021 • Leave a Comment

Not too much sailing round the rest of the island as the breeze was light and often directly behind us. Still, the scenery was glorious and we found a safe spot to anchor in La Pollensa after we had rounded the most northerly point of the island. The wind blew up a bit just as we were set to take the tender into town (of course it did!) so a wet few minutes before shopping and cocktails! Setting off from La Pollensa, we made our way south – hoping to stop in one of the many beautiful bays half way down the east coast. First stop saw an altercation with an eco warrior over our anchoring inadvertently over sea grass. Hard to avoid in these waters but we will definitely try to do better in future. However, we felt very unwelcome and moved further south to find a beautiful little bay where we picked up a mooring buoy for the night. Swimming and paddle boarding ahead of moving the following day to a really stunning swimming spot as we round the coast one more time, heading toward Palma. Dolphins en route – first time this trip so quite a treat.

Of course, no blog post of mine would be complete without some drama. Sure enough, as we headed for home, the furling line that takes in the main sail failed. Shirley was allocated helm whilst Chris and I struggled to manually drop the main sail. Thank goodness it was fairly light winds and quite protected water … trying to do the same things in heavy winds would have been really tough. So … yet another job to add to our ever growing list of things that are broken!