Sailing the Western Coast of Mallorca

There are three types of wind in the Med, according to folklore and local knowledge: Too much wind, too little wind and wind coming directly from where you would like to go.

We have decided that this local knowledge is truth, pure and simple.  We had to wait for days to leave France to sail to Palma.  We have seen a couple of days where it wasn’t worthwhile putting up the sails, because there wasn’t any breeze. On Thursday we managed to get to Soller, but Friday had us leaving for Andratx and it was dead on the nose. At this point the question begins to be, do we want to slog away in this wind for four hours or will we just sail back to Andratx and enjoy Rossini’s tuna carpaccio? No prizes for guessing, we went around the Islla de Dragonera and into a cove near Andratx and made a lovely lunch.  After a short but chilly swim, we attempted sailing to Soller once again, but in the end, we went back to Andratx.  For those of you who remember, we didn’t see Christopher Skase here, he did have developments in Andratx but they never came to fruition.

Saturday morning, there was no wind, so we cruised under motor to Port Soller and upon arriving Rene and Gaila took the electric tram to old Soller town and wandered around lanes and plazas looking at the architecture and generally people watching. The four of us went to a Port Soller waterfront cafe and had a sumptuous dinner of paella and sangria.

 

Dinner in Port Soller

Sunday morning, sunny skies beckoned us to the Torrent de Pareis, a beautiful bay with a sandy white beach.  Rene spotted two wild Mallorcan mountain goats, a shy doe and a rather amourous boc (male).  The doe was clever, backing into small cave like openings or jumping quickly with great agility, escaping his designs. All of this over a bay of clear aqua water and a white sandy beach, under tall cliffs.

Goats in Action
Mercier in Torrent du Pareis

The coastline of western Mallorca is rugged with spectacular cliffs rising straight from the ocean.  Following the Treleaven recipe of enjoying the Med, we stop for lunch in a beautiful bay and in the afternoon make our way to the next overnight anchorage. Sunday’s anchorage is Formentor and it is postcard perfect.

Lunch in Cala Sant Vicenc

Here is a message from Rene and some photos, we miss you all and wonder why you aren’t here.

Hi everyone, well here we are in paradise beautiful Azure blue water and silky white sand, the boat and tender are performing beautifully, the west coast is certainly different from the east…. we are heading to Menorca tomorrow and maybe catch up with David !!

Hope all are well at home……enjoy the photos !! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

 

 

 

Departing Palma, saying goodbye to Simon and enjoying a swim Isla Malgrats

Finally all the repairs and extras are organised and we are ready to go. Simon Crutchley, our dealer, who looked after Mercier so well, came to farewell us at the dock.  Hard to imagine not seeing Simon every day, as we have been in such close contact for the past few months.  We are sure that we will see him next summer if not before.  Simon might even make it to Sydney.

Settling up

 

The Team Departing

We left Palma Harbour and sailed south and then west, stopping for our first swim of the season and lunch at Isla Malgrats.  The highlight of this was showing Rene and Blue the stern of the boat turn into a swimming platform. It folds down to make getting into & out of  the water so easy.

First Swim

The water was brisk and the cliffs and rocks in the area were imperious. There was a little grotto in the rocks just behind us. Small blue fish swam up to the boat to collect any tiny bit of food that went over the side.  They were voracious as well as beautiful.

Isla Malgrats

After lunch we sailed to Andratx and went for a wander along the waterfront.In Palma, one of our favourite restaurants was Rossini’s, with their amazing tuna carpaccio.  At the end of the waterfront, here was Rossini Mare’s, a sister restaurant, so we had a little glass of rose and tuna carpaccio on the waterfront.

Rossinis at Andratx

A lovely day to begin the next stage of the journey. Happy Birthday to Linda, Bobby and soon it will be Allysia’s will be soon.

Here’s Rene, and more photos.

What a wonderful day to start our journey round the island of Mallorca, firstly Happy Birthday to my little bro Bobby turning 50….ahhh, well we are fully loaded with water, diesel and food, gentle breeze and blue sky….after a short motor stopped for a swim and lunch then off to Andratx, incredible blue water :)lots of super yachts dotting the bays…..overnight here then heading to Soller tomorrow 🙂

Rene trying the underwater motorbike

Still pinching myself !! would recommend an early booking with ‘Mercier’ for next year !!

Love to all, Rene and Blue 🙂 🙂

 

Guests

After a weekend of side trips to Soller on the electric train and the gorgeous little town of  Valdemossa, Monday was a day of anticipation.  That is because we were being joined by our very good friends, Rowena and Richard Chapman.

We laid in supplies of French champagne, brie, grapes and almonds.  James went to meet them at the airport and bring them back to Mercier. We went for a long walk around Palma and found a little Italian restaurant for dinner, after we had Mojitos at Mr Mojito.  Funnily enough, they asked Richard if he was a relative.

This morning, James made us a lovely brekkie of eggs with smoked salmon, capers and dill. He then stayed to work on the boat, while Richard, Rene and I marched along the waterfront into old Palma town, to the Cathedral and the three of us literally followed laneways and alleys for hours until we realised none of us had brought a map.

We stopped for coffee and a reconnoitre, Rene ran and found a map and we were able to follow the map to the classic Mallorcan  pastry shop, and back to the boat.  Along the way we went to Zara Men and kitted Richard up with some very new colourful shirts, darling.

Rene is now going to say a few words, this takes the place of the Sona log.

Hola, we are now in Palma and it’s beautiful, we have raised Blue’s remaining ball and sampling some fine champagne

 

 

 

Visiting a boat yard, a courtyard and a castle

For the past few days, each day we have been working on the boat early in the day.  We have taken Mercier over to the Audax boat yard to be slipped for antifouling and on a sea trial to get the AIS working, swung the compass and calibrated the autopilot. The level of professional services has been extremely high here in Palma.  Tony, who is calibrating the navigation services with James in the photo below, was very helpful and exacting in getting all the nav services in good shape. Audax Boatyards were great, not only antifouling the boat but polishing the topsides and finished early, something not usually heard of in Spain.

 

Each afternoon, we have done some sightseeing, today was Castell de Bellver and the Old Town, yesterday it was to Portal Pi and some other sections of Palma. We are still doing a bit of provisioning for the boat and occasionally we find quite nice Tapas Bars, restaurants and markets.

We thought you might enjoy some of the photos. Hasta Mañana

 

 

Enjoying Mallorca

Mallorca is sunny and warm and after our last few days in chilly Provence. W,e are making the most of it.  We moved from Puerto Portals to a marina in Palma. Still parked next to big beautiful yachts but this marina is not quite as large nor are the boats.

The first morning, the Guarda Civil were on the dock, busily chaining a 75 foot ketch to the dock, ostensibly because the owners haven’t paid their marina fees for a few years.  The bill is Euro 200,000.  We will make sure the marina fees are paid before we leave.

Packing away leggings and jackets, getting the boat ready for the rest of the season, this has been the past week’s activities.  Since yesterday was Sunday, we decided to take a drive up to Polença and stop in some lovely towns along the way.  This was virtually a drive down to Cap Blanc and then a drive up the east coast of Mallorca.  We left Palma and headed for Santanyi, a 700 year old town near the Natural Park of Mondrago.  We drove through the large town of Manacor which looked like a thriving centre of commerce.

We had a lovely lunch in Artà, a very old and lovely town that seems to have been preserved from the development rampant on much of the island.  The tiny street our restaurant was on seemed to be pedestrian traffic only, so you could sit outdoors under an  awning and relax with gazpacho and salad.

We left for Alcudia and the National Park of s’Albufera and on the way passed major developments of condos, resorts and villas.  Many of them going for a nice price as the area has overbuilt and the banks are worried. One set of resorts will be catering to the Germans and the next will be catering to our friends from the UK.  We stayed overnight in a nice resort in Polença for E62 per night.  Bargains abound.

We arrived at Alcúdia, ambled through the cobbled streets of the old quarter, with laneways and one or two story stone buildings through out.  Alcudia has kept it’s heritage and thankfully the condo developers haven’t managed egress here.  It is lovely to walk around and people watch.

Alcúdia is developed on Roman ruins and the fort like walls were built in the 1300’s, to protect landowners from pirates and rebelling peasants.

We left Alcúdia after climbing to the top of the walls and roaming around the cobblestoned streets and squares for Polença and it’s port.  We aren’t sure if we will be able to sail into Port Polença, as we may draw too much water but we would love to spend more time there.

Monday morning, back to wait for workmen to get Mercier into better shape. Hope you enjoy the photos.

 

And Then The Sun Came Out

Monday, we were hopeful of departing for Palma and left Bandol with high expectations.  The wind was about 20 knots and the seas were very choppy coming out of Bandol Harbour.  We thought it will calm down once we are outside, but no.  As we sailed out the winds moved up to 30 knots, then 35 knots as we sailed in the Gulf of Lion, which has a fierce reputation.  We decided its reputation was well deserved and went back to Bandol.  It wasn’t just the wind making the sail uncomfortable but very confused seas and a chill in the air to rival Tasmania’s.  Today was just to be seven hours of practice.

We came to an agreement – we leave on the next sunny day, which gave us two more days in wet and chilly Bandol.  Luckily, Bandol has wonderful restaurants and if the weather was wet and chilly, the wine certainly warmed us up.

Finally on Tuesday afternoon, the sun came out; we agreed that we would brave the Gulf of the Lion once more. We departed early on Wednesday morning.  This time it was manageable, Mercier sailed well in 20-25 knots, but the sea was still confused.  At one time, I could see waves approach the boat from three or four different directions. We were visited during the day and evening by dolphins who would ride the wave bow for awhile.  They didn’t mind the weather at all.

It was still bitterly cold, but Mercier was plowing through the waves on a reach and the Mercalm was managing the confused seas for Gaila.  By about 11pm the winds dropped and so did the sea, the boat was going well under autopilot and James stood watch for most of the night, with a few hours of respite from Gaila. James had a visit from a sea turtle

By the time we sighted Menorca the seas were flat and winds were light. It was great to sight land and it wasn’t too long before we were motor-sailing along the coast of Mallorca.  This was the Med of my dreams, azure blue seas sailing past rugged cliffs and lighthouses, viewing modern villages in the hill side.

We pulled into Porto Colom about 7:30PM and anchored just inside the harbour.  The waterside was active and we could hear dogs barking and see children playing along the harbour beaches.  The houses are a rich white against the blue skies, very picturesque.

We set sail at 7AM, the sea is a pane of glass.  It’s easy to see the 17 metrest to the bottom. We are motor sailing, as there is no wind. We are hoping to be in Palma for lunch.

This Wasn’t in the Brochure

We finally received our safety kit, loaded it on board and returned the rental car. All ready for an early start on Saturday. We awoke on Saturday morning, ready to go, breeze was forecast as 20 – 25 knots from the east, so it should be an easy reach to Palma, some 300 miles away. We fuel led up at Toulon Old Port and motored out of the Harbour. The way out of the harbour was   upwind so we motored for about an hour until we could unfurl the jib (but only 2/3 out) We then set course for Palma, only to find that the wind had increased to 30 knots and it was very uncomfortable. Given that this was our first sail and we were still not familiar with the boat, we decided to sail to Bandol which was downwind most of the way. wind was now gusting to 35, so we knew we had made the right choice. Arriving in Bandol just after mid day, we went alongside at the Capitanairre and had to wait until 2pm for them to return. Thankfully they found us a berth and we then set about mooring the boat, wind was gusting up to 45 knots at this stage, so mooring her was quite a challenge, however we got lots of help from the boats either side and we managed to get in without damage. The harbour master was a great hand and the bow moors to a chain which is in permanently in place. After a nice dinner ashore at a locals cafe, we retired for the evening only to be woken at 3am by a bang – the bow line had chafed through in the windy night. Managed to re-moor and go back to sleep. Looking at the weather forecast it appears we will probably be here for another night.

Mercier, Merci, Sante

Bright and early this morning, James was up and applying the signwriting to Mercier, first the Squadron Emblem, then the name and finally Sydney.  There were a few expletives, although most were muttered, so as not to scare the neighbours.

Today was a public holiday, so no boat business, we decided to revisit Aix en Provence. Arriving at lunchtime, we strolled through the colorful market without buying to get to a lovely brasserie for a meal. This market has homewares, mainly linen as well as women’s clothing and shoes.

After lunch the markets were closed but we were able to walk  around the old town and see a few shops open and look inside, many others were closed, but the people watching was fairly amazing.  Three young men walking around in white lab coats with painted formulas and pictures, singing and hooting and generally having a good time. Crowds of tourists and holiday makers filled the streets, which are mainly pedestrian thoroughfares.

As we were walking down a busy street full of pedestrians, I noticed a young girl about 3 years old.  Very confident and curious, Mademoiselle 3 was having a grand time.  We thought it was odd that she didn’t follow her Mother into a shop, but thought she was near other family.   A few blocks later on, we realised she was still beside us and we began to realise she was lost. Even a confident 3 year old shouldn’t be walking around Aix on her own.  So I said Ou est Maman? I went blank on my French and told her to come with me with hand gestures.  We retraced our steps and about two blocks back we see a lady running and looking frantic.   Mademoiselle trois, who gave a shout to her very pregnant mother, who burst into tears as soon saw little Ms 3 year old.

A happy reunion and also happy for us, because we were worried even if Mme 3 wasn’t.

We finished up in the Park at La Seyne Sur Mer for the Salon Espirit du Vin, which was an exposition of wines from the region, France, Alsace and Corsica.  We tasted several and bought a few for the Mercier cellar. They also had  lots of truffles, condiments and foods from the same regions.

All in all, even though it wasn’t a boat day it was very enjoyable.

Remember reading A Year in Provence? The chapter when they are trying to renovate and the materials are always coming the next day or the next…  We are experiencing our own bit of laissez-faire here because the safety pack didn’t make it.

Tomorrow is a holiday, so we are stuck in limbo until Friday.  Maybe we will take a jaunt up to Chateau neuf de Pape? And Aix en Provence will be close by. The wind makes the boat strain and dance to  St Vitus’ tune.

Tonight we will dream of sailing to Hobart, but at least we won’t be on the weather rail.

 

 

 

 

 

Starting out

Well we bought a boat – a near new Beneteau Oceanis 41 which is hull number 1 of this series of boat – it has had a fair amount of use as it was used in the brochure, and has been to 4 or 5 boat shows. Getting down to the basics, it is amazing how much is required to start getting a new boat equipped. As this was a demo boat there were a number of things which still needed to be finished before we can set sail. We have spent the last 4 days in a village called La Seyne Sur Mer near Toulon which is a bit industrial, but still lots of boats here. We have to take the boat on a 2 day journey to Palma to have a few final details finished. Even before this we need to add a pallet of safety equipment and then there was the radar which had not been installed. Simon from the Sunbird dealership, is being very supportive, proactive and has helped us move through the list and get some faults corrected.  Watching them put up the radar in some very wild winds was nerve wracking but the team of people putting it together were very professional and also helpful with a few other items like getting the Mp3 to run through the sound system.

We are naming her, Mercier, which was Grandfather Merrington’s first yacht and being a French name, seemed to fit. We considered  Bandol Rose, but we think there may be a few boats with that name and tradition won the day.

Speaking of Bandol Rosee, the local wines are very tasty and light. If we are running errands around lunch time and just have a mineral water, the waiters are terribly despondent and can’t understand how we can have our lunch without the necessary libation.

We are making progress – can’t wait for the sail to Palma.