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.

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.

 

The Best Laid Plans

Sadly, we are home again to put our dearest sailor to rest. Vale, Bill Merrington, who sailed most of his 98 years on Sydney Harbour and several oceans.

His first hello always seem to be about boats, sea breezes, racing and sails. His stories were of the glorious camaraderie and competition of ocean going family and friends. Bill ensured his family were all introduced to an elemental love of the sea, whether through racing or long weeks of camping on Cowan Creek on the Eventide.
Ms Lette says “The price of love, of course, is grief”.  That thought resonates with us today, but we remember there was so much love and laughter and because we will miss that, we are sad but we will always hold you dear to our hearts.  Bill, we will miss you, Wishing you fair winds and a following sea.

The Bucket List

When you are planning for a trip like this, there is so much to consider, where to go, what to see and how to get there.  We have a very open plan, inspired and informed by our Bucket list.  In the 80’s, we went through a series of five year plans.  Later we had a list of goals: personal, home and career; we have always had lists, especially shopping lists but now we rely on our Bucket List.

It’s the list of places we would like to visit, experiences of which to partake and adventures waiting in the wings for us.  The Bucket list is as much about the developing the plan as it is about savouring the experience.