28 April, 2007

Porto Colom

Dawn brought little wind and a smooth sea and we set sail for Cala Santanyi further north. Here we anchored alone in a inlet with a beach and tourist development around the hill tops. Again I set two anchors and adjusted the stern anchor to get the stern into an increasing swell entering the Cala. By nightfall the swell had risen and Malua was rock and rolling back and forth. It was not dangerous but sleep was impossible as Denny and I were tossed from side to side in our bunk. As the sun rose so did our anchor and we set sail for the calmer waters of a marina for a good sleep.

Porto Petro turned out to be rather small and full so we anchored in the bay and fell into a deep sleep. The following day we sailed north into a friendly marina at Porto Colom and berthed stern too at the marina wharf, surrounded by restaurants and overlooked by an old town with its white walled houses and red tiled roofs.

Cala Pi

The east beckoned and we up anchored at dawn to set sail across the southern part of Minorca to round the south eastern most cape of Point Salinas. While the sun was shining the wind was light and from the northeast so we tacked around the cape and northwards past the high desolate cliffs, destined for a secluded beautiful inlet called a Cala. These inlets may be large but frequently only a few boat lengths long with a width just sufficient to turn a vessel. One must anchor and then either drop a stern anchor or secure the vessel to the shore with a strong line. On entering Cala Pi we found another 40ft British yacht anchored at the head of the inlet but managed to turn at their bow where we dropped anchor. The skipper came over in his dinghy and offered to take out our stern anchor to restrict our swing. The water is crystal clear and one can see the bottom as well as your anchors securely embedded in the sand between the weed. We took the RIB ashore and scrambled along the cliff tops overlooking the Cala and Malua. As the sun set the wind dropped and the sea turned to glass and we slept the sleep of a contented traveller.

Riding the country side of Mallorca

After more than two weeks of grey skies and rain, the sun rose into a clear blue sky and with it so did our spirits. We were ready to explore the hinterland of the Port of Andraix and ride our bikes into the countryside and up into the mountains. We loaded our two mountain bikes into the nine foot RIB along with Denny, I and sustenance for the tour de Minorca. The bicycle paths in the area reflect the wealth of the local authority who must receive a substantial income from the tourist housing development. It was a pleasure to cycle on the red painted bicycle path up the valley towards the huge cathedral dominating the town of Andraix. On reaching the forecourt we found the building to be windowless and rather dull especially compared with the rose window of the Palma Cathedral. The town reflected the cathedral and we soon left to cycle towards the mountain range in the west. The bike paths soon ran out and we were left at the mercy of the narrow roads and the Spanish drivers who I must say give you a wide berth, so different to the Australian aggressive speedsters.

We crossed or rather pushed the bikes up a pass and descended into a sleepy little town set in a valley. The ochre coloured houses with their red tiled roofs were set round the town square with a church housing a marble statue brought by the Trappist monks in the 18th century. The French bread, local cheese and tomatoes put the push back into the peddles and we crossed the mountains for a speedy down hill glide back to the port. Like many of the locals we took up a position in one of the many restaurants overlooking the bay and enjoyed a chilled beer to watch the sun set into the sea.

20 April, 2007

Malua in Balearics

Palma de Mallorca has been the crossroads of the western Mediterranean since man sailed the seas. We visited the Museu de Mallorca and saw pots and tools dating back before 1000 BC. Also in the museum are a few bronze statuettes of warrior from the 4 century BC along side Arab, moor and Christian relicts. The town of Palma is dominated by the Cathedral built in the 15 century on top of an Arab mosque. The sun sines through the giant rose window right into the main building. The exterior is of local sand stone with high pinnacles which were added during the 19 C along with Antoni Gaudi’s iron work and canopy over the main alter. Quite extraordinary. Adjacent to the Cathedral is the old town with its narrow streets, three story buildings and beautiful doors and windows. We strolled through this old quarter taking pictures and taking in the atmosphere. Further uptown there are shops and boutiques to satisfy the massive tourist demand. The number of people on the street has increased dramatically since we arrived before Easter. It must be very crowded in the summer.

After unloading Malua we moored in a marina overlooked by the Cathedral and set about getting her ship shape and Bristol. Not an easy task as the crane which loaded and off loaded Malua dropped small pieces of rust on to the deck and topside. These have now rusted and left brown marks. When the weather improves I will set about removing the rust and shining the topsides but till them we have some sailing to do.

We left Palma and sailed south west along the coast. This part of the Balearics is very developed with German and British tourist, even this early in the season crowding the sidewalks. Unfortunately the weather has been cold and wet since we arrived in Palma so the sun has not brought them out onto the beaches.

Our first anchorage was at Las Illetas – a small bay behind three islands. It is close enough for the day trippers to come from Palme when it is crowded but in the evening we had it to ourselves. The following day we sailed south into a cove dominated by three large square holes in the rock face. The pilot indicate these are Phoenician tombs cut out of the rock. They are large and deep 40 *40m into the cliff face and defiantly carved from the sandstone. I am not convinced that the final size was created by the Phoenicians but they are impressive and makes one wonder who came this way back in the mist of time.

Further westwards we stopped at Puerto de Santa Ponsa which must be the most beautiful marina in the world. The entrance is narrow but it opens out into a 522 berth marina surrounded by overlooking hills and cliffs. The facilities are great right up to a travel lift at the far end of the valley. We chose not to enter but anchor out for two nights. It rained day and night the entire time we spent in the anchorage. We had to move just to stay sane and sailed/motored into the port of Andraitx. This is a fishing and yacht harbour. The fishing boat are similar to those in Ulladulla but more closed deck to protect the crew from the bitterly cold wind. The crew look the same the world over.

We anchored just outside the harbour in a quit spot with good holding so we were able to go ashore and explore but that story will have to wait.

09 April, 2007

Malua has arrived in the MED

On Thursday before Easter the Erasmusgracht docked in Palma - the sailing capital of the wetern Med. There were ten yachts on the deck along with 65 containers full of onions destine for Tesco in the UK. After some raised voices the British load master was able to direct the local Spanish stevedors how to rig the slings to lift the yachts off the ship. There were some tense moments when the two cranes lifted the 65 ton Oyster off the deck and attempted to move it over the side. They did not move in harmony and one of the slings started to move forward. The owner just stood and looked with wide eyes as it slowly moved over the side in to the water.
By the time they were ready to lift Malua it was well into siesta time so they thought they could place the slings over the impeller through hull..... think again mate this Aussie was having noting of that. They moved the slings and started again. Compared to the other lift it was easy and we were in the water and steaming towards the marina in down town Palma.
This is such a yachting centre. Just when you think you have seen the largest yacht along comes another which eclipses it by 10 or more meters! They are just huge.
I started the task of getting the yacht ready to put to sea. All the halyards and lines had to be run again. It was a task but eased by the thin line I had left when they were removed. The water tanks have been filled, the fuel full and the batteries fully charged.
We set off to provision the food from the local supermarket. We filled two supermarket rollies and rolled them down the streets of Palma on the way to the Marina which in on the waterfont at the edge of the city overlooked by the great cathedral.
In a day or two Malua will be ship shape and Bristol and we will be able to go to sea. Oh for the wind in the sails and the motion of the sea under our keel.