Monday, 7 August 2017

Anchor Watch in Paradise

For the first time in our sailing careers, Patrick and I sat out in the cockpit on “anchor watch” as the wind began gusting violently at 1 a.m. in Cala Calobra at the mouth of the Torrent de Pareis in northwest Mallorca. As we went out to survey the situation we saw that the other 10-15 boats sharing the cove all had at least 1 person in the cockpit or on the bow, checking the anchor and position relative to their neighbors. Within 15 minutes, 3 large yachts hauled up anchor and left. (To do what? Circle slowly offshore waiting for daybreak?)

To be fair, larger boats are at a disadvantage in these situations. They have a larger surface area above the water line and get pushed around by the wind more strongly than smaller boats. Their weight also means that the strain on the anchor and chain are greater. We didn’t think the situation justified leaving and we seemed to be holding quite well with our anchor in sand at 11 meters depth with 40 meters of chain and 12 meters of rode out (we would have liked to put out more but we were limited by our nearest neighbors.)

As we approached our nearest neighbor, a small 8 meter French boat, Patrick called out to the young skipper inspecting his anchor and asked how things were going. He said he’d had better nights. We asked how much chain he had out and he replied “25 meters + 10 meters of rode” but I was thinking of adding more. Yikes !! We suggested that MORE would be a good idea and informed him that we had 55 meters out. He added more rode and we felt much more comfortable for all concerned.

Comfort is such a relative word, though. At 3 a.m., we reached an all-time record: 34 degrees C / 93 F with only 25% humidity in the air, blowing past us in short-lived gusts up to 30 or 40 knots. The winds were from the southeast, and as we were on the northwest of the island, the wind picked up the heat from the sand and rock along the full length of the island before hitting us. It was like being blasted by a powerful hair-dryer. We could feel ourselves desiccating, turning into raisins. We kept dousing ourselves with water. The boat was dusted with fine red sand blowing off the island. Our eyes stung. Metal objects on the boat were hot to the touch. I tried sleeping in a wet towel.

As the morning progressed, the temperatures dipped down to a more manageable 31 C / 88 F. The weather forecast announced a high of 37 C / 100 F for the day. I enjoy hot temps in the day when I’m near water and can swim to cool off, but eating and sleeping become very problematic in these conditions.

The next day, we moved to Cala San Vicente and had the same phenomenon again: southerly blasts during the night with temperatures climbing and humidity descending. This time, however, we had the cove to ourselves and only 5 meters of water so we had fewer worries than in the deep and crowded Calobra.

We were told that the "torrent" is usually just behind this pool...when there's water.

Patrick let out a little cry of victory when I announced that this situation makes me nostalgic for Brittany!   
Posted on Monday, August 07, 2017 | Categories:

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Soller and Mallorcan Scenery

We left Sa Foradada with a mixture of regret and relief as we headed up the coast for 5 days in the port of Soller.  Port stops are, in general, hot (ports are designed to protect from wind and the water quality is such that you do NOT want to go swimming anywhere near the port) and noisy (close-packed neighbors.)  One such neighbor got a bit too close as he pulled in and his fishing pole support gouged out a thumb-sized chunk of our gelcoat.  As I was mentally preparing a blog post about the steps to take to make an insurance claim for such an event, the skipper of the offending boat asked if we could just arrange things between ourselves without contacting the insurance company.  He gave us 100 Euros in cash and we invited him on board for a beer.  (Turns out he was a fascinating person.)  But now we have another repair to do and it's not easy to reach.  We will probably just do a quick filler job and wait until we pull the boat from the water in Corsica to make it pretty.

We really enjoyed the port of Soller and the town of Soller.  We took the wooden train to Soller town and later took the longer one down to Palma for the day.  We also took a side trip to the Alfabia gardens, once the home of one of the Moorish lords from the 1200s, taken over by the Spanish royals after the Christian conquest. The area gives a good idea of what the interior of Mallorca looks like, away from the main tourist tracks and beach scenes.

Almohad ceiling, 1170.

Posted on Saturday, August 05, 2017 | Categories: