The town that the horse festival was in is called Migjorn which is in Menorca. Yes, we made it to Menorca. The horse festival was awesome!! At first it was boring because all we were doing was sitting around while mom and dad were drinking beer they got from a bar right next to us. Then we started walking around.
We saw a horse with it’s rider on it. The horses were beautiful. They were all ready and excited so they were drooling and stepping so proudly. Then we kept walking and I got a homemade shirt with a decked-out horse on it. Here I’ll show you…
All the horses had mirrors on them. If you saw the whole body it would show a heart, star, or circle where the heart is. We all touched the hearts and saw people run in front of horses rearing up it was crowded but awesome!!! There was a band playing in the background too. I only knew that one of the riders was the priest.
Now the horse riding. So first we went to a café and had croissants or toast. Then we called the Taxis. The first one came and dad, Che, and I got in we told him to go to Menorca horse riding. We ended up in the country which was not the right place. Although they had a lot of horses. They had a dog which was a german shepherd. He seemed happy to see us. Then we went to the back of the place and there were two people there and one of them helped us get a taxi and over to Menorca horse riding!
Now the horse riding… so when we got there we met Sara who spoke English like Wendy. (There, now you’re even more famous in my blog Wendy) Then we met our horses!!! Dad’s was Tetan, Che’s was arrow, Quinn’s was symphony, Mom’s was something that meant sand in Spanish, and mine was Orgu which was short for something that meant proud in Spanish. Once we got on we started going I got out without help but getting in the line was harder. Ounce we started going then dad started trailing behind because Tetan knew dad couldn’t stop him from eating. It went like that the whole time well until we headed back. At one-point dad said he was going to rename the horse “ketchup”. Bad idea, Tetan started neighing and he even back kicked, thankfully he was in the back. After the picture we started heading back. Once I got a black berry I was heading over to the blackberry bushes. They were delicious!!!! So sweet and I managed to score a few too.
I had never experienced what is was like to ride a horse. But as soon as I did, I loved it. Before all this happened, Dad, Gherty, and I were trying to get a cab to the horseback riding place. Soon we found a taxi, and the taxi driver took us to the horseback riding. The place was a plain little house and a lot of stables. It looked pretty deserted, but there were tons of horses.
We were going to look if the owner was around and we ran into a German Shepard. He looked pretty nice, so Gherty and I touched him. After we did, we passed some cool looking horses. One had a white line down its face; the other one was jet black! Then there was what sounded like a wheel barrel. It turned out there was a man wearing riding clothes and he was rolling a wheel barrel full of hay. We said, “hello,” and he just said, “hi,” and walked off.
Dad was looking for Mom and Quinn but did not see them anywhere. We finally decided to go ask the people if this is the right place. There was a woman with the guy, and they were helping a sick horse. The horse was huge and black. The man spoke little English, but the woman spoke some English. So, after we told them that we might have gone to the wrong place, they called a taxi. We hopped right in. So, this time we were going to the right place and we saw Mom and Quinn. We stopped and we walked to the horses’ stable. So that we don’t take long with this blog, my horse’s name was Arrow, and he did know how to stay on track. Dad’s horse was really funny, since he was always hungry. The horses’ times to eat from their point of view, are breakfast, brunch, lunch, snack, snack, snack, afternoon snack, dinner, bedtime snack, and midnight snack. After we got back, we dismounted and went to eat OUR lunch. This is the end of the blog. So bye!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Yesterday we went Horseback-riding. It was fun. My horse’s name was Symphony. To get there we had to go in 2 taxis. (That is the rule in the ballearic islands.) So, Dad, Gherty, and Che went in 1, and Mom and I went in the other.
Once Mom and I got there dad, Gherty, and Che were not there. (they should have been there because they left before us.) Eventually we were able to flag their taxi down and get them. Apparently, they ended up in the wrong place.
So, we had an hour of Horseback-riding. It was fun.
I was mostly in front with someone leading my horse always. Che and Gherty were also being led. On the way back, everyone but me had wild blackberries. (they were growing along the way.) so long story short it was great. We are signing up for Horseback-riding lessons.
I awoke today in flat calm Porto Colom to Kelly sneaking about, engine running, making last minute preparations to slip the mooring lines and cast off. She had Madame Geneva all set and said, “I got this”. I lurched out of bed to see that she did, so she finished her routine, cast off the remaining bow line, and motored out of the Cala into the Med noting she had 64 degrees magnetic to the southern tip of Menorca all figured. Adios Mallorca! It’s been fun. Now onto adventure next. North by east over a hazy morning horizon.
We were delayed back in Palma because apparently there was a large hefty bag of money that wasn’t going to spend itself. So, with a new turbo charger installed on the Diesel, new rings and prop cone on the sail drive and 840 watts of solar (ohhhh yeah) on our newly built (and rebuilt) tower we had to wait a heavy week before heading out. So to make the most of it we dove deep into the bits of Mallorca we had left to see.
Family bus rides and transfers in Spain are fun. Maybe not when you’re 8, or 10, or 11.75 but they are. So much to see when you leave the coast and such large, modern picture windows to see it through if only you weren’t glued to whatever saga the children were reading at that moment. Hell, if nothing else we have children who are avid readers if not soaking up the world. I think there’s some credence to the theory of osmosis though.
We checked out Valldemossa in the mountains. It’s a beautiful town with the summer palace of King Santo something-or-other where Chopin and Georges Sand overwintered in a monestary in 1838-1839 and wrote some of the most iconic romantic piano music ever. There’s a great museum in the monkery and we stood in the cell with the piano, Chopin’s work softly playing and his hand written sheets scattered about under glass. My arm hairs stood up and I was once again the recipient of a lump in the throat, “how profound the highest expression of man”, moment. Cathedrals, chiaroscuro oil paintings, Picasso, Miro, art nouveau ornament, Gaudi’s melting architecture. Europe continues to both crush and exalt me. Just what I am needing at this particular moment in time. We bought tickets to a “show” in the palace where we got to watch a pianist play selections of Chopins work from memory and Quinn fall onto the chair next to him moaning “when will this beeee ovvverrre?”. Only the pianist was paid for this performance. The frescoed cherubs adorning the elaborate crown mouldings were not impressed.
A few more days tied up along a stone wall in the STP shipyard baking in the heat trying to occupy the children with rollerblading and various wheeled distractions while highly skilled and polite Spanish interlopers dug, banged and sweat in our boat.
We had a truly special moment last Friday when we slid off the quay for a couple hours outside Palma Harbour to take part in a final worldwide send off for Kelly’s brother Joe. After his passing this spring it became more and more clear to me just what he meant to the free spirited surfing communities he had lived with in Ocean City, New Jersey, San Diego and the North Shore of Ouahu. OC dedicated a perpetual spirit award to their surf contest in his name and simultaneous paddle out ceremonies took place at dawn in Hawaii, breakfast in Dago, noon in OC and 6 pm in Palma. Joey is with us on this trip too and he was ceremonially sprinkled lovingly from the transom of Madame Geneva by our family as we sailed 263 degrees magnetic directly towards Ouahu some 8500 miles away. We saved some last ashes to commit to the waves at the exact halfway point on our transatlantic crossing. I think Joey would like that.
Once free from the shipyard we bid our friends a dry eyed adios and headed east close reaching with the code zero at 6-7 knots in 8-10 knots of breeze to Porto Colom for one last stop in Mallorca for as we had circumnavigated the island and seen her interior we had yet to venture underground! Oh, wait, we did take a vintage wooden train ride, more than 3 kilometers of which was through tunnels….whatever. The Caves of Drac! Awesome, magnificent, spectacular!! How do you say “please get me a cattle prod, a can of wasp spray, a stink bomb, ANYTHING to get this German lady to stop bumping me and coughing in my hair!!!”?”” It was jam packed and life aboard a boat with your family, although cramped, is a life and proximity you have chosen. I wouldn’t diagnose it as a panic attack so much as a “if the lights go out I’m eating the first tourist that smells like ice cream” feeling. Time for some offshore.
Flat calm and steaming at eight knots should have us in Menorca mid afternoon though from my vantage point behind the helm it’s understandable how my predecessors navigating this ancient sea expected to fall off the edge.
Menorca? It’s just east of Mallorca. Still Spain. Our stopover on the way to Sardinia. Other facts? I have few. We’ll just have to see when we get there.
2 days ago, we were at an anchorage. In the morning we just got up and started to go to Sant Elmo, but it was jam packed, so we went to go to another anchorage. When we got there, we went swimming. After swimming we dried off and read. While we were reading Dad thought it would be great idea to go snorkel in a cave by our boat. We went to a beach made of rocks. I didn’t want to go snorkeling, so I stayed at the rocky beach with Che. I climbed on the big rocks while Che snorkeled right by the beach. We had a lot of fun. Once Dad, Mom, and Gherty came back we looked for cool rocks. Che found one that looked like it had a smiley face because of the lines of quartz in it. A little later we found out that it had Fool’s Gold in it too. Anyway, Che and I wanted to get our nets from the boat to go net-fishing in the tidepools. So, Dad got in the dinghy and got 3 nets and a bucket from Madame Geneva. When he came back Gherty, Che, and I net-fished.
Then Dad went back to the boat in the dinghy while we were
back at the beach. Back at the tidepools there were what I think are Tiger shrimp, small fish that looked like regular boring minnows, bigger fish, and some weird fish that kind of looked like white tadpoles. A few hours later we had caught about 7 of the shrimp that looked like Tiger shrimp. By the way the other
creatures were to fast to catch.
A little bit later Che dumped them out. We started to only
catch big shrimp. We had caught 3 of them when Dad pulled up urgently in the dinghy.
He said we had to leave and
when I asked him why he said he
would tell me in the dinghy. When we got in the dinghy he
said we had to go because the anchorage was filling up. So, we sailed to Sant Elmo. When we were anchoring a harbor, captain told us that we could not anchor here. So, we moored there. At night it was super rolly so Dad, Che, and I were up at 2:30 AM. I fell asleep by looking up at the stars. Apparently, Che fell asleep too, but Dad couldn’t fall asleep (I learned this later).
Justin first saw the juvenile seagull floating nearby Madame Geneva. We were anchored outside the seawall of Port de Alcudia, having picked up our friend the evening before. Suzanne and I had already taken a swim. The sun was still low and held the water captive with a fine sparkle of light, interrupted only by the wake of a passing ferry or aggressive motor boat. Justin noted a slight shimmer by its neck, and cancelling out all the other visual noise, he saw the hook and the line. Justin’s attention to detail is often startling. I recognize this comes from a gal who could be leaning on the tower of Pisa before becoming aware of the bell tower, but he has an ability exceedingly rare.
Suzanne and Justin set about the rescue. My immediate response was that it cannot be done. How do you coax a wild bird to come to you? Is it really going to just sit there while you get out the scissors and set about freeing it? But as Justin said, “We have to try.” Justin called for crackers and a beach towel. They lured the young spotted gull over with the food and then proceeded to drop the towel off the transom. The brilliant plan failed at first but the bird came back for more crackers. Voila! We now had a patient.
I grabbed the sharp scissors from the sewing kit. The hook was not set but the line was well twisted and imbedded around the neck of the growing gull. Suzanne fed the frightened bird while Justin held the towel tightly about its body and wings, leaving only the head and neck exposed. I documented and kept up a general onslaught of enthusiasm. At last, the line was unwound. We called up the children and then released the gull. How thrilling to watch as she stayed close by to dip her neck repeatedly and realigned her feathers. And how incredibly hair-raising to see as she shook off her wings and set off in flight.
Justin doesn’t like to think of himself as a hero, but he is.
To reach Alcudia, we sailed around the southern side of Mallorca. We had a few days after leaving Palma before meeting up with Suzanne and figured we would simply go south and see what there was. We were close hauled, in fifteen to twenty knots of breeze with super small rollers. The sailing was lovely. After days of sitting on the hot docks, just feeling the wind on the face was enough for grinning. We found ourselves on the opposite tack of a sailboat roughly our size and commenced a race. Although I am not confident that they were aware they were racing, we won.
Laguna de Salobra, twenty-five miles southeast of Palma, lay stretched long and lean. Its white sandy anchorage was so vast that neighbors would need to launch a dinghy to borrow some sugar (lately, it seems you only need lean out and knock on a hull so tight the harbor). We dropped the anchor and hooked up immediately. We swam off the boat and had dinner onboard. Tuesday morning, we set out again but with the wind on the nose, we only put out a jib and motorsailed around the southernmost point.
The angle left us no option but to motor along great caves and long stretches of craggy but flatter coastline. We thought of stopping but choose to run up the way toward Ratjada. The rolly anchorage off the beach pitched the boat rather wildly and we opted not to attempt the anchor. The next bay, Cala Guya, looked much better even if a bit more crowded. The day settled quickly though and the speedboats left and we had an extremely quiet easy night. We left early enough in the morning to make it to Alcudia by 10:30 and prepared Madame Geneva for Suzanne’s arrival.
The kids were getting a bit rambunctious and Gherty nearly broke our hearts with a tearful plea for friends, that speak English. Justin and I sat in the cockpit and saw what we hoped was a British flag. We spied. We watched a girl of Gherty’s age on a paddleboard with her mother. “Gherty!” we called. She watched too and got the courage to dinghy over and see. The Scottish family, who kept their boat in Alcudia, were leaving that evening but delighted to play for the day. Kayak surfing, splashing about in the water, and a wonderful lunch at the café just off the anchorage gave us a great introduction to the area and the people who made our acquaintance. Without going into the details, there is always more that lies beneath the surface. Ask the questions, encourage the curiosity and know that there is more to learn by exploration of both land and humanity to know there are many ways to live this life.
The days with Suzanne were fantastic. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate for sailing but we motored our way up to Port de Soller over that week. We found ourselves exploring old cities, eating and drinking well, shopping about, swimming, climbing, and yes, saving birds. The hike from Port de Pollenca to Cala Boquer was truly amazing. We walked through iron gates that kept dogs away from goats, up trails through towering rocks, cacti and fragrant rosemary. Old stone walls were cut into huge cliffs. Paths diverged and emerged, some winding well up the mountainside, where goats stood watch, bleating mournfully. The kids all climbed the rocks, well above my comfort zone. The faces were rough and perfect for climbing, less so for slipping but luckily that did not happen. And when the heat rose and the sweat soaked the backs of all, we felt the cool breeze and saw the glimpses of the bay that lay low down.
I took Suzanne through Soller by the old tram and train to Palma. She was flying back to Barcelona on Friday morning so we managed a hotel reservation for Thursday night. Somehow, through great fortune we found ourselves staying in an old stone house right next the Cathedral. The elegance and care in these buildings (two houses merged into one hotel), with original artwork, leaded windows, 400-year-old floors and an arched cave for the indoor pool and spa, were only matched by that of its staff. The concierge, from Romania, spoke seven languages. And while I cannot speak for the French, the Spanish and the German into which he fluently switched, as various guests popped in and out of our conversation, I can say that his English was witty and fun. And as I told him, borrowing from The Philadelphia Story, “You have untold depths.”
And as we return to the life on water, this family of five, that is our mission. We shall look for those places and those people that not all can see. And in seeing, it is our honor to tell what we can so those who cannot, now in fact can.
Discipline is both the necessity and the curse of creativity. Without the practiced pattern of holding yourself to order, the pen slips further from the page and so no voice is heard; and yet with the diligence and dedication to a daily expression, the art may fall flat. That is a wordy way of saying, “I have been remiss.”
We stopped in Andratx, a few miles east of Sant Elmo, on our return to Palma. We were hot. Justin was ready to move, even if only a bit. And I really suspect the kids didn’t realize we brought up the anchor until the view changed in the ports below, while we were motoring just off the coast. What wind we had was on the nose so the iron genoa was our source of any speed. We pulled into the harbor and noted there was no anchorage but only moorings. Through luck and general shifting of the planets, we managed to secure the only “just now” free one.
One of the big differences for us here in the Mediterranean, aside from the language, the time change, and being pretty much the only American boat, has been the absence of a cruising guide. The Caribbean spoils you. The waves and wind may kick your bottom two days shy of Tuesday but when you pull into a harbor or even a new country, you know much of what you are getting. You have Chris Doyle to tell you what is safe, who is who, and what is what. And while that is all a guide, and you have your own approach and discretion, there is a lot of comfort in preparing based on others’ experiences. Obviously, the Mediterranean is traveled but it is simply not documented from the cruising perspective as is the Caribbean.
Andratx proved to be a lovely spot. We stayed two nights and were delighted to find good food and the World Cup (an unfortunate Spanish loss to Russia). The kids have been exercising more and more of their independence and staying on board while we pop into a café with a view on the boat and Justin’s cell phone at their ready should they need it. When giving them the what to do speech (I am big on speeches apparently), they wanted to know if someone boarded the boat should they escape by kayak. They were not as interested in that answer as they were in the how many scoops of ice cream can they have if they open and latch the freezer properly.
We set off back to Palma early last Monday morning to have solar panels and a frame installed on Madame Geneva. When we left Palma, we had the solar panels and the frame but not the regulator to connect the power to our bank of batteries. We also managed to find the source of the fresh water that had been doing its damnedest to sink the boat but that turned out to be a cracked water heater tank. In a world of 220, our 110 water heater is not easily replaced but we did manage to bypass the heater to stop MG from sinking and to increase the unlikelihood the kids would willing give in to a shower. “Come on, guys, it’s refreshing!”
Our time in Palma was further excited by the impending arrival of our friend, Suzanne. Still a week away, but tickets booked, she became the recipient of a series of texts with a plea for bringing some items over. I admit I got a little excited when I asked that she bring two Rip Stiks and a scooter but all of the ports in Mallorca have perfectly flat, long quays. The kids are in need of getting out some energy that doesn’t involve us using euphemisms for hike, hill, or frankly exercise. She was gracious in her refusal (I didn’t realize there were that many acronyms for profanity!).
We found a great shop called Roll and Roll, where Gherty and Quinn could get rollerblades (we had no luck finding Rip Stiks) and Che could get a scooter. Justin was still missing out on a good game of Rip Stik tag but all and all, everyone was happy. I was even thinking I should get some rollerblades but the very nice (seriously) saleslady said, “Maybe you should rent?”
More searches over the next few days had me on some rather long, hot walks about town. Earlier in the journey, we found ourselves at a Chinese restaurant for lunch and they had the Simpsons in Spanish on television. Our kids gravitated to the animation. Justin and I enjoyed a bit of quiet while they watched, transfixed…and we decided to get some Simpsons in Spanish. I tried to google it to order ahead of Suzanne’s arrival. And in the end, I found a DVD store well into the city that sold “Los Simpsons”. I strapped on my backpack and came home with a bag full of groceries, a couple of pots (also something I was seeking) and quite a few episodes of the Simpsons. Recommence the language education!
Yet there was one more thing to get in Palma. To play the DVDs, we needed to run the generator as none of the laptops onboard had players. While I love doing a load of laundry and running some AC, I also kind of like to run a bit more cleanly and not require that we burn diesel just to teach the kids Spanish through osmosis. We needed an external, USB powered DVD player. Have you ever tried to find an external DVD drive in a foreign city? Do people even really use DVDs anymore?
I set out on Saturday morning while the kids attended a rollerblading clinic. I walked everywhere. Each potential store was oddly closed (even though the hours posted said otherwise). From one end of town to the other, I sought out an antiquated technology in hopes of a simple solution to the boundaries our kids face when wanting to meet other kids. They were working on their Spanish, practicing daily with Babbel, asking for help at stores and restaurants but you typically don’t engage kids your own age by asking them where the bathroom is.
Did I mention it was hot? I stopped at a local express grocery to see if they had something (there is typically a very odd collection of fruit, meats, milk, wine, and electronics). I left with wine. I had a shoulder bag and in that bag, it went. At long last, I found what I thought to be my best bet. I was running short on time. We wanted to leave the dock and head to an anchorage around noon. I found a DVD and gaming store with electronics in the window. Suffice to say, they did not have an external DVD drive “in stock” but the kind salesman walked me out and pointed at a pawn shop.
What a find! I walk in and not one, not two, but three Rip Stiks! And a pair of rollerblades in my size. And an external DVD player. I left the shop, with my arms full and the idea that I could rollerblade back to the marina. The ride started flat. I knew I was on a hill and that the marina lay down by the sea, but it was flat to start. My idea was to ride a bit, walk down the hill, and then ride again back along the quay. It was rather a brilliant plan. And with all brilliant plans, there was just a tiny inherent flaw.
I strapped on the blades and shifted about my baggage so that my shoulder bag with the wine was a ‘backpack’ and my grocery bag held one Rip Stik and I carried the other two in my hands. I was doing well. I made it a few blocks before the decline of the road made for a quicker ride than I was ready for. I started to get nervous. I tried putting my knees together to break. I couldn’t really sit back because if I fell on the wine, well the wine would break. I opted for a slow turn onto another road to decrease my speed…except that ended up being a proper decline. I abandoned the Rip Stiks and just started yelling (in English), “I cannot break! I cannot break!” Finally, in my last desperate move, I slide out to the side, saving the wine, and seriously bruising my hip. I removed the rollerblades, picked up the Rip Stiks and limped my way back.
I will say, without doubt, that everyone was happy with the booty. And now, I know where the pawn shop is.
We have been off the grid for another month now. We’ve made fresh water from sea water nearly every night to drink, shower and wash dishes. We’ve generated our own power, grilled our food and entertained ourselves over family Yahtzee, backgammon, books on tape and movies. Laundry gets washed aboard and wet swimsuits and towels hang from the lifelines with clothespins to air dry. We’re a close family. Really, really close. Yep, it can get tight in here but that’s one of the reasons we do it. I say when asked “the fuse is lit and we only get this time with these children so let’s not squander it”. As I write this in the cockpit in Puerto Andratx, Mallorca, I could easily take 3 big steps in any direction on board and grab one of my children for a hug (which thankfully I will still willingly get). Quinn literally is hanging from the bimini over my shoulder right now asking me what I’m doing. Che’s nose is buried in his e-book on the settee across the cockpit and Gherty has climbed back into her berth after French toast to read directly under me. Probably 3 feet below me as I write.
It’s a rare opportunity to be this close…for years now, with these most important people as they grow and we explore together. We have argued about big things and the minutia of minute to minute tedium. I have reminded Kelly and Kelly reminds me that this is no different than at home except that we get to see this world from an odd angle…
Kelly is lecturing Che in her patient “to be clear….so I don’t have to say this again later although history has shown that i will and it makes my head hurt” signature style about his prospects for having free time on his laptop today based on his indiscretions yesterday. You know, normal parent stuff- stuffed into 350 square feet in a foreign country 24/7.
I’m constantly amazed at Kelly’s ability to do so many things at once. And incredibly well. She has been managing a project back home that would drive others to drink if it was their only task. She’s been working out several large situations back home via conference calls that HAVE driven people to drink….at anchor, 6 hours ahead, in a bikini. She has made sure our crew has sunblock on, dry towels, full water bottles and still has managed to buy a stylish Spanish hat, fancy European shoes and climb onto the quay from the dinghy on hands ands and knees (with incredible grace) for a family dinner at a waterside Italian restaurant al fresco. She orders an Aperol Spritz in passable (ok, awkward) Spanish, overorders european delights to be sure not to miss anything and then ENJOYS watching World Cup futbol under an umbrella over vino tinto (Catalan for “dark red wine”-by far her most fluent Spanish).
OK. Now I’m just boasting. But, seriously, a 4 mile hike up Dragonera in stifling heat to amazing views and literally thousands of unafraid lizards climbing all over us with unending enthusiasm and encouragement for hot complaining kids wilting in the heat yesterday. She picks up our first mooring ball expertly breaking our streak of anchoring for weeks (which she goes masterfully as well). She gets dressed to European standards, dinghies into a new town and drags 3 exhausted children to eat bolognaise.
Kelly has given me everything. As the marina pilot said yesterday when we stumbled into Andratx to find the only available mooring out of hundreds on a busy high season Saturday, “Yoo a Lookie man”.
I love her more than words can say. For now this trite blog post will have to suffice since keeping this boat upright is my other offering and floating serenely at anchor in the Med has proven thus far to leave me in awe of my most favorite woman. There’s no point in trying to match her brilliance. I’ll just have to wait for our next scary passage at sea to feel life sized again.
Easy to climb into the imagination of the many who came before when the land erupts poetically and the sea whispers and bangs. Caves stealthily cut back from initial view and faces carved of stone seem simply to be frozen tales where the gods were put to sleep. Patterns of climbing green grazing grounds are etched and brushed over the landscape, lorded over by peaks clouded in mist. And that is just the sail.
The stretch between Sa Dragonera and Puerto de Soller contains so much to draw out the mind. Practically, how did they build THAT, THERE, and WHEN?! Fantastically, thoughts move along the storied history of cultures that traveled along the same water for so many years. And I am sure at some point, Justin and I will be able to convince the kids to put down their books and take a look.
Puerto de Soller captured us for several days. We managed to catch an evening of beach bonfires and coordinated Mallorcan dancing in the square during the celebration of Sant Joan. With Madame Geneva anchored close to shore, we dinghied into the beach and watched as the old and young, rich and poor, tattooed and pearled raised opposing arms and came together and apart. So tantalizing was their dance, with only the final dance showing any signs of touch, that the relief came when switching partners.
We decided to pop out for a couple of days to Sa Foradada, a bay nearby that interested Justin because of the eye in the rock. The large cliff lifted high and sharply, penetrated by a single hole that from the bay offered a keen blue eye looking back at you. The water was so clear that when I dropped the anchor in seventy feet, I saw it hit the sand. We ended up moving to a fifty-five foot anchorage when a day boat left. Kayaks out, the kids took to the rocky and steep shore.
Below Madame Geneva was weed and sand, but when we took Clover, our dinghy, about, the vast but clear depth showed large boulders. Purple jellyfish were everywhere. When the kids expressed concern of an attack, Justin simply said, “It’s a jelly fish. It’s basically a plant.” And then later, “Just stay in front of it. Don’t get behind it.”
I kayaked out along the shore. The bay curved like an excited backwards C, tight at the top then enthusiastically elongated at the end. Toward the top was the Blue Eye of the cliff. In the belly of the C, where Madame Geneva was, lapping waves drawn to the jutting rocks seem to be captured, swept into a mysterious hole with low, loud thwump. A sound made only by occupying the void.
As dusk slowly settled, the kids and I were up in the cockpit. Beds were made, screens were put up. The kids would camp outside on the boat tonight. The only sound was the echoing shout of one of our kids. Occasionally a boat would go past the bay along the coast and cause a delayed soft swell rolling Madame Geneva, and again those waves would gently slap the rocks. From nowhere, a long cresting wave perpendicular to the shore appeared followed by large swell to Madame Geneva’s beam. “Justin, Justin!” I yelled. He came up from below, not seeing the crest but seeing the bizarre waves coming at us. The kids were freaked. I was freaked. Something created that wave. Something big. Justin blew it off, telling the kids that it was just the wake of a boat. Nite nite.
Later, when it was just Justin and I, he said, “What was that???!”
When we left Palma, you could’ve skipped a stone. So still was the water. We dropped the bow mooring lines well ahead of the stern/dock lines, not because we now had a functioning bow thruster but simply because it was that calm. We bid adieu to our Russian neighbor, unfazed by our squashing fenders as our boats rubbed beam, and we made our exit. Watching the city diminish in size but not impression, we loved that we would be returning.
Our boat issues (there are always issues, whether old boat or new) were seemingly electrical this go around. Basically, our American electric was not compatible with the European shore power. “Why didn’t you think of that BEFORE you left for Europe?” you ask. We asked. We searched. We spoke to quite a few on this side and that of the pond, but the answers were vague and expensive. One electrician told us that you just need a blue cord. Another told us you must pay about $12,000 and buy a custom made, extremely large, dirty and loud converter/transformer that will need to be rolled out to the dock (and somehow stored on board while not at dock) to plug in. The short of it is that you can step the voltage (110 to 220) but changing the frequency involves dynamics that are borderline political.
So we are going without shore power. Simple, right? Well…here’s the kick. Our forward batteries (bow thruster, windlass for the anchor) will only charge on AC (so shore power or generator). With Med mooring docking, we are a bit mindful of running the generator for extended periods of time and thus have not run it sufficiently to charge the batteries (thus the bow thruster, and later the windlass, not working). And of course, having Madame Geneva off the grid for as long as we have had has led to a rather steep decline in charge. The electrician took the batteries off for a bit of a spa treatment (read charging) and we were ready to go!
We have decided that increasing our solar is both practical and frankly necessary. At the least, the panels will create trickle charge to the batteries and remove our constant diligence and concern governing the starting of the engine or the generator in order to keep our house bank happy. And so we will be returning to Palma the first week of July for the install of some stainless and solar.
So we motored along north and east in the still, calm water. A lovely, easy cruise along the resorts and shores of Mallorca. And then we seemingly stopped moving forward. We break down the problem. We remain calm about it. It isn’t like we can’t see land, and it certainly isn’t like we have the weather fiercely against us. But without wind, we have no sail option. With no propulsion, we do have concern of current pushing us ashore (and not in a beachy inconvenient kind of way), but we are not in danger. Justin figures the issue is either the transmission or the propeller. Eventually we work that a fishing line wrapped the propeller and we manage to unwrap that without having to dive. We were prepared to head to anchor if necessary, but we needn’t.
Wind rose in our favor about Punta Na Foradada. Up the main! Out the jib!! And we were sailing in the Mediterranean! Close hauled, seven to eight knots, Madame Geneva made her way. How quickly we fell into the sail. The scope of the coast changed quickly to a more ragged and steep climb, and the water was a deep and yet bright blue. Cue the dolphin! A very large male bottlenose dolphin came alongside and I doubt any other mammal could have provided a better welcoming. Larger than our lowcountry dolphin, but as curious and friendly, the bull gracefully swam at the surface around Madame Geneva and then swam on.
As the cliffs jutted further up and out, and the sea carved crevices well in between, it was hard not to allow the mind to wander. We approached Sa Dragonera and Justin and I saw the sleeping dragon, even if the kids had their eyes in books and gave only the slightest of nods to our excitement. Quinn did remark, “More like an alligator.” Once we anchored in San Telmo, opposite the dragon, their curiosity increased. We decided, although only a mile from our anchor, it would be best to either take the ferry over or to sail and anchor Madame Geneva when we were ready to trek along the spine, and more carefully around the nostrils. The open ocean on the either side, should the weather turn, would be foolish in our dinghy.
The next days were spent swimming in the, once in, very refreshing waters of the Med. We moored the first night but quickly grew accustomed to the tight anchorage and chose a sandy spot to drop our anchor, just off the swimming hole (marked by strung together floats). The kids could swim ashore and we could follow by dinghy with supplies as necessary. The wind was light, picking up in the afternoon. We watched the various shenanigans of day boats, large yachts and naked Germans (they were always naked). A shift pointed Madame Geneva toward Sa Dragonera, with her stern firmly at the swimming hole. This was a new direction. The wind was light and although our anchor was in no danger of dragging, we found ourselves rather concerned of our proximity to the swimming floats. Should we drift over, we were those guys sure but we also had the propeller and keel to fret about. We had four times depth of chain out, and given the conditions, we could certainly shorten. We watched as we drifted within ten feet of the ropes.
Start the engine! Engage the anchor! We decided to bring in ten feet of chain to be sure we wouldn’t drift any further (again the anchor was well dug and not moving…we were just squirreling about at an odd direction). We started what should have been a simple maneuver and instead nothing. The windlass would not turn on. Our minds went to the batteries. Our berth was torn apart and the batteries were fine. And yet nothing from the windlass. We continued to watch the stern. If we crossed the line, we simply could no longer engage the propeller. Justin figured it out. A fuse had blown. We had a short time to work it out and he did. We could have motored our way around the problem a bit.
This was not a big deal, in the grand scheme of things. There were no astronauts in danger of burning up upon reentry but it is rather symbolic of the delicacy of our situation. Sailing is about extreme highs and gut dropping lows. There is rarely a moment of “eh”. The sudden shift between the incredible euphoria and the drastic fury of things going wrong can be a bit of a psychological poke (not really the word I want to use here). And when you feel the defeat of being depressed, or nervous of the situation, it is hard not to feel the shame of looking about you and seeing how surreal and fortuitous the life around and within you.
What better way to combat that than to go sailing! We chose to pull anchor the next day and head to Sa Dragonera. The anchorages however were not accommodating (by that I mean, a patch or two of sand surrounded by rocks. We could land the anchor but we weren’t confident the chain could survive a wind shift). To the complete displeasure of our crew, we decided to head out and around to Puerto de Soller. They rallied after a bit. We were unable to actually go sailing, as the slight wind was on the nose. Justin stopped the boat and Quinn and I went for a swim, in depths unknown…
Gherty and Quinn opted for a dinghy ride, and then a swim a bit later. The few hours passed quickly. The tall cliffs, lined with years of ferocious change, began to break and offer glimpses into valleys and terraces. Caves at the sea’s lips dug dark were often hidden until passed. Mountains, erupting with a pale grey, almost concrete, rock, still brought forth vast pockets of deep evergreen. And still, the blue of the Mediterranean, so different from the tantalizing turquoise of the Caribbean and the steel of the north Atlantic, danced so smoothly. The waters did not ripple so much as offer distortion.
We rounded into the hidden harbor of Puerto de Soller. We were fortunate on timing and managed a quick and seamless anchoring. The many sailboats were tucked together tightly, with often only twenty feet of space between. The quay and beaches surround the harbor. Cafes line the coastal road. The tram from Soller rides along the harbor and stops at the quay. The mountains stretch and protect. And it is hard to imagine a more perfect place.
Much love and stay tuned.
PS Justin also figured out why the water maker wasn’t working and we have WATER!!!