Doing What We Can, When We Can

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.

Stay tuned and much love.

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