September 2008 Letter

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September 2008

We began the month still in Mallorca, really enjoying the perfect weather and beautiful anchorage of Puerto de Soller.  We decided to take a day trip on a fast catamaran ferry boat up to Colabra which is a beautiful cliff-sided bay north of Soller.  We walked through the tunnel in the mountain which led to a small beach with turquoise water nestled between the cliffs. It would have been breathtakingly beautiful were it not for the gazillion people there!  Tourists arrived non-stop by the busload and boatload.  The tunnel was so crowded people were stepping on my feet and pushing against my back.  This was definitely the most 'touristy' thing we've done yet.  We found a small table with a view and drank sangria until it was time to return to the ferry.

The next day we tried to sail to Ibiza.  However, with strong gusty winds on the nose, we couldn't make it before sundown.  So we decided to anchor at a little bay called Cala de Deya just south of Soller.  On our way, we saw a dinghy full of people drifting off the windy coast who were waving their arms at us.  It was a man and woman with their 3 small children.  Apparently their dinghy motor conked out and they couldn't get back to Deya rowing against the strong current.  I maneuvered Aquila around them in the choppy water while Mike threw them a line.  We towed them back to shore.  They did not speak English, but we communicated enough to learn that they spend their summers at their home on Deya.  They were very grateful for our help and invited us to come to their home for 'free beer'.  We couldn't accept their offer because our dinghy was already strapped on top of our deck for our passage to Ibiza, so we didn't have transportation to shore.  I regret missing the opportunity to make new friends and getting to know these Europeans who summer on Mallorca.

The "Sirocco" wind blew for the next few days.  These are the winds from the South which blow red dust from the Sahara desert across the Mediterranean.  Aquila is covered in red dust!  We kept rinsing the deck and portholes with buckets of water, but the bimini and all the rigging needs a good wash down.  The winds keep shifting, so we have to check weather every day.  Some of our nights have been pretty rolly when the swell comes from the wrong direction.  

We finally got a good weather window to sail to Ibiza, so we left at 4 a.m. in the pitch dark.  We anchored in pretty Cala Portinatx at 5 p.m.  A few days later, the forecasted north winds forced us to move to Puerto San Antonio on the south side of the island.  San Antonio has a grassy harbor, and the only spot we could get anchored in was quite exposed.  The wind grew to 30 knots, and the swell grew into breaking waves!  Talk about a sleepless night.  And the wind was cold!  The wind keeps shifting every few hours, so we don't know where to go.  Plus, each of our weather sites says something different.

So we headed into the fetch and into the wind for Puerto San Miguel because we are meeting Mark and Darlene there in a few days.  The next day the swell was down and the sun was shining.  I decided to do some laundry.  Mike started the generator so I could run the washing machine.  After I got the laundry going, we thought we heard a funny slurping sound coming from the generator.  Then the generator overheated and shut down.   Now what?!  Turns out we sucked up a big jellyfish.  Mike cleaned the disgusting chunks out of the strainer basket and after letting her cool down, gennie started right back up just fine.  The next day the same thing happened, but we recognized the sound and caught it right away before she overheated.

We received an early morning phone call from Mark and Darlene inviting us up to Na Xamena for breakfast.  They arrived the night before and had driven up the dark, winding mountain road to their hilltop resort.  Mark drove down to the beach to pick us up.  They treated us to a wonderful poolside champagne breakfast at their luxurious hotel.  Our guidebook describes Na Xamena as the place to go to rub elbows with the rich and famous.  It is an amazing place and we enjoyed hanging out with Mark and Darlene, swimming in the heated indoor pool, drinking champagne on their balcony, and enjoying the incredible views.

Mark had a rental car, so we spent the next two days touring the island, eating and drinking at fun little places along the way.  We drank sangria in Eularia, ate paella in Ibiza City, had beer and nachos in San Antonio, and enjoyed a moonlit dinner on the beach in San Miguel.  One afternoon was spent swimming off the boat, with the guys entertaining Darlene and me with their underwater disappearing swim trunks routine.  Bet you thought the moon only came out at night!  The next day the weather turned gray as we said goodbye to Mark and Darlene.  I'm so glad the weather was nice for their visit before they had to leave.  We can't wait to meet up with them again.  Plans were made for future trips which we are really looking forward to.

A terrific swell started at 1 a.m. and kept us awake the rest of the night throwing us back and forth.  Sigh.  Couldn't wait to leave in the morning.  We headed south again and anchored at Cala Bedella.  The days are getting cooler and the crowds are thinning as the high season comes to an end.  The beaches still have tourists, but there are empty lounge chairs out there.  We only see one or two other boats in the anchorages now.  We sailed to a little cala that our friends Alan and Joan on s/v Moonstruck told us about.  (Moonstruck's Website:  They said to keep this anchorage a secret so that it can remain quiet and unspoiled.  It is very pretty with steep red cliffs and lined with little fishing huts.  Plus it is well protected from the weather.  They did not mention to us that totally nude sunbathers favor this location.  There aren't any beaches here, but that didn't stop the sunbathers from spreading their towels on the fishing boat launch ramps.

Our next anchorage was Espalmadora where we could find the famous blue mud.  It was too cold and windy for me to get excited about taking the dinghy to shore, hiking to the mud, smearing it all over my body, and then walking back to the beach to rinse it off.  We plan to return to these islands in two years with our kids and grandkids and we will slather on the blue mud at that time.  The weather continued to deteriorate and rain clouds rolled in.  It rained hard all night which gave us the fresh water rinse that we so badly needed.  

We sailed back up the island again to get as far north as we can before setting off across the Mediterranean Sea for Barcelona.   Conditions worsened throughout the day.  The sea got rough and the sky got dark.  The rain and wind were so cold that we put on our foul weather gear.  We anchored at Cala Binirras and had a moderate swell all night.  We continued on to Cala Portinatx the next day under nice skies.  The weather was so nice that Mike put on his scuba tank and cleaned the bottom of the boat and changed the zincs.  We checked weather and determined that we need to sail to Barcelona in the morning.  The weather is getting bad here, so we've got to go now.  Then, lo and behold, we met another American flagged boat!  Bill and Diane on s/v Argonaut came over for cocktails.  Then they headed out at 8 p.m. to do an overnight to Mallorca to meet Diane's brother.  Our last night in the Balearic Islands and we meet our first Americans!

It took 30 hours to sail from Ibiza across the Mediterranean Sea to Barcelona.  The weather wasn't good.  We had rain, lightning and winds up to 30 knots coming right at us.  The night was dark, and the sea was steep with breaking waves washing over our bow.  The conditions were worse than any we experienced crossing the Atlantic Ocean.  It wasn't frightening, just miserable.  It made me glad that we would be in a marina for 6 months.  I feel ready for a break after such an awful night.  We arrived in Barcelona and got settled into our berth at Port Vell Marina at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 27.

This is going to be a totally different experience.  Barcelona is a major city with lots of hustle bustle.  Port Vell is a really nice marina right in the heart of the city.  We are in a berth side by side with hundreds of other boats and other people living just a few feet away.  I'm excited about this new experience, but maybe just a little bit worried about missing the peace and quiet of being at anchor.  Did I say I was looking forward to being in a marina for 6 months?  We have spent the last couple of days walking, walking, walking.  Learning where things are, getting acclimated and such.  So far, this is a very entertaining place.  We still need to get our metro pass and learn to take the trains and buses.  We have many sights to see, and lots of time to do it all, so we will pace ourselves.  I'll let you know how we are doing in next month's update!

Click here to see this month's Photo Album.

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