Captains Blog 22 – Are you looking at me!!

And so, we left for Menorca, sailing 16 miles before switching to the engine after a late decision to change course. The forecast for the south was for some big swell, making things uncomfortable, so it made sense to go north to Cala Grande De Algayerens and drop the hook there.

Despite its popularity, this lovely spot had room to anchor and was a suitable place to sit out the storm forecast for the following evening. The following day was warm and sunny. There were two beaches, separated by a large section of rock, both within swimming distance. One was the home of the clothed tribe, the other the naked and partially clothed clan. The rock helped keep both factions apart preventing any unpleasantness.

Early evening the air became very still and the sky began to darken. Many boats had headed out of the cala by now, but one tiny catamaran could be made out way off in the distance heading in. The wind began building and distant rumbling started getting louder as it rolled towards us. The sky flashed as lightning tracked across it, earthing off in the distance.

The wind was gaining strength as the little catamaran made for the cala, silhouetted against the increasing lightning strikes that were becoming more and more spectacular. She came in, in howling gale with all three-crew running about like headless chickens trying to drop the anchor and get secure. It was a relief when they finally anchored and could head below. Apart from the Cat Weasel look alike who seemed relish running around the deck naked in the pouring rain cleaning both boat and himself and jumping around like the Terry Jones character trying to protect his juniper bush in Life of Brian.

After a few hours’ things calmed down. For a while anyway! At around 3am the winds built again, but this time blowing from the south. Boats started to drag anchor, including the cat. The bay became alive with activity as boats dragged, people shouted, alarms sounded, engines started, anchors raised, anchors dropped. The first mate and I watched the show like two meerkats, heads poking out of the hatch above our cabin. We were secure, but the possibility of someone dragging into us or catching our anchor chain was ever present. I started to get sleepy so ordered the first mate to keep a good watch. She muttered something unprintable and went back to bed.

Next day everyone was feverishly trying to clean off the half ton of sand that had been dumped on each boat during the previous night’s rain.

Time to move further round the coast as the swell was forecast to get bigger and would be coming straight onto the north coast. We headed to Sargantana Anchorages where we’d booked a mooring for the night before moving around to the east coast. We’d had a pretty strong wind help us sail there and it continued as we tried to get to the town in the mighty Hannibal, ploughing through the chop, but getting us both completely soaked.

Next day we headed round to the east coast and Cala S’illa Colom. It was a great spot and the most you could do was kick back and watch the world go by, not that much of the world went by. The occasional boat and kaya maybe. Anyway, not much happened there apart from swimming, snorkelling and exploring the small nearby town. A nice peaceful anchorage where doing nothing seemed like the best use of our time. The next stop was Mahon where we planned to base ourselves until the crossing to Sardinia.

Marina Mahon squeezed us into the tiniest gap between two 42 footers. There was no recognisable space between them so it was a case of putting out every fender (inflatable plastic cylinders that help prevent damage from collisions) out along each side of the boat, closing my eyes and reversing. Remarkably we made it without damaging ought.

I liked Mahon, particularly the old part of the town. There was enough to keep things interesting for a few days and plenty of good places for food and drink. I also saw a bloke from one of the endless antique challenge type shows that you get on British TV. Not a clue what his name is but I recognised the face. Nice that they’re let them out for some fresh air and a wander every now and then.

The marina was expensive so after a few days we relocated to an island pontoon just off the main channel. It had power and water and about 9 other boats moored to it. The only way off was water taxi or tender (dinghy). It suited us for one night, then we relocated to an anchorage just at the mouth of the channel into Mahon. It was an ideal spot to head across to Sardinia from, though ridiculously popular and very congested. We were able to relax and sort a few last-minute jobs, ready for the crossing in a couple of days’ time.

The evening before our departure a largish motor boat appeared and dropped anchor not far from us. Shortly after, the skipper appeared in a rib and told us that they would be having a short concert on the boat and invited us to attend if we wished. We’d packed away the tender so were stuck onboard. It was a real treat sit on the back of our boat, feet in the water, listening to James Kirby playing guitar and singing as the sun began to set. He had a great voice and provided the perfect way to spend our last evening in the Balearics. The performance went down well all around the anchorage, so much so that he continued to sing and play guitar as the boat weaved between the other boats as it departed at twilight.

We were up at first light the next morning and left as the sun began to rise. Out of the protection of the cala it was windy, with big, side on swell. We put up with it for an hour or so, then turned and headed south with the wind and swell behind us. Carry on like this we’ll be in Mallorca in no time!! We stopped at an anchorage on Menorca about 12 miles south of where we’d started, but it was clear we’d have to head back to where we’d left that morning and try and head across to Sardinia the next day. Conditions were likely to be better the next day although there’d be no wind of any significance. Again!

The second departure turned out to be much calmer, the only drawback being that we’d be under engine for most of the 187 nautical mile journey. The plus however was that a few days earlier I’d been given a fishing line by my Swedish friends, experts in catching Tuna, and I’d be able to deploy the line during the crossing.

And so out the line went and after 3½hours the small tie around the bungee pinged. I genuinely thought it was a hoax. As I pulled in the line, I couldn’t feel any real tension but as more came in I made out a shape and before long I was looking straight at the tuna attached to the hook. I shouted to the first mate “get things”. “What things” she responded. “Things to sort out the tuna” I replied. “What things” she responded. “I don’t know, a knife and board and a knock it on the head thing and a bucket”?

We managed to get the tuna half way out of the water before it looked me straight in the eye and mouthed “not today mate”. With that it wriggled about and was gone. I couldn’t believe it, I’d nearly landed a tasty fresh tuna. Dhoo!!

Next time we arrive in Sardinia, have an enforced stay in a cala and meet up with old friends.

Ciao for now.

Captain Mac

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