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July 1, 2003

Anchored Again

We left Isla Clementina yesterday evening and sailed out to the anchorage in Cala Teleura and it felt like only yesterday that Id taken Zamindar into the harbour at the end of last summer. The prop, not surprisingly, seems to be quite fouled after its winter in the water so it a slow motor out there as the sun went down. It felt really good to be out of the town, the anchorage is really peaceful, and I sat in the cockpit last night looking up at the stars. Today Im off to get the snorkelling gear on and start scrubbing my bottom.

July 2, 2003

Scrubbing

I went down to check the prop yesterday and discovered that it was pretty clean, but unfortunately the rest of the hull looked a bit like a kelp forest. When the tidal wave had swept into the harbour it destroyed the mussel farm that used to be there, and now it seemed that most of them had found a new home on Zamindars hull. I began the slow job of cleaning it up, scraping the waterline, then snorkelling under the hull and scrubbing all the growth off. Its incredible how quickly ocean life can grow and I was half expecting Greenpeace to turn up as I set about destroying this new aquatic ecosystem. After several hours Id begun to make a difference to it, but then, after staying underwater for quite a long time, I surfaced quickly for air, hit my head hard on the outboard engine, cut it open, broke the snorkel off my mask losing it, and almost lost consciousness. I got up into the boat with blood streaming down my face but after a bit of first aid the bleeding soon stopped. So today my forehead has a huge lump and cuts and bruises on it and Im back underwater again continuing the cleanup job.

July 3, 2003

Menorca Tidal Wave

We sat and had a drink with our friends on board Duet in the anchorage last night and heard more about the tidal wave. Their boat had only survived because they were on board at the time and they were surrounded by millions of pounds worth of damaged and sinking boats in the marina. Apparently the wave generated by the earthquake was six metres high when it came into the mouth of Mahon harbour and swept in through houses. From there it dropped in height but accelerated as it crossed the shallower water, destroying all of the boats in the outer harbour and continuing until it reached the marina in town and had nowhere else to go. Id been very close to putting Zamindar in that marina for the winter, and if I had, she would quite possibly been destroyed. The only reason she survived with a minor scratch was because she was on a floating pontoon which thankfully rode the wave, but even that was evacuated later when a mussel farm broke loose and nearly hit it.

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July 4, 2003

Neighbours

Today I finally had my arrest papers from Brazil translated by Rachel, one of our local naturist chums. When Chris, Poof, & I sailed across the Atlantic and arrived in Brazil we were arrested in a bar in the islands of Fernando de Noronha for some, umm, trivial offence, and taken off to the Policia Militar HQ. After a bit of hassle and interrogation they agreed to let us go if we signed some forms, so we did. The most interesting part is that they've written that we did not undergo any physical torture or assault whilst in custody.

One of the interesting things I discovered in Asia was that a lot of backpackers from the USA are now sewing Canadian flags onto their backpacks to hide their nationality. It appears that some US yachts are doing similar things as well now - there's a boat next to us in the normally peaceful anchorage tonight that isn't flying an ensign. The people onboard it talk very loudly, play very bad music at high volume (whilst I try to listen to Cafe del Mar at a respectable level), and, oh, the yacht's registered in Road Island. Time to play my 'Now that's what I call Arabia' cd, I think.

July 8, 2003

Weekend Sailing

On Saturday Simon and I sailed around to Cala en Porter, anchored in the bay, and went off to check out Cavas d'en Xoroi, a nightclub built into the cliff caves that looks out high over the sea. There was nowhere safe to leave the dinghy so I tied it to a buoy and swam ashore from there. The club was truly in a superb position, but we were somewhat disappointed to find everybody else walking away as we arrived due to the place being empty, the music bad, and entrance 17. We decided to leave as well, swam back to the dinghy, and returned to the boat which was rolling all over the place in the swell.

The following morning we sailed further around the south of Menorca to Cala Macarella, anchored, and chilled out on the beach. We'd been expecting Chris and Berit to be arriving on a ferry into Ciutadella, but while I was swimming around the boat I had a call from Chris saying that he was in fact arriving in Mahon in a few hours. So I rushed back to the beach, grabbed Simon and we started sailng back towards Mahon. The wind, of course, was on the nose, and it was totally dark by the time we finally arrived and anchored, so we jumped into the dinghy, met up with Chris and Berit in a bar, and got really quite drunk.

July 9, 2003

Mallorca Bound

We're currently offshore between Menorca and Mallorca bound for Portocolom, the sun's going down, and we've just passed a pod of 10-15dolphins playing off our starboard side. There's hardly any wind so the sea's pretty calm and it's a really beautiful evening out here.

July 11, 2003

Back in Portocolom

We arrived in Portocolom at 07:30 after sailing for 14 hours, anchored, and went to bed. I spent two or three months here last year so it's very strange to be back but very nice. Just about everything seems to be the same. It all looks the same, and we went off to Bar Mestral and had the very same meal for dinner as we would have had last year, but it's lovely to be back.

July 14, 2003

Sailing past Cabrera

Right now we're sailing between the southern tip of Mallorca and the island of Cabrera. We left Portocolom just before midnight and I'm on watch until 06:00 but there's nothing much happening apart from the wind being in front of us, as usual. There is a full moon tonight, however, which means that I'm not just staring into the darkness until sunrise.

We rented a car and went out in Palma last night, though Tito's, the biggest club in town turned out to be a bit of a disappointment, with a poorly mixed selection of bad music. I also dropped my phone onto the marble floor in there, breaking the screen and making it unreadable, so unless I fly back to Thailand to get it repaired again, it may well have reached the end of it's useful life.

This morning while we were going ashore in the dinghy we saw a black shape swimming across the harbour. It turned out to be the dog from Restaurant Florian, which apparently has a crazed habit of jumping into the harbour and trying to swim to the other side so we rescued it and took it back to the restaurant.

Making Landfall on Ibiza

We've been sailing for almost 21 hours since we left Portocolom and we're now approaching the north-east tip of Ibiza. When I left Guernsey many, many years ago, Ibiza was where I was heading to so it's quite strange to finally be on the point of arriving after all this time tonight. The mountains are on our port side right now, the sun is going down off our starboard bow, and a pod of dolphins just welcomed us playing in Zami's bow wave.

July 16, 2003

Anchored in San Antonio

Last night we anchored in Cala Portinatx on Ibiza's north coast and today we stopped off in another cala for lunch and a snorkel before continuing on to San Antonio, where we're anchored tonight. It's a bit of a shock to suddenly be immersed in British drinking culture after weeks in traditional Spanish towns, but even still, San Antonio is better than I expected.

July 17, 2003

Rude Awakening

Chris came into my cabin and woke me up at 06:30 this morning to tell me that some of the boats in the anchorage were beginning to drag. The wind had picked up to about force 5-6, blowing straight into the anchorage from the sea, and bringing lots of swell with it.

Normally I dive on my anchor to make sure that it's dug in, and although I hadn't felt like doing it the night before, having slashed my foot open earlier in the day, I'd gone in and spent a lot of time hunting through the weed on the seafloor, turning the anchor over, and digging it in by hand. I was glad I did now as I sat and watched as about 25 boats in the anchorage began to drag one by one. People were blowing foghorns to warn that boats were dragging, but on one of the boats which was about to collide everyone still seemed to be asleep. Chris and I mounted a rescue mission, got in the dinghy, and went off through the waves to waken them up. After a lot of banging on their hull a couple of hungover faces appeared and looked shocked to see that they were just a few metres from hitting another boat. By the time the wind had dropped, the previously packed anchorage was looking pretty deserted.

Chris, Berit and I took a bus to Ibiza Town this afternoon and were amazed by how lovely it was. We stood and watched a procession in the harbour, wandered around the streets and shops past all The Beautiful People, had dinner, and decided that it has to be one of the nicest towns in the Balearics.

July 20, 2003

Sweet Home Formentera

On Thursday we sailed around Ibiza's impressive west coast, and its sheer cliffs then crossed to Formentera, an island just to the south. We anchored off Espalmador which is about as close as you can get to a deserted island paradise in the Mediterranean and is as impressive as almost anywhere I sailed in the Bahamas. The water's crystal clear, the beaches are white, it's almost uninhabited, and the town of Sabina is only a two and a half mile dinghy ride, from where you can catch a ferry into Ibiza's wonderful old town.

Chris and Berit flew out yesterday, having been here for the last fortnight, and having sailed almost non-stop between all the major Balearic islands in that time.

July 23, 2003

Late Nights and Early Mornings

The anchorage here in Espalmador was totally packed the other day until suddenly a storm blew through that wasn't forecast at all. I looked up to find a huge motorboat with topless girls alongside as about 50 other boats dragged through the anchorage. I was remarkably understanding to the motorboat crew as they tried to get themselves sorted out and in the ensuing panic couldn't decide whether to grab a fender or look for their clothes. The wind continued through the night, however, and I sat up until 03:00 on anchor watch before finally passing out.

This morning I was woken at 05:00 as a nearby mooring buoy lodged under the boat. I knew I should have sorted it out then but I just couldn't face diving at that time in the morning. It woke me up again at 07:00 and finally I had to go for a swim to check things out. I'd almost forgotten how much hard work being on a boat could be.

July 24, 2003

Beach Bars

Bizarrely, but pleasantly, Formentera seems to be completely devoid of British tourists and northern Europeans in general. You only have to step into one of the beach bars (which interestingly for a beach bar have Dom Perignon and lobster on their menus) and you'll be immediately taken aback by all the attractive, trendy, tanned people sitting there fresh from the beach. Nobody is red and sweaty with their burned skin dropping off in sheets, nobody is wearing football tops and throwing up, and nobody has brought screaming kids intent on smashing the place up. The vast majority of tourists who come here are Italian, indeed a lot of the bars are Italian owned and run, and it's all very cultured and civilised with everyone wearing tiny pieces of designer beachwear on their perfect bodies, and drinking caipirinhas beneath wrap-around shades. Formentera just seems to have been kept secret from northern Europeans.

July 26, 2003

French Leave

In yet another one of those strange co-incidences that appear to happen more and more, I woke up this morning and went out onto deck to find 'Imagine', the boat that was my permanent next door neighbour when I lived in Guernsey anchored right next to me. She appears to be owned by a French family nowadays, who were friendly enough to pretend they understood what I was yelling over to them before giving each other worried glances, pulling up their anchor, and immediately leaving the island.

July 28, 2003

Cycle Frenzy

In much the same spirit of coincidence, it has come to my attention that after transporting my two yellow bicycles half way across the world from Florida and leaving them in Mahon, Formentera is the most perfect place in the Balearics to cycle. In fact almost everyone not on a moped is busy cycling around on the island and, perhaps it's my imagination, but looking particularly smug as they pass me. I know, of course, that this was bound to happen, but if anyone is interested, there are two yellow, 1970's era cycles, free to a good home on Isla Clementina in Mahon.

July 29, 2003

El Divino, Ibiza

I finally had enough of staring at the beach at the weekend and caught the ferry into Ibiza for a night of partying and self abuse. Due to the first ferry being at 0700 the following morning I knew I had a long night ahead of me so I headed off to a cafe for half a dozen espressos before beginning the hunt for cheap club tickets in Ibiza town. Entrance to a club here can be 50 but with a bit of hunting around you can usually find someone in a bar selling a free pass. I'd decided to check out Hed Kandi at El Divino, arguably one of the most happening places in Ibiza town on a Saturday night, and found a ticket for 20. One of the surprising things is that the big names in clubbing don't actually have clubs here but share the same six or so main properties on different nights. Hence there is no actual Ministry of Sound, Cream, Cafe del Mar, or Manumission club, with Manumission, for example, moving between two different clubs on consecutive nights.

So I walked into El Divino like someone on a pilgrimage to Mecca expecting to be impressed. The club is in a fantastic location, built in the port of Ibiza with views across to the old town and harbour (in fact arriving by dinghy could save you the entire entrance fee!). Immediately, however, you realise that the place is neither big nor slick with only one dancefloor and no chill-out room. The sound system is lovely, the mixing is class, but it felt a bit monotonous, most people weren't dancing and it just didn't cut it in atmosphere for me. On top of that it was 28c outside, much hotter inside, unbearable if you were dancing, and a glass of water was 5. All in all, it felt very much like a package tour destination, over-commercialised, and Americanised... in fact one visitor from the USA seemed quite intent on trying to beat me to a pulp for sitting in 'his seat'. It was lovely seeing the sunrise as the ferry came into Formentera though, and after 2 hours in bed I was woken by one of my new Spanish chums whom I'd promised to have a beer with.

July 31, 2003

Tins from a Lost Age

Many people have asked me just how long tinned food can last, and my answer has normally been... forever. Tinned food is in fact the only thing which will still be living after a nuclear blast. Due to not going shopping yesterday and feeling particularly daring, last night I decided to test this theory out by cooking a tin of canneloni which I bought in Tenerife for the Atlantic crossing and which was manufactured six years ago. After carefully scraping the corrosion off the tin, it opened with a hiss of de-pressurisation, then I cooked it as per instructions, and it tasted... fine. As of today I appear to be suffering no ill effects. And in tomorrow's experiment...