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September 2, 2004

Crispy Powerbook

So this girl's house burned down as her website shows, and although she seems really happy about it in all the pictures (insurance job obviously), it scorched her Apple Powerbook in the process... but it seems to still work (though it's not quite as cool to carry about these days). Shame she's living on the street now.

September 4, 2004

Shaken Not Charred

It hardly ever rains in Ibiza in the summer. I mean once or twice in the entire season. So you can imagine how unfortunate I was when, the other night, I was heading back to the boat in the dinghy across the two miles of bay from San Antonio and I ran into a wall of torrential rain. My clothes needed washed anyway so I wasn't too worried until lightning filled the sky and began to strike around the bay. I looked around to discover that I was in the only boat in the entire bay, making me the highest point to get struck. Just the night before I'd been joking with Lawrence, Carita's boss, about how the boat had already been struck three times by lightning, and it looked like God hadn't appreciated my sense of humour.

Whilst trying to figure out if lightning was more likely to strike a fast or slow moving target, I lay down in the dinghy, altered my course and headed towards the hotels on the coast, trying to avoid the swell taking me onto the rocks in the darkness as I followed the edge of the bay. Eventually I got back to Zamindar just in time for the rain to stop, slightly shaken but happy not to be fried.

September 9, 2004

Simon's Visitation

Simon flew in on Monday & we've been busy doing the Ibiza legends; Cafe del Mar, Mambo, and last night Pacha, hence the pathetic lack of updates here. Promise to stop partying & start writing again... soon.

September 15, 2004

Privilege Trance Party

Friday was the big trance event of the year in Privilege. Bigger, busier, and more commercialised than last year's, it was nonetheless still a good night. GMS played most of the event, putting much more effort into the dj'ing than most of Ibiza's famed spinners, their Powerbook sitting prominent centre-stage.

Pictures from the night are here.

September 17, 2004

Fanwing

Fanwing, which looks like a cross between a plane and a combine harvester, is being hailed as the latest breakthrough in aeronautical history. This story from The Independent, gives the lowdown.

September 18, 2004

White Squall

Although it hardly ever rains in Ibiza in the summer, Wednesday made up for it. Some parts of the island had 80 litres/sq m of rainfall and the meteorological office recorded 343 ground strikes of lightning. We were in Ibiza Town in the morning when the first squall hit. The streets flooded and Carita's building was hit by lightning, bringing concrete and plaster falling down into the street. Needless to say, she closed up and got out of there. I was checking the boat cam all the time on my phone and was amazed to see that things were dry and calm in the north of the island. We drove back and as we crossed the hills the rain stopped and everything was bone dry.

The weather had been very unsettled for days and there was a lot of swell coming into the anchorage, so that evening I tied a extra line over to another mooring... just in case. Carita and I were sitting in the cockpit having a drink at about 03:00 in the morning, watching a massive lightning storm that was taking place over the sea. We were just about to go to bed when a chill wind began to pick up. Realising the squall and the lightning was heading our way we cleared the cockpit and put things inside. Due to the boat turning in the wind during the evening, the line I'd put across to the other mooring was now twisted around our chain so I needed to sort it out. The rain began pouring down as I took the dinghy across to untie it and untangle things but the wind was increasing all the time so manoeuvring the dinghy was not easy. I managed to get back over to the buoy and concentrated as I tied the rope back onto it, then, as the wind was too strong to steer through, I pulled myself and the dinghy back to the boat along the line and Simon tied it up. Lightning was now striking all around us and the wind kept increasing with seemingly unlimited power. I heaved the rope tight so that we were now being held on the other mooring as well as our own and hoped things would hold. The smaller dinghy was lifted out of the water and flying in the air as Carita tried to secure it, then it was suddenly blown onto the deck. The wind was screaming by now, around Force 11 or 12, hurricane strength. The hotel next to us, which was slightly higher than our mast, was hit directly by lightning. Carita was almost blown off the foredeck into the sea. She seemed to be screaming something to me about ice falling but I couldn't understand what she was saying until an egg-sized lump of ice hit me on the head! The wind was blowing so hard by this time that the air was full of seawater and visibility was very poor. A small sailing boat moored nearby was being lifted so far out of the water that you could see it's keel. We took shelter from the ice storm under the sprayhood while Simon comforted the dog downstairs and took care of the water that was getting in. The solar panels sounded as if they were being smashed by the impact of the falling ice and the wind continued with a deafening roar. I began to wonder what else I could do if the moorings started to drag. The wind was far too strong to attempt to tie off to anything else or take an anchor out in the dinghy so I started the engine & motored forwards to take some force off the moorings, praying for the wind to drop. Looking behind the boat I saw huge waves crashing over the rocks barely 30 metres away. Lumps of ice continued to fall from the sky amongst the torrential rain and it felt like hell. It was one of the most frightening times I'd ever had at anchor.

We managed to sit it out though. Eventually the wind backed to the south as the eye of the squall moved past, then finally to the east and we felt the wind begin to drop and the rain ease off. Shaken and shocked but glad to be alive we looked around. Part of the beach had been washed away and some of the smaller boats in the anchorage had taken a bit of a battering but they were all still intact. The adrenaline was still running through us and we were wide awake. I turned the engine off and we sat hoping that there wasn't another squall on it's way.

Apprehensive when we finally crashed out, we didn't have a very restful night, but all that followed was some rain and the next day the weather, thankfully, began to improve.

September 19, 2004

Dinghy Stolen in San Antonio

Simon got on the airport bus in Ibiza Town and I caught the bus back to San Antonio and was happily walking along the quay listening to my iPod when I found that the dinghy wasn't where we'd left it. The end of season is often when things get stolen here and it's a favourite trick for some people to steal a dinghy or outboard and sail back home with it. I spoke to the marina security guards but they'd just started their shift and hadn't seen anything. They were helpful though and began looking around the marina in case someone had hidden it amongst the boats or was busy trying to stow it. I walked to the end of the breakwater, asked some fishermen if they'd seen anything and looked out to sea in case it had been set adrift. At this point I saw the the security guards shouting and flashing their torches to me; they'd found a boat with two dinghies next to it. I followed them through the marina, really hoping it was mine, but sadly it wasn't.

We walked over to check out the pontoons close to where we'd tied it and whilst we were doing that a car pulled up and a couple of guys from one of the boats got out. They'd seen two guys start my outboard engine, rev it up, and leave. They hadn't seen where they'd gone with it, however, but they gave me a description of what they looked like. One had shoulder length hair, the other had a mohican, and they guessed that they looked Spanish. They'd taken it at about midnight so I must have just missed it getting stolen. I thanked them and, feeling very pissed off, went off to search some of the corners of San Antonio Bay.

It was Friday night and the promenade around the town was full of drunk, offensive Brits, shouting and swearing, and threatening their girlfriends. I looked around the commercial dock in case it had been hidden there and walked as close as I could get to the boats anchored in the bay, but couldn't see anything. Just then a very small, white speedboat took off from the beach area past the bars, which seemed a strange place for a boat to come from, and disappeared into the crowd of anchored yachts. I walked along the beach, passed the bars with their touts desperately trying to get me in for a drink, and went to check out the beachfront where the speedboat had come from. There, run into the sand and sitting behind a dock was the dinghy!

As you can imagine I was delighted to see it. They'd ran the engine hard into the sand and it took a bit of work to get it afloat but nothing had been stolen from it. It was well tied up in the way that someone from a boat would tie a boat up and it looked like they were definitely planning to come back for it. I managed to get the engine started but it sounded awful. They'd run over a steel cable and the propeller was damaged but worse than that the engine sounded like a bag of bolts. I managed to nurse it back across the bay to Zamindar but it sounded as if it would give up at any moment.

It's been quite a week.

September 20, 2004

Mirabella V

It looks like we haven't been alone with our experience of bad weather here in the Mediterranean. Mirabella V, the world's largest single masted sailing yacht old dragged it's anchor and is aground in the south of France. This BBC News story covers it and Yachting World has masses of details on the boat herself. 75m (246ft) long and just launched in May, they're working to tow her off and get her into dry dock.

Yacht SYL

Ok, as Simon and a lot of other people have asked about it, here's some info on SYL, one of the most impressive yachts moored in Ibiza Town this season.

Data sheet (pdf)
Info from Ocean Yacht Systems
MegaYacht.com report on SYL (free registration required)

September 22, 2004

Mercury 25 RIP

Yesterday we went to report the dinghy getting stolen which meant hanging around in the depressing, dilapidated surroundings of the Guardia Civil station outside San Antonio. Their photocopier was broken so we had to fill out four copies of the necessary forms and hang around while prisoners were brought in and out. The main office of the building oddly seems to be the main entrance to a courtyard of flats behind the police station so as well as the coming and goings of police and prisoners, children were cycling in and out through the office and old women were wandering through.

It all took so long that Carita had to go to work in the end and I was told to wait for the local police who wanted to look at the dinghy and the broken engine. Thinking that maybe they were going to be particularly helpful and try to fix it for me I was cheered up no end. In time they appeared, asked me if I had a car, and finding that I'd come by taxi, put me in the back of the police car and drove through San Antonio past tourists looking at me like I was a convict. Unfortunately, their English was about as good as my Spanish which meant that we had a few communication breakdowns during our journey to where the dinghy was and my stock of phrases such as, "Can I get you a drink?" weren't proving too useful.

Once they'd looked at the dinghy, they wanted to see the outboard, which was onboard Zami' in pieces and meant rowing them over. The younger of the two policemen kindly helped out with a paddle but insisted on rowing backwards, causing us to do a few circles before finally going in the right direction. They were both quite friendly and helpful but I was beginning to wonder if the main purpose of all of this was to try to find who'd stolen it or to see if I was trying to rip off an insurance company. They seemed content once they'd seen it but sadly made no effort at all to repair it and went on their way.

I'd called Frank, who'd fixed the outboard a couple of weeks ago, and he'd come out in the morning and gone off with the powerhead to strip it down and see how bad the news was. I called him and it was pretty bad. As well as ruining the gearbox when they'd stolen it, the crankshaft, 2 bearings, a piston, and the cylinder block were wrecked. Repairing it would cost more than a new engine.

How they managed to do this in 2 hours I can't imagine - we'd put the engine through some extreme conditions in awful seas with waves breaking over us through the years, done beach landings at high speed that made sunbathers run in all directions, and towed Zamindar safely through one of the worst reefs in the Bahamas in a storm with it. It never let us down by breaking when we were miles out at sea or otherwise putting our lives at risk. It was a good engine.

Mercury 25 Rest In Peace.

September 28, 2004

Not Well

As if having Chris and Berit down on the boat for a whole week wasn't punishment enough, I've since been in bed for the last three days suffering from the flu. Carita has been providing me with sustenance in the form of take-away club sandwiches and huge amounts of drugs, which she claims are from the pharmacy - but seem to do a very good job of cheering me up. Donations will be happily accepted to buy her a nurse's outfit.