1000nm is Not That Far if you say it quickly.

The EU welcomes yachties from all over the world, provided that they only stay 90 days every 6 months. Great!!! Other that Gibraltar and Morocco, I’d been in the EU since arriving in France on the 17th March so now it was time to leave.

Although Croatia has just joined the EU, it still wasn’t hooked into the Schengen immigration zone, which is the thing, so therefore Croatia is okay for the moment. So Croatia it is, 983nm away as the crow sails.

Our route took us down the bottom of Sardinia, across the top of Sicily, through the Messina Straits, around the bottom of Italy’s foot, and up the Adriatic Sea to Dubrovnick. I had a place to catch on the 9th August and we left at 5pm on the 31st August.

My super smart GPS had us arriving in Dubrovnick on the 7th August if we sailed straight through at an average speed of 6 kts so we had a day to effectively spare. Nothing like a bit of pressure.

The first couple of days and nights we ran 3 hour watches, with myself in a consultancy role, checking at the start and end of each watch and generally being available on a break glass if needed approach. After that I started to miss my night watches and we started rotating through four 2 hour watches.

It took us nearly 48 hours to cover the 290nm to Sardinia and we spent all our time motoring into a fairly light wind. Occasionally we would head off and get a decent enough angle to pull out all the genoa, but not often.

On the way to Sicily, we were entertained by dolphins and whales. Usually around 6pm, the dolphins would head over and play between our bows for 30 minutes or so. We even got to pull out our Geneker and sail for a couple of hours.

Sitting here at 5.30am in the morning on watch, the temperature is 27 degrees. Balmy nights and warm days.

We got to Sicily at midday on day 4, and halfway along the island, we celebrated our half way point. We passed inside some impressive looking islands as we motored along the coast. It would have been nice to stop and have a quick swim but we were racing to get to the Messina Straits to catch the tide through (4 and a half hours after Gibraltar HT according to guide book), so there was no time to dilly daly.

We made the straits just after dark and kept to starboard of the designated shipping lanes. Watched a passenger liner slip in front of us at 15kts.

The straits are narrow – really, really narrow. 1.6nm narrow at a couple of spots. As well as the ships going up and down, we had a constant stream of ferries crossing back and forth from the mainland to Sicily and back. Thank god for AIS.

We eventually made it through all the traffic and popped out the other side as the straits began to widen. And then the wind started to lift from the 10 knots we had entering the straits.

I’d been sleeping and the crew woke me as we needed a reef – two actually. This was more like the winds in the Strait we had read about. Still sleepy we turned into the wind and started to put in a couple of reefs. Normally reefing is easily on La Mischief, but still half a sleep I managed to balls it up and ended up snapping a lazy jack. Bugger.
Without the lazy jack in place the bottom of the sail spilled out and we ended up dropping it completely and lashing it to the boom.

Next morning, we assessed the damage and lifted the main sail to its full height without any reefs – this being the only configuration that we could manage without lazy jacks. The next day was spent motoring along the bottom of Italy’s foot in light winds.

We hadn’t been able to do a lot of sailing, with the motoring being on pretty much all of the time. With a broken lazy jack and running a bit low on fuel we decided we would pull into Italy to refuel.

We picked out Santa Maria di Leuca, right on the cape. We arrived there early in the morning and Adrian went up the mast to fix the broken lazy jack. Then we took on enough fuel to make it to Croatia as fuel is a lot cheaper in Croatia than Italy.

Then it was into the Adriatic. We had a bit more luck with the winds as we just had enough angle to motor sail north. Next morning we sailed past Montenegro and into Dubrovnik, just over 1000nm from Palma. It had taken us just under 8 days and I think we had the motors off for less than 12 hours during that time.

We decided that we would stop in Kavtat, as this was quite close to both the airport and Dubrovnik and looked nice, easy to enter and quite protected. We got there at about 11am and pulled into the Q jetty. Adrian backed in and asked how much insurance cover I had as he went stern to beside a beautiful 150 foot yacht – I told him it didn’t matter how much I had given how expensive the boat next to us was.

Checking into Croatia involves taking a crew list along to the harbour master and getting a cruising permit for the boat (1765 kuna = A$335) – valid for a year) and visitors tax (720 kuna). Even though Croatia has just jointed the EU, they are still keeping their own currency – must be a good thing given the problems Greece etc are having. Next stop was the police who stamped us in and then we were done.

Leaving the Q jetty, we went and picked up a mooring right next to another Australian cat. The Croatians are mad keen on water polo and that night, we found a water polo game going on in an outdoor pool not much more than 50m from our mooring. We dingyed in and watched a bit before having a farewell meal with Roger who was flying out the next morning.

Next day, we dingyed in and said our goodbyes to Roger before heading off on a ferry to Dubrovnik. We could have caught the bus but some Poms we met the night before said we should definitely go to Dubrovnik by boat and they were right – it was so the right way to go to this very impressive city.

But before any sightseeing could be done, we needed to find a replacement impeller for our genset,which we eventually did out at the ACI marina the other side of town. Then it was back to town where we did the walk around the city wall that goes right the way round this magnificent old city. I’m sorry Sevilla, but I think I’ve just got a new favourite European city. The walk took a good couple of hours as we savoured both the city and the seascape from multiple brilliant view points. It was very hot and a bar half way round that sold fresh orange juice was a welcome pit stop.

Back at the boat it was time to pack, ready to head back to Perth for Cas’ 50th.

For photos of Dubrovnik and Kavtat see https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10200112301283200.1073741865.1620379103&type=1&l=e143951a3e

Mallorca – Part 3

The sail back from Menorca was great – just enough wind from the right direction to put up our geneker. For the first time since Cas was on board, we had the wind coming from a decent angle (and just enough of it as well). We were heading back to our favourite beach at Playa del Trench for two more nights. It was a long 60nm sail back, down to the bottom of Mallorca in a bit of swell, which stopped when we rounded the cape and the last 10nm to the beach was exquisite with the wind behind us on flat seas doing over 7kts.

The beach was as we left it – one of the best ones we’ve ever been to. Kevin and Di, who I met in Morocco and then again in Gibraltar were also there, and it was good to catch up with them again and have drinks and dinner at one of the two beach bars.

The next day was Saturday and we watched as the bay slowly filled up with boats, with each available piece of space being taken up by boats of all shapes and sizes. We had one of those idyllic days lazing around – anchored in 2m of water just off the swim markers; thinking we would start our boat cleaning chores the next day whilst anchored at this idyllic spot.

The weather report looked fairly benign, winds 6-9kts, light but coming from the SW which did put us on a lee shore – but with the winds light it should be fine. And nobody else seemed to be too worried as a lot of boats stayed for the night – being a Saturday night.

By early morning things were starting to get a bit rocky and rolly. The dingy was down and was chained to the boat. I got up at 6am and lengthened the painter and removed the chain, using the anchor rode as a safety to stop the dingy banging against the back of La Mischief.

By 7.30am things seemed a bit hectic and i got up to see waves breaking either side of La Mischief. I suggested Cas get up as well and we looked around to see one mono beached just up from us; and another six either beached, or on the rocks off in the distance. As we contemplated our next move, we watched the dingy on the monohull, closer into shore than us, detach itself and drift in the surf towards the beach. Later, Cas saw the guy surf his way to the beach and then row it back – thats quite some feat.

My party trick involved getting on the dingy (with a safety harness on) and lifting it onto the davits. That was fun as the waves came through. Then it was time to get our trusty anchor up and get out of there. I took one look at Cas and decided i’d better go up the front and leave her at the engine controls. Waves were pushing us everywhere and we got ourselves into a bit of a tangle as I asked Cas to apply more power to an engine, when it turned out she had more than enough on. This caused the chain to bend the anchor roller and jump off. Time to take a breath and get things organised. I managed to straighten La Mischief up and get the chain back onto the roller that was still semi-functioning. Then I took the controls and Cas sat up front and things worked a lot better.

Anchor up and we started the long 25nm pound straight into the 25kt wind back to Palma. We picked out one or two places that would provide us some shelter and off we went. We got to Las IIlettes and decided it would do. There was a dingy dock over at a small yacht club just up from Puerto Portals, about half a mile away and from there we could get into Palma.

Which we did and Palma did not disappoint. What a beautiful city, dominated by a huge cathedral, which was started way back in 1230AD. Behind the cathedral is the old city, with its delightful lane-ways, with great shopping and bars and restaurants.

We could have lingered there a lot longer than we did but we had boat chores to do.. The chanderly at Real Club Nautico de Palma was brilliant and we picked up a few things – trip line for the anchor, an anchor ball and a two-man inflatable kayak (which we’d decided on rather than a second stand up paddleboard that was our original intention). Then we had to find some electronic charts for the rest of the Med as our Platinum ones did not extend beyond Spain. I decided on the Gold ones as a single one covered the whole of the Med pretty much. The nice Swiss lady at the chanderly gave us directions to a marine electronics business, which had them and was 15 minutes away by foot.

Jobs done, it was back to the boat to do some cleaning and await the arrival of both Adrian and Anita together with the delivery of our new kayak. Adrian and Anita caught the bus from the airport and we met at the very swanky marina at Puerto Portals, where all the shops struggle to sell anything under 1000 euros.

After introducing them to La Mischief, we all went into Illettas Beach for some cocktails at a beach bar followed by some paella at one of the restaurants. Not a bad intro to Spain.

Next morning, before sunrise I dingied Cas into shore, so she could catch her plane home. Then it was food shopping time and repair the anchor roller time. After a few enquiries, I found a good stainless steel company out in the industrial area and now the anchor roller is as good as new.

Next morning, we had a bit of time before Roger turned up; so after going round to Palma harbour to fill our diesel tanks to the brim, we anchored to the east of the harbour, near a neat cafe with a breakwater, which we could tie the dingy to. From here we went into Palma and showed Anita and Adrian around,as well as doing some last minute shopping as we wouldn’t be stopping for the next 7 days straight.

Shopping done and back at the cafe sitting down with a beer, we noticed some kids in our dingy trying to start it. They weren’t getting too far without the key and it was locked to a ring on the breakwater, but even so, stern words were required. They turned out to be just a couple of naughty kids, and once I sorted them out, I offered to take about 10 of them for a dingy ride, whilst we were waiting for Roger. Its always good to do a bit of community relations.

A short time later Roger arrived and a very short time after that, we were off, heading towards Croatia 1000nm away.

For pictures of Mallorca, see https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4861729794017.1073741860.1620379103&type=1&l=1c46223673

Cala Heaven

Leaving Mallorca, we motored the first bit in pretty calm water and then even managed a bit of a sail as we neared Menorca, the most easterly of the Balearics. It’s a lot smaller than Mallorca being only 26 miles long and 11 miles wide.

The south coast of Menorca is one cala after another. We played pin the tail on the donkey and headed for the double cala of Cala Macarella and Cala Macarelleta. Unfortunately, being early afternoon on a Saturday, there were lots of other participants and no room to swing a cat (haha).

After that, we headed East and engaged in a bit of Cala hopping, going a half mile or so each time from Cala to Cala checking them all out. As we got to Cala Trebalujer, a couple of boats pulled anchor and left so we were able to slot nicely into their spot. And here we stayed for a couple of nights. It was simply stunning, surrounded by high limestone cliffs with what we imagined to be pirate caves from the days of Barbarossa, the famous Turkish pirate of the 15th century that frequented these parts.

As well as the usual swimming, sunbaking and paddleboarding, I also took the paddle board up a small freshwater river that flowed a mile upstream with heaps of fish and bird life. We also took the dingy exploring and checked out the caves and a few of the other calas.

Our next stop (read cala) was Cala Santa Galdana. We left about 10am so we could catch the gap in the traffic when everybody left their anchorage but had yet to drop anchor at their new one. That strategy seemed to work pretty well.

Whereas the previous cala was pure wilderness, this cala had a couple of whopping big hotels just back from the beach, together with shops and restaurants. Despite this, it was still a very pretty anchorage and we enjoyed our stay there. We ran into a Pom who had been coming to the same hotel here for the last 16 years for 2-3 weeks a year. He even left a small inflatable here to go fishing on.

After our days of Cala’ing we decided it was time to hit the big smoke and check out one of the two major towns on the island. So west we went towards Ciudadela, which used to be the old capital until the British moved it to Mahon, when they occupied the island for most of the 18th century.

In order to see Ciudadela, we needed a parking spot and we checked out a few, none of which were all that ideal, if you don’t want to pay up and stay in the town’s marina.

In the end we decided we would park in Cala Santandria, and by park I mean drop anchor in the middle of the narrow cala and then dingy a rope to shore to keep us swinging onto the boats either side of us, that had done likewise. Sort of Med mooring – without the use of a boarding ladder.

Cas had done a great job picking an anchoring spot, because when i snorkelled over to check the anchor, there was a nasty looking bit of metal/rope right next to the anchor, which would have snagged it big time if we had dropped the anchor there. Time to buy a trip line, given all the junk that is on the bottom of the med.

The Dingy was soon down and it was off into town. We decided a walk was in order and 40 minutes later we were there. The town was quite picturesque with narrow walkways and impressive buildings, with lots of shops to browse in – some built into caves in the rock walls – now that was cool.

The waterfront was particularly impressive and we enjoyed a great seafood lunch. It was getting pretty hot by that stage, so we worked out the local bus system and caught one back to the boat.

Our final two days on Menorca were spent in Cala Macarella, the one that was full when we first got there. The water was once again clear but the beach was sea-weedy with a lot of rubbish washed up and not cleared away. So the boat was definitely the place to be.

The beaches in most of the popular calas had yellow buoys denoting the swimming/no boating zone and I managed to get myself told off by the local life guard for stand up paddleboarding in the no boating area. Well there you go.

With our time running out, it was time to say goodbye to Menorca and head back towards Palma de Mallorca to be closer to the airport for crew handover. We hardly scratched the surface of this island, some say the north coast is the best and we never even made it anywhere near there.

Definitely needs some more time on the way out of the Med.

For photos of Menorca see https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4932339959227.1073741861.1620379103&type=1&l=261ce680b6

Mallorca Part 2

Safely back in Palma, we hopped in a cab and headed for Carreforre to stock up on some groceries, and Vodaphone to stock up on some internet credit.

Then it was back to La Mischief at La Rapida marina. Once we packed away the shopping, we left our last marina until La Mischief gets to Pescara in mid-August; and headed off a whole two and a half nautical miles to our favorite beach at Playa del Trench.

And there we stayed for three nights, swimming in the crystal clear water (29 degrees) over a beautiful sandy bottom. Occasionally we’d swim into the beach and back again. Or take the dingy in and go for a walk along the long beach, checking out all the nudists that came in all shapes and sizes, guessing which one were defying gravity via a previous visit to the plastic surgeon.

But all good things must come to an end and we eventually pulled anchor – although we could have quite easily spent the whole remaining two weeks there. We placated ourselves by penciling a couple of further nights at Playa Del Trench on the way back to Palma.

So off we went, right into the wind as seems to be our way. Even when we went round the Cape at the SE of Mallorca, it seemed to bend and still be in our face. We tried a few calas on our way but they were all either pretty well crowded out or pretty exposed. In the end we headed for Porto Colom and anchored in weed and sand off Sa Panta at a nice beach amongst 10 other yachts and boats.

After a run of 25nm, Porto Colom turned out to be a very pleasant fishing harbour, well sheltered on three sides, with a maze of mooring buoys and a smallish marina. We spend a couple of nights there, checking out the town, having a nice seafood lunch on the wharf and doing some clothes and shoe shopping. Returning to the boat we discovered a couple of fellow Australians and invited them over for a drink on La Mischief. Then a German guy swam up, so on he came; followed by a topless french girl and her boyfriend. At this point the G&Ts and champagne was flowing pretty damn well. As it began to get dark, the swimmers left and we hopped in A Little Bit of Mischief and headed to town. Here we found a bar with a singer and a guitarist and proceeded to dance to all hours of the morning. We ran into some crew off a chartered Lagoon 620, who told us the going rate for a weeks charter was 24,000 euro. Mind you a night in Ibiza marina costs them 1,500 euro.

Next morning, after a swim and a paddle board, we headed north once more and did a bit of Cala hopping. We finally found one called Cala Barcas that had space and dropped anchor in 2m of crystal clear water. We swam and relaxed the afternoon away.

But it was not a place to stay overnight as the swell was rolling in as the wind started to build a bit from the East, straight into the cala.

So it was off to Porto Cisto, where we anchored right behind Paradise and went and had a drink with Paul and Ness, before hitting town for a lovely meal overlooking the marina. It wasn’t the greatest anchorage in the world, as it was off to the side of the narrow channel with swell rolling in from the sea, and wake from the ferries as they passed close by.

Next day we headed further up the coast looking for a suitable cala to stay the night and get out of the swell that was building. We thought the anchorage just outside the marina at Radjada looked promising, but on closer inspection it turned out not to be the case. So we kept pressing northward, having identified Cala Molto as a possibility.

We got to Cala Motho quite late at about 7pm and it turned out to be pretty good. There were three other Lagoon Catamarans and a couple of monos already there already but there was plenty of room sheltered by a nice natural breakwater that we could tuck behind and anchor over beautiful clear sand. A great find in the end.

Next day it was up early and off towards Menorca, 20nm away.

For photos of Mallorca see https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4861729794017.1073741860.1620379103&type=1&l=1c46223673