Sunday 6th Sept 2015
We left Almerimar yesterday lunchtime to get ahead of the high winds forecast to funnel down from the east towards the Straits of Gibraltar, but find ourselves this morning, as for the whole trip, sitting in very light winds from the northwest! The sea is very calm, the air heavy and it is spookily quiet. There are no other boats in sight and just a few cargo boats showing up on the AIS, it is just us, the sea and the dolphins. Of which there are plenty, one pod has just joined us to swim in our bow waves. They were so close we could almost touch them, they stayed with us for about half an hour and finally we got some good photos.
As our time in the Mediterranean draws to an end we have been reflecting on the great time we have had over the last couple of months and gathering our thoughts.
Unfortunately, the first thing that comes to mind as we sit motor sailing yet again, is that in this part of the Med at least, you would do better to have a motor boat, for the majority of our time here we have not had enough wind to sail in. When we have had some, there has either been too much or it has been directly behind or in front of us. Since turning the corner at the southern end of Portugal at the beginning of June we have logged over 2000nm, clocked up 300 hrs of engine time but only had decent sails on about eleven days!
Next, we can report that the super rich are alive and kicking. The amount of money sitting in marinas and in the anchorages around Ibiza, Forementera and Mallorca is staggering. We have seen stunning sleek 200ft sailing yachts, huge 450ft motor yachts, sexy Riva launches and ugly stealth motor boats. What we have been surprised about is that they all cling together in the same places, surely having wealth is about exclusivity. The only conclusion is that being seen bathed in your wealth is more important.
There has been a distinct lack of fish around the coast as I mentioned in my last blog but deeper waters must still have plenty as we ate great fresh fish in almost every restaurant we went to and the abundance of dolphins would suggest that too. We have drank more wine, mojitos and large gin and tonics than is probably wise and consumed platefuls of Serrano ham and Spanish cheese. Are clothes fit a little more snugly than when we arrived.
On a less positive note we have been very disappointed by the fruit and veg. Passing now back down the coast of Spain and remembering how we sailed, a couple of months ago, past the acres of plastic coverings with fascination, we look at them now with regret. There has been little of that great Mediterranean sweetness and intense flavor we were looking forward to, especially in the soft fruit and tomatoes, all we can think is that they are being grown too quickly in the false environment of the polytunnels producing the wishy washy flavours we get at home.
The sea has been fantastic, despite the abundance of floating rubbish. Crystal clear, every color of blue and turquoise and warm, beautifully warm. There were evenings when the wind had dropped and the sea was perfectly calm, when we swam it felt like we were gliding through silk.
Northern Mallorca was a revelation from the sea and from onshore, we loved it. We really got to grips with anchoring and had many fabulous nights in its stunning Calas. Our substantial anchor and meters of chain allowing us to anchor deeper than the crowds.
We have learnt about living on board and being at sea for days at a time, how to get quality sleep, provision efficiently and manage our water supplies. We have mastered and love our chart plotter and auto pilot. Rick is at one with his yacht and I can now run around with fenders, throw lines, tie knots and stand night watches. We are beginning to feel prepared for the bigger challenges to come.
Finally, we have learnt that you can’t trust the weather forecasts in this region, the forecasts have definitely been more wrong than right. Let’s hope their accuracy improves as we head out into the Atlantic. Next stop the Cannary Islands.