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Back to Sea!

May 4, 2010

Well, as we sit here at anchor in a wet, windy Puerto de Pollenca in north eastern Mallorca, we can reflect on a winter in Barcelona and the start of a new cruising season. Firstly, let’s look back on what’s been going on since we last put something up on the blog back on 19 April.

Meggie scrubs the decks!

Meg and Bron finally escaped from Barcelona after 11 days here on 22 April. A coach took them to Lille and then another on to London. From there they made their way back home to Cardiff. Sleazyjet had offered them a flight on Sunday 25 April but Bron decided it was better to jump ship on Thursday as there was no guarantee that the flight would in fact happen. They had a nightmare of a trip, not arriving in back in London until the early hours of Saturday – we got a text from them as we rolled back on board Rampage at 1am-ish after a few drinks on board Tantrum.

Bron and Meg at the Citadel Park in Barcelona

Our next (and final) visitors arrived the following afternoon: J’s sister Lizzie and her partner John. We met them at Franca station and walked back to the boat through a lovely sunny afternoon. That evening we went to the “Son et Lumiere” at the fountains at Placa Espanya. We’d known about this show for months but had never managed to motivate ourselves enough on a Friday or Saturday evening to get along to it. Big mistake! It was a great thing to do and we can fully recommend it to anyone who is in Barcelona on a Friday or Saturday evening. Best thing of all is it’s free!

The amazing music & light show at the fountains near Placa Espanya

On Monday, we took Lizzie out for a sail whilst John went exploring in Barcelona. We had a good day out and used the new cruising chute and its snuffer (or snotter according to Linda who kindly brought it out from UK for us.) This, as she so delicately put it, is a condom for the sail making it easier to hoist and lower. However, as we returned to Port Vell, Julia decided that she needed to become the centre of attention and, having put out the fenders, managed to turn her ankle rendering herself useless as a crew member. Lizzie was introduced to steering a 40 foot sail boat at naught minutes notice whilst I put a bandage on J’s ankle – she did well, hitting nothing and not even squeaking in panic as she was tasked to do the job! We managed to get Rampage safely back alongside without further incident and decided that J’s ankle was really quite swollen and she hadn’t been bluffing.

John and Lizzie took us out to supper that evening in the Born – a district of Barcelona. We had a great meal, mainly due to the fact that John is a professional chef who speaks fluent Spanish, so not only did he know what he wanted to eat but could order it effectively. I haven’t eaten quite so much in a single sitting for ages, all of it well cooked and tasty.

Not content with the attempt to add a few inches to our waistlines, John then cooked a superb seafood lunch for us the next day before he and Lizzie left for the airport. Great visit!

Our focus then shifted on to our impending departure from Port Vell. Rampage was pretty much ready to sail after all the jobs we’ve done on her over the winter so it was more a question of watching the weather and getting provisions aboard.

Weather watching is something of an art form amongst cruising folk and is something of an individual sport. Everyone has their own favourite site and their own approach to what represents ‘good’ weather’. Our usual site is one call grib.us and provides us with a 7 day forecast of wind, cloud and rain in 25 mile squares. We’d looked at the forecast and thought that Saturday was a good day to start with not much wind and clear skies. Steve on the other hand thought that Monday was a much better bet, with 30 knot winds coming from the west and north so we could make a ‘storming’ crossing – not our idea of cruising weather at all! Mix in the rain clouds, which his favourite site didn’t show and you can see why, after a good deal of indecision, we finally opted to leave on Saturday morning.

J did the final bits of shopping and went off to the Marina offices to argue about how much they owed us whilst I did all the bits required to separate Rampage from her berth. We were all stowed and ready to leave by 1130 and were waved off by Richard, Ruth, Linda and Josie. A final farewell was from Steve on board the super yacht he captains – he gave us a passing salute on his siren.

The crossing to Mallorca is about 100 miles and it took us 23 hours – arriving 10am yesterday. The middle bit of the crossing was on the motor, as the wind disappeared (as forecast) early evening and didn’t come back until the wee hours of the morning. We then sailed all the way up to Puerto de Pollenca before losing the wind in the final approach. Dropping the sails, we entered a lovely protected bay with the town running down to the shore; we anchored about a quarter of a mile offshore and, once sure that the anchor was holding, settled down to have a good sleep, especially J as she hadn’t managed to sleep much on the trip across.

Yesterday afternoon we took the tender ashore and did a little recce of the town. After Barcelona, it’s a bit ‘trippery’: too many places offering English breakfasts and Guinness, but there’s a big supermarket in walking distance of the shore and buses to the rest of the island.

Back on board Rampage, as made “superburgers” and cooked them on the Cobb barbeque we bought last year at the Barcelona Boat Show. The barbeque is ideal for use on board, as its outside casing cleverly does not get hot, so it doesn’t need a special rack or support to stop it burning the boat. Much recommended by the crew of Rampage!

The looming storm clouds - difficult to put a picture in capturing the storm as by the time it was at full throttle, I wasn't going out to take pictures!

After an early night, we woke to the sound of rain on the cabin roof and it’s stayed that way ever since! OK, we knew that the forecast was for high winds and rain but really, this is more the sort of weather we expected on the Menai. At least it is due to clear up tomorrow although the winds are due to build a bit more before tonight, so I’d better take a break now, let J have a look at this and check to make sure that the anchor is stable…

… Anchor is fine but we’ve put out a kedge anchor as well, just to be sure & J has baked bread for lunch. Plan to “batten down the hatches” and sit out the storm…

The herbs after their storm tossed adventures landed them in clink....

… Now midday Tuesday and we have survived a fairly spectacular storm (winds Force 8 – 10.)  We didn’t get much sleep but came through largely unscathed other than a drowned outboard, (now restored to full health) and a tattered foresail.  The herb garden (presented by Barbara) made an escape bid but were recaptured and are now in solitary confinement, having made a dreadful mess of the cockpit!

The Skipper takes the genoa for repairs

NB There are now a few photos posted to the previous blog!

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