A Summer of Visitors

July 3, 2012

Firstly, abject apologies for not getting this up on the web before now but things have been a little busy as you will see if you read on…..Our last blog was posted from Lipari in the Aeolian Islands as we waited for the weather window to make out crossing to Cagliari in Sardinia. The wind had been set from the west but eventually it went round to the north and was then forecast to drop away almost completely. We had reckoned that the trip would take us about 2 days, so we left about mid day so as to get in during daylight hours.

Having filled up both the water tanks and the fuel tank (and a couple of extra cans) we set off for Cagliari on 17 May. We had good winds for the first few hours before it died away as forecast and then we motored for most of the next day and a half. The wind, again as forecast, came up as an easterly the morning of 19 May when we were about 70 miles off Cagliari, giving us a great finish to the harbour. The marina we found was tucked up in the corner of the large main harbour, which is itself largely confined to ferry traffic as there is now a large container port just to the south. The marina was secure enough but only had basic facilities; at least they weren’t charging too much.

The cathedral and old town of Cagliari, Sardinia, perched on the hilltop above the modern city

Cagliari is a big city – perhaps the size of Chester – with an historic centre surrounded by the usual modern high rise stuff. The marina is about 30 minutes walk from the town and nearest shops, so the bikes eventually proved their worth although it was nearly a week before J plucked up courage to dig out her bicycle and brave the terrifying Italian road traffic.. I had had a phone call from my sister, Jinny, who was at her wits end trying to manage the care of both my parents, so I thought it best to go back to UK for a visit to help her sort things out. The boat was in a secure place and there were direct flights to Stanstead from the local airport. Our next door neighbours (a Dutch couple) let me use their internet access to book a flight and left on 21 May, catching the flight at just before midday.

In the meantime, J was home alone in a rather wet and windy Cagliari. The marina has a couple of ancient Fiats that can be rented by the hour for shopping trips and the like; she’d used one to take me to the airport and then did a big shop on the way back to the boat. The rest of her time alone in Cagliari was uneventful apart from a fairly alcohol-fuelled Saturday evening in the marina bar with other like-minded folk. Oh, and the phone refused to play after a few days, leaving her without any way of keeping in contact with people, which she found most frustrating.

I got back to the boat after a week in UK helping to sort out the care arrangements for my parents and taking a bit of the load off the others’ shoulders. Luckily, the weather was with us this time, and the winds were favourable for a departure to Mallorca on Wednesday. So on Tuesday we rented a marina car again and did a big shop, getting in 3 – 4 days worth of food and restocking on such vital items as beer.

We left Cagliari just after 10am on 30 May and motored down towards the tip of Sardinia before we picked up a wind from the just the wrong direction. We then spent the next 12 hours or so tacking round the tip of the island, covering about 70 miles to gain only about 40 miles or so over the ground. It was great sailing but slightly frustrating when you’re trying to cover the best part of 230 miles between ports.

Hoisting the Spanish and Balearic courtesy flags en route to Mallorca

We rounded the tip of the island by about midnight and as we did so, the wind disappeared, so we dropped the sails and motored for the rest of the trip. A bit frustrating but there’s not much that you can do about it! We caught sight of land at 3.20 pm on 1 June and entered Porto Colom some 4 hours later, dropping anchor at 8.50pm. The crossing is the longest we’ve done since the Bay of Biscay on our way out here and we felt quite pleased with ourselves. This season we’ve been doing 3 hours on watch followed by 3 hours off and have found this is a much better pattern than the 2 hours stints we used last time we did any long trips.

Jess and Charlie making sandcastles on the beach.

Anyhow, we’ve done 1124 miles since we left Messolonghi and made it to Mallorca 2 days before our daughter, Naomi and her family arrived from Dublin.

Lily and her daddy at the water’s edge

We moved on to a mooring buoy closer to the shore on Sunday and prepared the boat for an invasion by small folks; clearing the starboard cabin and generally making sure nothing dangerous could be found by inquisitive hands.

Jess and Lily throwing bread for the fish from the back of “Rampage”

Naomi and Ken arrived late afternoon on Monday 4 June with their children Charlie, Jessica and Lily. Naomi, Ken and Lily had a room in a hotel just over the headland from us, whilst the 2 older children slept with us on the boat.

We had a great ten days with the family, only marred by the winds which precluded any trips out in ‘Rampage’ except for a short aborted trip into a nasty mixed sea and high winds; we cut things short after about ½ an hour as it became obvious that whilst J and I might well have been having fun in the wind, no one else really understood what was going on and all the shouting (so a deaf skipper could hear) was upsetting all.

Charlie on the little old train that runs between Palma and Soller, Mallorca

Instead, we visited the old train from Palma to Soller, the beach, the Marineland dolphin attraction, the beach, Aqualand and various ice cream parlours. Charlie and Jess both abandoned their arm bands having mastered the art of swimming in the hotel pool and Charlie, Ken and I also watched the opening games of the European Cup competition.

Naomi, Jess and Lily above the bay at Cala Marsal where their hotel was just a short walk from Porto Colom

Naomi and family left on 14 June, taking a direct flight back to Dublin with Aer Lingus. Earlier the same morning, I had dropped J off at the airport as she flew back to UK to join her sister Lizzie for her 60th birthday celebrations. Lizzie and John were joined by J and her brother Ian at Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant in Chelsea, where they had a truly memorable lunch.

Our son, Jonno, with Duncan’s parents.

J stayed with our son, Jonno and wife, Lucy in London before embarking on an energetic series of visits to Jinny and my parents (Cheshire), my other sister,Susie (Lancaster), friends Susan and Andy (Carlisle), Kath (Newcastle) and brother, Mike (Wrexham) before flying back to Spain on 24 June, in company with her sister Lizzie.


Andy and Susan Mills who generously arranged for the Olympic flame to visit Carlisle the night I went there to see them.


In the meantime, I was joined in Porto Colom by Pete Lynch, an old friend from Shrewsbury days. We had a great week, sailing round Minorca. In Ciudadela, we ran into the opening of the fiesta of San Joan, where they carry decorated sheep round the street to the accompaniment of pipes and drums. Weird but the locals seem to be deeply moved by it….. From there we had a great days sailing round to Fornells on the north coast and then on to Addaya, where I awoke from my afternoon nap to discover Bob and Lesley in ‘Moon Rebel’ had dropped anchor in just behind us. We had a great chat before heading up to the restaurant serving the best ham and eggs in the Med, only to discover that it had unfortunately closed down. We found an adequate replacement just round the corner and then watched the football on the tv in the obligatory mock Irish bar.

Waking up the following morning, we realised that our time appreciation for the passage back to Porto Colom was out by about 4 hours; we need to leave immediately if we were to get back there before dark, so we left at the rush, neglecting to say farewell to the crew of ‘Moon Rebel’ – Bob and Lesley if you read this, please accept my belated apologies! (Sorry – no pics of Pete’s visit available.  The Ed)

Pete and I then had a couple of days taking things easy before he headed back to UK leaving me to clean the boat up before J returned for a white glove inspection. I picked her and Lizzie up late on 24 Jun and brought them back to the boat; interesting experience for Lizzie as it marked the first time she had used a dinghy to get from shore to boat, made all the more exciting by the great bulk of J’s enormous suitcase filling the dinghy.

Julia’s sister, Liz, enjoying supper aboard “Rampage”

J’s suitcase was so large as it had to accommodate a replacement for the Fortress anchor we lost in Rocella Ionica. We have, we think, started a minor new export industry; buying large, second hand suitcases in charity shops, filling them with stuff for the boat and then dumping them at the nearest skip when emptied. It works out a good deal cheaper than paying sleazyjet a fortune to fly an empty suitcase back to UK, plus it avoids having to store a suitcase on board.

After a pause to draw breath, we set off to repeat the previous week’s trip round Minorca. It was not to be. The forecast gentle westerlies turned into force 4 -5 northeasterlies – directly where we were trying to head. So, we spent the day tacking into the wind and tucked up for the night in a little place called Cala Molto, about 25 miles north of Porto Colom. It’s a lovely little anchorage with a resident school of fish that have learned to hang round the stern of yachts anchored in the cala in the hope of scraps. They attack any small object entering the water with gusto and excitement.

The next morning, the wind was back to doing what the forecast had said it would, so the anchor was hauled in and we motored round to Puerto Pollensa on the north west tip on the island. We’ve been here ever since, as the weather has not been kind to us. Well, actually, the weather hasn’t been all that bad but the forecast has been pretty dire, so we opted for the safe option and scuttled into the port here and got a berth for a few days. The winds then didn’t appear as forecast but hey, we have unlimited water and electricity for a change. On Saturday we hired a car and made the trip to Soller, as we couldn’t do so by sea. It’s a lovely little place that we visited last time we were here. We also went to Deia, where Robert Graves lived for many years; I found a nice little bar whilst J and Lizzie spent some time going round his house; result!


Lizzie on a blusterous quayside in Pollenca on her final evening with us, with threatening clouds behind.


Today (Sunday 1 July), the forecast winds did finally arrive and we’ve had some nasty swinging gusts coming through along with fairly heavy rain showers. J and Lizzie have been looking round various bits of local craft and tapas – all part of the local fiesta – whilst I have been relaxing on board. Tomorrow, Lizzie flies back to UK, so we have decided to have a bus trip into Palma to see her off. On Tuesday, my sister Jinny arrives for her visit; the weather forecast is such that we might just make it to Minorca.

Jinny is due to stay with us until 12 July, when we will take a few days to sort ourselves out before setting off for the south of France to meet up with our younger daughter, Polly and husband, Tommy. We have been told by the skipper of the French boat 2 down from our berth that the harbour of Coulliere (where they are staying) is ‘very poor’, so we will be making for the one to the south of there, I think!

Anyhow, you can now see how busy we’ve been over the past few weeks, which is an explanation for the delay in getting this up on the web. I’ll try and do better and get something out about Jinny’s stay whilst she is still with us!



  1. Love reading about all you’ve been up to! Makes my life look dull!!!! Glad you’re having the time of your lives x

    • Thank you Rach – so lovely to hear from you! xxx

  2. Hi there you two mariners. I am still enjoying your blog. It is as though I am on the trip with you in my mind, visiting all these interesting places. What fun you are having. All the best to you both. Happy sailing (if the wind allows it) Di xx

    • Great to hear from you Di and so glad you enjoy the blog. Must write another in the next day or so! Hugs! xx

  3. glad you are still having an exciting time! Terri

  4. Mags and Colin join us in a couple of weeks and will make the passage to France with us. They’re either brave or foolhardy!! Watch this space for further news!

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