TORPOINT MOSQUITO SAILING CLUB
Caprice at Sea
Photo of our visit in October to the Isle of Cabrera, Balearics.
had an adventure with weather on 30th October. We were waiting to leave
Andratx in the south end of Majorca when a SW F7-8 was forecast. We upped
anchor and berthed in the inner harbour on the town pontoon to wait for it
to pass through. We were awoken at 8am the next day with the wind
building & the sound of a headsail thrashing on the boat next to us. Two
young frenchman on a boat opposite were quick to react and saved it from
Hi to everyone – yes we are still alive and well and in Andratx in the south of Majorca. We had expected to be back on the Spanish mainland by now, making our way down to Gibraltar, or even in Morocco, but we have been held up by gales and have taken shelter in the port here. It must be winter, as not only have the clocks gone back, but we have taken down our sun bimini and put up the overall winter “conservatory” cover, which is where I'm sitting now writing this update. I have a good viewpoint for watching the charter yachts coming in for shelter – very entertaining as most have no idea how to manage the boats other than to use max engine power & bow thrusters to storm on to the pontoons, taking large chunks out of the boats in the process!
Daytime temperatures are still warm (20-23 deg), but the nights are coming in damper & colder, so glad to be on “electric” for a few days. Force 8 expected tonight and tomorrow, but we hope to be on our way by the weekend. We will do a passage stop in St Antonio on Ibiza before crossing to the Costa Blanca somewhere. Our only deadline to meet is December 19th when we have flights booked back to Bristol from Malaga, so are aiming to get the boat into Gibraltar if possible (cheap to live there as duty-free, but the marinas were full when we rang 3 weeks ago), or Benalmadena on the Costa del Sol. We'll be in the UK for 3 weeks until Jan 9th to spend Christmas with our families and hopefully catch up with some of you. Not sure yet where we'll be based – maybe staying on Keith's (Ian's brother) boat in Torpoint for some of the time.
I've been back on board for 7 weeks now, after my 9 week “summer holiday” in the UK. I saw or spoke to nearly everyone, but for anyone who I missed, I went back to escape the fearsome Med heat, leaving Ian circling Majorca with his friend John for crew. I did 2 days a week work in a Saltash cancer charity shop, which I loved, as such a change from my past work life. Mum & Dad did very well to put up with me living with them for all that time!
The temperatures have been perfect for me since coming back and thus I've been able to appreciate much better the scenery and lifestyle, which I didn't when circling Ibiza in early July. I never realised how beautiful and diverse Majorca is – from the Brit package holiday resorts catering to those who don't like “foreign”, to stunning scenery and exclusive resorts such as Denia, where the super-rich stay. Below is a summary of the last few weeks travelling the islands.
Ibiza & Formentera - Difficult as I said earlier for me to judge this as it was so hot (in the mid 30's early July) that I couldn't appreciate it much. We arrived overnight at Formentera from the Spanish mainland and picked up a free buoy (this is quiet common as anchoring has been banned in lots of popular places to protect the seabed). Picturesque, but too hot!! I hated St Antone on Ibiza. Crowds of British youth, all pickled red, roaming in gangs, drinking lager & generally showing the worst side of us, with bars etc all geared to their needs. A good anchorage though, if a bit crowded. It was very scenic sailing up the North West coast line – rugged and quieter.
By the way, don't come sailing here if nudity offends you - naked sailing seems to be the norm – for all ages and shapes – I've seem more bums and more than I could wish for. Not so good for someone like me to join in with though, with image hangups and fair skin!
Menorca - We sailed across to Cuitadella (pausing for a “man overboard” recovery when Ian lost one of his “crocs”), hoping to anchor, but that has all been stopped and we had to stay in a part-finished marina at 20 euros a night. We likes Cuitadella – lovely old streets and buildings and very Menorcan, having lost none of its atmosphere or culture, except for the ubiquitous restaurants lining the harbour (pricey from what we could see). We didn't circle the whole island as the north coast backs onto the Gulf de Lyon, where this time of year there are almost continuous gales, so settled instead for a bus ride across the island to the capital Mahon. Lots of very smart shops and a huge natural harbour. We later (in Soller port on Majorca) met a couple, John & Mandy who own a villa on Menorca and told us we should have persevered up to the north coast as the calas (coves) there are beautiful and worth travelling to – perhaps next time!
Isle of Cabrera National Park - We had to apply for a permit to visit here, about 15 miles off the Majorcan coast, but it was worth it. Only 50 boats a day are allowed to stay overnight in the main natural harbour – on free buoys. In season you can only stay 1 night, but in October we were able to stay for a week. There are no shops, facilities or water, just a small bar and set pathways for walking the island. We stocked right up and stayed 6 nights. The best I can describe it is was similar to being in a Scottish loch in the Western Isles, but more arid. There is even a castle on the hill at the entrance that reminded us of sailing under Castle Duart!
Majorca - My only previous visit was a week's package holiday by myself 30 years ago, when I stayed at Camp de Mar in an ant-infested hotel room overlooking the bin storage area! So my prior impression of Majorca was not favourable. However I would now recommend it to anyone, if you choose your resort carefully and especially for those of you with boats – these islands are a paradise to sail around, especially away from July & August, when we have had many stops in lovely calas all to ourself (you need never go in a marina, except to collect water). The scenery along the North and West coats especially is spectacular, with high cliffs that drop sheer into the sea so that you can sail almost close enough to touch them. We hired a car for a day to see the same stretch of coast from inland and some of the villages. We had visits from Ian's niece Kerry and her boyfriend (went with them to visit the Caves of Drach) and later, John (Ian's “crew”) and Dee, who were holidaying on the island – at Camp de Mar!!
Not sure yet what our sailing plan for 2009 will be – keeping our options open by wintering near or in Gib, as we can then turn either right to come back to the UK or left to continue in the Med to Greece/Turkey (with me in the UK again for July/Aug – so crewing opportunities with Ian for anyone interested!). It depends partly on our finance situation with Ian's income & whether we get “homesick” for family/friends.
Thanks to those of you who keep us in touch – we love to hear from you and your own lives and plans. See you in December – hopefully with my hair looking better than it does now – I took the clippers to it one morning in frustration and Ian had to come and tidy up my effort – it is now VERY short, but he's says it looks very French “chic” (he can be sweet at times!).
Denise & Ian xx Caprice,
28th October 2008
We are anchored in
Porto Colom on the SE coast of
Majorca. It's lovely
here - a safe anchorage, with access to water - all free! The weather has
proved changeable in the 10 days since I arrived back to the boat, but it
suits me, as not too hot. We are awaiting favourable winds to continue up
to Minorca. We've shelved the plan to cross to Corsica as too late in the
year (they get a lot of gales in Oct), so instead will slowly make our way
down the Balearics to mainland Spanish coast. We may now spend a week in
Morocco, before looking for a 3-4 month berth along the
Costa del Sol.
From: Denise & Ian Caprice
Sent: Monday, March 10, 2008 16:59
Subject: Canary Islands Trip Hi folks
Well we are now almost at the end of our Canary Islands winter trip. We are currently in Santa Cruz harbour on La Palma (furthest west of the islands), hoping to make our passage to Madeira possibly Wed to Fri this week (about 280 miles). We are really pleased we made the effort to come here, as it's an ideal place to spend the winter months aboard a boat. We've stayed on 5 of the islands, only bypassing Huerro and Fuertoventura.
My last 'round-robin' was sent just after we arrived on Lanzarote, from Portugal. Again I ended up seeing the inside of local hospitals, as I'd broken yet another bone in my right hand on the passage. It's now 6 months since I fell & damaged this hand and I'm still having problems with pains & stiff fingers. Still at least it's usable, unlike my left hand at present, as unbelievably I have had another fall (in the port, tripped over metal stud sticking up from ground) whilst here in La Palma and have badly bruised the forefinger and back of the hand. Besides this I also had 2 stitches in a deep cut above my eye, so again the Canarian hospital service has patched me up (thank goodness too for the E111)!
What follows is our roundup of the islands, from time spent in ports and hiring cars....
Lanzarote: The most different to the other islands, as still very volcanic & "black" looking. Took a trip up to the volcanic national park, where you have to go out to the craters on a guided tour bus. Very interesting to see once, but I wouldn't particularly want to stay any time, or revisit, as I found the "ungreeness" of the island too depressing after a while - like living in a quarry! The 2 marinas we stayed in were more expensive than we had hoped, although Marina Rubicon especially was very attractive.
Gran Canaria: (We sailed past Fuertoventura as wanted to get my hand looked at a larger hospital). Made for the capital, Las Palmas. Spent our first 4 days at anchor, but it was so "rolly" that we went into the marina as I couldn't climb in/out of the dinghy one-handed. This was our first experience of mooring the boat stern to the pontoon, rather than alongside and picking up the mooring buoy at the bow. Worked ok. This is the marina that the 300+ ARC boats had left from only 2 weeks previously (to cross the Atlantic). Still very busy, with boats of many nationalities waiting to travel on the Brazil, or like us, staying in the CIs for the winter. Las Palmas is a good size city, with smart shopping (incl. 3 x M&S shops) and great facilities for boats. Spent Christmas & New Year here. We put up our lights & tree, bought xmas treats & had duck breast for our xmas dinner. We found a beach front Chinese restaurant that had a much as you can eat buffet menu for 6 euros each - had my birthday meal there! Had a car for 2 days. The north is green with some spectacular high mountain precipitous roads, some single-track, so reversing can be fun. One of the "barrancas" (dry gorges) was like a mini Grand Canyon. The south is drier, with the big purpose-built resorts - not to our liking.
I returned to the UK on 14th Jan, where I had intensive physio work to my right hand and caught up with family & friends again. Ian meanwhile went back out to anchor off the marina, where he worked hard on sanding and varnishing some of the internal woodwork, including a lovely job on our table! On 6th Feb he sailed the boat over to Tenerife (80 miles), in prep for my return on the 8th.
Tenerife: After a couple of days in the marina near the airport, we sailed up the East coast and anchored for 4 nights off Poris. This is a small, quiet village, with a largely German 2nd home ownership population. Good anchorage, but again, as we were finding elsewhere on the islands, the Atlantic swell is always there, even on calm days and can make it uncomfortable aboard. By this time, our friends Tony & Sue Symes had arrived on Tenerife for a 3 week apartment holiday, so we arranged to meet up in Santa Cruz marina, further north. Had lunch on board - great to see them.
We hired a car again for a day & crammed all our sightseeing in. Again the North-South divide - north greener with more rain, south barren and drier, with the large holiday resorts. Tenerife has Spain's largest mountain - Mount Teida. We got there in time to catch the day's last cable car ride up the mountain (hadn't expected it to be open, so totally unprepared in dress, wearing only shorts, sandals & thin fleece). Everyone else is wrapped up in parkas & snowshoes, so obviously thought we were the mad English. The wind chill meant the temp was -17 degrees at the top - bloody cold! I thought my toes were going to drop off (Ian was worried about other parts). Still the ride was exciting and the views worth it.
We spent the next few days at Las Galletas marina on the south east coast. This is no more than an extended fishing harbour, but very friendly. Here we met up again not only with Tony & Sue (had a lovely paella at their apartment), but also Rob & Averill Burton, who had also arrived on Tenerife for an apartment holiday. We took them all out for the day on Caprice into the channel that runs between T and the isle of La Gomera. This is reputedly the best spot for whale watching and we were not disappointed. Within 30 mins we came across 10-12 pilot whales, some within yards of the boat. It was most exhilarating and conditions were perfect, being calm, hot and sunny. The next day, we were treated by them to Sunday lunch at a Canarian restaurant high in the mountains - had roast goat, which I can recommend!
La Gomera: 26th Feb we crossed the channel. This was not a fun trip. We started off with only 8 knots of wind so were motor-sailing. We were then nearing the wind acceleration zone and could see white horses ahead, so Ian put in 2 reefs as a precaution. Within minutes we had consistent wind at 30 knots with gusts up to 40! A lively crossing! La G is spectacular, very small, but sheer rock rising up from the water's edge. Found a couple of lovely anchorages. There is a big community of cave dwellers living here - hippy types who chant and walk around naked! These are very basic caves, not like those on Gran Canaria that have services piped to them and doors/windows. We spent 3 nights against the wall in the fishing harbour of Valle Gran Re. This is probably the most spectacular looking port we have ever stayed in - sheer 500ft cliffs rise just above the harbour walls. A very friendly town, completely unspoilt, although it does have some smart looking apartments along the local Playa. We loved La G and would come back again. A great place for anyone into hiking.
La Palma: Made the 54 mile passage on 2nd Mar and based here in Santa Cruz. This is the prettiest of the towns we have come across, very Canarian, not touristy, with lovely architecture. The island itself is very verdant and would be our choice of all 5 we have visited for a return stay. The Club Nautico that runs this small marina has magnificent facilities - indoor & outdoor pools, gym, sauna, smart restaurant - makes TMSC seem like the poor relation!
Well that's it folks - sorry it's so long & well done if you've persevered to the end. Our friend, Pete Cooper, is flying out to Funchal (Madeira) on the 26th March, so that is our deadline to get there. We'll then be looking for a weather window to make the 600m crossing back to mainland Europe - not sure where yet, depends which way the wind blows! Our next "deadline" is the 18th May - we have flights booked back to the UK from Corsica. We are only staying in UK for 1 week, as it will be expensive to leave the boat in the marina for any longer. The main reason for the visit is for Ian to see family and in particular, to see his actor son in his West End debut show on the 21st May. We'll be in the Plymouth area from 18th-20th (Tues evening up at TMSC), before going to his brother in Berkshire.
Please still keep in touch with us by email - we love to get your news too as makes us feel closer to home and friends.
Denise & Ian