Written by Jon:
Our friends Jim and Karin on SY NZ Victoria were studying the weather meticulously, waiting for their chance to get out and sail to northern Italy. Unfortunately for both them and us it didn’t look good for heading north or east. Itchy Foot and her crew had our eyes set on the nearer prize of Port de Soller, which was only about four hours sail away but also headed north and east.
Finally, Jim said the weather looked good for their passage over the Gulf of Leon leaving early on Tuesday morning. It would also be perfect for us to pop around to Soller. More pressingly it seemed like the forecast after Wednesday would see winds out of the NE for several more days. Time to GO.
We didn’t do much to prepare the day before our trip, preferring instead to take the bus into Palma city to go the last days of the Super Yacht boat show that had been running for the last week. The bus trip from Port de Andratx to Palma is slow and littered with stops in some of Mallorca’s less attractive tourist traps. After an hour of gawking out of bus windows and the occasional game of eye-spy with Teo (who has graduated from colours to letters) we arrived in Palma. First a quick bite to eat at one of our favourite tapas bars:
Teo food rating:
- Bread and garlic mayonnaise = two thumbs up
- Chorizo sausage in wine = two thumbs up
- Croquettes = one thumbs up
- Melon and ham = one thumb up (melon) one thumb down (ham)
Then off the boat show. We met H who had kindly organised a couple of tickets for us. The show was fairly quite, being the last day, and had a nice mix of different stalls. We tried to find a kayak at a bargain price but got there a little too late I suspect. I had a nice chat to a guy who had designed and was selling a ‘scuba’ system where the “Peter” tank stays on the surface in an ‘unsinkable’ plastic raft and the divers take tubes down below. Very cool stuff and high on the list of things I want should we end up sailing across the pacific.
But time marched on an back to the boat we went. Just one quick job before dinner a bed: put the dinghy onboard and tied down on the front deck. Time to try out the lifting sling I’d made a few days earlier specifically for getting the dinghy in and out of the sea. Good news, the sling worked perfectly and she came up and out easy enough. Bad news, when I disconnected the outboard engine from the external fuel tank the pipe between the two broke and sprayed petrol over the inside of the dinghy (thankfully not all over our teak decks). So, as usual, the purely theoretical ’5 minute job’ turned into a two hour long strip and clean the dinghy. Sleep.
The next morning I was up early preparing for the hop round the coast. Re-read the pilot books. Make a few notes. Put in some new waypoints on the plotter. Ready to go! With Mia on the helm (she has done all the close quarters manoeuvring so far) we slipped the mooring buoy and motored around to the fuel pontoon to top up our tanks. Again, a perfect approach from Mia meant that I could step gently onto the pontoon without so much as a raised voice. Just for reference, we put in 150 litres of fuel (about 40 gallons) and it cost us about 150 euros (170 USD). To fill her up from empty would cost three times that, about 500 USD for a full tank!
With Itchy Foot now full of fuel and water we set off to Soller. First west, down to the island of Dragonera, through a narrow and beautiful little channel between the island and Mallorca and then turning north east for a long stretch up the stunning, cliff lined, north west coast of Mallorca. Once we had a spot of lunch and the wind had picked up a little we turned off the engine and managed to get a little sailing done. Unfortunately it was a little short lived with the wind fading and the swell increasing but for an hour or two it was perfect. The warmth and the motion of the ocean sent Teo off to sleep down below and Mia and I got to sit, relax and chat while Itchy Foot sailed nicely to Soller.
We arrived in Soller about 4 in the afternoon and were just looking for a place to drop anchor when Mark (from Mezzo Magic) buzzed over in his dinghy to welcome us to their home port and guide us to a nicely protected spot of anchor between the mooring buoys. The approach wasn’t easy: scattered with tiny local mooring buoys (too small for us), power boats buzzing in and out of the marina, tourist ferries leaving and even pedal boats crammed with pink sinked tourist families doing their best to get in our way. But Mia kept her cool, dodged everything and stopped up in exactly the right place, bows into the wind so I could drop the anchor and drift back putting out a chain. Not as much chain as I would like but with very small swing room it would have to do and the forecast was light winds for the next few days.
Mark popped by and asked if we wanted anything from the supermarket in town, he came back with Nikki an hour later with a bottle of ‘Mia’ wine and a few supplies. We popped some bubbled and toasted a successful passage and safe arrival in Soller. Wheeee we slept on anchor on Itchy Foot and were comfy cozy in Puerto de Soller, now it only we could find reliable internet…