Written by Jon:
Time to move on from Palma. A number of reasons forced our hand to leave, firstly our friends from Mezzo Magic moved back to Soller for the start of their work for the season. RCNP (Real Club Nautico Palma) the marina we were staying in wanted our space back for the boat show that is coming to town. But mostly it was time to stretch our legs and scratch our itchy feet!
You are never completely ready. If we waited until everything was done we’d never leave the marina. But with my most precious cargo of Mia and Teo onboard I’m trying to be as cautious as possible. The plan was to pick a nice calm day and have a leisurely motor-sail around to Soller (about 8 hours) before dropping anchor in the bay.
A few days before we put together a ‘short list’ for stuff we must get done before we go and started ticking items off. We made good progress and with a couple of long days of prep I felt confident and happy to go.
Friday morning and I got up early to a grey, windless and slightly chilly morning – not perfect but OK for what we had planned. After showers, coffee and a little last-minute boat prep we were just about to start the engine and leave our marina berth when the pitter patter of little feet and Teo emerged from the bedroom demanding breakfast; a last minute delay.
Mia took the helm and I slipped our lines; she skilfully guided us out of the berth we’d been sitting in for the last few months. Palma is a busy shipping harbour, but we didn’t have too many cargo ships or ferries for Mia to deal with as she navigated us out into the bay and set course south west. The sea was calm and after finishing off his breakfast Teo put on a fleece, climbing harness, clipped on and joined us on deck to watch Magaluf slide past. After a few minutes on deck Teo announced that this was his “favourite day on Itchy Foot”.
Just as we were passing Portals we heard the following on the VHF: “Big Boy, Big Boy, this is Envious, Envious, Over” – best call sign combination ever.
Half-way to Soller is the port of Andratx, we’d heard good things about this place and as we were passing I dug out the cruising guide. The guide also spoke positively about the port town and the ‘old’ town which is free from tourism, what’s more they had managed mooring buoys. We were tired of motoring and spending a night or two on a mooring buoy seemed like a cheaper option than another marina (long story about anchor chain for another time) in Soller so after reading about the approach and checking the charts we agreed to change plans.
Mia and I discussed a technique for stress-free picking up mooring buoys:
First motor slowly through the area and agree which buoy you intend to pickup. Then rig-up a ‘lasso’ on the foredeck, which is just a long line of rope attached between the two cleats on the front, running in-front of everything else. Then agree on a set of hand signals you intend to use. Finally, discuss what we expect to happen and also what we’ll do if something goes wrong.
Mia was back on the helm, and motored slowly towards the mooring buoy from directly down wind. I was on the foredeck pointing in the direction of the buoy and indicating distance off. Once we got close Mia stopped the boat and I dropped the loop of line over the buoy. We drifted back on the wind until the line caught and then we could relax and take our time switching out the temporary lasso with a couple of more permanent mooring lines.
The only problem was that the first buoy we picked up didn’t have any pickup lines, so we did the whole thing again on a second mooring. Both executed perfectly with Mia on the helm.
A safe, successful and stress-free first hop around the coast of Mallorca was celebrated by fighting with the dingy and outboard engine for the next three hours. We finally got across a to town for a an hour at the playground and then dinner and a much needed beer as the sun went down.
We all slept great bobbing around on the mooring buoy and it was lovely to wake up to the pretty shifting views of Puerto de Andratx and we have decided to stick around a little while. We ate Swedish pancakes the first day (ArmPit will be so proud) and we have been to check out the village at the port and the older town a couple of miles inland. Many places in Mallorca have this split location setup, probably part historical (to keep inhabitants safe from attacks from the sea) and partially because they just needed more space.