Written by Jon:
Back in August we were contacted by a couple of friends from Oslo and Helsinki, Sini and Clive, who independently expressed an interest in coming to visit us sometime in September. We knew we wanted to start making our way westwards so rather than trying to join us in Menorca (since we really needed to start moving) we asked them to look for flights to somewhere on the Spanish coast, or maybe Ibiza. As it turned out, they were both free around the same time and could both get to Alicante relatively easily in early September.
So that was our goal. Alicante by the 7th of September! Trouble at the boat yard and even a forest fire delayed our departure, but in the end we let slip our lines at lunchtime on the 7th and the sail across to Alicante would take about 48 hours. Clearly our goal of arriving on the 7th wasn’t going to happen!
At 48h this passage was going to be our longest yet as a family of three. The weather forecast wasn’t perfect, but at least what little wind we were supposed to have should be blowing us in the right direction. We motored out of Addaya and Dennis and Gwen, a lovely couple we’d met in the marina in our last few days there even walked to the end of the headland to wave us off, yelling and cheering. Out to sea and the sails came out and the motor turned off. We managed to sail all that afternoon and evening, around the north east coast of Menorca and Mahon the capital.
The plan for the over-night watches was fairly simple and based on an idea we stole from our New Zealand friends Jim and Karin. Rather than formal watches over-night, one person stays up as late as they can and once they feel too tired they wake the other and switch. I offered to take the first watch, so after dinner Mia went off to bed for an early night. Teo, as it was our first over-night passage, was offered the chance to stay up as late as he liked.
So Teo and Pappa sailed off the coast of Menorca, towards the Islands of Cabrera and the south east corner of Mallorca. Once the sun had gone down I took down the bimini (the sunshade over the cockpit) and we could stretch out on the cockpit seats and watch the stars. It got to about 0130 and Teo start to complain that he was getting cold so I recommended he go and curl up with mamma – he figured that was an OK idea but insisted that he wouldn’t sleep as he wanted to keep us company all night. It was just to warm up – honest. Suffice to say that I didn’t see him again.
About three in the morning I went down to make coffee, porridge and to wake up Mia. We then stayed up together for an hour, chatting and discussing the ships and fishing boats you could clearly see on the AIS, a radio based navigation system and excellent addition to the boat. I went off to sleep on the sofa in the saloon where Mia could easily shout to throw something at me if she needed my attention. She woke me at about 9am and everything was fine. Mia’s first solo watch through the night had gone perfectly and she was lucky enough to enjoy both the stars after the moon set and passing by Cabrera as the sun came up about 7am. Her only regret was not snapping a few photos.
Day two went by without too much trouble. Unfortunately there was more motoring, we could have sailed slowly but we were eager to get to Alicante to meet our friends so on went the engine. We both managed to grab an hour or two nap during the day while one of us was on watch and keeping and eye on Teo. The second night went much like the first, Teo went off to bed nearer 10:30 as the novelty of night sailing had already worn off. I found it a little hard to stay awake but the audio edition of the economist kept me going – we need to find some good podcasts for our future night watches – recommendations are welcome! Once again Mia took over at 3am, but as we were crossing shipping lanes on our approach to mainland Spain she had to wake me for a consult a couple of times in the night. Still, I had no trouble getting back to sleep and all was well.
Time on the day of our arrival seemed to creep along, with a very strong sense ”Are we nearly there yet??” Shortly before we arrived in Alicante in the early afternoon we crossed the Greenwich meridian, moving from the east of the world to the west. Very poignant for our travels westwards. Also, we realised we don’t know when we’ll be back in ‘the east’ – maybe somewhere around Fiji?! Anyway, all west from here.
Our friends were waiting patiently for us on the dock in Alicante, and after a very tight entry into a marina berth we cracked open the Gin and Tonic and started to unwind. More about our time with visitors to come.