Written by Jon:
How much does it cost to go sailing? As much as you have plus about 25% – or so the joke goes.
When I was looking into a sailing budget and trying to figure out how much we would expect to spend every year I spent a lot of time reading other sailors breakdown of their expenses. It quickly became clear that the big difference between low budget sailing and high budget sailing came down to how often you eat in restaurants and how much time you spend in marinas.
The cheapest marina we can find in the Balearics at the moment is 50 euros a night, most are over 80-100 euros a night. So, if we aren’t staying in marinas where are we? On anchor!
The last time we were in a marina was Cuidadela on the 5th of June, since then we’ve been on anchor the majority of time. There have only been a few exceptions, for example, Cabrera (where you aren’t allowed to anchor). Other than that, we’ve been parking for free every night!
Thankfully, Itchy Foot is fairly well equipped for living life on the hook.
We have about 500 litres of water in our tanks which is used for washing dishes (often) and ourselves (seldom). Drinking water we still carry in 5 litre bottles from the supermarket to the boat in our dinghy. These 500 litres will last between 7 and 14 days depending how often we want to shower in fresh water, rather than simply take a dip in the sea to stay fresh.
We have a diesel generator onboard which so long as we run it for about 2 hours a day keeps us with a tank of hot water and enough power in our batteries to keep the refrigerator running, lights on in the evening and an anchor light shining at night. It’s not the best solution as we feel a little antisocial running a, albeit quiet, generator in these calm and peaceful anchorages.
So, every week or two we need to pop into a marina for 30 minutes to fill up our water tanks and pay someone about 5 euros for 500 litres of water. Oddly enough, it has just crossed my mind that we bemoan having to pay more than 5 euros for 500 litres but don’t think twice about paying 1 euro for 5 litres of bottled water at the supermarket. Curious.
Now, life on anchor is not all a bed of roses!
There are many challenges and frustrations – the main one being everyone else! Every boat entering the bay or cala is eye’d with suspicion and we debate with bated breath exactly where we think they are going to ‘park’. Will they drop their anchor too close to ours? How much chain are they putting out, will their anchor drag in the night, are they going to be playing music or watching football?
More worrying than the other yachts is often the small rental boats which litter the bays on weekend. Let me tell you a little story:
We were safely anchored in a windy but protected Cala on the south of Menorca a few weeks ago, it had been a very windy night and the yacht upwind of use had dragged in the night so I was up early knocking on his hull pointing out that I could have stepped onboard. He moved, it was fine. Later that day Mia was rightly concerned about a tiny little rental boat that was anchored very close to us. I confidently said that we had nothing to worry about as they were way to small to worry us, even if they did hit us there wouldn’t be any damage. So the three of us jumped into the dinghy to head ashore and explore the beach, just as we were passing the front of our boat Mia noticed that this small boat, and another like it, were struggling with their anchors and drifting even closer to Itchy Foot. We put our dinghy between them and Itchy Foot and I jumped back onboard to push the smaller boats away. After only a few seconds they freed themselves from what I assumed (wrongly) was each others anchors and off they zoomed, laughing all the way.
NB – Not the actual boat, but very similar!
At this point I was distracted, trying to express my displeasure with them through body language. Thankfully Mia was, once again, paying attention and shouted (from the dinghy, with Teo) that Itchy Foot was dragging into another yacht behind. It turns out that the little rental boat had managed to trip up our anchor line and lifted our anchor off the bottom, resetting it, when clearing their own. And we were quickly falling back towards another yacht behind us. I rush around, starting the engine, driving us forward, running up to the bow to lift the anchor, running back to steer, etc. etc. trying to get us safely away from other boats and also back under control. Mia did a great job with Teo in the dinghy keep off a safe distance and remaining calm. Teo was very calm about the whole thing, just telling Mamma what Pappa was doing and reassuring her that she was doing a great job driving the dinghy. In the end, I got just enough control to get Mia and Teo back onboard safely and we re-anchored back where we started. It ended well enough. We never did make it to the shore that day.
What else? water conservation!
Showers? Oh yes, we try to conserve water where possible so showers are few and far between. Thankfully the sea is lovely and clean and a nice shampoo on the back of the boat with a quick rinse does wonders. But, it’s just not the same as a nice hot marina shower.
Laundry? There is a whole blog post on the subject of laundry. The short version is that all of the coin operated laundry-mats have closed and the only place you can find one is in a marina. In the end we anchored outside of the marina and snuck in with the dingy in the early hours of the morning to do stealth laundry runs.
Finally, and most importantly, you need to keep a close eye on the weather forecast to pick and choose your anchorage depending on where the wind and swell is coming from. There are nights we get that wrong, either due to incorrect forecasts or a shortage of anchorages which are protected from the direction we need. For example, tonight we’re in a lovely little cala on the east coast of Mallorca, Cala Barcas. Quiet. Beautiful. And like most of the anchorages on the east coast of Mallorca it is open to the east. Which would be OK if we didn’t have an easterly swell rolling in causing Itchy Foot to bob around. It’s perfectly safe but not conducive to sleep – which is why I’m writing a blog post at 3am.
Are there protected calm places for the night? Sure, about 20 minutes north of here is a nice little marina for 80 euros a night. I’ll put the coffee on.