To be honest, I didn’t want to go to Mallorca at all. I just wanted to skip both Mallorca and Ibiza and head straight for the Spanish mainland. I was picturing beaches full of tourists, dutch women in white clothes (happinezz readers) doing drugs and dancing in the moonlight. We’ve got a boat and go anywhere we like, why go to the epicentre of tourism? But the weather wasn’t looking too good and Thomas was interested in these islands so we made day trips from anchorage to anchorage.
Well, I have to say, the nature is stunning. The cliffs, coves and beaches are very pretty. The first bay we anchored was Pollença. It’s a big bay where we could anchor next to the little town. The anchorage was very busy and shallow so we anchored a bit further out. The dinghy dock in town was filled with more dinghies than we had ever seen, so this must be quite the cruising walhalla.
The next day we kept on going towards Sollér, where we would wait out some bad weather. This town, as well as Pollença, only consists of hotels and restaurants. We did run into one or two Spanish tourists as well, but the majority of the people seemed to be British, Dutch or German. It must be quite convenient for people who can’t speak a word across the border to vacation here, as the menus are available in all the languages mentioned above.
We were in a hurry to sail on, as we would meet my aunt and uncle in Cartagena and we still had a long way to sail. In Sollér we saw on the weather maps that a storm was rolling through and would bring some great wind afterwards, around 19:00 in the evening. We were desperate to get going, so we put on our bad weather gear, hoisted the anchor and went for it. As we pulled out of the bay, 5 meter waves and 30+ knot winds made us turn right around. This was way too much for a late night!
We did leave early the next morning and sailed through rainy but not too windy weather towards Ibiza. It took all day and a big part of the night to sail the 70 miles to Ibiza. We arrived in the dark and had to navigate almost blind because it was clouded and pitch dark. We chose the first small bay on the northwest as we read that the other anchorages have shallow rocky patches. We weren’t here to stay, we wanted to leave right the next day to sail to Cartagena. We hoisted the anchor, and then.. nothing. The engine worked, but the propellor wasn’t turning.
The death of our engine
We were still in the process of ordering an expensive exhaust cooler and now we found out that we had to add a flange to that list. Without the flange, the propellor wasn’t turning. To repair the flange, we would have to get a whole new gearbox. We did try to get the flange welded but that wasn’t straight enough to turn the propellor shaft. So the biggest problem with the Bukh engine is that the parts are very expensive and that they aren’t manufactured anymore. We would have to invest at least 3.000 euros to get it running again! After thinking about our options we decided it would be best to sail to Torrevieja, close to Cartagena. Here we contacted two engine dealers (Yanmar and Volvo). They both had new and second hand engines and there was a boat yard where we could be hauled out.
In the meantime, we were running really late for our appointment with my aunt Machteld and uncle Derk. They were already in Cartagena and decided they would take the ferry to Ibiza to meet up with us. They got the honour of sailing the engine-less boat to the Spanish mainland with us!
Sailing without an engine
It was a 120 mile sail and we expected it to take around 24 hours. Our boat neighbours were so kind to tow us out of the anchorage (thanks Tiger Lily!). They knew Torrevieja and had some tips for anchoring in the harbour and pointed out an island close to shore in case we would get caught in bad weather. So nice to have experienced sailors looking out for us!
When we were close to Ibiza there wasn’t too much wind, so we could swim and relax a bit until the wind picked up around 15:00. We saw big schools of fish (tuna?) jump and wiggle just under the surface of the water, we saw whales and dolphins and caught two fish (one got of the hook and the other one was an undersized tuna we threw back).
The wind and waves built up as we were sailing across the channel between the Balearics and the mainland, and Machteld and Derk were having a bit of a hard time getting and keeping their dinners down. They both took a side of the cockpit, laid down and waited out the worst of the waves. Thomas took the first night shift and I got into bed for a couple of hours of sleep.
When the worst of the waves was over, the wind decreased to 6-7 knots, which is just enough to keep us moving at 3 knots. When there is that little wind but still some waves, the noise of the flapping sails can be incredibly loud. When you’re inside the boat it sounds like the mast and rigging are coming down every wave! Lucky for me, it was my turn to keep watch and it kept me awake until my shift was over. There were a lot of giant fluorescent jellyfish which look like big glow in the dark balloons in the water. The jellyfish couldn’t distract us too much because there were a lot of big, fast tankers on the move that night. One came VERY close. We could see on AIS that he wouldn’t hit us but it was difficult to believe when we saw the big monster directly towards us.
When we reached Torrevieja, we dropped the mainsail and tacked into the harbour on only the headsail. I called our saviour, Oscar, who came out in his little tender (Zodiakkie, think The Hague accent) and towed us into the marina. Oscar and his mechanic jumped right on board, they were literally bouncing with excitement to take our old engine apart. We were are so relieved that we finally found a good mechanic who can communicate with us! You wouldn’t believe the difference with the ignorant Sicilian mechanics.