Mediterranean Meanderings

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The alarm goes off at 04:30, up for a quick shower, breakfast, call the family and load the car. Back to my days with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary heading off on yet another trip, far too conscientious to be late. With everyone breakfasted and the car loaded with luggage, like a well oiled machine, we set off for Liverpool Airport.

We duly met up with Jon & Jaks, our companions for the forthcoming trip, after signing in. The flight to Barcelona was happily uneventful. Approached by a taxi driver to take us to our destination, he took us away from the taxi stand towards the car parks. My first thought was he on the level, so checking the price, which seemed reasonable, he disappeared off, and I raised my concerns to Jon. How wrong was I? Within a minute he came round the corner in a proper seven-seat taxi. He delivered us to Blue Star berthed in Port Ginesta, left his phone number just asked to give him a call two hours before we wanted to leave.

Blue Star in Barcelona

Blue Star in Barcelona

We unpacked and headed to a bar for lunch the weather was fantastic, just as it had been three weeks before, the last time I was onboard Blue Star. I purchased a new courtesy flag, as the one flying was just strands. I raised the new one with the reverse burgee just below. Sarah and Jaks did the shopping while I went through the boat with Jon on all the systems aboard.

The next day we left Ginesta for Barcelona. I did a safety briefing and told everyone what was to be done to slip our berth. Slightly nervously as this was not my boat, the crew did everything as asked and we left Ginesta with no fuss. The forecast was for a Force 4, should have been a nice sail except the wind was on our bow. Once into deep water Matthew, my son, took the helm. He had proved to be a wonderful helm last year up in Scotland, not letting his concentration slip, unlike his father. As we headed East up the coast passing Barcelona Airport, the wind built. Roy, the owner of Blue Star, had said when he went to Port Vell he had been dodging cruise liners in the docks, so I decided to sail past the docks and head straight into Port Vell further east. Great idea except the wind built up to a 7, the swell built to 2.5m, then I found out the ferries use this entrance. I called up the marina on VHF to find our berth, and was told to proceed to the fuel berth and wait till the office opened.

Matthew helming

Matthew helming

The fuel berth was an alongside berth with vessels moored stern to on the left pointing at the fuel berth and other vessels again moored stern to on the right by pointing straight-out. This was a bit different from Conwy marina; these boats weren’t boats at all, but ships 10, 20, 30, 40 million pounds worth. A billionaire’s plaything. Having a bump was not an option; I could not come back and tell Roy I had panged his new pride and joy. After a bit of manoeuvring we were tied up for now. Jaks had just made a cup of coffee when we were told to go the marina office. I took all the papers, our passports and Sarah who at least was learning Spanish. As Blue Star had been here before I was asked where the owner was, in Canada skiing, must use that answer more often. Back on board with the berth number, we left the fuel berth and headed for G18, our berth for the next two days.

That evening we headed into town to find the tourist information centre, in driving rain I took shelter in a shop to take a call from Roy, he wanted to know how the boat was performing. It got us out of the rain for a few minutes. We found the tourist information office and with Sarah loaded up with leaflets we headed back, stopping for a warming hot chocolate on the way. That evening Sarah decided on a plan of attack to do the sights of Barcelona.

The following morning the Hiltons set off, John & Jaks heading off on foot. We took the tourist bus and stopped at the Sagrada Familia cathedral and Park Guell where we had our packed lunch.

Sophie and Sagrada FamiliaSophie & Sagrada FamiliaPark GuellPark Guell

In the afternoon we stopped at the medieval centre and visited the Roman museum. The tour took us past the Olympic stadium and the Nou Camp where Barcelona were to play Bayern Munich that evening. We had been blessed with good weather not hot but at least dry. The next day was even better with the sun cracking the flags. We again headed into town to visit the Picasso museum, then Sarah visited the Dali museum. The kids had had enough culture so I took them for a hot chocolate. We went down the main shopping street where people were dressed as statues. On the way back Emma spent her holiday money on a Prada handbag from a street vender, a sign of things to come, God help her husband.

BarcelonaBarcelonaSarah, Sophie and some RomanSarah, Sophie and some Roman

I had been lucky enough to do the delivery trip last September from La Sables on the Atlantic coast of France to Port Ginesta near Barcelona some 1500 nautical miles. Which gave me an understanding of how Blue Star worked, with one further trip on board, I believed I understood all of her systems.

Late that afternoon we left Port Vell and headed for Majorca, a trip over a hundred miles, which is why I had decided on an overnight passage. Once we had dodged all the shipping we raised the sails and were soon preceding at 8 knots, after a few hours we motored so we could all eat the evening meal. Fatal mistake as the wind came round onto our heading, we motored through the night as the wind and seas built then died. John and Jaks taking one watch, Sarah and I the other, three on and three off. It was an uneventful night with hardly any other vessels about. We arrived Port de Pollencea about 09:00 hours, after calling the marina up on the VHF we were guided to our berth by the marinano’s, between two large motor cruisers.

DSC Reverse BurgeeDSC Reverse BurgeeJon relaxingJon relaxing

We stayed two days in Majorca with the kids swimming in the sea even though it was not that hot. When I had been here in March it had been glorious, more like July weather. We went out for a meal one evening and walked round the town and had a few beers. John and Jaks went for long walks to other bays.

Jon and IJon and IJaks, Sarah and SophieJaks, Sarah and Emma
SophieSophieMatthew and Captain Jack SparrowMatthew and Captain Jack Sparrow

The forecast was for a force four on our way back. We left late afternoon another night passage. The wind steadily built as we headed out of the bay, once round Capo de Formentor the seas built to two and a half metres. The wind instrument had been playing up all trip, even saying on our voyage up to Barcelona we had a gust of ninety-seven knots. It was a good six with gusts up to eight right on the nose. Whilst Sarah was below she saw a dolphin out of the saloon window, unfortunately the kids missed it. I had turned all the air vents round facing aft, which didn’t stop one wave bouncing back and depositing half a pint of salt water on Jon’s face whilst asleep. The CIA can’t compete with me for torture, I wait till they are asleep before I water board them. No wonder I struggle to attract crew!

We had a major leak on the raw waterside of the engine; it appeared to be coming from the silencer, but with the wind building and on our nose, we just had to keep an eye on it, as I could not find the source, which was near to the exposed prop shaft. We had water running down the mast casing, as we found later the mast gator was not properly sealed. At least we were putting Blue Star through her paces. The wind increased and so did the seas. Both Jaks and Sarah stated categorically that they would never go sailing again. During the early evening Emma was sick, but as soon as she had thrown up she was full of beans again. After clearing up the mess I watched as Sophie was thrown out of bed followed by Matthew who landed on top of her. We put all three of them in the aft cabin. Thankfully they slept through till we arrived back in Port Ginesta. With heavy clouds visibility was next to nil; thankfully we had AIS and radar. The wind built to a steady seven with three metre seas on the nose, which occasionally broke over the bow and totally obscured the windscreen, some feat on a fifty-nine foot boat. The only good news was the barometer was raising, so it was just a question of waiting for the good weather to arrive.

I went to bed in the crew cabin at midnight but did not sleep even though I was not about to be thrown out of bed. Back on watch at three in the morning the wind had dropped slightly as had the sea. The girls had spent the watches down below, but ready, watching films on Jaks ‘i touch’. Heading past Barcelona the traffic built, and not wanting to play dodgems with Roy’s pride and joy, I was constantly changing course or speed. I handed over to Jon and finally got some sleep.

Jon woke me just before nine, as we were about two miles off Port Ginesta. I headed up on deck. I was greeted with bright blue skies, beautiful sunshine, and no wind and calm seas. So quickly can it change? It seemed so unreal.

We headed for the fuel berth after a while and with the help of the marina staff we fuelled Blue Star with three hundred litres, My Tern only holds one hundred and fifty.
Once fuelled we headed back to our berth and for some sleep.

The kids on the beach in Port Ginesta The kids on the beach in Port Ginesta

The kids on the beach in Port Ginesta

Once the sun was shinning all was forgotten. I even went swimming with the kids once in it was quite warm. We spent the last day sorting out the boat with all of us taking turns to take the kids off so the boat could be cleaned. We had one last meal ashore at Pizza India, who had run out of pizza bases.

The HiltonsThe HiltonsJon and JaksJon and Jaks

 

The following morning the question was will the taxi driver turn up, even though Sarah had spoken to him and he had had a friend text Sarah back we were still not sure. This was not the UK, thirty seconds after the appointed time our taxi arrived, the driver very apologetic, he had slept in. We have duly given Roy his number, as the service was excellent.

Finally I would like to thank my crew Jon, Jaks, Sarah, Sophie, Emma and Matthew for being such good crew and company and putting up with so much, sorry the weather was not better. Especially thanks to Roy and his family for letting us borrow his beautiful yacht.

Happy Sailing

Mike