Saturday, 15 September 2012

Finally living on board in Palma de Mallorca

On Thursday morning July 5 we loaded up with cleaning gear and Rob’s laptop and headed for the marina to start work on the yacht soon to be known as ‘Alcheringa’. We began by creating a comprehensive inventory of the boat’s equipment, spares, tools etc as an excel file which listed every storage space onboard and exactly what it contained. Not only is it nice to know where things are but it also allowed us to begin an equally comprehensive list of what we didn’t have and would need to buy.
Preparing to move on board our Jeanneau 43 DS at last

Then below decks were treated to their biggest spring clean since the boat came out of the factory. We started in the forward cabin and worked our way all the way to the stern. It’s not that the boat was filthy but rather a bit like the difference in the way a rental house is kept in comparison to an owner occupier. From the following day this was going to be our home and we all wanted it just right.
We love the great all round vision from the salon provided by the deck salon design

We got a message from Juan mid afternoon saying he’d like to take his wife and daughter out for a last family sail on the boat that evening. That was no problem to us. After all, they actually still owned it until the final payment went into their account overnight. Not wanting to intrude on their family time, we locked the boat up and made sure we were gone before they arrived.  

First task the following morning was humping all our worldly possessions down to the marina. Alcheringa was now officially ours and this was moving in day. Following the scant instructions in the owner’s manual, Rob and Marc set to unscrewing various walls and re-erecting them in different positions to convert the four cabin layout to two large ones.  The transformation was amazing. Marc now had a very nice private space in the bow complete with good sized double bunk, settee, wardrobes and ensuite. The two aft cabins became our huge single stateroom, far more spacious than anything we’ve seen on a boat  of comparable size.

After lunch Marc took a walk to the Port Office with Juan to witness the application for removal from the Spanish Register being lodged and then got busy with the online registration of the boat onto the British Small Ships Register and getting the insurance in place. We had not been able to organise the cover in advance of the purchase so we were a little nervous that we were initially uninsured but the risk level sitting in the most protected marina in Palma was fairly low.

Meanwhile our afternoon project was a taxi ride to Ikea with Karen’s very long shopping list. Linen, pillows, kitchen utensils, storage containers, cockpit cushions, etc, etc were piled high in two huge trolleys that made the checkout girl shudder as we approached. We were only just able to squeeze all our purchases into the taxi for the trip back. By late afternoon a second great transformation had occurred as the bunks were made up with their nice, new coverings and all our acquired goodies found their way to their respective spots on the boat leaving her looking lived in and loved.
Marc's cabin in the bow looked great all set up
Converting two cabins to one produced a massive stateroom for us in the stern
The best thing is we can put it back to two cabins very quickly when we have guests

Now Alcheringa was ready to be our home and it was finally time to mark the occasion with a celebratory bottle of champagne sitting in our cockpit. It was a great feeling. That night we also enjoyed our first meal on board followed by three weary bodies sleeping soundly in our new home afloat.
Rob, Karen and Marc enjoy a few the celebratory bubbles

Day two saw us attack the decks and topsides with boatwash and scrubbing brooms giving Alcheringa’s exterior the sort of going over below decks had already undergone. Rob got stuck into  scrubbing some life back into the teak which was looking sad. Fortunately only the cockpit deck and swim platform are teak. The timber decks may look stunning when they’re new or very well maintained but they take a lot of looking after. Teak foredecks also  get extremely hot in the sun to the level of being painful to walk on. The fact this boat had anti-slip fibre glass decks was a real bonus as far as we were concerned.
Alcheringa's cockpit teak scrubbed up beautifully with enough elbow grease

After half a day of Rob being down on his hands and knees scrubbing seven years of ingrained dirt and oxidisation from the timber Marc took over the scrubbing brush and continued the process. When the final rinse had dried off the end result was well worth the effort. We finished a big day’s work with a slightly less physical but equally tedious task, peeling off the charter signage from the boom and old boat name off the stern. Boy do those vinyl letter stickers hang on. We all had sore fingers before the last letter was removed.

Being a Saturday, we were surrounded by the charter fleet all in for their quick clean, check over and crew change.  Looking at our sparkling boat we couldn’t help feel just that bit superior as we settled in for sundowners.
Early that evening, once the charter hordes from all over the world had made their way out of the marina, we took the next step in making Alcheringa ours. The British Ensign was raised on her stern to the strains of God Save the Queen. We didn’t actually have a recording of the British National Anthem but were able to substitute the Sex Pistols version. We’re not sure what Lizzie would think but we liked it.

Apart from getting some of the stainless stanchions and fittings polished we had a pretty quiet Sunday aboard. With a nice breeze blowing we were very tempted to go out for an afternoon sail but with no confirmation of registration or insurance back yet it would have been a little foolhardy so we settled for some homework reading through the operating manuals of our navigation systems, engine etc. We couldn’t wait to wave goodbye to Palma and be on our way cruising the Mediterranean Sea the way we’d all dreamed of. However, we really couldn’t go anywhere until the wheels of bureaucracy had turned.

On Monday morning Marc phoned the Small Ships Register in London to make sure our online registration had been done and to obtain our SSR number. He found himself speaking to a perfect example of a Yes Minister public servant with a flat monotone voice complete with plum in the mouth. ‘Yes Mr Beerts I can see your application is in the system. Oh No! Registration is not issued online merely applied for online. How long does it take? Oh it varies. All registrations have to go through due process of course. It could be up to three weeks. We’re very busy here you know.  You’ll be notified in due course. Thank you for your call.

This is where we started running into Catch 22. We needed our SSR Registration number to apply for a British radio license, which we needed before we could be issued with our unique MMSI number, which we needed to transfer the boats EPIRB emergency beacon to our details, which we also needed to change the distress button transmission on our vhf radio. If we ran into a Sir Basil at every link in this chain we could be in Palma until Christmas.

At least the insurance brokers were more positive. We’d printed out their application form at a nearby internet cafe, filled it in , scanned it then emailed them an electronic copy. When Marc called they confirmed that yes they had received it, no they didn’t need to be posted the hard copy in the mail, yes it had the information they needed, they did understand our position and they would be chasing the insurance company to issue cover as quickly as possible. Oh the difference between government and private enterprise.

Despite the bureaucratic obstacle course we were negotiating we did celebrate another little milestone that afternoon when, with due offerings to King Neptune and the winds gods, Alcheringa was officially renamed and the signage was ceremonially affixed to her stern.
New name applied, must be time to celebrate - again
To Alcheringa of London

Days started to slide by a little as we waited for the various wheels to turn. We did visit just about every ship chandlers in Palma picking up bits and pieces and considerably improving Spain's economic status in the process. One major purchase were three new automatically inflating Personal Floatation Devices, harnesses and tethers. Safety always comes first. 
Meanwhile we also had almost daily visits from either Juan or his wife Sassa delivering the spare sails, cruising chute and other bits and pieces that had not been kept on the boat. On stepping aboard for the first time after we’d completed our big makeover Juan looked around at the teak, foredecks and gleaming stainless steel and  said to Karen ‘It’s very nice. My boat looks very clean.’ To which Karen took great delight in replying ‘Yes. Our boat looks lovely.’

We took the opportunity to work through a lot of the systems on the boat including hoisting the cruising chute in the calm of one evening to check how it all works. Rob went up the mast in the boson’s chair to see why our steaming light wasn’t working and have a good look over all the rigging on the mast. He also took his camera aloft and got some nice seagull’s eye view photos from the top.
It's a long way to the top and you don't want to rock and roll
The Cathedral of Mallorca as seen from the top of our mast

Meanwhile Marc had discovered just how much hard work it is for a heavy smoker to winch an 83 kilo man to the top of our mast by hand and was looking decidedly fatigued by the time Rob was back on deck with the good news that the light simply needed a new bulb but the bad news that he’d have to go back up to replace it. Funnily enough Marc quickly volunteered for the job. Being much lighter it made sense anyway so he is now officially the boat’s boson’s chair man.

The insurance company came back to us with a couple of questions about sailing history etc which we promptly answered and by midday Wednesday we were covered. Phew! What a relief. However there was no sign of progress from the small ships register. After discussing things with Juan we decided we wouldn’t sit around any longer but now we were insured we would head over to Ibiza for about a week and then come back to Palma and hopefully by then we’d have our SSR and MMSI numbers and we’d get the radio etc changed over when we were back.

Now we were getting excited. We spent the day loading up with final provisions, making sure everything on board was ready for us to go to see and poring over grib file weather reports working out our plan. Next day we were actually going to get out there on the water and sail away.

For more about our travels check out and 'like' our Dreamtimesail facebook page at



No comments:

Post a Comment

We love to read your comments regarding our blog, what you enjoyed and what you might like to see more of. Please leave us your thoughts.