Wednesday 10 October 2012

Playa del Trench - Around Mallorca beach by beach

Playa del Trench - Around Mallorca beach by beach

August 18-19 2012

We said goodbye to Palma, again, and headed east, sort of. We were in for a  big day’s upwind sailing in 18 to 20 knots so started with a long tack out off the coast. The sun was shining and the day quite warm so it was fairly pleasant with the boat powered up under sail, healing nicely and slicing through the moderate seas.
Rob making sure we're highly visable on the
water via his favourite boardies.

We were all fairly relaxed, cruising along on the autopilot until the boat suddenly turned through the wind all by itself performing an unplanned tack and back sided the sails. Rob quickly jumped to the wheel and gybed us through a 360 to get things back under control with no damage done. Fortunately the first thing we did when we bought Alcheringa was rig a ‘preventer’ which stops uncontrolled and very dangerous swinging of the boom across the boat in this sort of situation. It really paid off in this instance but we were at a loss to explain what had gone wrong. Our best guess was that someone may have bumped the button on the binnacle turning the autopilot off.

With everything settled we again began to relax only for the boat to perform the same unwanted manoeuvre again about thirty minutes later. Now we were concerned. Once we had the boat back on track we had someone at the helm at all times while we started working through the possibilities. We then noticed that that heading shown on the autopilot didn’t agree with the compass. Not a good sign. Maybe something was wrong with the GPS antennae or system itself. Could we continue or would we have to head back to Palma and try and find an electronics technician that wasn’t gone on August holidays with the rest of Europe. We were already speculating that Alcheringa was fitted with a homing device that made her continually return to Palma the way a riding school horse always heads for its stable at the first opportunity and this appeared further proof to the theory.

We checked the aerial connections, they looked fine. We checked the plotter, our position seemed right but the bearing was odd. Think tanking what could be wrong Rob speculated that something could be interfering with the system as it had worked perfectly until now. What had changed? The actual control boxes for the GPS are fitted in the back of Karen’s locker and clearly marked with a warning not to place anything magnetic near them. Had anything magnetic been put in her locker? Karen was adamant that no there were no magnets in there.

We decided to push on to our planned anchorage at Playa del Trench near the south-eastern corner of the island and see what developed. If need be we could return to Palma the next day. The autopilot continued to give false readings and twice more suddenly steered well off course and Rob finally asked Karen, ‘Are you sure there’s nothing different in your locker?’. To which she replied indignantly, ‘I told you. There are no magnets in there. All I’ve stowed in that locker that wasn’t there before are the electric fan and mini vacuum cleaner we bought in Palma last stop.’ Uh Huh!!!!

After explaining to Karen that electric motors such as found in vacuum cleaners and fans contain very strong magnets in their electrical windings, both offending items were moved to the other side of the cabin and guess what, problem solved.

So with lots of tacking back and forward through the day we sailed 39 nautical miles at an average of 5.1knots to cover the 24 nautical mile journey. Our track data recorded a highest speed of 8.1knots which is good for our type of boat into the wind. More importantly though, in between our autopilot dramas Karen caught our first fish in the Mediterranean. There was much jubilation as she pulled in onboard. Rob then poured a bit of Gin into its gills to pacify it before Karen did her beheading and eviscerating trick . Marc was horrified at what he referred to as a waste of perfectly good alcohol but it is much less messy than having the fish flapping all over the teak decks spitting blood everywhere while you try to bash it into submission.  Marc seemed satisfied when Karen suggested we were simply advance marinating the fish.
Our first fish caught in the Med. Tasty little bugger too..
The beach at Playa del Trench stretches forever.
It is a great anchorage during easterly winds too

Anchored off the very, very long sand beach of Playa del Trench well populated by yet more naked Spanish Senors and Senoritas, we enjoyed G&T sundowners before tucking into our Gin infused fish as an appetiser followed by a fine paella that Karen served up as we watched the obligatory colourful sunset in the west.

9.35PM and a very different sunset this time.
We spent Sunday morning lazing on the boat then went in to the beach for a walk along the sand and a swim. Well that’s what we did. Marc actually embarked on a Mallorcan version of the great march and walked about three kilometres to the southern end of the beach before retracing his steps and heading the two kilometres or so along the sand to the north calling into every beach bar along the way in a desperate quest to buy a cigarette lighter. An item he’d neglected to purchase when he stocked up on his cancer sticks in Palma. Fortunately for his sanity and ours he found a small convenience store just past inland from the north end of the beach. At least he got his exercise for the day.

Alcheringa happily at anchor off Playa del Trench
The local traditional style boats here are so cool.

Back on the boat we were having one of our semi-regular AFDs (Alcohol Free Days) and broke out the agua con gas (sparkling water) with dinner but following the stressful afternoon our fellow Meerkat  afloat had experienced he was not having a bar of such stupidity and was quick to have the cork out of a bottle of vino tinto (red wine).

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1 comment:

  1. Poor Karen, she has to sail the boat, catch the fish to eat, clean it, marinate it, cook it....and she's supposed to know that vacuums contain magnets too!


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