Thursday 30 May 2013

Menorca to Corsica, our longest passage on Alcheringa so far.

May 15-17, 2013

The time had finally come to leave Spain and head for the French island of Corsica. Here we would be starting our summer cruising around the area we have come to refer to as the mid Mediterranean. We’ve now explored most of what the western med has to offer so now we’re turning our attention to Corsica, Sardinia, the Italian west coast and Sicily. That should keep us busy for a while.

We’d been watching the forecasts very carefully looking for the right weather window to make the two day, 240 nautical mile crossing from Mahon on Menorca to Bonifacio on the south eastern tip of Corsica. You have to be very careful as nasty gale force winds can sweep out of France’s Gulf of Lion and blow all the way to Sicily. These Mistral winds are most prevalent in winter but can occur year round and are far from rare in autumn. We looked at five different forecasts and decided that Tuesday, Wednesday looked good while Thursday was OK until later in the night when some strongish winds were expected in the Straits of Bonifacio between Corsica and Sardinia. After that the weather looked rubbish for as far as the forecasts went.

Our other main consideration was that we most definitely didn’t want to arrive at our destination in the dark. Entering a strange harbour at night is never a good idea but the waters around Corsica and Sardinia are thick with wrecks that have fallen foul of the rocky shores making it even more inadvisable. Averaging our planned conservative 5 knots the trip would take 48 hours so we elected to leave at 2.00pm. This gave us our largest margin for error on our speed calculations. We could go as quick as 5.7 knots and still arrive just after dawn or be as slow as 4.4 knots and get in before sunset.

It felt a bit strange spending most of the morning just ambling around waiting for the clock to tick over. Marc did have some fun though. Off he went to the Harbour Capitaneo’s office with the ship’s papers and all our passports to check us out of Spain only to be told they don’t do that there. He’d have to go to the Police Station. Armed with sketchy directions he miraculously found the said Police Station, took a number at the counter and waited an eternity to be told they don’t do that there. He’d have to go to a different Police Station. Off he went again with another set of suspect directions and in a truly heroic effort found the second Police Station amongst all the narrow laneways of Mahon. ‘No we don’t do that here. You’ll have to go to the airport.

It’s probably time to point out that the airport is miles out of town so Marc did the only sensible thing and said, ‘Sod it!’ returned to the boat and put the ship’s papers and passport back in the draw.

After all our boat checks were done we had one last look at the latest weather files before casting off and making a call to the fuel dock for a top off. We then headed out through the steep headlands at the harbour entrance and turned north east towards the northern entrance of the Bonifacio Strait over 200 miles away.
Menorca disappearing astern as Karen makes a log entry, an I-Pad app of course
Initially we had a mild 10 knot south easterly breeze blowing. The full main and full genoa pushed us along at five and a half to six knots albeit a little north of our direct rum line due to the wind angle.  Thin overcast was enough to make sure the sun wasn’t able to take the chill off the air so we rugged up and settled into our three hours on six hours off watch rotation.

By the time darkness was approaching about 9.00pm the wind had strengthened to around 15 knots and we were now scooting along at seven knots and up. It was a lot quicker than our planned five knots but we figured we had plenty of time to slow down later if need be. We also always intended to reef the sails down at night for safety so figured that would slow us down a little anyway. At night you can’t see squalls coming and with only one person awake on deck reducing sail is a very prudent precaution to make sure you don’t get flattened by any unexpected surprises.

We dropped the mainsail down to the 1st reef, re-trimmed the sails and waited for the boat to settle. We slowed all of a quarter of a knot. Within an hour the wind had strengthened further during Karen’s watch and we were up around seven and a half knots again. Marc took over for the midnight to three watch with conditions and speed staying much the same throughout before the wind eased just a little during Rob’s pre dawn watch through to six in the morning.

Our AIS helps us keep an eye on big boys like this one blasting past at 23 knots
We were now seriously ahead of schedule so, despite the daylight and wind strength down below 15 knots, we elected to leave the mainsail reefed to keep our speed down a bit even if it did go against the grain a little. We sailed on through the morning in that configuration and passed the halfway mark well before lunch. By mid-afternoon however the forecast hole in the wind appeared with the south easterly dropping right out to less than five knots. The engine went on for the first time since leaving the harbour and we motored along through the afternoon.

It's the little guys like this one in Bonifacio Strait that are a lot harder to spot at times.
Late in the day, the Sardinian weather reports broadcast on VHF were warning of thunderstorms along the island’s west coast. The wind had got back up to around 11 knots but also swung and was now right on our bow. Rather than bear well off course to get a reasonable point of sail we chose to keep motor-sailing into it but, with the sky looking decidedly dark in that region to our south, we decided to reduce sail further to the second reef mark just to be on the safe side.

Just as Marc settled in for the 9.00pm to midnight watch the rain started. Oh Joy! Karen took over at midnight and the rain continued. During her watch we rounded Punta dello Scorno on the island of Asinara off Sardinia’s north west corner and entered the Bonifacio Strait. Karen was thankful we had put the second reef in as sea state rose and the wind picked up into the mid twenties with a few gusts well above that. She and the boat both handled the conditions extremely well despite the unpleasant, wet, cold and very dark night.

Rob took over at 3.00am, just as the rain eased to just the occasional light shower and the wind calmed down. By six am it had moved back towards the south and the motor finally went off as the genoa was unfurled and we were able to sail again. After sun up the breeze continued to swing and went right around to be an eight to ten knot south-westerly pushing us gently along through the straight. We could have sped up with a bit more sail but decided to enjoy the ride instead. There was no rush.

Of course our mate Murphy stepped in with his law again. After ghosting along slowly through the strait in the light airs, as we approached Bonifacio the wind began to strengthen. By the time we were approaching our destination we had a fair swell rolling under us and enough wind to be hoping the marina was very well sheltered. If not mooring was going to be fun.

Trying to spot the entrance to Bonifacio harbour from the sea was far from easy as the high cliffs overlap and merge together. All we could do is trust our GPS and head for the waypoint we’d positioned on the chartplotter smack bang between the headlands. It is a bit daunting sailing directly at high stone cliffs hoping the entrance is really there somewhere. It wasn’t until we were well less than a mile from shore that we could start to discern the entrance.

We had to get nice and close before we could really see the harbour entrance
We surfed our way through the opening  and around the bend to have this most amazing harbour reveal itself to us. Deep, long and narrow, surrounded by high cliffs complete with medieval castle it’s no wonder it’s been popular with sea farers since the days of Homer and the Odyssey.  It provides excellent protection from almost all winds, except the south westerly one currently blowing straight in through the entrance.
Almost there surfing the swells into Bonifacio
Awesome entry into Bonifacio
We had some problems raising the harbour office on the radio and circled around the tight confines of the outer harbour waiting berthing information. Marc was eventually able to make contact and was given the far from definitive instruction ‘You can try the southern side of pontoons J, K or L.’ Looking at how tightly the marina pontoons were crammed into the head of the harbour, the thought of trying to manoeuvre the boat in there in the increasing wind was far from an attractive idea.

Fortunately, at that point one of the mariners came past in a rib, pointed towards a big catamaran moored stern to the town wall and said ‘Go alongside’. As we got set up to do just that we were relieved to see the crew of the cat all either on deck on the quayside ready to help us on. Normally when we manoeuvre the boat into a mooring we live by the adage ‘Slow is Pro’ and rarely go into a spot at more than a snail pace. Taking your time is far less stressful for everyone concerned and limits the chances of any damage to our boat or anyone else’s. Unfortunately, with a stiff cross wind blowing, the only option is to back in hard and fast otherwise the breeze will blow the bow across and turn the boat downwind very quickly.

So we charged backwards down alongside the big cat. At the last minute a healthy blast of revs ahead pulled us up with the stern half a metre off the stone wall. With the assistance of our helpers we were able to get our stern lines on very quickly. With those secured putting the engine into tick over ahead held us off the wall nicely but the wind had our starboard side leaning heavily on the cat. While six of our fenders and four of theirs were preventing any damage, it was still a bit nerve wracking to be bouncing off someone else’s boat.

Marc was furiously hauling the extremely thick and heavy portside ground line off the harbour floor to secure our bow. Pulling it up tight would hold us off our neighbour. He was being encouraged by our helpers who called to him, ‘Just keep pulling. We had to bring up 19 metres of line to get it tight.’ We looked on from the stern as Marc dutifully pulled, and pulled and pulled with a mountain of massive rope heaping on Alcheringa’s bow. Surely it had to come tight soon.

Nope. Instead we saw Marc, exhausted, turn to us with an incredulous look on his face and the end of the rope complete with heavy metal eye in his hand. It wasn’t attached to anything. It was time for plan B. We ran the otherwise useless line from the bow across to a bollard about fifteen metres up the dock in the windward direction and with much huffing and puffing were able to inch the boat’s bow across and get some separation between our starboard side and the catamaran. This allowed us to pull up the starboard ground line which fortunately proved to be securely attached to the harbour floor and quite effective in holding us tight despite the wind.

Tied up in Bonifacio at last. Note the pile of rope on the dock.
Marc with the culprit as the mariner arrives in the background to try and tell us to move.
We turned the engine off a just after 11.00am, 45 hours after leaving Menorca, signalling the end of our longest passage on the boat to date. We had relaxed for all of 30 seconds when the mariner suddenly returned in his rib yelling ‘No. No. Not there. Alongside the dock,’ signalling he wanted us to tie up portside to the dock rather than stern to. Rob then entered an energetic but brief debate with him explaining that we were now tied up safe and secure and, with the strong wind blowing, just why we were not going to move no matter what he said. He eventually raced away in a huff. If he’d actually assisted us to moor up the way mariners in the marina’s normally do, the misunderstanding would have never happened in the first place.
Bonifacio is a truly stunning harbour. Red arrow marks Alcheringa on her berth.
Interestingly, when we went to the marina office to book in, the staff there just asked what berth number we were in and filled out the registration form with not a word said. We did ask about customs and immigration to check into France but they shrugged their shoulders and said ‘Non’. So not only had we been unable to check out of Spain, now we couldn’t check into France. So technically we guess we’re probably illegal immigrants. (Boat people to Aussies)  If this fun and games with immigration continues this summer is going to be interesting.

Mahon to Bonifacio - 244.1 nautical miles - 45 hours 08 minutes
Average speed 5.4 knots - Max 7.9 knots
We were able to sail most of the way and were very happy
with both how direct our track was and our speed.
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If you only recently discovered our blog and would like to read how it all started, click the link to go back to our first blog entry. Stuff it. Let's just go sailing anyway. We hope you enjoy reading the previous posts to catch up on our story.

Sunday 26 May 2013

Magic Menorca

May 8 -15, 2013

 Menorca is the eastern most of the Balearic Islands but is a very different world to its neighbouring islands. Strict building codes have prevented high rise development so unlike the Spanish coast, Mallorca and Ibiza, this island is not blighted by masses of ugly holiday apartment blocks and high rise resorts. As a result it doesn’t attract the type of tourists who look for that style of package holiday.  Menorca  has a very different atmosphere to the rest of the Balearics. You won’t find endless Irish Pubs full of drunken young Brits here. Rather the island trades on its strengths of natural beauty, incredibly well preserved history and the friendliness of the locals.

Located in the south east corner of the island, the capital city of Mahon is based around the outstanding natural harbour, Puerto de Mahon, and is an extremely pleasant and welcoming place to visit. The old town area features the usual defensive walls and fortifications. Its narrow streets and old buildings are fantastic to explore while the views down over the harbour are outstanding. We spent our first day wandering around enjoying the very well kept heritage on show and had an inexpensive but extremely nice lunch in an open air café lining one of the town’s many squares.

One of our larger neighbours in Mahon heading past our mooring
Marc’s friend, Caroline, flew in from the UK to spend the weekend so while they were catching up and doing their own thing, we elected to hire a car and explore more of the island. Alberto, our ever helpful host at Sunseeker Marina, organised for a car to be delivered to the boat for us on the Saturday morning making things extremely convenient. At 20 Euro per day for the hire, we were certainly more than happy with both the price and service. Sliding behind the steering wheel, Rob came to the realisation that he hadn’t driven since stepping out of a hire car at Gatwick Airport in London back in early July last year.  While over ten months out of the driver’s seat didn’t require him to be retrained, it was the longest period of not driving a car he’d ever had.

The locals kept an eye on us

How the lifted the stone to the top of this Talayot 3,300 years ago had us beat.
Heading out of Mahon our first stop was the outstanding remains of the pre-historic settlement of Talati de Dalt which dates back to around 1300 BC. This village housed around 100 people at that time in a mixture of natural and manmade caves arranged around a central sanctuary featuring one of a number of Talayots found on the island. These are huge stone monuments. It’s extremely difficult to comprehend how people cut, moved and erected these massive stone slabs almost three and a half thousand years ago.
A central stone pillar supports massive slabs of rock to form the roof
Indiana Jones eat your heart out
Equally impressive engineering was involved in how they constructed their cave dwellings. They excavated down into the ground and then stood large rock pillars up as supports. On these they then placed huge slabs of rocks covered over with soil to form the roof. We were able to enter and explore a number of these stone homes that have stood the test of time for thousands of years and we remain in awe of the people who constructed them.

This is the stern style end of the Naveta while the other is rounded like a boat's bow
The upper chamber held bones
From Talati de Dalt we drove across the island to another ancient site near the harbour town of Ciutadella. Here we examined a stone structure that resembled the upturned hull of a boat. A Naveta is a burial monument built with medium sized stones fitted together without mortar. This particular one had three distinct levels inside. A small doorway opens into a narrow corridor that leads to the upper chamber and a second door to the lower chamber where the deceased were placed.  Once a body decomposed the bones were moved to the higher levels making way for the next poor unfortunate to be added. The remains of over a hundred people were found in this Naveta when it was excavated by archaeologists in the 1950s.

All the fields were full of wild flowers including these poppies
Next stop was Ciutadella where we discovered another beautifully preserved town surrounding a fantastic, long, narrow harbour.  There was a large, well attended open air market being held in the town square so finding a park proved to be an interesting exercise until we elected to leave the car beside the harbour quite a few blocks from the town centre. We then enjoyed a pleasant walk in the sunshine back along the docks checking out all the moored boats.

We were captivated by the harbour at Ciutadella
Wandering the streets of Ciutadella
We spent about an hour wandering around the atmospheric streets and lanes of the old town before choosing a café for lunch with an appealing menu del dia on offer. Our meals were simply outstanding as was the excellent bottle of local Menorcan red wine which accompanied it.  Rob was driving so he limited his intake but Karen selflessly made the sacrifice of downing the lion’s share for a change.
The harbour entrance at Ciutadella

We were extremely impressed with Ciutadella and its small, picturesque and very well protected, harbour. A drive a little further afield through the areas surrounding the old town confirmed our first impressions.  With great cruising grounds close by in virtually every direction, a secure place to keep a yacht plus cheap villas and town houses with excellent sea views on virtually every corner, this vibrant little town would be a very attractive retirement option for any yachty.  Except us of course. Way too far away from the family unfortunately.

Cala Morrell typifies the natural beauty of Menorca
As Ciutadella disappeared in the rear vision mirror, we made our way a few kilometres further north to  Cala Morell. This small natural harbour is the site of fourteen ancient caves artificially excavated in the rock of a small gully to form the largest and most spectacular necropolis on Menorca. The caves were used as a cemetery from pre-historic times through to the second century AD.  Their interiors imitate the circular layout of the houses we saw at Talati de Dalt complete with columns  that have been carved around and left to support the ceilings. Walking through these architectural caves it’s impossible not to think about the people who carved them out of the solid rock with the most basic of tools thousands of years ago. It certainly brought memories of the The Hal Saflieni Hypogeum we visited on Malta last year.  You can read that story here. Malta

The ancient underground burial caves at Cala Morrell were impressive

The bay of Cala Morrell itself is incredibly beautiful and very well sheltered from wind and wave. We instantly regretted that we were not going to have the time to sail Alcheringa around to this part of the coast and spend a few days at anchor. If we do come back to Menorca in the future, this area will be firmly on the must visit list.

We would have loved to have anchored Alcheringa in Cala Morrell for a while
After a nice coffee in a café overlooking the bay we were back in our mighty Daewoo and on to our final stop of the day at Cala en Porte. Here we had arranged to meet up with Marc and Caroline to enjoy a few drinks and take in the sunset from the caves of Cova d’en Xeroni.  This succession of natural caves with openings through the cliffs are now occupied for by a bar and nightclub.  We’d seen photographs of the place but were still not prepared for just how dramatic a setting was waiting for us as we made our way down a path carved into the cliff face. Cova d’en Xeroni is simply breathtaking and well worth the 10 Euro admission fee. (Includes one complimentary drink at the bar)

Karen checks out the view and nightclub at Cova d'en Xeroni
What a spot - Cova d'en Xeroni
The night club only operates from 11pm on Friday and Saturday nights but we were able to wander through its various lounges set in different cave galleries for a look before being in the right place at the right time to score a front row, cliff side table in the open air bar area. Marc and Caroline arrived from Mahon by taxi and were suitably impressed with the grandstand seats we’d been lucky enough to secure for us all. We’ve enjoyed some outstanding locations for sundowner drinks since embarking on our cruising lifestyle but few can compare to being perched on the side of the cliff, hundreds of feet above the Mediterranean Sea. The four of us agreed, this was a truly unique experience.

Marc and Caroline enjoying our awesome sundowner drinks spot
The next day we headed off in the car to check out the north east corner of the island and in particular, Menorca’s third natural harbour at Fornells. The port is a bottle shape with the neck at the entrance opening out into a long wide bay. It is one of the few refuge spots on this section of coast and its strategic significance was recognised by the British during their rule of the island. They constructed the heavily reinforced Fornells Tower in 1801 to guard the entrance of the port. Rather than simply a watch tower, it is more like a small castle and would have been almost invincible in its day. It is now open to the public as a well presented museum . The township of Fornells stretches along the western shore of the bay and is now a popular tourist destination known for its many seafood restaurants.

The view from atop Fornells Tower
After wandering the town for a while we decided to resist the tempting fare on offer and return to Mahon in time to get our motorsport fix watching the television coverage of the Spanish Grand Prix at our favourite café-bar across the street from the boat. Being surrounded by Spaniards as we watched Fernando Alonso win his home Grand Prix in Barcelona provided a pretty cool atmosphere that’s for sure.

Caroline flew home to the UK that night after her all too short visit. Monday was then spent topping up provisions and getting everything ready to move on again.  It was almost time to finally wave goodbye to Spain. The following day we would be embarking on our longest non-stop passage on Alcheringa so far, sailing 240 nautical miles north east to Bonifacio on the French island of Corsica.

MARINA REVIEW: Sunseeker Mahon  ****

Cost per night for our 43 foot (13.2m) yacht – 38.72 Euro (including VAT, water and power. WiFi was not provided but freely available in most of the restaurants and bars along the waterfront)

Note: This was a discounted shoulder season price applicable in May. From June 1 expect to pay about 30% more during summer IF a berth is available.

While not technically a Marina, Sunseeker administers a good number of berths located along the town wall well within this spectacular natural harbour providing100% protection from any weather. Facilities are limited with only two showers and toilet cubicles available but are clean and regularly serviced.  There are no washing facilities but a pick up and deliver back laundry service is available through the Sunseeker office. Sunseeker’s mariner/manager was extremely friendly and helpful in every regard as well as being a mine of local information.

We gave it four stars.

Our Sunseeker mooring on the town wall in Mahon was a fantastic location

To stay right up to date with what we’re up to these days and see lots more photos check out and 'like' our Dreamtime Sail Facebook page at Dreamtime Sail on Facebook
If you have only recently discovered our blog and would like to read how it all started, or work through our previous adventures, click the link to go back to our first blog entry. Stuff it. Let's just go sailing anyway.  We hope you enjoy reading the previous posts to catch up on our story.
We hope you enjoy reading the previous posts to catch up on our story.


Friday 24 May 2013

Bye Bye Barcelona, Hello Menorca

May 8 -10, 2013

 After a fantastic stop in Barcelona we were set to finally leave the Spanish mainland and make the 140 nautical mile crossing to the island of Menorca on Tuesday May 7. Well we thought we were set. As we were making final preparation to cast off we discovered a slow leak we’d been suffering from our water heater tank was now more like a small torrent filling our bilge with wet stuff. There was no option but to delay our departure and effect immediate repairs.

In a piece of ludicrous design, the heating element fits in the side of the tank rather than the top as is usual on domestic hot water systems. The tank is also positioned in a very tight space under one of the salon seats so you need to be a contortionist to reach the element fitting on the tank’s far side and then work on it almost entirely by feel alone.

We’d had a new heater element fitted back in Gibraltar to replace the burnt out one that had begun leaking on our way west along the Spanish coast. We thought paying someone who ‘knew what he was doing’ was wiser than blundering on ourselves but we did watch on closely to see how it was done for future reference. Unfortunately by the time we reached Estepona on the return trip we discovered water was leaking again very, slowly from around the element. Marc had brought a new replacement with him back from the UK and while in Barcelona we had swapped them over but, as it now appeared, not with great success.

On our first day on Alcheringa a cruising friend messaged us saying Congratulations on getting a boat. Now go and fix something.  This hot water tank is fast becoming the bane of our fix its.

A fellow Aussie cruiser we’d met in the marina happened to be a plumber and with the leak reappearing in an even more dramatic fashion he recommended that rather than trying to work on it in its very confined space, we take the tank completely out and find the cause of the problem once and for all. Forty-five minutes later the recalcitrant boiler was sitting on the dock. It transpired that the element had been cross threaded back in Gibraltar. The replacement we had put in had simply followed the crossed thread and not seated well enough to seal when under pressure. Now with easy access to the fitting we were able to clean up the thread and properly fit the element.  The tank went back in place and by mid afternoon everything was ready to test. We were disappointed to discover a very slow weep of water still appearing down the tank’s side but fortunately it was not enough to delay our departure any further . A permanent, 100% solution would have to wait.

The following morning we cast off early, made a stop at the fuel dock to top off our tank before clearing the harbour breakwaters just after 9.00am. The weather forecast indicated we’d be right in the middle of a massive high pressure system with no wind at all for our entire crossing and that’s exactly what transpired.

Goodbye Barcelona and the Spanish mainland. Next stop Mahon on the island of Menorca.
We motored across glassy seas all day and into the night alternating on three hour watches. Our boredom was broken by an almost constant parade of marine life in strong contrast to most our experience in the Mediterranean. In almost twelve months of trying we’ve caught one fish and now generally consider the Med a marine desert, almost devoid of life as a result of centuries of over fishing. 

You know the sea is truly calm when a passing jet’s contrail is reflected on the water.
However on this day we motored through a school of large tuna chopping their way through bait fish within an hour of leaving Barcelona. Unfortunately they were not interested in our lure though so our fishing drought continued. We were also entertained by scores of sunfish basking on the surface with their fins protruding above the water.

It’s a pity the camera doesn’t see into the water as well as the human eye as
these sunfish are such strange creatures but cool to watch basking on the surface.
Next a school of dolphins paid us a visit and played briefly around the bows before disappearing into the distance. A couple of hours later we were surprised to spot a humpback whale crossing our course half a mile or so ahead of us. We’d seen two of pods of whales early last year while crewing on Moksha but this close encounter was still very much unexpected and had us all on a high. No sooner had we got over our humpback surprise than we were stunned to see a large pod of Orca surface off our port beam with their distinctive high dorsal fins arcing through the air. It was amazing to watch them speeding through the water seemingly on a mission and totally disinterested in our presence. It was only midafternoon but we’d seen more sea life in a day than we’d witnessed in the past year and began to wonder what on earth could be next on mother nature’s agenda.
We didn’t have to wait too long as a small bird flew across the cockpit closely past Karen’s ear, down through the companionway and settled on the couch in the salon. We were now around 60 miles (110 kilometres) from shore yet here was a land bird hitch hiking on our boat. Rob put some water in a saucer for our wayward little friend as it was clearly exhausted and not even able to stand. Expecting he/she to take quite a while to recover some strength,  we all stayed on deck so as not to scare it but within fifteen minutes or so it flew up into the cockpit and perched on the table beside us. We thought it had decided to join our crew for a while but soon took off again to resume its journey. We hope it made landfall safely but have our doubts.

Our hitchhiker made the most of our hospitality to recharge his batteries before flying off again.

After an uneventful night Rob was treated to a spectacular sunrise on his 3.00 to 6.00am watch as we made our way down the east coast of Menorca towards our destination at Mahon.

A Menorcan fisherman brings in his nets in the pre-dawn light.

We’ve seen some spectacular sunsets and sunrises since heading off to sea but this was right up amongst the best of them.
Entering through the heads and passing the fortresses into the harbour at Mahon was spectacular. Lord Nelson described this as the best natural harbour in all of the Mediterranean if not the world. It is pretty good but Nelson never saw Sydney Harbour so he can be forgiven for his mistake.

Puerto de Mahon is protected from the weather by some very impressive cliffs.

Our Spot Tracker Google Earth image shows where we moored and why Lord Nelson rated the harbour at Mahon so highly. His entire fleet fitted in safely with plenty of room to spare.
We had emailed ahead from Barcelona to Marina Mahon to book a berth and now ambled slowly around the harbour as we spent twenty minutes trying to raise them on the radio for instructions as to where to go. We finally gave up and rang their phone number and were told their mariners would call us on the radio in five minutes. Ten minutes later with still no radio call we were passing the town wall when we spotted a guy on the dock signalling us to moor stern to right there. We figured we were being high-jacked by an opposition marina but quite frankly didn’t care by this stage. Minutes later we were securely berthed in a fantastic spot right in the centre of things.

Alcheringa nice and snug in the centre of things. We’ve come to really enjoy town wall moorings much more than normal marinas.
 We quickly learned our dockside helper was Alberto of Sunseeker Moorings who not only ably assisted with our lines but proved to be very welcoming and a mine of information. We were very pleased he had spotted us and stolen our business. (Our marina review will be in the next post) Marina Mahon never did radio us back.

The view around the harbour from Alcheringa was breath taking and we were just metres from shops, great cafes and restaurants. We squared everything away, washed the boat down, enjoyed a good hot shower and then headed into Alberto’s recommended establishment for a menu del deia (Menu of the day) for lunch and a well deserved post passage drink.

Barcelona to Puerto de Mahon 145.5 Nautical Miles – 24 Hours 30 minutes  Average Speed 5.9 knots Maximum 6.7 knots
To stay right up to date with what we’re up to these days and see lots more photos check out and 'like' our Dreamtime Sail Facebook page at Dreamtime Sail on Facebook
If you have only recently discovered our blog and would like to read how it all started, or work through our previous adventures, click the link to go back to our first blog entry. Stuff it. Let's just go sailing anyway.  We hope you enjoy reading the previous posts to catch up on our story.