We’ve finally landed in the Balearics. We’ve covered over 400 miles and it has been a tough couple of weeks getting here. This has been our route:
(0) El Jebah, (1) Marina del Este, (2) Almerimar, (3) Cartagena, (4) Formentera
We sat out a storm at the anchorage in El Jebah in Morocco before making an overnight passage back to the Spanish mainland. I slept soundly while Helena sailed us in complete darkness through the traffic heading for the Gibraltar straits; by the time I came on watch all the excitement was over and I had a very quiet shift:
From our landing port at Marina del Este we moved on to Almerimar, a popular marina with British ex-pats and apparently the home of the good old English Breakfast. The smell of English style bacon being fried was too much for me and I gladly found myself gorging on bacon sandwiches at lunch times. I don’t feel too guilty though as I managed to fit in a few quiet morning’s yoga sessions on the aft deck. It’s just the right size to fit a mat on; Hallberg Rassy really do think of everything.
Almerimar is conveniently close to Granada, so we rented a car for the day and drove to visit the Alhambra, a stunning historic site with a Moorish palace, gardens and a fortress. This was something that had been on my must-do list before leaving England and it was a fantastic day out. The architecture was incredible.
Almerimar was an easy place to kill time, and we could see why the ex-pats liked it so much. The marina is fringed by dozens of good tapas restaurants and there were chandlers and laundry facilities right on the dockside too.
We ended up spending ten days here waiting for the wind to change direction and, aside from the trip to Granada, we met up with some friends from the Cruising Association and spent time making a sun awning.
Helena taught me how to use her new sewing machine and between us we started to cut and stitch the fabric we’d bought out with us into something that would protect us from the heat of the midday sun.
Taking long strides along the Costa del Sol, our next port was another overnight trip to Cartagena. On this leg, we had a serious problem with our battery bank while miles offshore. We first noticed a horrible smell at around 1:00 am, and tracked it down to the battery box. One of the big lead-acid batteries had started to cook itself. It was hot enough to fry an egg on and there was steam spouting from the screw tops. We immediately vented the cabin (the hydrogen/oxygen mix is very explosive and toxic) and disconnected the battery terminals to prevent any further current being delivered to it. It was still steaming two hours later but had cooled down and was clearly less volatile.
Earlier that night we’d listened to a mayday call from a French couple that had had an explosion on board. They were subsequently rescued from their liferaft by another yacht after a rescue plane spotted their boat in flames. We were thankful that we had dealt with our problem in good time.
Once in Cartagena, we ordered a complete new battery bank and had a local engineer install it and check over our charging systems for us. I apologise for what is probably the dullest photo on our entire blog, but it’s such a relief to have a properly functioning electrical system again; to get a sense of perspective for the size of the batteries, this is all contained under a single berth:
Our final passage to the Balearics was the longest one of all at over 150 miles. We set off from Cartagena at around noon with high seas and a strong following wind.
We crossed the Greenwich meridian (with a little ceremony to thank Neptune for a safe passage) at 20:30, and finally arrived and dropped our anchor in Formentera the following afternoon at 13:30 hrs. Then we slept… and slept… and slept.
It’s nice to be sailing short trips again and we’ve already managed to find some great anchorages. I expect our next post will be all about our discoveries around the islands, but for now here’s a taste of what we’ve found so far:
And this is the view from our anchorage this evening where I’m sat sipping a whisky and writing this blog: