First overnight passage: Valencia to Palma
When friends call and offer a spot on a sailboat during your vacations, you don’t hesitate! Flights were booked and off I went to Valencia, Spain to meet Declan and two of his friends at the 2007 Americas Cup docks. Blue Juice, a Beneteau First, was going to get us across to Palma de Majorca!
These boats combine very good sailing characteristics (especially with the top-notch sails) with comfortable cruising capability – the reason why our former sailing club in Belgium owned one of these: racers and cruisers liked the compromise!
After some provisioning, including hunting down the right gas bottles for the onboard BBQ throughout Valencia’s “ferreterias”, we set off on an easterly heading straight across to Majorca. When the wind died during the night half way across, we motored a while towards the South-East in order to be able to reach the Southern tip of the island once the wind picked up again.
Nothing dramatic happened during this passage, and since it was only going to be one night, nobody slept much, even though we had decided on two four-hour watches in teams of two. The heeling boat and the adverse chop made for a bumpy ride through most of the night, so we all appreciated Paul’s heroic feats in the galley, serving up excellent sandwiches!
There was some traffic during the night, mostly ferries that were announced on AIS before we could see them, but that are otherwise brightly lit and generally keep out of the way of sailboats, albeit sometimes manoeuvre in close proximity. The cloudless night sky was spectacular, we spotted countless shooting stars, satellites and planes – and I thought I should someday master celestial navigation… The reward for a largely sleepless night was a fantastic sunrise – and later a perfect anchorage near Colonia St Jordi.
Our previous night sails had been in busy and mostly shallow areas in Zeeland, where constant vigilance was essential to stay in channels, avoid fishing boats and not get confused by shore lights. Out on the Med, the water is reliably deep (the sounder gave up at >100m), there are no buoys around, and night-time traffic is limited and visible. An altogether very enjoyable experience, especially in such fun company!
No more sailing after that: after some rest we spent a day visiting Palma, including by hanging out at the Real Club Nautico de Palma, home to an impressive collection of superyachts, including 100ft+ sailboats. We looked the “salt dog” part at the bar, you never really know by the looks of people what boat they’re on (except if they are professional crew with the boat name on their tshirt…).