23rd Sept 2008 - Man overboard

Bali Hai
Neal Stow
Tue 23 Sep 2008 23:31
Well not quite but is makes an interesting title.
We left Barcelona at four in the morning.  As we came out of the harbour we discovered that the pleasant calm Mediterranean of before had turned into the good old English Channel.  It was rough and with a swell, presumably from the bad weather we had had in the last 24 hours.  Overcast and cold, wearing jumpers and full foul weather gear it certainly felt like the UK (a feeling that was not to change all day)
The wind was a good breeze of about 15 knots and so after passing through the shipping channel we raised the sails.  Being dark and with Pete the only crew familiar with the boat, and both he and Dave relatively inexperienced sailors and Ardva never having sailed before, the simple task of putting up the sails turned out to be quite a challenge. But then the challenges got worse as the wind quickly rose to 25 knots and we needed to reef.  A process that took so long and with a genny flogging away that we ended up with a huge knot in the genny sheet.  I decided that rather than attempt anything more we would continue on under mainsail alone until daylight.  At which point Pete decided to go back to bed and was not seen again for the rest of the day.
As daylight came we could see the sea, it was not a pretty sight; rough with white caps everywhere in a wind blowing Force 6-7.  We needed to reef the main and pull out some genny.  We first reefed in the main but during the process the main sheet caught on the backrests on the aft seat ripping both of them off.  One backrest was still on the boat but the other had been sent over the side.  It was only after we finished reefing the main that we noticed and I thought that there was no chance of spotting a small white backrest in among all the white caps in the water but amazingly Dave has the eyes of a hawk and did so.  Ardva was tasked with keeping an eye on the backrest while we pulled in the mainsail and motored back.  Unfortunately Ardva does not have the eyes of a hawk and lost sight of it.  We motored back along our track and there was no more sign of it.  We turned around and headed back on our original course and then, when just about to give up, "Hawk Eye", spots the backrest again.  I was not sure how we were going to get it on board as the boat was bouncing around in the waves, we did not have a net and there was nothing on the backrest to hook on to.  However, we pull up alongside and with another bit of amazing skill Dave managed to jam the boathook into the back rest and bring it back on board.
Back on course, we headed to Majorca.  105 miles from Barcelona, in many respects it was a good sail; a beam reach all the way with a good wind, we were making 8-9 knots much of the time.  Unfortunately the rough seas and the cloudy day made it more like Northern Europe sailing than the sunny Med.  The northern coast of Majorca is all high cliffs and shrouded in mist with waves crashing against them, they did not look that hospitable as we approached.  We rounded Cabo de Formentor and came in to a bay, Cala Formentor, which had been recommended as being a "Caribbean like bay with crystal clear waters."  To us it looked more like some place off the coast of Scotland in winter.  One plus is that the bay is very sheltered and full of mooring buoys that are all free, so we able to moor up for a calm night.
It was 7pm by the time we were finally settled and it was dark.  Ardva rustled up a lovely meal and after a few glasses of wine it was time for bed.  Pete, who had eventually emerged from bed, could not face anything more than a glass of water.