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Date: 09 Oct 2012 11:04:00
Title: Mile High Club

Left Palma, on a warm, sunny evening and motored an hour down the west side
of Palma Bay and anchored in the lovely protected bay off Magaluff. Peaceful
and quiet, no hint of the activities ashore. Next day, early departure for a
fabulous breezy sail to Ibiza where we planned to anchor, to break up the
trip, before the 3 day passage west. Flew the spinnaker for most of the day
and the boat just surged along under 10 to 12 knot winds. However when we
came to drop the sail as we approached Ibiza we found lots of scoring and
chafe on the top of the sail, with the protective sock worn through. Mmmm,
if we planned to sail around the world using this sail, damage after just 8
hours didn't bode well. We were heading back to Estepone to refill our
cooking gas bottles, incredibly there's a major difficulty refilling non
Spanish bottles, even Gibraltar can't help, even not possible in Las Palmas
in the Canaries, health and safety blah blah blah. Talk about the EU.
The first night there was little traffic, a few large ships off to the left,
so the routine is a glace around every 10 minutes or so, check the chart
plotter and radar screen. I notice a tiny blip on the screen about 5 miles
away and kept an eye on it as it gradually got closer. The radar gave an
estimated CPA (Closes Point of Approach) and showed we would pass quite
close to each other so I kept alert but it was another 10 minutes before I
could see a light. A red light indicating I was seeing the Port side of the
boat. Gradually it got closer and as it was my responsibility to give way, I
was on the wheel. The boat appeared out of the dark, a sail boat under
engine and I had to steer around it, to avoid it,as it passed 5o meters in
front of us, no one in the cockpit. They were probably not even aware of us.

Two days out of Ibiza early morning the fog descended, evidently typical for
this time of year as the warm sea air moves over the cold land in the
morning. Radar on and a sharp(er) look out. By 11:30 the sun had burned it
off and into another glorious day. Found our contact in Estepone who had us
refilled in 10 minutes and by chance found a sailmaker in the marina no more
than 100 meters form the boat. We needed to find the source of the problem
so it was time to go up the mast. Sussanne and Andrew Baker prepared to
winch me up and I took the opportunity to fit an additional halyard, a line
that runs from the deck to the top of the mast and back down. It would be
useful if one broke or as an extra safety line. There was extensive but
superficial abrasion damage to the top furler but it helped identified the
cause of the problem. We had hoisted the sail with the halyard twisted under
the forestay. The top of the mast is a high place to be and it feels quite
precarious hanging from a rather thin line, especially if the boat sways and
the top of the mast swings in a wide arc through the air.
Sail now fixed and preparing to leave for Gibraltar for refuelling and then
a five day passage to the Canaries.

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