Sun 16 Aug 2009 16:54
Our beautiful yacht (as correctly described by the Portuguese Navy) is
lying peacefully at anchor in Cala de Santa Ponsa, a sheltered bay on the
island of Majorca. It’s a fabulous evening and the sun is still giving out
plenty of heat. There is virtually no swell and the movement of the boat
is very soothing, especially when combined with a glass of chilled white
wine. The previous night we lay at anchor at Cala Talamanca, Ibiza, which
by contrast was horrible. All night long, the yacht pitched and rolled
madly and stuff was tipped onto the floor of the cabin. By the morning,
the crew were sorely lacking in sleep and good humour.

We had only gone to Talamanca to rendezvous with a marine engineer, who
came out to investigate a low engine oil pressure. This turned out to be a
faulty pressure relief valve (probably) which was good news, because I had
been bracing myself for something much worse and much more expensive. We
seem to be having a run of glitches. When we arrived in Majorca we
expected to have about 500 litres of water, but in fact had virtually
zero. This turned out to be caused by a split pipe in the back of the
engine room (where else?). The engine had been running all day so the
engine room was like a sauna whilst I fixed it! In Ibiza I had a look
under the boat and discovered that one of the prop shaft anodes had come
loose and one was missing altogether, which explained the rattle we’d been
getting at slow ahead. These have now been replaced by a diver, who
charged us €60, which didn’t seem bad for round here. And finally I
managed to test out the rope cutter whilst anchoring, when the rope from
the tender slipped under the boat and into the whirring propeller. It made
a horrible thumping noise when it was doing its stuff, but it did work.

My mum and my sister Caroline came out to stay whilst we were in a marina
near Palma and it was great to see them. We had a look at Palma City and
it’s much bigger and more sophisticated than I expected, and very
attractive. I could happily have stayed for a few more days and had a good
look around. Too soon we were heading back to the airport and saying
goodbye. I won’t ever get used to this, but like the man say, you can’t
have it both ways.

And now a quiz for all the family. It’s on boat recognition and all you
have to do for each question is to answer (a) motor boat or (b) sailing
boat. Award yourself 10 points for each correct answer.

(1) It’s three in the morning and you are lying at anchor, but you’re wide
awake. The boat anchored nearby is fully lit up and contains about 14
people of varying ages. There is an assortment of shrieking children, a
sprinkling of bottle-blonde teenagers in tiny bikinis and a few hairy, sun
scorched older people swaying drunkenly and bellowing loudly into the
night air. Europop is blasting from the boat’s sound system just below the
pain threshold, and several of the hairy, older people are attempting to
sing along to it.

Is this (a) a motor boat or (b) a sailing boat?

(2) It’s a lovely day and you’re in a line of boats moving slowly up a
narrow river towards a swing bridge that’s due to open in five minutes.
Each boat is keeping a comfortable distance from the vessel in front,
because this is good seamanship and because it’s the friendly, courteous
thing to do. Suddenly a boat appears on your left hand side, attempting to
overtake against the oncoming traffic. The person at the controls suddenly
realises that the manoeuvre is impossible and swerves in front of your
boat, very nearly causing a collision. He does not look back and does not

Is the person moronically trying to barge his way past operating (a) a
sailing boat or (b) a motor boat?

(3) You’re safely anchored in a peaceful bay, sitting in the cockpit and
watching a fabulous sunset at the end of a great day. The lights on the
shore are starting to twinkle and the boat is moving very gently in the
breeze. You’re feeling very relaxed and all is right with the world.
Suddenly, another boat roars by very close to you. There are two people on
board, one at the controls and one seated next to him, looking vacuous.
The person at the controls is male, about 60 and is sun-scorched and
hairy. He is gesticulating and explaining some point to the other person,
who is sun-scorched, leathery and hard-faced. She peers down at you
contemptuously as they sweep by. Unfortunately, due to your relaxed state
you are a bit slow to react when the boat starts rocking violently in
their wake. Your just-poured cold white wine ends up in your lap and the
open bottle falls to the floor and starts emptying its contents into the

Is the unattractive couple rushing by in (a) a motor boat or (b) a sailing

How did you get on? If you’re struggling with any of the answers, it may
help to know that in Spain, women are NOT permitted to be at the controls
of a motor boat. No more clues ...Good Luck!

We will be in Majorca for another couple of weeks, then we’ll cross to
Menorca before doing the 185 mile crossing to Sardinia, where a berth for
the winter awaits. Most of the time will be spent on the anchor possibly
without internet access, so apologies if there’s a delay answering Emails