Sat 19 Sep 2009 12:59
We haven’t spent the night in a marina for over a month now, preferring
instead to stay in peaceful anchorages, away from sky-high prices and
bureaucracy. This has been fine, but it can be quite an isolated
lifestyle. Every night, we can see the lights of a dozen yachts sharing
the same bay, but each one is self contained, a bit like a spaceship. I
usually enjoy the isolation, because it allows me to read my book, play
the piano, brush up on my Italian or even compose one of these fantastic

But there comes a time when you crave a bit of platonic interaction with
the neighbours and so it was that we invited Herbert and Alejandra from
the yacht ‘Flying Eagle’ to have a glass of wine with us. Herbert and Alej
turned out to be very sociable indeed, as did Giampaolo and Donatella, an
Italian couple from ‘Riff Raff’. We spent some great evenings together on
each other’s yachts, sitting under the stars and talking (mostly rubbish)
late into the night.

This was more of an achievement than it seems, since it was a bit like the
Tower of Babel, with four main languages between us, but this didn’t
matter, even when everybody lapsed into Spanish as they did from time to
time. You just get the gist of what’s being said and in any case,
Alejandra (from Argentina) was a great diplomat who sensed when a quick
translation was needed. Herbert (from Dusseldorf) was a huge character,
full of energy and good humour, who had been a helicopter pilot in the
German army, then an airline pilot. When we met him, he was happily
retired and living with Alejandra for some of the year on ‘Flying Eagle’.
He had a great fund of flying stories, which I enjoyed very much. On 3rd
September, we left Pollensa for Mahon in Menorca and it was quite a wrench
to leave everybody behind. In the cruising/live-aboard world, you get to
know people amazingly quickly.

And so to Menorca, where we met Graham and Gillian, our good friends from
the Portugal Rally, who were anchored in Cala Taulara, about three miles
from old Mahon. Best of all, they had an excellent curry waiting for us
when we arrived, which was very welcome after the crossing from Mallorca.
It was great to see them again after several months and we spent that
evening catching up on each other’s news, some of which, in Graham and
Gillian’s case was hair-raising. In one anchorage off the Spanish
mainland, the swell got up so much that ‘Gilly B’ was submerged in waves
passing right over the cabin roof. It must have been absolutely horrible
and are lucky not to have encountered anything like this. A couple of days
later, we said goodbye to ‘Gilly B’ as she set off for Mallorca and the
Spanish mainland for the winter. We hope she’ll head east next season so
that we can all get together again.

Mahon itself is a lovely old city, standing on the banks of a long and
steep-sided valley. You can see instantly why the great powers of the 18th
and 19th centuries coveted it as a strategic naval base. We were lucky
enough to be in Mahon when a festival was on and saw about 40 horses being
expertly ridden through the narrow streets. It reminded me of the horses I
used to go and talk to when I was night duty officer at
Hammersmith...seems like another world.

Next stop Alghero, Sardinia.