23rd June. Fornells De Menorca


We have furled away the tricolour courtesy flag and now have the red and yellow stripes of Spain in the starboard crosstrees. Abemama is anchored in the deep cala of Fornells on the NE corner of Menorca.

Two days ago, we escaped from Port Vendres, which is a pleasant harbour — except for its winds. It is so enclosed that it is impossible to estimate the sea conditions from the pontoon: you just have to go out and look, just as we did, complete with a clutch of conflicting forecasts, at 0630 on Wednesday morning.

It was a wise move into a flat sea and a light wind, predictably on the nose. A radio ham friend in Menorca told us of NE winds, so we expected to get a breeze on the tail as we moved South. It never came.

The route is 155 miles on 166T and was covered with main, genoa and mizzen, all sheeted in tight and the engine ticking over at 1800rpm. Over the years, our passage making speed never varies much either side of 5.3knots. So it was on Wed/Thurs. The trip took 29 hours of smooth ride. The BMC is a 4 cylinder engine and drives through the Halyard flexible coupling, which makes us almost vibration free and reasonably quiet. We are a motor sailer so – in order to cover open sea distances at our best speed – we are happy to motor sail. At 0.6 gph, we burned about 18galls of diesel, which is not bad for moving house, office and transport down to the sun.

Even though The Med has no real tides, it has plenty of bewildering currents. In a couple of places, we were down to 4.5 knots and then – an hour later – up to 5.8, with no change of wind or engine. All – of course – confirmed by the SA-free gps signal. The removal of Selective Availability has made little difference to our cruising efficiency. Buoys and harbour chartlets are still often not where they are shown in lat/long, both on paper and electronic charts, but it is great to have constantly accurate speed over ground.

A long journey was enlivened by a few yachts and cargo boats at night and two whales which passed close down our sides. I towed a fishing line for 150 miles and the total catch was one polythene bag. I shall do better here with my new net.

Fornells is a huge anchorage and at this time of the year is pleasantly uncrowded. This will change in 3 weeks when the French holidays begin. The 12 boats in today, will then become 100 plus… but we shall be elsewhere. For now, we have repaired our electric windlass (knackered distribution box) and assembled the Fortress aluminium anchor – just in case – and are enjoying the extra poke and quiet of a new Mercury 6hp 4 stroke outboard – which sounds more like a car than a boat. It is no faster than our old Mariner 5, but has many other advantages. We shall give some facts and figures about this one later.

That will be after we have removed all the canal grime from the water line; now that the sea is 24 deg cels and warm enough to make this swimming