Sextant Work

I’m brushing up on my sextant skills with the aim of taking (and passing) the Yachtmaster Ocean exam in Las Palmas when we get there. My 500 nm qualifying passage will be Gibraltar to Gran Canaria in October.

The plot today went well, all things considered. There was a clear view of the sun in the morning so I did a standard Sun Sight which plots as a Line of Position. In this case, 112 degrees from my chosen position and 10 seconds (nautical miles) away from it.

Sun Sight
Sun Sight

The second shot today is known as Sun Meridian Passage. The idea is to take six or eight shots before and after noon and work out the time and angle of the highest point of the sun. At local noon you are on the same meridian as the sun (the sun is directly north or south of you) so the result is a line of latitude, in this case 36 deg 51.1 seconds North. The was a lot of high cloud at 1400 local so I wasn’t very confident of accurate readings.

Sun Meridian Passage
Sun Meridian Passage

Finally, in order to fix your position at the time of the second sight, you move (advance) the first Line of Position by the course and distance sailed between the first and second sights, in this case 290 deg and 12 nm. Where the Advanced Line of Position and the noon latitude cross is your position! Magic really.

The final plot looks like this:

The Plot
The Plot

The noon sight was taken after we had dropped anchor, so I took a screenshot of my iPad which shows the boat location (red arrowhead) and my calculated position (white circle) about 8 nm apart. Good enough for sailing the oceans!

Final Result
Final Result

Alicante to Aguadulce

Cape Palos
Cape Palos

Sunday finds us in Alicante Marina meeting Tim & Jane from their flight from London. The first night we spent on the anchor off the island of Tabarca, about 10 miles south of Alicante.

Next we headed south to Cape Palos, and took a couple of sun shots with the sextant en route (5 miles out, not bad!). Once there, out came the paddleboard.

Next stop was Carboneras Beach, with a great view as long as you’re not looking west (cement factory). On the way we intercepted Brizo, a Discovery 55 owned by some of Tim’s friends. They were on their way to get a new engine start battery so we left them to it.

At Carboneras we took the tender ashore for some urgent provisions, a cocktail or two and a rather disappointing meal. Win some, lose some.

Then finally we took the opportunity to practice with the cruising chute in light winds. Too light, really, but a good learning experience all the same. Back in Aguadulce Marina we had a meal ashore (half a metre of pizza) before saying good-bye, for the time being, to Tim & Jane.

Leaving Palma

At anchor near Andratx

After three weeks in Palma, with lots of guests and lots of boat work, we finally left two days ago and are now at anchor off Formentera, south of Ibiza.

Proper sailing at last

Improvements to the boat include: new water heater, new capacitors for the generator (one failed), new main halyard swivel (came from Ipswich) and new solar panels. Everything seems to be working well except the solar panels which appear to be producing only 3.5A out of a theoretical maximum of 18A. The boat draws 11-12A when sailing so we’d be happy with anything above 9A.

Tomorrow we’ve got a long day to the mainland (probably Calpe) then we gently sail down the coast to Gibraltar – more soon!

Tourism in Barcelona

Barcelona Port

We’re on our way home for a few weeks and spent a couple of days in Barcelona en route.

More Maintenance (& Improvements)

The AC panel has been tidied up with a new remote panel; the base of the mast has been prepared for painting; the tender cover has been repaired; the network has been tweaked; a new smart TV has been has been installed.

Back in Palma

New Genoa Installed

We left Gruissan a few days later than planned – flat tyre on the car, boatyard not ready to put the boat back in the water, bad weather, and finally, a broken tap in the guest head.

Eventually we set sail and sailed straight to Sóller, Mallorca – 202 nm in 29 hours. After a very pleasant quiet night in Sóller (for a change), it was round the coast to Palma and the home for the boat for the next few weeks.

There’s another long list of jobs before we’re ready to start the ARC+ in November – digital fuel and water guages and calibration, new chartplotters, a remote control panel for the generator (the panel on the genny is inaccessible), engine and generator service, new foresails (already installed) – the list goes on and on. We’re also filling the boat up with spare parts.

This weekend we had a break and hired a car. Yesterday we drove up to the north of the island and visited Polença and Alcudia. Today we went east to Santanyi and Cala Figuera. Back to work tomorrow!

Back to Gruissan

After lots more maintenance and lots more visitors (Carol, Ruth, Jo, Spider, Gill, Andy) we left Palma on Wednesday 27 October for the short trip to Andratx before the long trip to Port Argelès-sur-Mer.

A final evening in Andratx (most of the mooring buoys had been removed) was very pleasant and the next morning we motored north to the Spanish mainland and on to the French border, ably assisted by Batty. Approaching Port Argelès-sur-Mer we flew the Code Zero (a lightweight sail for reaching) but after a few minutes a huge gust luffed us up and the bowsprit, holding the tack of the code zero, broke and the sail flogged itself to pieces.

The fun wasn’t quite over as the next morning at Port Argelès-sur-Mer the wind was Beaufort Force 9 gusting 10! Needless to say, we stayed put until early afternoon when the wind dropped and we motored the final 35 nm to Gruissan.

On Sunday we spent the morning preparing Mistral for the winter e.g. removing sails, protecting lines, removing the bimini, filling the fuel tank etc. The boat will be at Gruissan for the winter before new adventures in 2022.

Thanks to everyone who helped us in 2021 – friends, family and contractors!

Maintenance Week

Releasing the Outhaul
Releasing the Outhaul

Chartplotter, mainsail furling, mainsail service, RPM gauge repair, rust stains from cleats, loose oil breather pipe, the list goes on and on. It would seem endless without the help of Mike and Guardian Yacht Services.

Round the Island

Mallorca, that is.

With Shirls on board again and fair weather forecast, we thought we’d sail clockwise around Mallorca.

On The Beach
On The Beach

Our route was Palma – Andratx – Soller – Deia – Soller – Pollensa – Port Petro – Sa Rapita beach – Palma. The fun started in Deia when we dropped anchor to go to lunch at the famous Sa Foradada restaurant. The anchor got stuck in rocks, I missed lunch, and we waited until 1015 the next morning for a diver to come and free our anchor.

After a second night in Soller (wind and rain, lots of boats having problems in the middle of the night) we continued on to Pollensa, Port Petro, the beautiful Sa Rapita beach and back to Palma. But not before the cockpit chartplotter packed up and the mainsail refused to furl. The joys of boat ownership.

August in the Balearics

August has been and gone and with it some of our guests – Laura, Rory, Laura 2, the Nicols family (Calum, Ceri, Isabel, Mia and Tilly), Amanda and Valerie.

We’ve done mostly short trips exploring the south of Mallorca and anchoring overnight when the weather was suitable. Cala Blanca, Andratx, Soller, Deia, Sa Rapita and Las Isletas have all been visited at least once. We’re looking forward to returning to Portals Vells but in August it was always too crowded.

It was lovely having our French neighbours on board (neighbours in France, not French!). Everybody did plenty of eating, drinking, swimming and snorkelling, and we even managed an evening of Mario Kart!