Of Buoys and Boys

The Cabrera, or goat, island is part of a little eruption of islands and rocks just south of Mallorca only thirty or so miles from El Arenal. It is a nature reserve and a haven for fish, dolphin, seabirds and even whales. One of the taxi drivers in Palma had told us his son, a fisherman, had seen orca the previous week, not good news for the fish immediately vamoose. We kept a look out but saw nothing except another boats and a few gulls. The buoy we had booked did not become available till six, so we had a relaxed start, setting off around eleven and refueling before setting out. The wind was up, so we hoisted the sails just outside harbour and beat across Palma Bay, tacking to avoid other sailboats. At our second waypoint we were able to set sail for Cabrera.

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At around two there came a low booming sound. It took us a few minutes to identify the sound of thunder over the land to port. The thunderheads were building over Mallorca, but our wind dropped and we had to turn the engine on and motor sail for a while. At around three the islands became visible, smudges of shadow on the horizon ahead. The wind came up a bit, so we turned off the engine and enjoyed the peace, as we were making four knots and not anxious to arrive too soon. We managed to time our arrival for just after five, which was when those on the buoys the previous evening were supposed to have vacated. We furled up the sails and puttered in to a big natural harbour under the guard of a ruined castle.

Once inside it was easy to spot the yellow buoys we needed to tie to. There were several boats already there, but a number of free buoys, so John chose one and rounded to come to it from downwind. I balanced at the bow, gripping the boat hook and pointing with like Britannia, so John could judge where the buoy lay in the water. Either I did not point so well or the Bimini being up spoilt his view, because the buoy came up on the port side and our usual take is to starboard. I caught the pick up buoy on the port side, but my line was tied to the cleat on that side, strung round the anchor and free at the wrong end. Fortunately John quickly came up and held onto the buoy rope so I could unfasten the line and thread it through the metal hoop to form the bridle. We let it go, fastened off both ends of our line and then made like Australians again.

It is an idyllic spot, with just a few buildings and a jetty at the bottom of the hill beneath the castle and some houses scattered at points along the dirt road round the island. It looked very much as though there was a beach bar, an unexpected delight. Our mooring was directly below the castle a few buoys away from the landing area. Closer into the jetty were white buoys for smaller craft. Most of these were empty. On the other side of us, the more open aspect of the bay, were orange buoys for larger boats, this being midweek not many of these buoys were taken. The peace of the harbor was slightly disrupted by the buzzing about of folk in dinghies, touring the water or heading for the jetty. They are in for a surprise tomorrow, when we set out with our stealth electric outboard.

A few boats arrived after us and we watched how they performed with the buoys. A group of half a dozen German twentysomethings motored straight past the buoy, picked it up from the swim platform at the back and had a line from the bow to thread through it. Then they simply walked alongside with the buoy gathering up line as the boat carried on till the buoy was at the front and they tied it off. They made it look very straightforward. Afterwards they took turns throwing one another in the water and squealing about it. We too were tempted for a swim. It was cold, but we were much less keen to draw attention to ourselves and loured ourselves from the swim ladder quietly. Once in the water was lovely and there were no visible fish, so Lara would have approved. Once we had swum enough we climbed out, sat drying off and watched one of the German lads strike out for shore, doing a powerful front crawl. He made no attempt to come back and later in the evening we saw the other five paddle across in their dinghy. They were very low in the water and we speculated as to whether there was room in it for six, if they were taking him some clothes and if he would have to swim back. We did not fancy having a drink over there and having to find our way back in the dark and cook, so we stayed onboard. The steaks we had planned on eating were frozen solid, the fridge setting may have been knocked, or it could just have been that it always works better when the engine has been on. I made aubergine parmagianni instead, with feta rather than Parmesan cheese on top and though I say it myself it was rather good.

We opened a bottle of red wine and sat on deck with a glass afterwards looking at the stars and watching the parade of dinghies cross back to their respective boats. One scuttled across silently, a dark Nessie hump sliding across the grey of the water as if on a wire, either they too had an electric outboard or the wind was taking the noise away from us. Mind you, we heard plenty of noise as the German boys came back, even though they were paddling. Unlike some older but less wise drinkers they had lit the anchor light prior to setting out, but did not appear to have a torch to find their way past the other boats. Someone on the shore was shining a powerful beam out across the water to guide them. John and I were caught in the dazzle of this searchlight, but at least it meant we did not have unexpected guests arriving at the stern. The shore light went out and they were on their own, we could hear them murmuring and plopping around looking for their yacht. Being parents we worried about them. Then they obviously found their boat, there was quiet cheering and clambering sounds, then more throwing one another in the water and yelping. We listened, but all the noises were happy ones, so we relaxed and went to bed.

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2 Responses to Of Buoys and Boys

  1. Joyce Emms says:

    what does acting like Australians mean? Love Mumxxxx

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