Yay! Made it to Italy! We motored in flat calm from Monastir, Tunisia 🇹🇳 and have arrived safe and sound at Sitimar Marina, Palermo, Sicily 🇮🇹
We had a calm weather window and ended up motoring all the way. We saw 5 lots of dolphins, but only two groups came to play for a while - one right outside the marina.
We also saw lots of little fishing boats who seem to like to save electricity by not having navigation lights on at night - until you get close, and then they turn them on and/or shine spotlights at you. When I say lights, this can mean anything from proper navigation lights, all the way through to a cell phone light .... an old Nokia flip phone from the looks of it 😂🤣. As you can imagine, we got quite close to come of these boats - accidentally.
But we made it safe and sound just on dusk, and didn’t pick up any of the many fishing nets all around the entrance to the marina.
Here’s some photos of the marina at Monastir. It’s a lot cleaner here - and more expensive. There’s some pretty looking buildings and sights around the place which we will explore soon, once we have moved off the temporary dock and into our berth for the next week or so.
We never got visited by the NATO warship, but we did get called up by the Algerian Coastguard. They asked us to repeat our boat’s country of registration (the Cook Islands) about 3 times - they obviously didn’t know where that was! We thought Algeria was not the sort of place you go being a tourist - and maybe not - but there are apparent plenty of Algerian tourists in Tabarka, Tunisia. We’ve been told there is nothing to do in Algeria (no hotels, bars, not even a cinema), so they all come here. We’ve also been told that we can stop there just to get fuel - you don’t check in, just tie up to the dock and pay €0.20 per litre for diesel! It’s €0.60 here in Tunisia (20M up the coast), and €1.20 back in Mallorca!!
So we arrived and were met at the dock by the local port captain and the police who then took Jim off to do the paperwork. It was a bit difficult since they only speak French or Arabic and we only speak English, but we got a couple of bits of paper and some stamps in our passports, and seem to be all cleared in. Jim reported the police station was very basic - a desk with a typewriter, and nothing else, not even a phone. We also got a visit from immigration who also took copies of things - not sure why, but that’s bureaucracy for you.
The port captain had us tie up next to a large old boat from Italy, so we’re rafted up and have to climb over his boat to get on board. It’s probably a good thing cos the locals (or maybe tourists from Algeria?) keep climbing on the boats next to the wall to have their photos taken. The port captain is forever running around telling them to get off and pointing to all the signs saying to keep off the boats.
We went for lunch which was yummy with a great spicy soup to start, and then French influence mains, with French fries, vegie salad, and flavoured rice. We thought it was going to be about equal NZD to Tunisian Dinar, but turns out a Dinar is about €0.30 or NZD$0.50, which makes a nice change (and makes everything very cheap) compared to euro (about nz$6.50 for a huge two course lunch in the tourist area). The last marina in Mallorca was nzd$500 per night .... here we are rafted up to another yacht but it cost nzd$7.50 per night.
After exchanging some euro for Dinar (luckily we had euro to exchange as the money machines here don’t seem to work with our cards) we went for a wander around the streets and markets. I wish I could take more photos! I’ve never been to places like India or Indonesia, but I’m guessing it’s similar - a mix of vibrant energy, colour, filth, poverty, commerce, and smiling faces. The stall sellers were not pushy at all, and the fruit and veg all looked very .. um... “organic” (ie, kinda wilted and not very fresh).
Speaking of fresh, we have fresh cat pee on the boat thanks to the very confident Tom cat that jumped on board shortly after we tied up to the customs wharf. He sprayed on our window, and despite washing it off, the smell still remains. We’ve seen other cats on board so are keeping all windows and doors closed to prevent any getting inside and doing the same thing!
We meet a couple on a boat next door who have been very helpful with tips for places to travel to. She is Italian, and he is French, but raised in Morocco and then they have lived here for 3 years. They speak great English, and also French and Arabic, so have offered to help translate for us - everyone speaks French here (or Arabic) so we are pretty much completely lost. We have to apologetically explain we are from New Zealand, to which they reply “oh, so you speak Dutch”. No, that’s old Zealand! 😂🤣. We have also heard that we are the unusual people with the weird black passports! 🤣
We went for a wander around town through all the markets selling Knick knacks, clothes, shoes, food, and even kitchen sinks. We plan to climb the hill near the port to the old fort and have a look at the amphitheater in the next bay tomorrow. Until then, good nite!
We lifted anchor at approximately 10.30am Wednesday the 5th of December. Jim had gone into town to clear us through customs while Steve and I did a quick supermarket visit for some fresh supplies. We motored through fog for the first day and night which was quite eerie, in flat calm seas and little to no wind. It was my birthday and Jim bought a cake while in town, and it made for a great passage snack. We were audience to an awesome sunset when we emerged from some fog, which we eventually left behind overnight. There?s lots of tankers, fishing boats, and cargo vessels out here so watches are busy keeping clear of everyone. In the morning we put the lures out and caught a nice fat little tuna. The wind gradually picked up and we hoisted the sails and shut off the engines. We?re now just waiting to see if the Nato warship that has been visiting and questioning other boats will come see us or not.
We have cleared customs and are heading for Tunisia. We will be out of contact for 2.5 days. Internet sounds like it’s a bit patchy in Tunisia, so not sure when we’ll be posting again. Looking forward to a nice sail.
Left marina and anchored up in Palma nova bay.
It's due to blow a bit over the next three days, so decided to duck into a Marina for good protection, get some washing done, re fuel, and get some parts that were ordered a few weeks ago in Palma.
Anchored around the corner from Palma to drop a friend off to the Palma airport.
Motored in flat calm conditions down the western side of Mallorca and around to Camp de Mar.
Finally got all issues sorted and left Port Ginesta to continue our circumnavigation of Mallorca.
We moved back to Port Ginesta to try to get a resolution to our B&G chart plotter issues. Hoping to get it sorted - finally - this week and head back to Mallorca on weds/thurs.
We moved around the top of Mallorca and found an amazing bay but didn’t have internet coverage. It was surrounded by steep cliffs and stunning landscape. I tried a few photos with the drone, but couldn’t go high enough to capture it all. We are now back in Port Ginesta to try and sort out the B&G chart plotter which is proving very hard to get back from the local B&G agent in a fixed condition!
We moved up the coast a bit and anchored up in Cala de s’Aguilla. It was a bit of a rolly night. Now we’re heading further north west so that we get to the western side of Mallorca before the winds turn to the east.
After an enjoyable evening on Site Office 2, we had a slow day today. We were going to head around to the west side of Mallorca, but after bashing into wind and waves, we decided to duck into Portels Vells. It was a pleasant surprise as there are some cool caves to explore. See Office Gossip on Facebook for more info and photos.
We awoke to a lovely sunny day and after basking in the sun for a bit, headed off around to the next large bay. Had a lovely sail, and anchored up next to Site Office (2). Went for drinkies and had a great time chatting to previous owners of Site Office and picking their brains about the boat. Their new boat (63ft lagoon motor vessel, obviously also called Site Office) is stunning and getting ready for her trip to the Carribean. Hopefully we’ll catch up with them again before they leave! Great day!!
Arrived in Mallorca after overnight motorsail. Few teething problems on board but otherwise all well. Nice to be at anchor again!
Leaving Port Ginesta and heading to Mallorca. Yay! ETA tomorrow morning local time (approx 20 hour passage).
Adrienne here. I decided to write a bit of a blog since I’ve been a bit slack with posting what we’ve been up to.
First up, I must admit something a bit silly. I don’t know why, but for some reason I thought most people in Spain would speak English as well as Spanish - maybe not fluently, but enough to get by. I don’t know why I thought that, but there you have it. Turned out I was wrong. Most of the time it doesn’t matter. You can go places, see the sights, and the touristy places have English signs and English speaking guides anyway. The place where it gets difficult is simple things like going to the supermarket. Not only do they not have any of the familiar brands of products here as we have back in NZ, but everything is only in Spanish (or Catalan). Google translate on the phone (once we got a local sim card and therefore some internet) is brilliant, but it does take time. So ‘popping’ in to the supermarket for a few items turns into a very long procedure for finding what you think you need, typing the name on the packaging into Google translate, finding out that that was the brand name, not a description of what it actually is, then starting out all over again. Buying simple things like shampoo and conditioner was “fun”. The checkout ladies also jabber away at you and you just stand there looking all stupid and confused and point to your t-shirt with “New Zealand” on it and shrug and apologise.
That aside, it’s fascinating to see the different types of foods here. The cheese and salami sections are huge. Back in NZ, there may be two shelves in one section for olives. Here there’s half an aisle of olives. Canned tomatoes and chickpeas (but in jars) are easy enough to find, but coconut cream is a tough one. Maybe they don’t cook many curries here? There’s only milk in UHT tetrapaks – nothing “fresh”. The bread aisle is, of course huge, but man, you have to hunt high and low for crackers to put your cheese and salami on. Biscuits, no problem, or pre-toasted toast, but where are all the Huntley & Palmers? Snax? Meal Mates? Not here mate!!! When you can find them, there’s only one variety of cracker and that’s all you get!
The meat section is also very different. There’s lots of pork, beef, chicken (very yellow looking which is odd), and other things like rabbit and turkey, but I haven’t seen any lamb yet. We’re hoping there’ll be more lamb in Morocco, but probably not much pork (being a Muslim country), so will stock up on the pork products here in Spain while we can (along with the beer and wine!).
We’ve been here for a month now, and are slowly getting used to how things work. The driving is all over the place, with lane markings just a suggestion, but it’s all relaxed and no road rage. Getting things done seems to take ages – “Mañana” they say … “tomorrow” … but that doesn’t actually mean tomorrow - it could mean next week, or next month, but just not today. Shops are often closed for an hour or two any time between noon and 4pm, but then open to 8pm most days. Except Saturday afternoon and Sunday – even the supermarkets are closed. “Morning” is considered to be up until 2pm. After 2pm it’s “afternoon” until 8pm. After 8pm it is finally “evening”. Restaurants don’t open until 8pm. Cops are wandering around with pistols on their hips, and occasionally carrying machine guns. The public transport system is pretty good, and reasonably priced. Dogs are a lot more accepted here, and you see them on buses & trains. The temperature is mostly in the low 20s, and mostly fine (although we have had a few thunderstorms overnight with great displays of lightning).
We are currently in Port Ginesta, about 30 minutes south of Barcelona. We are here having a few things done and servicing completed. Both engines have been serviced, and the generator as well. We had an issue with charging so have had electronic guys in to sort things out. Turned out a relay was “open” instead of “closed” which we didn’t know how to switch (or that it even needed to be switched). The boat’s systems are quite complicated and there’s not really anything in the owner’s manual on how things work and there has been absolutely no “hand over” or time spent with us to get us familiar with all the systems. So when, for example, the passarelle stopped working, it turned out it was a simple relay turned off in the electrical system for the port engine alternator. But since the Spanish electrician doesn’t really speak English, we don’t know why it turned off. We went out today to make water, but once out there, couldn’t figure out how to turn the 240v system on to the generator – it worked before it was serviced, so we figured the technician has maybe changed something, but do you think we can figure out what it is? Nope. All the manual says is to push a setting on the touch screen controller, but nothing happens when we do it. And there’s no trouble shooting section. Ahhhhrrrr!!! Turns out the technician turned off the 240V circuit breaker (which is hidden on the side of the generator away from the control panel) during the service and forgot to turn it back on.
The most frustrating issue is the washing machine. It was identified back at Easter, when Jim and Steve flew over to inspect the boat; it wasn’t working and the broker promised to have it fixed. Five months later when Jim turned up, it was still not working. We’ve been here a month and Miele still haven’t sent their technicians to sort the problem out (which is assumed to be an electronic board problem). We’re not sure if they will actually turn up before we have to leave, or if we should just turf it over the side and put in a completely manual washing machine with no electronics!!
In the mean time, we’re stuck here waiting for the crates of stuff Jim sent up from NZ that were due in the 1st or 2nd week of October. It has all sorts of things in it, including all the cookware, which has meant we’ve only been eating what can be cooked in the microwave or on the BBQ. We’re getting good at it though. The good news is that they tell us the crate “should” arrive some time this next week – fingers crossed! And lets hope the bloody Miele technicans turn up before then, or we’ll be tempted to float-test the damn thing.
Phew. Ok, rant over and done with.
At the end of the day, it’s not a bad place to be ‘stuck’ in. It’s close to Barcelona by bus and train, and we’ve explored the city quite a bit.
As for Site Office, I’m sure it’s just a matter of us sorting out all the details on how things work. She’s a complex girl, and apart from the electrical/electronic glitches, she runs beautifully. She’s a lovely boat, is spacious, has all the bells and whistles, and is more than comfortable. She’s got a great sound system, electric fresh water flush toilets, and the showers are spacious. We’ve only had a small sail so far, but she seems to go well. We are all chomping at the bit to get out of here and let her stretch her legs.
On the huge plus side of being in one place for a while is that we have made friends with a couple who live on their boat here. Steve and I initially got chatting to Louise because they have two Border Collies (April and Blue) and a Chihuahua (Annabelle, or as I call her, Trouble Maker). Louise and her husband James have lived on their old boat for about 7 years around the Med. They have just purchased a bigger boat and have moved to Port Ginesta to live here for a year. James is a pilot and commutes to Italy for his job flying A320s around Europe. They are both awesomely good fun, and James has been helping us a lot with IT type issues on board. He’s got our wifi system sorted and shown us how to use it. I think we’ve been a bad influence on them though, and we’ve had a few very late nights (or rather, very early mornings) with them that have resulted in not a lot being done the next day due to sore heads. D’oh! It’ll be sad leaving here and having to say farewell, and we’ll miss the doggie cuddles, but hopefully they’ll join us in the future for a holiday on Site Office, maybe when we get to the South Pacific.
Came up to Port Ginesta on Friday evening. Jim Med style moored the boat like a champ. Washed her down Saturday and did a few chores. Relaxed Sunday and visited Barcelona. Monday we organised some servicing and parts, and found the not-so-local supermarket for some supplies. Met some other boaties and will do drinkies tomorrow. Barcelona boat show on this week so will go visit. All good and getting things sorted slowly.
Here we are! First YIT update. Site Office is on the hard at Port Taragona. She has had her antifoul done, and we are waiting on a few more jobs to be done before she can go back into the water. Various things are off being serviced - sails, fire extinguishers, life raft etc. The crew are busy sorting things, provisioning, and cleaning the boat. Another big job is learning how everything works. She?s a big girl and has lots of toys onboard, including the crew!
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