Delivering “42”: Sardinia to Palma, Mallorca

Leaving from Cagliari, Sardinia, our planned destination was not originally Palma, Mallorca, but Valencia Spain. Another passage filled with the lumpy upwind sailing typical of the Med in Winter and a late night jib sheet breaking left us with no Jib about halfway, and so we decided to take a hard right and make an extended stop in Palma, Mallorca to *really* get the boat ready for the future travels through the straits of Gibraltar and into the Atlantic.

John and Becca agreed to slow down the rate of boat projects for the week immediately preceding Christmas (One boat project a day!) and so Maisie and I took off most evenings to walk the huge docks, exploring boats, or heading into town to see the sights of Palma.

And both were amazing! Palma is filled with Cathedrals and Churchs. The main Cathedral, a massive edifice visible from anywhere along the shore of the bay and through much of the town, is the thrid highest in all of Europe. At night, the exterior is well lit and becomes something of a beacon. We explored it during the day and ended up there on Christmas Evening, to listen to “The Song of Sybil”, an ancient custom designated as a “UNESCO heritage event”. Think a lady holding a sword in procession into the cathedral at the start of Mass and then singing a spanish song call and response with a choir. Incredible! Little “Toonie” the one year old managed to hold it together quite admirably through the song before we escaped to the boat once again. And despite neither Maisie or I being prepared for Christmas, Becca hunted through the streets of Palma and there was a stocking waiting for both of us on Christmas morning! You can only imagine the cheer we all felt, paper snowflakes painter taped to the wall and our boat orchid (plastic, of course) wrapped in twinkle lights.

But best of all, my favourite part of Christmas was the Guillottes’ Christmas tradition of making Beignets and handing them out to people around the (massive) marina. So once the four of us had stuffed ourselves until we couldn’t eat a single one more, Maisie and and I filled a huge box and went skipping merrily on our way, handing them out to anyone who got in our way. Despite some initial confusion and plenty of language barrier, lots of “Felis Navidad!” and “Bonnes Festes” got the festive point across and they all disappeared within half an hour and the space of ten docks.

And what docks they were! Palma was by far the most affluent city we visited in the Med (And maybe for the whole trip. I don’t know yet, I’m writing this mid ocean). Hundreds of massive yachts, J-class classics, weird custom boats, huge 80 foot catamarans; we suddenly seemed trivial next to the 300 foot sailboats and powerboats of all types that filled the docks. In most of the ports we visited, “42” would be one of the biggest vessels around, or at least hold her own. Here, she looked almost insignificant with the paid crew and marine service workers buzzing around the other boats, even at this holiday time of year.

It warmed my small boat sailor heart, however, that even here there were tiny boats, including a tiny 23 foot wooden sloop, a sistership of “Felicity Ann”, who Ann Davidson sailed solo across the Atlantic in years past. I was sorely tempted: she was for sale! But I think perhaps a Contessa 26 is the limit for how much headroom I need. Ann Davidson was quite a bit smaller than me: I would not have had even sitting headroom below. Ah well!

This was also the place where I first saw red masthead lights on the largest of the sailboats, which we learned where necessary because the masts were so tall that they could be hit by passing airplanes. Talk about air draft limitations!

Casually sitting in the back cockpit of “42” after working on boat projects for the day, we’d just happen to see boats like “Salute”, with the world’s tallest aluminum mast (250 feet) or J-class yachts passing by. It really was a boat nerd’s paradise.

As usual, we were doing boat work whenever possible, but I won’t mention most of that. This is where I got the chance to do quite a bit of rigging work on Fourty-Two: Core dependent splices, Dyneema and low friction ring strops, and much more. If you’re interested, these are the examples seen in some of my “Marine Services” page. We managed to get quite a bit of work done! Eventually, we headed towards departure after a final few evening excursions to see castles and sights.