Return to Mallorca

Friday May 31st.

Well we may have found our perfect boat.  She is a Jeanneau 49 DS called Exotica and we had to return to Mallorca to find her.  She has all the equipment we have been looking for and is in beautiful condition.  More about that later.

We spent a week in Barcelona.  Despite a good look and even a sail on Ulises, it seemed to us that there was just too much work required on the boat and it simply wasn’t worth it.  So it was back to the internet, although we felt we had exhausted all the options in this part of Spain and that France or Portugal beckoned. P1010491 However an English broker website came up with a couple of options so we stayed on in  Barcelona for another three days and took a good look at a Wauquiez 48.  This was too old and definitely not for us.

However the other option seemed much better but the boat was in Mallorca and unknown to all the local brokers there. So another cheap flight and we were right back where we started from.


Accommodation was not easy to find in Barcelona and we ended up renting an apartment right in the centre of town. Very handy but decidedly basic.  The sort of place we used to live in as students – but it had a washing machine which we required.

Although the stay in Barcelona was less than successful from a boat finding point of view it was extremely good culturally.  We managed to get tickets to the opening night of a new production of L’Elisir d’Amore by Donizetti at the Liceu.  This was an enchanting evening at one of the world’s great opera houses.  Rolando Vilazon was superb as Nemorino and the orchestral playing breathtaking.  Another night we attended a performance of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and a concert of Handel arias and concerti on the final evening.

Every visitor to Barcelona should join Nick Lloyd’s Spanish Civil War and George Orwell tour on a Saturday morning, truly insightful. The Discovery walking tours brought Barcelona alive and taught us how to choose the best Tapas bars.

And so we returned to the waterfront in Palma and kept an appointment to view Exotica, (not exactly our choice of name).  She was alongside the dock and we introduced ourselves to Frank, who has been the captain of the boat since it arrived here as a new boat eight years ago.  Frank is very German and has cared for the boat, on behalf of its German owner, as if it was his own baby.  He was patently less than enthusiastic at the prospect of its being sold and taken away by us. Thus, although polite, answering all our questions and demonstrating all the many improvements he has made to the boat, his manner could not have been described as matey.  In fact he was quite intimidating.  At one point I indicated a particularly clean and tidy piece of work and he replied, without a trace of irony, “Of course, this is a German boat!”

We went back to have another look today when Frank was absent and had a much more relaxed viewing which continued to impress us.  We always felt that the boat would find us rather than the other way around and this is what we hope may have happened.  Now it is a question of negotiating a price and we plan to return to England for a few days to do that.

P1010496More photographs later as we felt Frank disapproved of our taking snaps.

Some Success in Barcelona.

On our last night in Menorca we joined the local bridge club who meet weekly in our hotel.  We were rather daunted by the organisation of the duplicate tables and a bit at sea with their method of silent bidding.  However we played very conservatively and felt we had not disgraced ourselves.  Imagine our surprise when we got an email from the Director saying we had come a close second, first N/S.

On our arrival in Barcelona we made straight for the boat brokers and were greeted by Marcello, a highly loquacious, but very charming, Argentinian.  He drove us to boatyards around the city to look at some new Dufours just being prepared for other clients and finally to a small port about 40 km. north of the city where in another large marina, Arenys de Mar, we saw Ulises.P1010350

A Jeanneau 49.  This boat appealed greatly although didn’t have quite a few of our specifications. P1010328 It is 2005 vintage but more to our taste being much better appointed down below with plenty of solid wood rather than the lightly veneered plywood that goes into the more recent offerings.  On deck the boat was also in excellent condition with good sails and strong rigging.

We were so impressed that Marcello, (one of whose favourite expressions is “Ees Crazy” ) offered to take us for a test sail.  This we did on Friday. P1010356 It was windy and cool but the boat handled beautifully in 22 knots of breeze and we had a grand beat out into the Mediterranean and then a fast reach up and down the coast.

The drama occurred when we came to moor the boat stern to the jetty.  We were unable to find a boat hook and so could not pick up the mooring bow line.  Also the boat does not have a bowthruster which made this sort of manoeuvre in quite a strong sidewind rather difficult.  It took a long time to get settled with much forward and reversing until we finally got tied up.  There were four of us on board which helped a great deal.  The final indignity was getting one of the mooring lines wound tight around the propeller. This can only be cleared by a diver.  Throughout all this Marcello was very cool, although even he was “over it” by the end.  It did, however, make us wonder how the two of us would handle a similar situation in such a big heavy boat.

Last night Marcelo took us to the TP52 regatta crew party at Real Club Nautico de Barcelona. The biggest & best G & T’s we have ever had!

There are still more boats to see here in Spain, then perhaps Portugal and on to France.  We are waiting for the agents to get back to us.

Springtime in Menorca

Wednesday May 22nd.  Menorca

The flight to Menorca from Mallorca takes just 35 minutes so we were no sooner in the air than coming down again. Menorca is a much smaller island popular with the English since it was invaded in 1798 and used as a vital Mediterranean fleet base during the wars with Napoleon.  The harbour here at Port Mahon the capital is very well protected and there are quite a few boats moored here.

P1010286The one we came to see was a Beneteau 50, very similar to Ceilidh which Julie helped sail to the Whitsundays last year.  Sadly the boat was not in the same condition, having been owned by three men, used hard for a couple of years, including one Atlantic crossing, and then virtually abandoned for over a year.  It did not speak to us.

We did see a boat we quite liked, a Jeanneau 50 DS, but it was unavailable.  It seems to be the case so far that the boats that are for sale around here are not to our taste and the ones we like are already sold.

The brokers are still working hard and we are off to Barcelona tomorrow (Thursday).  P1010289

There is little temptation to stay in Menorca as the weather is cold and windy and occasionally wet, despite this photograph taken on our first day here when the sun did shine briefly.

The Quest Continues in Mallorca

Friday May 17th. 2013

P1010191Do you want to buy a Superyacht in Mallorca?  There are lots for sale here for millions of dollars.  However a modest family cruiser is a good deal harder to find.  We now have three local brokers working round the clock attempting to find our dreamboat but it is not proving easy.  The boats we have seen here have been far from outstanding.

On Day 2, Wednesday we reviewed a boat that had most of our requirements but was far too large and in the afternoon were driven some twenty miles down the coast to see a Beneteau 50 which had crossed the Atlantic four times and looked it.  Not exactly tired, just worn out.

P1010187Today we saw a Hanse 445, currently in charter and ideal for that but hardly our desirable home from home. Soulless would be the correct adjective.

So the search continues and may extend to Menorca, only a ferry ride from here, Barcelona, Port Napoleon in France and even Athens where some Dutch people may be happy to sell their boat to us.

It is rather like buying a house, you have to see a lot of dogs before you find the one you like and then you find you can’t afford it.

Believe it or not we found the local opera house putting on La Verbena de la Paloma, a typical Spanish opera called a Zarzuela. A sort of Spanish Gilbert and Sullivan with castanets. The music was jaunty but there were long periods of spoken dialogue which, perhaps because we don’t speak a word of Spanish, we did not find as amusing as the locals.

Searching the Med – Day 1

Tuesday May 14th.  2013

As we had predicted Mallorca is yachting central for the western Mediterranean.  P1010130This view from our hotel window only shows a fraction of the boats here ranging from the largest superyachts to tinnies.  So it was disappointing, to say the least, to find that our first encounter with a yacht broker fairly unsuccessful.  Julie, on her early morning walk, returned with a brochure of one very likely candidate, but when we returned to the office after breakfast, we found that the boat was in Gibraltar, some 400 miles away.

Our main internet contact had been with a Dutchman who seemed to have plenty of possible choices on his books and he collected us promptly at the appointed time.  However, we discovered that our first viewing, after a considerable walk, was a very nice boat indeed but it was already sold.  This fruitless exercise cooled the relationship a bit but nonetheless we were taken to another two boats, one of which was really too big and powerful for our requirementsP1010151 and the second was an Oyster of enormous proportion and well out of our price range (although Julie fell in love with it…wouldn’t she!!).  The fourth boat he had to show us was out on a charter and supposed to be here but was not.

We didn’t have much better luck at dinner where we went to a restaurant highly recommended by locals.  There in our ignorance we ordered what we thought would be a delicious meal of mixed tapas and ended up with one plate of what in Australia would be called smallgoods ie. a variety of rather fatty salamis. We then had to swallow our pride and order the rest of the feast. The house ros­­é was also a bad choice, so we have lots to learn!

We have another appointment with a well known yacht broker tomorrow and are hoping for more success.

The Boat Search Begins.

Thursday May 9th.

After one glorious and sunny day the weather in England has regressed to deepest winter with freezing cold, steady light rain and strong winds which make riverside boatyards into gloomy and miserable places.  Certainly not an atmosphere in which ones critical faculties are dulled by the prospect of cocktails in the cockpit in the glorious afterglow of a warm Mediterranean day.

LymingtonAltogether by the end of this day we had crawled over six different boats in our size range. Two Najads of different ages, a Sweden 45, a year old Jeanneau 49DS, a strange vessel called a Trintella and finally a carbon fibre racing machine. The latter quite unsuitable.  Every boat had some good qualities but none fulfilled our total requirements but we got a very good idea of what is available and the price range we will have to attain, at least in the UK.

Friday May 10th.

200 miles from Lymington we had driven to Fox’s boatyard in Ipswich, the home of Oyster Yachts, to have a look at some Oysters.  The Oyster is close to being the Rolls Royce of the yacht market, specialising in 60 foot plus luxury yachts at high prices.  However, they do make some sub-50 footers and we came to examine their second-hand store.  We were shown over seven altogether in the 45 – 49 foot range by the ever courteous and patient Rupert, who was extremely knowledgeable about each boat, both its current status and history. P1010080 Nearly all of the boats for sale had crossed oceans, some many times, and he was able to inform us of the condition and what needed to be done to bring them up to full sailing condition.  Many feel the Oysters are significantly overpriced and they are certainly right at the top of the price range for boats of this size.  However there is no denying the solidity of the build and the quality of the furnishings.

We spent another four hours climbing on and off these boats and came to the sad conclusion that the boats we could afford were a bit too old and tired and the ones we really liked, two 49 footers, one with hardly any miles on the clock were well out of our price range. Oyster Deck However the experience was very useful and we will set off for Mallorca and the brokers of Las Palmas with a good deal more information.