30 September 2016 is one which we will not forget. 11 years 8 months and 20 odd days after we arrived in London (for a year or two!) with a suitcase each and a daughter in tow we flew out of London Heathrow for our new adventure. Mixed feelings followed us along the gangway to our British Airways flight back to Palma, Mallorca; excitement, trepidation, sadness but also a sense of freedom that our new chapter was about to begin.
We timed out arrival into Palma very well as it coincided with the Oyster Palma Regatta. Beautiful Oysters of all shapes and sizes being polished to within an inch of their lives in hope to win the glamour prize of “most beautiful” – I have always thought that James was a bit anal about keeping our boats clean and shiny but I have never seen anything quite like the time and effort being put in to these yachts! The social scene was in full swing as well and we met up with a few others joining the Rally from Antigua starting in January. Of course there was some very competitive sailing happening as well but “Miss Tiggy” was tied up at the marina receiving her final spit and polish and a set of new sails before our departure to the Canary Islands.
We farewelled new friends on “Meteorite” and were joined on our first leg by Rob and Belinda Sharpless, great friends from Brisbane. I think they were a little gobsmacked by the size of the boating industry in Palma and enjoyed all the comings and goings of various English and Spanish marine workers pulling up beds to work on electrical systems or testing the water from the fresh water maker for salinity. Trusty Frank is with us so our crew is set and at 0910am on Friday 7th October “Miss Tiggy”sailed out of Palma.
Enroute to Gibraltar, or Gib as the yachties refer to it, we overnighted in a marine park just off the main island of Formentara and watched with interest the flotilla of various size and shaped craft making their way to the night club Mecca of the Balearic Islands, Ibiza, for a big Friday night. Many returned the next morning to hang out on the beaches along with the floods of day tripers to envigorise themselves for a return on Saturday night!
We lunched amongst the bevy of half naked and suntanned population on Ibiza and then headed off for our first overnight passage. Our watches were divided into 3 and we drew straws for the rotation with Frank starting the process at 8pm until 10pm followed by Rob and Belinda from 10pm until 12am with James and I starting at midnight until 2am. Problem 1! I set the alarm for 11.45 not 23.45 and we were 22 minutes late for our first watch! Very shabby!! The hours followed in the same succession and the night delivered us a mild and calm experience. The stars were out in abundance as we sat glued to our radar and AIS (Automatic Identification System) to monitor the movement of other vessels around us. This is the feeling of being at one with the natural world!
A short lunch stop in Cartagena on the southern Spanish mainland (we inadvertently ended up in thongs and shorts in a Michelin star restaurant) and a perfect sailing breeze afoot, the crew have settled in for a 2 night passage to Gib.