Thunderbirds are go!

Portocolom, virgins and hairy armpits!

1st November 2013
Mark in dinghy
Calla de Mallorca


Avoid the virgin with hairy armpits in Portocolom


Ladies please have a shave

Look, I know what you have been thinking. It was only a dinghy, but when the day’s main worry is “should I wear the red shorts, the blue ones or none at all” then losing a dinghy ranks somewhere between “Armageddon” and “women with hairy armpits” on my all time list of things to avoid.

So what do female suicide bombers get?

hairy armpits should be avoided Julia

Things to avoid

With all the excitement over it was now time for some real rest and relaxation again.

During the next week or so we sailed down the coast of Mallorca anchoring in bays whose natural beauty could convince a suicide bomber that he had indeed been propelled into paradise. He may have been hard pressed to find his 72 virgins in these hedonistic Isles but then again, he has eternity on his side.

This got me to thinking, “what do women suicide bombers get as their reward for martyrdom”? Well ninth-century scholar Al-Tabarani did argue that women will be reunited with their husbands in the next world, and those who had multiple husbands could pick the best one as their eternal spouse. This is no doubt why there are so few women suicide bombers. Well that and trying to find matching shoes to go with the explosive vest.


Anchored in the Cala’s of Mallorca.

I have to say that the east coast of Mallorca was my favourite part of the island. There were picture book coves (known locally as cala’s) everywhere. Each one had deep, warm, crystal clear waters with white sands covering the sea bed. If there was one place you could forget about the troubles of world this was it. It was our guilty pleasure to wallow in and wallow we did.


Portocolom, Mallorca

Porto-Colom front including the rows of boat gargages.

The front at Portocolom

After a week or so moving down the island we found ourselves in Portocolom. It may sound like a body part but it is in fact a huge natural harbour fronted by a small town. We were surprised at just how little it had pandered to the tourist industry. Apart from a few restaurants along the front there were no big, ugly hotels, no neon lights no discos and very few holidaymakers to avoid. The anchorage was very sheltered and the food shops were only a short dingy ride away. It was for us, perfect.

 Lets have a Shindig in Portocolom.

Sailing with Mark and Jane

Sailing with Mark and Jane

We sadly had to say goodbye to, Mark, Jane, David and Matthew who we had sailed with most of the year. Unfortunately they had to return to the mainland to fly back to South Africa for the boys schooling. They had become far more than friends and were always there for us. We do know that we will miss them but we will meet again.

Over the week or more we stayed in Portocolom we made new friends in the shape of Andrew Simpson and his wife Chele on “Shindig”. Andrew will be known to many in the sailing fraternity for his regular column in “Practical Boat Owner” magazine and the many books he has written. We just found them excellent company. “Shindig” was so aptly named being a floating wine cellar Mr Rothschild would have been proud of.

Visiting Palma

Angelina in Palma

Angelina and the cathedral

As we were securely anchored in Portocolom we took the opportunity to visit Palma, the island’s capital with Andrew and Chele. On the way to the bus stop Chele needed to recharge her mobile phone and decided to do it at a “hole in the wall cash” dispenser. I know modern technology can be confusing but it was the first time I had ever seen someone take the sim card out of the phone and try to push it in the bank card slot!

Palma is another city that needs to be added to your growing list of must see places. Take a stroll through the labyrinth of narrow, winding alleys you find everywhere. Admire the centuries of amazing architecture and bask in culture. It is a real mixture of old and new and throbs like a hammered thumb with life. Every corner holds something new to excite the eyes. Even the bus station right in the centre of Palma is a work of art. The busses go under the city into a multi-storey hive that houses local and out-of-town busses, the train station, car and bike hire. If you need any form of transport you will find it here. There is also trains and busses here that connects directly to the nearby Palma airport. If this city does not appeal to you then there is always a McDonalds or two to dull the senses.


The Iconic windmills of Palma

windmills of Palma

The Palma Windmills

Taking the bus back to Portocolom we had to admire the plethora of windmills which more than anything symbolise Mallorca. There are over 3,000 dating back to the 17th century. Most of them were used in the extraction of fresh water which helped the island thrive although a few are for grain and olives. Many are now being restored to their original state due to an initiative by the island government where skilled labour is provided free.

Whilst anchored in Portocolom the weather showed there was a big storm coming our way. We were well dug and had prepared Cygnus for a quick escape should the need arise. The storm did come bringing with it a fair bit of swell but the bay protected us from the worst of it.


Washed onto the rocks

As I was on deck checking the anchor I saw a very large dinghy and its three occupants being swept onto the rocks by waves. One man clambered to the shore trying to push it off, one was in the boat itself on the radio and there was a girl in the water desperately clinging to the boat. They could not get off the rocks as the waves were just pinning them there. They were also taking a real battering.

It was not something I wanted to do but they were in real trouble and needed help. I jumped into our dinghy and went across to try to get the girl out the water but she would not leave the boat even though the waves kept covering her. I threw a line to the man in the boat and he tied it on. We have a big powerful outboard but even so at full revs I could not shift the boat. I was also concerned, nay worried shitless as my propeller was spinning in water near to the girl and the waves were pushing me onto the rocks.


International rescue

Being tied on to the other boat also mean I could not go anywhere. It was a real balancing act and I was now really worried for my own safety. It was at this point the harbour rib with its huge outboard engine came to join us. He too threw a line to the stricken boat and began pulling. It was still stuck fast! We kept pulling as there was nothing else we could do and eventually the boat slowly came away from the rocks. Once away from the shore the occupants climbed back aboard thanking me profusely in Spanish and were towed into the marina.

Apparently their engine had failed which caused all their problems. I went back to Cygnus III and as I did so I got a spontaneous round of applause from other boats in the anchorage. It was quiet embarrassing really. Angelina was proud and even made me a cup of tea (a rare event) so I knew I had done something right for once.

I had also made a right decision. I wore the blue shorts rather than nothing and having a dinghy ranks way, way above women with hairy armpits!

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