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Soller and Calobra. Funny nautical terms

18th October 2013
Palma Nova, Mallorca, Spain
Mark in dinghy
The Cygnus III guide to looking at it differently


Nautical terms in Soller and Calobra


Sailing to Soller through Jurassic Park.

The sail to Soller left us gasping for breath. Not only was it very, very hot but the dramatic coast line looked as though it was straight out of Jurassic Park. Being the only real safe anchorage on the northern side of Mallorca, Soller gets very crowded. We managed find ourselves a space but only just. Even so all the boats were so close you could read the washing instructions on their G string, that is if they were wearing clothes.


Why is Soller so French?

The harbour

Views over the harbour

Soller is an old port but only recently has a road has been built across the mountains to the capital, Palma. Transport before this was often long and arduous so provisions were bought there from France. It was easier and quicker than sailing around the island. This gives Soller a very French appearance and even today a lot of the sailing boats there are French. It also makes it very different from the rest of Mallorca and another one of Angelina favourite places. Running along the front of the town there is an old 1912 electric tram (which would be more at home in San Francisco) that goes inland from the port to the main town of Soller. You can get also catch a train that wends its way through tunnels, viaducts, orange and lemon groves to Palma. I am told the ride itself is one to behold.


Soller has character and soul

soller train mallorca

The Soller train Mallorca

Soller is teaming with restaurants but even so it has kept a certain character and charm rather than giving in totally to the tourist industry. It is a beautiful place to wander through during the day but at night it really comes alive with Spanish families and boaters promenading around the waterfront. It rally was a lovely place to be with a real Mediterranean atmosphere.

We enjoyed Soller so much we stayed for several days and even then Angelina was loathed to leave and who could blame her. It really was a stunning place to be and the town had soul.


The beautiful Cala at Calobra.

calobra Calla

The Cala at Calobra

We did eventually up anchor and sailed the short distance around to the Cala at SA Calobra, supposedly one of the most beautiful Calas on the Island. We had heard this said many times before about various places but this time they were spot on. The only problem with Calobra was the amount of tourists the local tour boats brought in and deposited on the beach. We spent the day chatting, swimming and watching the boys do Acapulco diving off the cliff face (well they jumped from 20m up). By the afternoon the swell had really started to roll in and we would never be able to sleep if we stayed. A decision was made and much to Angelina’s delight we returned the short distance from Calobra to Soller for a few days.


Anchoring can be a real drag if you are naked and French

rock jumping and shouting some nautical terms you may never have heard before

Rock Jumping

Even in the relative calm of the harbour the winds and swell came into Soller that night causing boats to drag (there anchors came loose and they drift). There was lots of shouting going on and dinghies flying around to wake the occupants who were unaware they were quickly drifting out to sea or about to collide with another boat. To add to the confusion other boats that had found it impossible to anchor around the coast due to the weather conditions were coming in and trying to anchor in impossible places. I had to laugh at a lone French man who came in about 3am. He was totally naked apart from a head torch and kept running the length of his boat between the wheel and anchor he was trying to drop. He did anchor far too close to us meaning that at some point we would collide. Now have you ever tried to discuss anchoring technique in Soller with a naked and confused French man at 3am.. It was funny but I also felt for him. (When I say felt I…. well you know what I mean).


A swell sail and I was God!


The beach at Alcudia

After a couple of days the weather subsided to what we would consider reasonable sailing conditions. The trouble is reasonable to us; having sailed the last two years in the Atlantic, is not reasonable to someone else who has not sailed so much… i.e.. Jordan’s friend Aiden. When we set off from Soller he was fine but a little concerned about the size of the swell. We tried to put his mind at ease but when he noticed seas behind him that were above the deck of Cygnus III I suppose he was right to be a little bit concerned. He started to get greener and greener until the point of no return and although he is training to be a priest no God could have helped him. On that trip I was his god as I pulled him back from over the guard rail several times during his bouts of throwing up. I tried to send him below but (pardon the pun) he could not stomach it or anything else. When someone is that sea-sick all reason goes out of the window and you have to watch everything they do. Just as we turned around the top of Mallorca to go south where we would be sheltered from the seas I noticed that our inflatable dinghy we had been towing behind us was missing. Without it we were in real trouble as we could not get ashore to get provisions. Angelina suggested we go back into the swell to look for our dinghy but Aiden’s face suggested he could not stand it. He was more important than the dinghy (just) so we carried on to Alcudia where we dropped anchor.


What would we do without a dinghy. It was our family car?

That night we faced a real dilemma. Being around the Balearic’s meant that the marinas were so expensive we could not go into them. We couldn’t really afford another dinghy at over a £1000 so we were stuck. It was the lowest point I have ever been at since we began our journey. I was all for turning the boat around to head back to the UK. Angelina though, as usual was optimistic, believing that our dinghy would turn up. She was not prepared to give up this life so easily. We were all tired and decided we would reassess what everyone wanted and what we could realistically do in the light of a new day. I knew it would be a long sleepless night, we could not get ashore anywhere without a dinghy and some tough decisions would have to be made.



Nautical Terms:

I know some who read this blog are not sailors so I will try and acquaint you with a few nautical terms so you better understand what I have written. If you do understand my ramblings or know some more please leave a comment below:-



The first in a series of four letter words commonly exchanged by skippers as their boats approach one another



Long. Low lying navigational hazard, usually awash, found at river mouths and harbour entrances, where it is composed of sand or mud, and ashore, where it is made of mahogany or some other dark wood. Sailors can be found in large numbers around both.



A Laterally mounted spar to which a sail is fastened, used during jibing to shift crew members to a fixed, horizontal position. Also the sound a boat makes if the gas bottles are not connected properly.



Discomfort suffered by sailors who drink too much



A cramped, closet like compartment below decks where crew members may be stored – on their sides if large or on end if small – until needed.



Sea condition characterised by the simultaneous disappearance of the wind and the last cold beer.



Narrow stretch of deep or dredged waterway bordered by buoys or markers that separates two or more grounded boats.



Tidal flow that carries a boat away from it desired destination or toward a hazard.


Fitting Out

Series of maintenance tasks performed on boats ashore during good weather weekends in spring and summer months to make them ready for winter storage.



Rubber swimming aid worn on the feet. Usually available in two sizes, 3 and 17



Anything floating in the water from which there is no response when an offer of a cocktail is made.



The portion of an anchor that digs securely into the bottom: also, any occasion when this happens on the first try.



Ancient: Aspect of seafaring associated with slavery.
Modern: Aspect of seafaring associated with slavery.



Generic term for any pieces of boating equipment that can be forgotten in the back-seat or boot of a car, left behind on a pontoon, soaked in the bottom of a dinghy or lost over the side of the boat.



Movable mountings often found on shipboard lamps, compasses etc which provide dieting passengers an opportunity to observe the true motions of the ship in relation to them, and thus prevent any recently ingested food from remaining in their digestive systems long enough to be converted into unwanted calories.



Embarrassing situation in which a sailor returns to shore without leaving his boat.



An opening in a deck leading to the cabin below with a cover designed to let water in while keeping fresh air out.


Hull speed

The maximum theoretical velocity of a given boat through the water, which is 1.5 times the square root of its waterline length in feet, divided by the distance to port in miles, minus the time in hours to sunset cubed.



Course change which causes the boom to sweep rapidly across the cockpit; also, frequent type of comment made by observers of this manoeuvre.



A light line attached to a small article so that it can be secured somewhere well out of reach.



The direction in which objects, liquids and other matter may be thrown without risk of re encountering them in the immediate future.


Life jacket

Any personal floatation device that will keep an individual who has fallen off a vessel, above water long enough to be run over by it or another rescue craft.



The shorter aft mast on a yawl or ketch. Any mast that is no longer there.


Motor sailer

A hybrid boat that combines the simplicity and reliability of sail power with the calm and serenity of a throbbing engine.


Ocean racing

Demanding form of sailing practised by sportsman whose idea of a good time is standing under an ice cold shower, fully clothed while re-examining there last meal.



A line that is made to come undone when you are not there.



Basically a voyage from point A to point B, interrupted by unexpected landfalls or stopovers at point K, point Q, and point Z.



Harbour landing place that goes crack, crunch when hit.



The art of getting lost in sight of land, as opposed to the distinct and far more complex science of navigation used to get lost in offshore waters.



1. Left on a boat.
2. A place you wish you never left on a boat.



Underwater winch designed to wind up at high speeds any lines left hanging over the stern.



Extremely realistic kind of electronic game often found on larger sailboats. Players try to avoid colliding with “blips” which represent other sailboats, large container ships and oil tankers.



Organised sailing competition that pits yours against your opponents’ luck.



The find art of getting wet and becoming ill while slowly going nowhere at great expense.


Satellite Navigation

Sophisticated electronic location method that enables sailors to instantly determine the exact latitude and longitude, within just a few feet, anywhere on the surface of the earth, of whatever it was they just ran aground on.


Single handed sailing

The only situation in which the skipper does not immediately blame the crew for every single thing that goes wrong.



Large beautiful balloon shaped sail used in powerful downwind sailing, collapses at the sides to make control difficult and when lowered stores neatly into the galley and main cabin and heads all at the same time.



The rise and fall of ocean waters. There are two tides of interest to mariners: the ebb tide sailors encounter as they attempt to enter port and the flood tide they experience as they try to leave.



Tube in which to store dead batteries.



Horizontal spar mounted in such a way that when viewed from the cockpit, the sun is always over it.


Well now you know the true meaning of as many nautical terms as I do.

Can you think of anymore nautical terms or which is your favourite. Please leave a comment below and let us know. A comment makes writing these posts so worthwhile and your thoughts on nautical terms or anything else really matter to us.




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1 comment

  1. I don’t know if I would have been able to have a conversation with a naked french guy. I wouldn’t have been able to stop laughing. Great post felt like I was there throwing up over the side of the boat as well.

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