Friday, 16 May 2014


The sprawling city of Palma is an amalgam of districts, each with its distinct personality. From the postcard architecture of the old town with its dark mysterious alleyways, to the brash neon strip along the waterfront, home to bars and nightclubs; Palma is diverse and cosmopolitan.  Commercial areas line the ring road, dominated by huge slabs of hypermarket with acres of car park, but the real charm of Palma is the residential sectors that are the soul of the city and reflect the character of its occupants.

One of our favourites is Santa Catalina, two streets back from the waterfront, just off the Avenida Argentina. It has a bohemian air about it: an eclectic mix of Spanish bakeries, oriental restaurants, quirky boutiques, yacht chandleries and themed bars.  One of my favourites is Bar Soho, decorated from the 1970's, complete with hessian walls, a juke box and a computer games corner where the only entertainment is space invaders and ping pong on a blurred black and white screen. But the heart of Santa Catalina is the covered market, a low rectangular building that buzzes from early morning to mid afternoon. Inside are stalls heaving with slippery fish, colourful vegetables, local cheeses and the famous legs of cured ham, Jamon Iberico, which are hand-sliced with great precision with long, razor sharp knives.

Like many parts of waterfront Palma, the market caters for the yachting industry and alongside the traditional local produce are stalls with exotic flowers, freshly made sushi, large red prawns from the fishing port of Soller and wine merchants that sell vodka from France, rum from Martinique and Nou Nat, our favourite wine from Mallorca. The four corners of the market are home to the tapas bars where traders and shoppers rub shoulders, spilling onto the pavements,  shouting orders at the bar tenders who supply coffee, beer and plastic plates of food at high speed.  The dish of the day is a treat because it is always different, always quick and always delicious. During the Spanish civil war Franco dictated that every restaurant in the land had to offer a cheap meal every day that was affordable by the poor, and this has evolved into todays Plato del Dia. 

The yacht crew are conspicuous in their uniform of monogrammed T shirt, chino shorts with mandatory Leatherman penknife attached, and large budgets which they dispense with largesse, hunting down ingredients at any cost to satisfy the foibles of their pampered owners. We are neither yachtie nor resident but having spent so much time here in Palma over the past few years we feel like locals and enjoy being greeted by familiar faces as we fill my rucksack with ingredients for our picnic.  Steven and Sarah are in Palma having a long weekend at a posh hotel in the hills where they treat us to dinner. Today we reciprocate with lunch on Juno at a bay on the rocky west coast. However there is no such thing as a free lunch on Juno, particularly as this is our first sail of the season, and there is much to do and many mistakes to make, and our guests earn their keep.

During the week the sail makers delivered our clean ropes and sails, freshly laundered and serviced. Before we hoist the sales I clean the mast, strapped into the boson's chair twenty-five metres above the deck with Fatty operating the electric winch, my life in her hands. There is an Oyster 56 on either side of us and from my birds eye view I can clearly see how the profile of our Oyster 575 with her fine bow and flared transom has evolved from the 56, the most successful of all Oyster models with nearly one hundred on the water. I then feed all the halliards back into the mast replacing the light winter mouse lines with our dyneema halliards.

Antonio and I take a full morning to bend on the sails, each one weighing over 100 kilos, winching them off the dock and onto the decks with a spinnaker halliard, then attaching them to the furlers and into the luff grooves on the forestays. I am conscious that these sails will see a lot of miles before their next service and I carefully secure each shackle pin with a cable tie.  The next delivery is the safety equipment, which has been serviced and certificated for two years. Life jackets, fire extinguishers, life raft, EPIRB, Jon buoy and a new horseshoe lifebuoy to replace the old one that has disintegrated in the ultra-violet light – it makes you wonder what it is doing to our skin.  We lower the life raft into position with a halliard from the top of the mast and attach it to the guardrail with a hydrostatic release unit, designed to automatically release the life raft if submerged in more than four metres of water. A rather alarming thought.

Eventually we cast off and once out of the harbour we roll out the sails and Juno glides through the water, feeling very slippery with her newly painted bottom. There isn't much wind but the sun is out and Cala Portals is a perfect sun trap for Sunday lunch, an afternoon snooze and a bracing dip in the cold spring seawater. 

While in Palma we hear the news from our agent that we have a tenant for our house in Haslemere for the next eighteen months from June 1st so we have just two weeks to pack up 14 years of life and move into our small house in London until September when we will finally, and semi-permanently, move onto Juno. What a delicious thought.


  1. step by step you move nearer to the big day - with the house let you are almost there!

  2. Replies
    1. Dear Frewie,
      I would really like to contact you to talk about the ARC but I can't find any contact info.
      Please text me at
      Best regards,
      Lorenzo Galli

  3. Good to see Fatty on the winch ....... looking a bit bored it has to be said. Surprised she didn't wander off for a coffee and leave you up the mast for a few hours!
    Anyway good to see that the liferaft has been serviced....particularly given todays news about that lost crew mid-Aatlantic.
    Can't wait for the ARC!