We have spent the last 30 days with Torben and Judy Bensten, our friends from Richmond Yacht Club (RYC) who left on their similar adventure from RYC 3 weeks before us. We have been running into them periodically for the last 6 years, but this time takes the cake. I don’t know what it is about them, but I have come close to burning up at least 4 times over the last month. Between the lightning storm on the way over to Barcelona from Minorca, the HUGE fire works show during the Merce, the Parade of Fire where my boob caught on fire, and a battery super nuclear chain reaction melt down (Ita woke me up to this one. Good Dog, Ita!), I’m kinda done with fire for this year, even though we have had a “SCREAMING” good time with them every minute! (Judy has a tendency toward screaming when scared….)
In addition to Judy and Torben, we have been visited by, and spent time with, Mark and Deana Rosenberg, Judy’s friends Clark and Barbie, Suzanne, her friends Diane and Tom, and Danny Gutheil and his wife Desiree. September has been a month packed with food, travel, and monsoon rained out horse shows. With no guest on the horizon and Morpheus neatly tucked into her winter berth in Badalona, October is definitely scheduled to be recovery and rebuilding time. We have a whole list of boat chores to do, first of which is to get new fire extinguishers!
Peggy Comfort once told me that “the most dangerous thing to have on a boat was a calendar!”. Perhaps I should have listened better??
Our day started out in a wonderful cove on the island of Menorca (aprox. 120 miles from Barcelona). Swimming, walks along the water, a celebratory drink with Torben and Judy Bentsen. All seemed good.
Our big picture goal had been to make it to Barcelona by the 15th, and the weather looked ready to take a turn for the worse. Our last chance to leave and arrive “on time” had arrived.
The first two thirds of the trip were perfect. 15-20 knots of wind and a heading that had us sailing downwind and enjoying a spectacular moon. Torben and Judy had left bound for the same destination with us and we sailed together never more than a couple of miles apart.
Unfortunately, at about 3am Deb woke me up to deal with a cruise ship crossing our path, and casually mentioned that there was “a ton of lightning up ahead”.
Well that “ton of lighting” turned out to be the most amazing and yes scary display of lightning that either of us had ever seen. We pulled a u-turn and hoped that we could stay ahead of the front until the morning sun killed off the lightning. That didn’t quite work out.
The front and the edge of the lightning storm caught us at about 4:30am. 35 knots, , 180 degree wind shift, torrential rain, huge temperature swing (warm to cold), and me standing at the wheel driving with swimming goggles on so I could see thru the rain. (Wish Deb got a picture of that!)
I’m pretty sure that neither Deb nor I ever imagined our 30th wedding anniversary would be spent running away from an approaching front with a never ending lightning show.
But, we dealt with it and are now sitting in our favorite Mediterranean port – Barcelona!!
On the far western end of Menorca is the city of Ciutadella, the old capital of the island.
We spent two days here last week docked at the local yacht club. The harbor and city’s historic quarter, is surrounded by narrow medieval streets filled with palaces, churches and fortresses.
It is one of the two primary cities in the island, along with Mahon which we visited earlier.
Originally founded by the Carthaginians, it was already the seat of a bishop in the 4th century. Menorca’s violent history includes occupations by Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Vandals, Moors, British and French. During the Middle Ages, it was an important trading center.
On 9 July 1558, the Turks with a powerful armada of 140 ships and 15,000 soldiers, put the city under siege for eight days entered and decimated the town. The town was defended by only a few hundred men. All of Ciutadella’s 3,099 inhabitants who survived the siege were taken as slaves to Turkey. In total, 3,452 residents were sold into slavery in the slave markets of Istanbul (Constantinople), Turkey.
In 1708, the British came to Menorca, attracted by Mahon’s natural harbour, the longest and deepest in the Mediterranean. Apart from a short time when they were ousted by the French, they were to rule the island for a hundred years, finally relinquishing it back to the Spanish early in the 19th century.