Russian Roulette.

That is not a happy morse cable clamp.

19th May 2021

Soller, Mallorca – Cala Teulera, Mahon, Menorca via Sant Vincent, Mallorca & Son Saura, Menorca

As Robert De Nero and Val Kilmer face off in ‘The Deer Hunter’ playing Russian roulette, the tension mounts, the stakes get higher and finally they make their escape. On Ruffian we’ve been playing our own version of Russian Roulette where we’ve been dodging boats not bullets and have found safety by escaping the wind and waves.

With a face that made Iain feel like the elephant man (see previous blog about visits to the dentist) and the wind resolutely forecast to be in the south we continued our way along the north coast of Mallorca. The cliffs continued to tower above Ruffian and to play havoc with the wind. Entering a deserted Cala the tension mounted as yet again we ere on a lee shore, there were rocks not far from Ruffian and reality didn’t match the forecast.

Continuing the theme of forecast vs reality, we discovered an amazing reality ashore. Behind us we left the empty hotels and housing estate and found caves dating back 1000’s of years. With nothing more that an iPhone torch we ventured far into the darkness marvelling that we were standing where stone age man had battled sabretooth tigers and had hidden from mammoths. (did such beasts ever make it this far south?). Exploring the undergrowth this wasn’t just a single cave, it was a conurbation. With each one we found the the odds that stone age man faced against his foes improved with time and time again.

The roulette of the weather forced us to push east to Menorca and, as seems to be the norm now, we were heading for a lee shore, hoping that the forecast would be right and the wind would switch, giving us a safety and protection from swell.

We entered the cala and were heartened to see that 2 other boats seemed to have made the same decision as us. We were all painfully rolling to the waves, anxiously watching the rocks behind us and counting the minutes to the wind switching when rest could come and the game of Russian roulette would be over. The forecast was right, we turned around, the swell died, but the game was far from over.

As the wind built and built, Fiona was awoken to loud voices, revving engines and a screaming windlass. Maybe this was the live bullet in the chamber flying towards us?

Running on deck, the boat who had been in front of us had just bounced off the bow of another boat, was reversing at speed just behind us and was furiously letting out chain threatening to catch our anchor or those of the other boats. Chaos was unfolding just off our stern, thankfully we we’d just dodged that live bullet, but the other boats hadn’t. There was however still another live bullet about to enter the chamber.

Re-anchoring at night is never easy but we took the decision to get any from the chaos, give everyone more space and make sure we were stuck to the ground. Like clockwork on went the engine, up came the anchor and we scanned the shoreline and seabed for a safe spot, but dropping the anchor something was amiss. As hard as she might, Fiona couldn’t slow Ruffian down, we were resolutely stuck in forwards gear pushing towards the rocks and disaster. Quick thinking Fiona dodged that final bullet, Ruffian settled and the chaos behind calmed.

With daylight the game of Russian roulette was declared over. The cala gleamed in the sunshine, with water that looked like a swimming pool (or vice versa) and the gearbox was quickly diagnosed and fixed (a simple morse cable clamp), so fun could begin.

The ‘fun’, as we’ve come to expect on Ruffian, involved the excuse of swimming in the water, tools and more maintenance. The shaft anode needed changing, which ashore takes minutes, but while floating is a breath holding logistical mission.

Time after time Iain filled his lungs with oxygen, dived down and pottered about under Ruffian. The shaft was sanded smooth, the anode balanced carefully and then the other half finally bolted securely.  Triumphant, Iain returned to the surface leaving no tools on the seabed and an anode installed that would save the engine.

Not liking this game of Russian roulette we have pushed our way to Spain’s most eastly point where we’ve found complete protection from wind, complete shelter from swell and where the closest we’ll get to Russians are the boats with Polish flags that surround us.

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Author: Iain & Fiona Lewis

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