Palma the sequel

Staying in an expensive marina can be an intense experience. It is the opportunity to get work done, to visit chandleries and get much sought after parts, to fill up with fuel and water, put the washing on and hang your laundry out on the guard rails, jump on the bike to the nearest supermarket to get the fridge restocked and only then to stroll around the town and soak in the atmosphere. Our second stay at La Lonja was nothing if not productive
At our request Oyster sent us a German engineer, Christian, a friendly chap with the dry sense of humour that mechanics often seem to have. “I came here to get away from Germans” he told us “and they are everywhere in Palma. Too many Germans”. He swiftly took off our water maker and showed us the broken impeller. “There is no way that this impeller was new this year” he told us. We were dismayed, thinking of how Nikos had assured us that he had serviced the generator and that we were good to go.
We popped back to the Oyster office with a list of little problems and emerged with a list of names and telephone numbers of people who might be able to help us. I absconded and went to visit the Museu de Mallorca (great if you want to see art that looks as if it has been done by sixth formers throughout the ages) and returned to find Simon in the company of a couple of electricians. A local firm, E Touch had responded immediately and within the hour had popped round, calibrated the inverter, checked over the installation and programmed the charger for the correct profile for the AGM batteries. Kudos to Simon for realising that the job done in Greece had been unfinished. E Touch were brilliant and billed us next to nothing for the work done, even making up heavy duty battery cables for us the next day and billing us for the materials only. The advantage of being under the Oyster umbrella was clear, the job was done almost gratis for business development. I was sure to tell them about my world famous blog, of course!
One disappointment came from Echo marine. We were moored up in the marina and expecting one of their engineers to come on board as promptly as they had the last time, but after calling were told that the membranes needed for our boat were not in stock and would have to be ordered from France. The bloody just in time stocking system is the bane of sailor’s lives! Fine for cars, no good for travelling boats. There was nothing for it, we would have to change our plans once more and return to Palma one week later…

Our morale was lifted that evening however, when Simon managed to take apart the outboard engine which had been playing up since Stromboli. Having watched a couple of Youtube videos, he set about dismantling the engine and cleaned the carburettor. La Lonja marina has the perfect place to do this: there are two work stations for outboard engines which by day are regularly being serviced for their charter boats, the proof that salt water and engines are a bad combination if ever you needed one!

Once the technicians had gone home, we had the perfect place to pitch up and do the job ourselves. It was a delight to have a working outboard again and to be able to whizz around the harbour. When you live on a boat your dingy is your car. I had been rowing ashore which is fine but harder work than I imagined as soon as there was any kind of wind and swell. Having a reliable outboard is a game changer for visiting different places from anchor.


The next day Christian returned with our rebuilt generator water pump and installed it. Hurray! It worked! Dry as a bone. We took advantage of his visit to ask a couple of questions about the engine generally and were disappointed to hear that the flexible coupling which links the prop to the gear box was leaking. Nikos had patched it up with silicone sealant and told us it was nothing to worry about. Christian was not so blasé. And as for the smoky engine? Probably the cylinder heads needed to be rebuilt. Again, our Corfu engineer Nikos had been very vague when we had tried to pin him down asking why the engine still smoked after his top end rebuild. “Maybe the fuel here is very dirty” he said. It was on our last day that he admitted to Simon that the only person who could have rebuilt the cylinder heads was in Corfu town. A whole ten minutes away… obviously impossible to organise with a mere three months. Christian’s advice was that the cylinder rebuild would wait. “This is a Perkins engine. It goes for ever” he said. The flexible coupling however, he was more circumspect about. Food for thought…
We certainly maxed out on our one day stay in La Lonja, leaving the next day at 6pm. We had managed to visit the marine machine dealer and stock up on more spares. This is the lesson we are learning first hand; you can never have too many spares once you know how to fit them!

That evening we dropped the hook just around the corner from the harbour and had a rather majestic view of the cathedral beautifully lit up at night and plenty of space to ourselves. To visit Palma on a shoestring budget it is possible to dingy ashore from here in calm conditions putting the dingy up on a small beach by the anima bar which has a small pier just five minutes’ walk from the centre of town.
We ran the newly rebuilt generator for three hours in the evening. A strange juddering noise was heard. We looked inside the generator. The water pump was leaking worse than before. It was Friday evening.
There are ups and downs when you live on a boat. I would be lying if I said that this wasn’t one of them. We had just spent the evening reading up about different places we could visit around Mallorca going further afield than Palma bay. We had a fridge full of food from the day’s provisioning trip in El Cortes Ingles, we were congratulating ourselves at having done the smart thing to save our generator and he we were back at the drawing board! Bummer!
Palma was proving a hard place to leave…