Thanks to Harry's 32 years in the Air National Guard and the US Air Force Reserve, once he turned 60 we could travel space-a.  When a US military plane has extra space after filling all its mission requirements, eligible people  "catch a hop".  So on Saturday morning, 20 Aug., we rode the local bus from Almerimar to El Ejido, then the long distance bus to Cadiz, with 2 changes.  Finally, we arrived, but after the last bus for Rota, where the air field is, so we took a taxi for the last leg.  On Sunday we got a ride on a C-17 plane to McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey.  Here Harry is relaxing in his seat, but others were stretched out on the floor having a nice sleep.  It's not BA first class, but we really like it and you can't beat the price!

From McGuire we shared a car with another space-a user to go to Dover Air Force Base, about 3 hours away, for a flight to Charleston, South Carolina.  Space A travelers are  a friendly group who, like cruisers, often step up to help each other.  After a good night's sleep we rented a car in Charleston and arrived in Jacksonville Tuesday afternoon.  It is wonderful to be together with family, so we will be enjoying the easy life here for the next few weeks. 

We have not had any internet, so over 300 miles have passed beneath our keel since we wrote.  We made an easy overnight from Menorca to Soller in Mallorca.  Every cruiser we met said it was the best place in Mallorca, and since it also has a train for Harry, we sailed directly there.  Since it is August, every anchorage is jam packed, and this was no different, but by arriving early in the morning we could grab a good place with some room--or at least some room until late afternoon.  The Victorian tram up to the main town of Soller from the port provided some nice views.  But at 4 euro one way the bus (1 euro 20) is a good option for another trip.  From Soller, we took the narrow gauge train, built in the 1920's to carry fruits and vegetables from Soller to Palma.  This was 10 euro for a one way ticket, but Harry did enjoy himself as you can see in this photo.  There were several very long tunnels to get through the mountains, but in under an hour we were in Palma.

Palma proved to be a surprise.  We knew Mallorca was another Mediterranean playground for the rich and famous, and it was the King's Cup racing week, so we expected lots of glitz, Cartier and Armani stores, and so forth.  What we found was a delightful old city with narrow alleys to wander, a beautiful cathedral, and the best chandlery we've seen in years.  (Sailors never go far from the sea...)  We were glad we didn't bring the boat into the harbour, since there is no place to anchor and the marinas are very costly, but it was easy to get there by train, and the bus back to Soller took half the time of the trains and only cost 3 euro 95 each. 

The winds were right, so the next day we sailed 30 miles to Cala San Ponsa, a big sandy bay, for overnight, and then with a first light start we contined another 70 miles to Formentera, the small island just to the south of Ibiza.  With the August crowds and the reputation of Ibiza for all-night parties, we chose the quiet anchorage of Espalmador.  The cruising guides said that by the end of the season the sand gets thin here, and so it proved to be.  We moved around to find a clear patch of sand, only to have a motor boat, with no windlass and only one man aboard, drag and get caught on our anchor just at dusk!  Luckily just an hour before Carlos and Juan, on La Sultana, had stopped by in a kayak, talked for awhile, and invited us for lunch the following day.  They were swimming when this happened and they volunteered to snorkel over and  dive down to free the man's anchor.  Another wonderful example of the generosity of cruisers in helping each other out.  Carlos did an Atlantic circle with his boat--before the arrival of his 3 sons--and we had a wonderful time trading sailing stories, eating his wonderful Spanish rice, and getting to know the 4 young women who were guests for the week on his boat.  We had them over to Cormorant that evening.  It is always so special to get to meet local people, and if we ever get to Madrid we now have several invitations.

Again the winds were right, so we left Thursday morning with easterly winds and sailed much of the way to Almerimar, where we arrived early Saturday morning.  It has been great to cross paths and catch up with our good friends Bo and Vivi who are moving east to Turkey.  We plan to leave the boat here for about 6 weeks.  We will catch a space-a military flight from Rota to the USA for a short visit, then do more boat chores in preparation for the Atlantic crossing.

Cruising-sailing updates will be on hold until late Sept., but we will still make g

We have been loving it here in Mao.  One entire day was spent exploring the tunnels and moat of Fort Isabella, just by our anchorage.  The highlight was a special 1 1/2 hour tour into the works of the 1932 Vickers gun, installed for coastal defense.  It has never been fired except in practice, but it was a wonderful look into "how it works".  Just the mechanism for getting the shells up into the gun from the underground storage was fascinating. 

The next day, we decided to go on a hike we found in a guide book.  It must have been written by a hash-house-harrier, because the directions were " ignore the next gap in the wall, walk 2 minutes, ..."  After over 2 hours of wandering along the coast along the old Cami des Cavalls--the horse trail around the island--and goat tracks, we missed some important turn.  An hour later we finally found a paved road and sat down on a stone wall to wait for a taxi.  Definitely a good decision!

That night we were invited aboard Mokoko for dinner.  We knew the boat from our trip up the Red Sea, but she now has new owners, David and Michelle from Hobart, Tasmania.  Along with another couple, Phil and Monica, from Miss Molly we had a real "cruiser evening" of guitar and harmonica music.  Neither of us can play, but we can sure listen.

Probably tonight we will move on to Soller on Mallorca, if the weather forecast holds.