Back home to La Grande Motte

We had an easy overnight passage from Canet en Rousillon to La Grande Motte to end our Balearic Islands voyage. After filling up our diesel tanks, we met with Stephane from Outremer and looked at the damage to the sailbag and discussed the boom attachment concerns. He is going to work on both issues, and a few other minor items that came up during the voyage. Once we had everything scheduled with Stephane we cleaned up Wildling and started our long journey back home to Brisbane.

Leaving the protection of Port de Roses before tackling the 30 to 40 knot winds around the cape

Leaving the protection of Port de Roses before tackling the 30 to 40 knot winds around the cape

2015-10-06 16.17.20

In the lee of the cape

This voyage was a bit ambitious, we had almost 1,000 nautical miles to cover, late in the Med sailing season, and we only had 2 weeks to do it. We knew there would be a lot of overnight passages and the potential for bad weather was high, and this was also the first time we had sailed offshore with my parents (Meg and Greg), so I was a bit nervous about it.

Meg was a bit seasick the first couple of days, but recovered quickly and had no problems at all the rest of the voyage and was even taking solo night watches by the end. Greg had a bit more experience having done a Brisbane to Gladstone race with us on our last boat, so I knew he would do fine, and he certainly did. He took all of the 4am to 8am watches (thanks Dad!), and was a huge help to me with the sail changes and maneuvers throughout the voyage. They both loved the rough conditions and were a huge help to Robin and I the whole way.

Some highs and lows from our Balearic Islands Voyage

Now we are back home (well almost, we’re waiting for our final flight connection as I write this) I thought it would be good to list a few highs and lows from the trip.

The Lows

  • Tearing the sailbag – was for sure a low. It should not have happened and when I examined it wtih Stephane, he couldn’t understand what caused it either. The bag was made by the sailmaker (Incidences) so we will get them involved to see if they can figure it out.
  • Almost disconnecting the boom – a big issue that could have ended badly. Luckliy we caught this and fixed it before any damage was done, but it needs to be addressed. Stephane will contact the mast maker (Lorima) to find a safer alternative design.
  • Ibiza Marina – I was surprised by the lack of protected anchorages from a southerly swell in Ibiza. We ended up taking a space at the marina in Ibiza to get some shelter during two days of storms, and they charged us 500 Euros per day!
  • The Balearic tourist traps – I was disappointed by the attitude of the people in Majorca and Ibiza. We have been used to sailing in France where everyone we have met has been incredibly friendly, professional and helpful. Many of the locals we interacted with in the Balearics were disinterested and unhelpful. This is probably due to the large number of tourists that come through these places.

The Highs

  • Our love affair with Wildling continues – We just love our boat and she took great care of us again during this voyage! No matter what the conditions, 50 knot winds, electrical thunderstorms and hail or steep waves, Wildling always felt safe, strong and comfortable.
  • Our partnership with Stephane Denner at Outremer – Stephane is a super guy. He’s knowledgeable, conscientious, and always available with help and advice. I can’t say enough good things about Stephane, and I am very grateful to know he will take care of Wildling for us while we are away.
  • Barcelona – We loved Barcelona! We stayed at Port Vell Marina, which is brand new and very luxurious. The marina staff, and all the people we met in Barcelona were friendly and helpful, and there is so much to see and do in Barcelona, we could have easily spent several weeks there just exploring.
  • Mediterranean dolphins – We had our first encounter with dolphins in the Med, when a hug pod came by to play with us as we sailed north from Barcelona.
  • Sailing at 10+ knots – This just never gets old! We had quite a few opportunities to let Wildling run free, and it’s an incredible treat to be sailing fast in fine conditions. Our max speed on this trip was 17.6 knots, but we spent many hours reaching between 10 and 13 knots which was a real pleasure.
  • Reefing downwind – I’ve been wanting to try this and hadn’t had the opportunity, but when the wind picked up to over 25 knots on a broad reach I used the “Barto Reefing Technique” to reef the main downwind, and it was a piece of cake. So much easier and safer than turning upwind to reef in these conditions.

Our Balearic Voyage is over, and while it wasn’t exactly calm, easy cruising, it was a great experience and the type of adventure that I have only found by getting out on the open sea and dealing with whatever comes along in the process! It’s the best way I know of connecting with nature and the wild, and it always results in memories that will last a lifetime. I’m so happy that I had the chance to share this with my parents and my wonderful family!

Wildling will be staying in La Grande Motte over the winter and we will start working on our plans for the 2016 Mediterranean sailing season that begins in April.

11 thoughts on “Back home to La Grande Motte

  1. What an adventure! A once in a life time experience. Thank you Doug and Robin and our wonderful Grandkids for sharing it with us. I had an absolute ball. Thank you Wildling your awesome 🙂
    The highlight – the rough seas on the way back 🙂
    Love you all Mum

  2. Thanks Doug enjoyed reading your comments on your latest trip, can you enlighten me as to the “Barto Reefing Technique”.

    I look forward to next seasons exploits.

    Best wishes


  3. Reading your blog brings it all back in a rush. Sharing your grand adventure and your and Robin’s love affair with your wonderful boat has left me with memories that will last life long.
    Thanks for your comments about Meg’s and my help, we both greatly enjoyed being active members of your crew, and we’re both so thankful and grateful for the opportunity to join with our lovely family on this voyage.
    Thank you, Wildling, you never let us down for a minute.
    Love, Dad

  4. It’s great reading about your adventures and how the boat is performing.
    I am glad to hear that the downwind reefing work well for you.
    We plane to have Sea Child in the Med this next summer and hope to be able to sail with the Wilding crew there.

    • Hi Eric,

      We’re all looking forward to seeing you in the Med next year. We will be taking Wildling east in April so we can meet up when you arrive.

  5. Hello Doug, I am very intrigued by this « “Barto Reefing Technique” » ! Could you tell me more ? Thank you very much ! Jerome (« Jiyu », Outremer 51 #34) >

  6. Hi Doug & Robin,

    as I mentioned already in my comment No. 749, your BLOG is very helpful for me, who is in the process of deciding which boat to buy. Looks like the 51 is our favourite as I´m scared to handle a larger boat like the 5X in the tiny Mediterranean marinas short-handed. An the 45 – which I had the chance to sail in September for a week – is really great in performance and still easy to handle. But adding up all the things I´d (maybe) like to carry with me and leaving sufficient weight reserves for all those things that might come along over time – displacement could become a limit at some point.

    We are planning to travel to La Grande Motte again shortly to have again a detailed look at the various models.

    My question:
    Could we have a look at your Wildling? Not inside, there are sufficient Outremer´s available for that. Only from outside to have a first hand “look & feel” of a fully teak-floored cockpit. So we can compare it “on the fly” to the plastic feeling. A fully teak-floored is also one the totally impracticable, weight- and maintenance-work adding options I´m thinking about: Shall I get this tiny peace of luxury or should I better use this weight for something else…..

  7. Hi Stefan,

    We love out teak cockpit floor and think it is one of the best features that we added to the boat. I was a bit worried at first but it looks and feels so nice, that we can’t imagine not having it now! You are most welcome to take a look at Wildling when you are in LGM.

    It’s true that the 5X doesn’t feel that big until you get inside a marina. It can be a bit challenging when there isn’t much room to maneuver. We were able to get used to handling it pretty quickly though, and we haven’t had any trouble.

    Congratulations on your 51 purchase, a fantastic boat!!!


    • Hi Doug,
      visited LGM day before yesterday and took the chance to have a look at your beautiful Wildling. As you allowed me to do so I also put a foot on your teak floor and compared it to standard as well as the fake teak (artificial/cork look alike) version on another 5X. My decision is clear. We will spend some money to go for the optional carbon bulkhead in order to save some weight. And we will spend again another extra portion of the budget to put on more or less exactly this weight balance by ordering a teak cockpit layout. It not rational: Its expensive, it adds weight, it requires maintenance. But it adds this irresistible piece of a “welcome home” feeling.
      Oh – and I´ll also go for Lithium.
      Had some discussions with the technical guys as I´m very unhappy with the tiny anchor and only 50m in chain length plus the small chain diameter. I´d prefer at least 100m (being aware of the additional weight) and a stronger chain but we need to compromise somewhere in order to let the chain fit and to let the boat not become too heavy again. So 70m and a 30kg Spade will be our compromise (we talk about the 51 not the 5X) . And I just hope Stephane is right that the 10mm diameter of the chain will be strong enough to hold the boat even in heavier weather and will not tear apart.
      Thanks again for your informative BLOG !

      • Hi Stefan,

        I’m glad you had a good visit and were able to make some decisions about your boat. You won’t regret getting the teak, I’m sure of it! We thought about synthetic teak but heard that it was way too hot in the tropics. Since it stays darker than natural teak, it heats more, and although the rigid bimini shades the teak a lot, we thought natural teak was the best choice.

        I completely agree with your concerns about the anchor. 50m of chain is not enough. I should have gone with 70m on Wildling and will need to increase the length before we leave the Mediterranean. We had 8mm chain on our Catana 471, which seemed way too light to me. The 471 weighed 14.5T so more than your Outremer 51 will weigh and about the same windage. We anchored in up to 50 knots with no problems, so the 10mm chain should hold you without any problems.

        Best regards,

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