Ballistic - Mission to Menorca
JBT Marine goes Ballistic to Menorca
Setting off in June, Jonny Boys and Louise Carnegie from JBT Marine, one of the UK’s premier RIB dealers and a leading distributor of the Ballistic range, headed off on a mission to the idyllic island of Menorca armed with "JBT Marine", one of their Ballistic 7.8m RIBs.
A highly memorable, meticulously organised trip featured a 19-hour crossing from Plymouth to Santander courtesy of Brittany Ferries and its magnificent flagship the Pont-Aven, a breathtaking journey across the beautiful, rugged contours of northern Spain, and an exhilarating RIB ride to Menorca.
Having wisely booked a place on the ferry weeks in advance, Jonny & Louise set off in high spirits and eager to begin its adventure.
And it wasn’t long before the adventure began. A mighty puncture to a trailer wheel in Plymouth nearly derailed the journey before it has begun. Only a dash of ingenuity and the strength and agility of a Land Rover Discovery ensured that Brittany Ferries didn’t leave with a lighter than expected load!
Arriving at the ferry terminal in the nick of time and breathing huge sighs of relief, the stress was quickly relieved as Brittany Ferries’ superb meet and greet service had "JBT Marine" smoothly and quickly brought on board. Further lowering the blood pressure, and fulfilling a certain RIB dealer’s dream, Jonny was invited to the bridge to see the Pont-Aven set sail out into the English Channel. Manning a control centre that would put the Starship Enterprise to shame, but that still had an old-fashioned ship’s wheel at its heart, the captain and his crew steered the ferry smoothly away from the south coast. The mission to Menorca was truly underway!
Opting for the stylish Le Flora, the ship’s main restaurant, which boasts a panoramic ocean view, a sumptuous five-course dinner was enjoyed against the background of a slowly setting sun. The night was rounded off at the equally stylish Le Fastnet Bar, where the bar staff poured cocktails in time with the piano player’s melodies.
Dawn on day two brought with it the challenge of a drive across the ruggedly beautiful landscape of northern Spain towards Barcelona and the Port of Ginesta. After a smooth seven-hour drive, taking in majestic landscapes and clear blue skies, the Land Rover delivered "JBT Marine" to Port Ginesta.
However, before any adventure comes proper preparation and given JBT Marine’s unwritten motto – proper preparation prevents poor performance – the trip was meticulously organised. Before departing on its trip, Jonny made sure he had all the essential documentation for the Ballistic on board.
Prominently displayed on the RIB was its SSR (Small Ships Registry) number, with the VAT invoice showing ownership of the RIB, the insurance details in English and in Spanish, and an International Certificate of Competence (ICC) from the RYA tucked away safely in the glove box. In addition there was a Powerboat Level 2 course certificate, VHF radio operator licence and a long list of essential safety kit on board not to mention an auxiliary motor and a spare tyre and lighting board for the trailer.
And this preparation proved to be essential as getting the Ballistic in the water and away from the marina in Port Ginesta was a lengthy, officious task, kept down to an hour only by meticulous organisation.
Having secured the six documents required to set off for the RIB ride to Menorca (documents to descend the slipway, store the trailer, to park the trailer and Land Rover Discovery, to ascend the slipway, to depart the marina at end of the trip and to show liability for all of these activities), and radioed ahead to their contact in Menorca, Jonny & Louise set off into the mesmerising waters of the Mediterranean, with a full tank and three spare fuel cans, and headed full throttle to their island destination.
Taking the shortest route to Menorca, which at 160 miles is still no small trip, "JBT Marine" cruised smoothly to the halfway point at an exhilarating 45 mph. However, not before bumping into two large schools of dolphin which happened to be rather playful and friendly! Setting off again after a short rest for the crew to check in with headquarters using the satellite phone, "JBT Marine" soon hit choppy waters. However, with the Ballistic taking the rougher conditions in its stride, they arrived at their rugged, coastal destination tired yet exultant and vowing to take the longer, yet calmer route leeward of the island next time. Still, travelling the 160 miles in a little over three and a half hours, the Ballistic had got them there in terrific time.
Coming ashore, with the aid of local contacts, Jonny & Louise set foot in Mahon, the island’s unofficial capital, and one of the deepest natural harbours in the world, peppered with enchanting isles and inlets. Mooring up at its private jetty and heading towards its beautiful hillside villa, overlooking the picturesque harbour, they looked forward to a well-deserved early evening meal and cold beer on its sun-drenched terrace.
During a week on Menorca, Jonny & Louise explored and visited much of the island’s treasured coastline, visiting fishing villages, tiny inlets, countless coves and caves as well as restaurants boasting the freshest of local fish and bars bursting with the locals who had caught them.
One memorable trip saw a trip with eight seafarers in total, plus a fully loaded picnic, to Es Grau, a beautiful Menorcan inlet only accessible by boat. Navigating moderately choppy waters with ease and then cruising through the calm, clear turquoise waters of the inlet’s bay, the Ballistic released its anchor and was converted to hold a lunch time feast. Hiding away the sun bed and putting up the table, the eight members of JBT Marine mini-mission indulged in a lovely meal looking out on to the beautiful inlet.
Having alighted for a short exploration of Es Grau, taking in the amazing scenery and wildlife, including the indigenous lizards, "JBT Marine" and its crew headed back to a nearby fishing village, taking in some breathtakingly rugged cliff top landscapes, to soak up some more of the island’s unique atmosphere.
After an incredible nine days exploring Menorca, Jonny & Louise headed back to Port Ginesta on the Ballistic, and started the homeward bound leg of the mission. Rising at dawn, they followed the local fishing boats out of the harbour, on water so still is seemed like glass. With the sun coming up over the back of the Ballistic, they bid farewell to the island in breathtaking fashion and headed full throttle to the Spanish mainland.
But the adventures were not quite over. Going flat out at 60 mph for two hours, before cruising at a slightly slower speed for an hour as the waters began to swell, Jonny expected to see the mainland destination at some 30 miles offshore. However, it was nowhere to be seen – the GPS and compass dictated that the right course had been taken but there was no sign of land. Slowing down further, "JBT Marine" continued to follow its course. But at 20 miles out and then at 10 miles, still no sight of land. Instruments were rechecked and reread and they were still demanding that land should be to the fore.
And then it all became clear – or not, as it proved! At about five miles offshore, they encountered the source of its confusion, a fog bank two miles thick, cutting visibility down to a mere 30 metres. Safely navigating the bank, the Ballistic emerged the other side to be once again drenched in the Mediterranean sunshine. The equipment had been bang on and the coastline loomed before the Ballistics’ bow.
Getting the Ballistic smoothly out of the water and securely back on its trailer, the crew enjoyed a mid morning breakfast at the marina and took in one last look at the Port Ginesta coastline – for this year anyway! Laden with Rioja from a local specialist wine seller, they headed back across northern Spain to Santander having had a wonderful week of RIB-inspired adventure in Menorca.
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