Log #19D Mallorca and Insurance Considerations

February 19, 2001 in Log Series 11 - 19, Logs by Series, Series 19 Spain, The Logs

Log #19D Mallorca and Insurance Considerations

February 2 to March 16, 2001

We arrived in Puerto De Andratx about 1000, completing the 14 hour hand steering ordeal after the roller furling broke. We went into the Club de Vela, resembling a refugee ship, with tattered genoa flapping from a twisted roller furling headstay that looked like a piece of spaghetti, with a club at its foot tied off to the foredeck toerail. We made fast bows to the jetty, and had to lift a barnacle encrusted, slimy, muddy line out of the water and lead it to an aft cleat to keep our stern out and our bow a suitable distance from the concrete dock. Needless to say, we got strange looks from people as they walked by looking at the tattered genoa hanging from the twisted forestay.

After going to the cantina for a light breakfast, and getting the name of a rigger who might help us assess the damage, we went back to Veleda and lowered the headstay, furler and genoa, laying it out on the jetty. After removing the tattered genoa and bagging it, we took the removable shackles and drum off the aluminum extrusion and placed it along the fence behind some boats stored on cribs for the winter. The swivel units still worked and slid up and down OK. The only problem was the extrusion looked like a pretzel. Could it be straightened and still used safely? Chuck, the rigger, thought it might be straightened, but we would have to take it to Palma. I also thought of just attaching it to a post at one end and to a car at the other and slowly moving the car ahead to straighten it out. We didn’t. It had a twist in the sail slide groove which might not be able to be straightened. In the end, we decided not to try to straighten it as we would not trust the strength of the repaired extrusion. This was an old system which used a single extrusion serving as both the roller furler and forestay. There was not a separate forestay inside as there are in the newer systems. We wouldn’t trust the strength of the repaired system and so ordered a new Selden Furlex 200s made in Sweden.

This gets us into the insurance claim. We were not happy!

We got estimates for a replacement 150% genoa, the roller furler, and fabrication of a new stem plate (the bit that broke in the first place). We repaired by ourselves the damage to the bow pulpit and the navigation lights mounted on it, removed the old and later installed the new stem plate. We mentioned in the insurance query, as well, the stripped gears of our self steering system, and had receipts for replacement gears which we ordered from California. Incidentally, we had replaced those gears just three months ago. The total claim came to a bit less than $6000 Canadian.

We had good cooperation from people in Andratx. Brian White, a Cruising Association member and local yacht broker, allowed us to use his facilities for fax and E-mail. Within a week we got the allowed costs back. Less than $900 is all that would be paid!

The roller furling, and the genoa were depreciated at 65%, and nothing was allowed for the stemplate or the gears stripped, as this was supposedly normal wear and tear, not covered. The $1000 deductible further reduced the amount. Claiming the pittance of $900 was not worth the increased premiums that might be incurred. This got me re-appraising my insurance costs and needs.

At present, insurance is our highest single expense while cruising. I paid $3400 for one year of sailing around England, through France and into the Med. However, this same amount covered my Atlantic crossing the year previous. But, this annual expenditure is more than I pay for marina charges, maintenance, or fuel per year. This is about what we spend on food. It comes to over 5% of Veleda’s value. We simply cannot afford it on my pension.

On a twenty-three year old boat, what is not going to be depreciated at 65%? If we had a fire or flooding in the main cabin, and replacement of everything devalued at 65%, plus the $1000 deductible, we could not afford to fix it up! After all, the seat cushions, the three burner propane stove, the panelling and woodwork, our built in coal stove, salon table, galley refrigerator and plumbing system, etc. – all 10 to 23 years old and depreciated to 65%? NOT WORTH IT!

We may as well have a far higher deductible, for hopefully far lower rates, as we would not be able to claim on anything short of massive damage or total loss. I am currently thinking that insurance is of value only for total loss and third person liability; the latter a requirement in different jurisdictions, including Spain, although we have never been asked for it.

In discussing the insurance situation with local expat boaters (English and German), I was surprised to find they are paying about one third what I am paying. I have had a couple of local quotes and a copy of a Brit’s policy, for 20 year old vessels valued at more than Veleda, with lower deductibles, and yet paying only the equivalent of $1000 to $1100 Canadian per year for the Med. The German quote for equivalent of $1107 Canadian would have covered my itinerary for the last year around the UK and through France, as well as 200 miles offshore in the European Atlantic coastal waters, down to the Canary Islands and all the Med; including only $700 deductible and $5,000,000 (7,000,000DM) third person liability. I have sent this material to my Canadian insurance and asked if it can be matched.

On a happier note, Mallorca is lovely! We met with our friends from London, Brian and Irene, and had a few enjoyable days with them. We motored over to Dragonera, an island off the southwest corner of Malloca, for lovely scenery, but because of southwest swells we had a bumpy short anchorage at Sant Elm for lunch. On our return to Andratx we anchored in the main harbour for the night. Next day we went in Brian’s rental car for a spectacular drive through the mountains. Before going into Valdemossa, an ancient monastery town, we went down the mountainside on a narrow twisting road with dozens of switchback hairpin turns to the Port De Valdemossa, an interesting small fishing hamlet nestled in an indentation of the coast beneath the 3000 foot mountains towering above. It would be too small and exposed for yachts to use.

Up in Valdemossa we had lunch and a wander through the old mountain monastic village which was a retreat for Chopin, and a current vacation home for (actor) Michael Douglas. It is an interesting trendy area for tourists and high priced vacation condominiums. On we went to Port de Soller, the only decent port for yachts on the north coast. It was a busy tourist area a few miles away from Soller inland. Past Soller we again went up a steep winding mountain road over the crest and down to Palma. There is a tunnel that can be taken through the mountains to Palma, as well as a narrow gauge period railroad from Palma to Port Soller.

On our return to Veleda we went out to the outer mooring area as the inner harbour has restrictions on anchoring in it. However, this proved a bouncy night as there was a strong surge which rolled us around most of the night. Next day we went back to Club de Vela; even though we had to pay 3700 pesetas a night, we at least had a quieter mooring and could get fresh showers.

More about the friendly expats we met and the glorious weather and scenery of Andratx. Incidentally, by expats, I mean people not from Spain who have settled in the area as expatriates from their native countries.