The Port Authority in Mallorca

Ports in Spain and the Merchant Marine are managed by state-owned institutions called port authorities, ultimately a section of the Ministerio del Interior in Madrid and the Spanish government, depending on the Ministry of Public Works and Economy. The Autoridad Portuaria de Baleares (Port Authority of the Balearic Islands) is assigned to the management of the ports of Palma de Mallorca, Alcúdia, Mahon, Ibiza and La Savina (Formentera).

The Port Authority of the Balearic Islands is about to move into new headquarters at the Moll Vell in the harbour of Palma. A new construction has gone up on the site of the former Trasmediterránea building, busy up to some twenty years ago but abandoned since the late Nineties. For generations of visitors to Mallorca, the old Trasmediterránea building had been a landmark acting as a meeting point and forwarding station for messages, mail and communication, not unlike the American Express office in Paris during the Forties and Fifties. The new Port Authority headquarters were built, integrating parts of the old construction and its modernist façade, to an estimated budget of 18,000,000 Euros but seem to have finally come in at a total sum of 20,472,223 Euros, if the official figures are to be trusted. That’s quite a lot of money, don’t you think?

The photo (top) was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 4th, 2012. The time was 17:52:27. The photos (centre and bottom) were borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es (centre) and portsdebalears.com (bottom)

Muchas gracias.

The Port Authority in Mallorca

The Baliza de sa Punta Plana

I am not quite sure what a Baliza is. From afar it looks just like any old lighthouse. Perhaps a Baliza is a secondary lighthouse of smaller proportions with a shorter reach of signal. Anyway, the Baliza de sa Punta Plana can be found near s’Estanyol de Migjorn (419 inhabitants), not far from Sa Rapita. The small lighthouse is not listed on the Faros de Baleares (Balearic Lighthouses) website, nor is any other smaller lighthouse such as the one in Colònia de Sant Jordi, to give just one more example. But let me quote from that website; there seems to be a classification by focal distance of lighthouse signals:

In the 19th Century, lighthouses were classified into six orders, following the French practice. This classification was based on the focal distance of the lighthouse’s optic; the most powerful were the lighthouses of the 1st Order with 900 mm focal distance optics and the least, those of the 6th Order with much smaller optics of 150 mm of focal distance.

The photos were taken near s’Estanyol de Migjorn, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 24th, 2012. The time was 16:31:28 and 16:28:35, respectively.

The Baliza de sa Punta Plana

The Maritime Procession of the Virgen del Carmen

Mallorca’s coastal towns and harbours will be celebrating the Fiesta de Nuestra Señora del Carmen tomorrow, July 16th, together with a maritime procession in honour of the Mare de Déu (Virgin Mary). Port de Sóller, Port d’Andratx, Cala Figuera (Santanyí), Port d’Alcúdia, Portocristo, Colònia de Sant Jordi, Portocolom are just some of the pueblos where a festive holiday will be celebrated and where businesses will be closed for the day. The Virgen del Carmen is really another Marian devotion of the Virgin Mary, or in this case, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Virgin Mary’s role as patroness of the Carmelite Order.

The Virgin Carmen is the patron saint of seamen and mariners. In order to honour the Virgin, a nautical procession will be held. Everyone can participate in this procession with his or her own boat. The boat procession will leave the harbour with the Virgen del Carmen prominently displayed and adorned until the open sea, where the Virgin’s flower crown will be thrown into the water. Afterwards, more festive events will take place in the harbour, including the typical Ball Pagés.

Molts d’anys.

The photos were chosen from my archive. They were taken in Colònia de Sant Jordi, Ses Salines, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 16th, 2008. The time was 21:11:18 and 21:06:51, respectively.

The Maritime Procession of the Virgen del Carmen

The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in Palma

The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier arrived in the bay of Palma de Mallorca last Wednesday for a three-day visit with some 5,600 sailors on board, including 2,400 Air Wing personnel. Twenty or thirty years ago, US Navy ships were regularly docking in Palma, but not since then. Now we may have one US Navy visit per year, if that. USS Dwight D. Eisenhower had last been to Palma in 1995.

USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, also known as Ike, is the second ship in the Nimitz class and the first ship in the US Navy to be named after the 34th President of the United States.

USS Dwight D. Eisenhower was the US Navy’s third nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. She was christened in 1975 and made her first deployment in 1978. The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower has an overall length of 340 m, a Flight Deck Width of 76.8 m, a height from keel to mast of 74.37 m, a beam of 40.84 m, a draught of 11.3 m and a displacement in maximum load of 95,000 tons, attaining speeds of more than 30 knots. It is all quite impressive, isn’t it? She has a two nuclear reactors propulsion system.

The Ike will be sailing away sometime today. She is scheduled for an 8 to 10 months underway period to the 5th and 6th Fleet. The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower is usually carrying 90 aircraft between fixed wing and helicopters.

The photo (top) was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 5th, 2012. The time was 20:26:14. The remaining photos were borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of (from top to bottom) diariodemallorca.es and the photographer, Manu Mielniezuk, ferrymania.blogspot.com.es, flickr and militaryphotostore, and facebook.com/cvn69.

Thank you very much, and

muchas gracias.

The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in Palma

Commercial Fishing

We had fish for supper last night. It was  quite scrumptious. Which brings me to today’s topic: commercial fishing in Mallorcan waters. It is quite a science. Or so it seems for the average person.

For a start, recreational fishing is governed by the Consell de Mallorca, whilst commercial fishing comes under the guidance of Brussels and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), an agency of the United Nations. Commercial fishermen need a license to catch fish, depending on the fish they want to fetch. Then, there are three zones for commercial fishing in the waters around Mallorca: up to three nautical miles from the coast, between three and twenty-two miles, and beyond twenty-two miles. Depending on the type of fish and on the license, the fishing boats set off to their allocated area, equipped with the suitable fishing equipment, be that lines, nets, trawls, dredges, hooks or pot traps. The fishing equipment or tackle has to be well looked after, repaired, prepared and maintained to safeguard the best catch possible.

The commercial fishing nets have to be repaired on a daily basis (photos top and centre), a routine which might seem repetitive and a bit tedious to us laymen but is quite essential for the livelihood of the crew who rely on the perfect state and function of their working tools.

Large fish such as the Pez Espada (Xiphias gladius, swordfish) are being caught with strong lines and anzuelos (hooks) as per the photo (bottom). They can be found beyond the twenty-two miles radius; they can be up to 4 metres in length and up to 500 kilogrammes in weight. They are quite tasty; it’s not what we had last night, though. We had Lubina (European seabass), a fish that was probably fish farmed near Portocolom.

The photos were taken in Portocolom, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The dates: May 15th and June 22nd, 2012. The time was 15:10:44, 15:11:18, 10:34:30 and 11:08:08, respectively.

Commercial Fishing

Around the World in 587 Solar Days

A quite unique catamaran boat anchored in Port Adriano (Calvià) yesterday, the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar, the world’s biggest solar panelled boat. Tûranor means Power of the Sun in J.R.R. Tolkien’s mythology.

The vessel has recently completed a 50,000 kilometers ocean crossing around the world from Monaco to Monaco in 587 days. The extraordinary journey, the first and only one of a water-logged solar vehicle to have achieved a circumnavigation, started on September 27th, 2010, and concluded on May 6th, 2012. It had all started with a vision inspired by Jules Verne’s novels: Travelling around the world aboard a ship which is being propelled by solar energy only, an ecological and technological journey that looked feasible in 2004 when the vision was first voiced, but that no one had ever tried. The boat is now on its way home, doing a tour of some parts of the Mediterranean promoting the potential of renewable energies on board and elsewhere.

The clean and quiet vessel was launched in March 2010 in Kiel, Germany, in the shipyards of Knierim Yachtbau after 14 months of construction, following a design by Craig Loomes from New Zealand. Tûranor PlanetSolar is the biggest solar ship in the world with 537 square metres of photovoltaic panels powering the ship’s 6 blocks of lithium-ion battery. Quite a sight.

The Tûranor PlanetSolar will remain in Port Adriano until July 7th.

The photo was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.com and the photographer, Miquel Garau.

Muchas gracias.

Around the World in 587 Solar Days

The Posidonia Seagrass Crisis

The Posidonia oceanica sea grass, also known as Neptune Grass, is under threat. This marine plant is of an utmost importance to the coastal ecosystem of the Mediterranean Sea and our marine ecosystem. The plant is seen as an indicator of clean waters, and its presence is a sign of a lack of pollution. We are lucky here in Mallorca in as much as we have a widespread presence of this plant in our coastal waters. Sadly, there are now reports that this important guardian of the ecological balance and harmony of the Mallorcan marine life is in decline. The decline is attributed to mechanical damage from trawling and boats, both fishing and leisure, from excessive coastal development and eutrophication, which causes lack of oxygen and leads to the demise of marine life, including plants and seafood, shrimp, crabs and small fish.

I wish our politicians would not spend all their time and effort and the taxpayers’ money saving our banking system but would spend some time and money on the environment that is actually there to protect us and our future generations.

Why are we all so blind?

In case I get some wisecrack comments on the state of the beach shown in the photo (bottom), let me tell you that we should be pleased to find some of our beaches full with remnants of dead sea grass. This natural debris is a sign that the Posidonia sea grass is still in existence, working away in its wondrous ways of making our sea water clean and with it, our air. The day the debris does not wash up on our beaches any longer, will be a sure sign that the Posidonia has become extinct. And extinct is forever. Let’s not forget that.

The photo (top) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of deepbluehome.blogspot.com.es.

Thank you very much.

The photo (bottom) was taken near Can Picafort, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: March 30th, 2012. The time was 11:41:56.

The Posidonia Seagrass Crisis