Cadaques is white painted and charming. It's just around the headland from Roses, which, incidentally, sounds pretty unattractive in the pilot book but in fact turns out to provide a pleasant and mostly sheltered anchorage with good holding, no charges and no crowding - we thought it was just fine!
On arrival in the harbour in Cadaques we were approached by a young man in a RIB asking, in very good English, whether we wanted a buoy for the night. The local authorities have laid a number of mooring buoys just off the town and these seem to be operated by two contractors. We were guided to our buoy which was equipped with port and starboard lines themselves attached to a comfortingly large lump of concrete on the seabed.
We were waiting for a suitable window in the weather for the trip across the Golf de Lion and so ended up staying for three nights.
The architecture is very attractive and we had good meals and drinks ashore at very reasonable prices.
The main attraction, about which we knew nothing in advance, is however, over the hill in the adjoining bay of Portlligat which is a very small fishing village where Salvadore Dali used to live and his house is open, by appointment, for viewing. It's just as though he and Gala have popped out for a few moments. If you're in the area it's well worth a detour for a look
11/September/2009, Cala Castell
From Portopetro we ,moved just up the coast to Portocolom where we anchored and then took a buoy in the harbour. Having seen much of the coast of the island we decided that the interior was worthy of inspection and hired a car for four days to achieve that. The first day we took in San Salvador perched at a bit over 500 m a few miles from Portocolom and followed that with Arta and an excellent lunch at the Torre at Canymel where the local speciality is suckling pig - delicious !
The Torre itself has now been restored by its private owners and is well worth a visit. It was used as a refuge tower to protect the local inhabitants from marauding pirates. All around the island there are watchtowers to give early warning of raids and communicate the arrival of undesirables by lighting fires on the tops of the towers. This raiding business is said to be the reason that all the principal towns in Mallorca are inland with their ports some distance away on the coast. The last tourist act of the day was a visit to the Caves of Drach - they're huge and quite magnificent.
On day two we covered the northern coast taking in Valdemossa and Port Soller before driving over the mountains to the Torrent de Pareis. All of this is wild country and as far from the popular image of an island dedicated to all-day-breakfasts as you can imagine.
Finally we visited Alcudia, where we would later anchor on our way north, Port de Pollenca for another good lunch and finally Pollenca itself.
Having achieved safe delivery of the owner to the airport at Palma we set off the following day bound for the Costa Brava. An overnight stop anchored off Alcudia and at last a good long sail to the Spanish mainland (the Spanish Main being outside the scope of this particular jaunt). A north-easter of between eight and fourteen knots enabled a brisk fetch for most of the hundred or so miles to Blanes where we arrived to anchor off the harbour at first light. Refreshed by a spot of kip we decided to move on to try and get out of the easterly swell and eventually spent the night in Cala de Sant Pol, a pleasant bay just north of Sant Feliu de Guixols.
As I write this we're in what must be the most crowded anchorage I've ever been in - there's much entertainment in the form of near collisions and dragging anchors and the like but we think most of the motor boats and small craft will go with the sun and are looking forward to a quieter evening.
2/September/2009, Porto Colom
The largest of the Balearic group, Mallorca has the usual island history of being over-run by invaders of one political and religious persuasion or another for the last few thousand years. The most recent invasion is, of course, by tourists who provide much of the island's not inconsiderable prosperity but, sensibly, the bulk of the tourist impact is contained in a few limited areas around Palma. Most of the rest of the island continues to provide wonderful anchorages; the calas along the eastern coast being notable.
Our first port from Mahon was Porto Colom which has a large, natural, albeit fairly shallow harbour and a proper town with all the usual amenities. Here we met fellow OCC members Ian and Susan Grant on Rebel X who are cruising the Mediterranean a long way from their native Victoria in British Columbia.
From Porto Colom we've trippered around the eastern and southern coasts of the island, executed some crew changes (it seems that executing the crew is frowned on by the local law-makers) and had a good run ashore in Palma. The Real Club Nautico de Palma makes most British yacht clubs look decidedly pokey and shabby. As well as an 850 berth marina they sport a beautiful swimming pool and vast terraces; the interior has consumed hundreds of tons of marble and the whole thing is very stylish.
Our trusty Spectra watermaker has, over the past week, become markedly less trustworthy and has been receiving attention from the local agent for the brand. This project is still work-in-progress but bits are, we believe, in the air from California; the challenge, apparently, is getting the said bits through the Spanish customs processes.
We're currently on a mooring buoy in Porto Petro which is part of a scheme to, it is claimed, protect the Posidonia Oceanica (grass) which is being ploughed up by boats anchoring. The buoys are free and there's a booking system via a website (www.balearslifeposidonia.eu) or call centre. We haven't tried the booking system preferring instead to turn up and see what's available but the arrangement seems to work well enough and gets more boats into small spaces and relieves any anxiety about anchors dragging in dodgy holding ground. We're told that it's an EU funded project so the term "free", above, needs to be interpreted as "included in the taxes you pay".
21/August/2009, Cala Taulera
The harbour at Mahon, much fought over historically, is deep, well sheltered and safe; Nelson was here with the Mediterranean Fleet. Mayonnnaise is said to have become popular after Richelieu's chef invented it based on the local aioili sauce. Admiral Byng ("pour encourager les autres" and all that) was executed for not engaging the French fleet and , it was alleged, thereby allowing the French to take the island. There's lots of history stuff about.
We've anchored in Cala Taulera just under the tower pictured above - a calm place despite being surrounded by fortifications of one vintage or another. More time here would be good but we've got to press on tomorrow for Mallorca.
21/August/2009, Cala Taulera
The 200 mile trip to Menorca was delightful. We saw almost no ships or other yachts until close to our destination and we were treated to a perfect starry night (cue Don McLean) with shooting stars and a splendid view of the milky way. The wildlife included two pods of dolphins but, more unusually, we had a stowaway in the form of a praying mantis who is now leading a new life in the Balearics.
We've said farewell to Sardinia and making for Mahon in Menorca. We spent most of our last few days in Sardinia in the brand-new marina in Olbia which opened in late May this year. It's not shown on the (latest) charts and it's not in the pilot books but it is good (Peter found it on Google Earth). The staff are helpful and, within the constraints of Italy, efficient. We arrived in a twenty five knot North-Westerly which made for some difficulty getting onto and away from the fuel berth but, that having been accomplished, we were shepherded to our berth and a RIB driver assisted with the stern-to berthing manoeuvre whilst there was someone ashore to take our lines. The marina is less than ten minutes from the airport and they will provide a courtesy car to take you there. It is expensive and there is still work to be done to build the intended cafes and shops around the marina but it's well worth a visit.
Olbia is a proper town with no significant tourist influence and we enjoyed a couple of meals ashore at the excellent Il Gattopardo (Leopard) restaurant (reserve a table in the garden).
Another crew change was successfully completed and we made our way north again to revisit Liscia for our first overnight anchorage. From there we passed through the notorious Straights of Bonifacio without incident and enjoyed a brisk run in a building north-easterly to Porto Torres where we planned to re-fuel. It turns out that, notwithstanding the fact that it's next to a major refinery, the fuel dock shown in the pilot is no more so we set off again in big seas to Stintino where, at the third attempt, we anchored in the little harbour with some feeling of relief. After a disco-enhanced night we had a run ashore in the dinghy to fill jerry cans and get some fresh food.
My earlier remarks about not being troubled by officialdom are now withdrawn. On returning to the boat we were approached by Lt Jobo Worthio of the coastguard asking us and everyone else to up-anchor and move outside the harbour. Now, this is not exactly the Sardinian equivalent of Portsmouth ! Apart from three small ferries taking trippers to the Asinara nature reserve this place is entirely given over to the business of relieving tourists of money there being no other economic activity since the tuna fishing fleet gave up. The result of all this was an empty harbour (nice and calm) and a bunch of yachts in a rolly and choppy anchorage just outside. The motivation for all this is unclear but we were approached when we had re-anchored by a yoof in a RIB touting berths in one of the adjacent marinas. We declined.
Finally an early start saw us, just after first light, at the Fornelli Passage- a rather shallow sort cut between the NW corner of Sardinia and Asinara which saves about 18 miles on the trip to Mahon. The passage is well marked by leading marks into and out of the channel; we saw a least depth of 4.5m and most of it is between 5 and 7 metres. The crystal-clear water means that the bottom is clearly visible which may or may not be good for your nerves depending on how you view these things.