Corsica and Bonifacio Straits
07 November 2017 | Corsica
After four days of obsessively studying Windyty in Castelsardo we set off for Bonifacio on Saturday 9th September 2017 at 0845; luckily we managed to fuel up, expensive though at 1.58 euros per litre! There were a few black clouds but no rain had been forecast; apparently this was an unusually bad September, weather wise- just our luck. The predicted wind was a southerly of 10 knots but we had a Force 1 of WSW and, at 1000, misty rain, lovely! Consequently the genoa was barely filling and then an hour later we got hit by a really nasty squall with a massive swell which was pretty scary; Paul had to go on deck to try and reef the main while I kept Swallow pointing into the wind- not easy when you’re getting corkscrewed around all over the place- this is not my favourite part of sailing! We were so out of control in the end that Paul decided to drop the whole sail and we then carried on downwind with the genoa on a dead run ( the wind directly behind us); the wind eased half an hour later but the white horses were still galloping behind us, then the sun came out- and breathe! Now was a good time for Paul to raise our French courtesy flag. When we were 10 miles off Corsica and approaching the start of the Bonifacio Straits the waves got bigger. This is a beautiful mountainous coastline and Bonifacio is hidden by stunning, eroded limestone cliffs, we could see the old town on top of the cliff; the deep narrow harbour is situated in a slit in the cliffs with the fort and citadel high up on one side; the citadel is so well fortified that in the fifteenth century the inhabitants successfully defended their city against Aragonese attack without troops or artillery. Our 37 mile passage ended at 1615 and we had little help from the marinaros tying up; luckily a kind Frenchman took the lines from me, it was so bouncy. Many superyachts berth here and so far, at 55 euros a night, Bonifacio has been the most expensive marina we have been to with the worst facilities and unhelpful staff; our budget was to suffer here- weather conditions determined that we were here for seven nights, ouch!
The following morning winds of 30 knots, gusting 45 knots, funnelled in towards us and there was a real chop in the harbour. We had to remove the anchor as we were pushed hard against the quay; there were three men helping us push the boat back to tighten up the stern lines (fellow yachtsmen are generally very helpful)- we were sitting ducks basically as every yacht that came in missed us by inches, it was so nerve wracking; we thought: what on earth were they doing out in predicted winds like that in the first place? This continued for four days and I was like a mearcat , popping my head up every time I heard an engine; on our last day another yacht did bash our outboard engine which is bolted on to our push pit, luckily no serious damage though.
On the plus side this place has fantastic sunsets and a wonderful medieval town set within a fortress which, although has seen so much conflict, maintains so much of its’ original structure and features such as tiny winding alleyways, churches, look out towers and sheer walls looking down to the crashing waves below ; this is a town not destroyed by tourism- the tiny shops and restaurants, serving wonderful French cuisine, are nestled into its’ original fabric; the inhabitants here, and on Corsica in general ,are slightly aloof but this adds to the charm! We also made some new friends here: Juan and Mariela from Buenas Aires and Kellie, Nicky and Jonathan , with whom we had a very entertaining evening aboard Boomerang, having a ‘ sing-off’ with a French boat, their line dancing put our rendition of Chiquita to shame!
On 15 September 2017 the winds had settled down earlier than predicted and so we made a snap decision to leave Bonifacio at 1300; Juan helped us with our lines and we departed our berth; there was quite a swell in the harbour entrance but once away from there we had a good breeze and east going current which took us for 17 miles around Iles Lavezzi and Cavello towards Rondinara, another stunning anchorage where we enjoyed an early evening swim; we felt a massive sense of relief to have negotiated this infamous stretch of water without any drama. Rondinera had beautiful, crystal clear water; bright green bushes lined the sandy beach and very few buildings were visible along the attractive undulating coastline; it was so peaceful here, there were a few strong gusts but the holding was really good and so we had a restful night. The next morning a force 3 NNW wind filled our genoa and took us speedily further up the east coast towards our destination of the Golfe de San Ciprianu; this is a beautiful cruising area, so unspoilt. We sailed past the nature reserve of the Isles Cerbicales ; all around us was the stark landscape of sandstone, spotted with dark red, and evergreens; there were a few scattered villages that blended into the scenery so well that you could hardly pick out the houses. As we rounded the Pointe de la Chiappe the wind died and so the engine took us the last few miles, we arrived at our anchorage at 1400 and had a very relaxing afternoon. On Sunday morning we awoke to a squall of 20 knots winds and a big fetch of white water; again we were holding well and Paul decided to let out some more chain, which isn’t easy in those conditions as we do not have an electric windlass- needs to be added to the wish-list I think! The afternoon was perfectly still and we watched two red and yellow firefighting sea planes practising their water bombing techniques- luckily not over us. We were sorely tempted to set off for Giglio, a Tuscan island 80 miles away, but decided to wait until after dark so that we could maximise our daylight hours, especially as the nights were getting longer now; heavy rain was forecasted for the following night and didn’t look to be improving all week so we figured it was a good idea to leave that night as planned. We knew that the winds would be strong when we left but Windyty had promised a lull further up the coast and across to Giglio. So, with the lee cloth ready in place for the night watches, we waited for a lull in the wind to weigh the anchor and set off at 1830. Note to self- never again interpret Windyty so literally, it is only a forecast after all! A few hours in we kept thinking soon the conditions will get better but the wind behind us just got stronger and the swell got bigger, we were totally out of control; tempers were frayed and the tension was tight, we couldn’t agree on a plan of action ( for the non-sailors amongst you, you could compare it to being lost in the car and the man won’t stop and ask for directions- that kind of disagreement); Bob couldn’t cope either (he’s our auto-helm; everyone else seems to have named theirs so we’ve joined in- after Henry Bob, our grandson!) Eventually, after admitting defeat and heading back to Corsica, we arrived at Solenzara at 0130; there are not many safe havens along this stretch of coast and the pilot book recommends against entering this particular marina in the dark; there are lots of rocks and shoal water close to the entrance so we really were guided by just our chart plotter and the cardinal light- I was at the bow trying to keep a lookout, it was all pretty confusing; once inside we couldn’t figure out where visitors were supposed to go so we tied up alongside the fuel berth, in the morning we realised we had a massive pile of rocks behind us which we had narrowly missed. The plus side to all of this was that the fuel berth had electricity and water and nobody knew we were there all night so it was free. Of course now we’d missed our weather slot for the Tuscan islands so we decided to head further up the eastern coast of Corsica so that we could have a much shorter passage across to Elba, neither of us fancied a night sail anytime soon after that experience. This 30 mile journey was a total contrast, brilliant sunshine and next to no wind so we motored up to Port de Taverna with the genoa barely filling. Time to relax after last night’s ordeal and enjoy the beautiful scenery of dark red and green hills backed by the mountain ranges with cumulus clouds above them which resembled flying saucers; we saw a solitary dolphin and overhead a mirage and a super etendard were flying along the coast, there is a long military airstrip here. We spotted lots of little inlets along the way, called etangs, and also sandy, uninhabited beaches which were glistening in the sunshine. Suddenly Bob decided that he wanted to go in the opposite direction- the exact reciprocal of our set heading; it took us fifteen minutes, after studying the manual in detail, to suss out what had happened- I had tucked our insect curtain, which has a magnetic closure, against the wardrobe which housed the flux compass . With four miles to go the rain started so at 1645 we were relieved to finally reach the marina, with the help of lots of hand signals the marinaro managed to find us a berth which had the mooring lines actually attached to the bottom. This marina, which seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, was a bit soulless although the local boat owners were friendly. We had a very mediocre meal in the restaurant and all the staff had that blank, Corsican expression on their faces. They told us that there was not a shop for miles but we headed off on a brisk walk through the woods, stopping for a coffee/ hot chocolate en route, and found a well-stocked Utile 2km away in Prunette. That night there was a pretty dramatic thunder storm above us, we were relieved to be here. In a couple of days’ time we would be crossing the Tyrrhenian Sea for the Tuscan island of Elba; we’re really excited to be bound for Italy again.
A taste of Sardinia
24 October 2017 | Sardinia
As much as we would have liked to circumnavigate Sardinia time constraints and shorter weather windows would not allow it; we were booked into Gaeta on mainland Italy for October so we decided that we would head north and through the Bonifacio Straits. Firstly though we spent five days in Alghero due to organising the repair to our stanchion post and lifeline; the silver lining was that it was a lovely place and the insurance would be paying for our berth (Italy is more expensive than Spain and we had planned to be mainly anchoring).
Our first day in Alghero was occupied with sourcing a rigger to give us a quotation for the insurance company; after putting out a question on the Cruising Association forum we were recommended to go and see Roberto in Aquatica Marina. This guy was a CA rep. and called out SOS Nautica for us and also sorted a 20% discount on our berthing rate; the repair went smoothly, although we now have one stainless stanchion and the others are aluminium (you can only spot this on close inspection). As a bonus we made some nice new friends, Claire, Clive and their 8 year old son Oliver- they were on the boat moored next to us and were soon returning back to the UK after a summer adventure around Greece; they kindly gave us a few useful items that they wouldn’t be needing anymore, one of which was a wifi box as ours had decided to burn itself out! One of Paul’s old chandlery customers also turned up on Rum Truffle, Mark and Gina- they would be following us through the Straits but would then be heading straight for Greece; it’s always nice to meet up with fellow sailors to swop stories and tips; sometimes you can feel a little low not having your friends and family around you and meeting like-minded people always helps to lift your spirits. We also made a local ’friend’ who spends all day, every day hanging around the town quay chatting to the boat crews; I would recommend to anyone who moors here to go in bow to (as we generally do)- a lot more privacy.
Although the modern part of Alghero is a little shabby the old walled town, where we were moored, is charming; every evening we wandered around the cobbled streets admiring the old churches and towers and pottered around the little shops where coral jewellery (sourced locally) was in abundance; of course there are gelataries on every corner and Prosecco is plentiful- I am in heaven! There are so many restaurants to choose from here, we picked a tiny pizzeria overlooking the sea and sat outside watching the sunset- bellisimo!
On Monday 4th September 2017 we set off at 0930 for an anchorage on the north of the island, 36 miles away; we had a fantastic port beam reach with full sail for the first hour but after that the wind died and the engine had to go on and we rigged up a preventer for the main sail. Five hours in Paul had to top up the tank from our 20L reserve can as Alghero was all out of diesel- hopefully we’ll be able to get some in the next port. This coastline is beautiful with sheer, craggy cliffs of ochre and grey topped with green vegetation and backed with sloping hills. We were 9 miles from our destination and we noticed loads of seabirds chasing little fish who were trying to escape a shoal of tuna; there were loads of pot buoys a couple of miles out from the shore too. There was now only 2.5 m under the boat and we were heading through the very narrow Fornelli Passage which was well marked but a bit nail biting- you wouldn’t be wanting to go through here on a rough day! Once through here we noticed two anchored boats and so picked a spot in 4m of water; we were in between Isla Piana and Isola dell’Asinara, which has been a quarantine island, a POW camp and a Mafia prison and is now a national park. As soon as the anchor was set, at around 1700, we had a lovely, refreshing swim, the turquoise water was crystal clear and we could see the sandy bottom; a solitary dolphin was playing 200 metres away. Once again we witnessed an incredible sunset and then a full moon; it was an extremely still night. Strong winds had been forecasted for the next few days so the following, windless morning we set off for Castelsardo, 22 miles away; it’s hard to believe that it can blow a real hoolie through here but I’m sure we’ll witness it soon enough.
On approaching Castelsardo we saw a hilly, quaint fishing village, lined with multi-coloured houses and topped with a ruined castle- just like a picture postcard. Again we were guided in by a friendly marinaro and we were delighted to be told that our rate would be 15 euros per night. The medieval village inside the castle walls up on the hill was spectacular, rewarding to see after the steep walk up there; there were a few shops and restaurants scattered around the alleyways and women were sat in their doorways weaving baskets, it was like going back in time. Many of the old houses had been turned into holiday lets but many older locals still remain; it was so peaceful up there; the 13th century castle, church and bell tower are all worth a visit. The view out to sea from up there was incredible too. Rum Truffle caught up with us here and we had a great evening aboard with them.
We knew that we had to press on and tackle the Bonifacio Straits, unfortunately the weather here was untypically bad for September, so we knew that we would not be able to cruise the Maddalena Islands as we had originally planned; instead we decided to head over to Bonifacio on Corsica and then edge our way around the east coast of the French island before crossing over to the Italian mainland. So as soon as weather conditions allow we will be sadly leaving this beautiful island; hopefully we will return next year.
Passage to Sardinia
23 October 2017 | Sardinia
At 13.30 on Sunday 27 August 2017 we sailed out of Fornells bay bound for Alghero, just below the north western tip of Sardinia, some 200 miles away. There wasn’t any significant wind forecasted but we chose this as a trade-off; apparently any decent wind for sailing this crossing would bring considerable swell; there is often a strong mistral which blows down from the Golfe du Lion between Menorca and Sardinia. Windyty (our weather app) had promised us some strongish winds half way across but it was not to be! We had some light breeze, on the nose as usual, so we kept the main up, close hauled. We’ve never before had such a smooth sea, it was like sliding along glass; consequently we had the engine on the whole time but we figured this was better than the opposite extreme which some of our sailing buddies had experienced.
Luckily I had ‘cooked for the five thousand’ as I find eating a good way of keeping myself awake on passages lasting 44 hours, which this one was to be. Although the lack of wind made this a monotonous journey we were pretty excited to be on our way to yet another beautiful destination and enjoyed the sights that our wonderful solar system has to offer.
Losing sight of Menorca on that first afternoon with no land ahead of us all I could see was a giant semi-circular horizon; it seemed as though we were heading for the edge of the earth, into the abyss. I really admire discoverers, such as Magellan and Columbus, who ventured across the open seas not knowing what to expect, having only basic navigational instruments, very crude charts and relying heavily on the stars to guide them- note to self: learn how to use a sextant and study our solar system. This trip has really made me feel closer to the elements and that we should not take for granted how our planet functions in relation to the sun, the moon, the whole universe!
Late afternoon Paul caused some excitement by catching a very large dolphin fish (mahi-mahi); this fish is beautiful- blue and green with deeper blue spots. It tasted pretty good too! The only downside for me was that the whole performance of catching and killing it caused blood to be splattered all over the cockpit and over me too! ( Luckily I’d finished eating my tuna pasta ). This delightful creature took up so much room in the fridge so Paul decided to reel in his rod.
That evening we saw no other vessels; we seemed to be the only boat on the ocean with just the man in the moon for company. The radio was fairly quiet too, just an occasional French conversation, which we figured we were picking up from Corsica. Paul did the first night watch and I surfaced at 0230 to see the half -moon shining down behind us; the Milky Way was so bright and I was lucky enough to see two shooting stars. At one point I mistook a star for a ship’s light; I could not see the horizon, the sea had merged into the night sky. The stars and moon began to gradually disappear and at 0530, heading East, we were approaching daybreak. At 0600 the sunrise began and the sea was full of orange and pink ripples; at 0700 the burning bright orange ball appeared- I never tire of seeing this! As it was such an uneventful evening I really had to pinch myself to stay awake so at 0830 I was back down in the cabin pushing up zeds for a few hours.
Monday brought us pretty much the same smooth sea, which resembled a giant swimming pool, and very light winds so we plodded on with the iron sail; we were heading slightly north of our destination as we hoped the predicted northerlies would push us back down later- no such luck! Paul went for an afternoon nap and I caught up with Eastenders on the I-Pad to relieve the boredom! At 1600 we finally had some company- I saw two cargo ships cross each other ahead of us; then Sega made radio contact, they had left a few hours after us and were now not far behind . At 1700 Paul raised our pristine Italian flag. The sun was shining a pathway behind us and would soon be setting, the sea was like a mill pond! Paul gutted his fish and chopped it up into steaks ready for the barbecue when we get there; he decided to cast his rod one more time. Conditions were so calm that we were able to have deck showers, with no spectators for a change! Then we were engulfed with sea mist from the heat haze, it was eerie, all we could see were the beautifully coloured ripples on the sea surface which were a reflection of the pink and blue sky, the half-moon was already visible, the whole scene was just like a water colour painting. At 2015 I was just about to dish up dinner when a massive fish took Paul’s lure- the one that got away.
At 0700 the next morning a stunning sunrise welcomed us towards Sardinia; we were shattered but elated that we would finally be stepping off onto Italy, a new country for us to explore. We could hear the locals on the radio, such a beautiful language. We came around the imposing Cape Caccia and into a stunning bay; we were a little apprehensive, not knowing what to expect and not being familiar with the language- we had read that Alghero is run by the Ormeggiatori which conjured up Mafiosa images in our heads, turns out we had no need to worry; there seemed to be a lot of competition and intimidation between the various marina owners ( we had eight options to choose from) but the customers were blissfully oblivious to it and obviously it meant there were deals to be had! One of the marina owners, in his dinghy, met us at the harbour entrance and tried to entice us in but once we told him that we’d already booked the town quay online he left us alone. The Ormeggiatori helped us tie up and gave us a fantastic welcome- we think we’re going to like Sardinia!
08 September 2017 | Menorca
The wind and sea had calmed down on 22/08/2917 so we left Ratjada and headed for Menorca, some 20 odd miles away; we were sad to leave Mallorca with its pretty coastline and beautiful calas and beaches but we would soon see that Menorca has its own charisma too. We spotted a few pot buoys as we left so Paul reeled out his line- we live in hope! A giant cicada hitched a ride on our genoa; he soon legged it when we unfurled the sail.; after that we saw a massive dolphin swim across our bow, at first Paul thought it was a whale and I was terrified that we were going to bump into him; we watched skuas swoop down for small bait fish but still no bites on the fishing rod! The sun felt hotter than ever today, the deck beneath our feet was scorching. With five miles to go we could see that the island is pretty much flat with some development on the western coast; we turned the engine off for the last hour and glided peacefully into Son Saura on a gentle beam reach; the sound of the waves lapping around Swallow is so therapeutic. It was now 1700 and the sun was glistening on the sea behind us with the silhouette of Mallorca in the distance; this is what I had imagined the Med would be like. There was a slight pink tinge to the cliffs and we could see quite a few masts in the cala and hoped that there would be room for us; we soon realised that all the sandy spots were taken so we set the anchor in weed, which didn’t give us any problems. We met a lovely Spanish family on the boat next to us in Ratjada and they recommended this beautiful cala, which is split into two beaches backed with evergreens; the water was crystal clear. Nightfall was simply a mass of anchor lights and constellations of bright twinkling stars- so tranquil.
The following morning we were up at 0830 and the beach was already busy with sun worshippers, they weren’t to be disappointed as it was another roasting day; at 1030 we left this delightful spot and headed off around the western coast for an anchorage in the north, Algaiarens, so that we could reach Fornells by 25/08/17 as we’d booked the Ports IB marina. This coastline here is much flatter than that of Mallorca; the low, ragged, laminated cliffs are topped with vegetation; there are small developments of low-rise, red-roofed buildings- we couldn’t see much evidence of touristic towns. I watched people walking along the coastal paths, admiring the sea, whilst we were appreciating the land. Algaiarens is another stunning cala, we arrived here early afternoon and paddled the dinghy ashore to explore the paths and sand dunes; we finished off another lovely day sat up on deck with a beer and chicken roasting on the Cobb.
After two nights in Algaiarens we tacked close hauled into the F4 wind for 12 miles to Fornells; we sailed swiftly into the large bay, past Sega, who were there on a mooring buoy, and bounced our way, bow to, up to the pontoon; Manuel, the marinaro, jumped aboard to help Paul haul in the slimy mooring line- the winds were crazy by now and we found out later that they had just closed the harbour; we got in just in time. Later that afternoon a motorboat, who had entered the closed harbour without permission, tried to approach the pontoon next to us to pick up his wife and her shopping- the wind took him and he ploughed bow on straight into our starboard side and completely bent one of the stanchions; I was down below enjoying my book at the time and came dashing up on deck after hearing a loud thump; I asked the Spanish wife, who spoke no English, what had happened and she said it was nothing and all ok- luckily Paul then arrived, he’d been walking back to the boat and saw it all happen; we were jumping up and down trying to get some acknowledgement from the skipper who wasn’t playing ball; eventually the woman gave us her name and contact details, then they swiftly departed! The marinaro in the office was wonderful, he immediately phoned the guilty party and insisted that they send us their insurance details asap, he also took photos of the damage and informed the police. We knew we had a weather window to leave for Sardinia in a couple of days so the insurance company agreed that we could get it sorted there, in the meantime we had to be careful not to lean against the guard wire which was very slack and would not have held our weight. It’s good that insurance helps in situations like this but nothing can make up for the inconvenience and delayed plans that can occur. Most of our time in Fornells was occupied with telephone calls and emails to sort it all out- we did however manage to meet up for a drink with Sega and have a nice walk along the shore of this beautiful, deep bay which has an island in the middle of it. The holiday resort with its ruined castle walls is fairly upmarket, hence the supermarket was expensive; despite this we stocked up so that we could prepare meals for our impending two day trip to Sardinia. We learnt, from the very friendly neighbouring Spanish yachtsmen, that Menorca has been in British hands three times and that many British people have in fact settled here in contrast to there being many Germans in Mallorca and Italians in Formentera.
03 September 2017 | Ratjada
Mallorca welcomed us on 29/07/17 after a pleasant, gentle, 10 hour motor sail of just over 50 miles; just as we reached the headland before Andraitx the wind picked up considerably and we were bombing along on a nice beam reach. After studying the predicted winds we anchored in Cala Egos, close to Andraitx as we’d booked a mooring buoy for the following day. After a refreshing swim we repositioned ourselves a couple of times until we were happy that we weren’t going to swing into the surrounding rocks when the wind picked up; the last time we did this was in the dark with the waxing moon, Venus and the stars shining down on to the sea- this beautiful cala was completely void of life so hence no lights on the shore. We shared this peaceful anchorage for the night with only two other boats; daybreak brought in many high speed motor boats who had little regard for sailors swimming around their yachts!
We spent two days on the mooring buoy at Club Vela, Andraitx; William, the very friendly marinaro, gave us free tokens for the luxurious showers; this was a prestigious club in an affluent area. This is where we first met Liz and David on Yacht Sega; we had been in contact on the Cruising Association mednet as, like us, they were planning to cross from the Balearics to Sardinia; we all hit it off straight away and were looking forward to our onward journey, sailing in company. Also we were delighted to hear that Ali and Trev (very good friends from back home) were on holiday in Palma and would be coming here to meet for drinks- a very emotional reunion for me! The following day we took advantage of knowing that Swallow was safely secured to a buoy and took the bus to Palma; the bus was ridiculously overloaded with passengers which I am sure contributed to the bust tyre we had as we arrived at Santa Ponsa- consequently everyone bundled onto another bus bound for Palma, too many sweaty bodies packed in for my liking! Palma is bigger than I had expected, the old town , with its cathedral and ancient building, is very quaint. We visited an air conditioned (bliss after the oppressive heat outside))art gallery which housed several Picasso paintings, bought a cd from an African street band, meandered around the little streets and finished our day off with some delicious tapas.
On 1/08/17 after stocking up with supplies from Euroski we headed off for Santa Ponsa, a
rather touristy town with a strong German presence. We had a very relaxing time in this beautiful bay swimming off the back of the boat and watching the tiny fish being chased by pipe fish. Liz gave me a lesson on her stand up paddle board (commonly known as a SUP)- what a laugh that was, great exercise too! We stayed on anchor here for three nights and the second night brought in very strong winds; Paul was up most of the night on anchor watch as we , as well as all the other vessels, were kiting around- luckily our delta anchor held fast; Ray, on Kady, had to reset his anchor several times throughout the night. We said goodbye to Kady here and set off to spend one night in Palma Bay with Sega- this was so that we could take a trip ashore to Decathlon; David and Liz had tried Paul’s new all-in-one snorkel mask and were keen to have one too.; there didn’t seem to be anywhere to take dinghies ashore so David dropped Liz and I off in the dinghy onto the littered beach, the sea was rather dirty - I definitely wasn’t going to be swimming here! Well big mistake for the men to leave the shopping ashore to the women- we had great fun buying lots of extra things in Decathlon, including some very bright turkish towels which will act as throws for our sofas ; of course we needed a cold beer on the way back too!
Playa de Trench was to be our next stop 23 miles away so we started the engine at 10.45 on 05/08/17; the chain was wrapped around the anchor so Paul had a tough job hauling it all in and then the luff of the sail didn’t want to go up- once all that was sorted he was exhausted before we even left! Palma Bay is great for sailing, if you have wind of course; we barely had enough to lift the tell tails. As we approached Cabo Blanco the wind picked up dramatically and whipped away Paul’s straw hat ; we managed a close reach but the white horses gave us a bumpy ride. Thankfully we had a peaceful evening; we tucked in to our already prepared Mr D’s spag bol and rice pudding and then paddled over in the dingy to Sega for a nightcap. The next morning brought in 14 knot winds which made swimming quite an effort so I spent my time making a madeira cake; the evening was a little cooler with a fantastic sunset followed by a full moon- a good night’s sleep for the crew! The following day we moved in closer to the beach in the SE corner by a hotel- a great spot; this enabled Liz and I to go food shopping ( not as exciting as our last jaunt ashore together). Later we all went in for a drink at the beach bar; Paul caused much hilarity for the onlookers on the beach as he fell into the water trying to get into the dinghy on our return. Our evening’s entertainment aboard was supplied by a very bad singer at the hotel- and the crew on acatamaran beside us joining in.
High winds were predicted for the next few days and we were booked into Porto Colom marina for 10/08/17 so we booked a mooring buoy at Porto Petro 6 miles before there; this was another rolly passage and we were glad to be secured to the bouy when the storms came in the following evening. Porto Petro is very pretty but the marina staff weren’t particularly friendly; the bouys were quite a way from the harbour and the dinghy ride was a rough one! The passage to Porto Colom was horrible- we were punching against 20knot winds and high breaking waves; we were relieved to tie up at the marina and plug in our electric kettle! Our stay here was filled with back to back boat jobs- cleaning, laundry, engine checks and making new mossie nets; we rewarded ourselves with a delicious meal out with Sega at a seafront restaurant; David and Liz are great company- a fun time was had by all.
After Porto Colom we had a short pit stop for one night at Arenal de San Servera, a long beach lined with a touristy resort which resembled Benidorm ; this anchorage was very rolly and so we departed early the next morning heading for Pollensa Bay, passing Alcudia Bay en route. The scenery in this area with its high eroded cliffs, rolling, tree-topped hills and rocky mountains is stunning. We anchored near an impressive, sympathetically extended castle which was featured as a location in the TV series The Night Manager; we were also opposite the sea plane base and saw several of these aircraft take off and land. The views all around were breath-taking and the strong, cool breeze was so refreshing.; the motor boats and jet skies which came in and out of the harbour were very annoying, passing us way too close for comfort at great speed, and one day made so much wash that I got soaked whilst eating my dinner! The evenings, on the other hand, were incredibly still. Pollensa Bay offers great shelter and holding even in high winds. After a couple of days we moved closer to the port and went ashore to see what Pollensa had to offer: a shallow beach with a pleasing promenade, lined with small hotels and restaurants. We bought some figs and cherries from the large, sprawling market, which were expensive but really yummy. This is another fantastic bay for a day sail- we saw lots of kids out on Optimists having a great time.
On 17/08/17 we set off at 9am for Ratjada, which was to be our last port before heading to Menorca, rather a lumpy close reach but on the plus side Paul caught a fair sized mackerall .Ratjada had an extremely rolly entrance and there was a strong surge making tying up tricky but it gave great shelter from the strong north easterlies so we sat here for five days before heading off again. The harbour wall was about a foot higher than the bow so walking the bouncy plank was challenging. We saw plenty of fishing boats here which gave Paul hope that there may be many fish around. There was a very pretty cala, which we walked to, around the corner from the marina; the tiny beach was packed and boys were diving off the high rocks; we saw a few boats anchored here too. Ratjada was busy with many shops and restaurants, which lined the curved waterfront and seemed to cater mainly for the German tourists (all of the menus being in German as the second language). This is a busy harbour with pleasure boats coming and going, including a glass bottomed catamaran; we saw a couple of beautiful Rivas come in, so sleek. We had a chilled time here planning our next move; we’re coming for you Menorca!
21 August 2017 | Ibiza
On 19/07/17 at 18.30 we waved goodbye to Ula and motored over to Valencia’s fuel berth, filled up with diesel and had our dinner whilst waiting for the wind to change direction as was the prediction on our Windy app. We set off for Ibiza (82 miles away) at 20.00 with a light breeze, enjoying the last of the evening sunshine- it was great to be out there again! The pleasure was short lived as we were against a very uncomfortable swell and I was seasick; this meant that Paul couldn’t take a break and was awake for the whole 16 hours; not the best of passages as we only managed to turn the engine off for an hour half way. At 12.30 the following day Millie welcomed us into Cala Torrent (just South of San Antonio) ; we could tell straight away that this would be another uncomfortable night as we were corkscrewing all over the place, but we were too tired to care. Andrew came and picked us up in his dinghy ( bit of a bumpy ride) and we went over for a cuppa, armed with my homemade madeira cake. Swallow spent the whole night pitching and rolling so we quickly departed the following morning and motored round to Cala Tarida, which wasn’t much better; Millie sailed back over to mainland Spain for a trip home- hopefully we will catch up with them again soon.
A couple of days later, accompanied by Kady who had sailed over from their lovely anchoage at Sardenera on the mainland, we motored down the coast whilst enjoying the beautiful scenery - lime and sandstone cliffs scattered with greenery; we passed the Isla Vedra , which towered over the Isla Vedranell, stunning! We anchored in the western corner of Cala de Port Roig amongst super yachts, whose tenders were the size of Swallow, and sleek motor boats which looked they were straight out of a James Bond movie! We pulled up our dinghy onto the little beach, the only facility here was a very expensive restaurant which obviously catered for the elite, we did stretch to a beer though. To our delight we found a water tap in the carpark; the elation was short-lived as the water was extremely salty. We also spotted a rubbish bin but Paul was kindly asked by the restaurant not to dispose of his rubbish there as there were public bins over in the next bay. So the next day we ventured in the dinghy onto the other beach in the corner; this was lined with disused fishermen’s’huts , some of which had been restored as beach huts. Paul got talking to a Bulgarian guy, Galin, and had a go on his paddleboard; before we knew it we were all piling in to his jeep for a 20 minute drive to Sanit Josep to stock up with supplies; what a lovely man he was- he worked for an Italian family who had a £15 million house overlooking the bay! The anchorage was beautiful and very still, sheltering us from the northerlies; the days were busy with tenders ferrying guests on the super yachts back and forth to the shore and kids enjoying a variety of water toys! Having a shallow draft we were able to be close in to the shore and enjoyed swimming off the back of the boat to keep cool; the starlit evenings were very quiet and we enjoyed listening to the waves lapping on the shore- this is why we do it, idyllic!
On Wed 26 July 2017 we motored ( only 1 k of wind!) down the coast to pass Isla Esplalmador through the Freu Grande; we regret missing out Formentera but the winds just didn’t fit with our schedule- we’ve realised that you could spend months cruising these islands and still not see all of the attractive calas; hopefully one day we will return. This stretch of water was as busy as the Solent; there were lots of ferries crossing to Formentera and most of the motor boats, who were ‘flying’ at us from all angles, were extremely inconsiderate causing massive wash. The sea became very rough and we were punching into swell on a close haul with 10 k of wind- not pleasant! We spent the night in Cala Llonga, which, as the name suggests, is a long narrow bay; we didn’t venture ashore as we were quite far back, since then Locomotion told us that it was their favourite cala. The following day we had a great downwind sail as far as Pta Grossa, we reached 6k on the passage past Isla Tagomago; then the wind died so we motored on up to Portinax, a fantastic anchorage. We spent two nights here, the stillest anchorage so far; the bright blue sea was crystal clear and the glistening sand was golden. Ray cooked us a delicious curry aboard Kady on our first night and we reciprocated the following evening with one of my ‘upcycled’ chillies. There was a shower on the beach so we went ashore armed with our shower gel- bliss! We managed to get some supplies here although the small supermarkets really only catered for the tourists; we did manage to get several 5l bottles of water into the dinghy as we weren’t quite sure when we’d next be able to fill the tanks. Our next passage was to be some 50 miles over to Mallorca. Thanks for the memories Ibiza!