Mallorca, Spain: August 17, 2017 – September 13, 2017
Mallorca turned out to be even more beautiful than we expected. We spent four weeks on the island, sailing around at least ¾ of it, and finding it increasingly beautiful as we headed across its southern coast and up and around the long northwestern coastline.
We had been warned by other cruisers that the Ballearic Islands were incredibly crowded in August, but we did not find this to be a problem. We were always able to find a good place to anchor, and nearly all of the other boats were good about keeping a safe distance away (although many boats have clearly never learned how to set an anchor properly). Places like Es Trench, which is just one long lovely beach, were packed with suntanning tourists, but the anchorage had room for hundreds of boats. It was a bit crowded during the day, mostly with small motor-boats, but by early evening 90% of the boats picked up anchor and returned to whatever marina they were based in. In the evening we walked on the beach and enjoyed our people-watching. The great thing was that none of our anchorages were noisy at night. We had found that many of the beaches and tourist areas in Sardinia became loud, disco pumping scenes after 10:00 p.m., but there are apparently rules about noise in Mallorca, and none of our anchorages were loud, and if there was music, it was pleasant and it stopped by 10:30 or 11:00 p.m. What a surprise!
Port de Andratx was a very charming little town on the south coast, and really marked the beginning of the most beautiful parts of Mallorca. The cliffs became very steep in that part of the island, and the hills were suddenly covered in beautiful pine trees. The landscape soon became mountainous, and the views up and down the coastline were just magnificent… mountains, pine trees and beautiful, deep blue water.
The highlight of our time in Mallorca came with the visit of my sister Diane and her husband Jonathan. They had been on our boat a few times in the past, but had never spent any time actually cruising with us. They arrived in Port de Andratx on Sunday, September 3rd, and stayed with us on Sabbatical III through the 7th. It was a short stay, but it was an absolutely magical experience for us all. It was just luck that while they were with us we managed to be in the most beautiful part of the island. It was sunny when we wanted it to be, and partly cloudy when we needed a respite from the sun.
The weather conditions were great for spending one night in the most famous cove of Mallorca — Cala de Sa Calobra, a truly breathtaking place. My sister loves swimming and she spent a few hours every day in the water which ranged from light blue to deep aquamarine, and was crystal clear, warm and calm. My brother-in-law exclaimed that it was the most perfect blue water he had ever seen and joked that he was afraid that his skin might turn blue from the intensity of the blue water.
My sister’s trip also overlapped with the full moon which is always a treat, and we had a wonderful experience watching the moon rise over the steep cliffs of Cala de Sa Calobra, lighting up the surrounding cliffs as if it were daylight, and casting shimmering, fairy dust looking sparkles on the water at the base of the two cliffs that meet at the mouth of the bay. In the hours before sunset, we took the dinghy to shore and walked along a path cut into the rock that leads along the bay, then through a tunnel, and into a stunning canyon (Torrent de Pareis).
The weather turned very nasty the day of their departure, but cleared long enough for us to have one last walk through Port de Soller. The clouds returned early in the afternoon, just as it was time for our guests to leave for the airport, and Mark and I quickly dinghied them over to the dock and returned to our boat just as the heavens opened and there was a torrential downpour. Unfortunately taxis don’t operate too well on the island when there is heavy rain, and Diane and Jonathan had a lot of trouble getting a taxi to take them to the airport, even though we had called in advance to arrange one and there is a taxi stand right in the center of town. They did manage to make their plane, and we survived a very rolly night on the boat, glad that our guests did not have to experience what a bad night on the boat is like.
Our sailing friends from Minnesota, Dan and Chris Rice, were also in Mallorca, (doing some work on their boat in Palma), and they happened to be staying at a hotel near Port de Soller for a few days just after my sister left. We met them for dinner in town, and the next day Dan took pictures of Sabbatical III from his hotel, up high on a cliff, as we departed the bay.
We spent the following night at yet another incredibly picturesque bay, Cala Tuent. It was just us and one other boat. Our neighbor, in an elegant 80 foot yacht, decided to turn on a strobe light at the top of his mast which was a psychosis inducing experience on our end…. endless disorienting flashes in the otherwise dark and beautiful, star lit night.
From there we proceeded up the coast to our final destination in Mallorca, up and around the stark and beautiful Cap de Formentor to the calm, protected, and very shallow anchorage in Port de Pollenca. We arrived and anchored just minutes before a big storm blew through with 25-30 knot winds. The anchorage is extremely shallow… only 2 to 4 meters under the keel, but it is very well protected and has excellent holding.
B: Platja Es Trench
C: Porto de Andratx
D: Porto de Soller
E: Cala Sa Calobra and Cala Tuent
F: Porto de Pollenca
Port de Pollenca was a nice town and we enjoyed a few days relaxing there. One day we took the bus to the even more lovely, and architecturally more interesting town of Pollenca. The weather continued to be hit and miss with one day of good weather and the next, cold and miserable. Fall is definitely in the air.
In the meantime, we have been trying to meet up with our friends Frank and Barbara from S/V Destiny for 7 weeks now! We just can’t seem to manage to be in the same place at the same time. Just when the weather looks good for us to meet up, one or the other of us has to move on usually because of some local weather event (or mechanical problem). It is the kind of thing that happens with sailing, as everyone’s plans are entirely weather dependent, and if you start out in different bays, even on the same island, it is very hard to meet up. They are leaving their boat at the same marina in Spain as we are (Sant Carles de la Rapita), so at least we are pretty assured that we will see them there.
We were planning to rent a car and finally go meet Barb and Frank at a restaurant about an hour’s drive away, but those plans didn’t work out either. Mark and I were sitting at lunch on shore, on Wednesday (Sept. 13th) and decided to take one more look at the weather. The weather forecast looked terrific for making a crossing to mainland Spain for the next 24 hours, and after that we couldn’t see any good weather for crossing for at least seven days. The weather forecasts tend to change a lot here, day by day, but we were starting to get a little nervous as we have guests coming to the boat at Sant Carles de la Rapita on September 26th. We had waited three weeks for decent weather when we crossed from Ponza, Italy to Sardinia, and we could not afford to wait that long this time. We needed to plan on 20-24 hours for the crossing to Spain, and we decided to take advantage of this weather window. We called our friends to cancel our date and then rushed back to the boat, with a freshly roasted chicken and some fruits and veggies in our backpacks, and prepared to leave immediately for Spain. By 5:00 p.m. the anchor was up and we were headed out…..
More on that soon…. the weather forecast was not as accurate as we had hoped…..