Sailing trip: 10 days around Mallorca with side trip to Menorca | May 2004 | Yacht: Oceanis 351 „Ferrerat“ | Charter company: Calabrote Yachtcharter
Saturday, 15th May
We land in the early morning at the airport of La Palma on time. Wonderful weather and the scent of the blossoming island of Mallorca awaits us. We take a taxi for the short distance to the Marina Club Nautic s’Arenal where we chartered our yacht. But then at the arrival we are disappointed. Actually we should have known better: It is 8 o’clock in the morning and in the charter office of course nobody is visible at this time. The crews are still sleeping on the yachts and still have to hand back the boat before flying home. Then minor repairs need to be carried out and our vessel has to be cleaned before we can enter it in the afternoon. The normal flow that you forget at home and where you see yourself at sea immediately after arrival.
So let’s first have breakfast at the Club Nautic of Arenal. After that life starts slowly in the Marina. In the office we are told what we already feared. We will not cast off before 05:00 p.m. And that’s the way it is said in our contract. We are allowed to leave our heavy bags in the office and are sent to see the sights of El Arenal.
Before we leave we can have a look at the yacht that was actually chosen for us. The previous crew had moored the boat in Cala Ratjada and went for dinner. Suddenly a heavy thunderstorm came up. The lines broke and now the stern looks like a compressed accordion. Because of that we get a 36-foot yacht instead of a 32-foot yacht for the same price. For three men that is more than adequate with one cabin per person.
El Arenal is sleepy in May and the sights … We stroll the promenade up and down but there is nothing going on at the beach. For lunch we have a very “traditional” schnitzel with fries while we are treated to some German folk music. Back at the marina the fridge of our yacht is already switched on. So we can go shopping for the next days. Upon our return the boat is cleaned and we can go on board. We watch the harbourmaster slowly coming closer with his list along the line of yachts. Finally it’s our turn.
At 05:00 p.m. we leave the harbour and set sails just in front of the entrance. But alas, where is the wind? For an hour we bob up and down for just a mile until the skipper gives the command to secure the sails and we start the motor for the remaining 11 miles to Cala Pi. Already five other yachts are at the anchorage and there is not much space. Because of that the skipper decides to deploy stern and bow anchors. It soon gets dark. We cook pasta and enjoy the evening in this beautiful bay.
Sunday, 16th May
After a quiet night we are greeted by the sun and a clear blue sky in the morning. That is just like a sailing holiday should be. We start the dinghy and ride it to the close beach of our little bay. During the anchoring we always have to switch off our refrigerator to save electricity and because of that we didn’t buy many groceries. So we need fresh food now, such as bacon, cheese and bread. Fortunately, the supermarket in the nearby town is even open on Sundays. We have breakfast in magnificent surroundings and soon we have to use the protecting bimini top because the sun is already too hot.
At about 11:00 a.m. we raise the anchor. The bay slowly fills up with motorboats from the nearby La Palma. We set the mainsail and the genoa jib, and so we sail with a nice southerly wind along the beautiful coast of Mallorca. We pass Sa Rapida and the natural beach of Es Trenc. At 03:00 p.m. Punta Salinas is abeam and we continue our journey in a northeasterly direction. But the wind calms down at about 04:00 p.m.
Nevertheless, we reach Cala Figuera at about 05:00 p.m. We secure the sails and reach the small bay by motor. We are lucky and get a berth at the short harbour wall. Cala Figuera is a small picturesque fishing-village. The houses and streets are nestled into the hillside and in May, it is not yet overcrowded. We find a restaurant with a gorgeous view of our yacht and the harbour and enjoy fish dishes in regional tradition. We end the wonderful day of sailing in the cockpit of our boat with one, two or maybe three Sundowners.
Monday, 17th May
Because we were unpleasantly woken up by fishermen leaving in the middle of the night the skipper orders easy-going this morning. We only leave the dock at high noon and reach the bay of Cala Mondragó at 02:30 p.m. to anchor for swimming and a little snack. At 03:00 p.m. it is time to raise the anchor again and we sail tack after tack upwind in glorious sunshine along the coast of Mallorca.
At 05:30 p.m. we reach our destination for the day: Cala Mitjana. Because the bay is very narrow, we use the bow anchor and fix the stern with lines on the rocks. That is difficult because of the sharp and overhanging cliffs. I have to take the dinghy for the job.
Cala Mitjana is a lovely little bay. It is located in the middle of the beautifully manicured private parks of the surrounding villas. The anchoring motorboats are only day visitors and disappear in the late afternoon. At 06:00 p.m. the last pleasure boat comes in and does its lap. After that we can have a swim and enjoy a wonderful dinner.
Our skipper is thorough and wants to examine the knot with which I have fixed the stern at the rocks. He stands up in the dinghy to have a look. But the dinghy slips under the overhanging cliffs and he can only rescue himself from the sharp shells and edges by dropping into the water backwards.
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In the middle of night the wind turns and the swell runs directly into the bay. When we arrived the boat lay extremely peaceful on the smooth sea but now it is like doing a rodeo riding in our bunks. Of course, the skipper is worried. Is it possible to stay here for the rest of the night? We check the on-goings on deck. But the waves are quite low and our boat is just shaking that way because we are fixed at the bow and stern and the little waves hit us at broadside. We take the dinghy on board, control the lashing of everything firmly and try to sleep again.
Tuesday, 18th May
Again we are awoken by glorious sunshine. We raise the anchor immediately after getting up at 10:00 a.m. and follow the coastline northwards under engine. We drop anchor at 11:00 a.m. in the bay of Porto Colom. After an extensive breakfast we chug with the dinghy into the city harbour. We go shopping and look around the town for a bit.
At about 01:00 p.m. it is time to raise the anchor again and hoist sails. The wind now blows from northeast with force 4, so we have to beat upwind again. But it is really fun with these gorgeous weather conditions. At 05:00 p.m. we reach Porto Cristo, where we only have to pay 4 Euros for the berth and another 3 Euros for water. In the evening the place is really quiet after the departure of the day visitors. We find a good seafood restaurant and the day quiets down in our cockpit below the stars.
Wednesday, 19th May
At 11:00 a.m. we leave the port of Porto Cristo and hoist the sails. We want to take the leap over to Menorca today. In calm winds we can sail well until the late afternoon. Around us float large fields of Portuguese man-o’-war. We carefully pick up one of them with the bailer to observe it closer. Just in the minute when it is my turn to take helm a pod of dolphins follows the boat. Of course, no one wants to share my job at that moment and so I cannot properly see the animals.
At 05:00 p.m. the wind falls asleep. We furl the genoa jib, leave the mainsail up and go on by engine. The rocky coastline of Menorca is in sight now. It is a long cliff and somewhere the bay should be located which will be our anchorage for tonight. It is not possible to see it with the naked eye and even with binoculars it is impossible. But our handheld GPS tells us that the bay is just around the corner. Suddenly abeam, a gap opens up in the rocks and there is: the beautiful Cala Macarella. An anchorage as picturesque as a picture book. And except us there are only two other yachts moored here. It is a dream come true.
Thursday, 20th May
We raise anchor at 10:00 a.m. and head west back to Mallorca. A moderate wind from the southeast blows and picks up a bit in the afternoon. The sun is shining, the sky is clear and these are just the best conditions for our crossing. We make up to seven knots speed as we sail on a broad reach.
05:00 p.m. Punta Sabater is already abeam and we sail into the wide bay of Pollenca. About 07:00 p.m. we are moored after a tricky berthing in the marina of Porto de Pollenca and we have to look for a new boathook now. In preseason Port de Pollenca is very nice and quiet. We find a fancy restaurant at the central plaza. The owner is very happy to see us and makes a favourable price for a very good meal. After that we let this magnificent sailing day fade away in the cockpit of our yacht with some sundowners.
Friday, 21st May
We untie the lines at 12:00 p.m. in Porto de Pollenca and beat out of the bay. The magnificent sailing wind weakens later so that we have to secure the sails when Punta Sabater is abeam. We start the engine and head to Cabo Formentor. At 03:00 p.m. the Cap is abeam. We turn an extra lap near to the impressing rocks just for fun and to take some pictures. Leeward of the rocks the wind has now fallen asleep and the sea is absolutely smooth. We continue our trip by engine straight along the impressive cliffs.
At 06.30 p.m. we reach the bay of Sa Calobra. Actually, the water is a little too deep for anchoring but for a quick jump into the sea we take the chance. When we raise the anchor, we are pleased that we can leave the bay by boat. The landlubbers have to take the road that endlessly winds up the mountains.
The wind is still calm. Slowly it is getting hazy and the journey becomes a little bit boring. At about 09:00 p.m. we reach the harbour of Port de Sóller. We anchor in the middle of the great bay and slowly it gets dark. Unfortunately we have to paddle our dinghy for dinner into town, because we flooded the little engine when we were trying to start it.
Saturday, 22nd May
Today is the first day of our trip we are not awakened by the sun. But at least it seems as if there will be fair winds. We set off at 11:00 a.m. in Sóller and hoist the sails at 12:00 p.m. Only in the narrow passage at Dragonera we use the engine in order not to have to beat between the island and Saint Elm. There are too many riffs.
Immediately after the passage we turn off the engine and we sail down to Port d’Andratx. The log shows up to seven knots. Because of that speed we are already berthed at 05.30 p.m. on a floating dock in Port d’ Andratx. So we have enough time to visit the village and follow the streets up to the mountains that surround the bay. From above, we have an impressive view on the slowly enlightening city. We start our way back to have dinner and to enjoy a drink in the bars at the harbour later.
Sunday, 23rd May
At 10:00 a.m. we first have to visit the gas station and then we leave Port d’ Andratx. We head south by engine till the wind wakes up at about 11:30 a.m. The crossing of the Bay of La Palma under full sail is awesome. The wind gets up to force 5 and finally the yacht can show what she is able to. At about 07:00 p.m. we reach the target for the day: The island of Cabrera.
Cabrera is a nature reserve and you can only visit it with a permit. In the anchorage there are mooring buoys in different colours for different boat sizes. Anchoring and fishing is not allowed as far as I know. We take a yellow boy and a few minutes later the master arrives in his dinghy to check our papers. Now in the preseason the bay is almost empty. How will it look like in the summer when there is a yacht hanging at each buoy?
Fortunately, the small engine of our dinghy is running again. We ride ashore, walk up to the fortress, look on the bay and after descending we have a drink in the bar. Back on our boat the wind picks up again. The seclusion, the nature and the panorama are very impressive.
Monday, 24th May
We untie the lines early and head for Arenal. At 12:00 p.m. we are sailing on a close reach as the wind suddenly falls almost asleep. Cabo Blanco is nearly abeam and then the wind turns around 180 degrees. We can still sail to Cala Portals in the north of the bay of La Palma and anchor there for lunch and swimming.
Unfortunately, our beautiful sunny sailing holiday is almost over. We turn on the engine and arrive in the late afternoon at the Club Nautic Arenal. We hand over the yacht at the next day to the charter company. Everything has gone well. Except of the broken boat hook we had no accidents. We were able to sail a lot and the weather in May was like summer in Germany in a good year. I hope that this was not my last trip to this beautiful area!
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