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Month: May 2015

Sardinia here we come – 29th May 2015

Sardinia here we come – 29th May 2015

So on Friday 29th May we set off for Sardinia, a 2 day sail and about 200 miles. We motor sailed because again, not enough wind, but the first day was to be full of excitement. We sailed with the fishing line trailing out behind us, and after a couple of hours, the reel screeched as line was dragged off the reel at a rate of knots. Mark wrestled his first tuna (we assume) for 20 minutes, the rod bent double as he attempted to land his first catch in the Med. The fish fought really hard and much to Mark’s disappointment, managed to free itself. This was followed by 3 more hits as fish took the bait and headed away from the boat, all of which managed to escape, once again to Mark’s disappointment. The fifth hit was very different, it wasn’t such a savage hit as some of the others so it was obviously a smaller fish, but as you can see from the photos below, this tuna is going to be meals for several days for Mark, me and the dog, and Mark may stop grinning by the time we reach Sardinia. The other excitement was being buzzed by a fairly large jet, just above sea level, a couple of 100 metres away, obviously some playboy out playing with his new toy.

213 - 2015.05 - To Sardinia

211 - 2015.05 - To Sardinia

The night shift went well, I was initially a little bit apprehensive as it was to be my first solo night shift, but it was so calm and quiet except for the hum of the engine (Mark planned our trip well, good weather window). Watching the sunrise this morning was breathtaking, sitting all wrapped up like Michelin women (hat and scarf included) as in the early morning it gets pretty damp, it was so peaceful, with only the odd tanker as company. We arrived in Stintino, a small fishing village in Northern Sardinia at about 2pm, motoring along the barren Sardinian coastline. Stintino is not for the foreign tourist but it is pleasant enough and set around the harbour area.

 

Menorca – 25th to 28th May 2015

Menorca – 25th to 28th May 2015

Following a bright and early start on Sunday we set sail to explore our final Balearic Island, Menorca. We sailed the majority of the journey with favourable winds most of the way and which picked up to Force 6 as we approached Menorca, forcing us to change our plan to visit Cala Cova on the south coast, (supposedly “the most spectacular cove in the Balearics”) and anchor in the next Cala for the night, so instead we made for the shelter of Puerto De Mahon.

The Puerto De Mahon bay is a very large natural harbour with a huge fort on the North of the entrance. We berthed in Marina de Mahon, which is in a great central location in front of the restaurants and bars, which being early in the season were still relatively quiet. This was to be the start of a great few days Mark and I spent exploring a beautiful and unspoilt island, our favourite so far. We headed out for dinner on the first night to discover that the top of the marina had been taken over for the week by massive racing yachts in the annual Maxi 72 class, together with a gaggle of even larger Wally yachts weighing in at well over 100ft. I was shocked by the amount of “stuff” that comes with these beasts; they have their own trucks and large shipping containers that follow them around. The racing is a big event for Mahon that was due to start on Wednesday but was delayed a day due to strong winds (F7), although when they did eventually head out, they obligingly raised their sails close in to the marina so we could get a feel for the scale of these incredibly powerful yachts, before they headed out of sight to race in the open sea.

191 - 2015.05 - MahonWe decided to stay put in Mahon and hire a car to explore the island. We rented a tiny Toyota not much bigger than a Smart car, which turned out to be perfect for some of the very narrow streets of Mahon and out in the country lanes. On day one, we toured the length of the Island (All 25 ish miles of it), which seems to be the least developed of the Balearics and unlike the barren desert-like southern Spanish coast, has lots of trees and shrubs. Our tour took in the following locations:

Cala Coves – this is the Cala described as the “most spectacular in the Balearics”, and it was breath-taking. It was so still and peaceful, we were virtually the only visitors and all you could hear was the song of the birds. The water was an amazing turquoise, the rocky cliffs surround you and are filled with man made cave dwellings, over 150, you can imagine the community of people that used to live in this beautiful location.

192 - 2015.05 - Calescoves

193 - 2015.05 - Calescoves

 

Mount Toro – This is the highest point on the island, with great views in all directions of the island, definitely a photo opportunity. Sorry to say we admired the view but did not go around the 16th Century Sanctuary and Church.

197 - 2015.05 - El Toro

Fornells – It is a large natural harbour, but seems quite touristy and unfortunately we picked the cafe where the German hiking group had decided to stop and entertain us with some out of tune German folk music, very um-pam-pa. That sent us heading for the hills. We were a little disappointed.

Ciutadella – This on the other side of the island, it has a small harbour area and a town similar to Mahon, but not as pretty in my opinion. We had a walk around the harbour area and stopped for a lovely lunch, but did not explore further as nothing new to offer.

Calla Morell – Is a small Cala on the northern side of the island. It has a group of fourteen caves artificially carved into the rock, which form the largest necropolis on the island.

Es Grau – A very pretty little village, with a long sandy beach. At this time of year it is lovely, but I can imagine in the summer this village gets packed out. My only criticism is that the bay is pin-cushioned with bright yellow mooring buoys for small boats/dinghy’s, it has ruined the view as these are all you see.

Fortress La Mola – it protects the north side of the Mahon harbour and was built in 1852 by the Spanish, I think to stop the naughty English invading again. It is a massive fort with vast tunnels and gun placements, thousands of soldiers must have been based there, it is so big it is hard to visualise and appreciate the layout of the site when you are walking around it.

200 - 2015.05 - La Mola

We decided to stay until Friday, giving us Thursday to relax and doing any final jobs, plus Mark had the opportunity to go diving in the afternoon. As the only paying guest on the dive with two instructors, Mark had the dubious pleasure of trying not to embarrass himself on his first dive in the Med, I think he did ok. The visibility was amazing, and the dive included a cave, not much fish life though, but I think he managed to sit on a squid.

 

 

Mallorca –Sailing up the East Coast to Porto Colom – 23rd May 2015

Mallorca –Sailing up the East Coast to Porto Colom – 23rd May 2015

Puerto de la Rapita – 20th May

After a prompt return to the water by the boatyard team, we made the short 25 mile hop from Palma to Puerto de la Rapita arriving at 8pm. The most excitement was watching a French yacht getting stuck on the lazy lines when he moored badly and the other being the receipt of the bill for one night of 79 euros – ouch, and its not even high season!!!. We think they justify it as this place only has a couple of visitor berths, and it is the kick off point for Cabrera, a beautiful and protected island just of the coast – but they don’t allow dogs!!

Porto Colom – 21st – 24th May

We left Rapita around mid-day and sailed/motored the 24 miles up the east coast to Porto Colom. For the second time in a month excitement rose as we were able to make way under sail, but it didn’t last longer than an hour as we rounded the SE corner of Mallorca and got the wind right on the nose. This also made it a little bumpy, so Hudson became an unhappy sailor until we sat under the spray hood having cuddles, he soon settled. We arrived here late afternoon and got on a mooring buoy very close to town, but not too close, they will be spared from Marks guitar playing and singing. The nearest bar is 2 minutes on the tender, which is now propelled there with a completely functioning outboard, yihaaaa. The local marinara was quick to visit to demand his pound of flesh, particularly as this mooring buoy is for a 20m boat, so again our lack of size was pointed out to us. After much huffing and puffing he agreed to let us stay.

185 - 2015.05 - PortoColom

Porto Colom is a large natural harbour hidden away, you could miss it as you sail up the coast. The town has not been exploited by the developers with only a few low rise properties lining the bay. I find it quite rustic and simple; there are restaurants along the front of the bay, in a lovely setting. We had a stunning dinner out last night, both having Mallorcan lamb in a rich gravy with red onions, followed by chocolate puddings and ice cream for Mark and a tiny but delicious lemon tarte for me, yumee. We have fully explored the town, walking for a few hours yesterday with Hudson to the lighthouse on the far side of the bay and going for a run this morning along the other side of the bay. Our plan is to move on Sunday, we wanted to leave today but the weather was not in our favour, it has been very cloudy for the last few days with even some rain and gusting winds. (You can see in the photo above the dark clouds yesterday, it felt like England). So weather permitting tomorrow we will set sail very early and head to Menorca; it is about 50 miles and we plan to stop the night in Cala Covas on the southern-side of the island, which is described as the most spectacular in the Balearics being surrounded by 150 caves (I’ll let you know), then head up to Puerto De Mahon and stay a few days in the capital city.

 

Mallorca – Palma 13th – 20th May 2015

Mallorca – Palma 13th – 20th May 2015

As a man, Mark always prides himself on the size of his mast, but here we are the smallest boat in town. We have never seen so many super yachts both motor and sail. The average sail boat is 5 spreaders high, but here many are even bigger and the majority seem to be flying the British ensign. There is a lot of money in Palma, the only shame is no one seems to use the yachts just lots of crew cleaning them.

170 - 2015.05 - Palma

We headed to Palma a few days early due to the weather forecasting a low pressure heading our way on Friday potentially bringing in F8/9 winds, so we thought we would take advantage and get the outboard fixed and some jobs done. We are due to be lifted on Tuesday and have the cutlass bearing fixed.

We are staying at the Marina Port de Mallorca,  the 70 foot Oysters and Swans are lined up on the other side of the pontoon, they are not big enough to go on the outside of the marina where the really big boys go. We are next to the new town and night club area which doesn’t really get going till midnight. So night one, we walked down to the old town, which is so quaint with narrow streets and tall buildings full of flats surrounding the cathedral. It has a lovely feel and it is a bit more restrained and sophisticated than the party area. There are many bars and some great looking restaurants, we found a nice Tapas bar sitting on their balcony with Hudson watching the world go bay. We definitely will leave him at home one night and venture out to investigate one of these restaurants, as they have a good reputation.

171 - 2015.05 - Palma

Day 2 has been a productive day, starting on a positive note with a run, although Hudson was not keen today and was lagging behind, then onto boat domestics (cleaning & washing) all done, shopping stocked up and Mark has fixed the outboard (great news as no more rowing). The evening was a quite affair with dinner on-board, wonderful large garlic prawns.

IMG_0656

Now that our time in Palma has come to an end, we are ready to move on and see new places. We have both enjoyed our time here. I especially liked the narrow streets of the old town, with all its bars and restaurants serving really good tapas, we were beginning to think the best tapas were served in the UK. Mark couldn’t stop admiring the Super yachts and counting spreaders. The boat was lifted out of the water yesterday (19th May) for work on the prop shaft.

177 - 2015.05 - Palma

Being the poor relations here we have been parked at the far end of the boatyard away from all the Super yachts and large racing boats. As it is only for one night we have stayed on the boat, just not cooked. To keep out of the way Hudson and I went for a long walk to the beach and then back via the Muelle Viejo, the ancient cathedral. Mark has been very productive and has polished the deck of the boat, so we are lovely and shiny.

175 - 2015.05 - Palma

We found a lovely little tapas bar last night and had our final meal in Palma it was delicious fresh tuna and large grilled prawns. We are scheduled to go back in the water today at 4pm and then weather permitting sail round to Puerto de la Rapita on the far south coast.

 

Mallorca – Cala Portals – 12th May 2015

Mallorca – Cala Portals – 12th May 2015

Ibiza to Mallorca was a 10 hour motor sail; we only really got 2 hours of decent wind on the trip.  We arrived at the very popular and beautiful Cala Portals, surrounded by cliffs and with a couple of beaches, the usual bars and some interesting caves hollowed out by the Phoenicians. It is close to Palma so there are lots of local day trippers on their motor boats, it’s the busiest with boats we have experienced so far in any Cala. Initially we did not think we would fit but we timed it perfectly as it was home time for most of the boats, so we dropped anchor.

We were both a bit weary so took the dog for a short walk to the next bay and then had a quiet evening on the boat, with a game of cards (which I won for a change) and a Star trek film, Kirk saved the planet again. The evening was a bit bumpy as the Cala was exposed to an easterly swell (as I say, we are learning) so not a good night’s sleep. Our English neighbours on their small schooner bobbed around like they were in a rodeo and did not even make the full night. We had originally planned to stay a couple of nights but following a poor night and the weather forecast of more easterlies, we headed off the next morning to Palma.

3 - 2015.05 - Puerto Portals

Ibiza – Cala Charraca 11th May 2015

Ibiza – Cala Charraca 11th May 2015

We set of for the North of Ibiza to Cala Charraca, a large bay with good holding for the anchor. There was only one other boat, a large and immaculate British registered wooden schooner (at least we thought it was large until we got to Palma), there seem to be a lot of Brits (with a lot of money) in this part of the world…oh and Germans. We picked our spot close to a small sandy beach with a taverna – what a surprise – and watched the sun set with a couple of cold beers. The temperature seems to have settled around the mid-20’s. We only stayed one night as the bay was a little none descript and we are getting very picky as to which beautiful bay we anchor in. In hindsight, the next bay, Cala Portinax may have been a better choice, but we are still learning a lot about this anchoring thing.

2 - 2015.05 - Cala Charraca

Ibiza – Cala Salada 9th – 10th May

Ibiza – Cala Salada 9th – 10th May

Ibiza – Cala Salada 9th  – 10th  May

We arrived in Cala Salada at mid-day on Saturday. It is quite small and extremely pretty, with a sandy beach in the centre and a beach cafe over looking the bay; fishermen’s huts (which are now used by the locals to store their beach equipment (the fishermen having long departed with the fish), line the base of the red cliffs to the right and a second small beach where nudism seems to be the order of the day (so many boobies for Mark to look at). It is more popular, I wonder why, although it was still pretty quiet on Saturday, with a few locals and tourists. We shared the bay with one other sail boat and a few day cruisers. Mark has been brave and been swimming off the back of the boat snorkelling with the fish life, we have large shoals of fish with big spots on their tails under the boat, wonder if they are edible. Hudson and I watch on with envy as it looks so lovely but for me its freezing, so only my big toe has ventured in so far.

041 - 2015.05 - Cala de Port Salada

On Sunday, the bay filled with day boats from San Antonio, the Spanish came out to play. So our peaceful’ish little haven filled with the noise of teenagers trying to impress their girlfriends with the size of their engines, and how high they could jump of the rocks – still it made a nice change and was good fun people watching, and they all have to be back home in bed for 9 ‘O clock, so the evenings are very tranquil. We ventured out for a long dog walk up the dusty cliff walk and after an hour of up-hill walking the view was still the same a dusty track and dry crusty trees, so we turned around and headed back to the beach. We have enjoyed this Cala there has been more activity but still very beautiful. However, one of the best times of the day is when everyone has left the beach and it’s just us sailors sitting back on deck, relaxing with a glass of wine (or water) and it is so peaceful. Tomorrow we will move on and move up the coast to the north of the island.

043 - 2015.05 - Cala de Port Salada

 

Ibiza – San Antonio 8th May

Ibiza – San Antonio 8th May

We planned to anchor in Cala Basa near San Antoni, which was dominated by a hotel on the beach front lined with umbrellas, and water taxis ferrying in day trippers from San Antonio. Still it would have been ok for one night. The problem with this plan was when we came to stick the anchor down, the windlass decided not to cooperate. We were faced with manually lowering and lifting the anchor, if Mark could not fix it, or doing the deadly dead and going into the marina at San Antonio, so we chose option 2. Our lasting impression of San Antonio will be of burgers, chips and soggy sandwiches…oh and noise to an ungodly hour, thank goodness for earplugs.  The only redeeming bit was whilst walking the dog we found this little bar just outside the marina which was full of locals and a great atmosphere, where we had some really lovely grilled sardines and squid, they were so fresh, simply done but tasted delicious.  With the anchor fixed and tasks done we headed for Cala Salada, 2 miles up the coast.

Sorry no photos today

Ibiza – Cala de Port Roig 7th May

Ibiza – Cala de Port Roig 7th May

Cala de Port Roig was a short hop, 9 miles from Formentera to Ibiza; finally some wind in the right direction, so no diesel engine noise. This was a delightful find, a beautiful little Cala with a small beach and fishermen’s huts lining the base of the steeper red rocked sides of the bay. I think this was the first time that we both agreed that this was what we had come to the Med for. We shared the bay with 2 other yachts and several nudist sun bathers on the beach, I am pleased to report that they were making sure their bits got an all over tan. We went ashore and explored along the coast to the next bay and found a Caribbean style rustic beach restaurant. The setting was beautiful but the prices were outrageous, to say the least, however we managed to put together our life savings and buy a bottle of Rioja and some delicious freshly caught seafood (baby squid, mussels and calamari) – very healthy I hear you say. We understood the prices when our neighbours on the next table were ferried back to their 80ft gin palace. Reluctantly we left the next day as we were due some easterly winds which would have given us a bumpy night.

030 - 2015.05 - Cala de Port Roig

The Balearic’s – Formentera 5th – 6th May 2015

The Balearic’s – Formentera 5th – 6th May 2015

We arrived in Formentera at 17:40, after a 10 hour motor-sail from Moraira. The winds were very calm F2 with the occasional F3, with some swell on our beam which kept us rocking from side to side, making it feel like a long day. We stopped the first night in Port Sabina, the main town and gave Hudson a walk, the town was small, empty and uninteresting.

021 - 2015.05 - Formentera

Our plan was to anchor the next day and get the bikes out and explore the island from Cala Sabina, an anchorage quite near the marina. We set off in the morning and anchored but the seabed was quite rocky and very weedy so our one abortive attempt to go ashore was thwarted by the anchor alarm going off just as our feet hit dry land, Hudson was so disappointed. One of the key issues at anchor has been Hudson’s ability to pee on the boat, however, Mark was sitting on the transom and along comes Hudson who jumped in the dinghy, lifts his leg and peed for Britain, it was so funny. As the day progressed, Hudson peed everywhere, on the transom, over the windlass, on the side, which is perfect and issue resolved. Although he still prefers the dinghy, which he considers his private latrine.

027 - 2015.05 - Formentera