Sunday, August 19, 2007

Back to Mallorca – and marina heaven

17 August 2007

I have to admit it – I am a marina tart. I love the idea of a solitary anchorage with a golden beach and beautiful views (though you don’t get solitary here in August). I really do love being able to swim off the back of the boat and the fresher air that you get in mid-bay. But when it comes to lumps and bumps in the sea, or nasty bits of wind, I really, really like being tied up to a nice solid quay. And after a few days of anchorages and moorings I get rather tired of everything on the boat, including me, always being encrusted in salt, and never really dry, with not enough fresh water to wash anything down.

We went and explored Ciudadela (see below), which is pretty but more than somewhat touristy. Getting into town proved a bit of a challenge, as Ben rowed us up to the beach but were told we couldn’t land as the area was reserved for swimmers. So he rowed all the way back and up to the open end of the cala where there was a tiny landing place, just big enough to get the dinghy ashore. After our hot row and walk into town we were desperately thirsty, but the café we went into was really only interested in serving food – they took 10 minutes to take our order and another 10 minutes to bring drinks. Quite amazing in Spain at about 6.30pm, where the only people eating are Brits with small children!

Having walked around, seen the sights, and enjoyed a pleasant meal, we got back to the anchorage about 9.30pm to find a westerly swell coming in and Kalessin rolling through an angle of about 60 degrees – modest compared with the boats in the outer anchorage but still enough to ensure an extremely unpleasant and sleepless night. I spent most of it sitting on the cabin sole, the most stable part of the boat, and wishing I was almost anywhere else. I offered God a large donation to any Christian charity of his choice if he would take the swell away, but although it eventually reduced slightly for an hour or so (and I got a bit of sleep) it then came back, so perhaps He wasn’t listening. Or perhaps someone else needed the swell. Just to add insult to injury, for the first time we were invaded by mosquitoes and both Sam & I got bitten. Frankly I don’t mind if I never go to Ciudadela again.

At first light on Wednesday morning we dinghied and swam ashore, cast off the lines and set off out into the grey, lumpy sea. We’d picked up a forecast which wasn’t too good, wind up to force 5 on the nose, but in fact it was only a 3-4 and just far enough aft for us to sail pretty speedily – 6 knots-plus most of the way, in brilliant sunshine once the sun came up. Even better, as we approached Mallorca the sea flattened out more and more, and we had a couple of hours of really good sailing before the wind died away.

So now we’re back in Colonia de Sant Pedro which was our previous jumping-off point from Mallorca. We came here because they seemed to have more room than most of the other marinas and we thought we had a good chance of finding a place, which was correct. At 11am exactly yesterday morning the wind started blowing steadily from the north-east at around a force 5-6 and it hasn’t stopped since, so we suspect this of being a tramontana, the notorious northerly wind cause by a depression in the Golfe du Lion. (The wind indicator says 12-15 knots which is a force 4, but we strongly suspect it of under-reading because (a) on Wednesday we were sailing at 6.8 knots in an indicated 8 knots of wind which is improbable, (b) there is a great big swell and lots of white horses, which seems like more than a force 4, and (c) not a single boat seems to be moving in the whole of Alcudia bay).

Despite the spectacular swell outside the harbour we are in here and it’s safe and pleasant, we are clean and showered and we have washed our clothes (although the spray coming over the harbour wall makes them a bit salty again), we have mains electricity and the fridge running and gallons of fresh water in the tanks, there is a spectacular view of mountains with some nice walks along the coastline, pleasant bars and restaurants, and a Spar supermarket within five minutes’ walk, and altogether it’s pretty close to heaven.

I haven’t put this to Sam yet but wonder if we could just stay here until Guy arrives on the 21st… On the other hand we have applied for a permit to visit the Islas Cabreras nature reserve to the south of Mallorca on Monday so perhaps we ought to make a bit of an effort to get down there.

For the record, the tally so far is:
  • 1 night ashore (before the launch)
  • 9 nights in marinas or quayside
  • 12 nights on moorings or anchored
Some days the sea looks like this (approaching Mallorca as the wind dies):

...and then there are days when you're glad to be in a marina (Tramontana off Colonia de San Pedro):

14 August 2007

We’re anchored in a little cala on the edge of Ciudadela – this one is a long narrow inlet where we have an anchor out at the front and two lines ashore. The shore lines were a slick combination of me swimming ashore and Ben in the dinghy, though casting them off might be fun. Ben got me to look at the anchor with a mask for reassurance – it’s buried so deep you can only just see it. The water is very clear and full of little fishes.

The downside (there’s always one) is the Spanish charter boat anchored next to us with music on full blast. Sam and Ben don’t mind too much as the yacht is well draped with almost completely naked Spanish teenagers. Hopefully later this afternoon we’ll get to see Ciudadela, which we missed last time and is lovely, according to the guidebooks.

We spent three more nights on a mooring in Fornells and apart from the bumpy periods in the early afternoon and early evening when all the boats came and went, it was a lovely spot. We had lots of interesting cloud and then quite a lot of rain one night – it’s disconcerting getting clouds here because Mediterranean weather patterns are so different from home – you never know what they mean.

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