Monday, August 20, 2007

Porto Cristo

We’re in Porto Cristo, about halfway down the right-hand side of Mallorca. Rather surprisingly it’s grey, dull and drizzling, although still very warm. Ben has occasionally expressed a desire to be sailing back in the North Sea, and Sam suggested we take the canopy down and Ben could put on his waterproofs and go and sit in the rain to remind him of home. He declined.

I had a bad couple of hours when we left Colonia de San Pedro. I think I didn’t really see the point of going anywhere else, and the pilot book is full of dire warnings about how difficult it is to find space in any bays or ports down the east coast. In fact when we arrived about 2 o’clock on Saturday afternoon the visitors’ berths were almost all empty, so there was no problem at all. There are strong winds forecast for tomorrow though, so today it seems to be filling up a bit. I do hope when we next go out sailing I feel better, although we seem to be getting very mixed weather, and further strong winds for several days yet.

We've just been reading the log of Khepri, our friends from last year, who covered 1100 miles on their way back from the Azores, and here I am worrying about 30-mile passages...

This is a very sheltered bay – more of a gorge, in fact, as it’s very steep-sided - and the marina is round a right-angle bend, so although a bit of swell sometimes comes in there’s good protection. The main asset is the Club Nautico, which has a pleasant restaurant and bar, a huge rooftop swimming pool with a view over the town, magnificent showers, free wifi internet access and even a €3 washing machine. The berth isn't cheap, but about half the price of Sunseeker in Mahon!

Pictured: Camilla & Ben in rooftop pool. Porto Cristo is behind and top of
Kalessin's mast just visible to the left

The town is a bit tacky – most people only come here to visit the Caves of Drac, which we did this morning. The caves (pictured right - no flash allowed so these are a bit shaky) are fantastic, with a huge subterranean lake complete with musicians in boats covered in fairly-lights. However, there’s a very slick operation to feed as many tourists through as possible, and as Ben said it feels like much less of an adventure than the cold wet caves of the Yorkshire Dales. Otherwise the town features a pleasant, but small, beach and some touristy shops. Sam and I explored a bit further this morning when we went to find a car hire place 15 minutes’ walk inland, and it’s mostly very ordinary. I suspect that the workers of the huge resorts like Cala Millor, just up the coast, all live here. The rich people live in the nice villas between the gorge and the sea itself.

We’re hiring the car because Guy and his girlfriend Beth are due to join us tomorrow. A one-way taxi would cost them €60, and a day’s car hire costs €40 and means we can meet them when they get in around midnight, so a better deal all round. We might spend a bit of tomorrow afternoon exploring, and also going for a big shop at a cheaper supermarket inland.

I think this is as far south as we’ll go. We hoped to get to the nature reserve on the Islas Cabreras but a combination of Spanish bureaucracy (you have to request a permit by fax, then be in the same place for about three days, not including weekends, so they can fax a permit back to you) and unpromising weather, plus me being a total and utter wimp, decided us that we were better off here. Once Guy arrives we hope there’ll be a weather window for us to go back to northern Mallorca on Thursday, then hole up again when more strong wind comes through, and head for Barcelona in around a week’s time.

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