Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pretty Addaya

We finally had a favourable forecast and decided to see a bit more of the island and we headed north easterly round the island leaving Mahon harbour.  The scenery was dramatic round Punta S’Espero and the entire coastline was rocky.

Punta S'Espero
It was frustrating journey with the forecasted wind nowhere to be seen until we reached Addaya and the wind came up enough to make sailing into the channel to a bit exciting, with its shallow depths and off lying rocks. Entering the harbour almost looked like we could be in Scotland the coast was so green, rocky and there were even some brown Menorcan cows (look similar colour to Highland cows but without the horns) grazing in the distance.

Addaya was a stunning location with a various small marinas and the estuary that ran up to the  S’Albufera Des Grau Nature Reserve.

Moorings in Addaya

Looking out of Addaya harbour
The location was fantastic for walking and we were on one of the Cami De Cavalls which are footpaths all around the perimeter of the island which we established when the French occupied Menorca.

We had a short walk out to Cala n Pit where a few small fishing boats were moored and you could see would be a lot busier in the summer with lots of mooring buoys laid but now in Spring even on a Saturday afternoon it was deserted.
Green and rocky entrance into 

Cala n Pit
We were also able to take the dingy further up the river where is shallowed off into the nature reserve where we surround by lush green countryside and the Shags drying on the rocks.

I know in a photo this small it is difficult to see the Shags drying on the rocks

We could have been in the UK with the beautiful spring flowers and the sound of the birds around us.
Mark in S’Albufera Des Grau Nature Reserve
Meadow was full of flowers
We walked from Addaya through the nature reserve on well marked paths to Pou d’en Caldes which was a beach about 5 miles away, we had hoped to sit and have our picnic but as was normal the wind was howling so we headed back into wilderness.
Beautiful location for a picnic
We were lucky the sun as shining as we headed back to Magnum with our legs aching!

We had a lovely relaxing time, little did we know what the next 24 hours was to hold!

Friday, April 20, 2012

La Mola & Cala Taulera

The fort of Isabel II is on La Mola which was built by the Spanish around 1850 and although not involved in any major battles was a major deterrent and even in use as a prison and training ground up until the 1970’s.  It is huge and we had a good few hours wandering around and luckily the forecast rain held off.

Cala Taulera looking north

"stop taking photos i'm on the bloody phone"
Audio tour was excellent !

Arch above the "queens bath"

Prison block

Vickers 15" guns

It was also ideal for us to visit as we are anchored in Cala Taulera which was just below the fort so we could dingy ashore.  
Cala Taulera looking south

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wet and windy Menorca

We had a lovely sail from Mallorca to Menorca (60 miles), we are not quite back in the habit of the early starts so leaving at 6.30am was a bit of a struggle.  The first couple of hours were frustrating as we had to motor but the wind filled in and we had a southerly force 3-4 with just a very slight swell so we made speedy progress.  It was a cloudy day and were both in our ollies all day but it was really relaxing and apart from a couple of ferries and a container ship it was uneventful as we sat reading our books.  We had a pod of 5 dolphins join us just after lunch although they didn’t stay for long.  Visibility was good and we could see the island from about 15-20 miles out.  We rounded Punta Prima at 15.30 with yet another lighthouse.

Punta Prima lighthouse
It was quite spectacular entering Mahon harbour with the surrounding fortifications and various islands that are dotted around the harbour.  By 17.00 we were all tied up on a floating pontoon just outside the main town – 2 minutes on daisy dingy to get ashore.

The next couple of days consisted of rain and strong wind so we were glad to be safely moored up but on more than one occasion we were panicking and adjusting lines to prevent us from hitting the pontoon.

Whilst the weather was not too good we visited the Menorca museum which was really interesting. Menorca has an interesting history with prehistoric remains at various locations on the island, it has also been occupied by many civilisations including the Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans and Moors and in more recent history the French, Spanish and British have all occupied due to its strategic position in the Med.

When the sun came out we were able to walk around harbour to various pretty Calas which at this time of year are almost empty but also take in the views of beautiful harbour.

Isla Del Ray - Island in Mahon harbour
La Mola across Mahon Harbour
Cala Font in Mahon Harbour
We were also treated an amazing dinner thanks to Alex & Carol on Kotare, we were the only boats on the pontoon and so nice of them to invite us to dinner. It was really nice to have an opportunity to chat about where we had been and plans for future and take advantage of Carols amazing culinary skills! 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Whistle stop tour of Mallorca

The sun was only just up when we left Ibiza for Mallorca, the wind hadn’t yet appeared and the water was flat calm whilst we motored off the coast of Ibiza.

The morning view in Ibiza
There was only one other boat up as early as us, but lots of sea bird mainly the Mediterranean Shearwaters, who were hardly bothered by us motoring past them.

Mediterranean Shearwaters

Within the hour the wind had materialised and we had a steady 15-20knots so we started to make good progress with a good average speed of 6 knots.  The only problem was we had an unsettled swell running between the islands which unfortunately made me (Amanda) feel quite unwell, not had seasickness for a long time but the rest of the journey was spent curled up on the sofa! The wind was pretty steady until about 10 miles to go but we had been battling against the current, Mark did a great job of getting us safely across the 66 miles to Cala Portals, Mallorca.  Beautiful calm anchorage with a couple of other yachts provided a peaceful night at anchor.

Cala Portals
No time to rest and we head off across Palma Bahia the next morning, it was a stunning sunny day but the light north easterly wind was chilly. We had a peaceful sail with light winds with the sea looking exceptionally blue and clear as we rounded Punta Salinas.

Punta Salinas
It was just over 41 miles to Porto Petro where we anchored all alone for the night.

Porto Petro
The next morning we were up and out before the wind could build so we had a frustrating motor along the coast to Porto Cristo, only 15 miles but that is still too many hours with the noise of the motor running!

As it was out of season we easily found space to berth on the town quay and finally after 12 days we stepped onto land!!
Magnum on quay at Porto Cristo

Our time at Porto Cristo was mainly spent completing the domestics of filling our water tanks, washing the sea water off Magnum and making sure we stocked up with some fresh food.  But we did get a chance to a have a walk to the lighthouse – thankfully our legs were still working and the sun was shining.

Mark overlooking Porto Cristo lighthouse

Amanda & Mark on sunny day in Porto Cristo

View from lighthouse towards Porto Cristo town

Mark at lighthouse after a nice sit down to admire the view
The quay at Porto Cristo was perfect for us as it was nice and cheap  - we paid 22 euros a night but had been quoted 74 euros a night at the yacht club opposite the quay!  But for anyone who plans to use the quay be warned there is something odd with the water level which means it can rise and fall a couple of feet within minutes!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Formentera and Ibiza

We didn’t stop for long in Formentera because we are trying to move onto Menorca as quickly as possible so we can spend a couple of weeks relaxing, so we sailed over to Ibiza the next day. We left in lovely sunshine and headed towards Espalmador which is a small island (joined by sandbank) just off Formentera. We could see the lighthouse and the cardinal buoy which we need pass but there was another object on the horizon but not on the chart, we initially assumed in was a marker on the end of the island or possibly a large boat anchored off the end of the island.  As we merrily sailed along, we then realised it was a boat but not in the water, it was on the land.  It is one of the ferries which travel from Ibiza to Formentara, someone was having a bad day!

Crash landed ferry off Espalmador!
Winds were light and we had to motor towards Ibiza and the huge ominous looking cumulonimbus cloud that seemed to erupt from the island. As we approached we could heard the most enormous claps of thunder and see forked lightning hitting the hills. 
Massive cloud erupting from Ibiza

As we entered the anchorage we had few spots of rain which only made the smell of the pine trees stronger, we quickly got our oilles and prepared for the downpour.  Luckily we managed to just get anchored before we were soaked to the skin. After days at see and the grey clouds overhead we were both were ecstatic to have hot shower and curl up for some hot food before sleeping like babies
Mark sheltering from rain
The sea being beaten to pieces by the rain

Pine trees at head of the Cala Longa on a grey rainy day
The next days were a bit of a blur involving lots of book reading and resting, the Cala was really quiet and by our second night we were alone in the Cala which turned out to be a good thing as we swung around all over the Cala with the strong winds gusting down the valley, we had thought we would have been sheltered! Another one of those sleepless nights worry whether the anchor will hold, it did.  Luckily the wind abated around lunchtime the following day so we could relax again.

Peaceful, pretty Cala Longa, Ibiza
The next couple days flew by without even leaving the boat, we did a few jobs on the boat, read more books, made friends with the local birds (Audouins Gull is one of the rarest gulls in the world with it's distinctive red bill with dark band and yellow tip, it also has wings longer that it's tail where you can see the pretty black and white stripe)  and wondered when our feet would next be on land – it had been over a week since we left Almerimar.

My new pretty friends
Mark up the mast
Beautiful blue sea and pine forest on the hills

Motoring out of the Cala as the sun rises

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Off to the Balearics

Saturday 30th March 2012 and our weather window to leave Almerimar finally arrives and we are ready to leave on what now seemed like an epic journey to get us to the Balearics with not too many stops but with no time pressures.  As often happens it was a journey of highs and lows:

Highs                                                              Lows
Perfect Wind                                                   No wind
Flat seas                                                          Unpredictable swell
Sunny skies                                                     Chilly nights in too many clothes
Dolphins playing on the bow                          Nothing to see for hours
Sleep like baby at anchor                                No sleep at anchor & feel seasick in bed

Along with this went our moods and energy levels!

Amanda already looking tired and windswept!!!
Goodbye Almerimar
We motored out of the marina and headed east towards Cabo Gata and we were already lucky to have a south westerly wind for 3-4 so sails were up and we sped along on a lovely flat sea, by just after 7.45pm we had sailed around 40 miles and rounded Cabo Gata as it we were starting to lose the light.

Approaching Cabo Gata
We had a lovely home cooked soup to warm us up just before it got dark and we prepared ourselves for the night ahead.  This routine involves us  was sorting out our life jackets, ollies, hats, gloves, supply of energy food, head torches, emergency responder, ipod and making sure that the bunk is all ready.  Mark headed down to try to nap for a couple of hours although this is always a challenge, after a few hours he was back up and I was in bed by around 1am.  Mark had a fantastic night sail with SW 4-5 for hour after hour, stunning clear night where he identified what seemed like the brightest sky in the sky as the Atlas star (using skyview app!) and then to top the night off a pod of dolphins joined him. The moon had just set at about 4am and it was quite dark but all of a sudden the boat targeted by white torpedo’s from all sides. It was an amazing sight as the dolphin’s glowed with phosphorescence and left “smoke” trails through the water it was like a red arrows display underwater as they surfed our bow wave in perfect synchronicity. 

I rolled and struggled to get sleep through to around 7.30 at which point we had sailed 100 miles (a good 40 miles whilst I slept, perfect) and then Mark headed down.  The wind continued and I had to do very little apart from look out for fishing boats, read my book and chat to the dolphins – fantastic

As we passed close to Cartegena where we had stopped last year we were chasing the rainbow with it’s pot of gold!
Chasing the rainbow

Not far from Cartegena

Around 1pm we rounded Cabo De Palo, yet another photo of a lighthouse and the wind picked up as it does at a headland but sun was shining and we nearly at our anchorage.

Cabo De Palo

Mark enjoying the sail at Cabo De Palo
By 2pm we knackered for 132 miles from our journey and were anchored at Mar Menor and were ready to sleep.

Anchored at Mar Menor overlooking Isla Graciosa
After a peaceful night we decided not to rush around the following day as no wind was forecasted but we would try to make some progress up the coast. We luckily had a Force 3 NNW which was perfect to make progress, this dropped over lunchtime and we motored for a couple of hours but then the wind returned and we sailed into our chosen anchorage. By late afternoon we anchored at Santa Polo, funny that we have visited here lots of time on holiday with the kids but never thought we would arrive in Magnum. 

Beach front at Santa Polo
It was a bit rolly but we hoped this would die with the wind, the wind died but the swell just got worse and worse!! Awful, awful, awful night! Both awake most the night and by 5am it had become dangerous to stay so both feeling sick and dizzy we struggled into our oilie’s and up anchor! Leaving the anchorage was a challenge as there were fishing boats everywhere and it is always difficult to judge distance and direction in the dark.  We set sail quickly to make the most of the early morning land breeze and continued to weave our way between the fishing fleet and the shallows between the mainland and Isla Tabarca.
It was an earlier start than planned, but at least we had wind and were off. Well actually I was then off back to sleep!

The wind held from the north until about 11 and then we motored ‘till just after 14.00 when the forecasted SW started to arrive. This built to about 20knts and our speed started to build meaning we had to start planning a night arrival in the Balearics.

We took turns trying to rest during the day, but we both find it difficult to switch off and sleep when we are being tossed around by steep short swells, the noise of each passing wave is like a train passing!

We altered course slightly and decided that Formentera would be the safest place to make landfall as it would give us shelter and the earliest chance to get to bed.

As the law of sod dictates the more tired we got the more the wind grew and the sea state deteriorated. Magnum took it all in her stride, as always, but we were both very glad to round the last, unlit, headland and into the shelter behind. Anchors away and bed in record time……ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz

Our sheltered little anchorage