Friday, 8 April 2016


The gale wasn't as severe as forecast and didn't reach much over 30knots, so all was relaxed if occasionally a little noisy on board for the following couple of days. Hopefully this summer won't be a repeat of last year with respect to the number of blows that we've sat out. Hopefully being much further south and east this should be the case.

The fortifications around Mahon are simply extraordinary. Particularly around our anchorage which is in a backwater of the harbour next to La Mola, the fort built by us Brits in 1870 or so and later used during the Spanish civil war and WWII and finally as a prison which it was until quite recently. Apparently Franco was still executing undesirables there by firing squad up until 1972.

While Franco clearly has quite a bit to answer for, we are told that he hated Menorca with a passion, as it was the last part of Spain to fall during the civil war. The consequence of this is that it was starved of government funds and thus escaped much of the development that has occurred elsewhere in the Balearics. Fortunately by the time those restrictions were lifted, it's ecological value had been realised and prevented much subsequent indiscriminate development.

Hence there are great swathes of nature reserve to wander in and an extensive network of paths. We strolled around the deserted and slightly eerie fortifications of La Mola with Ricky and Donna from S/Y Patience and then escaped up the coast to Isla Colom which we had more or less to ourselves apart from several hundred nesting gulls.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Beautiful Baleares

I have to admit to being just a little grumpy about coming into the Med this Summer, knowing from experience that the winds are fickle and the sailing involves a good proportion of motoring. However I am forced to acknowledge that so far we've had some really good sailing. Maybe this is a factor of being on the go this early in the season, which while it involves a few cool days, does also have the advantage of being blissfully quiet in an area which is notoriously overcrowded with boats in the Summer.

When a decent weather window for the passage out to Ibiza from Moraira finally arrived, we had a great sail out and arrived to find our planned anchorage in the island of Espalmador north of Formentera completely empty, which it more or less remained for the next week as we roamed the beach and island. We indulged our beach combing fetish and managed to find 3 good snorkelling masks, a beach bucket for Beatrice, a pair of ear defenders a buoy for our tripline and a crab pot which was unfortunately a bit big to salvage..... and 5 Euros in change all found by Lucia in various locations on the sand. It has to be said that all this haul was amongst a lot of plastic garbage which we tried to round up over the days we were there.

Our preconceptions of Ibiza are of non stop clubbing and indiscriminate tourist development but as we cruised from Espalmador around the West and then North coasts we saw precious little evidence of either. San Antonio, where we had to stop for a South Westerly, was undistinguished but apart from that Ibiza seemed to be mostly unpopulated wooded hills. We joined forces with the crew of No Worries and worked our way along the spectacular coastline, stopping in a series of unspoilt inlets (calas, or calais as they became known). After seeing the No Worries crew swimming, I finally braced myself to go in to clean the hull which was fairly furry after a winter in Aguadulce. It took three sessions on consecutive days, with me crawling out borderline hypothermic on each occasion and taking a couple of hours to properly warm up, but the hull is now considerably more slippery which really makes a difference to our sailing speed.

We had hoped to explore Mallorca more than we ultimately did, but we we were beginning to feel the constraint of meeting Lucia's brother Gigi in Menorca. These kind of fixed dates are always more of a restriction than is at first apparent because you can't really risk leaving it too tight as the weather, particularly here at this time of year, is somewhat volatile and there is always the chance of ending up being forced to make passages in less than ideal conditions. So we left Mallorca and parted company with No Worries to cross to Menorca ahead of a forcast gale from the north.

However, in spite of the slight rush, and after yet another fine day's sailing from Porto Colom, we now find ourselves tucked up snugly in Mahon and feeling pleased to be this far east this early in the year and with a day in hand to prepare for two days of forecast 30-40 knots wind.