Thursday, June 7, 2012

Stops Along the Way - Meredith's Guide to Fastracking the Balearics

posted.from the patio of Maruja bakery
Es Castell, Menorca

To get to Greece from Almerimar you must go through the Baleares.  This is not a bad thing.

Approaching the Baleares from the west you have done things right.  You begin with Formentor and Espalmador, two of the best Caribbean style beach destinations in all of Europe.

If you are already at the east end well too bad.  You have to decide what to do with Menorca.  Go to the.end of this post.

Espalmador and Formentor - the West End of the Island Chain.

We spent near a week anchored off the beach at the west end of Espalmador, a tiny little dot of sand that separates Formentor from Ibiza, and no finer anchorage have we enjoyed.  The anchorage is protected from all but a north west wind, rare in summer, and the beach is unparalleled.  You can walk between the islands of Espalmador and Formentor across a half mile (a kilometre for the euros) of shallow waters that separate these two jewels in the sea.  Just carry your camera over your head.  On Formentor you can walk another several miles (several more kilometres for the Euros)  and never leave clean white sand and blue gentle seas.

Espalmador is famous for its vitiating mud pits.  Do not visit them except to look.  The mud is full of bacteria and mosquito larvae.  It also smells really really bad.  Afficionados claim their skin feels so nice when they remove the mud and I can believe it.  They cover themselves in sewage and sit stinking and baking in 35 degree heat.  Clean that off and any pig would oink with delight.


When it is time to leave Espalmador you give most of Ibiza a miss because it is tedious and boring and a real drag unless you are hard bodied, athletic and under 25 or just an aging lothario.

Ibiza Town, also called Eivissa, is no better than any seaside tourist town.  It offers nothing of interest unless you are interested in expensive cafes and thousands of shops selling cheap crap at astounding prices.  A total downer that should be given a complete miss.

Sant Eulalia is a nice calm weather anchorage along the west coast of Ibiza.  It offers little protection but if you have light winds and no surge or swell you can drop a hook and dinghy into the town for a nice walk around.  Thanks to Life Part 2 for mentioning this stop to us.


Done with Ibiza you set off for Mallorca.  Unless you have all summer to go around and around and around these islands you must now choose whether you wish to go along the west shore of Mallorca or the East shore.  On the East shore there is protected nature park on the tiny island of Cabrera which may sound tempting but you must know that the European idea of nature is not necessarily in accord with North America.  We have nature at home.  Europe not so much.   Add to this the fact that you need permission to enter and use a mooring ball and that you must apply for the permission 20 days before you intend to enter you can see that we did not go to Cabrera.  All that hassle to look at a salt marsh.  Please.

So you decide to sail the west shore.  A good choice although not immediately obvious.  Hold the course because things really really good.

At first glance  you figure you will leave Ibiza and anchor in either Palmas de Mallorca or Andratx.  You are however seriously undereducated at this point, like we were, and you will very quickly see that these are bad choices.  Palmas is an anchoring disaster as is Andratx.  There is no protection to much of the local wind coupled with large areas of the harbours maked anchoring prohibited.

Life is about to get very very good.  Choose Sant Elmo instead of Palmas or Andratx.  This is a well protected harbour set in high rock cliffs.  It is highly developed however and very expensive.  Pretty as it is we found paying €5.25 for two coffees that normally cost €2.20 a tad disconcerting.  The grocery stores have limited selection at very high prices.

Sant Elmo will appeal to German boaters, take note Dorian and Monique, and many restaurants have German as their first language. It is a lovely stop especially if tourist prices at the cafe does not bother you.

Leaving Sant ELmo after a nice walkaround and a swim we made our way along a west shore that was just stupendious.  Towering cliffs pocked with caves and tiny one boat coves and little beaches.  It is magnificent coast and the highlight of the Balearics.

Of course if you came to the Balearics for cheap sex with drunken hard bodies this is not for you.  None of those people read this blog.

A half day sail, or motor as in our case, delivers you to Puerto de Soller.  Now you are living.  Pt de Soller offers nearly all round protection.  You are surrounded by soaring cliffs and mountains.  Nature on Viagra.  A high rocky entrance delivers you to great sandy beaches, friendly people, reasonable prices and a great time.  Do not give Pt de Soller a miss.

One of the treats at Pt de Soller is a tram that takes you to the town of Soller about 15 minutes away.  The tram deposits you at a train station where you can catch an open sided train that will take you to Andratx or Palmas for only €15.  The train ride is reported to be terrific.  Parsimonious sailors can take the train to Palmas and catch the much less expensive bus on the return ride.

Don't give Soller a miss though.  The train station ground floor on one side is a very tidy gallery showing some interesting ceramics from Picasso.  On the other it offers a lovely collection of Miro.  All for no cost.  After the galleries we wlaked to town centre and shared a picture of Sangria while the tram carried tourists back and forth only inches from our table.  Pretty darn cool.

Leaving Pt de deSoller you head for Cap Formentor near the town of Pollenca.  The cape at the east end of Mallorca curves around rather like a scorpion tail and creats a huge, shallow, protected anchorage set in beautiful surroundings.  There is a hotel near the point that apparently hosted Churchill on several occasions. This hotel is a great favourite of many current day British alcoholic megalomaniacs.


Having rounded Cap Formentor you have completed the fun part of the sail.  Now you must go to Menorca and that is a major downer.  Only 25 nautical miles from Cap Formentor you have the port town of Ciutadella, once capital of Menorca.  Forget going there by boat.  They do not want you and every cape and cove has been roped off and buoyed to prevent sailboats from entering or anchoring. The roped off coves and bays extend for miles to the south of Ciutadella.  This town is One of the most unfriendly unwelcoming places we have had the misfortune to visit.

Rebuffed at Ciutadella we carried on for several miles to the south in the general direction of Mahon until we finally found a cove that offered a bit of protection and that was not roped off.

Next day we carried on to Mahon where the town has prohibited anchoring in the entire two or three mile long inlet.  Nowhere are cruisers allowed to drop a hook.

We anchored at the mouthy of the inlet behind an island  in a cove named Cala Teleuga which offers reasonable holding and In the end we dropped our hook in Cala Taeuga at the entrance to the inlet.  This cala or cove offers good protection from everything except the half hourly glass bottom boats that motor through at something in excess of the speed of sound.

Our first day here on the hook the owner of a neighbouring locally built Menorquin trawler invited us to drinks and offered us unparalleled hospitality.  Because of the incredibly interesting people we met on the motoryacht Elise we rather like Mahon.  Several other residents whom we have met in town have been delightful as well.

So our feelings about Menorca are quite ambiguous.  Chris and his circle of friends sure resolved our hostility towards this island but they are all non residents.  We wonder what is going on here.

No comments:

Post a Comment