So far, passages in the Med have all been quite pleasant. Going from Sardinia to the Balearics was no exception. This time, we even had the opportunity to “buddy sail” with another boat going in the same direction.
Norbert’s “Mandula” is on its way to the starting line of the ARC, the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers that takes over 200 yachts from the Canaries to the Caribbean in November. Wish we could have followed him West but we decided to stay in Mallorca.
We sailed along the East coast of the island with its numerous watchtowers and caves carved by the weather over the years.
And we stopped in Porto Colom, a small quiet village with a protected anchorage filled with Mallorcan type fishing boats docked along the promenade leading to the old center of town.
It was there that we stumbled upon a sister ship of “Freedom”, the 21ft boat Franc first skippered when he was just in his teens.
Then the weather turned downright nasty. The winds picked up quickly and the clouds gave way to rain, which in turn led to hail.
Before we knew it we were in the middle of a squall that had boats in the anchorage dragging into one another. We were lucky to stay in place and out of the way of others!
VIP Guest arrives
The next day we went to the airport to greet our next guest: Mikey. He flew in in style, on business, courtesy of some unused airline miles.
Since the airport is in Palma, we took some time to walk its streets and visit a store called The Trading Place.
I am sure by now you’ve guessed what it is that is traded there. Books! Andrea walked out with no less than 11 new James Patterson books and was able to unload some of the novels she’s already read.
Unfortunately, all the walking we did that day took a toll on Andrea’s left foot. By the time we got to the boat there was no food in the fridge and the restaurants at the marina were a bit far so we decided to order take out.
What none of us expected was the restaurant actually sending a fully dressed up waiter to deliver the meals instead.
We certainly ate in style that night, enjoying paella, fish and chicken curry in the comfort of our own cabin without lifting a finger in the galley.
The next day the weather was just not good enough for sailing and swimming so we went with Plan B. We drove inland in search of something interesting to see.
And what could be more interesting than a small family owned Mallorcan vineyard?
We spent the morning walking the caves and cellars where the wine is fermented and stored while it ages. We even learned the whole process of making cava (the champagne from the region).
And of course, we had a chance to taste the final product “in situ”, right where it’s made.
No wonder we ended up with three cases to share our new discoveries with family and friends who were not there to enjoy the experience.
On our way back we stopped for lunch at a small restaurant on the side of the road with a familiar name. It was called Can Tapas. I’m sure by now you all know what it means: “the house of the tapas”, of course.
Away to Cabrera
As soon as the weather cleared a bit we went out on the water again and seized the opportunity to visit Cabrera, an island just South of Mallorca with a natural reserve. You are supposed to request permission to pick up a mooring ahead of time (in writing), which we did. But to our disappointment, as soon as we arrived we got word that we had been officially denied permission. So when we saw the authorities approach us on their dinghy we were expecting to be thrown out. Instead, they appeared to be fascinated with the fact that we came all the way from New York. They knew someone who lives in Queens and loved the city when they visited. When we asked what we should do they just waved their hand said it was OK to stay. We were there for two nights!
With Andrea’s foot still healing, Mikey and Franc took the dinghy and went to see the castle, built in the 1400s to protect the island and prevent the Moors and Corsairs from using it to launch an attack on Mallorca.
We climbed a narrow set of stairs all the way to the top where the view was spectacular.
You could see the whole anchorage, set on a natural harbor protected from all wind directions.
The castle was empty but you couldn’t help wonder what you’d learn if those walls could talk.
The only inhabitants we found were the lizards and the seagulls occasionally flying overhead.
From there we could see Can Drac in the distance, peacefully resting in the anchorage. We also noticed Cabrera was hosting another American vessel: John and Jodi’s “Jay Sea Dee” from Colorado.
As it turns out, they did the crossing just a week after us and apparently enjoyed a lot better weather than we did. It’s all about timing, isn’t it?
VIP or VIP?
We spent all week joking about the fact that we had a “VIP” guest on board. That’s not only because Mikey traveled on business and all, but also because Andrea kept treating him to gourmet meals and stylish appetizers.
But there was one day we wondered if VIP actually meant Very Important Problems instead. First, we woke up to find the dinghy had flipped overnight; with the engine on it, that is.
You’d think that marine engines are designed to withstand the effects of salt water. But not after being submerged for hours! Needless to say, the engine no longer started. With the tools and the knowledge we had on board, all we could do was wash it with fresh water and hope we’d find a mechanic before it was too late and the rust ruined the engine forever.
Then we dove to look for the oars that had been inside the dinghy. No luck with that either, but at least we were able to recover a rag and the boat hook we had also accidentally dropped. And then we discovered we had a line wrapped around the propeller. Why does everything have to happen all at once?
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Watch Mike and Franc take turns at “going under” and cleaning up the mess.
Off to Palma, the sailing capital of the Western Med
On Mike’s last day aboard we woke up to the smell of bacon, eggs and home fries. What a difference from the day before!
Our VIP was treating us to his specialty: home made American breakfast.
After the big breakfast and a late start we spent the day sailing towards Palma. There wasn’t much sun but there sure was plenty of wind. Luckily we didn’t get wet but we could see some mean looking clouds in the distance.
One of them was even packing a waterspout. Pay attention to the center of the picture above and you’ll see the funnel shape of a tornado over the water. Scary!
Once in Palma we stayed at marina Alboran, where Marivi and Fernando run Franc’s favorite charter company in the Mediterranean.
Fernando’s team of riggers and mechanics are some of the best in the Med and quickly took care of our dinghy’s outboard, bringing it back to life after the Cabrera incident.
Since Marivi was out of town on a business trip we hosted Fernando for a dinner that ended in a rum tasting of all the unfinished bottles we had aboard.
Here’s Fernando with the official Can Drac shirt in recognition for his generous hospitality. After all, Franc’s first offshore passage was with Fernando, while delivering one of his boats from Barcelona to Palma ten years ago. Now, after crossing an ocean, the student meets up with the master. What’s not to celebrate?
Today, as we leave the bay of Palma behind on our way to Barcelona, rain is still on the horizon. Only this time, the tornado has been replaced by a rainbow. September weather in Mallorca can be a hassle but there is also beauty in it some times.