The Emerald coast

We arrived to the marina of Stintino as it was getting dark and made our way along a deep bay and eventually arrived into town to have dinner. Next morning we filled up the water tanks and headed off towards the Emerald coast to Capo Testa, the northern most tip of Sardina. We anchored for the night and enjoyed a meal inside as it was a little windy.

Next day we had nice winds on the aft beam and we made our way to the Archipelago di la Maddalena and to the island of Maddalena, the largest island in the archipelago. The prevailing north easterly winds make their way around just about any island and we had gusts of wind up to 35 kts as we approached the Marina del Ponte. After docking without marina support and reaching the marina attendant by phone (thanks to a local couple) we could do the check-in.

First evening we went to the local supermarket a 15 min walk from the boat. Next morning we made the longer walk to town (30 min). Most of the place appears to be an abandoned military town with plenty of buildings in a state of decay. The town center is genuine and compact, with many nice restaurants. We had a great meal and a long walk back to the marina.

Next night we spent anchored in the southern bay of the neighbouring island Caprera, watching a dusin dinghy (Laser) sailboats and a Waszp tackling the gusty winds in the bay. We made a swim for a rocky beach on the shore and the water temperature was still enjoyable. The emerald green colour of these shores is truly impressive. The rocky islands themselves reminded me of the Swedish west coast, which I consider a tad more beautiful.

A short sail to Porto Cervo, where we were seeking shelter for the forecasted strong winds the next day, turned out to also be a very short stay. The marinero indicated us to moor by anchor in the old harbour, which is completely exposed to the northern winds that were forecasted. The main harbour had plenty of free spaces so we were puzzled by the instruction to stay in the poorly sheltered entry part of the port. We decided to drop the check-in and leave.

We head for a friendlier harbour. An hour later we were in Canningione, well protected at the end of a larger bay surrounded by mountains. The town itself was not much to write about, but the marina was good with friendly staff. We spent two nights until the strong winds had calmed.

After a nice sail of a few hours through the archipelago we arrived to Budelli island. This is probably the highlight of the archipelago, with its translucent blue and green waters. After a slight struggle hassling for anchor space and holding we decided to grab an available bouy.

The anchorage is full of daytime opportunists (who occupy the bouys and leave a few hours before sunset, before the archipelago park assistants come to collect the inflated mooring fees). By 6 o´clock we had the beaches to ourselves and only a dusin boats left in the mooring field.

The waters between the islands and the beach is rocky and shallow and clearly marked as such on maps. By dinghy it is, however, no problem to traverse the waters to reach hidden beaches. From one of the beaches we noticed a 36 foot sailboat which seemed to be grounded in the shallow waters.

We headed over in the dinghy to ask if they needed assistance and so started a 2-3 hour rescue mission of a french couple spiced with french-english-spanish language barriers, repeated groundings and getting assistance from neighbouring boats. We used the dinghy to pull them off the rocks, only to ground moments later. We succeeded at last, just before dawn, and headed back to our boat to regain our warmth. It was the last night in Sardinia and the next day we headed off to Corsica!

 

Waiting it out in Menorca

Like Mallorca, Menorca is full of tiny bays (calas), more or less suitable for anchoring. Most of them are exposed to wind and sea from certain directions and you better pick the right one according to the forecasted winds or you will have an unpleasant night – or worse, a surprise wake up call. The benefit is waking up to a beautiful bay with sunlight and impressively transparent waters.

We soon headed to Mahon to arrange for some shipments of spare parts. Mahon, or Maô, is the main town of Menorca and one of the largest natural harbours in the world. The town was surprisingly pleasant and situated some 50-60m above sea level. To our luck we arrived just a head of a major ´fiesta´ and we had ample amounts of the local ´pomada´.

As we were getting ready to cross to Sardinia (a 30 hour sailing trip), the forecast announced strong winds in the following days (the mistral). We decided to wait it out, arranging to have the packages sent to the marina. We anchored in an bay close to the entrance of the Mahon bay. For 1-1,5 days we had 25-35kts winds, two anchors out and experience heavy rain and hail. We visited ´La Mola´, an old military fortress which now is a museum. It covers more than a square kilometer and consists of an impressive collection of buildings and fortified dungens.

We returned to Mahon marina to collect the packages after the worst of the storm had passed, although our spare for the dripping kitchen tap did no arrive in time. We could wait no longer. In the morning of our departure we woke up to a depressive suprise, vandals had broken of our 2,3m teak flag pole and stolen the pole and Norwegian flag on it. We were in for a three hour race to the airport to report the incident and convince the local police to investigate the video surveillance from the numerous cameras in the marina. With that back drop, we departed Mahon in the afternoon on Sep 13 and had a spectacular sail to Sardinia with some of the most impressive views of the night sky either of us can remember – seeing literally thousands of stars and the Andromeda galaxy (naked eye and with binoculars). We arrived to north Sardinia the next day in the evening.

 

Heading towards Menorca

After spending close to two weeks on Mallorca, we headed east for Menorca – stopping only in a small “Cala” (bay) overnight at the North-East tip of Mallorca. The water was impressively clear and there was no problem to see details on the sand bottom 10m below and the full extent of the anchor and chain. On the way there we had just passed the infamous S/Y A, a russian-owned mega yacht inspired by Pirates of the Caribbean.

Crossing to Menorca is a short (3-4 hrs, 25nm) journey from the Mallorca NE tip and we arrived early to the Cala Galdana in the SW coast of Menorca. We anchored in the relatively well protected bay outside an extensive reserved beach area with an accompanying resort. More boats arrived during the afternoon and when we arrived back to Libertad after a few hours ashore we discovered several more boats had arrived, several of which were anchored much to close to us or other boats.

Menorca is clearly a popular island for chartering sailboats and it was inexperienced sailors who had anchored so close to us. One of them was in the process of laying down anchor between and below our boat, so I explained it was much too close and suggested they better anchor on the opposite side with a clearance of at least 3 boat lengths. The skipper appreciated the advice and redeployed their anchor at a safe distance. However, they found the swell too unpleasant and with another accompanying chartered boat proceeded to move their anchors closer and dive for inspection during the rest of the evening.

It was quite an entertaining evening, but also a necessary monitoring of the neighbouring boats that were much too close to us. On our opposite side the closest boat to us crashed into a neighbouring boat as they both turned with the wind. We decided to move, out of harms way, being surrounded by a number of incompetent boaters. We had a peaceful sleep.

 

Spares and repairs

Mallorca is one of the most densely populated sailing areas in the Mediterranean, not to mention a popular tourist destination for families and teenagers! It is also claimed to be one of the best places to have boat repairs done and to get spares. So while Rossana was away I rented a car and started chasing down spares and making orders for items that were needed onboard. Over the course of 8-9 days I visited half a dozen shops, mostly in Palma. Common items can be found in most shops, but items such as a 24v solar panel regulator for instance needed to be ordered. Most shops sell from the same suppliers, so prices are more or less the same and you get used to hearing “we can order it for you”. I was not very impressed.

On a positive note, we did get the washing machine we had planned to buy ordered and swiftly delivered within a few days. It took a few extra runs to the shop for connectors to get it installed, but now we have a small but very nice washing machine installed onboard!

Joshua also arrived on Aug 26 for a weeks visit. Although it turned out to be a few extra days of work we did appreciate his skilful help. We left Santa Ponca (our chosen anchorage bay not too far from Palma) and headed south motor sailing. Anchoring in Cala Pi (very nice) and Cala d´Or. A great week with several of the todo´s checked and enjoying the weather and breeze in good company.