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The Balearics - Mallorca

3rd - 5th May 2022 - Andratx

The crossing to Mallorca had not been the best but we had made it. We were attached to a mooring bouy outside of the Club de Vela in Port Andratx. The wind was supposed to pick up over the next few days so we opted to stay put whilst it blew through. There’s no denying that there is a certain comfort gained by being on a ball versus at anchor. For one thing you know that your neighbours are evenly spaced out so no chance of collision. You also don’t care what the seabed consists of so no worries about whether your anchor is in rock or weed or a lovely patch of sand. There is a debate about whether it makes you feel more or less comfortable in strong winds. Most seasoned sailors trust their anchor more than the line from the concrete block on the seabed which is attached to the ball. You have no idea when it was laid, when it was last maintained and what has happened to it in between. If an anchor drags then there is a likelihood that it might reset. If the mooring line attached to the ball snaps then your boat will just go. Since this was a mooring field run by a marina and they had only just laid them for the season we had a certain confidence about it. There were far bigger boats on the balls around us! Still, as the wind approached 34kn we still didn’t feel comfortable leaving the boat. We had the fish farm right there and a flashing bouy (marking the fish farm) which was about 2m from our stern.

Once the wind had eased a bit we took the dinghy ashore and went for a walk along the promenade. The bay was really lovely. We found this lovely cocktail bar seats against the wall, bathed in sunshine. After the battle to get here, Mallorca was leaving some good first impressions.

Once the wind died down it was time to move on. It was May, early season, the space in anchorages would be plenty. Oh boy were we wrong.

6th May 2022 - Andratx - Portals Vells (14.1 nautical miles)

We set off just before 10am on our way towards Palma. Innamorata II and Toodle-Oo had since left Santa Ponsa and were in an anchorage close to Palma but we decided to make a stopover along the way. We had heard that Portals Vells was beautiful so as we sailed round the corner we thought we would take a look. It looked busy but there seemed to be a spot for us so we dropped anchor in 8m of sand. Portals Vells has three distinct bays with beaches on each. The middle one (or more commonly known as the one-eyed-snake-bay) was clearly a nudist beach. The other two weren’t but then all that meant was that pants were on. Our British reserve was slowly crumbling in the face of Spanish norms. Carl told me he didn’t even focus on the boobs anymore. Too much boob, everywhere, male and female. Well that’s what he told me anyway.

It was a Friday and once the day boats left that evening there were only four or five boats remaining and it was a lovely peaceful night. The next morning we decided to go check out the caves that give the bay its name. Portals Vells or 'Old Portals' was thus named for the three large openings of the caves at the side of the bay. In true Greenwood style we had not researched this at all when we rocked up so as we left our dinghy on the beach and wandered up to the caves we were in for a real unexpected treat. The carvings, markings and alters in the huge spaces were magnificent. As was the view out across the bay from the cave openings. As we came out to look across to Rockhopper we watched as the bay started to fill up with boats. It was 11am on Saturday now and the chaos had started. Day tripper boats had filled the gap between sailing vessels that had already anchored reasonably close to one another. As we stood there we saw a monohull begin to drag anchor, luckily missing boats as it headed out the bay. There were two women onboard, one of which was on the phone frantically calling her husband (I presume) who was on the beach with the kids. Since he was not that quick at coming to her aid, she started the engine and, with the help of the other woman onboard, began to lift the anchor. Once the anchor was up she started to head back into the bay to re-anchor. At this point her husband appeared on the dinghy but rather than come onboard he just circled her calling out instructions. After several attempts to anchor she eventually managed to get it down and in. He then just headed back to the beach. Frosty dinner onboard that night I imagine!

As the boats around us started to grow we decided it was better to be onboard with a fender in hand than be on the beach. We headed back just in time to see a day tripper boat drift back into the catamaran next to us. Some of these day tripper boats were huge, much bigger than us, and just kept on coming. We sat on the trampoline, G&T in hand watching it all unfold around us. Whilst several were very close indeed, we consoled ourselves that by 5pm they would all have left which was the case. However at 6pm a charter boat anchored quite close next to us. We politely asked whether they were staying the night and after he confirmed it we told him he was a bit close. Thankfully he agreed to move. After 7pm we felt comfortable enough to head to the beach for a cocktail. Start of May in Mallorca - we started to worry what the rest of the place would be like, let alone what July and August would be like elsewhere!

8th May 2022 - Portal Vells - Las Illetas (Cala Xinxell) (4.86 nautical miles)

It appeared that Innamorata II had had a similar experience in Las Illetas, the protected anchorage with easy access to Palma. They had got what they thought was a prime spot close in only to be surrounded by boats, one even swinging in to them. We exchanged photos of our respective bays and shouts of indignation and said we’d see them later on. We left Portals Vells just before 9am to head to Las Illetas, a short 5nm trip in perfect calm conditions. Based on Steve and Carol’s advice we opted to anchor a bit further out. We anchored in 6.8m next to a huge sailing vessel. As the boat swung round we saw that the whole of the stern opened up to a master suite, complete with a swim platform and loungers. The two guests were having their morning swim when we arrived, whilst the crew did what crew usually do, polished stuff. After they were done they upped anchor and left which gave us plenty of room around us and an uninterrupted view. Toodle-Oo were in the bay too and had told us that for 2 euros you could get the bus to Palma.

So the following day, Steve, Carol, Carl and I decided to do just that. Carol had informed us that El Corte Ingles department store sold SodaStream and the CO2 cartridges so we had a mission. They needed to swap their spent bottles for filled ones and I was getting geared up for a new gadget onboard. Alas, we were disappointed in that they had run out of stock. I did buy a lovely bag and a mouse for my laptop though.

We split up to go and do various things that one does when you finally get to a biggish town. Carl and I had a wander through the streets and lunch in a lovely square with a big tree in it. We had been to Palma before for our friends Lewis and Amy’s joint 30th birthday holiday in 2019, along with a few friends from our village back home in Suffolk. We wanted to suss out some chandleries in the area which was down by the marina. This took us past the hotel we stayed at with them and as we walked along the promenade we recalled some good memories of that holiday.

Along the bus route back we decided that the following day we would take the dinghy round to another beach where we had gone during that holiday. We had gone there to spend the day on the beach and go for a swim. Not much swimming was had to be honest. We spent the entire day at Roxy’s Beach bar, soaking up the rays and generating a hefty bar bill. We thought it might be fun to go there, have a few and send some pictures back. Because people always love your holiday pics when they are at home or during work hours, when its raining and cold outside, don’t they? We spent the day in a similar fashion, chatting to a couple that we shared the table with. The place seemed busier and more commercialised than last time we were there. Still a beautiful spot though.

11th May 2022 - Las Illetas (Cala Xinxell) - Port de Soller (40.7 nautical miles)

After three days it was time to move on. The northern coastline of Mallorca is stunningly beautiful and mountainous but has very few protected anchorages once you start along it. If the wind shifts to the north there isn’t really anywhere to hide. We were about to come into a week long period of very settled weather with almost no wind at all so, whilst we wouldn’t be doing much sailing, this gave us a great opportunity to explore this coastline. Carl had been to Mallorca two or three times before but this was my first time, with the exception of our trip to Palma with the village people. So I was not quite prepared for how blown away I was going to be over the next week. We set off from Las Illetas before 7am as the sun was rising as we had a long sail ahead. We were expecting some light winds so had rigged the Code 0. For the first few hours we had 5kn of wind and flat calm conditions so the port engine was running. By 10am the wind had filled in a bit and we hit the magic number of 9kn in the right direction to fly the Code 0.

Behind us Innamorata II was flying their cruising shute. We made a colourful duo as we rounded the western side of Mallorca onto the northern coastline. Unfortunately, as predicted, the wind started to drop and by 1pm the Code 0 was furled and the motor had to come back on. As Innamorata II cruise on engine faster than we do they overtook us and headed into bay of Port Soller ahead of us. When we arrived we aimed for a spot just behind them. It was a large bay with a marina on the left hand side. There were quite a few boats at anchor but it looked like there was plenty of room for us. On closer inspection there were private mooring balls dotted everywhere. Anchoring too close to one of them was a worry as you didn’t know what manner of vessel would suddenly turn up and want to attach to it. We opted for a corner, close to the buoyed off swimming area on the right hand side which we hoped would mean less boats anchoring near us, at least on one side anyway. On the second attempt we anchored in 7m of mud and weed just before 4pm.

We were due to stay here for a few days so wanted make sure we were well in. The port is pretty enough but there is this little wooden tram, first established in 1913, that takes you to the town of Soller a bit further inland. It really is a lovely journey, with the track lined with orange and lemon trees along the way. Not quite close enough to pick as you go but we were tempted to try. Our first full day was spent exploring the town, along with Steve and Carol. Lots of narrow streets and a fantastic train station where you can take a wooden train all the way across the island to Palma.

Stopping for lunch at a cafe in the central square:

Back at the port we got chatting to an English couple who had come out to Mallorca on a walking holiday. They told us that there was a great walk from Port de Soller across to Cala Deia, a bay that we had passed on our way round. Our good friend Meg (of Bay of Biscay fame and manager of our AirBnB property) used to sail around Mallorca with her family quite a bit and her dad Malcolm had told us that this was a great bay to anchor in. The couple at the port told us that it was better to get the bus there and walk back rather than the other way around so we opted to do just that. It was a 12km walk between the two along the GR221 route and, once you got to the town of Deia where the bus dropped you off, it was worth walking down to the beach then back up again to start the walk. By the time we got to Deia on the bus it was 3pm. We didn’t have a lot of time to spend at the beach as we needed to start our walk but we could see that it was rammed. There were two restaurants there and both were full. It was a beautiful spot though and we contemplated bringing the boat here for a night. The walk back along the coast was fantastic. It was pretty hot as the heat radiated from the stones around us but thankfully sections of it were lined with trees which provided a bit of shade. The hike wound us in and out of the calas along the coast passing fields of olive trees along the way. We hadn’t done a long walk in quite a while so by the time we reached the descent back into the port the legs were shaking and a beer was calling. It always tastes better when you’ve done something to earn it!

Bill and Laurie from Toodle-Oo had anchored across from us that evening. As they were keen walkers they asked whether we were heading out the next day. At that point we weren’t sure how our legs would be the following day. We woke up to a strange mist that covered the bay. I could see it rolling in and by 10am we could not see the boats around us. Not sure what that was all about but by 1pm it had cleared and had given us the necessary recovery time to decide to venture out to the lighthouse and back. We opted to walk up the road directly to the lighthouse and then take the path back around. It wasn’t a long walk but it was an opportunity to fly the drone again. On our way back we came across Bill and Laurie who had done the walk but in reverse. After a quick chat we arranged to have drinks onboard Toodle-Oo, along with Steve and Carol later on.

15th May 2022 - Port de Soller - Cala Deia (3.66 nautical miles)

The previous night Bill told us that before Soller they had anchored in Cala Deia and said it was beautiful. They told us there was not much space so we would have to time it right to try and arrive when people were leaving. We decided to give it a go the following morning. We left early enough that if there was no room we could just turn around and head on to the next anchorage. It was only 3.6nm from where we were so we weighed anchor just after 9am and headed round there. As we came in closer we could see one large super yacht anchored nearby and a motor yacht a bit further out and that was it. We were in luck. We ventured closer in and, as I sat at the bow with my headset on, I directed Carl to a sandy spot devoid of rocks. We dropped anchor in 7m of pristine blue water. I could see it all the way down to the bottom. It was a great spot. Bill was right. As we looked out at the beach ahead of us starting to fill with people, we stretched out on our chairs on the deck and had a cup of tea. Later on we took the paddle boards out and went to explore. There was a small pier that the guy from the motor yacht had tied his dinghy to so we went to see if we could squeeze ours in too. Every flat surface had a sunbather on it but people were tying up their dinghies anyway and people just moved so we thought we’d give it a go later. The day was spent reading, having a swim and, well, just chilling on the boat. Bliss! As we hadn’t had much time to explore the town of Deia, the following day we decided to walk up to the town. It was quite a steep route up but well worth it. We wandered through the streets and spotted a bar called ‘El Bar’. Outside was a large barrel table with two people sat at it, one was playing his guitar. As we approached the entrance he said, ‘Can I help you?’. Thinking he was just another punter at the bar we started to say ‘well we were just going to get a drink here’. Sensing our hesitation he followed up his initial question with ‘Just to clarify, I’m not some weirdo just asking, I do actually run the place.’ We sat having a beer or two, chatting to the owner who was English. He’d lived in London, a stock broker or something like that, decided on a change of pace and chose to move out to his wife’s home town of Deia. Not knowing what he was going to do when the money ran out, the lease for the bar came up and he took it, having never run a bar before. The ‘El Bar’ sign was made out of cardboard. It was a quirky little place, we loved it.

As we walked back down to the beach we decided to make a dinner reservation for later that evening. The two restaurants were always busy so we though it prudent. When we arrived later on that evening there was a queue of people waiting to get a table so we had clearly done the right thing. It was a beautiful setting, looking out over the bay and our boat in prime position. Pity the food was overpriced for what it was but then they had a captive audience so can charge what they like I guess.

17th May 2022 - Cala Deia - Sa Colabra (9.81 nautical miles)

The next morning we set off, bright and early for our next stop. The weather was still playing ball, flat calm, no wind, which was perfect for our next stop. Carl had told me about this place before. He had driven down a spectacular road to get to a canyon which had this narrow beach between walls of rock. Again, another busy/must-see/instagram spot so we opted to get there early, hoping to nab a spot as others were leaving. It was a deep anchorage, totally exposed to the north with not a lot of space so calm conditions were a must. As we motored round there at 10am we were in luck, two boats had just left and there were only two still in the bay. I use this word quite a bit for this post but it was absolutely stunning! Carl had not exaggerated its beauty. We always like to dig in our anchor by putting some revs on the engine in reverse once its down so we didn’t want to get too close to the swimming bouys that crossed the beach. We anchored about 50m away from them with a perfect spot to see the beach. I won’t describe it here, just have a look at the photos.

It was still early so the beach was empty and it was just us three boats in the anchorage. By 11am the first of the ferries turned up in the bay next to the beach. They dropped off their foot passengers at the dock in the bay round the corner. They would then walk around the coastal walkway towards the beach, through a tunnel carved out of the rock to get to the canyon and the beach beyond. As the beach filled with people so too did the anchorage with boats. At around 1pm a charter boat came in front of us, between us an the swimming bouys and dropped their anchor about a metre from our stern. They then sunk back towards the beach blocking our view. Fair enough, we hadn’t been brave enough to go that close to the bouys anyway. It seemed we had left just enough room for someone to give it a go. After about two hours of swimming they all piled back onto the boat and started their engine ready to leave. Our boat had swung round a bit since they had arrived and we were now directly over their anchor. As they raised the chain they just kept on coming towards us so Carl got up to start our engines so that we could move forward out of their way. As we weren’t quick enough, about 3m away from our stern, with them still raising it and their boat still coming towards us, I yelled for them to stop and wait for us to move forward. After they left we decided not to chance that again so we weighed anchor and positioned ourselves as close to the swimming bouys as we dared. After we settled we were about 5m from the bouys and about 30m away from the canyon wall. No one was going to get between us and the beach. As I FaceTimed my Dad to wish him a happy birthday I was able to show him our uninterrupted view of the beach.

We sunbathed, then swam, then sat and soaked up the view, watching the beach completely fill, watched drones wizzing by overhead, and the ferries come and go. Behind us the anchorage was starting to fill up with boats for the night. I had spent the past hour watching a mummy goat bleat to its baby goat on a sheer cliff face right above us, ready to jump in and save it if it fell into the water. Of course it didn’t. They’re quite sure-footed would you believe! It just found a way to its mother, munching on tufts of grass along the way.

As the sun was setting we heard an accordion playing ‘Amazing Grace’. The sound was emanating from a boat called Gwylan. The sound reverberated off the cliff faces around us. It was a truly beautiful moment. When he finished, you could hear applause and cheers from the boats around the anchorage. The skipper then played the Viennese Waltz and lowered his ensign for the night. We found out later that that was his thing, every night as the sun set.

The next morning we rose bright and early to take our dinghy round to the dock so that we could get across to the canyon and the beach before everyone else turned up. The swimming buoy line crossed the entire beach, from one cliff face to the other so there was no way to bring the dinghy straight to the beach. We could of course just swim there but we wanted to walk up the gorge and Carl wanted to take some drone shots so we opted to walk round. The tunnel was pretty cool anyway. The sight of the boat from the beach was great. We flew the drone and had a walk up as far as we could get without needing better shoes. There was a walk you could do all the way to the top of the gorge but we didn’t have the right gear with us. As we started to make our way back towards the beach the first of the tourists (funny how we’ve made a distinction between them and us) started to arrive. We ended up having lunch at one of the restaurants back through the tunnel and headed back to the boat for a swim.

19th May 2022 - Sa Colabra - La Figuera (19.9 nautical miles)

Our time at Sa Colabra had been a real highlight for us but it was time to move on. There was only a day or so of settled weather left and our friend Tony was bringing his boat Gamesmaker 2 across from Barcelona. He had changed his plans to meet us somewhere on Mallorca so we needed to get moving. Besides, we had hogged the best place by the beach so it was time for someone else to have a go. We weighed anchor at 8am and motored out of the bay in flat calm conditions. There was no wind at all so we motored the entire 19.9nm to La Figuera. As we pulled into the bay we saw a few boats already there and a few day boats dotted around. We opted to sit a bit further out but still in beautiful clear turquoise water. The boat was surrounded by shoals of saddleback bream. Unfortunately not quite big enough to bother trying to hook. It was a secluded bay, no bars or restaurants and no houses, just the beach and the highway high up on the mountain. Once we had settled ourselves in we decided to explore the beach and took off in the dinghy. We’d packed a few snacks and a beer and dropped our little anchor in the middle of a shallow sandy patch. Whilst there we hatched a plan to come back to the beach later on and have a bbq. There were a few people sunbathing on the beach so we would have to wait until they left. After a while we headed back to the boat, I prepped a salad, some pita and some chicken to bbq. Carl loaded the dinghy with the Cadac gas bbq, a bottle of wine and our trusty chairs (we do love our Jobe infinity chairs). We settled ourselves into a lovely peaceful spot for dinner. The beach was too rocky to haul the dinghy up onto and it kept getting stuck on rocks with its anchor dragging at times in the shallow water just off the beach so was a bit of a pain in the arse but apart from that, very peaceful.

20th May 2022 - La Figuera - Pollensa (9.72 nautical miles)

In our little WhatsApp group of UK Lagoon 42 owners that Tony set up, we also correspond with a guy called Miles who keeps his boat in Southampton. He is the only one in the group who has kept his boat in the UK. When Tony reached out to see if Miles wanted to help crew the overnighter from Barcelona to Pollensa, it sounded like he jumped at the chance to do some sailing in the Med and an overnight passage. Steve and Carol were already in Pollensa and Mark and Helen who we meet all those months ago in Cadiz on their boat Kismet, were there too. There was also a rumour that Lucy and Jig from Falkor were on their way round so it would be quite the gathering in Pollensa.

Tony and Miles had left the afternoon before so were due to arrive in Pollensa at some point during the morning. At 08:45am we weighed anchor and pulled out of La Figuera. As we came out of the bay we spotted Gamesmaker 2 in the distance. Carl called them on the radio to say hello and hear how their passage had been. By all accounts it had been a bit frustrating as the wind direction didn’t allow them to sail without adding serious miles and it was lumpy. It was Tony’s first overnighter on his boat so the first time he had tried to get some sleep in the master cabin whilst underway. He said the noise of the water slapping the underside of the bridge deck sounded like a gun going off. He’s not wrong to be fair. We’ve found that eventually when you are tired enough you will sleep through anything. His original plan had been to sail to Andratx which would have been a much better angle of sail, given the conditions, but he had changed his plan to meet us. We felt a nibble of guilt there.

We were just under an hour ahead of them so we pushed on to get to Pollensa. On the way we were again greeted by some playful dolphins. We came round the point and headed into the bay of Pollensa which is quite sheltered from the prevailing winds. At least it is supposed to be. The weather was due to turn again so we needed to get ourselves tucked in. It’s a large shallow bay with plenty of space to park. We spotted Innamorata II straight away and headed towards them. The bay is largely weed with a few sandy patches so again I was out front hunting for a spot to position the anchor. We found one not too far away from them in 2.4m of water. Our arrival was greeted by a big ole wave from Steve and Carol. After half an hour Gamesmaker 2 rounded the corner and came to anchor next to us. We in turn gave them a big ole wave to say hello. Whilst we let them settle in after their long passage we decided to head into town to get some provisions. We asked the weary travellers if they needed anything and milk was the answer. On our way into town we stopped off to say hello to Steve and Carol. They informed us that they were going to head off to Menorca that day as there was a big weather front coming in and they wanted to get going before it hit. They then told us that they had been in touch with the crew of Falkor and they were on their way. After we dropped off the milk at GM2 and had a post-passage beer with them we headed back to the boat. We had arranged to have dinner with Tony and Miles that night as Miles was heading back to the UK the following day. We waved goodbye to Innamorata II as they set off and about an hour or so later we saw Falkor coming round the corner. We hadn’t seen Lucy and Jig and their dog Darcy since Aguilas at the start of April. We came out on deck and gave them a big ole wave and pointed them in the direction of Steve and Carol’s sandy spot to anchor. They later told us that they hadn’t met many people on the way from Aguilas to Pollensa so it was really lovely to have such a warm welcome from friends.

Little did we all realise that we would be stuck in that bay for a further seven days, in high winds with thunder and lightning storms overhead. It might have been protected from the swell, but it sure wasn’t from the wind...



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