Sailing in the Balearic Islands


I’m sorry but it’s going to be a bit more boring this time. Nothing really exciting happened on our journey from Valencia via Ibiza to Mallorca. More nostalgic. But I’m happy to do my duty as chronicler.

We never get enough of Valencia, but it was time to move on. When all our friends had left, our Swedish/Finnish friends Nilla and Anders arrived with their vessel. We last saw both of them in Antigua, but even before that we shared some adventurous experiences.

In the marina of Valencia there were a few boats already preparing for their Atlantic crossing to the Caribbean. November is crossing season. With the usual mix of excitement and nervousness and anticipation of the Caribbean, combined with the expectation of the satisfying pride of having made the Atlantic. We wish a safe trip.

Valencia to Ibiza

The day before departure, our friend Roland came on board and sailed with us from Valencia to his vessel in Mallorca. Quasi a journey on foreign keels.

Ibiza is 80 nm away from Valencia. In the Caribbean a day trip would not work because the days are shorter there. In Spain it is currently light from 7.00 a.m. to 9.30 p.m., so we have almost 15 hours of daylight and can find an anchorage even later in the day. This increases the range. However, the days are getting 15 minutes shorter per week.

Ibiza is 80 nm away from Valencia. In the Caribbean, this would be outside a day trip because the days are shorter there. In Spain, it’s currently light from 7 a.m. to 9.30 p.m., so we have almost 15 hours of daylight and can still find an anchorage later in the day. This increases the range. However, the days are getting 15 minutes shorter per week.

Our departure planning from PredictWind threw out Monday as the best of four alternative sailing days and so we cast off shortly after dawn and left Valencia. An exceptionally strange weather accompanied our day. The sky was permanently overcast and lows passed us again and again, sending our barograph into a tizzy. A drop of 6 hPa in just a few minutes caused a beeping alarm.

We had to cope with winds between 5 and 25 kn, too often at an angle of 15-40 degrees, not the strong side of a catamaran. As soon as the wind shifted to 60-70 degrees, Rivercafe put the pedal down. Shortly before San Antoni de Portmany on the west side of the island, we learned that we would neither get a berth nor an anchor buoy in the bay. Welcome to the high season on the Balearic Islands. It’s gambling time.

Posidonia makes life difficult – and better

Anchoring is a game of chance in Ibiza. The reason is Posidonia – and of course too many other sailors. Posidonia is an endemic seaweed in the Mediterranean Sea that is a protected species and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Anchoring is prohibited on seagrass, so sailors are left with only unvegetated patches of sand to drop an anchor. In many bays, only a few anchorages remain from a large area, and they are not always easy to find either.

Even though nature conservation complicates our daily lives, we like the project because it is worth it. The magnificent meadows of 1-2 cm sea grass sway leisurely in the swell and keep the water clear. Seegras is more efficient as Co2 storage then trees. We have seen anchors what anchors dot to the seabed in many places in the Caribbean. Fortunately, this is to be avoided on the Balearic Islands.

With a bit of luck, we found a sandy patch in San Antoni and let our new Ultra anchor slide into the water. Even the Posidonia inspector had no objections after her check with us. In the constantly shifting 360-degree winds, our old Delta anchor would have had to fight – probably in vain – for a good hold. Not so the Ultra, which calmly accepted every turn and gave us the best hold.

Photos from Periodico de Ibiza, Ibiza Travel

San Antoni is a tourist place and not particularly beautiful. It is known for a non-stop rave that supposedly goes on 24 hours a day for 120 days. And of course you can find the “Cafe del Mar” here, which we also visited briefly. But it probably only means something to baby boomers.

We continued north along Ibiza’s west coast. After only 16 nm we anchored in Port San Miguel. A very beautiful and well protected bay. Surrounded by rocks, with fragrant pine trees, dry paths, chirping cicadas and incredible views of the sea from the rocks. The water is clear and clean as rarely seen. We could see our anchor at 4 m depth.

Polish Spaniards

There were two things that bothered us: too many boats and too many jellyfish. Spanish sailors currently sail many Polish flags because it is cheaper than the Spanish. So there is no Eastern European invasion, but Spaniards who save themselves the – admittedly absurd – Spanish flag fees. Whether Spanish or Polish flag, the skippers don’t have distance problems. Some anchor so close that they deploy fenders. In a sailing app there was talk of 6-8 ships fitting into the bay of San Miguel. We saw 22 boats at anchor and some deep in seaweed. The jellyfish were predominantly fire jellyfish, which are really no fun to swim with.

There are a few things we still have to get used to, as we usually lay plenty of chain and mark our anchor with a buoy. Both bring us uncomprehending looks in the Balearics.

Our last Ibiza stop was in Portinatx. Again a nice bay with lots of sea grass and a few hotels around. Our anchor found another patch of sand and we lay splendidly, enjoying a water excursion without jellyfish.

Ibiza to Mallorca

After three stops, that was it for Ibiza. Our next destination: Mallorca, 45 nm away. After sunrise we sailed in calm conditions on a course of 54 degrees towards Andratx, in the southwest of the island.

The weather promised 10-15 knots of wind from midday. And so it came. And after we had repaired the bowsprit – which our delivery crew had killed – the three of us set our magnificent Code D. In 13 knots of wind, we made 8.9 knots of speed. This kite is really great, but a hell of an effort to set. When the wind picked up further and the limit of 18 kn wind was almost reached, we took in the sail and switched to the genoa. An enjoyable trip in pleasant seas and stress-free winds brought us to Mallorca’s south-western tip, San Elm – opposite the nature reserve island of Dragonera. After a restless night with plenty of swell, we headed for Port Andratx. But that’s another story. /Holger Binz

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