Sunday, 20 August 2017


Forget what the guide says, there are no summer mooring buoys behind the Punta de la Avanzada. Once you round the oint, the bay opens up before you as one huge anchorage with hundreds of boats scattered everywhere. Almost – there is still a swath left free stretching from the jetty of the military zone for sea planes to take off and land.

As you round the Punta, you may be tempted to plop your anchor down in the turquoise water exposed by sand patches, but you shouldn’t. Those rather small patches are surrounded by posiedonia grass and the patrol boat from the Government of the Iles Baleares will soon come to tell you off. Even if your anchor is in the sand patch, your chain will drag through the grass. Smaller motor boats are tolerated, which makes it a bit frustrating, but that’s the way it is.

Beyond that zone, the bay is about 3 meters deep everywhere and the ground is mud and stubbly seaweed. We found the holding to be hit and miss, even with a chain:depth length of 5 – 7.

The bay itself is beautiful. We tried to visit some of the other calas but this being August they were all more than full. The town is touristy but agreeable. Just one street back parallel to the shore road across from the port is one of the best hardware stores we’ve found this year, and has almost everything you could ever need for a boat. There is a very good farmers market on Wednesday as well.  And of course, if you've read the previous post, you know there is a very good shipyard here, too.

While safely tucked into a berth in the port, we rented a scooter to visit the surrounding areas, particularly the UNESCO World Heritage Sierra Traumontana range and the Cap Formentor. This was not the smartest thing we’ve ever done. Not being expert scooter drivers and being confronted with hair-pin turns, sheer cliffs and tourist buses, we had our eyes riveted on the road in front of us, only occasionally risking a glimpse at the scenery. Pull-offs are few. This is surely one of the most beautiful mountain roads in the world, and I regret that we didn’t organize better to rent a car to visit the full range.

We had hoped to spend our last day in one of the calas but the winds that day left them all exposed. One big cala (Formentor) looks particularly inviting but it is filled with private mooring buoys with anchoring limited to the 15 meter depth outskirts. We met a couple from Palma who said they regularly go to that cala and that the buoys can be rented but are intended only for “locals” (from Majorca). They suggested you find a buoy and circle around until the mariniero arrives and try your luck, but normally it’s not intended for visitors. We were frustrated, but the couple went on to tell us that they have had to abandon their annual summer cruising around their own islands because the visiting tourists take up all the space.

That really put things into perspective, and also supports my own state of mind about the last 2 months in the islands. The stress involved with navigating here in July and August – few ports, few berths, over-crowded calas, bad manners and bad seamanship – have made me want to point Mareda’s nose towards the coast and head straight home. I haven’t lost my enthusiasm for sailing, but cruising in the Baleares in July and August is absolutely foolish. While we have had a few moments of grace and taken in some breath-taking scenery, the accumulated stress of the whole endeavor hasn’t been worth it for me. We are told by friends who have sailed in the area for the last 14 years that the area is unbearable until around 15 August when the summer vacation season winds down. I hope we will see a different side to the Baleares at that time, but I can tell you I am very eager to make our way to Sardinia and Corsica in September, and will definitely rethink cruising in popular areas in July and August for our future cruises.