Meridians and Parallels:  Let’s Go Sailing


As featured on page 9 of the July/August Issue of Ocean Navigator!

New!  SHIBUMI available for charter in the Eastern Caribbean starting December, 2004!


Exploring Mallorca, Islas Baleares

Mallorca is the largest of the Islas Baleares with a population of 615,000, half of which reside in its capital city, Palma, known around the world as the  yachting center of the Mediterranean.  Many ex-patriot Germans and British reside in small towns all over the island.

The northwest quarter coast is rough, rugged and exciting with small calas or inlets against jagged cliffs.  The eastern part of  the island slopes down from the mountains to sandy beaches.

The summer weather is clear, sunny, and dry.  When a hot wind precedes a  rain, red dust from the Sahara usually coats everything.  The result reminds one of the residue after snow melts:  dingy, dirty, dreary.

Invaders through the centuries have left their genetic imprint on the population.  However, during the boom in tourism in Mallorca,  many historical artifacts have been looted or paved over in the name of  “progress.”  After the richness of the Andalucian museums, we were disappointed to discover the lack of archeological ruins in Mallorca.

The cosmopolitan city of Palma snuggles deep in the northern bay on the southwest coast of the island.  Here rest the yachts of the rich and famous.  We didn’t search long before discovering one yacht complete with a helicopter.  Megayachts like this, enormous sailboats and even “J” boats are commonplace.

Palma harbor is a large, secure body of water which supports large cruise liners, ferries, freighters, multiple marinas, and several large boatyards.  Most of the yachts berthed here are foreign owned.  Friends of ours seeking a berth were surprised to be turned away while the docks were half-empty.  The slips were rented, just not used.  Arriving and departing Palma Harbor necessitates care as the ferries and cruise ships approach 40 knots as they near the harbor.

Due to the large number of German tourists, many restaurants and supermarkets offer a wide variety of German items, notably bratwurst, sauerkraut, beers of all German makes, and dark breads.

We dubbed Palma and the surrounding areas “the Deep South of Germany” when we realized how many yachts and second homes Germans owned on the island.  Entire villages are now foreign owned.

For many years, the people living on the coast of Mallorca were harassed and raided by pirates.  To protect their families and wealth, the towns moved their residents about two miles inland within fortified walls. This is the reason that there is a town of Andratx and a Port of Andratx, as well as a town and port of Soller.

We landed at Puerto Andratx, conveniently located a day’s sail east of Ibiza.  This is a safe, natural rectangular harbor of refuge with a relaxed local flavor. It is a cruiser’s paradise with all the necessary amenities:  dinghy landing, garbage cans, easy access to buses, etc.  The town management is relaxed about formalities and promotes all levels of cruising. 

When we first arrived, we anchored in the outer harbor until swells from a nearby low pressure system motivated us to relocate inside.  Our new inner harbor anchorage provided us with many dramas:  storm anchors dragging from other boats, and a major fishing boat loosing steerage and zigzagging through the anchorage slinging fenders. Several cruisers came to the rescue of the trawler using their dinks as push-tugs.  One anchor rode was cut, foul words were spoken, but in the end no major damage was done except for a few bruised egos.

The town and port of Soller lie midway up the northwest coast of Mallorca, nestled in a valley between rugged mountains.  A natural circular harbor, the port is visited daily by bus loads of tourists from Palma.  The classic port tram leaves every 30 minutes and meanders from the port to the train station in the town.  Five times daily a Victorian era train chugs to Palma allowing passengers unique views of the countryside at a leisurely pace.

The promenade of day-trippers has spawned many beach shops, restaurants, and gift shops.  Thankfully the residents and boating guests once again retrieve their peaceful port in early evening to enjoy the sunset. 

Unfortunately the cruiser anchorage is complicated by many private moorings and poor holding due to overuse.  The lack of space becomes more and more interesting as yachts arrive at sunset. With no alternative nearby anchorage available, boats are obligated to anchor like sardines in a can.  Their attempts became our evening entertainment and we now believe that we can distinguish anchoring style by nationality.

Updated Pages:
bullet Voyage Summary
bullet Port Summary

New Pages: 

bullet Bunk and Breakfast
bullet Crew:  Chris
bullet Crew:  Jackie
bullet Ports:  Andratx
bullet Ports:  Soller
bullet Ports:  Alghero, Sardinia
History:   2003 Horta, Azores
2003 People of Azores
2003 Galicia, Spain
2003 Rias Biaxas, Spain
2003 Porto and Lisbon
2003 Rota, Spain
2004 Andalucia, Spain
2004 Gibraltar to Mallorca
2004 The Baleares
2004 Western Med
2004 Canary Islands
2005 British Virgin Islands
2005 New England USA
2006 Cruise to Venezuela
2007 Venezuela Review
2007 Retun to San Blas

New:  SHIBUMI scheduled to charter in Eastern Caribbean from December, 2004, through April, 2005