Sailing the Western Mediterranean
September 18, 2010
After finishing Morocco and Ceuta we started our leg towards what would eventually end in Malta for the fall of 2010. The weather forecasts showed no NW prevailing winds but mostly light northeasterly with a predominant NE swell which made it harder to locate comfortable anchorages along the Spanish mainland.
We headed north from Ceuta first towards mainland Spain for just a day trip, we had waited for a weather window hoping to get some westerlies but after waiting a few days we decided to motor towards Estopania, it was a very nice day with light wind from the NNE. We anchored a few hundred meters south of the beach 36deg-25.550N / 005deg-07.980W, had dinner and watched the sunset, the motion at the anchorage was fine until the early hours of the next morning when the wind died and the Maltese Falcon started to turn with the current and positioned herself beam to the swell, we started to sway side to side which made it very uncomfortable. After having our morning coffee we weighed anchor and headed out of there. We had no plans of going to shore there so it wasn’t very disappointing to leave.
After 26hrs and a distance of 162 nm of continuous motoring we anchored in Beautiful Cala San Pedro, at position 36deg-54.089’N 001deg-58.770’N this is one of the very few places that you can anchor on the Spanish Mediterranean coast. It is well protected from west to north to northeast but open to anything from the south. There is a nice very beach and many hiking trails through the valley and over the hills. We spent two nights here and we just swam to the beach. From here we motored-sailed the 60 nm in light winds from the ENE to Punta del Azohia, San Gines Mazarron at position 37deg-33.320N / 001deg-10.330W, anchored in 15ft over grass and sand. This is also a well protected anchorage with protection from anywhere between the NW to N to ESE; we did not go ashore here. From Punta Del Azohia we headed 50 nm to Torreviejo motoring most of the way except the last two hours.
|traditional Spanish sailing craft|
This is by far the only all round protected anchorage on this side of Spain. The anchorage at position 37deg -58.170N / 000deg-41.130W is located right inside the big break walls that form the main harbour. The locals that have permanent berth at the marinas within the harbour come out and anchor for the day so that they can have a swim and then head to the marina for the night. The city of Torreviejo has a very nice waterfront with many bronze sculptures and sandy beaches crowded with tourists both Spaniards and foreign. It is a great place to provision from, as there is a large supermarket not too far from the harbor plus many little supermarkets all around the city. We spend a few days here, did some provisioning and then motored north to Calpe, at position 38deg-38.320N / 000deg-03.980E. Since heading out of Ceuta we had a 1.5-meter swell coming down from the north and still not much of any sailing wind.
From Calpe we sailed to the island of Ibiza one of the Balearic group, this was a daylong leg with a mixed bag of wind conditions partly sailing or motor sailing or just plain motoring. It was a beautiful day so we relaxed and enjoyed the trip. We arrived at 1800 hrs local time and anchored at Cala Bassa at position 38deg-58.120N / 001deg-14.690E near San Antonio on the west coast, this is a beautiful anchorage although very busy and crowded during the day with local and tourist boats, most of them clear out during late afternoon. The next day we moved to the big bay of San Antonio and anchored at position 38deg-58.340N / 001deg-17.900E where we spent a few days exploring the island from, you can leave your dingy locked up near at the very north east corner of the bay, there you will find a concrete wall.
|The old city of Cagliari Sardenia|
|The entrance to Ibiza harbour|
Visited Eivissa (Ibiza) the capital and some other small villages in the interior. After five days we headed up island and anchored in Cala Portinatx at position 39deg-06.680N / 001deg-30.810E, here I swam with hundreds of jelly fish, it was just incredible, crystal clear water and pink jelly fish all over, meandering around at a snail’s pace it is something I will never forget. The anchorage is well protected from NE to E all the way to west this was our jump off point to the big island in the Balearic group Mallorca, we left the next day and due to the winds from the NE we aimed for the west coast which is much more spectacular then the west coast, with mountains and rugged cliffs rising out of the water. We caught our first fish in the Med a nice 14kg Little Tunney. Mallorca also has many calas (bays) where one can drop anchor for the day in very clean water. We managed to sail all the way until we reached the leeward coast, then we motored the rest of the way.
|On the way to Mallorca|
We dropped our anchor in the very well protected and beautiful harbour of Soller at position 39deg-47.600N / 002deg-41.630E. Puerto Soller is an all-round protected anchorage except strong winds from the north-west. We spent nine days in historical Puerto Soller visited the old town by small train and relaxed, taking walks and reading. After nine days we left Soller and headed north along the coast towards Puerto de Pollenca, we anchored at position 39deg-54.260N / 003deg-05.500E in 12 ft of water over short grass and sand close to the marina. This is part of a bigger bay called Baia de Pollenca and here we had all round protection from and wind direction. From here we visited by bus the old to towns of Pollenca and Alcudia, nice walks along the waterfront with restaurants and mansions along the way and all with a view of the bay while waiting for a weather window for our next leg of 48 hrs to Sardegna.
|Pollenca waterfront Mallorca|
After 10 days the weather window arrive with no wind so we upped anchor and motored for 43 hrs during which we sailed for only 5 hours, we dropped our anchored at position 38deg-53.75N / 008deg-39.24E in 25 ft of clear turquoise water in Porto Zafferano, this bay is part of a larger area that is usually restricted entry as it is used by the Italian army for training and firing range. During the months of July, August and September it is open to the public but you cannot anchor overnight during August, It is an amazing place with no buildings to be seen totally deserted with fantastic beaches and clear water. After two days we woke up to an onshore wind blowing 25 knots that made the anchorage very dangerous so se left and headed to a marina in Puerto Teulada 5 mile to the east at position 38deg-55.63N / 008deg-43.07E. There isn’t much to do here and the town reached by bus is not very interesting. After two days we headed over to Cagliari and moored at Marina Del Sant Elmo at position 39deg-12.06N / 009deg-07.64E, here we rented a car for a couple of days to visit some of the oldest archeological sites found in the Mediterranean. Sardegna is still mostly unspoiled and yet they must have some of the most amazing beaches in the Med. Cagliari itself has a lot to offer to the visitors, there is cafes under the portico (arched walkway with cafes and shopping area) the Citta Alta (old town on top) and Citta Bassa (the old town in the bottom) there is very nice walks at both towns but for best views the Citta Alta is the best. Try the Torrone (nougat) it is excellent without hurting your teeth from excessive sugar, the local torrone is not very sweet and is also very hard to stop eating once you start.
|he porticio in Cagliari|
From Cagliari we headed to Sciacca in Sicily another 44 hr leg in some 10 knots of wind from the SW, we had all the sails up and the engine ticking away at low RPM making 5.5 knots in light wind from the stern and as we were going to be too early to get into the harbour we slowed down the last twelve hours. We arrived at the crack of dawn with the red globe rising in the east to show as the way in. tide up the Lega Navala Italiana, Sciacca at position 37deg-30.26N / 013deg-04.70E it has very friendly staff that are ready to help you with anything, the rates are very good and all include electricity, water, showers, toilets and a self help laundry for Euros 2.50 per load.
|The nice fishing village of Sciacca Sicily|
We planned to for a long stay here, as we love this town that we have visited other times before. Sciacca is basically a big fishing port with a large fishing fleet and sometimes with even a fishy smell but the people here are so friendly and accommodating that it is very hard not to like it. It also has a lot of history and many historical building; one in particular is a church convent in midtown that has been turned into a prison. There are not many tourists here and that makes it even more attractive. Sciacca is surrounded by thermal springs and people from all over the world come for the special treatment done at some of the well-established thermal.
|Old church in Sambuca|
All in all we enjoyed all the places we stopped at and visited from within. The sailing is as usual a little disappointing, as, since leaving from Ceuta we motored or motor sailed for 218 hrs in a distance of 1097 nm, if you consider that we average 5 knots of speed that means we used the engine 99% of the time.
We are only 24hrs away from Malta we plan to enter Malta on the 1st of October weather permitting, or we will just motor down to Malta if the wind is not from the SE.