Well we truly are in the Western Mediterranean now. This is the area where one’s adventures are either just beginning in the Mediterranean, or drawing to an end as you head for Gibraltar and beyond. Either way it is a delightful introduction, or farewell, to an incredible part of Mediterranean Europe. Spain, in this region, falls under one of today’s ten most visited nations on our planet, and it is their Islas Baleares, 50 miles off the Spanish Mediterranean coast that we were next heading for. The four main Islands which make up the Islas Baleares – Menorca, Mallorca, Ibiza and Formentera, each have their own rich history, and even though very touristy, they have a special charm for yachting and boating people, as there are still many secluded bays and coves left unspoilt to visit. In saying that there are areas which have become quite over-run with tourists with high rise apartment blocks, hotels and nightclubs, crammed along beachfronts and over hillsides which I am sure must irritate the locals. Their beaches are plentiful and the waters in most areas lovely and clean. Some of the anchorages now have mooring buoys which one is charged for. We tried to avoid these. We were surprised to find the Islands so green with pine forests dropping from the mountains to the water’s edge.
|Puerto Mahon, Menorca|
The 245nm trip from Corsica to Menorca was a fairly good run. We did strike lumpy seas for a time, and during one of those extra “black” nights, which is never very pleasant, but with reefs in both the main and the jib, and the winds never more than 27kts, we are able to sail most of the way. Menorca is the most easterly Island of the group and is only 26 miles long and 11 miles wide. We arrived on the south east coast just after midnight and decided we would drop anchor in a protected bay outside the port of Mahon and enter in in daylight. Puerto De Mahon is said to be the second deepest harbour in the world. It is a long natural harbour with just as long a Naval History, and is said to have been founded in about 206 BC. It is also said that Christopher Columbus was born here, but like many other ancient famous people, we find lots of places like to hold claim that the famous were born, lived or died here. Due to the location of this Port it has been used by many well-known fleets including that of Lord Nelson.