The Scarlet Papers - 1 - Menorca

andromeda of plymouth
Susan and Andrew Wilson
Wed 8 Nov 2017 16:03

The Scarlet Papers – 1


Tuesday July 4th - a new adventure begins. We carefully left Andromeda (sans rudder) on the hard in Sopromars boatyard in Lagos and caught the train to Faro. With an early afternoon flight to Barcelona we had plenty of time to use the train and then local bus to get to the airport. It made a nice change from being in the shuttle bus and everything worked well, though a little slow. How many things had we forgotten?……..well the 3rd July will be remembered for the send off we had from various people in the marina. Blurred, bleary eyed and missing/oblivious to a good part of the day!


Jackie and Paul (from Jetstream) had just arrived back in the marina but would be moving on to Cartagena over the summer whilst we were away so having packed the main luggage the day before we were going to catch up with them after the morning walk. It was great to see them back here, especially with Paul’s adventures on the ski slopes, and the resulting hip replacement that he had. We were given a very warm welcome aboard and plied with Bucks Fizz (containing Peach Schnapps!!!), and several glasses of it……Susan was helped very carefully off the boat at around 10.30 am……


Our next call was to Otti and Rosie (Enya) who were also just back in town, they also extended us a very warm welcome along with their home made punch……..and after a couple of glasses of this Susan had to be helped even more. Somehow Andrew got her back to the yard and aboard Andromeda up the ladder without any mishaps where she promptly went to sleep for a few hours. By the time she surfaced several hours later, it was just time to go and have dinner with Denise and John (Out of the Blue) et al. It was a lovely meal but there were still a few things to do before the morning…….well maybe not….maybe they could wait till the morning. Oh dear.


Consequently before going to the station there was a fair amount of rushing about aboard trying to make sure the hand luggage was packed and Andromeda ready for a prolonged absence …..we did forget a couple of things; in no particular order…Andrew’s wallet, driving license, Susan’s spare glasses…..and maybe something else, we can’t remember, yet, but we may in due course. Mushy brains don’t help!


Probably our least prepared departure of recent years – numb; comfortably numb.


However once on our way we put that all behind us as we concentrated on enjoying our trip and the next two months with Lyn and David and Maisie on Scarlet – we had an idea of the plan, but of, course, it had changed, more about that later. So bleary eyed as we were from the previous evenings meal and conversations (yes, and drinks) we went on our merry (!) way.


Faro airport is currently in the middle of a big refit and is coming along nicely but every time we go through there lately it’s a little bit different. This time with us catching a flight to Spain we didn’t have to walk too far to the gate, we actually ended up sitting right next to it and although the flight to Barcelona ran a little late we knew we didn’t need to worry.  Last year we passed through Barcelona on our way up to A Corunna but didn’t have much time. This time however we were going to have a few hours to kill so  were able to take the opportunity to get a meal etc. and even found somewhere to charge up our phones – ‘tis a big airport to be sure. Oddly, an airport that seems to keep changing the boarding gates hence numerous announcements about new gates – folks are continuously scurrying about it seems from one gate to another – perhaps it’s someone’s idea of fun?


 Our 2nd flight of the day to Mahon, Menorca, was really short and our luggage came through to the carousel very quickly and suddenly we were out to be met by Lyn and David – wonderful – a short car ride later and we were at the marina and aboard Scarlet our home for the next two months. Maisie didn’t even bark at us as we came aboard. After a bit of a catch up on the last couple of months we sunk into our bunks for a good nights’ sleep.


The following morning we were up fairly early so we could have a quick look round Mahon before moving on later in the day, marina costs being what they are here-abouts.  The main town of Mahon is above the harbor so we walked up the hill for a wander whilst Lyn and David sorted some things out. I managed to get some postcards and wrote and posted them (13!!), not realizing that this trip I was going to do very little of that. The town itself was mostly closed as we were quite early but we did find a little café open for tea and Spanish style toast. Meeting back up with Lyn and David and then left the marina, going a short distance to the anchorage in Cala Taulera where we picked our spot just in time for lunch. The water was gorgeous so we all enjoyed a swim off the back of Scarlet….bliss. After tea there were several hilarious rounds of John before bed.


Cala Taulera is a lovely little bay and very interesting because of all the fortifications there guarding the entrance to the harbor and taking the dinghy in we had a walk round. This particular anchorage restricts folks to staying there for three days; however in the high season if the marinas are full they will leave you alone!! Worth knowing. It is a very popular day anchorage with the locals and on the tripper boats tour of Mahon harbor and the defensive structures that date from the 1700’s. Maisie got very excited at one point as she found a tortoise in the scrub. Back on board we had breakfast and pulled up the anchor and headed North, then W along the coast. We had a great little sail up to our next anchorage at Addaya and once again were just in time for lunch on board. After a great swim and relaxing afternoon we went ashore for sundowners and ended up having dinner there, though not one of the better ones. Another enjoyable day was rounded off with a game of Rumikub before bed. The anchorage itself is very, very sheltered and you do feel quite remote from the sea in an odd sort of way.


In the morning we took the dinghy further up the bay and all walked round the top part of the bay with Maisie; Lyn and Susan went across the causeway and saw lots of fish. The top end of the cala is very shallow and full of eel grass and forms part of a marine reserve. Back at the anchorage there was a trip to the shore to check emails etc and we discovered that we need to arrange for the rudder to be sent back to the UK so they can make a mould for the new one – another separate story in due course.


Whilst thinking about this we raised the anchor again and set off for Fornells further West along the north coast. No wind this time so we motored all the way and into the substantial bay where we picked up, or rather were tied to, by the very nice marinaro, a mooring buoy and again in time for lunch……can you see a theme developing here……. There are also places to anchor further up in the bay, but to be close the amenities (a.k.a. shops), the moorings were a good option at around 27 Euros per night – good moorings as well and graded by boat weight – the mariner even had an orange rib!!!


We enjoyed Fornells and we were there for a couple of days; there was so much going on around us and we enjoyed watching all the comings and goings in between our comings and goings. We went ashore and explored the place finding the supermarkets for supplies, shops of course and visiting the Torre (built by the Brits) and climbing to the top for some great views of the bay. On the way back we got a beautifully roasted chicken for dinner…..mmmmmmmmmm, did we enjoy it, oh yes. We also stayed to see some traditional Menorcan fishing boats racing – alas it was not to be, but the boats themselves were really interesting – we also had our first and last rain for the summer!!


Our next anchorage was in Pregonda further west along the northern coast of Menorca and this is one of our favourites, difficult as it is to have favourites when everywhere is so lovely.  We motored to Pregonda, initially anchoring in deeper water until some people moved and we could re-anchor further in. The water was a gorgeous colour, the sun was shining; it was beautiful, great swimming and some interesting snorkelling. We walked Maisie, then we swam in the crystal clear water before heading back to Scarlet for a lazy afternoon and then in the evening we were treated to a gorgeous view of the full moon rising over the hills; absolutely magical.  The water temperature according to the instruments was around 26C – amazing – Andrew has said he will not swim in anything less in the future (alas he forgot the grandchildren………. but that’s another story). Wonderful sand, clear water – ahhhhh!


It was so calm in the anchorage that it was hard to believe that we were aboard a boat. Watching the sun rise the next morning we were soon getting breakfast ready whilst Lyn walked Maisie.  So, so tempting to swim before the trippers arrive – glorious. The anchorage filled back up again as a lot of day boats arrived.  We all snorkeled and swam, had lunch and then we managed to get an ice-cream from one of the bigger tripper boats….it just rounded off another lovely day. The tripper boat crew were delighted someone had come over and asked!! After salmon for dinner whilst watching the moon again, we were ready for a few rounds of John before falling into our bunks.


It was good sailing weather the next day so we made our way to Algaiarens, a larger Cala with lots of anchoring room – at least three anchorages to choose from. After lunch we all went in to shore…..we were going to have a walk but the water was so gorgeous and warm we ended up swimming for ages. Maisie was enjoying the water too, well once she got in she did. Temp: 28C – Andrew very happy!


As is the case in most of the Med, there are a lot of folks who prefer less rather than more when considering swim wear – this is the case in most of Menorca, so folks and cruisers just get on with what they want to do and no one takes offence. This anchorage had more of the less!


What we soon discovered was that snorkeling was incredibly popular, in part due to the full face mask that Decathlon sell – there were lots and lots and lots of folks with these masks. The key being that you didn’t need anything in your mouth; the full mask allowed you to breathe “normally”. (We did get one eventually, and Susan does not regret it for a moment). Every bay, and every anchorage had many, many folks with these masks – well done Decathlon and the folks who developed it.


We now headed into civilization again and motored round to Cuitadella, the old capital of Menorca before the Brits moved the capital to Mahon as the anchorage was more extensive – not far off Poole in terms of overall size we believe. The approach to the harbour is very pretty with lots of colourful rocks and the dock was pretty empty when we arrived but the shock was the price….we had been expecting to pay around 75 euros a night but it was 135….ouch. However as we were expecting some big winds to blow through from the North we just bit the bullet.  Other boats seemed to follow us in and we had fun watching as they tried to get into the spaces; we had obviously timed it well for the conditions. The loo’s and showers were not great, but functional – you do wonder what you really get for the price at times – convenience is probably the key one at this time of year – the following month the price went up even more. ‘cos they can and do and folks will pay, particularly charter folks.


Making the most of being attached to the land again we walked into town for a look round and to get some information on the place. We found a supermarket nearby so could get few supplies and after dinner decided to walk back into town to have a proper look round. We were so pleased that we did. There was an extensive craft fair selling some lovely, lovely stuff, and the streets had a really great buzz about them. We stopped for a drink at a bar and there was a great guy singing and playing guitar. The place is truly delightful in the evening and we are looking forward to our other nights here. There are great bars and restaurants down by the sea and even more in the town around the large squares, complete with music, stalls and lots and lots of folks out enjoying the evening air.  Menorca has its own gin, courtesy of the British control for a few years, and it’s worth a try, or three. Great ice-cream and yoghurt to.


Cuitadella is going to be one of our favourite cities; every time we go out we saw something else to make us smile. Lyn and David went to check out the launderette whilst Andrew and I had a walk to see if there were any other supermarkets nearby. Whilst weaving our way through the lovely narrow streets we came across a wedding party, the bride wearing a beautiful dress that seemed to be made of very old lace, it was stunning. We found another supermarket and got some bits then returned to Scarlet for lunch. After washing Scarlet down Lyn and I went back to the launderette with another load of washing and whilst Lyn had her hair cut, I found the local hypermarket…..even better stocked…..we will be back. Oh, and some really interesting architecture as well.  A really, really nice place to spend some time.


The day was rounded off with another evening walk round the city. Cuitadella is a lovely city; it is not particularly big but has such a maze of little streets round the various churches and squares that even though we thought we had seen everywhere we still kept discovering new places. Lyn bought herself some of the traditional Menorcan shoes but I couldn’t find a pair I liked in my size. Though we did both find some really nice ear-rings.


Our last full day in Cuitadella was a busy one. We went up to the yacht club bar to do emails etc arranging for Jackie and Paul to be our contact for the rudder pick up back in Lagos. After lunch we all went to the Hypermarket for a big shop dragging back lots of goodies including some Cinzano! And wine. And beer. And bread and stuff………………


The following morning was spent getting the last bits we needed and after lunch we fueled up and then set off once more, following the coast south and then round towards the east along the coast to Cala Trebaluga. We were now watching the weather and checking several times a day as we waited for a window to make the crossing to Sardinia.  The big winds had blown through we now just wanted a bit of wind to blow us in the right direction.


Cala Trebaluga was very pretty with lovely pine trees on the hillsides and a river behind the beach and we had fun people watching as the bay emptied out for the evening. Unfortunately this was one of the rolly bays and none of us had a particularly good night’s sleep with a swell from the south, so were all a bit tired the next morning and ready to move on somewhere else. Sonbou was the next place we anchored off and it felt a lot calmer, we certainly were not rolling any near as much. The water was lovely for swimming and Lyn and I had a play in the sea with our noodles. Later on in the afternoon Andrew and David went and rescued a jetski that had floated away from a big motorboat (rescuing stuff was to become a theme of this trip it turned out) anchored near us then we settled down to watch another lovely sunset…..stunning colours that we just wish the camera could capture. Sonbou wasn’t really a bay, more a shallow area off the south coast we felt ok with – we were in 4 metres some 200 metres off the beach – quite strange!


We rang Chris and Tanya to wish them a happy anniversary, two years tomorrow, and Tanya is well and the babe is due in just 8 weeks now!


Full of excitement we were up early the next morning as the weather looks ok for our crossing. First of all we motored round to Mahon, thus completing our circumnavigation of Menorca. The marina was full so getting ashore was going to be tricky for the final few items – we tried a “fly-by” but the marina folks were not happy, but we prevailed and they let us stay for 30 minutes, as they had a “large yacht” docking soon – naturally we didn’t see it, but large yacht usually means something around 50 metres plus in length in these parts! We stopped on the quay just long enough for Lyn and I to go and get some fresh bread etc. then it was back to Cala Taulera to have lunch, a swim, a walk for Maisie and then we headed off just after 4pm for Sardinia in rolly seas and a not particularly great wind.


Off East North East towards Algherro in Sardinia - more in due course.


Susan and Andrew

Off on a trip



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