The final run for 2017 - Scarlino Italy to Cartagena Spain

21st September - 7th October 

170924 2 Last glimpse of Portoferraio

On route back to Cartagena Spain our first nights anchorage was in the Bay of Portoferrario Isle of Elba, an anchorage that felt like a familiar backyard having now anchored here on three occasions over the season. No gelato ashore this time as we sailed the following morning with unsettled weather to the east coast of Corsica squeezing into the old town harbour of Bastia between a customs boat and a small fishing boat.

170925 3 Bastia Harbour Katherine tucked in

The harbour of Bastia 

170925 1 Bastia washing day170924 8 Bastia Harbour

A Corsica Travel Guide stated "It is to the old town that you will be drawn with its faded charm of narrow streets and alleys, where washing still hangs drying from ancient shuttered windows in the tall, often almost crumbling, buildings, dating largely from the 18th century.”. Lonely Planet added that despite its importance as a port town and arrival point by ship for many tourists the town has resisted the force to tidy up its appearance holding onto instead a a unique charm with its decaying buildings. We certainly contest that the descriptions by both were apt. We witnessed the washing being strung across the old building fronts and pondered how many of the buildings with crumbling facades were still standing let alone occupied. The view from our deck looking back on the city each night was truely postcard worthy. 

170927 4 Approaching Bonafacio


170928 5 Bonafacio Coastline170928 2 Bonafacio Harbour

From Bastia we continued south along the east coast of Corsica passing through the Strait of Bonafacio, an 11km wide stretch of water that divides the Tyrrhenian Sea from the western Mediterranean Sea, and Corsica from Sardinia. As we approached the harbour of Bonafacio we were greeted by a wall of stunning white limestone cliffs carved by the sea over centuries. Perched high and what appeared precariously on the edge of those cliffs was the Citadel dating back to the 9th century. The marina sat at the foot of the Citadel some 70 meters below and entered through an inlet that in days gone by must have been heavily fortified. We spent two nights in Bonafacio and enjoyed the lively marina area with restaurants and shops and a lot of tourists given it was now mid September. Morning walks up the steep steps to the Citadel not only provided some cardiac exercise but afforded some beautiful views of the cliff faces and the strait to Sardinia. 

170929 8 Alghero Sardegna Waterfront

Alghero Sea Wall and our view at night 

170930 1 People watching Alghero Sardegna Harbour

Next port of call in our journey westward was actually south - to the northwest town of Alghero Sardinia. Our berth for two nights was stern to the sea wall that encircled the old town.  Alghero had a definite Spanish influence which was understandable when research revealed that Alghero was from the 1300’s ruled by the House of Aargon and used as the main sea route between Catalon and Sardinia until Italian rule took over in the 1700’s. We found a superb small delicatessen from which we were able to stock with fresh bread, local meats and cheese for our over night run to the Balearic Islands. 

Sunset at sea always looks beautiful 

171002 1 Sailing Alghero Sardegna Harbour  for Mallorca Spain Storm clouds171002 3 Sailing Alghero Sardegna Harbour  for Mallorca Spain Spanish flag171003 1 Beautiful anchorage of Cala Mondrago

We left Alghero Harbour around 9.30am on the morning of the 2nd October with the intention of stopping either at the first island of Menorca or if all going well a further 60 miles onto Mallorca. Well the run was long - sea state was unsettled and the wind strength did not settle throughout the night shifting in strength from 15 knots to 25 knots. This just meant that our two hour shifts that we undertake when on passage were spent constantly trimming the main sheet to adjust to the strength of the wind. Night sailing for Lee is best when the wind is consistent both in strength and direction, the boat is settled in her motion and the sea state is relatively flat. That allows the person on shift to admire the night sky, the phosphorus in the water when it appears and to be lost in one thoughts or music. Guess it can’t always be that way. 

We arrived at the top of the Balearics off the island of Menorca around 6am in the morning so decided to push on to the anchorage of Cala Mondrago on the north of Mallorca. We have put this down as a Cala to return to should we be cruising this coastline again as the beautiful clear water is surrounded by a National Park and onshore is a small resort area that is by land a bit of an expedition to get to keeping the number of visitors a little more controlled. Tuesday the 3rd of October we were on the move again heading to Marina El Arenal a marina in the Bay of Palma where we waited the arrival the following morning of good friend Berend Van Geffen from The Netherlands. We first met Berend in 2012 in the Las Palmas Grand Canaria and over the last five years have had the fortune to cruise with him and his family or visit them in their homeland. In all that time Berend has only every been onboard Katherine for the regattas never to cruise. 

171005 1 Berend and Andrew sailing Ibiza to Formentera

Berend and Andrew just enjoying the sail 

171005 4  Formentera Happy Tourist Boat171005 3 sailing Ibiza to Formentera Boat A again

Within hours of Berend stepping onboard we left the marina and sailed to Cala Boix at the North Eastern corner of Ibiza. An opportunity missed here apparently were the three restaurants overlooking the bay from the cliffs all renowned for their fish dishes. Another next time. 

From Cala Boix it was truely a “ glorious” run to the Isle of Formentara, the smallest and most southerly of the Balearic Islands.  We ventured ashore and were surprised how little “shopping” area there was on this small island given the volume of tourists that were arriving by the never ending ferry shuttles. Given the number of scooters for rental and scooter rental repair shops the need on this island was obviously more about transport to the beaches than shopping.

In case we were wondering if we were in the right neighbourhood we had only to look across the bay and see once more the Boat A - still think they have been following our trail all season and still don’t think she is a pretty boat. 

171005 8 Formentera Moon Rising

Moon Rising Formentara 

171007 3 Calp to Cartagena Waterspouts

Our final anchorage for the season was in the bay of Calpe under Penyal d'lFac where we had anchored on our first night of the season with Chris. The Penyal d’lFac still made for an impressive back drop particularly with the full moon rising. 

171007 6 Arriving Cartagena Berend

So came all too soon our last offical day of sailing for the 2017 season. Mother nature stepped in to give us yet another tale for the story book. A long cloud front or ridge was running parallel to the coastline from Calpe to Alicante, keeping us on our toes as we watched water spouts forming and touching down. Sails were put away as we motored under the cloud front near Alicante happy that nothing formed over head or too close. The remainder of the sail turned into a motor giving us an opportunity to admire the coastline that earlier in the year had been shrouded in fog.

Entering the harbour of Cartagena was like coming home as we were greeted by the Marina staff, along with Beate, Berhnard and Alex from Aurora. Yes sad to see the season come to a close but being back in the harbour amongst familiar faces made it feel like the right place to close the season. 

Farewelling our last guest of the season it was time time to prepare Katherine for her winter sojourn. 

171109 Katherine sitting in Cartagena looking sharp

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© SV Katherine 2018      Cover Photo: Katherine on Anchor Isle Tabarca Spain