Friday, June 1, 2012

Cabrera National Park May 31, 2012

We sailed the 10 miles from Mallorca to the Cabrera Island in perfect sailing condition – 10-15 knots wind on the beam, flat sea, blue sky. Plenty of other sailboats were in the vicinity, enjoying a weekend outing. We are moored at the Cabrera Island, which is part of the national park maritime reserve just off the southern tip of Mallorca. The park comprises a group of rugged island with numerous coves, small beaches, rocky shelves and sea cliffs. The waters here are exceptionally clear and one can easily see through 15 meters into the blue sea bottom.  No anchoring is allowed, and visiting vessels must make reservations to tie to one of the 50 mooring buoys available in the large, sheltered deep bay at Puerto Cabrera. In peak seasons boats are only allowed to stay one night; off season one can stay up to 7 days. The on-line booking web page is very difficult to find and to navigate, but luckily we managed to book our mooring for 4 days. And it’s all free of charge. The surrounding remains me of our sailing-camping at Killarney and Beausolie National Park in Georgian Bay, Ontario - the rugged coastline, the serenity, the clear water, but without the mosquitoes!

View from the hill-top castle overlooking the bay

Crystal clear water. And no jet ski allowed :-)

Hiking trail to the lighthouse 

The climate of island is semi-arid, but there is an exceptional variety of flora and fauna. Bird life is rich, including falcon, stormy petrel, shags, and many shearwaters. The small Balearic lizards are everywhere, ducking in and out of stone crevices. There are still a few professional fishermen on the island, using traditional small fishing boats, called Llaüt, and using hand-drawn nets; this activity is regulated to ensure the natural space is fully respected. There are several hiking trails that meander through the island and offer excellent vistas of the rugged coast. There’s a castle which towers over the harbor entrance. Built in the 14th century, the stonework is still as good as new. We took a two-hour hike to see the large light house which stands at the western edge of the island at Punta de Ensiola. In this late-May, the weather is perfect for hiking – mid-20’s by mid day, a mountain breeze keeps the air cool, the calm Mediterranean Sea spreads out under an infinite blue sky. In the rain-ward side of the island, where there is a small forest of shady pine trees, stands a memorial to the thousands of French soldiers who were held as prisoners of war on the island during the Napoleonic war. Many perished from exposure, disease and starvation. It was a quiet place; most cruisers chose to hang around the water. We enjoyed the view from this perch, listening to the wind-driven sighs of the pine forest, the wind rolling off the sun-baked hills, and in the absolute quietness of the hills the only sound was the pines sighing, like waves after waves.

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