Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sept. 4, 2012 A Rolly Passage to Menorca

Forecast called for 15 knots wind, the blue. Instead we got the green/yellow stuff!

We had planned to stay in Puerto Pollenca in Mallorca until the end of August and then sail to Menorca, another Balearic Island to the east. We’ve enjoyed the summer in Mallorca, taking many trips inland by bus or rental car, and have enjoyed visiting the many scenic, historical inland cities. The weather was hot in August – in fact the high temperature broke the 50-year record in Mallorca. But on the boat in the anchorage there was always a cooling breeze and rarely uncomfortably hot.
But at the end of August there was a major weather system across the whole Med., a Mistral that roars down from the Gulf of Leon and blankets the seas with gale force wind. It lasted for a whole week, and by the end of that we were feeling bottled up and were anxious to get moving. We had two choices – leave on this day with remnants of the sea and winds, or the next day which will have little wind. We picked the windier day, and on this Tuesday morning we waved goodbye to the many sailing friends we made here and departed for the 35 miles trip to Menorca.

Eliza enjoying the ride....most of the time

The marine weather between Menorca and Mallorca is notoriously unpredictable, as the strong north wind gets deflected by Menorca, and may leave the strait between the two islands relatively calm. But Menorca is a low-lying island with no tall mountains, so the deflection does not always work. As was the case on this day. The forecast called for a very manageable 15 knots, overcast sky. But once we left Mallorca, we were hit by a squall. Dark clouds filled the sky and cold rain poured down in large drops. Wind picked up to 30 knots, and waves quickly built to over 3 meters. We were caught with too much canvas. With a deeply reefed jib and full main, we were surfing down large waves on a board-reach at 8.5 knots – a record for us. But the Nauticat was in complete control, and rock-solid stable. Her directional control is excellent, despite the large quartering waves. Often when we were in marinas or anchorages, we watched those ‘Med boats’ with envy as they turn on a dime with nice maneuverability in tight quarters. But those light-displacement boats with narrow keels will not do too well in these conditions. I will never complain again about my heavy displacement boat with her long keel!

Nothing feels better than arriving at a beautiful, sheltered anchorage after a tough passage!


  1. Beautiful article and beautiful voyage. I love how you guys just decided to go on a trip and up and left. And that to on a cruise.