There are two major towns on Menorca: Ciutadella in the west and Mahon, the capital of the island, in the east. We had heard that both cities were well worth a visit, so we decided to move to an anchorage close to Ciutadella to check out this town first.
It was a short hop from Cala Son Saura to Cala Santandria, approximately 3 kilometers south of Ciutadella. According to the information, this cala was reasonably sized, but as was already the end of June (close to peak season), you never really know if there will be space. Goodvibes was at the head of the fleet so as soon as we arrived we investigated the situation.
There were some big yachts and catamarans anchored just outside the cala. Once inside the cala almost all boats were lined up along the two opposite sites, with the anchor dropped in the middel and tied up stern-to with lines to the shore. We were aware of this style of mooring (called Med mooring because it is mainly applied in the Mediterranean) but we though you would only find it in places like Greece where they use it to moor on the town quays. We had not don this before but hey, it was a beautiful place and there there was enough space so let’s try something new!
Our first time Med mooring
We made a little round of the cala to have some time to communicate the plan with each other, and slowly started reversing into a suitable space. As usual Jon was at the helm and I was at the anchor. In the middle of the cala we dropped the anchor while we slowly approached the shore with the stern of the boat. There was one small motorboat on our portside which we got very close to a few times but luckily we had put our fenders out and the guy on the boat was not getting angry or panicky. Slowly we just continued going in reverse. It helped that the wind was on our nose so we were not going sideways to much.
Once we were a few meters of the coast we had to somehow get a line ashore to tie us up. Fortunately we had been towing our dinghy (normally we deflate and stow it away for a passage) so Jon used this to get ashore. Well, easier said than done because we didn’t have the engine on the dinghy and the oars were also stowed away. He pushed himself off Goodvibes and using his hands as paddles he managed to get to the shore. It was a very rocky and steep shore so it also took some time to find the best place to climb up.
He tied the line he had taken with him on a rocky outcrop while I stayed on the boat fending off the motorboat and making sure we weren’t getting too close to the shore. After the first line was tied up we could turn off the engine, but Jon went back to shore again to tie up a second line and to make sure the lines were tied up properly. He didn’t get much time to do so though, because the first of our friends, s/y Sally, was approaching the anchorage. They anchored a few meters from us and having Jon ashore made it easy for them to tie up.
Around the same time Susan had also arrived. If med mooring is quite tricky for us, you can imagine how difficult it is for a solo sailor! Because Jon was still helping s/y Sally he could not go over to Susan in our dinghy to help her get a line ashore. So she decided to throw the anchor and drift in the center of the cala. Once Jon was ready he went over to her to tie up her lines.
Still there was no time to rest because s/y Wilma was the last boat of our fleet to arrive. We had space besides us for them but we had to be sure their anchor wasn’t laid over our anchor. With Helena at the helm, they reversed beautifully into the parking space and thanks to Håkan from s/y Sally on shore and Jon in the dinghy their lines were tied up in no time.
Checking the new spot
Now it was time to relax and take in our new surroundings. Being so close to the shore (approximately 5 meters) meant that it almost felt like we were in a marina. It was not so straightforward to get on land though: we had quite a complicated line system so we could share our dinghy with s/y Wilma, which meant that for every ‘crossing’ we would have to untie one of three lines (the correct one obviously!) and on arriving at the shore we would have to remember to tie up so you could get back to the boat.
THE LINES SITUATION…
After climbing up a few steep rocks you would find yourself on the beautiful outskirts of cala Santandria. There was even some grass for the puppy and the walk to the beach at the end of the cala went through patches of forest.
Initial recon showed that there were bins near the beach and a few little supermarkets and cafes very nearby. There was also a busservice to Ciutadella.
The next day we were all eager to check out Ciutadella. We walked to the busstop and saw we would have to wait about 20 minutes for the next bus. According to googlemaps it was only 2.7 kilometers to the town, so we decided to walk instead. On the way we saw various useful outlets: supermarkets, a laundromat, a motorbike rental place.
The city itself was very pleasant. Ciutadella has a population of 30.000 people and its center is situated just next to the quays of the marina. The two days prior to our visit the town had been celebrating Fiesta de Sant Joan – the biggest festival in Menorca of the year. As a result it was pretty subdued in town, apart from some leftover fairground attractions. It did give us a chance to walk around the medieval streets of the old town and the leafy squares with stylish stone buildings in peace and quiet.
For the next two days we rented a scooter. That gave us the opportunity to view more of Menorca, scope out some possibly anchorages, and visit some shops.
Our first stop was Mahon, 45 kilometers away on the opposite side of the island. While driving straight through the middle of the island we noticed how different Menorca is from Ibiza and Mallorca. It is much more low-key, there seems to be a lot less tourism and the countryside is mainly used for agricultural purposes. There were fields with cows and many acres of land with hay bales. Towards the north-east there were some more forrests with pine trees. This was something we had also seen (and smelled!) in Mallorca, but there the landscapes was much more imposing with high hills and steep cliffs. Menorca is generally flat although not completely.
Once in Mahon our group of 3 scooters got separated for a short time due to miscommunication. No problem though, thanks to our mobiles we quickly got in touch again. Jon and I were only a kilometer away from the others, however it took us quite a long time to find them thanks to the one-way street system in the old town of Mahon. By now it was close to 3 o’ clock and we were hungry and in need of a coffee. We had parked our bikes next to the fish market – which rang a bell… In the bay of Pollensa we had met a German sailor who had just come from Menorca and he had given us some tips on where to go. He had mentioned a place behind the fish market where you could eat very nice tapas. And what a coincidence that we ended up right there without even looking for it!
After lunch we had to split up the group again. The night before Jon had broken a filling in this tooth so he was on the lookout for a dentist. An motorbike mission early that morning into Ciutadella was unsuccesful so he googled if there were any dental practises in Mahon. One nearby was open and he could even be seen the same day! We only had to wait about 45 minutes.
He was given a temporary filling so at least he could eat normally again. He did however have to come back in a week’s time to drill out the remainder of the filling. Depending on whether the root would be exposed, he may have to make another appointment after that for a root canal. So it looks like we won’t be leaving Menorca anytime soon. There are worse places to spent some time in summer!
On the way back, we stopped at two places in the northeast that looked very promising for anchoring. Addaia is a small harbour with anchoring options in a stunning environment. Fornells is a large bay, 5 kilometers long and 2 kilometers wide, with lots of anchoring options. Both locations look great for a future stop.
Shopping, shopping and more shopping
The next day it was time for chores. After our initial provisioning in Gibraltar we had been able to stock up on the essentials like fresh meat and vegetables in local supermarkets but we hadn’t topped up daily items that keep for a longer time. After our first season we realised it is a good idea to keep large quantities of rice, pasta, cereal, juice etc. so you don’t have to worry about running out for a long time.
It was easy to zip around on the scooter and we could park it quite close to the boat which meant we didn’t have to do much carrying. So the mission of the day was shopping. We started with a Lidl in Ciutadella. We filled up the seat and the top-box, put some bags at Jon’s feet and I carried two bags over my shoulders – easy peasy! Ah, but the stuff is not on the boat yet! We could park the motorbike about 200 meters from the boat. So we had to carry all the bags to the shore. There we had to lower them carefully into the dinghy, get across, haul the bags up on Goodvibes, and move them into the cabin.
And then we repeated that two more times with trips to the Mercadona. At the end of the day we were pretty knackered and all the shopping was all over the saloon (except for the chilled food which we had put in the fridge). Alas, there was no time to rest because we were expecting one more guest in the anchorage.
We welcome Norway in our fleet
s/y Wilma had for several months been in touch with a Norwegian solo sailor called Øivind. He was approaching our anchorage in Menorca but had various problems with his boat so he needed some help anchoring. Jon and Fredrik got in our dinghy so Fredrik could climb on board of Øivind’s boat to help getting the anchor down. Meanwhile Øivind had put his steering on manual but while reversing in he noticed his rudder wasn’t working. He quickly put it back on the autopilot as the steering had been working in that mode. Jon once again (for the fourth time) helped with tying up the lines ashore. After everybody had settled down we were invited for a welcome/thank-you drink on board of the Norwegian boat. Of course we didn’t decline this very kind offer!