Close hauled all the way.

Written by Mia and Jon:

You can’t sail into the wind. But you can sail nearly into the wind and depending on many factors: boat, sails, waves, skills etc. dictates how close you can sail. Sailing as close to the wind as possible is a point of sail called ‘close hauled’.

Looking at the weather forecasts (I often check four different sources) there was some disagreement about where exactly the wind would be coming from on Sunday the 5th of June, PredictWind said from the North East but the local forecasts said from the East. I decided to trust PredictWind as they had been fairly accurate in the past so we got an early night on Saturday and woke up with dawn on Sunday ready to go.

Weighing anchor in the bay of Pollenca we picked our way out of the shallows under engine and motored up to Cap Formentor in the early morning calm. Shortly after clearing the towering headlands we got out into the wind, sails out, engine off, Teo got up from bed.

The forecast has hinted that the wind would go more easterly during the day so the plan was just to sail as close to the wind as possible and make as much ground north of east as possible. The sea was calm, the wind was a steady 10 knots and Itchy Foot happily pranced along at 6 knots heading due east.  Great! Due east would take us towards Ciudadella and give us plenty of room to head south and still make landfall in Menorca’s south coast when the wind pushed us that way.

Mia announced that she wanted a cup of tea and biscuits on the foredeck, so off she popped with the cruising guide to the Balearics to read up on our Minorca options. Teo followed up, harnessed on to the safety line we run from the front to the back of the boat, allowing him to move around without worry of falling in. I followed up with a cup of tea and much adored Oreos and the three of us as a lovely sit as the auto helm sailed us towards our destination. We giggled and stared at the sky and I think as least the adults were thinking things like, ”That’s more like it!” and “Finally, what we were waiting for!”

It’s about 8 hours sail across to Menorca, and as the day progress the winds increased and the sea with it. We furled away a little sail and bounced around a little more; Mia got splashed and retreated to the  cockpit with the baptised Pilot book. The wind conditions sent us directly into Ciutadela, so we took the hint and headed in.

We were warned that the marina is small and is often fully booked but we called them and they said there was plenty of space. The approach is funny… it was very, very narrow and reminded us of Florida with brightly coloured houses and perfectly manicured palm trees in the gardens. It kept getting more and more narrow and then we came around a bend an saw it, a beautiful little harbour, with fishing boats and forts.

We got tied up to our finger pontoon and enjoyed our showers and went to explore a very cute, picturesque town. The old town was lovely and there was a play area that Teo loved until he wiped out and got his first proper skinned knees and hands, embedded gravel and everything. After getting him cleaned up, we went to a place called Roma for dinner. This is quite a treat as we don’t go out for many meals in restaurants. And hurrah, it was one of the top 10 (Jon’s top 5) pizzas we have ever had, that is saying something!

The next day we went to Naveta des Tudons, which holds claim to being the oldest building in Europe at some 3000 years old. Here is the strange part, we had to ask twice at the tourist office so they would point us in the right direction and when we got there we had it to ourselves. Mia remembers a very different story in Pompei for example. In fact, we had to take a taxi  to get there because the bus that connects the two main cities of Minorca goes right past the place but there is no stop.

At fifty euros a night to be moored there we didn’t feel we could stay the second night and had to leave in the afternoon. But we’re already looking forward to next time!

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