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The Balearic Islands, a well established chartering center in the Mediterranean, have become the logical continuation for those Italian seafarers navigating the Sardinian waters


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Nautica Magazine 385, May 1994

Isole Baleari

Isole Baleari


Baleares Islands

Large sailing vessels, in their annual mutation across the Atlantic, call at three main destinations: the Canary Islands in November before crossing the Atlantic westbound, Antigua in May on their way back East an finally the Balearic Islands where their Mediterranean home port is located.

Indeed, these islands located as they are at less than 100 miles from the Spanish coast, represent the real entrance to the old Mare Nostrum and as far as the climate is concerned, they offer as much sun as one can take. Rainy days are no more than ninety in a year, mostly between February and April, and consist of rather strong squall immediately followed by sun breaks. It is therefore logical that many yachtsmen have elected these island, whit their mild sub-tropical climate, as the place were to spent the winter.

The biggest and the most important island is Majorca, whose capitol Palma is the real yachting center.

The exclusive Royal Nautical Club is located at the center of the harbor which also features many other Marinas scattered along the bay. The Royal club, capable of 1000 berths, is the place where you can run into King Juan Carlos of the Spanish Crown Prince or his sister all of them consummated sailors.

The Copa del Rey, the Royal Cup, one of the most spectacular regattas in the Mediterranean is organized here in August together with many other sailing events which sail worshipers cannot miss.

Chartering is usually organized on the Palma-Ibiza route including Formentera the south most major island.

Majorca, dubbed as the calm island, shaped as an open shell, presents a constantly changing landscape: to the north a mountain range, the Sierra Tramuntana or Northern Mountains shields it from the cold northerly winds the shady valleys where orange and olive trees grow in abundance.

The coast line, over 400 kilometers long, is wild with impressive cliffs to the west intermingled with small coves with crystal pure waters; elsewhere the landscape gradually reaches the waters through a slightly accidented coastline.

Ports, no less than 28 major facilities all served with water and electricity at the berths, are aplenty around Majorca. The most important, besides Palma, is the Portals marina where "il Moro di Venezia" started her preparations before moving to San Diego, California, for her famous America Cup challenge.

Night life at Palma lasts till late morning although the real holiday realm belongs to Ibiza. This is the southernmost of all the islands, named with the nearby Formentera Pitiuse by the Greeks for the thick pine vegetation growing there. During the Romans era these island where renowned for their ports and their impressive walls. White island, another nickname given to these islands, comes the typically white washed houses and churches. Today's Ibiza is a modern town serving a large and well managed port with many yachting facilities. Modernism has not however eradicated the old cultural traditions well highlighted by the summer festivals culminating with the Fiestas del Carmen on the 16 of August when a characteristic marine parade is displayed.

Anchoring possibilities are plentiful in an endless row of bays and coves between Ibiza and Formentera. Safe ports are on the other hand, only four at Ibiza: two in the capital's gulf and one at the nearby Botafoch and one, St. Anthony on the northwest coast. Sabina cove on the northern coast of Formentera can be reached easily; this location is however very crowded and a serene night anchorage can be found at the Playa Isletas open road.

Those looking forward to a typical sailing vacation, should go to Minorca instead. Sufficiently small to be circumnavigated in a reasonable sailing time, the island can offer tree well positioned ports with plenty of additional anchorage. Most importantly, Minorca is outside the main tourist stream an jet it can offer more beaches than all the other islands together, it has retained an unspoiled natural beauty together with a remarkable historic and artistic patrimony. Mahon is the largest natural port in the Mediterranean, the second in the world after Pearl Harbor, with a fjord six kilometers long and one wide with tree islets and, at the bottom of the town with its sailing club.

Admiral Nelson used to winterize here while flirting with lady Hamilton; here also curiously mayonnaise was invented although it was Cardinal Richelieu chef who brought it to worldwide fame after steeling the recipe!

To the island's north one can find the port of Fornelis with more than sixty berths all supplying water and electricity while the landing at Ciudadela on the western side completes the availability of organized island's port facilities. The entire coast however offer an endless number of bays and coves which can be used as night anchorage in good weather conditions.

Minorca's characteristic trait, and this indeed apply to the entire Balearic archipelago, is the natural disposition to the nautical tourism coupled to inland tours where explorations can satisfy a wide range of interests: from archeology while visiting the "Taule" (megalithic monuments 3000 years old), to naturalism with all the bays and cliffs, to culinary of which fish and shell fish (mayonnaise was not born here by accident) wines and cheeses represent the most interesting part.

This is a true paradise for sailing vacationers who can reach these islands through easy navigation or locally find an ample variety of chartering alternatives after either landing here by air or ferry.

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