This is the first article in our series on Chartering Tips that aims to provide “useful” information to those chartering in new sailing grounds around the world. These articles are not intended to be formal cruising or chartering guides but instead are written to answer a simple question: Is there anything we wish we had known before chartering there?
We were fortunate to bareboat charter in Mallorca with Dream Yacht Charters in 2018. Were attending a family reunion in Pollenca (northeast corner of the island) and stayed there for several days instead of rushing from anchorage to anchorage as it is, unfortunately, our more standard approach to a fast 7-day charter. Our trip included a day-long single push passage from Palma to Pollenca (not recommended at all!) and visits to anchorages along the intimidating but beautiful north coast. Here are some of the things we learned along the way:
Mallorca is Rowdy so choose hotels carefully! Although Ibiza gets most of the press for being a party island for the rich, Mallorca is also quite the party hub although a bit more in the Jersey shore or Panama Beach style. “Hell no” is what my cousin who lived in Mallorca said when I asked him if the area of Magaluf was a nice place to find a hotel for my parents. “Think of Cancun but with drunk young brits having sex on the beach and picking fights with anything that moves”. We thought this was a bit of an exaggeration but then our taxi driver said “The travel agents put the Brits on the east side of Palma and the Germans on the west. That really helped reduce the fighting”. Luckily, there is nothing worth doing in Magaluf unless you are 20 and looking to party so you can definitely skip the rowdy spots.
The moral of the story is: when looking for a hotel for the bookends of your trip, seek hotels in the main downtown Palma area and avoid Magaluf and
surroudingregions (Palma Nova, Santa Ponsa) unless you want to party like it is 1999.
Easy Parking by the Dream Yacht Charter base. We rented a car for our first day because we needed to pick up my parents and drive them all the way to Pollenca. So we drove to the DYC base located in Port Calanova on the west side of Palma and were stressing out about whether we would find parking near the marina. We were quite surprised to find a massive and mostly empty (and in high season) parking lot right in front of the Marina. The payment machine is located on the stairs on the southeast corner of the parking lot, which is what the person will tell you when you call the “
The DYC base is not at the Marina at the big DYC tent with all the DYC employees. So don’t walk ever there with all of your papers introducing yourself because they will send you up the road to the real DYC base. Instead, the Base (office) is on Joan Miro St about 1/2 a block east of the Marina on the opposite side of the street. You have to first go to the office to complete the paperwork before you go down to the marina to start the boarding and boat check-in process.
An Eroski Supermarket is a block away up the street on Joan Miro. If you have a car, I recommend driving to one of the larger stores in the suburbs of Palma instead (e.g., Mercadona) which will have a larger and cheaper selection than the Eroski. To bring the groceries down from the street level to the marina there are elevators on the main Marina building that take you down to the water level near the marina restaurant.
Be careful when doing a passage on the north coast of Mallorca. Don’t do the Mallorca to Pollenca passage in a single day, but if you do, pay attention to the wind and swell for the previous days. We decided to do a day-long passage to Pollenca in a single day and it was quite an uncomfortable trip for many reasons. The north coast of Mallorca is notorious for being rough and having few if any safe anchorages in case of storms. I looked at the weather carefully and it seemed like a perfect day for the passage. Winds were light at 5-10 knots from the north, mostly sunny with a slight chance of scattered thunderstorms in the afternoon. What was supposed to be a long but easy
What went wrong? Well, I failed to check the historical weather. The day of the passage was the first break of a series of days with strong
The second mistake was ignoring the “scatter thunderstorm” chance. Dealing with squalls is something we do often and not a real cause of concern. However, I didn’t know the nature of the squalls that travel from the mainline of Spain and into the deep Med. These squalls are massive with 50+ knot winds and capable of doing some serious damage to boats at sea. The squall hit us about 20 miles from the northeast corner of Mallorca. By the time we saw the size of the squall and that it was coming right for us, we had no options for safe anchorage. So we played it safe by reefing deeply and motoring slightly off wind. The boat behaved beautifully (a Lagoon 42 similar to Blue Buddha) and we spent most of the time listening to distress calls from other boats and trying to figure out if we were within assisting distance. The squall passed within several minutes and soon after we saw a boat motor by us with all the sails completely shredded. A while later we saw a conglomeration of boats surrounding a mid-size yacht that we assumed was the one that was sending distress signals during the storm.
The moral of the story is: Take med “scatter storms” seriously. These are not Caribbean squalls!
Do not miss Pollenca. We loved
The trip to Faro de Formentor is worth it (for a few minutes). When you sail the northeast corner of Mallorca you can easily see the massive and spectacular lighthouse Faro de Formentor. Getting there from Pollenca require taking a bus (no cars allowed) from the Pollenca bus station. The bus trip itself is worth the time as the road to the Faro is quite stunning. There is a small buffet-style restaurant at the faro with pizza, coffee
Playa Formentor is gorgeous and worth the pricey mooring. Just at the
Break the north passage by stopping in Port Soller but get there early. Port Soller, on the north coast, is the quintessential small Med Port town with a large share of super yachts, a beautiful anchorage, and plenty of
Skip Torre de
There is no anchoring in Port d’ Andratx. We, unfortunately, skipped the highly-rated Port d Andratx on the west coast of Mallorca. We found out too late that the entire
Make the passage to Menorca if you have more than a
Finally, make sure you schedule your departure taxi through DYC in advance. When they offered to schedule a taxi for us we were not 100% sure at what time we wanted to leave to the airport so we decline and assume it would be easy for us to schedule a taxi on our own. Big mistake. Scheduling a taxi was essentially impossible as taxi base just did not pick up the phone (we were warned about this before). The taxi