Playtime in Pollença Bay

We’d left the west coast of Mallorca to visit the large bay of Pollenca, known for being an all weather anchorage. The scenery isn’t quite as dramatic as the rugged west coast, but it’s still beautiful. To the south, the land rolls gently across farmland before rising to the Tramuntana mountain range; in the distance we could see the highest peak and it’s golf ball radar station glinting away. The sinuous spine of Cape Formentor stretches to the north and in the east, Cape Alcudia limits the fetch and curbs the strength of easterly winds.

The all round shelter was very appealing. Being on constant alert for changes in the weather can be exhausting! It was a safe place to catch up with some boat jobs, to have some fun exploring the area and restock the stores.

Pine Walk – this tree seems a little tired

The Anchorage

The safety of the anchorage has attracted many live aboard sailors with permanent moorings installed across the inner end of the bay. For lovers of old boats, a dinghy around the bay showcases a selection of beautiful old sailing yachts, sadly some looking a little worse for wear.

The mooring field

Even with the mooring field, there is still a huge area in which to anchor, although with two areas to be avoided – the posidonia field marked by yellow buoys, and the fire fighting seaplane manoeuvring area.

The bay is shallow; only 3 to 4m deep across most of it, the seabed easily visible with a light covering of weed. We held first go, but others seemed to struggle – but perhaps that could have been down to their technique? Being shallow, the water clarity changes quickly: clear in the calm mornings when we could watch shoals of tiny fish darting about, to murky in the afternoons when the chop came up.

Looking east across the bay. Can you spot Emerald?

Most afternoons whilst we were there, a breeze would set in from the north east, 10 to 15kts, creating a chop. Add to that the wake of the myriad of boats coming and going and at times we felt we were living in a washing machine. Thankfully by evening, it would usually all quieten down.

There is a place to securely leave the dinghy, with rings set in to the landward end of the marina wall. The holiday town was quiet; evidently Covid19 was affecting tourist numbers, although there were plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants open. Several supermarkets, a chandlers, a weekly outdoor market and a lovely promenade, add to the town’s attractiveness for sailors.

Pollenca Outdoor Market

A Walk to Cala de Boquieres

We had hoped to anchor in Cala de Boquieres on our way up the west coast, however the weather wasn’t favourable. Instead we took a walk from Pollenca through a beautiful valley populated with some very friendly goats. Prehistoric man set up home here and we did get a “land that time forgot” vibe as we pushed our way through hip high grass, the only people around.

The cala looked lovely – further out we could see clear blue water over sand with big round pebbles gathered around the shore. The beach showed the evidence of how strong the wind can blow in here, piled up with debris and reed sticks, which enterprising people had built into sun shelters.

Another Walk, to Cala St. Vincenc

Another cala on the west coast, this one has been built up into a small resort. We walked across from the port, up and over a saddle with views around the surrounding hills.

Swapping Wind Power for Pedal Power

Port de Pollenca is billed as the bicycle capital of Mallorca, with a large number of bike hire shops to cater for visitors who want to ride the twisty roads through the Tramantuna mountains or the challenging route out to Cap de Formentor. We went for something a little more sedate – a cycle along the bike path around the bay and out along the Alcudia peninsula, returning via an inland route on quiet, country lanes with pretty pastoral scenes. It’s been over a year since we last rode a bike and the small hills we encountered certainly got the blood pumping and our thighs quivering.

Pollenca Old Town

We had to collect a delivery from Pollenca town, which was a good excuse for a visit. The fridge played nice for a change, and we were ashore in time to catch the 9:45 bus. This was good, as our plan was to walk 300m up, to the sanctuary on Puig María, and the air temperature was forecast to be 32C that day.

Pollenca old town, the Calvari steps can be seen as a line just left of centre

The route up follows a twisting tarmac road for the first part, welcome shade provided by leafy trees. Even with so many switchbacks, there were some steep sections. Just below the top, the tarmac becomes a cobbled path. OK going up, but the stones have been worn slippery smooth by the passing of countless pilgrim and tourist feet over the centuries. With gravity assist on the way back down, we both made a couple of unintended tiny slides. Though we just about managed to stay upright.

The fourteenth century building on the peak is lovely, an oasis of peace and calm with a small chapel and simple rooms in which people can stay overnight. We explored the shady corridors with fabulous views out of every window.

The Sanctuary

Having survived the slippery cobbles, we arrived back down to the town just after midday. After a wander around the maze of narrow streets and restorative cakes and drinks, there was another up to tackle, this time the 365 Calvari steps, one for every day of the year. A local artist’s (Joan Bennassar) sculptures were displayed along the way to distract us from the step count.

Old town Pollenca

Our last stop was the Roman Bridge. Or the probably not really Roman bridge. The Romans were in the area – the ruins of Pollencia, from which Pollenca takes it’s name, can be visited near Alcudia. However, the experts think this bridge is Medieval rather than Roman.

The possibly or possibly not, Roman bridge

Comet Spotting

There was a little light pollution from the town, however, it didn’t stop us from comet spotting. We were able to just about see Comet Neowise with the naked eye, much more obvious when viewed through binoculars.

However, trying to photograph the light trail proved to be extremely tricky, requiring a long exposure; difficult on a boat even on an evening when there wasn’t any swell or chop. Can you see it in the picture? Look closely at the middle of the photo, there is a very faint line.

Boat Jobs

Emerald has been keeping us busy this summer with an endless supply of things to fix.

She’s also reached the stage where we can no longer ignore the piles of dust gathering on the shelves. I’m very much in the “dust if you must” camp; we realised we’d reached the must stage and carried out a mini spring clean.

The fridge is still doing it’s thing and requires a fettle every morning.

Watermaker Woes

The quality of the product from our watermaker has been steadily declining since we commissioned it in May. Having been in use for 6 seasons, the membranes are likely nearing the end of their working life. We’d hoped to push them through to the end of this season, however, the TDS readings (a test of the water’s quality) we’ve been getting are slowly going up.

We have two primary filters on the seawater intake; the first one was looking very dirty, so we switched the second one to the first and put a new filter in the second.

We decided to do a flush with fresh water, followed by a pickle to give the membranes a good clean in the hope it would extend their working life. Fingers crossed!

Why No Power?

On our return from the bike ride, Colin did his usual power check. We have two MPPT controllers with Bluetooth capability, allowing us to check the quantity of solar watts made by our bimini and arch arrays. He noticed an issue straight away – one of them was showing zero and had been zero all day. The problem was traced to a loose wire into one of the MPPTs.

Our guess is that as the MPPT heats up and cools through use, the thermal contraction and expansion loosened the main power locking nut, resulting in a bad connection to the batteries. A cable check will now be added to our monthly battery check procedure.

Colin checks our battery bank

On our last battery change, we chose to continue using Trojan T125 6v batteries, which are wet lead acid (FLA) type. They’re the most cost efficient in terms of amp hours and are more forgiving in how they are used than other kinds of battery. They also fit snugly into our battery box – a change to a different technology would mean more than just a simple switch in and out as sizes are not standard. We have 6 units as our house bank and once a year we rotate the position of the cells, in order to try and extend their life beyond the typical 5 years. The downside of FLA is that they require a regular check of the liquid levels which we do once a month and top up as required.

Thunder and Lightning

On the whole, the weather was benign during our time in Pollenca, with mostly sunny days and an occasional overcast one. One evening, black clouds rolled in from the mainland and as darkness fell, the sky put on a light show and thunder rumbled around the peaks. We got off lightly – a gentle rain shower and no nearby strikes. Even the usual wind blast failed to show up.

What’s that coming over the hill?

The day before we left for Menorca, another storm system arrived from the mainland. On lightning maps it looked like it had been very active all day as it moved east. However, as it crossed the sea, it’s energy dissipated. There were a few strikes over the island, a splash of rain and this time we did get some wind; a brief hit of 35kts which kicked up the waves across the bay. Then just like that, calm returned.

Sailing Info

10th July: SA Calobra to Pollenca – 29nm
Anchored in 3.5m, sand and weed, in position 39 54.291’N 3 05.66’E

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