The third day aboard our sail boat started with the warm rising sun (once again) and a swim in the warm waters (around 26 degrees) of the Mediterranean sea. I went in with my snorkel and GoPro to check out the underwater world here in the bay of the beautiful little nature reserve Cabrera, where we were staying.
In comparison to Croatia, where I spent a rather disappointing week close to Krk, the ecosystem was still looking way better here in Cabrera. The area around our boat was covered with seagrass, a very important shelter especially for juvenile fish. A great amount of oceanic fish give birth to their young close to seagrass meadows, as juveniles can find protection and the food they need to grow. Without the coverage of seagrass many fish and other life forms would be easy prey for bigger predators.
Fishing is only allowed in certain areas of the island, already a promising approach to tackle the extremely decreasing populations of fish in the Mediterranean. In the last few decades fish stock have dramatically declined. But not only the incredible amount of fishing – legal and illegal – is giving the Mediterranean a hard time: With 23 states surrounding its coast and many of them having gone through the industrial revolution in the last 150 years, the impact of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides as well as industry disposals have left their traces. Algae grow with the same nutrients like plants do, namely nitrate and phosphate, and the great use of fertilizers leads to algae blooms in the ocean. Fertilizers reach rivers and finally end up in the sea. There they cause an immense growth of algae. When these algae die off, the sink to the bottom and get disposed by microbacteria, that need oxygen for this process. This can cause anoxic zones, also called death zones, where most life isn´t able to survive.
Anyways, the algae coverage here in the bay wasn´t too bad (just my estimation) and I saw a prospering life especially in the early morning, where they weren´t lots of people in the water. Quite a couple of big mullets were resting peacefully just below the water surface, many wrasses were moving around in the remains of what used to be a coral reef and between the leaves of the seagrass. I even spotted some parrot fish and one grouper with probably around 40cm length (and yes, I know things appear bigger underwater 😉 ). The amount of groupers in a reef can be an indication for overfishing, as they are popular food fish and overfishing can hit them hard. Nevertheless, as other predators as well, they play an important part in the health of a functioning ecosystem, as they control fish populations by feeding on the week and old and keeping them healthy that way.
Just before we wanted to start sailing again we faced another problem: the motor of our dinghy wouldn´t want to work anymore. Well, that wouldn´t be too bad, if the dinghy was aboard of our boat, but it was still lying across the bay at the restaurant peer. Jörg, who had been driving the dinghy, walked around the bay on land and came swimming back to the boat. We suggested the fuel to be empty. After a couple of ideas how to solve the problem, I swam to our neighbors, some old guys having lots of fun (read here part 1) and tried to explain them our situation. I am still able to speak some spanish, but four years ago after my Peru trip, this would have worked way better back then. Anyways, these cool grandpas understood me well and a couple of moments later I sat in their dinghy with three of them, cruising slowly towards our boat Ruck Zuck to get a little tank with spare fuel. From there we headed towards the pub about a five minute drive from here – very slowly with no rush at all. The Captain, the only one knowing a couple of english words, told me about parties happening in this bay thirty years ago. Lots of wine, lots of naked people and no tourists. Back then, only a little army house was to be found on this island. They´ve been coming here all their lifes they told me, and every year at least once or twice. Very inspiring people full of joy..
Back in my dinghy the guys helped me with refueling the tank but the motor still wouldn´t work. I tried it various times with no success. So the only way of getting the dinghy back to our sail boat was using the good old way: paddling with muscle power 🙂
Around midday we loosened the line tied to our buoy and made our way out the bay. Initially, we wanted to sail south-west along the coast of Cabrera, but unfortunately the wind wasn´t blowing right at all, so we changed our plans and sailed towards the direction of St. Jordi. We had strong winds and now was the time to go fast. We hoisted the sail the proper way and the boat fell in a skew position. Instead of sitting opposite of eachother and looking into eachotherys eyes, almost 1,5 meters were between us. Except Jörg all of us felt kind of nervous but also excited, as non had been sailing before and this surely wasn´t only „Relax-sailing“. We were sailing with around 8 knots, sounds slow but feels already very fast! After a while we howled the sails in a little to take some sail area away and to slow the boat down, so all of us could sit down „normally“ again without having to stand and pressing the feet against the table in order not to fall 😉
We sailed for a couple of hours hours before we headed towards a little protected anchor area, where we took a coffee break, went to swim or simply chilled around. From here it was only another thirty minutes to the harbour of St. Jordi, where we would stay for the night. Everyone was looking forward to a shower and a nice toilet 😉 We dressed up in our Livingdreams Shirts with the sailboat on the front and went for a walk along the harbor´s promenade. Here you´ll find shops and lots of restaurants. After a couple of beers and a restaurant visit we walked back to our boat and finally, finally we were swaying again. On land it felt really weird, as our bodies were so used to the swinging of the boat that it was still feeling the same even when were sitting on solid ground. Very strange feeling and at least I was really looking forward to our cosy little boat back on water. After at last one more bottle of wine and some world changing talks we headed into our beds, already looking forward to the sailing tomorrow..
The following day we started sailing after a good breakfast and some boat cleaning and headed towards the direction of he big harbour of S´Arenal. As the days before, the sun was shining at its best and the sky was clear and deep blue. Another good day was about to come. Now on our third day everyone knew already kind of what was going on and the turns worked well. We played some good electronic music on our boat´s sound system and it just felt awesome to drift away and enjoy the ocean listening to dreamy electronic sounds.. A real must on o boat is taking a nap while sailing. The smooth swaying makes it real comfortable to fall asleep. Kind of like the little baby swings and who didn´t love those 🙂 My borther and I did that almost every day – the evenings were usually rather late and the getting up part rather early 😉
After a great day on the ocean we arrived in the late afternoon in S´Arenal. Even though all of us were really tired we headed into town to have a drink and soak up the atmosphere of the (in)famous Ballermann. After a couple of metres it was already too much. Blinking lights, stores with all kind of stupid shit, drunk people and of them quite a lot. We sat down in kind of a cafe/pub thing had one drink and moved back to our beloved Ruck Zuck. I think this experience was enough for all of us, as we weren´t here on Mallorca for drinking at the Ballermann, but instead for sailing the island and enjoying nature´s beauty.
Our destination for the next day was Portals Nous, a harbor packed with luxury boats. After we had stopped in a bay to go swim, drink some beers and enjoy the sun, we slowly sailed towards the harbour. We moored at the waiting quay and asked for a place to stay for the night. We were then told that this harbor has no more spaces left for the size of our boat (ours was too small as this harbour sheltered way bigger boats than ours..). So we could decide whether we wanted to stay here at the waiting quay or use one of the buoys a little further out, which were free of charge. We decided to stay here, so that we wouldn´t have to use our dinghy to get on land and back on the boat later that night. We had some (boat-)made Pizza and started strolling around the harbor after that. It was clear that this was a destination for richer people speaking in general. We saw Lamborghinis and Porsche and other expensive cars parked right in front of the boats. It seemed that showing off is a big part of this whole lifestyle. We admired some huge boats (one of them was almost seventy metres) and imagined how freaking big the Azzam must look, the biggest yacht on earth with incredible 180 metres length! We spent the evening having a couple of (expensive) drinks and watching the rich and famous strolling around. Some of them clearly had some substances below their skin looking ridiculous but that obviously lies in the eye of the contemplater.. 😉
The next morning held a surprise to us. We all thought I couldn´t be much money they would want from us for spending the night here at the waiting quay, as we didn´t have electricity nor water or toilets but we were all proofed wrong: they wanted incredible 110 Euro! Kind of pissed off and at the same time happy to move on we headed towards the ocean for our last real day of sailing. Today we just wanted to sail a little bit not too far away from Palma as we had to be back in the harbor this evening. So one last day of sailing with this special kind of feeling that you simply only get on a sail boat. Yesterday Paul was getting some sailing instructions by our skipper Jörg and sailed his first turns, today it was my turn to receive some instructions and try for myself. We didn´t have too much wind, so it was quite slow but nevertheless lots of fun 🙂 It definitely made me wanting to sail more and I am sure there´ll be a chance in my new hometown Bremen!
We finally sailed back to our starting point: The harbour of Palma de Mallorca. We fueled up as we did use the engine from time to time and at least I was really surprised how little fuel this boats actually needs: I guess we had it running around eight hours or so and eventually only used 40 Euro to refuel. We had spent six nights aboard the Ruck Zuck with another one ahead of us but our time was coming to an end. All of us agreed that this week felt way longer than seven days – it was packed with new impressions! We had loads of fun, good talks, some arguments and all in all it was a fantastic holiday, that we wouldn´t have done without the idea of our skipper Jörg – so, Thank you!
We spent the last evening as well as the following morning walking around in Palma and reminiscing the last days on the ocean. No doubt, it had been a great time! See you soon beautiful ocean and bye bye Mallorca!
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Tom Vierus is an award-winning photographer, filmmaker, and marine biologist based in Suva, Fiji Islands. This blog is dedicated to his assignments and to sharing some behind-the-scenes footage.