12th November, 2019
Palma de Mallorca
Well, as I had hinted in my previous public posting, there was a chance that we may not head directly to Italy as planned due to a lurking weather system threatening our safe passage there.
Indeed, as the time drew nearer, weather forecasts predicted a strong storm (or ‘Maestrale’ as they are locally known) pushing south in between the Balearic Islands, and the two islands of Sardinia & Corsica. This system would bring winds in excess of storm Force 10, and waves of 8-9m with a very steep, short period. In layman’s terms, one’s gin & tonic is at high risk of sliding off the bar in such conditions. As we are taking people on luxury holidays here at Saga and not storm-chasing, I therefore made the decision to stop in the Balearic Islands to await the system’s passing.
Palma de Mallorca is the most central and largest of the Balearics, and not only provides the largest port of refuge but also the most for people to do. This was my island of choice therefore, and we arrived at 08:00 on Tuesday in the early morning sunshine – with the storm clouds of the aforementioned ominous system to the east just visible on the horizon.
The city of Palma is a stunning waterfront urbanisation, with the old town and the modern city within walking distance of each other but not close enough to interfere. Palma’s impressive cathedral is still its largest building and easily the most visible landmark from afar. We put on complimentary shuttle-buses running to the park next to the cathedral and old town, and also managed to rustle-up two excursions for those wishing to visit the pretty little coastal town of Soller on the island’s impressive mountainous west coast, or the little village of Valldemossa nestled within the UNESCO protected Tramuntana region.
Most fortunately, I happen to have a house on this beautiful island and therefore after a few family & friends popped on for a gourmet breakfast and tour of the ship, I took off to the little village of Bahia Azul to tidy my garden, clean the pool and conduct those general household tasks that can be done with such little thought involved that they can liberate the mind. I think?!
We stayed late into the evening in order to ensure the storm had passed well to the south (and also to ensure that those guests wishing to enjoy a tapas supper ashore could do so at their leisure) before departing and turning back into the Bay of Palma. We would head east, past my little village on the coastline, before navigating between the south-east coast of Mallorca and the small, uninhabited, protected island of Cabrera to the south. After that, it would be out into the central Mediterranean passing south of Menorca, pointing the ship’s nose at the little gap between Corsica & Sardinia known as the ‘Bonifacio Strait.’
Until reaching this passage between the respective French & Italian islands, we had a nice relaxing day at sea to enjoy with just a gentle residual swell to show as evidence of the recently-passed storm…
Captain Kim Tanner
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