We had our best sail so far this year from Palma to Cabrera, a lovely reach in bright sunshine with one reef in the mainsail and adjusting the genoa to maximize our speed while not stressing us or the boat.  We tend to reduce sail early as it usually results in a much more comfortable ride while barely losing any speed.  We were often doing well over 8 knots so we ended up arriving about an hour early to take our mooring that was theoretically available from 6 pm onwards. 

Mazu as seen from the castle, third on the left in front
Looking towards the entrance to the harbour with the castle on the right. The goats and all livestock that used to drink from the troughs have been removed.

Cabrera is a very special place and is likely Spain’s most important National Park in the Mediterranean, encompassing several smaller islets as well as the main island, several of which have species of plants, invertebrates, lizards, etc. that are unique to these islands!  Only park guides live on the islands and the number of visitors is tightly controlled; no cruise ships, hotels or campers, only the lucky with boats on preassigned moorings. The marine park was greatly expanded earlier this year to now extend beyond the continental shelf in the hopes that more sea-life will be protected and to also enhance knowledge about the larger marine mammals, a happy contrast to much of what we have seen in Mediterranean Spain. 

Black lizards endemic to Cabrera

We stayed two nights and were very lucky to have two beautiful days on which to explore the island.  We took a 3 hour guided walk to the lighthouse at the SW end of the island starting at 5 pm our second day.  It involved going up and downhill a couple of times each way but fortunately it wasn’t so hot as I’m sure it will be in a couple more months time.  It was fascinating to hear about the natural history and of the role the island has played in Spanish history.  There is archaeological evidence of habitation from well before the time of Christ but little evidence that the Moors spent much time here.  The castle was built at the end of the fourteenth century but was destroyed and rebuilt several times as a result of raids.  It was primarily used as a lookout to give early warning to Mallorca about raiders.  There is also a memorial to about 9,000 Napeolonic soldiers who were imprisoned on the island, most of whom perished due to inadequate care of war wounds, disease and malnutrition.  Only 3,600 returned to France.  While the island does have water, it surely would be insufficient for such a large population and most certainly the ground is too poor to yield sufficient crops.

The lighthouse, 121 m above sea level and the ziz-zag path up its slopes.
Lighthouse built in 1864-68 but lit after lens delivered from Chance Bros, UK in 1870

We are back in Mallorca again now ….. a separate blog will follow.