Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Cabrera

The sun has dipped below the hills surrounding our anchorage on Cabrera and we are in shade. Across the bay the sixteenth century castle sits high above the entrance to the harbour, now in ruins but still standing proud, overseeing the stretch of water that separates the island of Cabrera from Mallorca, five miles to the North. There are thirty boats in the harbour, each one, like us, has applied for a permit to stay overnight, tethered to one of the orange mooring buoys that dot the bay. The sky is cloudless and the water flat calm. It is 7:15 in the evening and the temperature is 24 degrees. Voices from other yachts carry across the water in the still air as people gather in their cockpits to enjoy the warm evening. A motor boat glides into the harbour, observing the 5 knot speed limit; a crewman in a white shirt on the foredeck, preparing the mooring line. As the boat approaches the mooring he uses a boat hook to pick up a small red buoy which is attached to the heavy line anchored to the sea bed. A few adjustments and his work on deck is done; he disappears below maybe to clean the galley or maybe he is the chef as well?

On Juno I am sitting in the cockpit with my laptop. Caroline is down below preparing supper and the generator is grumbling away in the background, charging our batteries. We rely on our bank of service batteries to run the fridge, freezer, lights, water pumps and a host of other appliances that we take for granted at home. Without the power in the batteries we would be bereft of all our little luxuries so when we aren't attached to the shore power we run the generator for two hours every day to top up our source of
electricity.

The sun has set now and it's dusk. Anchor lights at the top of masts start to appear against the darkening sky. The slight swell in the harbour heaves against the rocky foreshore, the waves slurping and sucking as they work their way into the crevasses in the rock face. The island of Cabrera is a national park, strictly controlled by the government of the Balearic islands, limiting the number of yachts that are allowed in the harbour and banning any forms of tourism on the island. As a result, there are no hotels, restaurants or houses on the island. Just a single bar that sells the ubiquitous San Miguel beer from a tap, tended by laughing locals who seem to thrill in the simple remoteness of this little island.













Earlier today we launched our rib and motored around the bay in the afternoon sun, sliding over the crystal clear water which acts as a lens, magnifying the wildlife below. We see small jellyfish, hanging in the water,
pulsing as they draw their poisonous entrails behind them. Suddenly there is a flash of grey and blue, accelerating out of the weed a barracuda darts under our bows, seeking the protection of deeper water. We tie our tender up to the small dock and follow the footpath up to the castle, scrambling up the gravel path and eventually reaching the battlements. A tiny circular stone staircase takes us up the last twenty feet to the lookout tower from where we can see across the water to the busy port of Palma in the distance and down beneath us Juno sparkles in the afternoon sunshine.

After the bustle and sophistication of Mallorca, Cabrera at first seems rather banal, but now we have adjusted to its simple charms and the natural, unspoilt surroundings. Lights are now dotted around the anchorage and its time to silence the generator and ease ourselves into the stillness of Cabrera, untouched by generations.

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