Remembering Icarus: 1999–Sailing from Majorca to Sardinia and Corsica

/Remembering Icarus: 1999–Sailing from Majorca to Sardinia and Corsica

Remembering Icarus: 1999–Sailing from Majorca to Sardinia and Corsica


We returned to sailing later than we had anticipated in Spring of 1999, in part because of the birth of our first grandchild in Toronto a couple of days after Christmas, and land travel for the winter.  We picked up Dan the Van outside San Francisco in January and spent several  months slowly traveling across the entire country from there to Florida, most of the time in The South, and including a wonderful stop to see old friends in New Orleans.  We then returned again across the country to San Francisco, but not without what would turn out to be a fateful stop in Santa Fe, New Mexico where we fell in love with the town.

Upon our return to Majorca, we found ourselves in the midst of Holy Week and the night ceremonies and parades were spectacular.  Dave had spent Holy Week in Antigua, Guatemala in 1989, thought to be the site of the largest Holy Week celebration in all of Latin America.  And while the processions and spectacle in Palma weren’t quite on that scale, they were still pretty amazing.  Some of the participants looked a bit like Ku Klux Klan members,


but their function was to monitor and direct the long parade of monumental floats which were pushed and carried through the streets by the faithful.



While Icarus had spent the winter in the water in the Real Club Nautico marina, the bottom had accumulated about an inch thickness of barnacles and other assorted sea growth over the prior year, and it was time to get him cleaned up for the summer.  So we pulled Icarus out in the main port facility in Palma and got to work.


He looks pretty good in the picture above, with a newly painted bottom.  We would love to take all the credit for this, but in truth given the magnitude of what we wanted to accomplish, we hired some pretty ugly but strong young sailors who worked the docks in the marina to help out.  Just look at those uglies!


Two were from Australia, one from New Zealand, and one from England, all looking to work on boats and hopefully find crewing positions for the summer.

This also gave us more time to explore and appreciate Palma de Majorca and the island itself.  Here is one corner of the main square of Palma with outdoor cafes providing food, drink and shelter from the strong afternoon sun.


But Palma also has both wonderful wide parks and promenades


as well as narrow medieval streets, particularly in the Gothic section of town,


which lead, in turn, to secret courtyards which have an austere charm of their own.

Palma, Mallorca, Sailing_2

Palma is also sprinkled with wonderful shops and buildings in beautiful Art Nouveau style from the end of the nineteenth century.



Even a dental clinic seems to catch the style in its facade.

Palma, Mallorca, Sailing

And of course there is a thousand year old olive tree enshrined in the center of one prominent square, still producing olives very year.


When we finished with the boatyard work on Icarus, we took off and circled the island to have a look at those parts of the shoreline we hadn’t seen the prior year from the sea.  Here is the bay at Soller, the second city, with wonderful shelter from storms and a bottom ideal for anchoring into.


This is the tiny harbor where Robert Graves swam each day at Deia, our favorite spot on the island, and where we ate frequently at the restaurant visible to the left looking out across the harbor.


And here is one last look at the town itself, nestled in the mountains just above the sea.

Deja, Mallorca

The shore to the northeast of Deia and Soller is spectacular for the way the mountains simply plunge into the sea with narrow slit openings inland,


while others seem to disappear into the water only to arise again.


Also high on the cliff above this ragged coast is the home Michael Douglas had long shared with his ex-wife and where he was romancing Catherine Zeta-Jones at the time we sailed by.  We didn’t see them wave.


Once we had circled the island we headed east, first to the smaller island of Menorca, and then on to the Italian island of Sardinia, a thirty-two hour passage and our longest to that point.  We had the company of dolphins for a good part of the daylight hours


and were able to just sit back and let the autopilot do the steering under a steady and delightful westerly wind.


We finally arrived in the huge bay close to the town of Oristano on the western coast of Sardinia, a bit tired from our first overnight passage, but the night had been filled with amazing stars and we had sailed the entire way but for motoring into the bay at Oristano.


Sardinia can only be described as mountainous, rocky, rugged.  While we did rent car and traveled over four hundred miles of the island, most of the towns are without much history or charm and the countryside looks overwhelmingly like this


so that we sometimes thought we traveled as much of that distance vertically as horizontally.

What we truly loved about Sardinia was the coastline as we circled the island–mountains diving into the sea


with the occasional sandy cove we could duck into for lunch or a swim and a bit on the beach


or with caves so enormous the people ashore exploring them are mere specs against their darkness.


We did spend a day in Corsica, the French island and birthplace of Napoleon,  exploring the cliffside town of Bonifacio


and liked the narrow slit we found under the town’s fort to anchor in.

Corsica003 (1)

We also spent some time among the small sandy Maddalena Islands which lie between Sardinia and Corsica.  And the sail through the Strait which separates the two major islands was the best sailing he had enjoyed to this point–a consistent thirteen knots (over fifteen miles per hour).  We flew and it was like a slingshot to send us on our way back to Majorca for the winter to follow.

2019-01-02T21:10:13-07:00January 2nd, 2016|Categories: France, Italy, Mediterranean Sea, Spain|


  1. Ruth Iravani Hack January 3, 2016 at 3:03 am - Reply

    Another vicarious journey with the you. First rate photography with vivid descriptions. So enjoyed viewing them. Continued safe travel and adventure, children. And more enterprising journeys. xxx

  2. Jeanne January 3, 2016 at 1:22 pm - Reply

    Loved the pics and the commentary!

  3. Marion January 3, 2016 at 4:51 pm - Reply

    I so remember all Bonnie’s descriptions, and your outing of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones before it was even in the gossip rags. Glad you are posting these “old” adventures!

Leave A Comment

Our Countries

News Subscription