‘Flip Flops Travel Solo’
...this bizarre, but profound statement was made by my paddling partner (Andrew) at our lunch stop; a deserted beach on the NE coast on day two of a planned week long circumnavigation of Menorca.
By way of explanation, I was sorting through the flotsam and jetsam strewn beach in a fruitless effort to find a matching pair of flip flops. In part as I had made Andrew travel out with carry-on baggage only ...'that’s about one sixth of what I normally take' he said. To which I replied, “Don’t worry I said we can find anything we need out there and it should be warm enough” The last statement was particularly true, having just come from the somewhat Siberian climate of the Club’s Pembrokeshire trip.
Our journey had begun the evening before and having kitted ourselves out and provisioned at the local supermarket, it was off to a local island to bivvy and watch the sun set in a pleasantly warm evening whilst sampling a local rioja and being serenaded by the excessively noisy gulls. A little smaller in area than the IOW, Menorca does however offer over 200km of fascinating limestone coastline to explore. Kayaks and equipment were hired at very reasonable rates from Maria who runs the excellent Menorca Kayak in Es Gau
of Menorca is less populous than the south and has many small inlets and caves to explore, including one superb cave only accessible by kayak or swimming, that then opens up after a short tunnel into a magnificent open chamber. Calm weather and very little wind at this stage enabled us to explore this coast to the full. This was about to change however as we rounded the West coast and turned homewards to complete the 2nd half of the circumnavigation. An increasing lumpy transit down the West coast prevented much further exploration, but a safe haven was found for the night just after rounding the desolate looking limestone cliffs of the SW corner of the Island at Cap Artruxt. We were to spend the next 24 hours there (sampling more wine and ice-cream), whilst waiting for the wind to abate.
large swell or interesting clapotis...?
Having delayed enough and knowing that we had a deadline of a plane to catch, still 3 full days paddling ahead of us, the next day saw us on the water dealing with a reasonably large southerly swell opposed by a strong NE force 5 wind. This itself provided an interesting dilemma ie: keep well offshore and expect N Africa to be the next stop if something went wrong, or stay inshore a little protected from the wind, but exposed to the ‘interesting’ clapotis conditions caused by the swell reflecting back from the cliffs. In the end and in true Portsmouth CC collaborative style, we compromised and one of us took each option – at least initially!, until it was agreed we might need to remain close enough to each other to assist if the need arose.
The inlets along the Southern coast tend to be the ones photographed for the tourist brochures, and although we were not seeing them in their idyllic glory, they none the less held a certain fascination. Generally characterised by a sharp incision between the high limestone cliffs and a barely discernible calmer escape route out of the rougher conditions at sea.
One night at a cove famous for it’s necropolis caves, a meeting up with 2 Israeli paddlers (complete with their very low profile bright orange tents), a final lunch stop at Black lizard island – hundreds of them (Illa de L’Aire) and a run North, finally saw us back to our start point – and the noisy gulls once again – ready to hand the kayaks back the following morning.
An excellent week of paddling in warmer climes, and thoroughly recommended.