Seduced by the whims and charms of sailing the Mediterranean

Updated 5:24 AM EDT, Tue July 24, 2018
(CNN) —  

Once you arrive in the Mediterranean Sea it is easy to understand why the Greek hero Odysseus took 10 years to find his way home.

Although there are no mythological nymphs, lotus eaters or sea monsters to delay your passage there is still much in this storied part of the world to seduce, bewitch and thwart.

When we first entered the Mediterranean via the Gibraltar Straits, we had planned to spend two years exploring its waters before continuing our journey around the world.

That plan was very quickly scuttled.

As many sailors claim, and as we have discovered ourselves, the wind in the Mediterranean is fickle. There is either too much, too little or it is right on your nose.

Fortunately, unlike Odysseus, most sailors can counter the whims of the wind Gods and simply turn on the engine – which is what we did all the way from Gibraltar to Ibiza.

We were impatient to get to the islands, lured by postcard images of secluded coves in which you can drop anchor in waters the color of swimming pools.

One piece of paradise we came across was Cala San Miguel, on the west coast of Ibiza which boasts some of the most spectacular sunsets in the Mediterranean.

It sits just below Cala Benirras which is famous for the hoards of drummers who descend on its small slither of beach every Sunday to herald the end of the day.

On the west coast of Ibiza, south of Cala Benirras, is a favorite spot to anchor for sailors.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Kellie Pollock
On the west coast of Ibiza, south of Cala Benirras, is a favorite spot to anchor for sailors.

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As the sun descends, another sight to see in Benirras is a rocky outcrop at the cove entrance which looks uncannily like Queen Victoria on her throne.

Spending days in these protected anchorages is easy, taking the dinghy ashore for a sundowner at a beach bar and swimming off the back of the boat.

There is little incentive to leave other than the promise of hundreds of other idyllic coves you can find throughout the Mediterranean. Some of the most beautiful and isolated anchorages can be found in Sardinia.

The rocky outcrop at the entrance to Cala Benirras which looks uncannily like Queen Victoria on her throne.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Kellie Pollock
The rocky outcrop at the entrance to Cala Benirras which looks uncannily like Queen Victoria on her throne.

READ: Sailing to the ‘smallest kingdom’ in the world

For us, the most superb was Cala Luna in the Gulf of Orosei on the eastern side of the island. This stunning stretch of coastline is famous for its caves, but is largely inaccessible from land.

During the day, it is crowded with tourist boats, but the patient sailor will be rewarded with an almost exclusive anchorage by sunset.

Cala Luna offered a welcome reprieve from the armada of boats that descend on the Costa Smeralda and La Maddalena Archipelago in northern Sardinia.

In the peak season, this is a playground for the jet set and the world’s largest superyachts which anchor off-shore like floating luxury hotels complete with crew, chefs and other staff.

Cala Luna is one of the most spectacular anchorages in Sardinia, famous for the caves that stretch along the coastline of the Gulf of Orosei. This was taken from our boat at sunrise. No filter!!
PHOTO: Courtesy of Kellie Pollock
Cala Luna is one of the most spectacular anchorages in Sardinia, famous for the caves that stretch along the coastline of the Gulf of Orosei. This was taken from our boat at sunrise. No filter!!

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There are also countless other pleasure craft, all vying for space in the crystal blue waters throughout the Archipelago which is often described as the Caribbean without palm trees.

But the waters here can be perilous, scattered as they are with spectacular rock formations that have been sculpted by a weather system known as the Mistral.

We spent many days in marinas sitting out these strong north westerly winds that sweep down from southern France into the Mediterranean, gusting up to more than 70 kilometers per hour.

While it can be frustrating to be stuck ashore during bad weather, these delays have also proven opportunities to explore places we would never have visited had we not arrived by boat.

We would never have thought to fly to exquisite places like Cartegena in Spain, Bonifacio in Corsica, Andratx in Mallorca or Castelsardo in Sardinia had we not sailed or sought refuge there.

We also would never have thought there would be so many boats in the Mediterranean. They are as many and varied as the fish in the sea.

Sailing between the islands, you have to be on constant lookout for other boats whether pleasure cruisers or working vessels such as cargo ships, ferries, cruise ships and fishing boats.

You also have to watch out for all sorts of flotsam and jetsam as well as fishing nets which are often marked by little more than a plastic bottle. Sailing over one of these not only robs a fisherman of his livelihood but can also do some serious damage to your propeller.

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’We are not alone in experiencing mishaps’

We have had to haul our boat “Boomerang” out of the water after a discarded mooring line wrapped itself around our sail drive. But we are not alone in experiencing mishaps and delays. You only need to talk to some of the thousands of people who sail in the Mediterranean.

One of our greatest joys on this adventure has been meeting members of the huge, yet tight knit sailing community which boasts one of the most diverse groups of like minded people we’ve ever come across.

Every sailor we have met, whether berthed beside our boat in a marina, anchored in the same bay or sitting at the beach bar has a wealth of experience, advice and misadventure to share.

There is also an enormous online community including Women Who Sail, a Facebook page with 15,000 members from around the world.

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There are complaints about delays caused by fickle winds and ropes that disable engines, but largely there are tales about being captured by beautiful places and friendly people.

What we have discovered is that all of these sailors, just like us and just like Odysseus have succumbed to the whims and charms of the Mediterranean.

Our aim remains to sail around the world, but we still need to see the rest of this beautiful sea first.