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Fragrant Airs and Royal Pleasures in Palma

We share the weird experience of actually smelling the approach of land, and anchor under the King of Spain's Summer Palace

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The Fragrance of Approaching Land

The first time we sailed into Palma, Mallorca was last year on our eastward run to Greece. It is a memory that lingers because it was the first time we had ever smelt fragrance when approaching land.  We’ve learned that when you’ve been at sea for a few days, it is the smell that can first hit you.  We returned to the same bay this week, again experiencing this sensory assault proving it wasn’t a freak occurrence. 

Approaching land, the aroma is exotic and fruity even with all that rock

An Exotic Aroma

Mallorca has a fragrance that is fruitily sweet.  Depending on your landfall and location, the aroma can of course change.  You might expect after being at sea, that the saline salty air of looming land would smell earthily of soil, grass and trees.  

But the air in Mallorca carries a sweet perfume with heady aromatic hues of pineapple, coconut and sunscreen. It’s bizarre because there are lots of palm trees. This is not a Pacific island where pineapples, and coconuts grow abundantly, wild or free.  But this description is what both the captain and I agree. The aroma that greets your approach to this island is distinctly sweet pineapple and coconut tinged with sunscreen.  

Anchored under the King’s Summer Palace

We anchored in the bay beneath the Marivent Palace in Cala Major.  This has been the King of Spain’s chosen Summer family holiday home since the 70’s. Built in the 1920’s, Marivent is a modern palace built on a cliff overlooking the sea, with gorgeous botanical park grounds. 

The King’s Summer Palace Marivel is perched atop a cliff under which we anchor

We anchored in this same spot last year.  At that time there was a constant presence of military and a machine gun bearing naval ship guarding the bay. We learned this was because the royal family were in residence.  Whilst other boaters were asked to move away from the bay, we were privileged to stay at the King’s pleasure.

Cala Major – hands down one of my favourite anchorages ever

We are not sure why. We figure it is because his son, Crown Prince Juan-Carlos, is a former Olympic yachtsman with very strong connections to New Zealand yachting. Other kiwi boats are such a rarity here you see.  Palace or not, Cala Major is a stunning spot and definitely a top 5 anchorage. It features cliffs atop grottos, natural rock swimming pools, great local amenities all wrapped up with a sandy bottom bay and crystalline water.

Palatial Pink Hued Skies

In a visual sense, artistic types would take joy in the yellow pink to orangey red Mallorca sunsets that end each day. The dynamic colors are the result of the Sahara sand that will no doubt lace Waiata with a pink sheen of dust that will get into her every crevasse.  The moon has been waxing lyrical toward full faced.  Her milky yellowness has been inking her glow over the ocean.  A palace, a park and expensive hotel fairy lights; it’s the kind of visual that makes you think of sonatas, serenades and wonder whether there really is a heaven.

The sunsets are breathtaking

French Stowaways

We had some winged French stowaways on board during our transit from France to Spain. A couple of thrushes spent their transit either perched in the sail bag or on top of the paddle boards. They thanked us by leaving little parcels to clean up everywhere. And a resourceful tiny red breasted robin who gamely spent time in the cockpit enclosure exercised his wings flying around the boat.  He chirpily talked most of the way over and was enjoyable company. But we do wonder if they could smell it too – the fragrance of approaching land. Now that that they’re flown, we wonder whether they’ve taken up lodgings in the park next to the Marivent Palace. And whether their French chirpy cheep talk is understood here now that they have emigrated to Spain.  


Receiving widespread global acclaim, “Royals” was  New Zealand singer-songwriter Lorde’s debut single. Her poetic genius is evident. And she happens to almost be a neighbour living just up the road from our Auckland home in a palace of her own.

“And we’ll never be royals (royals)
It don’t run in our blood
That kind of luxe just ain’t for us
We crave a different kind of buzz
Let me be your ruler (ruler)
You can call me queen bee
And baby, I’ll rule (I’ll rule, I’ll rule, I’ll rule)
Let me live that fantasy”

Lorde – Royals was her first global hit

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