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A natural treasure

a group of people standing next to a body of water

Fornells Bay is deep, measuring 5 kilometers long and 2 wide. Compared to the size of Minorca, Fornells Bay is almost like an inland sea. The narrow entrance regulates the force of the open sea. Sufficiently narrow to offer protection, and sufficiently wide to remind you that you are in a Bay, not a lake, the entrance allows water to enter the Bay while restricting the waves.

The wind is not so easily restrained. The surrounding hills are not high enough to keep out the Tramuntana, which has shaped the rocks and bent the trees over till the branches almost touch the ground. If it’s not too strong, it’s a good wind for us.

Generally, it’s moderate and steady, and without it, we couldn’t enjoy the great sailing we do. We usually start and end the day with no wind at all or very light airs, freshening during the morning and reaching its peak at midday or early afternoon.

Fornells Bay is a microcosm, a small sea with three islands of its own, Sargantanes, Ravells, and Des Porros- and its own beaches. At the far end of Fornells Bay are the old salt pans with their pans and pools dried up and forgotten. There the seagulls share their habitat with birds you’d expect to see in the wetlands; the Cranes, the Marsh Sandpiper the Kentish Plover, or Egyptian Vulture, Fornells boasts the only flock of these birds in Europe which does not migrate to Africa. Perhaps it’s because they too love to ride the winds here.

The beaches inside Fornells bay have their own special charm. Some can only be reached by boat: S’Arenalet, Cabra Celada…They’re ideal for picnicking, but please be careful not to leave litter behind. Cabra Celada is just across the Bay from Wind Fornells, behind Sargantanes Isle. The beach’s name comes from the fact that the goats go there to drink.

They enter the water and dig into the sand with their hooves. Of course, they don’t drink saltwater. Although not many people know this, a freshwater spring bubbles up under water, and the hooves digging in the sand make a small hole that fills with fresh water.

There are several more beaches, for example, S’Era, deeper into the bay, next to Cala Rotja, one of the most interesting coves. S’Era is so-called because when corn was cultivated in the surrounding fields, the farmers brought their harvest to S’Era to do the threshing. At the very far end of Fornells Bay, Cala Blanca, a very shallow cove facing southeast, provides one of the most spectacular views Minorca can offer.

When the light reflects on the calm water it makes a stark contrast with the white rocks, the only ones found in this part of the island.

While we’re on the subject of the various depths of water here, one of the great things about the 10 Km2 of Fornells Bay is the variety of sailing conditions. For example, the wind doesn’t blow with the same strength and from the same direction at all places.

This means that some areas are ideal for beginners and others more suitable for people with a bit more experience. Generally, the wind is stronger and gustier near the entrance, and lighter and steadier near the far end. Some areas even offer complete shelter from the dreaded tramontana gales.

As I said, the water shallows out towards the far end and shores of the bay, meaning that beginners can easily touch the bottom if they capsize or fall off. This helps them gain the confidence that is one of the prime factors in successful sailing.

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