After 48 hours hooked up to the marina's shore power and one sleep in a real bed, both us and our boat were feeling recharged. We hatched a plan over breakfast at Jean Luc's to join them and Gerard on a day trip to Formentera. We hopped in our rental car and headed back to Santa Eulalia where we dropped off the car and checked out of the marina. By 2pm we had motored the short distance to Talamanca bay where we dropped anchor and found the others + Gerard and his speedboat just inside Marina Botafoch .
After a bit of snorkeling and sampling some fruits de mer we followed up with lobster pasta at Es Moli De Sal before motoring back to Ibiza. It's quite amazing crossing the channel in 30mins after struggling to do the same in 6 hours on bumblebee!
After a rocky night in Talamanca Bay set set sail for the little private island of Tagomago for a swim. Anchoring was bit tricky and there were jellyfish so soon we were off again and rounded the northern tip of Ibiza, dropping anchor at Es Canaret to chill out and swim without any jellyfish. We managed to spot an octopus which seemed happy to let us follow him and put on quite an interesting display.
That evening we anchored in Cala Benirras -a place we remember fondly from a previous visit when we climbed the large rock in the entrance to the bay. We were too knackered to go ashore that evening so Julia cooked up something delicious and we endeavoured to rise aerly the next day and hike to the next door cala.
On our walk the next morning to Port de San Miguel we came across some caves open to tourists so we waited for them to open and had a look around. Cova de Can Marca were once used by smugglers but now the caves are fitted with walkways, lights and even a fake waterfall. The humidity is kept artificially high in an attempt to preserve the cave from turning to dust.
The 6th of September was to be our last day on Ibiza. Julia had to get back to tie up some loose ends with her old job and begin meeting the team at her new job. I needed to get back to my studio and complete some well overdue competition entries. The weather was also due to turn soon and if we wanted favourable winds to the mainland Saturday was the day. We had been sailing for two and a half weeks without a care in the world and real life was calling.
The north of the island is breathtakingly beautiful and wild. Were headed for Cala Comte to complete our circumnavigation and set us up for a convenient departure in the morning. Jean Luc and Agata had been so kind to us over the last couple of weeks so we had to meet up one last time to thank them and say a proper goodbye. We had some drinks at Sunset Ashram and watched a magnificent sunset over Bumblebee. Then they took us for one last gastronomic blowout to one of their favourite restaurants. By now we had spent a small fortune on fine food and excellent drinks -usually we are quite restrained but this was after all our honeymoon (or was it?) and no time for accounting expenses!
As soon as we woke up the next morning we checked the weather and set off on our 9 hour crossing back to Denia. The forecast showed following winds of about 10 - 15 knots but nothing suggested what we about to come across. About 5 hours in, the skies began to darken, soon we could barely see 100m in front of us. Then all hell broke loose; the sky went black the wind picked up and the rain hammered down. To our port side we saw three waterspouts tearing towards us! We tried to outrun them and abandoned our course, instead heading towards the light and a large cargo ship. The twisters came within a couple of hundred metres and the warm blasts of air almost knocked us down. After the worst was over, the sea was in an unsettled state and we were thrown all over the place. Thunder and lightning had been present the whole time but was now sounding closer. There was a huge 'crack' and a bright flash of light as the mast received a direct strike. Julia was down below staring up when it hit, luckily it had no adverse effect on our instruments and Bumblebee took it all in her stride. The storm lasted about an hour and was followed by a flat, calm, sunny evening as we arrived at Denia.
The following day was spent cleaning and tidying Bumblebee. We treated her to some heavy duty stainless steel mooring springs after the last one perished from being woefully lightweight. Confident that she was safely secured until our next adventure we headed to the rooftop bar for a final Aperol Spritz and a swim before heading back to London and real (married!) life.
Having been anchored in Cala Jondal for three days, we knew the anchor was nicely dug in so decided to drag the dinghy up the beach at Club Tropicana and hopped back in our hire car which we had for one more day. We set off in search of Chiringay Beach, beyond Salinas. Interestingly this is gay beach restaurant with good food and crystal clear water..
I wanted to film from above with my drone, especially as the multicoloured salt flats were just beside us. I had to be quite subtle as there were a lot of naked men on the beach, I launched just behind the restaurant then returned to my cold beer to control the drone from our table.
From Chiringay we walked up to Torre De Ses Portes and and down along the rocky beaches to Salinas. I was sporting my new short shorts that Julia bought me while blinding everyone with my English tan.
We drove back in the afternoon and dropped off the trusty Fiat 500 at the airport car hire. A couple of taxis later and we'd been back to bumblebee for a shower and change and were arriving at Jul's -a great new restaurant just up the road where we had a fantastic meal.
It had been over a week since we were in a marina and Bumblebee's batteries were starting to show the strain. We'd run the engine from time to time and had an antique solar panel but the battery was still reaching critically low levels. The time had come to seek a marina and hook up to some shore power. Luckily for us August had just finished and we were into September. This means the average marina on Ibiza is €100 an night instead of €250!!
We couldn't get in to either of the marinas in Ibiza Old Town so we headed for Santa Eulalia a little further East. It was great to be sailing again after several days exploring by land. That evening we met up with.. you guessed it.. and they showed us one of the coolest places to eat in Talamanca. Destino is a hotel, a restaurant and a night club. We had a delicious rice main course (as recommended) and danced the night away (until 12pm).
The next morning (3rd of Sept) we were about to pull out of the marina when we realised the batteries were still in need of some deep charging, there were also clouds gathering and some wind picking up. We were snuggly tied up so though it a shame to disturb Bumblebee. Instead we hired a car with the intention of visiting Jean Luc's finca once again, only this time we would stal the night.. in a real bed! We had the whole day to make the trip to the West end of the island so we went to check out Atzaro's second location:
Later on we arrived at Jean Luc and Agata's where we chilled out for a bit and had a swim before heading out for some serious steaks at KM5 and then back for a decent nights sleep.
After a couple of days on Formentera we sailed back to Ibiza and nestled into the sheltered anchorage of Cala Jondal amongst an indulgence of super yachts (please get in touch if anyone knows the correct collective noun!) We didn't know it yet but we were to be anchored here for three nights while we rented a car to explore inland, climbed around inside the anchor locker and had a relaxing night in a real bed.
As I replaced parts of the winch it became apparent that the damage was worse than expected and would require even more parts to fix. We also noticed water sloshing around in the bilge. A quick taste confirmed it was fresh water and I traced it back to a corroded and leaking water heater. To be fair the old heater is 16 years old and probably due to be replaced anyway, they're not cheap through.
After the second order of parts and a bit more crawling around on the bow we were back in business and no longer had to haul the anchor up by hand. The water heater can wait until winter.
While at anchor in Cala Jondal we were picked up by our friends Agata and Jean Luc and whisked up to their beautiful finca in the hills for supper and some breathtaking views. Jean Luc introduced us to his mouthwatering salted fish recipe and we met their lovely friend Gerard who also spend a few months here every year.
The following day we picked up a little hire car from the airport to explore the island. Surprisingly the hire car only cost €10 for two days but they managed to persuade me that insurance for an additional €69 is essential in Ibiza! We headed past the chandlery to pick up some parts for the winch and then headed to a secret little Cala that Agata recommended. The Fiat was a little out of it's depth descending the rocky track but managed to make it up and down.
After a swim and a couple of coffees we pulled over in the little village of St Juan and discovered a great place for a drink called The Giri Cafe. This was the first Agrotouirism spot for the day -a place that grows much of it's own ingredients on site.
Continuing on the Agrotoursim theme we found another recommendation by Agata; Cas Gasi -a truly special place. We arrived to find closed gates so we buzzed the intercom and were allowed in. On arrival we were greeted and taken on a tour of the hotel and it's grounds. Having come from the beech were dressed like bums but treated like royalty. We decided to stay for the most delicious supper along with only one other couple dining.
All this time Bumblebee was resting at anchor in Cala Jondal. This was beginning to feel like home -we tried hanging out Blue Marlin but felt much more comfortable at Tropicana Beach Club. Julia was keen on their breakfasts and I liked the quiet bay for working on the winch, which by the way was finally fixed after one more trip to the chandlery. This time we went by taxi and then walked on into Ibiza Old Town to explore and meet up again with Agata and Jean Luc. We ate in our old favourite tapas restaurant; La Bodega.
After 6 hours tacking into the wind we arrived at our favourite island in the Med. Formentera has crystal clear waters and white sand beaches -a little slice of paradise -filmed with my drone:
Having been to Formentera several times before, we knew the first thing to do was rent a scooter. The second thing is to take a photo of your scooter so you remember which is yours amongst hundreds of others.
The island is fairly small so in one day we were able to go snorkelling at Es Caló, have lunch up the hill, shop at Sant Francesc Xavier and watch the sun set at Blue Bar.
The next day we anchored a little further up the beach, we took the dinghy ashore and walked right to the end of the island.
As you can see my tan is coming on pretty well. We ended the day with a few drinks at Es Moli De Sal, watching the sun set over Bumblebee.
Having left Bumblebee in Denia on the 10th of July, we were back in England to get one important job done:
With that all sorted we we're flying back out to Denia to take Bumblebee across to Ibiza for a few weeks. Unsure whether this was actually our honeymoon proper or just a chance to relax after the wedding, we set no itinerary and no return flight.
Bumblebee was found safe and well in her berth at Marina de Denia. While we had been away Carlos had replaced our anchor chain and windlass gypsy. Also as promised for her birthday I gave Julia a new dinghy and we said goodbye to our old red tender. We set off for Ibiza in a flat calm and motored most of the 9 hour crossing. After a restful journey we arrived in one of our favourite anchorages; Cala Comte.
The next morning we took a taxi to the other side of San Antoni where there's a tiny aquarium in some caves. Julia tried to interact with an octopus after beginning a book about the evolution of the octopus brain. Later we dropped anchor by Cala Bassa so Julia could do some shopping while I cracked on with a few maintenance tasks. It seemed the new anchor chain did not fit the new gypsy cog so the anchor would repeatedly jam. It was time to take the whole thing apart and investigate.
While anchored in Cala Comte we met us with Agata and Jean Luc who drove us right across the island to have lunch at La Paloma -a lovely little restaurant hidden inland -the starting point of our gastronomic tour of Ibiza. We also dropped by an amazing hotel called Atzaro to have a look around.. I think we'll return.
After realising what the situation was with the anchor winch I ordered some parts and lifted the anchor by had. We sailed on to Cala Moli to anchor for the night in this tiny little bay.
Theres not much going on in Cala Moli at night so we went for a wander in the morning.
The next day saw us arrive in Cala Hort where we had sundowners onboard with our friends Agata and Jean-Luc, followed by supper at the restaurant on the beach.
The next morning we set off for what should have been a quick hop across to the island of Formentera. However the wind was right in our face so we took to the traditional method of tacking into the wind -which is tediously slow and took 6 hours! Luckily we weren't in a hurry.
Wedding preparations were by now well under way and our thoughts turned to what sort of honeymoon we'd like. It seemed odd to us that couples are able to pull together an epic holiday straight after their wedding -we preferred the idea of sailing off on Bumblebee and just relaxing in familiar territory. And so the plan was hatched to sail her up from Cartagena to Denia -the perfect jumping off point for the Balearic Islands.
Our first port of call was Torrevieja, with a nice pool within the marina and pretty town this was a great (though somewhat urban) first stop. Quite expensive too at €50 for the night.
The next day we puled in to Villa Joyosa, with a fairly basic but again expensive marina. Again I'm writing this sometime after the trip so I'll have to update this blog if I remember anything memorable about this town. Soon we were sailing past Benidorm once again.
Our final destination was the lovely Marina de Denia, where we would leave Bumblebee for one month for our August wedding. This was also the first time I got to launch my Mavic drone from the boat.
Again I'm writing this update some time after the fact so my memory may be a little hazy. After 6 month in the water Bumblebee was booked in to Ascar Marine to be lifted out and have her bottom scrubbed. I've stayed onboard in a dry dock before and know that it can be very tedious living up a ladder with no running water so I booked us into an apartment overlooking Cartagena's Roman Theatre for a couple of days.
This was just to be a short visit to get some work done and maybe go for a quick sail up the coast. We motored out of the marina to the Varadero where she was lifted out to reveal colonies of weed and barnacles all over her hull. The boat yard were not remotely phased by this and did a great job of cleaning her down and applying some hew coats of antifoul. While this was going on Julia stayed in the town and did some work while I serviced Bumblebee's winches, engine and got up to date with general maintenance.
Bumblebee was back in the water with a shiny clean bottom so we decided to sail just up the coast to a couple of marinas beside Mar Menor, a large inland lagoon. On the spur of the moment our friend Katy jumped on a plane to join us.
By now Julia had a ring on her finger so we had lots of planning to get back to.
With so much going on at the moment, I've let this blog slip somewhat. I'm actually writing this update on the 13th September 2018. I'll have two more updates to post after this -then we'll be back up to date with the 'Honeymooners Edition"!..
Flying out on the 12th of October 2017, just after my Exhibition at the Rountree Tryon Gallery in London, this was to be a swift boat moving exercise. The plan was to sail Bumblebee down the coast from Valencia to Almeria, where overwintering is nice and cheap. This was expected to be a fairly tedious stretch of coastline so we brought lots of reading material.
The first leg was 4 1/2 hours to our familiar Club Nautico de Gandia where we arrived rather late at 8:30pm on the 13th. We had a swim in the morning before briskly setting off again towards Altea -we were aware we had a long way to go to Almeria.
On the 14th we sailed past Benidorm and took in the unusual view of skyscrapers crammed in along the coastline. After passing Alicante we unexpectedly stumbled across a tiny Island called Tabarca so we dropped the anchor and had a look around. Spider Island might have been a more suitable name..
By the 15th of October we were making good progress when we pulled into Cartagena for the night. The entrance at first promises little -there are large industrial and naval facilities in the port and it took some time to navigate past the huge cruise ship to find our marina.
Things soon looked up as we started to explore the town. This little gem of a town echos a past of extreme wealth and a rich history as a convenient and protected natural harbour. The more we saw the more we liked. The marina was well run, affordable and full of friendly sailors. The next morning we should have set sail for Almeria where we were booked in for the winter and had our flights home. Instead we signed a contract for a 6 month berth, prepped Bumblebee for the winter and set out to explore all Cartagena has to offer.
What Julia didn't know at this point was the fact I had a jeweller in London making a ring and I planned to ask her to marry me. In the next couple of days I missed several perfect opportunities to ask her but I needed to wait until I had the ring!
So with Bumblebee safely secured in her sheltered berth, we headed back to England for the winter months and one or two significant like events..
After ten months on dry land, working away in the studio and missing the salty sea, we had to return. Bumblebee had been hoisted out of her natural element for too long and would surely be feeling abandoned by now. Before we had time to consider the many reasons why now is not the right time for another expedition, we had book our flights back to Barcelona.
And so it was, just two days after delivering forty paintings to The Rountree Tryon Gallery, we were reunited.
To our delight we found her in fantastic shape. The interior was dry as a bone thanks to countless dehumidifier trays. Our sails and bimini had been serviced and cleaned in our absence and all the polishing ten months ago left her woodwork gleaming like new. The only work to be done was replacing a seized water pump and swapping over the sacrificial anode.
As soon as we were in the water we set off towards Benicarlo, just a short hop down the coast from Sant Carles de la Rapida. Keeping a close eye on the bilge and instruments for any gremlins that might have crept in over the winter. Initially our speed through the water seemed jammed but it soon freed up and everything looked to be working well -except the NASA wind anemometer that is forever temperamental.
This stretch of mainland coast is a dull spot to sail. We crunched through the endless nautical miles but found good sustenance in Benicarlo and Puerto Siles, before reaching Valencia. Here we picked up Noellia and set off south to Gandia. Noellia was new to sailing small vessels and was baptised by 35 knot winds and matching waves as we shot out of Valencia, weaving through a herd of anchored cargo ships. For the next four hours the weather defied the forecast and continued to build, making for a very unpleasant leg of the journey.
Relief finally came after an awkward windy mooring in Gandia. The tiny marina boasted a huge swimming pool with a bar and restaurant.
The next day saw us heading to Denia in much more agreeable conditions. We made good time, so passed on by the marina in search of good spot to swim. We soon realised great swathes of the coast are designated nature reserves, where anchoring is prohibited and the few mooring bouys were already taken. After a quick chat with the port police (did I mention Noellia is Spanish -quite an asset onboard) we persuaded them to let us tie up to a dinghy bouy and have a quick dip. Not long after, we motored into Denia marina and after letting the girls loose on the VHF and pissing off/confusing most of the marina we found our berth for the night. The next morning we would say goodbye to Noellia but first we expected the arrival of Katy and Lilia.
Lilia arrived without difficulty but Katy had a complete nightmare, eventually arriving in the small hours of the morning. After very few hours sleep we bade farewell to Noellia and set off towards Ibiza.
After a painless but tiring 8 hour crossing we arrived at Ibiza and tucked into Cala Badella to anchor and watch the sunset. We thought we had the perfect spot but at around 4am a mini rave kicked off just a few feet off our stern. We wouldn't have minded had the tunes been half decent and the bpm's in the realms of sanity. By 7am we'd had enough, we weighed anchor and got the hell out of there.
After breakfast in Cala D'Hor, but no swimming thanks to jellyfish, we set off towards Formenterra. We anchored close to the beach, hired a couple of scooters and hit the Calas.
Back on the main island we anchored just off Salinas and had lunch at The Jockey Club. I was on the hunt for beach traders and was not disappointed. Later we got a taxi into Ibiza Old Town for tapas and to see Katy off at the airport. The next day we pushed on round to Cala Compte where we sat out a thunderstorm and missed out booking at Sunset Ashram. It didn't matter though as we had Whisky and Dobble. We woke up in paradise, surrounded by perfect turquoise water and a great little bar on the beach. After a walk we settled into some Aperol Spritz and watched a skipper snag his prop on the swimming bouys before running aground and having to be rescued. That evening Lilia caught a flight home and it was just Julia and myself with Bumblebee.
Our last night on Ibiza was spent at Cala Salada where we arrived late and failed to get a good spot to drop the anchor. We had to make do with 15 metres of weedy water and rocks close by. Unfortunately by midnight there was a storm blowing through and after watching several of our neighbours slip and drag their anchor, we too lost our footing. Fortunately the wind blew us towards the open sea and not the nearby rocks. Re-anchoring was made tricky by the slow winch and high winds so I used the clutch to speed things up. As I came to tighten the clutch the winch handle slipped from the socket and I bashed the deck with all my force, resulting in what I suspect is a fractured fifth metacarpal. A trip to a&e tomorrow (7th) and I'll know for sure.
Our two weeks was coming to a close and all that lay ahead of us was a tedious 12 hour motor sail in light winds back to Valencia, where Bumblebee is booked to stay for two months. Then lots of cleaning, a train back to Barcelona, a flight back to London and straight back into exhibition preparations. Luckily a pair of dolphins showed up mid-crossing to perk us up a bit.
It later turned out that we were very fortunate with the weather. Just a week later a huge storm swept through the islands and caused havoc on Formenterra:
The trip was completed on a high note; by all accounts we'd managed to achieve exactly what we aimed out to do. My head was buzzing with all the potential paintings set out before me and I was anxious to get to work asap.
Initially I set up a temporary studio down in Wiltshire but it wasn't long before Julia and I were back in London and I could properly get down to work.
The new goal is a solo exhibition at the Rountree Tryon Gallery, on Bury St, St James's. The show is scheduled to open for two weeks on the 26th of September 2017 and will be my fourth exhibition with the gallery.
The work will be a distilled glimpse of the trip, searching for the significant and memorable moments that struggle to be conveyed in words. My usual approach of breaking down traditional compositions into fragmented figurative oil paintings seems to lend itself perfectly to the vibrant memories of the trip:
These beach sellers were particularly interesting as a subject matter. This large painting is 43x43 inches. The pleasure at witnessing such a bright and playful scene is balanced by empathy for the less saturated circumstances of the individual.
At this stage I am coming up to the initial deadline for paintings to be submitted for the exhibition catalogue. If you would like a catalogue and invitation, please use the contact page to pass on your email and postal address.
The images below show a selection of paintings, some still in progress that will be included.