Cala Benirras is an all time favourite spot of ours on Ibiza. It is wild and remote but has a few fun restaurants on the beach including Elements with a small shop that Julia can't simply walk past. As the sun set over the famous rock, a group of hippies gathered on the beach to beat djembes while singing and playing other instruments. All was well until the next morning when the engine failed to start. This was a concern as the weather could change and we had no way to move the boat to safety. After much head scratching and googling we decide to try jumping it with one of the new house batteries. Again I had to haul one of these beasts out from the depths of the stern to within reach of the separate engine battery terminals. The 55 hp Volvo engine fire up to our great relief, indicating our engine battery had been the culprit.
One lesson I learnt that morning is to be very careful not to let your spanner cross both terminals at once! I was nearly given a nasty shock as the little spanned spat out huge sparks and the arced terminal melted a hole in it. The spanner was left scaldingly hot and I was left a little wiser. On the phone Giles reassured me this happens to everyone once!
So now in a strangely similar pattern to the day before we set off in a taxi with our knackered engine battery. We were in search of a nearby agritourism restaurant run by Atzaro and a ship's chandler to replace the battery.
We heard that Atzaro had opened a new restaurant called Aubergine not far from where Bumblebee was stranded, so decided to pay it a visit. Julia had the Buddah bowl and I had the best burger ever.
After lunch we commandeered a taxi and went off in search of a new battery. We ended up at the chandlery familiar from our last trip, when collecting multiple spares for the anchor windlass. Next door we also found some long jump leads to avoid moving the house batteries again in an emergency. Satisfied with our haul we returned to Benirras, plumbed in the new battery, checked all worked well, then attempted to go for a hike. Anyone who read last our Benirras entry a couple of years ago will know what a mess we got in trying to hike over the hill in this same spot -it is very wild here. With renewed enthusiasm we set off along the cliff top but found the hillside impenetrable and our protective clothing insufficient!
We resigned to return to the beach with our books to settle down with an Aperol Spritz instead.
We were due to set sail the next morning for Valencia where we were booked in for 12 months. At 4am Julia woke me looking alarmed reporting she heard a strange noise. I was sleeping with earplugs and heard nothing. Moments later a neighbouring boat blasted a fog horn and I scrambled up on deck in my boxers to find them just a few metres off our anchor chain looking quite disgruntled. There was no immediate danger and I suspect they were overreacting somewhat. I payed out some more chain and drifted further away. By now I was wide awake so made a few preparations, dragged Julia out of bed to helm and I pulled up the anchor with a now perfectly operating winch. We then set sail for the mainland well ahead of out scheduled departure. Julia slunk back into bed and I motored into the darkness in search of the rising sun.
We had fantastic conditions for the crossing -with the wind at a steady angle and the engine just ticking along we made a comfortable 7 knots, reaching Valencia in just over 12 hours.
The industrial skyline of Valencia loomed into view mid-afternoon. We were soon snuggly berthed and decided to take the rest of the day off -leaving all our chores for the next day before flying home at 9pm. The beach at Valencia is vast and disappears into the distance. There was a national holiday kicking off and everyone was in fiesta mood. We found a quiet restaurant on our side of the marina with a wonderful view of the bustling harbour. After a delicious black Paella and a romantic power cut we made it back to Bumblebee absolutely exhausted.
Our last day was spent cleaning and tidying Bumblebee before making our way to the airport. Sure enough, Easyjet displayed their uncanny ability to let you know the holiday is well and truly over as you queue up like lemmings on the tarmac.
With our friends now on their way to the airport we set about a bit of boat maintenance. After a helpful call to a brother we discovered that the house batteries were completely knackered and this was most likely the reason the winch failed to work. It would also explain the flickering lights and inability to charge out phones the night before! The previous batteries were only four years old but had had a hard life with extended periods of deep discharges. We located new batteries in San Antonio and set off towards the marina.
On arrival we were not allowed to stop at the fuel dock unless we were filling up. The marina also refused to let us tie up for half an hour. Frustrated we set off instead to anchor in Cala Salada. When we arrived there were no other boats on anchor which looked ominous -either forecast waves we had not spotted or the spread of Posidonia made anchoring too tricky. Either way we had no need to risk it so settled for Cala Bassa instead.
As the sun began to set we hopped in a taxi and asked to be taken somewhere chilled for a drink. The taxi driver dropped us of at the Cotton Club which fitted the bill perfectly.
The next day we tried again to buy new house batteries. We succeeded but it was not as straight forward as we had expected. From Cala Bassa we took a taxi into San Antonia to the chandlery. Here we found two 170AH 12V AGM batteries -the only two in the shop and they were big! Only 10AH larger than the old ones but the size and more importantly the weight was quite an increase. While here we also bought a professional oil pump with a built in container to make oil changes quick and simple. With my best smile I visited the marina office and persuaded the lady in charge to let us leave the batteries close to the fuel dock where we would visit later in the day to fill up a jerry can with fuel. I don't think she realised how big the batteries were until we showed up with them!
Julia and I had always written off San Antonio as a grim town with overweight bare-chested Brits eating full English breakfasts with beer. We felt we might be being a bit unfair so set about exploring the old town. Sadly our initial judgement had been quite accurate so we made a plan to retreat to a nearby Agritouristim villa that had fantastic reviews. Our taxi delivered us to paradise within ten minutes!
After our last visit to Ibiza we had become big fans of the Agritourism movement and Sa Talaia was just what we were hoping to find. We were warmly welcomed by the owner and shown around a beautiful garden with a pool, sun beds and a restaurant. This was absolute heaven as we slowly sipped cocktails, cooled off in the pool and sat down for a delicious lunch with a wonderful scene in front of us.
By 3pm we sadly had to leave as we had promised to collect the batteries from the marina. We took a taxi back to Cala Bassa, weighed anchor and sailed in to San Antonio harbour. We tied up at the fuel dock beside the marina office and while Julia set about filling up our jerry can with diesel as slowly as possible, I got rapidly to work swapping over the batteries. This was an absolute pig of a job as the batteries weigh a ton and are buried in the stern behind the engine. After some blood, sweat and bruising the task was complete and we made our way back out of the harbour. To our relief everything appeared to work, including the anchor winch. With plenty of daylight left Julia and I decided to sail 2 hours north to Cala Benirras.
Heading around the northern point of Formentera we passed this stunning tall ship. Being June the anchorages were not at all crowded and the water was ever so slightly chilly. We saw a huge full moon rise that night and fed the fish with stale biscuits and the next mornings washing up.
On Tuesday we set off south to reach the beaches further along Formentera. Having not filled up with fuel before setting off from Denia we were starting to get quite low on the gauge. Unbeknownst to us, the healing of Bumblebee on a starboard tack exaggerated the reading and we became alarmed that we might actually run out! The plan was changed to head straight to Ibiza town to refill. At this point, to our delight the autopilot sprung back into action.
At 3pm Julia had to join a conference call so we dropped the anchor a Chiringay beach bar en route to Cala Comte. While Julia was on her call we had a cold glass of Rosé on deck and were visited by the authorities in a rib to check we hadn't anchored in the Posidonia sea grass and might therefor be liable for a hefty fine. As soon as Julia was done we took the tender to shore for a late lunch and a swim. Chiringay is as you might guess from the name a gay bar, probably for this reason it is very relaxed and civilised -if you can look past a lot of male nudity!
Back on Bumblebee we set off north with favourable winds to Cala Comte for sundowners at Sunset Ashram.
Before we knew it Wednesday came which was our last day with Lily and Robin onboard. We made the most of it by hiking up the coast a bit to a secret little cala and then had a fantastic lunch at S'illa Des Bosc close to where we were anchored. All this time Julia was limping with her foot slowly healing and becoming a fountain of knowledge on the various brands or waterproof plasters available on the island.
Having left Bumblebee over winter in Denia the time came to relocate her to a more acceptably priced Marina. Valencia is a little further from the islands but very secure and much cheaper. Our arrival in Denia was delayed by widespread incompetence checking in our hand luggage -an attempt to save time that back-fired. We ultimately missed our early morning flight but BA were very understanding and paid for our breakfast, gave us lounge access and put us on the next flight... 7 hours later. Julia couldn't bare to spent all day in Heathrow so went to explore Windsor. Not quite what we had in mind..
We were due to meet up with Robin and Lily in Denia but as it turned out they were there well ahead of us. Luckily Lily was familiar with Bumblebee and Robbin is an experienced ocean sailor so they got stuck in prepping the boat well before we eventually turned up that evening. We arrived to a tapas supper, chilled rosé and a boat ready to set sail for the islands. After a few quick tasks the next morning (Sat 16th June) we quietly motored out of Denia on a 9 hour sail to Ibiza.
While berthed in Marina de Denia Bumblebee had been transformed. We found an experienced sailmaker named Tony through the local chandlery and with the very generous funds given to us by many of our closest friends for a wedding present, we commissioned a complete new set of sails. It wasn't until we were well out from Denia that we unfurled the genoa and hoisted the mainsail to reveal the sparkling white fresh Dacron. The old sails were saggy, stained and now in the bin! We are so grateful to all the lovely friends and family who made this possible, Bumblebee is faster and smarter than ever!
Before & after:
Upon our departure there were inevitably a few issues arising from 8 months berthed in a marina. To our surprise the fouling on the hull was minimal and would just require a swim with a brush. As expected the log paddle wheel was clogged so we had no boat speed reading. More frustrating was the autopilot's refusal to steer the boat, meaning actually helming with the wheel would be required. it might sound lazy but for long crossings with a G&T in one hand, a book in the other, the autopilot is a god send! On top of this my ancient Ipad refused to boot up with Navionics. This wasn't actually a problem because the mobile version is excellent and has a ten day free trail. We actually spent the week navigating with my mobile phone!
We were making good time on the crossing so decided to head straight to Formentera -our favourite island in the Med. We arrived in time for supper onboard and watched the sun go down.
The next morning we quickly realised the anchor winch wasn't working. Having spent most of our honeymoon hauling the anchor by hand I was keen to fix this asap. Julia, Lily and Robin went ashore in our lovely new tender while I rolled up my sleeves and dug the winch control box out form behind the forward head. I'd read on the internet that the clicking noise was most likely gunked up solenoid contacts so I took it apart for a clean.
With the contacts clean the anchor winch still wouldn't move so I gave up at least relieved I hadn't broken it anymore than it was already. Julia came to collect me from the boat and we went ashore. This is when Julia -having taken the piss out of my geeky water/hiking shoes. stepped out of the dinghy barefoot and skewered her foot on something sharp and submerged. She managed to limp to Es Molí (of previous lobster pasta fame) where we found disinfectant and beer. Her wound was so severe that we had no choice but to stay for lunch.
Not letting a small hole in her foot slow her down, Julia was later snorkeling below the boat and came across this grumpy fish:
With the afternoon still ahead of us we hauled up the anchor and sailed around the north of Formentera to anchor in a sheltered bay close to Chezz Gerdi.
We anchored here for the night and had supper onboard. There was a brief fiasco with Julia losing her phone and retracing her steps the next day only to find it out on the deck where she was sunning herself the day before. On my list of jobs that had not yet been done was replacing the corroded hot water heater. The slow drip from the base was increasing to the point where I'd have to pump the bilge a couple of times a day. Some mole grips were employed to stem the flow for the time being:
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.