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: