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: