Julia and I arrived in Ibiza on the 16th after a brisk 8 hour crossing from Port Andratx, Mallorca. We pulled into the first protected anchorage, named Cala Boix, where we spent the night with half a dozen other yachts. Sheltered from the northerlies by steep cliffs, we had a good nights sleep and awoke to a sparkling clean & clear bay. There were a few chores to be done, so we sailed west to Santa Eulalia, anchored and went ashore. The rest of the day seemed to disappear thanks to slow wifi and good tapas, so we ended up staying the night.
On the morning of the 18th we set sail for Formentera, just a couple of hours south of Ibiza. We were here a couple of years ago and fell in love with the island and its beautiful beaches, it never occurred to us we would be returning by boat. That night we wandered into town and hired a couple of bikes for the last hours of daylight. The wind was still blowing strong since our crossing and we spent a very lively night on anchor at Los Trocados.
We headed back into the town of La Savina the next day and rented a scooter. The beauty of Formentera is the ability to cover the whole island in a day. I took along my painting kit and revisited a few familiar spots.
We finished the day with a fine view as the sun slowly set, returning exhausted to Bumblebee for an early night.
The next day was totally different. We set out to sail around the island as we had well and truly covered it from the land. Three hours into a gentle, overcast sail, the weather suddenly changed. Out of nowhere we were hit by 30 knot gusts and the sky turned dark. After initially sheeting out the sails, we turned into the wind, fired up the engine and set to reefing the sails with some urgency. Once we had a manageable amount of canvas to the wind, things became a bit more enjoyable. In fact we made a new record of 9 knots (Only surpassed by the upside down spinnaker incident) with a reefed mainsail and just a wisp of genoa.
After the wind there came the waves. Luckily we were running downwind now so we surfed through them. Then followed the rain. With wet weather gear on and a plastic bag over the Ipad, even this torrential downpour couldn’t dampen our spirits. At one point we sheltered under a cliff with another yacht, as lightning threatened us from all around. Eventually it died down and we were able to continue our circumnavigation of Formentera.
As is often the case, the storm later gave way to sunshine, so we dropped anchor in Cala Pujols and dug out the snorkels. Here I spotted a Dorado and Julia happened upon a very bold octopus. An hour or so later, we were treated to a spectacular sunset as we made our way back to Ibiza.
We arrived after dark and anchored in front of the town, not an ideal place as it turned out to be a busy route for water taxis. We had an early start the next day as Julia needed to fly to London for a day of business meetings. Once she was ashore, I moved Bumblebee passed the main harbour and re-anchored her in Talamanca Bay in the hope of a better sleep that night. I then went for a long walk with a gas bottle in search of a fresh one.
Julia returned that evening with Henry, Will and Kelsey in tow. We ferried them aboard and gave them the grand tour. The next morning we set off back to Formentera to explore the white sands of Puerto de Espalmador and the curios rock sculptures inhabited by friendly lizards. To cross between the islands we waded through crystal clear shallows, passing day trippers carrying their belongings above their heads.
Later on, we moved Bumblebee closer to the harbour and went off to explore. We found a suitable beach bar with wickedly priced drinks, so settled for beers all round. The music was odd but he sunset was spectacular, finishing with an unexpected burst of applause from the assembled patrons. We spent the night anchored just off the beach and returned to the town in the morning for supplies. Luckily we weren’t gone too long as we returned to find our dinghy adrift from the beach and on its way into the harbour.
From Formentera we sailed back to Ibiza, making landfall at Esenada de la Canal. Here we wandered amongst the beach bars and party crowds in search of the deserted salt lakes hidden behind. From Esenada we sailed on to Cala de Port Roig, where we anchored for the night.
It was here that we were struck by the most severe thunderstorm of the trip. For several hours we watched with amusement as an intense electrical storm put on an impressive display some distance away. At around midnight the storm hit and the calm breeze surged instantly to 40 knots. The lightning was intense and right over us, the rain poured down in torrents and the whole time I was aware that the anchor was poorly set in weeds. Convinced we would drag, we fired up the engine and tried to relieve some strain from the anchor. My anchor alarm went berserk as we dragged through the anchorage some 50 metres. Our nearest boat was just three metres off our stern when the anchor finally gripped and held us tight. The storm raged intensely for about an hour before dissipating into warm rain showers and occasional lightning. That was when Oli phoned and said he’d arrived.
Through some inexplicable lack of cognitive processing, we had all been discussing where best to pick up Oli, but failed to realise that he was arriving that very day. Without letting on, we instructed him to get a taxi to Port Roig, where we’d be waiting. Henry and I donned our wet wet-weather gear once again and set out in the dinghy. The lightning obligingly lit the way as we navigated to the shore and found a path up to the road. Here we waited, in the rain for Oli to arrive. We witnessed a dustbin lorry (possibly from the future) empty the bins with a remote control robotic arms while Henry tried to hustle himself into the cockpit for a closer look.
With some relief, the three of us reached the boat with all Oli’s bags still dry. By now it was approaching 4am and Julia awoke to find us all soaked but happy in the saloon. I was knackered so went to bed but Henry and Oli were brimming with energy so took to the dinghy and went AWOL.
We awoke in the morning and there was no sign of them. During the storm we had twisted around a mooring buoy and discovered our anchor had lodged itself in a rocky trench –hence why we were held fast. We retrieved our abandoned dinghy from the shore (managing to hotwire it with a cable-tie) and set off from Port Roig. In the next door bay we scooped up Oli and Henry, who had somewhere along the way picked up breakfast and icecream. Tales ensued hitchhiking to nearby towns and other antics as we sailed up the west coast.
The imposing outline of Vedra island loomed into sight around the headland. After sailing between the islands and some tentative prospecting, we dropped anchor just east of Islote Vedranell, the smaller of the two. We tied the dinghy amongst the sharp rocks and proceeded to climb as high as we could up the island, taking in the impressive view below.
From there we made way as fast as possible to Sant Antoni in the hope of taking on some water and fuel. We succeeded in the latter but were asked to return at 10am the next day for water. With the fenders left out we motored just out of the harbour and anchored in the tiny inlet of Port del Torrent.
The next day, with fully charged fuel, water and fridge, we sailed past Sant Antoni to the lovely little Cala Salada. We swam, climbed and soaked up the chilled atmosphere. Sadly this was the day that Will and Kelsey would be leaving us, so we delivered them back to Sant Antoni, where we cheekily topped up our water tanks again. W&K would be moving up the island and we made plans to meet again in a couple of days by Cala Portinatx. Since it was now dark we chose our familiar spot from the night before to anchor. In the morning we picked up our newest recruit; Pinar had flown from Dusseldorf to join us for the final few days of our trip.
The next day, two crew down but one up, we set off to explore the north coast of Ibiza. This coastline is steep and wild, with few signs of civilisation. We passed Islas Margaritas, where a large hole through the rock is navigable by dinghy. We continued on with Oli setting up my trolling gear for guaranteed success. We arrived and anchored in Cala Binirras a stunning bay brimming with underwater life.
The decision was made (probably by Julia) to scramble up the nearby hill. This turned out to be tougher than anticipated, with sections of near vertical climbs punctuated by patches of loose, crumbling rock. Once at the summit we all agreed the descent would be a nightmare and an alternative route should be sought. We wound our way through an inhospitable terrain of scratchy shrubs and felled trees with Olis’ repaired flip flops doing and admirable job of not slowing him down. Night began to fall and things started to get a bit tricky. We finally found a road, emerging onto the tarmac sporting the odd minor flesh wound.
On the way out of Cala Binirras the next morning, we pulled up alongside a small rocky island rising steeply from the water. After a quick lap in Bumblebee, Oli took to the water and swam across to the overhanging rock face. Once he was on his ascent, Julia jumped in too, closely followed by myself. Henry had to remind himself of his recent shoulder operation or he’d be up there as well, leaving just Pinar to keep the boat hovering nearby.
By the time Oli reached the summit, I was hot on is heels but self-preservation kept me from attempting the last few metres of vertical rock. Julia and Henry found a way up a lower part, on the other side of the island and dived off headfirst. With the rocky island well and truly conquered we were once again on our way.
Cala Xaracca distracted us for a few pleasant hours scrambling up cliffs and snorkelling. We had an appointment for Lunch with Will and Kelsey in the next-door bay so couldn’t stop for long. En route to lunch we took the opportunity of deploying Oli and Henry in the dinghy, armed with a camera to take some stills of us sailing past. They got some good pics that might be useful in the coming months.
Lunch was at El Puerto in Cala Portinatx. We reunited and enjoyed sangria and paella, after which we saw Henry into a taxi and on his way home. A plan was then hatched to return to Cala Xaracca and search out the healing muds that we missed on our visit earlier that day. Will and Kelsey walked, we sailed. The mud was found and enjoyed by all.
That evening it was Oli’s turn to exit, so feeling rejuvenated by the mud, we returned to Bumblebee. Some took the dinghy, the others swam right through a sea of jellyfish. Farewell drinks were had onboard before dropping him off ashore and heading back to anchor in Cala Portinatx. Will and Kelsey also departed and the three of us remaining tried to get some sleep in preparation for an early crossing to the mainland the next day. The forecasts were not great and in the morning the sea was very lumpy and blowing a near gale. We set out to see just how bad things were, only making way for twenty minutes before being forced back by waves slamming us all over the place. Our plans had to be changed so we delayed departure for a day, Pinar booked a flight direct from Ibiza and we used the bonus day to check out the hippy market in Es Canna.
For a hippy market there were very few hippies and a very organised feel to the proceedings. Julia skilfully managed to hunt down a few essential purchases but we left underwhelmed. Things picked up again when we decided to spend the evening in Ibiza Old Town, retracing our steps from our first visit four years previous. We left Pinar to fly the next day and headed back to a turbulant anchorage, where a handful of new arrivals were sheltering from the elements. In the morning we awoke to fine conditions and set sail for mainland Spain on the final leg of our voyage.