Sunday 18 August 2019

Ibiza to Mallorca

Tuesday 16th July 2019

Goodbye Ibiza. For now.

We raised anchor at 06:50 and headed out of Portinatx,  hoping for a good sail as the weather prediction for the day was 10 to 15 knots south easterly wind, with an easterly swell.  As we left Portinatx bay, we were treated to a beautiful sunrise over the mountain, which was a perfect ending to our time in Ibiza.

Punta des Moscarter
By 07:30 we had raised the jib and main sail but with the wind at 5 to 10 knots, we continued with a bit of help from the engine.  The sea state was calm, but with even a small northeast and southeast swell converging at the Punta des Moscarter, it was a very confused sea for a while.

By 09:00 we were only managing 2.5 to 3 knots under sail, so we kept the engine on to maintain speed.  Where was this 10 to 15 knots predicted?

By 10:00, with no sign of an increase in wind and still motor-sailing, Mark went down for an early siesta.  His back was still hurting and hauling up the anchor manually just aggravates it more.  Standing at the helm, on my own on a beautiful sunny calm day was quite humbling.  It's one of those days when you pinch yourself as you can't quite believe that you're so lucky to be here, doing this.

I was very excited to be going back to Mallorca as it holds lots of memories for me and there are places I wanted to show Mark.  We had also agreed that we would bring the grandchildren out to Mallorca for a weeks holiday.  

By 11:30 Mallorca was in sight, albeit hazy mountains under a cap of cloud. With 70% humidity it was all a bit murky but we knew we were on the right course as there were 14 other boats in eyeshot.  There was still no wind to speak of, but we were optimistic.

Mallorca in sight
By 13:30 the wind had dropped to nothing and the sea was glassy.  As we were crossing the deep water between the islands we hoped to sea some marine life, but nothing, even with a flat sea there was nothing.  Mark lowered the sails, but kept the mainsail raised for visibility as it's better when there's no wind.

Mountains of west Mallorca 
And on we ploughed, chugging away under engine. Even when the sea breeze kicked in, it only lasted for about 1/2 hour.  Although it was an uneventful passage, it was a hard one.  The sun and heat were relentless and with no wind to speak of, the cabin wasn't much cooler. The one thing that did lift our spirits and keep us going was the sight of the beautiful mountains of Mallorca looming up on the horizon. 

At around 17:30 we dropped anchor in the bay just past the entrance of Santa Ponsa marina and although there were a lot of boats, we found a good patch of sand and staked it as ours for the evening, glad that we had finally reached Mallorca.

Santa Ponça

Portinatx, Ibiza

Friday 12th July to Monday 15th July 2019

We arrived in Portinatx early afternoon and dropped anchor about 400 metres from the beach.  It isn’t a very big cala, but it is very popular with yachts coming from or going to Mallorca so can get very crowded.

We planned to stay here for a few days and wait until there was a favourable weather window to blow us over to Mallorca.  What we didn’t know at our time of arrival was that it was fiesta weekend, celebrating Virgin del Carmen.  Stella Maris, as she is also known, was adopted by fishermen and Mariners as their patron. But more about that later!

We had a leisurely afternoon on Friday, Mark's back was still niggling so we didn’t go ashore.  We spent the time pottering about and people watching.

Having dinner in the cockpit I noticed a fork lift truck lifting speakers off the back of the lorry onto a stage that had been erected in the corner of the beach.  “Ooh” I said to Mark, “I think there's going to be a concert". I did a quick check on the internet to see what was on in Portinatx over the weekend and that was when I found out it was the fiesta of the Virgin del Carmen and that it was the party of all parties in Portinatx over the weekend with folk dancing, parades, live music and their famous beach party.  

Having never being into the Ibiza party scene, we were unaware that the party is an annual event where DJs from all over the island come to play a set from 10pm Saturday evening until 5 am Sunday morning.  Oh well, good excuse to have a lay in on Saturday as it will be a late one!

Saturday we rowed ashore and headed into town to pick up a few bits.  Shopping done, we stopped at a bar for refreshments and they just happened to have the women's Wimbledon final showing.  I haven't watched a final in years, so with wine in hand I settled down for the afternoon.  Wow, what a match.  Although it didn't last long, it was brilliant to watch and made a nice change for us.

We headed back to Offbeat to have a little siesta before dinner as we knew we were in for a long night.  The locals had been talking about the beach party in the bar we were in, explaining that it is very loud and no one sleeps whilst it's on.

Mark was still suffering with his back so we decided not to go to the beach, but like other boats in the bay we would get in the spirit and decorate Offbeat.  We put up the bunting, lit the candles and even the disco ball made an appearance. It was fascinating watching the boats come in and drop anchor right in front of the beach.  There were about 7 or 8 boats rafted together right next to the swimming buoys. With best seats in the house, they were in for a good night!

By 2am we'd had enough of listening to house music, so we went below and spent a few hours planning for Mallorca.

We woke late Sunday morning to find that Mark's back had gone altogether and being in pain, he was very limited in what he could do. So, whilst he rested I carried on with planning our trip to Mallorca.

Sunday night was the highlight of the weekend for me, with the celebration of the Virgin del Carmen.  Her much loved effigy is placed on a flower decked throne and paraded through the streets and taken for a tour round the harbour, accompanied by a flotilla of fishing boats.  Brass bands play, crowds cheer and fireworks are let off.  We didn't get ashore, but I could hear the brass band playing and watch the procession along the seafront from Offbeat.

The procession around the harbour bay was lovely.  With local boats following, the statue of the Virgin del Carmen was taken to the entrance of the bay on a local tour boat, accompanied by clergy, dignitaries and parishioners where a blessing was given and wreaths, for those who have lost their lives at sea, were placed in the sea.  The formal bit over, fog horns were sounded around the bay.

Procession over, we were treated to more live music from a live band that had a hot air balloon as a stage prop.  It was all a bit random, but they were pretty good and played songs that I knew, so with glass of wine in hand I danced to the music on Offbeat.

Monday and Mark was feeling a bit better, so we rowed ashore and had a wander through the town.  I say wander in its loosest term as there are 4 streets to the town.  Still  its a pretty town with friendly people and we enjoyed our time there.

Back at Offbeat we made final preparations for our crossing to Mallorca.  We were planning to leave at 06:30 so wanted to have everything ready before bed.

It's amazing how much work goes into prepping the boat before a long sail. Checking sails, lines, rigging, engine, fuel etc., stowing all the stuff that’s gathered on deck and the dinghy.  Then there's below, everything needs to be stowed and secured and when it’s your home, that can be a lot of stuff!

Still, we did it.  We had our last dinner in Ibiza on deck and watched the sunset whilst wondering what Mallorca has in store for us.

Sunday 4 August 2019

Ibiza - West to East to West

Monday 8th July to Friday 12th July 2019

Punta de Moscarter
We pulled up anchor in Cala Xarraca and headed north east towards Punta de Moscarter under engine and as we had a strong southerly swell behind us, we put the foresail up to try and steady us a bit.

Our plan was to head to Cala San Vicente to see what it was like and if it would provide adequate shelter from the predicted northerlies. If we didn’t like the look of that one, the next option was Cala Boix.

As we were experiencing strong southerly gusts from behind, we had the foresail raised but with the engine on. We also had a 0.5-1 metre southerly swell which was coming in short periods so made it a bit lumpy.

Once past Isla Punta Grassa we headed in to Cala San Vicente.  It's a small cala and quite pretty, but the east side is full of mooring bouys so there isn't a lot of space for anchoring. I didn’t have a good feel about anchoring there, given there was a small Dutch yacht moored to a mooring buoy looking totally neglected and with its mainsheet come loose and boom flying back and forth with the swell.  It didn’t instil me with much confidence. 

We then headed to Cala de Leo which is opposite Cala San Vicente to take a bit of shelter from the southerly swell and have a spot of lunch.  It was pretty enough, but was mostly posidonia, with a large amount of rock in the sand patches and numerous rocks awash on the north side.  Not really one you’d want to stay in over night with strong winds forecast. 

After lunch we left for Cala Boix which was a further 2 hours away. For the first time in weeks we experienced grey skies, a spattering of rain and high humidity. Quite uncomfortable. 

Dark skies over Cala Boix

After the rain!
We arrived in Cala Boix mid afternoon and dropped anchor.  Whilst it’s a fairly large cala, a lot of it is covered in posidonia so finding a sand patch wasn’t that easy.  One of the jobs I wanted to do today was swill the decks down and then clean down the cockpit.  It took me over an hour to do, but I was pleased with the results. Then the rain came. Not just rain  but rain from the south, which brings Sahara sand with it.  This was the end result! 

Hippy camp at Cala de Gat
After an uncomfortable rolly night, we left Cala Boix and motored towards Santa Eulalia.  We ended up anchoring in Cala de Gat, which is a pretty little cala with a nice beach and a hippy colony on the cliff top.

As the cala is on the route of the day trip ferries, we experienced some rolling in the afternoon. Would I ever sleep properly again! Mark to the rescue. He too was finding the rolling tedious so set a stern line to pin us in place.

Cala de Gat
We spent the rest of the day swimming in the sea and pottering around.  At sunset we were treated to drumming from the hippy camp which was nice, but not as hypnotic as Cala Benirras. 

After another rolly night (stern anchor didn't work) we planned to move again.  We had bit of a shock when we picked up the stern anchor, it was in 2.5 metres of water just in front of a great big rock shelf.  Offbeat has a draft of 1.8 metres. This means we could have gone to ground or worse still, hit rock.  Mr P was not amused!  

We went across the bay and dropped anchor in Santa Eulalia des Riu which is a pretty little cala with a beautiful beach set in a big wide bay and is just a mile or so from the main town.  

Filling up with water
We were finishing off sorting out Offbeat when I heard the sound of an aeroplane very close by.  Looking to the sky I saw a yellow plane getting lower and lower, oh my goodness it's going to land in the sea and yep, it did, picked up water and headed off to the mountains where we could see smoke rising above the tree tops. The second time it came back I managed to capture it on video and photo. Four times in total it scooped up water, with the last time being the most spectacular.  As it approached the sea from the mountains it changed course slightly and scooped down behind us and between Offbeat and another yacht.  As the plane went past us on the sea, I could clearly see the pilot and felt that if I’d have put my hand out I would have touched the plane. Wow, what a sight and what an experience. 

Excitement over, reality kicked in and we rowed ashore and headed for the supermarket. On the way back we stopped for drinks at a beach bar and watched the setting sun.

Up the creek!

Next day we rowed Upbeat ashore again, but this time took her to a beautiful little creek in the corner of the cala where we pulled her out of the water and tied her to a tree stump. Going over a little wooden footbridge,  we headed to the restaurant on the other side of the creek for coffee and croissants before heading into town to do washing and a bit more shopping.  The owners very kindly let us leave our oars with them so we didn't have to carry them around all day.

Washing and shopping done, we headed back to the restaurant. By now it was mid afternoon so we decided to have some lunch there.  It was a beautiful setting, we had a table in the shade overlooking the creek and the sea and with a golden sand beach to the side.

So engrossed were we in conversation and people watching, it wasn’t until we finished lunch that we noticed the sea breeze had kicked in and the sea was getting quite lively. Bearing  in mind we had to row back to Offbeat, we quickly paid our bill, said our thank you and left.

Rowing back was a bit tough.  Mark was rowing with all his strength and I was holding on to the sides for dear life.  It didn't help that there were a couple of lads on jet skis zooming around, that is until they came near us for the second time. In my loudest and most stern voice I told them in Spanish to wait.  They were so shocked they didn’t move until we had rowed past them.

Later we checked the weather.  The waves weren't going to get any calmer so at 19:00 Mr P announced that we're moving.  We were on our way by 19:15!

Sailing at nightfall

Approaching Isla de Tagamago we put the foresail and mainsail up but had to motor until we passed the island.  Once past it was beautiful sailing weather, so much so we were very tempted to just keep on sailing to Mallorca.  However,  caution and tiredness stopped us and although the wind was 15 knots and we were averaging 6 knots, the forecast was it would die through the night.

Just enjoying the moment

Clot D'Es Llamp
So instead of sailing through the night, after rounding Punta Grosa, we dropped anchor in Clot D’Es Llamp which was a very sandy anchorage with spectacularly grand cliffs.  There were only two other boats in the Anchorage so plenty of space for all of us.

The next day when we went on deck, we were the only boat in the anchorage. We couldn’t believe that we had this beautiful place all to ourselves. We also knew it wouldn't last long either, as usually by 11:00 boats come flooding in to anchorages.

So, by mid morning we pulled up anchor and headed out towards Portinatx.  We had a good south easterly wind with us so with sails up and we headed north.  Once past Punta des Moscarter we gybe-tacked downwind to avoid a dead run.

We arrived at Portinatx around lunchtime and dropped anchor about 300 metres from the beach.

Where the wind blows and the rich and famous go!

Friday 5th July to Monday 7th July 2019

After our visit to Puerto de San Miguel we headed back to Sant Antoni for fuel, water and supplies. We only stayed one night as we really wanted to press on and see more of the island. 

We planned to go back up the north coast to Cala Xarraca, Portinax and if the weather was on our side, head round to the east side for a few days.

We left Sant Antonio marina early afternoon after filling up with fuel.  This was an interesting experience!  Five young men working at the fuelling station and not one of them had a clue what to do.  Not known for my patience when itching to get on, after waiting a few minutes for one of them to take control,  I took over and gave them instructions on what to do.  It was quite funny really as they then all had that look of when your mum is on the war path. Still, we got our fuel and left as two Spanish boats fought over our space with the five young men reverting back to type and gormlessly watching the fracas.

We headed up the west coast to Cala Xarraca with the wind on our nose, so we had to motor all the way.  It took about 3 hours and whilst the scenery was as beautiful as ever, it was the third time of seeing it.

Cala Xarraca
The weather forecast for the weekend was not too good, with strong southerly winds forecast for Saturday and Sunday night, followed by strong northerly winds.  This is why Mark had chosen Cala Xarraca as it's a large bay with plenty of room so if the winds did come the boats wouldn’t be on  top of each other if anyone dragged.  

When we  dropped our anchor Mark tied our newly purchased anchor ball to it so that we could see where we had anchored.  Unfortunately he had underestimated the depth and the rope was too short so with snorkel and mask, he had to go and find it.  He did a brilliant job of finding it and then retying it whilst under water.  I played the part of the concerned wife, watching his every move in case he got in to trouble or worse still one of the locals came speeding in and didn’t see him.  Job done, a well earnt beer or two was in order.

Saturday was a beautiful sunny day with hardly any wind. It was hard to believe that we were due winds of 30 knots in the gusts. 

Upbeat's new bottom!
It was a day for doing odd jobs and we spent part of the day painting the inside bottom of Upbeat as it had started to wear badly.  It was also a great day for swimming and people watching.  It was hot work painting the dinghy even though we had sunshade up (part of my mum's old gazebo) and as the water was so warm and inviting we had quite a few swims.

As for people watching, oh boy, what a day.

First there was a three mast yacht arrived which was absolutely huge.  Binoculars out to check the name, which was EOS.  Quick look on the internet to find out who owns it.  Turns out it is one of the largest privately owned sailing yachts, owned by Barry Diller, husband of Diane Von Furstenberg, a name very familiar to me as my girls love her designs.  

They left late afternoon.  Watching a yacht of that size glide out of the cala, like a swan on a lake, it was a truly awesome sight.

Yacht Africa
As we were having dinner in the cockpit a big superyacht arrives. Out with the binoculars and its yacht Africa.  Being one for trashy gossip on the internet, I’d seen photos of this yacht earlier in the week as it was being rented by Cristiano Ronaldo.  

Ten minutes later, who should come flying past Offbeat in their speedboat but the man himself.  Nearly spilt my wine with excitement. As you can imagine, Mr P was not as impressed!

Excitement over, the weather changed and the winds arrived about 22:00 and boy were those gusts strong.

We had already done our prep on deck, stowing the dinghy and making sure everything was tied down, taking the sunshades down and clearing the cockpit.  We had an escape route planned if needed and Mark had done all the necessary battery, engine and fuel checks.

Sunset in Cala Xarraca

I tried sleeping but just couldn't. I wasn't scared, I just don’t like the noise of the wind howling around the boat, the halyards clanging against the mast and strange noises.  It makes me anxious, mainly because it's dark and you can't see what's going on. 

The peak of the wind came at about 02:00. By this time I was on the bunk in the saloon and Mark was on the other one on anchor watch.

Weather watch
Thankfully by 06:00 the wind started to subside and calm down.  Mark checked the weather to see what the actual gusts were, they peaked at 36 knots – Force 8.  Worst news was, they were forecast again for Sunday night, but stronger!

Sunday was a bit of a lazy day, but we did do a few jobs like sorting out the foredeck shade so it hangs properly and sanding down the dinghy seats as they were weathered by the salt and sun. I also kept an eye on the anchor ball, which seemed to take on a life of it’s own and constantly wanted to dance with Offbeat.  At one point we had to put the engine on and reverse back from it as, when my back was turned, Offbeat had crept over to it and the ball and rope were was dangerously close to wrapping themselves round the rudder or propeller.  It was like watching over a 2 year old, bloody exhausting!

As for the weather,  I must have checked the forecast umpteen times, hoping that I would see a miracle and the strong winds forecast had disappeared.  But no, they still said gusts of up to 50 knots, which is Force 10.  It was definitely a waiting game, compounded by the cloud and humidity that came on in the afternoon. 

Tug boat Annie
By evening the sun, stress and humidity seemed to have got to some of the skippers around us.  A big tug boat that was moored a fair way away from anybody decides to up anchor and re-anchor within a boat length of the yacht next to us.  After a heated exchange between the two captains, the yacht next to us ups anchor and moves away.

Okay, drama over, there's enough space again between us all and plenty of room in the cala itself.  Sorted. No! A Spanish catamaran turns up at sunset and decides to anchor way too close to us.  I think this may have tipped Mark over the edge as he used every Spanish swear word he's ever learnt. And still they didn't move!

By now we were done in so we headed for bed to wait for the winds to turn up and see what the night would bring.

Nothing! The strong winds that were predicted never appeared.  We woke a few times in the night, expecting to hear howling winds, but nothing.

As strong northerlies were predicted, followed by westerlies, we upped anchor and headed off to the east side of the island.

Saturday 3 August 2019

Mountains, Drumming and Sunsets - North Ibiza

Thursday 27th June to Thursday 4th July 2019

We headed back to Sant Antoni to do some chores, mainly washing and stocking up on food. We decided not to go into the marina, but to anchor in a little bay to the west of the town.  

As it was a short visit it was all systems go when we arrived and I think we surprised ourselves by getting everything done in one afternoon/evening. 

Friday morning we pulled up the anchor and headed off to the north coast of Ibiza.  A number of fellow travellers had said how beautiful this part of Ibiza is, with dramatic cliffs and mountains and beautiful calas, so we were looking forward to exploring it.

As is the norm nowadays, there was no wind.  Not even a hint of wind as you can see by the flat sea in the photos.  So, with engine on, off we chugged due north.

As we left the bay at Sant Antonio, the sight of the mountains from the sea were pretty awesome.  Mark believes it is very similar to Scotland, but with sunshine and without midgies. I could tell that we were in for a treat in this part of the island.

North Coast of Ibiza

Motoring no longer seemed too bad, as there was so much to see. One of the highlights was seeing Ses Margalides, which are a series of rock formations lying off the coast just past Cap Negret. Over thousands of years, the rocks have formed a low sea arch through which small boats pass through. From a distance the rocks don’t look that impressive, but once you get close to them you appreciate the sheer scale of the rocks, the clear blue water surrounding them and the intricate patterns of the rock formation.

               Ses Margalides

Punta de Ses Torretes 

I could have quite easily have spent an afternoon there, just appreciating the beauty of the coastline, but we pressed on.  And I was not disappointed.  The scenery along the coastline was truly amazing and by late afternoon we headed in to Cala d'Albarca where we would stay for a few of days.

We ended up spending a couple of days in Cala d'Albarca.  It was such a beautiful, peaceful anchorage, surrounded by 100-200 metre cliffs.  The bay was 1 mile wide and ¾ mile in depth so plenty of space to ourselves. 

Cala d'Albarca

The shoreline was large boulders and rocks, no beach, backed by pine forested slopes and sheer white, red and brown limestone cliffs.  With no roads or tracks to be found, it would have been a hard scramble to get to civilisation. On Saturday afternoon there were 8 boats and loads of space.  Saturday night it had decreased to 3 boats including Offbeat and by Sunday morning we had the cala all to ourselves. 

The sunsets from the cala were truly magical,  it's hard to describe the colours of the rock as the sun sets, but they change through the various spectrum of pink through to claret red.

Mark improving the flexible water tank
The weather while we were there was extremely hot, 45 degrees in the shade in the cockpit, 35 degrees in the cabin.  We did a few odd jobs whilst we were there, but mostly tried to keep cool and not overheat by taking occasional dips in the crystal clear sea.

We left Cala d'Albarca late Sunday morning to head 5 miles north to either Puerto San Miguel or Cala Benirras.  I was really keen to go to Cala Benirras as I’d read that on Sunday's they have drumming on the beach at sunset.  Apparently, ‘the day of the drums' first started on Sunday 18 August 1991 when hundreds of people gathered on Benirras beach protesting against the first gulf war in Iraq. It turned into an annual event, attracting thousands of people, far too many for the little cala and village to cope with and was eventually banned.  But, since then drummers have turned up faithfully every Sunday to continue the tradition and drum together as the sun sets over the bay. 

We anchored in Cala Benirras and headed ashore late afternoon.  The beach was already packed but buses were turning up with even more people making there way to the beach with beach blankets and cool boxes full of goodies.  As the sun started to descend, the beach was packed to capacity.   We decided to head on back to Offbeat to watch the sunset and listen to the drumming in comfort over supper.
Cala Benirras

Popular beach, standing room only!

Drumming on the beach
Wow, it did not disappoint. I loved it.  The drumming took on a wildly hypnotic tone and we could see people dancing on the beach to the tribal rhythms, completely lost in the music.

Sunset in Cala Benirras

And the sunset, probably  the  best I’ve seen to date.
I think this is the day that my inner hippy was born as there certainly was an overwhelming feeling of care free abandonment in the air that night.

The next day we set off in Upbeat to go to Puerto San Miguel, which was about 1½ miles round the corner, but to get to it you had to go out of one cala, into the sea and then into another cala.  As we were heading out of the cala I said to Mark that the sea looked a bit ‘lively’.  Not a problem we thought, until we got out into it.  When I’m holding onto the sides of Upbeat and my knuckles go white, Mark knows that I may be getting slightly uptight and anxious. So, with the waves lapping at the side of us, we turned round and headed back to Offbeat.

Musical Mermaids 
Later in the day we went ashore and took a walk up one of the cliffs that surrounds the bay. On the way into shore, we met some mermaids who were being interviewed before singing lullabies to those who could hear.  By now I was completely in love with the sheer colour and magic of this place. I think that for me it was one of very few places that I’ve been to where there is an acceptance of everyone by such an eclectic group of people.  You just do your own thing and no one judges you for it!

After a couple of blissful days in Cala Benirras we headed round the corner to Puerto de San Miguel.  Not sure why it's called a port, as there's no marina but it was a pretty cala, with three beaches dotted around it.

Cala des Moltons
Puerto de San Miguel
Wednesday we rowed ashore to one of the smaller calas and headed up into the woods on the cliff.  At the end of the cliff was a disused tower, which had views for miles. So, off we set up the dirt track, following it behind the beach restaurant and outlying buildings.  Then we started to climb, at which point it stopped being a dirt track and turned into a rocky path.  Boy was I glad we had worn hiking boots and not flip flops!

It probably took a good 1½  hours to climb the rocky path up the cliff, in the baking sun.  It’s amazing who you can meet though when out walking and on this particular walk we met some fellow walkers from Brazil who were in Ibiza on holiday.  

At the top of the cliff the views really were worth the effort.  Stunning!  We could see the coastline for miles, together with spectacular views of the bays. 

Illa Murada

Torre des Molar

View from Torre des Molar

After satisfying our desire for a long walk, we headed back down the rocky path towards the beach bar.  It never ceases to amaze me how it's always quicker to get back than going, but I suspect that the barbeque sardines, fresh salad and chilled wine waiting for us may have had a bearing on it!

Unfortunately the next day it was time to move on and with a lot of backward glances, we headed out into the sea.  I really was quite sad to be leaving here as for the first time  in a long time I’d found some inner peace, a feeling that all was right with the world!

Illa Murada

Adios Puerto de San Miguel