Wednesday 2nd September
We have started our journey back out of the Mediterranean, from now on we will be sailing westward all the way to New Zealand!
I am writing this from the cockpit, motor sailing, we only have six knots of wind, three quarters of the way from Ibiza to Almerimar, where we intend to stop for a few days enroute to Gibraltar. The visibility is not brilliant so we can’t see the land which is about fifteen miles away, the sea is calm and there is not another boat in sight, it looks to all intense and purposes as if we are in an ocean already. This will be, at about forty hours, the longest double handed sail we have done so far, conditions have been benign and everything is going well with just nine or so hours left to go. One of my three forecasts are for the winds to freshen and to veer to the west, this will make things a bit more lively, so we are making as quick progress as possible while we can.
The Mckays, Jonny, Sheridan, Charlie and Daisy joined us in Andraitx last Wednesday and we spent, the six days they were with us, making a final visit to some of our favorites spots in Mallorca and Ibiza. We spent a night in our northern corner just outside the main port of Soller and finally got into the restaurant on the front we had been trying to eat at all summer and enjoyed steak cooked at the table Tappanyaki style.
We anchored for a swim and lunch in Cala Foradada, where we swam for the last time in the crystal clear waters. The lack of fish in this part of the Mediterranean, in numbers and variety, has been rather shocking, so we felt lucky to see a few Pipe Fish, some yellow stripy Jacks and one small Parrot Fish. The overwhelming majority of fish are the Saddled Bream that we see everywhere and that are very enthusiastic eaters of our stale bread.
Charlie feeding the Saddled Bream.
And then we turned west, towards Formentera and Ibiza. It was good to have some extra crew for the night crossing. Jonathan is an extremely experienced sailor and the root of our sailing ambitions, even Rick managed some sleep, feeling confident leaving Raya in his hands. It was quite a good trip, we managed to sail at least half of the way, there was quite an uncomfortable swell again but nobody suffered from sickness. For the kids it was their first night sail and I think they were surprised with how peaceful it feels and how light it was, bathed in a full moon. At one point Charlie was reading by the moonlight, in fact I was rather depressed by how poor my eye sight was compared to their young eyes, despite the thousands of pounds spent at the opticians, it’s a shame you can’t buy youth.
The anchorages in Formentera were thankfully less crowed than they were a month or so ago, but unfortunately Cala Sahona was full of small black jelly fish. We have seen an increasing number in the past week or so and both Sheridan and Rick have been stung. We are currently sailing just south of Cartagena and there has been a constant stream of a brown, ten inch diameter, variety passing the boat for the past two hours. That’s a lot of jelly fish!
Saturday evening we met up with friends of Jonny’s, Eric and Sally and their house guest Steve. An interesting bunch, we had a very pleasant supper. Eric has been visiting Cala Sahona since he was a child, as he has a family villa here, it was fascinating seeing the bay through his eyes realizing he’s completely different view of the place.
When we woke the next morning not only were the black jelly fish still all around us but we were getting a bit battered by the wind, so we took up the anchor and moved about three miles up the coast and anchored off Isla Espalmador. We were so glad we did, the island is joined to Formentera by a narrow, five mile long, low lying, sand spit and when we took the dingy ashore we discovered how beautiful it was. One side was a turquoise calm sea, full of yachts and super yachts at anchor, the other just 100ft away was exposed to the full brunt of the east wind and waves crashed into the beach. The spit is composed of flat low rocks and soft white sand, every rocky mound was completely covered with little towers of stones built by hundreds of visitors. Everybody seems to have a different tale for why people build them, but here, it felt very New Age and quite mystical. Despite a compelling urge, we resisted the temptation to build our own and instead played in the rough waves on the east side and then lolled in the cooling calm waters to the west.
McKay family playing in the surf
Calm waters on the Eastern shore
For their penultimate night we paid a final visit to the anchorage at Cala D’Hort, eating at the nice cliff top restaurant and waking to views of Isla Vedra (Bali Hai) before setting off for Marina Santa Eulalia just north of Ibiza town.
In the afternoon we took a taxi the fifteen minutes to Ibiza and walked, with much complaining from some members of our party, to the top of the old town. We walked through tunnels, up steep hills and even steeper steps to reach the picturesque square containing the Cathedral right at the top of the Citadel. The groaning was not improved by, at sunset, the arrival of a swarm of mosquitoes, suddenly the whole place was full of people scratching. Luckily we found an enterprising grocery store selling mossie spray and the evening became a bit more comfortable. We wandered into one of many restaurants lining the street on the edge of the old town and it turned out to be some of the best food we have eaten all summer, a fitting end to the Mckays stay.
We left Ibiza with black storm clouds in the distance and despite turning south to try and avoid it,we were soon engulfed by our first electrical storm. We rushed to protect one of the hand held radios and my iPad (which could act as a spare GPS if nessecary), putting them in the oven which we hoped, acting as a Faraday Cage, would keep them safe if we were hit by lightening. It was quite frightening as we watched a funnel form in the clouds and lightening bolts hit the sea. With the thunder cracking loudly all around, the torrential rain hit us and the visibility dropped to a few hundred feet. It only lasted half an hour or so but we were relieved to be finally sailing in sunshine again.
The rain front approaching
Thursday 3rd September
Well the expected high winds arrived five hours earlier than forecast and so the last quarter of our journey turned into a hairy twelve hours as Raya beat slowly right into the waves and wind. We arrived in Almerimar wet and tired, feeling that we had certainly passed the double handed, two night test. Thankful for our fantastic boat and her engine which ran without complaining for nearly forty five hours.