Ibiza and beyond

Sunday August 25th.

Since our last post two weeks ago we have been continually on the move.  Angela and Graham Bush joined us on Sunday August 11th. and we had a night at anchor in Santa Ponsa, a delightful bay to the west of Palma.

An Indian feast in Palma with Angela and Graham Bush.

An Indian feast in Palma with Angela and Graham Bush.

From here we set off for the island of Ibiza, about 50 miles south west of Mallorca.  We departed before dawn and had three hours of darkness in which to dodge brightly lit fishing trawlers, then treated to a magnificent sunrise over the distant Mallorcan mountains.  Sadly, the wind was light and we had to motor nearly all the way but were happy to sight our destination Santa Eulalia, a large resort on the east coast of Ibiza.  We anchored in the outer harbour and collected Catherine Bush to join the crew. During the night the wind dropped completely and the boats at anchor turned sideways to the swell from the sea giving us a massive and uncomfortable roll.  It was our worst night by far, although our guests thought it was perfectly normal.

Santa Eulalia, Ibiza.  A most uncomfortable anchorage.

Santa Eulalia, Ibiza. A most uncomfortable anchorage.

Terry spent most of the night in the cockpit watching an old wooden boat which was rolling uncomfortably close to us.  We now know why people spend hundreds of Euros to tie up in the local marina.

Since then we have spent every night in a different anchorage in Ibiza and Formentera. Most of them in small protected coves with sandy beaches, marred only by jelly fish of various species appearing in two of the bays, only in the afternoons however, mornings one could swim in the crystal waters without fear.  August is the European holiday season so it is extremely busy with many yachts in all anchorages, both Ibiza and Formentera are most popular destinations for French, German, Italian and British sailors at this time of year. Super yachts (enormous motor boats) abound, Exotica was very small fry!

With Catherine and James at Ibiza.

With Catherine and James at Ibiza.

Our son James joined us for a few days at San Antonio and from there we sailed to the island of Formentera, south of Ibiza.

What you do in Formentara.

What you do in Formentara.

There we anchored in Cala Saona, off a fabulous and very popular, golden sand beach.  There must have been five hundred craft of all shapes and size in this wide bay.

James and Catherine leave in the early morning.

James and Catherine leave in the early morning.

The next day we dropped off Catherine and James in Ibiza town to take their respective flights home and then the two of us sailed back to Mallorca.  This was the best and longest sail we have had so far.  The weather over the past six weeks has been sensational, warm and sunny, day after day, but not much wind so the motor has been used frequently to get us from place to place and charge the batteries. Our water maker has allowed us to be independent of marinas so we have anchored every night. We did, however, sail all the way back to Port Andratx on the southern tip of Mallorca where we had two nights on a mooring in the bay and a run ashore in the dinghy for dinner.

Exotica on a mooring in Port Andratx

Exotica on a mooring in Port Andratx

We returned to Palma yesterday, via a stop for a swim in Palma Nova, for a big clean up.Two weeks of dirty washing will give our onboard washing machine a good workout!

Registration and Mischief.

Sunday August 11th.

For the past few weeks we have been sitting comfortably on our mooring in Palma but unable to make any prolonged voyages because we have had no registration.  Nowadays the authorities want to scrutinise all the boat papers as soon as you enter any port.  These papers include, registration, proof of ownership, proof that VAT  (GST to Australian readers)  has been paid and proof that the boat is fully insured.  Failure to produce these may result in fines or worse and since the governments are looking for every opportunity to make some money, then yachties seem to be a particularly tempting target.

We have been making regular day trips to local anchorages and beaches and getting used to handling the boat. But on Thursday last our British registration finally came through, much to our relief, so now we are free to travel any where we choose. This week we are hosting Angela and Graham Bush and plan a trip to the island of Ibiza which will be an 80 mile passage, perhaps over night.

P1000681On Friday a boat called Mischief arrived and moored across from us.  Some may have read of the exploits of the highly eccentric mountaineer and explorer Major Bill Tilman. Before the Second World War he was on some of the Himalayan expeditions and after the war he took to sailing very old boats to extreme locations such as the Arctic, Antarctic, Iceland and Greenland.  His boat was called Mischief and is immortalised by him in the books he wrote about his travels such as “Mischief” and “Mostly Mischief”.  The boats he sailed were barely seaworthy, frequently got stuck in ice fields and he struggled to find and retain crew who could tolerate his ascetic ways. There were a number of mutinies all described in the books in a very laconic style.  Mischief was finally lost off Jan Mayen Island, near Greenland in 1968 and Tilman himself, at the age of 79,  was finally on a boat on the way to the Falklands which disappeared without trace.

The yacht that is moored near us is an exact replica, built in Bristol and completed in 2008. She is a Bristol Pilot Cutter and in her build and rig represents the culmination of 500 years of development of the working sailing ship prior to the advent of engines.  She is gaff rigged and all the sail handling is done by block and tackle.  She does have an auxiliary engine to get in and out of ports but everything else appears to be authentic.  There is even a wood burning stove which they say makes sailing around the north of Scotland quite agreeable.  Her owner Richard Boissevain is a great enthusiast and has sailed the boat around the UK and France and now in the Mediterranean for some time.

The difference in comfort and convenience between Mischief and Exotica is very considerable.  I do not think we would be tempted to swap.

Passage to Cabrera and the Man Overboard

Monday August 5th.

Approaching Cabrera

Approaching Cabrera

We made our first passage to the minimally inhabited island of Cabrera on Friday.  The wind was a moderate breeze directly on the nose so we motored for the first couple of hours but were able to sail for the last part of the journey and found that Exotica handled very comfortably close hauled on both tacks with full sail set. Just before arrival we started up the generator and then the water maker which we have just learned how to operate.  In half an hour it produced 70 litres of fresh water from the sea.  When it turns off there is a self-cleaning process which uses about 70 litres of fresh water from the tanks so the sum total of water made was zero.

We had booked a mooring buoy in the only permitted anchorage, since Cabrera is a national park. P1010964 The bay is very well protected and encircled with hills dominated by a remarkable 15th. century castle. We swam in the very warm water, had an excellent meal of mussels and had a very comfortable night.P1010952

P1010957In the morning we inflated and launched  the dinghy for the first time and fired up the new outboard – a Honda 2.3 HP air cooled and very light.  We had a great trip round the bay until we ran out of petrol, fortunately within a hundred meters of the boat.

We set off for Palma at mid-day on Saturday and had a great sail home with a broad reach and the wind up to 23 knots.  We practiced reefing both the mainsail and the genoa and found the systems to work really well.

As we entered Palma Harbour and came into smooth water Terry went forward to collect and attach the fenders.  He put his weight briefly on the forward starboard lifeline which suddenly gave way and precipitated him overboard.  Julie saw the line go loose and thought a fender had gone into the water and was very surprised to see Terry’s head bobbing along the side of the boat.  She quickly threw the lifebuoy, which we have only just bought, and reversed the boat so that he could climb back up the swimming ladder.  The harbour was very busy at the time but as far as we could see nobody noticed.  This was a very salutary experience and in different circumstances could have had a much worse outcome.  The lifelines have now been triple checked and are all fine.

There must be something about the Clarkes and fresh water in the bilges, as true to recent experience, we found fresh water under the galley area and in the main bilge! Frank had promised us “this is a dry boat”, luckily he was here to service the engine and found the air conditioning pipes were dripping condensation caused by the outside humidity. So, air conditioning is rationed after spending a morning on our hands and knees drying out the bilges!

You may think all is rosy on Exotica, well, not quite. We are having some difficulty with registration and the Bill of Sale has spelling mistakes so we are rather stuck here in Palma until these can be resolved. The online broker in UK is proving less than efficient. But there are worse places to be!