Once again I’ve left it too long between posts so I apologise about the length. Last time I posted we were making our way up the unspoilt west side of Ibiza, and towards San Antonio where we anchored in the bay, managing to find space as the seasonal mooring buoys hadn’t been put in yet. San Antonio is a ‘special’ place, mainly visited by the classic Brit’s Abroad variety who come for a mad few days of clubbing, and it therefore caters to the masses. Amongst the clubs and overpriced bars you’ll find many a restaurant serving the classic all day brekkie, kebabs and KFC and a large majority of the clientele are stag or hen parties who when the going gets tough head over to Formentera to chill out and recover for a few hours.
We spent a few nights at anchor, getting varnishing done and fitting the half drop window in the pilot house which means we can get a nice through breeze as the weather heats up.
We then had some last minute visitors, friends Rich and Lara, making the most of the Bank Holiday weekend with a cheap trip away to stay with us. We took them to a few of our favourite anchorages and across to Formentera, unfortunately the weather wasn’t the best and poor Lara suffered with sea sickness, but we managed to have a lovely time ashore exploring Ibiza Old Town.
I flew back to the UK on the 3rd May and as the airport is in the South of the island we sailed back around and anchored off the nearest beach (Ensenada des Codolar) and had a couple of hours sunbathing, before walking a dusty road to the terminal (which was a little further than anticipated). We said our farewells and had the strange realisation of spending two weeks apart, as again we’d spent the last 5 months together 24/7.
After a stag party in Ibiza and a hen party in Devon it wasn’t long before Ben was meeting me back at the airport and we were getting a taxi 10 minutes to Salinas beach where Ben had left the boat.
He’d really enjoyed his solo sail around the island, despite anchoring on his own being a bit daunting at first, and I’m glad he got the chance to do it. It was good to be back in the land of sun, sea and sand as when I’d left England it was a typically cold and rainy day, but bitter sweet as we both really miss family and friends a lot and of course our Miley dog. The water was noticeably warmer than when I’d left as we waded the dinghy out, and back aboard our floating home, and we enjoyed a few glasses on deck catching up and watching the sunset.
Next day we sailed to Talamanca just further East on the South of the Island and as we were looking for a good place to anchor our Finnish friends on Stella Polaris cruised in who we’d previously met back in Fuengirola whilst weathering the storm. We had a lush day chilling and swimming around the boat and next day due to the lack of food aboard we had lunch out at The Fish Shack which is a really lovely… well shack, set on the rocks with basic tables covered by a bamboo pergola. They don’t have any menus just a verbal list of the days fresh catch, all served with potatoes and salad. Simple and delicious, we enjoyed a couple of hours there with a view of the boat.
Doing food shopping whilst living aboard isn’t always easy as you have to walk or cycle with as much shopping as is humanly possible to carry; the shops rarely being close by an anchorage. Next morning we trudged into town with backpacks stuffed with more bags and always preferring the local, smaller shops if available, stocked up on fresh fruit and veg, then marched on further to the nearest supermarket for dry goods. Over two hours later we were back at the boat hot and sticky with aching arms, then it was a quick swim to cool down before upping anchor towards Formentera again with that being the nearest place to anchor with any protection from the forecast Easterly winds. It was a great sail and we barely batted an eye at the mega ferries we were well used to by now.
Next stop was back to Ibiza and up the West coast with the wind to Cala des Torrent as we wanted to hire a motorbike. 40 euros for 24 hours inc insurance was a pretty sweet deal as motorcycle hire goes (from Turbo Rent A Car) and the next day we spent exploring some of inland Ibiza.
What a great day, we’ve missed riding on two wheels and it enabled us to see another side to the island, plus from the unique perspective of a bike you get smells otherwise missed by being in a car…hot pine trees, dust in the air, wildflowers, frying fish from roadside bars, fresh salt air. We rode through San Juan and a market spread across both sides of the road, pulling over to take a look there was a live band, organic food, handmade jewellery and clothes, and local arts and crafts, then onwards to the other side of the island, stopping for an icecream at the beach before making our way back through the smaller roads, past olive groves and vineyards.
Overnight there were some unforecast strong winds which meant a restless night and we were up at…you guessed it, 3am, watching the next door boat drag its anchor but thankfully catch again before hitting us.
After a breakfast out and returning the bike was Cala Benirras further up the North Coast. A beach tradition here of drummers gathering at sunset, made famous since the 90’s when people gathered in a show of peace to drum in protest against the war in Iraq, and has been a Sunday night tradition ever since. Sometimes the beach is so packed the police shut it off, however we were there on a Monday and there were still a group of around 20 or so, drumming, fire throwing and dancing until well after sunset.
Heading around to the East of the Island the swell seemed to be coming from all directions and we had a pretty uncomfortable and frustrating day! After checking out four anchorages, all exposed and where we’d be tossed around all night, we finally decided on San Vicent tucked up into the NE corner. As we were the only boat there we motored in reverse to spin our stern around and put our kedge anchor out to hold us into the oncoming swell. We also always now put the ‘dibber’ out (no real reason why we call it that it’s just easier than saying ‘anti roll thing’) which works really well to stop us rolling from side-to-side and we can actually get some sleep!
When we get to a new place we always head for the nearest bar…not just for the vino, but to get the WiFi code in order to pick it up from the boat using our booster. This was unbelievably slow but the bar was pretty cool and they didn’t seem to mind our sandy feet on the ‘beds’….
We were only down this way because I wanted to go to the market at Es Cana the next day. However it turned out to be a massive tourist trap and after 15 minutes of shuffling after a thousand holiday makers, and seeing one too many tat stalls, we called it and went back to the beach from whence we came. A lunch of Falafel salad at the chriniguita made up for the disappointment of a wasted journey though.
It was far too roly to stay around that area for the night so we had no choice but to motor sail all the way back up and around the NE corner and to Portinatx. This was much better protected and Stella Polaris were there too so we enjoyed an evening on their boat catching up.
On Friday we left at sunrise in convoy with Stella Polaris and another Finnish boat Senora de Mar, finally making Mallorca just over 8 hours later. Dropping anchor in Santa Ponsa we went ashore straight away with two huge bags of washing we’d been neglecting and marched through the baking sun towards the nearest lavanderia which was 20 minutes away. Dipping our toes in the sea with a cold beer whilst we waited for it wasn’t a bad way to do chores though!
Santa Ponsa is quite built up and even though the anchorage was nice and calm, after laundry and restocking the food stores we didn’t want to spend a lot of time there, so it was onward and up the NW coast to Puerto de Soller where our Swedish friends were anchored.
Again a contrast in landscapes. I never realised Mallorca was so mountainous and this stretch with rugged and steep sided cliffs and also sparsely inhabited only has anchorages suitable in calm conditions, Soller being the only port of refuge.
We passed through the high sided narrow gap between the main island and Isla Dragonera which is known for its thousands of lizards that scatter as you walk.
We stopped en route in Cala Deia as we’d seen one of the restaurants there, dug into the sides of the cliffs, featured in BBC drama The Night Manager. It was as stunning as portrayed but exceptionally busy due to its popularity with the odd celebrity and supposedly the TV coverage, with a 1 hour queue, and most certainly £££. No thanks, we opted for the other opposite and slightly less busy, but with a matching view and cheaper menu and definitely weren’t disappointed!
So that was five days ago and since we’ve been enjoying spending time with Swedish friends Ulrika and Joel. We hiked to the village of Deia which is stunning; with the houses built of similar stone, the combination of orange groves, grape vines and conifers it has elements of both Tuscany and the French Alps….I suppose this is typical Mallorca, I’ve just never been here! We walked for a total of 7 hours, a lot of it up hill, so were all pretty exhausted that night.
Ben and I also walked into the nearer town of Soller one day which is also lovely, full of history and character and you can get a traditional tram back to the port but being 6 euros each we opted for the local bus instead.
Rowing back through the anchorage I had a memory of before we owned a boat; if we used to be in a place that had a marina we always made a detour to have a look around, trying to capture the feeling of what it might be like to be part of the boat world one day….but now we’re there, and have been for over two years, and it’s really hard to encapsulate a feeling to refer back to before! We are living and breathing the liveaboard life and it’s hard to put into words as it’s so normal to us now. Whatever you imagine a situation to be like you can never prepare for the actual reality and I’m glad that so far even with the tough times it can only be described in the best possible terms, and I consciously make sure every single day to take a moment to feel thankful for it.