Mallorca – Part 1

After a dingy ride into shore to look around, we left San Vincente
and pointed La Mischief at the SW corner of Mallorca, 50 nm away. After motoring for a while, the wind picked up and we had just enough angle to sail most of the way. We were doing 6-7knots but this wasnt fast enough to shake off a new beneteau sense 55 that gradually caught and past us, close enough to shout across to one another.

We picked out a bay called Palma Nova, which was reasonably close to Palma as we needed to pick up Jamie and Lucy and their son, Nick the next morning.

Anchoring was tricky as we got there after 6 and the sun was too low to pick out a sandy patch in about 5 metres. As it turned out there were no sandy patches, but the 25kg Rocna held firm in the weed. Finding it to be an excellent anchor, when combined with the 100m of 10mm chain.

We parked up next to some more Australians and once again had them over for drinks and nibbles and never made it into town.

Not that town was anything to write home about. It was another Little Britain (but without a hint of the authenticity of Gibraltar) – the only spanish word we could spot was Paella and the restaurants ranged from Burger King to very average English Pub fare. And the beach was very average.

Having successfully picked up the Rankin clan (sans Georgia who was busily preparing to win a world championship gold medal in Slovakia), we headed off to Santa Ponsa on the west coast, said to be one of the most picturesque harbours on the island.

Along the way we past the massive super yacht marina, Port Adriano, where we found out later the Maltese Falcon was berthed. Would have been worth calling in the see.

Then we spied a water bomber doing some training by landing on the sea and scooping up massive amounts of seawater then taking off and randomly dumping it somewhere. The seabirds loved it. At one stage it did a scoop and go run right between us and another yacht.

Santa Ponsa is a beautiful but narrow anchorage, and there must have been 40 boats anchored up. It took us a couple of goes to find a spot. After a swim and a beer, we dropped “A Little Bit of Mischief” in the water and went off for an explore. The town was quite touristy, with big hotels over the other side of the bay, and a row of restaurants out the front. Lucy was fascinated by the live fish foot massage but didn’t partake.

We found a nice restaurant on a hill overlooking the anchorage
And celebrated catching up with Jamie, Lucy and Nick.

Next morning, after a swim, and a visit to the free wi-fi, we headed off past Palma and towards Playa del Trench on the south coast. This beach is the longest and quite possibly the finest in Mallorca. Miles and miles of clear sand.

After a day of trying to sail, with intermittent small successes, we arrived about 4pm and found a nice anchorage in 3m of water, adjacent one of the two beach bars. After seeing all the development, it was nice to anchor off somewhere with no development, excepting the somewhat obligatory beach bars.

This beach is fantastic, calm water and lovely clear blue water over sand that looks close enough you could stand on it.

Whilst nick took off on the stand up board Jamie and I swam to shore to check out the two bars. Unusually for spain, one closed at 8pm (when the beach started to thin out), the other not too bad at 10pm.

Reporting back at the boat, we decided on a round of cocktails at the first and dinner at the latter closing one. Another nice meal with the Rankins.

Next morning it was up early (ish) and off to the marina 2nm back towards Palma at La Rapida. Cas and her girlfriends were having a 25 year reunion/birthday celebration at Pescara and we were travelling Ryan Airlines via Girona to join the celebrations.

It took us a million phonecalls and emails to find a reasonably priced marina to leave La Mischief for the 5 days we would be away, and La Rapida quoted us €119 a night, whereas most others were €155 a night and upwards. The Balearics are expensive in high season. In the end they only charged us €89 a night so we really ended up with a bargain.

And we ended up berthing alongside, rather than Med Mooring so we were more than happy. We said our goodbyes to Jamie, Lucy and Nick (who were staying on board for a few more days) and headed to the airport, on our way to Italy.

For our photos of Mallorca see https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4861729794017.1073741860.1620379103&type=1&l=89fdc4ab37

IBIZA – This could be interesting!!!

With La Mischief ready and waiting, it was time for Cas and I to go sailing together. Having successfully extradited ourselves from our Med Mooring, it was time to backtrack 50nm south to Capo de Nao, the nearest point on the mainland to ibiza.

The wind was on the nose and steadily built to 30kts so it was a pretty unpleasant motor sail. But we made it for cocktail hour and successfully managed to hail over dom pepito (see previous blog) for a cocktail or 4.

Next day, we pointed our nose out to sea and headed for ibiza, not knowing what to expect. We had visions of music blaring out of every bay with lots of drunken teenage english pursuing a hedonistic holiday experience.

After yesterday, we thought we would geta good wind angle, but once again it was on the nose, albeit very light. We made it to Cala Badella at about 3pm only to find it pretty well full of moorings and boats of all sizes.

So we headed a short way north to cala tarida, which is described in the RCC Pilot Guide as a long bay with sandy beaches – perfect. And perfect it was!!!

We weren’t there long when we got asked to move as we were a little close to a submarine cable, but once settled we stayed for a few days. Far from the hedonistic partying teenagers, we found a bay full of families, with a huge kids club at the resort in the bay. We found a few nice cocktail bars and a nice restaurant to celebrate our arrival in the balearics.

After a thoroughly relaxing few days, we dragged ourselves away from the clear blue water over a perfectly sandy bottom and headed over to formentia to find another anchorage with clear blue water over a perfectly sandy bottom.

Our original plan was to anchor up off Isla Espalmador, which is the picture on the cruising guide. Unfortunately looks can be deceiving and it was full of moorings with very little nice anchoring. So we quickly left and anchored off the top of formentia. We dropped the dingy and went exploring and went in search of the perfect skin by finding the mud baths that we had been told about.

Boy – the things I do to maintain my Adonis – the mud was really stinky and a bit rough. By we managed to cover ourselves in mud and had the obligatory photo taken, so I could be ridiculed by my friends suggesting I looked like a grey smurf. Some young people asked us to take their photo also – a young naked guy from Madrid and his six female friends, all in various stages of undress – you’ve got to fancy his chances.

Back on the boat, we decided we needed to move down the island a bit where it was more sheltered. We ended off in the perfect spot right opposite a narrow spit of beach that stretched across both sides of the island. It was evidently a famous nudist beach in days gone past but now it’s reverted to largely a topless beach, which is pretty well normal for around here.

The bay was full of very big boats as evidently there’s an iconic restaurant on the beach where you can pretty well be assured of spotting someone famous. Cas had a badly bruised toe from a boat injury so we never did make it onto the beach to do any people spotting. However we did lots and lots of swimming in the beautiful clear water, marred occasionally by jellyfish who came in on the breeze and then disappeared as the breeze switched.

We did however make it into the one and only town on the island where all the many ferries go and visited a supermarket. That was a pretty cool spot.

With formentia done it was time to hit some night life and head for old ibiza town.

It was a pleasant short sail across to Cala Tabernera, which is adjacent to the port of ibiza town. The cala gets quite shallow in towards shore and there are a few moorings around but we managed to find a good spot, where we dropped the anchor on a sandy patch amongst the weedy bottom. Not quite as nice swimming as Formentera but not bad none the less. And much cheaper than staying in the marina – it cost a 62 foot Lagoon 620 cat €1500 a night according to its skipper.

We hopped in the dingy and went exploring the shoreline, quickly finding the dingy dock in the north-west corner. From here we headed 5 minutes over to Marina Botafoch, here we caught a ferry across to old ibiza town, otherwise known as Eivissa. Perfect.

Ibiza town is fascinating in so many ways. With its narrow streets and citadel on the hill behind, it is quite pretty.then there is the people – Cas and I loved sitting at an outside bar just watching the people walk by – a combination of incredibly well dressed people interspersed with a whole heap of bizarrely dressed folk.

And the shops. Full of beautiful expensive stuff – Cas would have had so much fun with a spare €1000. As the night progressed, we made our way up a narrow winding street past interesting shops and restaurants, past a whole gay section, with its own mix of shops and bars, and then back to the waterfront, where we stopped again for some expensive cocktails and more people watching. It was getting towards midnight and the people watching was becoming a lot more interesting as people were coming out before they hit the nightclubs that don’t open until midnight, with their €70 entry fees.

Suddenly there was a whole lot of glamorous girls dressed straight out of a Robert Palmer video clip, marching down the street, with banners promoting Space, the trendiest nightclub at the moment judging by all the billboard adverts

People watching over, we headed back to the ferry which was full of interesting people, groups of twenty somethings from all over the world, heading out to a night club near one of the ferry stops. Kids just having fun, not fall down drunk, not obnoxious – nothing like we had imagined.

Next day however we took a bus ride to San Antonio and saw pretty much what we had imagined. Or at least the after effects of the night before. Glad we picked ibiza town to go to rather than San Antonio.

After another interesting bus trip back to ibiza town, we found another cool bar with a 2-4-1 coctail happy hour that went from 6.30 to 10.30pm. We did some more people watching, which quickly restored our faith in ibiza and erased all those san antonio images, whilst we sipped on 1…2….3 cocktails each. As we went to leave, the waiter informed us we still had a free cocktail to go. Ahhh – not that sort of 2-4-1 offer.

So four cocktails later we crawled back to the ferry, with thoughts of continuing on to some salsa dancing. Unfortunately we met these poms from the boat next to us and one drink back on La Mischief before going out dancing didn’t sound like too bad an idea. And besides, Australia was playing the Lions tomorrow, and I thought a night of baiting a couple of Poms would be fun (boy have a learnt my lesson now – going to keep a very low profile when it comes to australian sport – especially when it involves the English).

Well we never did make it dancing and the one drink turned into a lot more. The next day was a write off, but I did well to drag myself to a beach bar with 4 poms to watch the rugby. Mmm. Enough said.

After being thoroughly demoralized and lampooned, it was back to the boat and off up the coast to Cala de san Vincente, which would be our hopping off point to Mallorca.

This Cala proved to be both picturesque and sheltered. The whole bar was one big resort, but a quiet reasonably sedate one, as all the noise at night seemed to come from another bay miles away. Glad we didn’t anchor there.

As we spent our last night on Ibiza, we reflected on what a beautiful and interesting place Ibiza is. Ibiza is certainly not at all what we imagined. A great place to go cruising. We wished we had a bit more time there but we needed to move onto Mallorca.

The water was crystal clear and warm – 28 degrees. And not a shark in sight. Actually it was pretty devoid of any sort of fish life at all. If you could criticise Ibiza for one thing,it was probably that it wasn’t very spanish. Lots of germans and french and english and cetera. But then again its hard to criticize paradise.

For our photos of Ibiza see https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4827766144947.1073741859.1620379103&type=1&l=290f76f3d5

Off to Barcelona (and back again !!!)

After celebrating Jessica’s and Mario’s maiden 400nm passage by eating paella, washed down with some local wine; it was up early and off to the train station to catch a train to Barcelona in time to pick Cas up off her plane .

It was a simple matter to get off the train and onto the metro and in no time at all I was at the airport. Don’t you wish Perth could do public transport half as well as the cities in Spain?

It was good to see Cas after quite a period apart. It was a long flight, so we hopped Into a cab and headed for our hotel; where we had a great view looking straight at the Sagrada Familia Basilica.

Then it was time to intoduce Cas to a Tapas bar or two, as thisvwas her first time in Spain. There was no need to stray far from the hotel , and as we were sitting at one of the aforementioned establishments, who should walk along the street but Jess and her flatmate. The funny thing was that I thought Jess was In Valencia and Jess thought we were catching a train back to Valencia straight away as well.

Next day, after a bit of a late start, it was off on an open top bus tour of Barcelona. Given Cas’ jetlag, this was a great way to savour a quick overview of Barcelona. We did manage one stop where we caught an old historic tram followed by a vehicular railway up to the top of a hill/mountain, with strangely enough, a church and an amusement park and great views of the city. Barcelona could do with a much more thorough examination but sailing here is a little bit problematic given that you head north away from the Balearics and into the Bay of Lyon, which lots of people aren’t that thrilled about weather wise. Therefore we made the decision to leave the boat in the cheap, well run marina at Valencia and do Barcelona by train.

The train trip is just on 3 hours and we got back there in the early evening. Once there, we spent a couple of days checking out the sights of Valencia and getting La Mischief organised.

Valencia is the home of Paella and the beach front is jammed packed with restaurants. So it seemed logical to put the two together and celebrate being back on the boat together. Not sure where the cocktails come in but they did anyway.

Valencia was also home to the last America’s Cup (before Larry took it back to San francisco) so there is still heaps of infrastructure about. All the teams’ buildings are still there along with press centres and race centres – all now pretty much a ghost town.

We broke out the fold up bikes that I had bought off stan and judy and off we went exploring. Valencia, like most spanish cities, had great cycleways, including one that dropped you right in the centre of the city, with its marble paved sidewalks and impressive square.

We also rode along the foreshore that goes on for miles, with it lines and lines of beach umbrellas and sand volleyball and soccer pitches. We stopped and had a swim – a bit cold but not too bad.

La Mischief was sadly lacking in toys so we made it our mission to find a blow up stand up board – preferably two. Well we eventually found the only one in valencia. It came in its own bakpack so that was sort of ok to ride with. The paddle also had its own bag and this was a bit more problematical – especially when you passed riders gong the other way – but we eventually made it back to the boat.

With our boat chores sort of complete and the balearic islands beckoning, it was time for an early morning start as we backtracked towards Cabo de Nao, the nearest point to Ibiza, and the now legendary Dom Pepito floating cocktail bar.

For photos see https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4826578195249.1073741858.1620379103&type=1&l=57b297c476

Off to Valencia via the Costa del Sol and Costa del Blanca

It was a bit overcast and stormy when we left Gibraltar. We put a couple of reefs in and headed out through the boats and past the rock. Turning west we had the wind right behind us and we had to jibe a few times to get a good wind angle. We saw dolphins and whales as we exited the straits of Gibraltar and made our way down the Spanish coast. There was still snow glistening on the mountains of the Sierra Leone rising up behind the coastline. Jessica and Mario were busy trying to get to grips with La Mischief, whilst at the same time both feeling a bit seasick – they were both a bit unsure about what they’d signed up for.

Our first stop was Benalmadena, just outside Malaga. This was a huge marina with boats tucked away amongst masses of high-rise buildings. As we were leaving early that morning, they let us stay where we were on the reception jetty, only to ask us to move 15 minutes later when the ferry arrived. Then it was off to see if we could find a town. No town but instead a mass of tourist development with Pommy accents everywhere. We even found some of Jess’ favourite German beer in the one and only supermarket.

Next morning we were up early, with a plan to do some big miles. The wind had deserted us so it was back to motor sailing. It was a long but productive day as we made it to Roquetas De Mar in the late afternoon, having knocked off over 100nm. On the way, Mario played travel guide pointing out a heap of things, including a section of the coast that was literally covered with wall to wall green houses – most bizarre – evidently one of the major food bowls of Europe.

We anchored off the beach, just outside the swim buoys that cordoned off the beach and tried some of Jess’ beer. By this stage, Jess and Mario had taken over the galley – something that’s evidently not too hard with only me on board – and once more in my boat life I was being spoilt with deliciously yummy food. Jess was a vegetarian so vegetarian it was and was managed to save a few cows that trip.

Next day, Mario talked us into visiting a little bay called Cala De San Pedro. We left our anchorage early in thick fog, as the sun came up and motor sailed around the Cabo de Gato, which was simply awesome scenery. We got to San Pedro about 11am and dropped anchor in the clearest water of the trip. The beach is a famous hippy beach, and is simply stunning. Being a hippy beach meant clothing was entirely optional, and not wanting to distress anyone I kept mine on. There’s a permanent fresh water spring here and just a walking track in. There’s also an old fort on the hill and lots of caves where the locals used to hide from the pirates. These caves have been taken over by the hippies and we got invited into one of them by a German hippy who’d been living in his cave for 16 years. As caves go, it was rather up market, well furnished with a TV and electricity and quite a bit of furniture. He was busily making bread – German style – because they hate the Spanish white bread. Jess struck up quite a conversation with him in German and he filled her in on the history of the place, which was originally a fishing village plagued by fluky winds and bad seas. The widowed women of the village decided one day to up and move down the coast to a place they named Las Negras because all the women were in black.

Having checked out the place and had a swim (water still a bit cold), we upped anchor and headed off for a night sail. The winds were once again light so we motor sailed into the evening. About 8pm the sea became alive. Everywhere you looked you could see dolphins and whales. The dolphins here love to jump completely out of the water so we got some great pictures. Several groups came and played on the front of La Mischief, darting from hull to hull. We sat up the front and watched them for at least half an hour.

We had expected light winds for the whole night, but it did blow up a bit and at one stage we had a couple of reefs in. It was a good experience for Jess and Mario and they were both rapidly picking up a lot of skills and knowledge. Jess had done a Day Skippers course in the Greek Islands and Mario was about to undertake some professional certification so him and his girlfriend could work on boats. Considering their lack of experience, they both did pretty well and the 400 sea miles they got under their belts will hold them in good stead.

They were also great company. They had both travelled extensively and it was interesting to hear the opinions and experiences of a couple of young Europeans. Although Jess was only 28, she had already worked in Afghanistan, Washington DC and Rwanda, and gave an interesting perspective on what it’s really like in these high-profile areas of the globe. Mario n the other hand was born in Slovakia and had worked in Australia. He’d learnt his bar craft in Hugo’s in Sydney, and was equally adept behind a bar or in the galley. We had some fun times in the few days they were on board.

Next stop was the inland sea of Mar Menor. It reminded me of Lake Macquarie in NSW, right down to the traffic bridge that needed to be lifted to let you through. Then again it also reminded me of Surfers Paradise, with its row of high-rise skyscrapers built along the narrow strip of sand that separated it from the Mediterranean.

We picked out one of the islands inside the inland sea and had a lovely sail on a flat sea to get to our destination. Then we dropped the anchor whilst we relaxed and Mario cooked up a wonderful spinach and potato dish. By the time we’d finished lunch we had left it a bit tight to make the 2pm bridge opening so we had to fire up the engines and make a mad dash through fleets of racing yachts to make our appointment with the bridge keeper.

Having successfully made it in time it was out once more into the Med, setting a course to Alicante, this time with the geneker up. Beautiful. We had a great sail up the coast, getting to Alicante about 7pm. We anchored off the beach at Puerto de San Juan and made our way into town by dingy and then Metro.

As luck would have it we arrived just before the festival of St John’s bonfires and the whole city was alive with people – families, old people, young people – all wandering the streets late into the night. We stumbled across numerous elaborate floats that were big, bold and colourful – all being paraded before they were to be burnt a few days later. We found somewhere to eat and then sampled a few bars. It was about 2am-ish (maybe 3 – I really don’t know) when we hopped in a taxi and headed back to the boat. Now the unfortunate thing about where we had parked the boat was that there was a bar right on the beach – right there. Perfect for a roadie (or a dingy-ie). The next unfortunate thing was that they was a Slovakian lady drinking at the bar and evidently when two or more Slovakians are found at a bar they drink Tequila shots. After finishing my beer, I took up the offer of the first, but not the second thank goodness. My excuse was that I had to drive the dingy. Mario and Jess were excuseless so down the second shots went.

Back at the boat, we sat and talked for a while and I left the young members of the crew to watch the sun come up, as the old bloke had done his dash.

10am was the designated start time for the next days sail, a leisurely 50nm around to Cabo de Nao. !0am came and went. The genset went on to make coffee and I discovered Jess outside sleeping on the back seat. She didn’t make it to bed. The coffee kicked in and we were off. We had a good sail right up to the cape, when the wind came up and we suddenly had 40kts on the nose. The wind instruments were playing up again, with the wind direction not registering.

Rounding the cape, we made our way into Cale Sardinera. As we pulled in, Jess managed to arise from her sleeping position – to be fair to her she was suffering from an upset stomach as well as a hangover.

The bay was full of boats, I guess from Javea, which is just across the bay. It was a lovely protected anchorage, set right against stunning white cliffs and clear blue water. And the best thing about this bay was a couple of guys in a cute little boat they had called Dom Pepito, serving cocktails, Mojito’s a speciality. Their blender was ingeniously powered by some bicycle pedals and their Mojioto’s were indeed to die for. Mario was in heaven – thought t was the best thing since sliced bread. A great hair of the dog. As the sun began to go down, the bay emptied as everyone headed for home, leaving just us and another yacht to stay overnight.

Next day was to be our last sailing day together, as we headed north towards Valencia. Another 50nm day, but overcast and gloomy just like the first day. I left the boat largely to Jess and Mario who were really getting the hang of things and had both come along way in a few short days.

We got to Valencia at about 3pm and checked into the Marina Real Juan Carlos One, which was both good and cheap. We had an interesting time berthing as we had to Med moor against a finger jetty. It was difficult for Mario in particular as he had had no training but we all got there in the end. It was a friendly marina and a few of the yachties came and gave us a hand as well as the guy from the marina. Then the yacht next door came and gave us a great big paella dish, half full of wonderful paella. What a welcome!

For photos see https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4784834471682.1073741857.1620379103&type=3

Between a Rock and a ….

Sailing from Marina Smir to Gibraltar would be Stan and Judy’s last sail. They’d been great to be on board as we sailed down from Lisbon to the Med.

We ended up completing our exit paperwork at the Marina Smir and leaving about 15min after Kevin and Di. Trying to put the sails up into the wind, we found our wind direction had completely gone potty. So we’d have to sail, judging wind direction the good old fashion way. The 12nm sail up along the East Coast of Morocco was very pleasant, but as we neared the Straits of Gibraltar, the wind started to pick up and we had 35kts on the nose in no time at all. One minute we were sitting on the bow watching the dolphins play between our hulls, the next minute we were rushing to put in a couple of reefs.

Approaching Gibraltar provided us with spectacular views of “The Rock”. The latest theory is that the Rock rolled there from Corsica (don’t ask me how and landed there upside down. Our tack took us slightly east of the Rock so that meant we got a really good view of it coming in.

We hadn’t got anyone to commit to giving us a berth in Gibraltar because Ocean Bay marina was undergoing major works and that was severely limiting the number of berths available. Our strategy was just to call in and see what we could get and then go round to Le Linea (which is just across the border in Spain) as we knew they were pretty empty.

But we were in luck as Queensway Quay marina had a berth for us. This would be our introduction to “Mediterranean Mooring”, where you either hook up to some lines that the marina supply out the front (or drop your anchor if no lines are supplied) and back in between your two neighbouring boats and tie off to the jetty. Then you get out your very expensive paraselle, which gets you from the back of the boat to the jetty. Lets just say it was good to get the first one out of the way.

Next morning, it was time to say goodbye to Stan and Judy, who headed off home to Canada, via Savilla and Lisbon. Then it was off to get the lay of the land. Gibraltar works off Gibraltar Pounds, which are worth the same as UK pounds. Coins are the same, notes are different. It was interesting to find myself secretly liking the fact that it’s so much easier doing stuff in a place where (nearly) everybody speaks English fluently. The supermarket felt like an Australian supermarket – even had vegemite!!!

After a few days, I discovered that all the workers are pretty much Spanish, but chose to work (and sometimes live in Gibraltar, although a lot of them cross the border each day to get to work). I made it across the border a few times in search of phone credit for my Spanish pre-paid SIM cards as you can’t buy credit online unless you have a Spanish credit card – figure that?

Kevin and Di were two boats down and kindly pointed out the ins and outs of Gibraltar. They also make a mean Mojito, which is rapidly becoming my cocktail of choice. But best of all, they took me to Le Bateau, which is a lovely little French restaurant at the marina.

Gibraltar is all about the Rock so the next day, up the Rock I went. Took the Mediterranean Steps which wound its way first around the frond for great views across to Tangiers and then across the back. It’s quite a climb and I was happy to get to the top where I shared the spectacular views with the resident monkey population.

Thursday came and so did the guy from Raymarine. He replaced the ITC5 transducer, and that seems to have fixed the wind speed problem, but the wind direction sometimes misbehaves. I reconfigure it out at sea and that seems to fix it for a while but its gone again since.

The stainless steel guy on the other hand is still coming. You would think 11 days is enough time to organise a tradesman but work seems a little optional in these parts. So still no gas bottle holder for my BBQ.

My last task was to get crew for the passage to Valencia and this took a bit of organising. Eventually I found Mario, who was working in Gibraltar, and Jessica from Frankfurt, both of which were new to sailing – Mario had no experience and Jess had done her day skippers course.

With the crew in place, it was time to say goodbye to Gibraltar and head into the Mediterranean.

For photos of Gibraltar see https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4758118043788.1073741856.1620379103&type=1&l=37f661cd3b