November 24, 2016 | By Michael & Marita
We went into Palma city last night to dine at a restaurant that was recommended to us by a fellow Aussie cruiser, Steve, from WA. We met Steve and his partner, Dee, back in Gibraltar when they walked past our boat, saw the Aussie flag and stopped to say g’day. Something we do too. The restaurant was full and the food was great – big, cheap and local.
We had taken our tender to shore and left it parked on the beach, something that we use to worry about, but it has to be done if you want to go anywhere away from the boat while at anchor; so nowadays its business as usual. It’s a short walk up to the bus stop and on our way a guy pulled up alongside us in his car and introduced himself. His apartment looks out over our boat in the bay and we ended up having a long chat because he is considering buying a catamaran. Straight off the bat we could tell Nik was a nice guy and we ended up inviting him over the following day to have a closer look at Let’s Dance.
The next morning he swam out, arriving on board with a big smile and a bottle of local red wine and a bottle of his favourite olive oil as gifts. We gave Nik the grand tour of the boat and had coffee and freshly baked cake whilst we chatted about the cruising life and the finer details of the Lucia. One thing led to another and we invited his family back for lunch the next day so his wife could see the boat too.
So the following day we tendered in to the beach to pick up Nik, Dina and little baby Nika for lunch and for six-month-old Nika’s first boating experience – very adventurous of them. We had a great sushi lunch and thoroughly enjoyed their company. Thanks Nik and Dina for your wonderful hospitality. We look forward to catching up with you when we pass through Mallorca again next year.
Nika’s First Boat Ride
During this nice little hiatus in Las Illetas we got drenched with the first big rains we have seen since leaving Australia. It was fantastic. Free fresh water falling from the sky; a great opportunity to give Let’s Dance a proper wash from top to bottom. The dirt that came down from the mast was incredible. The next week saw a series of thunderstorms rolling through every day, with boats coming and going, jockeying for a secure spot to anchor in the crowded Mallorcan waters and see out the storms. Our anchor was holding very securely and we had a prime position in the little bay so we decided not to move on. Hence our stay in Las Illetas grew longer and longer. No complaints from us because we really were settled in there.
Martin and Soni from Reflexion arrived in Palma a couple of days after us, joined by their guests Linda and Vernon. We once again caught up for meals and drinks and on several occasions swapped survival stories as the thunderstorms ripped through Mallorca every day and night. No major problems for either of us but there were lots of boats dragging and a few semi-sleepless nights.
One of the things we enjoyed most in Palma was the Tapas Route. Every Tuesday and Wednesday various bars offer a drink and tapa for 2 euros and you go from place to place trying out the different tapas. A pub crawl with food. Naturally we had a couple of cracks at this cultural experience. Why not.
Summer Is Getting Away From Us
The year is racing by, days are getting shorter and cruising life is becoming the new normal for us. We often still feel like we’re on holidays, rather than a new way of life, but we guess that’s what it will continue to feel like, depending on what we’re doing and where we are. We have been at anchor now for thirty nights straight and have been in our own little slice of heaven in Las Illetas for nine of those nights. We finally figure its time to move on. Summer is coming to an end and the stormy days are a regular event so we want to allow ourselves a generous amount of time to sail back to Gibraltar for the winter. We will take it steady, choose our sailing days and in between, visit a few places that we missed on the way in.
With our retreat plan in mind we set of for Santa Ponsa with Reflexion to see just a little bit more of Mallorca before we pick a good weather day to jump back across to Ibiza. Santa Ponsa is fairly bland and we sort of feel like we have left home; we were getting so comfortable in Las Illetas. We are sure that this will not be the first time that we feel this way.
We stay a couple of nights in Santa Ponsa but there’s not a whole lot here and we definitely don’t need to revisit on our return trip next summer. A big highlight though was a day trip in a hire car with the Reflexion crew, Martin, Soni and their guests, Vernon and Linda. We drove north to picturesque Andratx and Soller and had a great day, including a beautiful lunch in Soller where they claim to have the best prawns in the world. We had the prawns and yep they were good; but were they the best in the world? More research on our part is required.
We got back to the boat pretty late to find this email from Paula (Marita’s sister) telling us a story about our five year old nephew, Zac. You little champion Zac Man, love you.
So glad you’re having a great time!! We’re currently on a train to Broken Hill so finally had time to read your emails. I’m sure you’ll see pics of our trip on FB so won’t bore you with details. However I have one funny story to share! On a long trip obviously we need to play games so we were playing our own version of Guess Who where you have to ask yes/no questions to find out who the player is and it had to be a person everyone knew. So, Zac’s turn! We asked (along with other random questions) are you a boy? Yes. Are you an adult? Yes. Are you famous? No. Do you live in the Highlands? No but I visit. Do you have a job? No. Are you an old man? No not really. Are you about dad’s age? Yeah maybe. So we are wracking our brains to think of any deadbeat we know who visits us and doesn’t have a job. Turns out it was Uncle Mike!! And did we get told off! Of course it’s Uncle Mike! He doesn’t have a job because he’s on his boat!! Were your ears burning?? So we had a good laugh!
Stay safe and happy!
Looking forward to Austria!!
At the next good weather opportunity we cross from Mallorca back to Ibiza, officially beginning our journey towards our winter home, Gibraltar. Our plan is to cruise the west side of Ibiza this time, as we did the east side on the way in. We stayed one night at anchor in Cala de San Vincente in rolling conditions and then moved on to San Antonio. It was another great but windy day under sail all the way; a little hairy at times with our main reefed to one but Let’s Dance continues to comfort us in her ability to handle strong winds and rough seas.
San Antonio is one of only three major ports around Ibiza and we had planned to stay in a cove just outside the marina but it was already full, even at this time of year. The calas in the Balearics can be surprisingly busy. We eventually selected a nice little patch of water not too far away from the marina and a short tender ride into town.
By all appearances San Antonio knows how to party – lots of young Brits around and shady looking nightclubs that open late and close when the shops are opening the next morning. We are anchored just off what is known as the Sunset Strip – for good reason; incredible sunset spectaculars every night. The strip starts to really pump after 10pm and the vibe travels easily to our boat – no need to play our own music here, that’s for sure. We don’t mind a bit of duuff duuff.
The boats are starting to disappear now as winter approaches. There are fewer boats cruising around and even fewer tourists out and about. There are signs up everywhere in Ibiza advertising the closing down parties, and shops and restaurants are starting to close for the winter – a good time to go shopping.
We do a last minute restock of supplies in San Antonio before we head south to Cala Tarida, the attractive cala we first landed at when we crossed over from mainland Spain some weeks ago. Our plan is to spend a night or two there before we cross back over to the mainland. Cala Tarida is a great little spot; nice beach, bars and cafes and a great spot to depart Ibiza for mainland Spain. We are with Reflexion once again and looking forward to our last couple of nights with Soni and Martin before we go our separate ways for winter.
Well the wind blew up that night and our beautiful Cala Tarida turned into a washing machine. We had good holding over sand and weren’t particularly worried about the anchor dragging but the waves and swell ensured we got very little sleep – let’s get outta here in the morning. Martin had suggested the day before that we stay further north and more sheltered from the west – he was right. Reflexion upped anchor at first light and took off. We followed!
The wind was unsuitable to make the mainland crossing until the following day so we sailed around the corner to find the little gem called Cala Comti – absolute paradise. The water here is crystal clear like most places around Ibiza but what makes this place special is the beach restaurants, bars and cafes – funky little places with views like no other. A succession of boats of all types come and go throughout the day bringing people to see this incredibly pretty part of Ibiza. The sunsets are legendary and there’s nothing quite like being anchored in a body of bright orange-pink millpond water, an even brighter sky above, with a boatloads of lucky people watching the sun set while one of the boats blares out Elton John’s ‘Don’t let the sun go down on me’. Memorable is the best word for it.
Cala Compti Sunset
We ate lunch at one of the funky beach bars and had a farewell dinner with Martin and Soni that evening, our last dinner together before they winter their boat and fly home to Australia to catch up with their family and friends. We have no doubt we will be catching up with them again next summer when they return – where, we don’t know, but we are sure it will happen.
Let’s Dance At Anchor In Comti
The next day we set sail at 0815 bound for mainland Spain, with our ‘Reflexion family’ on their deck waving us off. Unfortunately it turned out to be a low wind day and we had to motor all the way, but very pleasant crossing. We arrived and settled into Cala Sardinera, which is the place we left from on the way over to the Balearics. Funny thing is, we can’t even remember being here…in keeping with this fairly uninteresting part of the Spanish coastline. A bonus this time though – some brand new mooring buoys have been placed in this cala in the middle of nowhere and they seem to be free. So we grabbed one for the night and slept very soundly knowing we were going nowhere. We only stayed one night – there’s nothing here and we need to find good shelter in the next few days in preparation for Thursday/Friday when there are major storms predicted.
The following day we sailed to Calpe, caught three tuna and our first mahi mahi on the go. It was a great day with lots of stops and starts due to the fish catching. We were catching fish quicker than we could fillet them and the fruits of our labour paid off at dinnertime.
The following day was one of those momentous occasions for us. Sailing from Cala Calpe to Torreveija, we flew our Parasailor for the first time and what a thrill. We purchased the Parasailor in a moment of madness in La Rochelle – being new sailors it was a big outlay for a piece of equipment we had no idea how to use. We had blithely taken possession of this enormous bag of sail material and a second bag full of ropes and promptly stored it away for a future time and place. We have now carted this huge sail almost 2000 nautical miles and, in the meantime, watched a Youtube video on how to fly a Parasailor – as you do. Needless to say we have been a little intimidated to fly it – until now.
We were motoring in a light, good-for-nothing tailwind, adding to our tally of days that were meant to be reasonable sailing days but turned out to be motoring days. Sitting at the helm lamenting that we would probably have to refuel again before arriving in Gibraltar, we talked about the Parasailor downstairs in the spare cabin. Perfect Parasailor conditions, impossible to ignore. It was time to have a crack at raising our 140 square metres of awesome sail power. We laid out the ropes on the deck, placed the Parasailor on the trampoline, looked at our blocks, jammers and winches, deliberated on what was what and what went where, and decided to do it. Slowly, carefully, we raised the Parasailor until we had a beautiful big fat sail flying high and proudly off the front of Let’s Dance. Very pleased with our efforts; we feel like we’re no longer novice sailors. We happily cruised along at six knots all day and later managed to get the Parasailor down without incident. Cheering all the way.In Awe
The Parasailor has made a few more appearances since its debut and is proving to be a great addition to the boat. Sure, you can buy a lot of fuel for the price of a Parasailor but it’s sooooo much nicer being under sail than under motor. We have flown the Parasailor comfortably in as low as 105 degrees wind angle and will have no hesitations in using it on a regular basis next season.
From Torreveija we moved on to Mar Menor and sailed in to explore the inland sea, or as we refer to it ‘shitsville’. Cruising past on our way into the Med we thought it looked good from a distance; oh how wrong we were! In reality it’s a fairly sad, sick-looking body of water. Having said that, we had great fun navigating into the inland sea; past the rusted out ‘ghost marina’ (one of the many huge developments the Spaniards started and never finished), through a narrow busy channel, under a busy bridge which opens up a couple of times per day to let boats in and out and into the largest lagoon in Spain – 170 square km of shallow, semi-polluted water.
The inland sea itself is quite barren, but remarkable if you like jellyfish (!!!), and there are long stretches of shoreline dominated by cheap and nasty high-rise buildings. Maybe it looks better when the water is blue. It was muddy brown when we were there, with muddy jellyfish and muddy litter. And the surrounding towns look a bit neglected, surviving on the visits of English tourists seeking cheap holidays and even cheaper fast food. We see absolutely no need to revisit this place when we come back this way next year.
During our stay, we caught the bus into Cartagena to see if there was anything further afield worth seeing but for us the bus trip was even further proof that this region is a wasteland. Some of the places the bus stopped around the Mar (inland sea) were like ghost towns. It’s almost like ‘if you build it, they will come’ – but they didn’t. Cartagena was ok but certainly doesn’t warrant more than a cursory visit in our opinion. Yes some of the architecture was fine and the roman ruins were good but maybe our souls just weren’t in it. Must be time to move on!
An early start the next morning, we got underway at first light so we could go through to Aguilas for the night. We had to motor-sail all the way due to lack of wind but we had a cracking day. As with most days along this coastline there were blue skies, blue sea and lots of dolphins. First mate hauled in another three tuna and one Mahi Mahi; some of which we ate for lunch, some of it for dinner, and the remainder found its way into a well-stocked freezer. Three tuna and one Mahi Mahi seems to be the order before we put away the fishing lines and leave some fish in the sea. The strange thing is we have met very few other cruisers who are catching good fish, and not through lack of trying.
Another early start the next day, intending to go around Cabo De Gata and through to Aguadulce. We motor-sailed all day again – where is the bloody wind? – and decided to pull up stumps at San Jose at the tip of Cabo De Gata. It’s a pleasant little anchorage protected from the south.
We had a blissful sleep-in the next morning because it’s only a short hop to Aguadulce, a much anticipated destination where we will dock in a marina for the first time in forty seven days. It will be like staying in a five star resort after all this time at anchor. The wind blew up beautifully in the late morning and we hummed along at high sevens under full sail, arriving in port at 1330. We checked in and had a quick look around town – think we will like this place and might stay for a week because time is now on our side, and the weather isn’t. We had dinner that night at a highly recommended Belgium restaurant, first steak for the skipper since leaving Australia.
We had a lovely stay in Aguadulce, enjoying dry land, commencing a necessary jogging routine and sightseeing at inland Granada. Granada is a deservedly famous city with a fascinating history, fabulous scenery and loads of that uniquely Spanish culture. A must-visit if you are in the south of Spain. A few days later in Marbella we topped the Granada experience with a stunning hike at Ronda and then ventured to the pretty little white village of Sentenil de las Bodegas. It has been great to head away from the modern coast and see the mountains, gorges and traditional old Spanish towns.
The Amazing Ronda
Sentenil de las Bodegas
A different kind of homecoming
So here we are in Gibraltar guys – our home for the next six months. A quirky three and a half square miles of territory and one big rock. With Let’s Dance safely ensconced in the marina, sandwiched between the airport runway and the five star super yacht hotel ‘Sunborn’, we are surprisingly looking forward to staying put for a while and getting involved in the Gibraltan community. We have a few friends joining us during our stay and a long list of things to refine on the boat in preparation for the next cruising season. Besides the monkeys and the Rock, guess what else we found in Gibraltar? Vegemite in Morrison’s supermarket, yippee. We are really ‘home’.
Our Winter Home
Our Rock Neighbours
As we complete this blog our sliding front door, which has always been a bit temperamental, has without warning stuck closed and we are prisoners inside the boat unless we climb through the galley window. The tools have been out for two hours, so far to no avail. There are door parts, framework and screws everywhere; and with some choice language ringing out from the skipper, our dear German neighbour has come over to help. Here’s hoping we don’t need an angle grinder and a locksmith…
Our ‘Nauti Facts’ as at 31/10/16:
Nautical Miles: 2128
Engine Hours: Port 242, Starboard 242
Maximum Speed: 17.5 knots (new record, not sure how or when)
Fish Caught: 8 Tuna, 2 Mahi Mahi
Nights in marina: 44
Nights at anchor: 60
July – €17,124.61 Ouch! Set up costs
August – €3,183.61
September – €2,791.42
October – €2,100.00
Stay safe, cheers