Monday, July 23, 2012

July 20, 2012 Island of Ibiza

We waited for favorable east winds to sail the 50 miles from Mallorca to Ibiza. After a few hours of motoring, the wind picked up as predicted, directly astern at 15-20 knots. The waves began to build up quickly, but with wind and waves behind us, we were sailing comfortably under poled out jib and staysail. These days, with the luxury of simply waiting until the wind is right, we hardly need to run the engine anymore. It feels great!

 2 meter waves behind us...but the picture doesn't do it justice

Ibiza sunset, at San Antonio

Ibiza covers 575 Km2 and has a population of over 100,000. There is only one river, the Santa Eularia, on the whole island. The northern part of the island, known as Els Amunts, is made up of fertile land, small forests and almond and olive groves. The coast is spectacular with pretty coves and dramatic cliffs. The excellent sandy beaches are well equipped for tourists. The main touristic beaches are Portinatx, Port de Sant Miquel and Sant Vicenç
After nine hours, we saw land.  The trouble with sailing with winds behind us is that, by definition the approaching shore is a lee shore, and there were large breaking waves all over the shoreline. For better protection, we went into Cala Portinatx, against a backdrop of wooded mountains.  It was an attractive bay with three arms, each with a sandy beach, although crowded with sun bathers, pedalos and such. Since it’s a Saturday, it’s not unusual for the area hotel/restaurant to have some night music started at 9:30pm.  We did not think too much of it when the music went on into the night.  However, it went on till the wee hours of next morning …. 5AM should be considered morning …. it must be wonderful to be young and energetic, to be able to appreciate this ear-piercing ‘thump..thump...thump’ noise called music!

typical clubbers (not counting the one in sunglasses...) 

A nice day at the beach

another beautiful sunset at San Antonio

Where did we go next?  An even better known party town, San Antonio Abad de Portmany.  It used be a fishing village but has developed into mostly a touristic, partying town. The deep bay is well-protected by a breakwater and therefore, a good base for us to stay to do some regular boat maintenance and explore the island.  Not surprisingly, by day it’s a quiet city (the clubbers must be in bed still), but at night there are a lot of people out on the streets looking for nightlife. Just outside the city in the surrounding areas, they have some of the “best” clubs on the island.

The citadel at Ibiza city

San Antonio may not have the culture or the tranquility, but it does have one thing – priceless sunset view.  There are ‘sunset strips’, crowded with premium priced restaurants for those who wish to catch the Kodak moment.  We enjoyed the view every evening on 3Rivers, priceless indeed.

Ibiza actually has some merits for older matured visitors.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

July 13, 2012 Leaving Mallorca, slowly

sailing around the north shore of Mallorca 

Hiking at Soller with Len and Lesley, friends from Pollenca 

Soller harbor 

After spending three weeks relaxing in Puerto Pollenca, meeting up with friends from Barcelona, it’s time to move on.  Forecast was calling for NE wind, which was promising for 3Rivers to head west around the north shore of Mallorca, to get closer to Ibiza. Since Puerto Pollenca is a huge bay, it takes almost 2 hours motoring in strong headwinds, just to get out.  But as soon as we turned the corner, we were ready to sail. And true to any weather forecast, the wind is always 5 to 10 knots either more or less than expected and we got more.  We were told that Cala de la Calobra, behind the Torrente de Pareis, a large and spectacular bay with a slit in the high rocky cliffs, could be an excellent spot to anchor.  However, the bay was too exposed on this day and we saw three fair sized yachts rolling not-so-happily as swells were making their way into the bay.  So we decided to head to Soller, one of our favorite towns and the only harbour of refuge on the whole 50 mile stretch of the rugged, inhospitable northwest coast of Mallorca.  The last time we were here, it was in May and the place looked so different after two months.  Both the marina and the bay were packed with boats.  More tourists on land, and that led to more shops and restaurants open for business.  Another boat from Puerto Pollenca was also there, and we spent time hiking and dining with Len and Lesley until two days later when we each going the opposite way.  We did another five hours run to Sant Elm, but this time, we were sailing with great wind behind us, instead of motoring.  Unfortunately, not so much for Len as he must be bashing into head wind all the way back to Pollenca.

 Sant Elm bay

Things you can do with a dog...

Hiking trail, overlooking the Isla Dragonera 

Road signs for the trails: the large one made of stones points another way.

The second time in Sant Elm was a charm.  It’s a pleasant bay with sandy beaches.  Although small, it’s a growing tourist resort with a nice ice cream shop, and a very nice restaurant called Es Moli.  Ben had made a reservation for a mooring ball (free!) for the first day and were we glad that we did.  The bay looked very chaotic, with boats of all sorts, and water activities going on everywhere.  As soon as we turned into the bay, the port authority staff, the boat traffic controller, zoomed right up to us from his zodiac.  At the time of our arrival, every mooring ball was already taken.  One ‘unauthorized’ boat was told to go to make room for us.  We felt so important. 

The next day, after some boats had left, we’d decided to move closer to shore and anchored just beyond the buoyed off area for swimmers.  The water here was simply crystal clear.

We almost didn’t want to leave Sant Elm as this little place had almost everything we needed.  But strong wind was blowing into the bay, so up the anchor and off to Santa Ponsa we went.  Same as last time we were here, we did not spend too much time checking out the area although it was considered as one of the most picturesque harbours in Mallorca.  Again, boats of all sizes can be seen here, but one in particular, Candido, with a look of a spaceship, was anchoring right in the middle of the cala. 

The next day, it’s time for us to cross the water and to the party land of Ibiza.

Eating our way through the Balearics: our waiter serving John Dory, a delicious local fish 

This has got to be the most extraordinary mega yacht we've seen!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Time to say bye to Pollenca July 6, 2012

The 'Pine Walk' at Pollenca Bay

A day at the beach, looking out to the large anchorage 

Market day at Pollenca

We have been enjoying our stay at Pollenca, and before you know it, three weeks have gone by! After a while Puerto Pollenca has become ‘our’ neighborhood. We know the good restaurants with suckling pig, roasted lamb shoulder, and sizzling steak; the little shop with wonderful home-made pastries; and the well-stocked groceries.  We routinely take the 5-minute dinghy ride from our boat to shore, do a little grocery, or stop by a coffee, or take an evening walk. A few of our friends from Port Vell in Barcelona are also anchored here, plus some new yachties we’ve met, so we have a bit of social life going, including a birthday dinner. Summer has quietly arrived, bringing the occasional heat wave – especially if it’s a south wind from Africa. But most days the temperature is pleasant, as there’s usually a cooling sea breeze at the anchorage. The bay of Pollenca is very big, but it’s well sheltered from the swell from the open sea.

We had one gale which was not really forecasted. It started in the afternoon, and the wind kept strengthening until it peaked with 48 knot gusts. The sound on the rigging was like a freight train, white caps whipped up within the short fetch and immediately blown flat into foamy spindrifts. Boats all around were dragging, including some unoccupied boats that drifted out into the middle of the bay. It was pandemonium! There is a government seaplane hanger at the other side of the bay, and fire-fighting seaplanes routinely takeoff and land on the water. We watched a seaplane landed during the height of the gale, and the plane was blown backwards on the water, unable to reach the hanger! Miraculously our anchor held. It went on for hours until mid night when it finally winded down.  And the hope to watch the Euro 2010 final, Spain vs Italy, was blown off as we wanted to stay on the boat, just in case.  We knew Spain had won, by the sounds of firework and cheering. 

Storm looming, our summer awning wildly flapping 

Forecast called for a moderate 20 knot wind, but it peaked at a gale force level of 50 knots. The blue boat dragged anchor and was getting blown out of the bay.

Seaplane unable to land on the water and forced to depart

Finally it’s time to move on. We picked a blustery day to sail west-ward around the northern coast of Mallorca, towards Ibiza, the next Balearic island. The fresh easterly was directly behind us and we made good speed on a dead run, with poled-out genoa and staysail wing-on-wing. But we had forgotten how choppy the sea can be, with a 15-20 knot wind having blown through the night. Anything not secured in the cabin was sent flying.  Ah, too much wind, too little wind….

 One more hiking trip before leaving Pollenca. This is Saint Boquer, a scenic pass looking out the north coast of Mallorca.