Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Mainland Spain

With a disappointing exit from Ibiza Spain on September 27th at 15:00, we embarked on our 3-day passage to mainland Spain rather than the originally intended Gibraltar. Half an hour from Ibiza, spirits picked up when Jordan landed a tuna. Delicious fish again. So there is fish in the Med. It must be the new rod and reel.

This was an uneventful passage with little or no wind so it was motor-sailing. Dolphins were plentiful, especially around Gibraltar.

Nearing Gibraltar, the seas were flecked with so many freighters lying ahull in deep water (too deep to anchor) waiting for port clearance. We wanted to arrive after a rising sun so we had slowed down our speed to time our arrival.

Rock of Gibraltar

We arrived to the Bay of Gibraltar under cloudy skies and anchored behind a breakwater in Spanish waters in front of the town of La Linea de la Concepcion. We went ashore to the Policia, a 20-minute walk away over at the border, and got our passports stamped for exiting Spain.

Gibraltar is a peninsula which is predominantly the 'rock' mountain, the infamous Rock of Gibraltar. It is separated from Spain by a narrow flat portion of land where the Gibraltar airport is. In fact the airport extends to the shore line (and beyond) on both sides and the Spain/Gibraltar border runs along one side of the airport land. To get from mainland Spain to Gibraltar, one has to go through passport control at the border, then traffic and pedestrians cross the runway when the green light is on and there you are, in Gibraltar.

Looking south at the Rock

After being diligent about calculating the days allowed in the Schengen Group of countries, none of the officials anywhere have looked to see or inquired as to how many days we had been in those countries! But you never know when they will...

So after getting our passports stamped showing exit from Spain, we phoned for a marina spot over in Gibraltar and found out we had to wait for a spot for 3 days. Oops.

Normally when you check out of a country, you must leave right away, but in this case no one monitored our physical departure after we walked out of the Policia office. So we were not concerned that we were staying another 3 days before motoring over to Gibraltar.

The next day, we discreetly went ashore to check things out. We found the town to be fairly basic as far as architecture goes...

Basic but colourful architecture seen from Sea Turtle

...but passed by some unusual buildings that we found interesting.

Cool and colourful

We started searching for a lunch spot as we walked the very narrow, one-way streets, past many places selling excellent fresh produce. We then found the large and very clean indoor market full of fresh meats, cheeses, olives, clothing, shoes, and whatever else you could think of.

In the market, we came across Carlos and Eduardos Tapas Bar. With the help of the gregarious gent, we picked out several tapas and some wine. The meal and wine was spectacular, served with bread and the BEST green olives ever. He pointed us to where we could buy the olives in the market to take home with us. Now we just need the recipes for the extraordinaire tapas!

Passage from Ibiza Island to mainland Spain Sep 27 to 30
N36°09.692' W005°21.783' Sep 30 La Linea de la Conception

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Ibiza Island

Another overnight passage from Es Trenc Beach of Mallorca Island brought us to Ibiza Island (both islands of Spain).

Under a full moon, we motor-sailed for a few hours, then were able to sail the rest. However the winds kicked in a little too much, and when the waves built, they came at us at the uncomfortable angle on port quarter, rolling and rocking us a lot while double reefed.

The coastline again presented us with a variety of textured vertical cliffs spotted with homes of typical Mediterranean architecture. Cliffs were occasionally interrupted with coves and bays, a few with sandy beaches.

We found it difficult to find a suitable anchorage and skirted in and out of several coves until we finally decided on Cala Tarida. This cove provided good protection from the predicted winds for the next couple of days.

Under cloudy skies, we could spot a few beach restaurants so we went ashore for a break from Sea Turtle. The surf was coming in hard and I got wet as we landed the dinghy. But no problem; we had pizza and Jordan enjoyed Sex on the Beach - the drink, that is - outrageously priced at 12 Euros (about $18 CAD)!

Splurging for Sex on the Beach at shore restaurants

Returning to the dinghy after dinner, we discovered it swamped with water from the crashing surf. A quick bail out and we made it safely back to Sea Turtle.

Wishing to now check out of Spain and stop the Schengen clock, we next motored to a larger marina, Sant Antoni de Portmany, where we anchored outside of the breakwater. At the marina, we filled our tanks for the passage to Gibraltar and went to see the Harbour Master.

We were shocked when she told us that we could not check out of Spain unless we returned to the other side of the Island of Ibiza, a day's sail in the wrong direction!!

Then, to top it off, the port officials would not allow us to bring our dinghy into the marina so we could buy a few last minute groceries for our 3-day passage! This is not a marina, or port for that matter, which we would recommend as it seems their main concern is to cater to large luxury yachts, such as this...

Well, that is, except for this trimaran and dinghy near the marina. Zoom in for a closer look! Yes, this boat and dinghy are in actual usage...

We soon discovered from other boaters that we could find small supermarkets across the harbour from the dreaded marina and have no problem leaving the dinghy at the shore. So with tanks and larders full, Jordan quickly cleaned the prop and we were off.

Wind predictions were favourable for the next 3 days for the run to Gibraltar. Actually our next stop was to check out of Spain at La Linea de la Conception, which is right beside Gibraltar, and at that time our Schengan clock would stop. It just meant that we added 3 unnecessary days to our 90-cay Visa Limit.

(We as Canadians are only allowed 90 days in any 180-day period to spend in European countries that are members of Schengen Group.)

Passage from Mallorca to Ibiza Sep 24 to 25
N38°56.268' E001°14.053' Sep 25 Ibiza Island (Cala Tarida)
N38°58.690' E001°17.812' Sep 27 Ibiza Island (Sant Antoni de Portmany)

Monday, September 24, 2018

Figuera and Es Trenc

A delightful stop was at the charming port of Capo Figuera (Mallarca Spain) where life along the tight inner harbour seems lost in time. Anchoring was not allowed so we Med-moored to the small pier breakwater next to 2 large catamarans.

Small fishing boats bring in their daily bounty as they have for decades while men sit mending nets stretched out on shore. Quaint little houses built at water's edge lined the steep slopes, each with a boat shed underneath.

Picturesque Figuera

Knotting nets

We strolled the narrow walk in front around the harbour where it would be interrupted by small concrete ramps with a keel groove that ushered the traditional llaut boat into its boathouse through green painted doors.

On our walk, we came across a different style of llaut on the hard with a small cabin cruiser rather than just a canvas canopy. Llauts are apparently very stable in rough seas, making them excellent for fishermen.

Jordan and llaut boat on the hard

The newer homes and shops were mostly on top of the steep reddish cliffs leaving the quaintness of below intact.

Dramatic cliffs

Our last stop in Mallorca was around the point to a very long, sandy, and popular beach, Es Trenc, where we anchored for a short rest before the next passage.

The beach looked quite inviting but a little too far to swim to, so we launched the dinghy to go ashore, but we were quickly turned away by the watchful lifeguard. No dinghies allowed. Unfortunately, we found this to be true of most of the beaches in the areas we anchored.

We soon left for our overnight passage to Ibiza, another Spanish island...

Our anchorages:
N39°19.899' E003°10.219' Sep 23 Cala Figuera
N39°20.555' E002°58.922' Sep 24 Es Trenc Beach

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Snorkelling at Mondrago

We hopped down the coast of Mallorca Island (Spain) finding nice coves to tuck into for the next few days. One popular cove where we stopped for a few hours was Cala Mondrago with 2 small sandy beaches in a Y-shaped cove and within the National Park.

But what drew us here were caves. The coastline is vertical cliffs dramatized by a variety of types of rocks and erosion over eons of time leaving caves and arches to explore. So that's what we did by dinghy, snorkelling into them or actually taking the dinghy right inside.

Caves everywhere

Judy in the blue

Above and below

From our dinghy, we had a chat with 2 lovely ladies swimming next to their traditional wooden boat. They told us all about these beautiful vessels unique to the Balearic Islands. The ancient technique is passed from generation to generation. The boats which we have been noticing are called llauts and are obviously nicely restored or replicated with pride.

Traditional old-style boat

Crowning touch

Also popular in the area is free climbing the craggy cliffs where it's safe to fall into the water below. Still too dangerous for me!

Our anchorage:
N39°21.000' E003°11.279' Sep 23 Cala Mondrago

3 coves of Mallorca

The best known of the 4 Balearic Islands of Spain is Mallorca (aka Majorca), the middle and largest 1. So that was our next destination after leaving Menorca, a half day sail away as we continued our westward travels. We anchored at Cala Sa Nau.

But just before arriving, Jordan landed a small tuna with his new rod that replaced the old one lost in the storm a couple of weeks ago. This was the first fish caught in the Med. Jordan had just about given up on fishing but now he and Chanty are reinvigorated!

She loves fresh fish and nothing gets her more excited when the jingle of the bell on the rod goes off and Jordan hollers "Fish, fish!" and away those 2 go with excitement to the stern to reel in their trophy.

Watching and waiting for the bell to ring

Well, trophy is a stretch for this 1, a small tuna rendering barely enough for the 3 of us. Anytime we even just say the word 'fish' in conversation, Chanty perks up and meows "Where?" So in conversation, we avoid the word, just spelling it, "Should we have f-i-s-h for dinner tonight?" So far she hasn't caught on.

But back to Sa Nau: This tiny cove lined with limestone cliffs soon became infested with numerous day-boats all coming to enjoy the scene and small beach area at the head of the head of the cove. The sandy beach was equipped with a small stand that served drinks and food, straw canopied tables and seats, foot shower, and muscled lifeguard. The atmosphere was filled with splashing water and raucous laughter but at night we had it all to ourselves.

Getting ready for the busy day

Two days later, we moved to Cala d'Or, only half an hour away. Here, surrounding the cove, the scene was all white, mostly million dollar mansions up on the low cliff sides where Sea Turtle nestled between them. The public sandy beach at the head of the cove was swarming with throngs of people beneath the pine trees.

Waterfront home

We took the dinghy around to the next inlet where the boats in the marina Med-moored in front of the cafes and shops occupied every available space. We stopped for dinghy fuel, coffee, and a few groceries at the little but well stocked market.

Half hour later, we continued down the coast of Mallorca and tied up to a mooring ball at Porto Petro with a few other boats at a secluded sandy beach.

At inlet by Porto Petro

Our anchorages:
N39°23.582' E003°14.939' Sep 20 Cala Sa Nau
N39°22.196' E003°13.869' Sep 22 Cala d'Or
N39°21.430' E003°12.661' Sep 22 Porto Petro

Thursday, September 20, 2018

SPAIN - Menorca Island

This time we made a 2.5-day passage of, again, mostly motor-sailing where we arrived at the port of Mahon on the east coast of the Spanish Island of Menorca, This long, deep inlet was full of marinas and floating docks. We Med-moored to a floating detached dock (NOT connected to land) directly in front of small Isla del Rey inside the inlet.

Chanty loved the floating dock as she could at last run around freely off the boat, checking out other boats Med-moored and the fish in the water. Her cat memory was no doubt sparked from the time she grew up hanging around the boats and docks at a marina in Langkawi Malaysia where she adopted us.

Fishing on the floating dock

The capital of Menorca is Mahon (aka Mao) and has a long and interesting sea-going history. The streets of this quietly elegant town rose steeply up from the harbour where we found the town larger than it appeared from the waters below. Up we traversed to what appeared to be similar to many of the old towns we have seen in the Med, but slightly more modern looking. And a frequent stop for cruiseship passengers.

Steep road to Mahon

We even saw a beautiful mermaid at the harbour...

It poured hard off and on for a couple of days where we hid out beneath leaky umbrellas of outdoor cafes while Sea Turtle was getting some of the salt washed off.

Passage from Sardinia Italy to Spain Sep 14 to 17
N39°53.255' E004°17.108' Sep 17 Menorca Island ((Isla del Rey)