Sailing Round the Islands

June 12, 2010

It’s the end of another week and time to do the blog thingy again so as to keep the jealousy quotient high amongst our readers.  Actually, this week has been not been all that enjoyable and not terribly successful in terms of seeing our plans come together.  I suppose that, eventually, there have to be some slight imperfections in our otherwise idyllic lifestyle, otherwise we’d loose touch with reality altogether….

First off, the GPS antenna has died on us, meaning that the automatic navigation systems on the boat no longer know where the hell we are.  This has meant a reversion to pencil, dividers, rulers and paper charts to navigate through these waters without meeting any lumps of the bottom with the bottom of ‘Rampage’.  So far, we’ve managed it no trouble at all and, in fact, are quite enjoying the business of actually thinking about the problems of fixing our position with a compass rather than a box of electronics.  However, the replacements are on order and will, hopefully, be waiting for me in UK when I get there in about a week from now.

We left you in limbo with the last post, not having told you about the trip from San Antonio to Formentera and then on to Portinatx.  You will know that San Antonio is the club capital of Ibiza but actually a very protected harbour and one that a deaf block like myself would be happy to revisit.  J however, will not be coming with me as she didn’t like the drum and base etc, which frankly didn’t bother me much.  We left there bright and early as we woke bright and early and there didn’t seem much point in trying to get back to sleep – I mean, the log shows us having left at 0850 for crying out loud, which must have seen us up and about an hour before that.

We sailed most of the way down to Formentera with a lovely easterly breeze.  Although the shortest distance between the 2 anchorages was about 32 miles, we actually did 45 miles as we had to tack into the wind to make ground to the island.  But the weather was great, the wind just enough to make 5 – 6 knots and it was all for free – no diesel!  We found a little anchorage in the lee of some cliffs that gave us a comfortable night before we woke even brighter and earlier than the day before – a helicopter had come to visit with a large Maltese super yacht anchored next us!  The log book on this occasion shows we left at 0715!

We were lucky again with the wind, catching a great little easterly that let us tack up to the passage between Ibiza and Formentera before we put the engine on to make the transit.  This was to let us play dodgem cars with the never ending stream of ferries, fast, slow and in between, that ply between the 2 islands.  Quite exciting.  The wind then let us sail up beyond Ibiza town before disappearing mid afternoon, leaving us to finish the trip on the motor.  Given the south easterly swell that was running, we decided not to return to Cala San Vincente and went round the headland to Portinatx, from where the last blog was uploaded.

Seas breaking on Isla El Toro, Mallorca

We couldn’t hang about the following day, as we’d requested permission to visit the Cabrera Island group, a nature reserve about 5 miles south of Mallorca.  Our permits were due to be waiting for us with the dive centre in Santa Ponca but we’d need to get back a day before we were due to go to the reserve to make sure everything was OK.  So we left Portinatx at 0720 for the crossing to Mallorca.  We had what can only be described as a classic crossing; the wind set from the east as we left Ibiza and stayed there all the way across.  We took just on 10 hours to make the crossing, covering 56 miles and did it all on the sails.  Brilliant.   Oh, and we didn’t get lost without the chart plotter!

From that point onwards, things have been heading steadily downhill.  Despite several visits with the incredibly helpful dive centre, our permits had been lost in the system so we didn’t get to visit the reserve.  However, we did get some laundry done, refueled the boat, filled her water tanks and did an enormous food shop (anticipating 4 days away from any shops) and generally caught up on admin after 3 days continuous sailing.

This is what happens to the soap if you don't put the lid down when the swell makes the boat roll.

To complete our joy, the wind had shifted to the west and was pushing a rising swell into the bay at Santa Ponsa.  However, the local wind wasn’t in the same direction as the swell, so we spent a lot of time sitting across the swell, which makes the boat rock most uncomfortably.  It was like being in the Bristol Channel again, with anything not properly stowed leaping about the place with gay abandon.  I slept in the passage berth, leaving J the bed as we’d have spent the night being dumped on top of one another as ‘Rampage’ rolled like a stuck pig.  Not surprisingly, we left fairly early the next day after a bad night and set off for points east.  Our plan was to find a sheltered anchorage just round the southern tip of the island.  Once we got the sails up, the motion settled down and we had a good sail until the wind disappeared about midday.  It reappeared mid afternoon and we rounded Cabo Salina at about 5pm.  It was obvious as we came round the point that the idea of a small anchorage wasn’t going to work, as the swell was bending round the headland and raising breakers on the shoreline, so we opted for Porto Colom, about 12 miles up the coast but protected.  We arrived here just before 8pm and dropped anchor.

J's latest knitting output - orders now being taken for Christmas delivery.

Yesterday was spent doing nothing but catching our breath after a very busy few days.  We didn’t even go ashore, just sat and chilled, read books, did some internet shopping and J knitted Jessie some dolls clothes.  And there you have it.  Two slightly knackered sailors who are just getting their breath back after a very busy week or so.  My resident statistician tells me we did 197 nautical miles in 4 days of sailing and most of that under sail, so we’ve every reason to be feeling a bit tired!

Finally, I’ve just heard from my friend Pete Barry that he’s bought himself a boat.  For years Pete has been saying that he was never going to buy one of these flash, fast motor boats.  No, he was going to have a sensible little thing with a ‘donkey diesel’ to mess about in and teach his kids about the sea.  The picture below is Pete’s take on a ‘sensible little thing’ – hope you enjoy it mate!

Pete's sensible little boat with a donkey diesel........

Note that there aren’t many pictures this time, as we ran out of batteries and there wasn’t that much to photograph.



  1. So that’s what the expression ‘toilet soap’ means…

  2. Hmm – lavatorial humour as usual!!
    Just trying to catch up with where you are now.
    We’re heading out to Menorca 3rd July for a week – staying in Addiya (north – near Fornells). Don’t suppose you are going to be around???

    Exams all finished here – Ruairidh left school and permanent sloth whilst preparing for life as a rock star. Helen – sane as usual. Hope you two are not draining Spain of rioja. love T xx

  3. Hey, what fun to catch up mid-med! Hope you can manage the rendez-vous.
    Terri – don’t use their soap!

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