Sunday 5 – Saturday 11 July
On Sunday evening we headed back for Cala Bassa, our first stop on arrival in Ibiza, but it was too crowded, and adjoining Cala Roja was too exposed and rolly, so we made water for a bit longer while we pottered over to Isla Conejera, the East side of which, Estancia des Dins, turned out to be a comfortable spot, once the day trippers had gone and we were able to find a sandy patch to drop the anchor onto. We had a quiet day there on Monday, taking the tender into a truly tiny harbour to follow the track up to the lighthouse, spotting a wealth of the famous iridescent emerald lizards along the way. The panoramic views from the top were glorious.
On Tuesday morning we had an unfriendly conversation with Park Rangers about the position of our anchor and chain. Much of the coastline is fringed with oceanic Posidonia (sea grass) meadows. These are the best-preserved examples in the Mediterranean, and shelter over 220 different species, including three under threat of global extinction, one of which is the monk seal. The meadows also contribute to the purity and transparency of waters surrounding the island.
We knew before we arrived that these underwater meadows are protected by law, and steep fines await those careless enough to anchor into the weed, but that morning we learned that not only the anchor but also the full length of chain must be clear of the grass, as its movement when the boat swings to the wind can uproot the fragile plants. Our frustration was that we’d spent over an hour on Sunday evening searching for clear water with enough space for us to anchor safely. Unfortunately the Ranger’s manner was aggressive and he told us we had fifteen minutes to leave – and we hadn’t even eaten breakfast! Our only consolation was that he did ‘speak’ to each of the other boats, and the anchorage emptied rapidly.
We set full main and staysail to beat into a SSE F3-4, and enjoyed a lovely sail down to Cala d’Hort, opposite the spectacular rock of Es Vedra and her little sister, Es Vedranell. We had a pleasant couple of nights there, watching the comings and goings of vessels under a variety of flags and exhibiting an interesting range of degrees of seamanship and methods of anchoring. On Thursday 9 the log reads ‘30˚C in the cabin’, and we set off into a Southeasterly F4, which soon built with the expected afternoon thermal breeze to ESE F5-6. This made for an interesting sail under second reef mainsail and staysail, Mate helming at a not inconsiderable angle of heel, and luffing frequently to spill gusts of 25 knots plus. We passed under the flight path into Ibiza airport, with planes landing every 5-10 minutes, swelling the numbers of tourists on the island, and were also aware of numbers of ferries once again plying the inter-island routes.
By mid-afternoon we were anchored on the outside edge of a sprawling anchorage on the West side of Formentera, a low-lying, sandy, S-shaped island some dozen miles South of Ibiza. This is apparently a favourite of Italian holidaymakers, with a permanent community living around the main town of Sant Francesc Xavier and many huge motor yachts in evidence along the shore.
After burning the (virtual) phone lines between us and London for most of Friday, the decision was reached that Mate would be on a flight out of Ibiza on Saturday morning to administer some much-needed TLC to Second Mate, home alone throughout the lockdown. By happy coincidence, this was the first day that the British government had lifted the 14-day quarantine requirement on arrivals into the UK. After a hasty packing of hand luggage only, Mate began the day with a dinghy ride to La Savina, the port town on Formentera from which a number of frequent ferry services depart for Ibiza town. After a somewhat bumpy fast catamaran run, it was an easy transfer to the bus to the airport, and a very civilised BA flight into Heathrow. An almost empty Tube completed the journey into London. Masks and frequent hand sanitiser were required throughout the trip, but it was very straightforward, and relatively quiet.