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Barry's Blog # 38 - Put on your big boy pants

If the swell is rolling in from the east and there's little to no wind, then the mooring balls just outside the harbour wall at Javea are not a good option. We spent two very rolly nights there with very little real sleep before we decided it wasn't going to get any better and left to head over to the Spanish Balearic Islands, our first destination was Formentera.

Javea mooring balls

Rough calculations indicated it would be a 10 hour trip, so when it only took 8 hours we were stoked. There was no useable wind (at least for us newbies) so we motored all the way there across a glassy sea accompanied by the constant long slow easterly swell. Fortunately we were heading east, so the swell was always on the bow of A B Sea making for a comfortable passage. I must mention here that we have been hand steering everywhere so far, as our autopilot has a glitch. it 'thinks' that our rudder is hard over to port, so when we engage it, all we do is go around in a big circle as the autopilot tries to correct for the error. We think that maybe something either hasn't been re-attached or re-calibrated since the install of the new rudder stock quadrant. We've emailed Jose and he's going to look at it when we return to Las Salinas Marina to have our standing rigging re-tensioned.

I've mentioned in a previous blog that as Australians (not coming from a big city) we're not used to crowded places. Australian beaches (Sunshine Coast) don't have hundreds of people and rows and rows of perfectly spaced sun loungers and sun shades, there's just way too much space and not enough beach goers to make them financially viable. That's not the case on the European beaches we've seen so far. But it's not just the beaches that are crowded, the anchorages are too. On board A B Sea we have AIS (Automatic Identification System) which lets us see and be seen by other vessels fitted with AIS and as we got closer to Formentera our AIS display began lighting up like a Christmas tree. AIS is a requirement for vessels over a certain length, some charter vessels and commercial vessels which meant that what we could 'see' on our display was less than a fifth of the actual vessels that were in the main anchorage of Formentera. My stomach, once again, tied itself in knots as I tried to picture just how busy the anchorage would be.

AIS equipped vessels on our plotter

When we finally got close enough for visuals I felt like turning A B Sea around and heading back to Javea. Boats of all types and sizes were packed together tightly, eight to ten deep along the whole 5.5 kilometres (3.4 miles) of the anchorage and small dinghies, jetskis, tenders and ribs darted here and there between the anchored vessels.

My mind raced, how the heck was I supposed to find a spot big enough for A B Sea's 46 foot length, in about 5 metres of water depth, that would allow us to drop anchor plus 25 metres of chain! We decided to start at one end and slowly motor along the length of the anchorage while searching for a parking space. At the northern end there are mooring balls but the guy in the rib wanted 42 Euros (AU$66) a night. At the southern end the mooring balls are cheaper at 30 Euros (AU$47) a night. Neither of those options was going to happen.

Put on your big boy pants

After 2 hours of searching for a spot Aannsha said "You're going to have to put on your big boy pants and get in where you can." So I did. Easing A B Sea near to a 200 foot super cruiser at the southern end near the harbour entrance, we dropped anchor in 7.5 metres (25.5 feet) of water and started paying out the chain. I was happy, but the first mate of the super cruiser wasn't. A curt whistle off to my left drew my attention to him standing on the starboard walkway of his bridge deck indicating that he thought we were too close to allow for both him and us to swing on our anchors and not hit each other. I acceded to his experienced assessment and we raised the anchor, moved slightly further away and dropped the anchor again. This seemed to please him and if he was happy, so was I.

Being new to this anchorage there were several things we didn't know. We hadn't realised how frequently the numerous ferries enter and exit the harbour. So every 20 minutes we would get pushed around by the large bow waves of the ferries. This rolling was the reason we'd left Javea and a quick look online told us that the main ferry companies run from 7:30am to 8:00pm 90 times per day collectively in the high season. This was not going to be enjoyable.

We also didn't know that there were a couple of anchorage supervisors in ribs that come around and looked at your anchor and chain to make sure you don't have too much chain out and that you're not laying over someone else's anchor chain. The nice lady who checked us out suggested that we re-anchor as our chain was not laid out straight. As good fortune would have it nearly 4 hours had passed since we arrived in Formentera and we learned another thing about this anchorage. There is a daily migration of smaller boats that generally come over from Ibiza for a day trip and by late afternoon the herd starts to thin out. So acknowledging the anchorage supervisor's request we upped anchor and headed slightly north. Our main objective was to put as much distance between us and the ferries. Our second objective was to find shallower water so that we didn't need so much chain out. We found a spot, well clear of other boats, in 5.5 metres (18 feet) of water directly opposite 'Es Moli de Sal' restaurant. Our Mantus anchor has worked like a champ, the sandy bottom is perfect for holding us in place and although we still feel the effects of the ferries it is somewhat dampened by having other boats (especially big ones) anchored between us and the ferries. Sleep has been mostly good and only after a week of being here are we now beginning to do some research on our next destination. It may be Ibiza. We'll let you know.

You want salt with that?

We've been out of the marina for only 11 days and A B Sea is filthy. There are salt crystals on all of the exterior surfaces. Across the decks where we've been walking there are smudged footprints created in the fine layer of red dust that magically falls out of the sky almost every night. And whatever you do, don't look into the nooks and crannies in the cockpit because they're slowly filling up with, salt, body hairs, more red dust and what looks like belly button lint.

We could spend a morning cleaning her, however we'd have to use sea water which would remove most of the dirt but still leave us with salt encrusted surfaces. Ideally we'd like to hose her down with fresh water but with only 600 litres on board it's one of our limited resources that we'd like to save for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene.

There is a solution, it's called a watermaker and they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and like everything else on a boat deciding which one we can have onboard is dependent on other factors. We don't have a diesel powered electrical generator and we don't want to have to run the engine every second day to make water, so that rules out any watermaker that runs on 220v or a belt driven pulley attached to our engine. With those choices narrowed down we need a 12v powered watermaker because we do have 600 watts of solar panels which will easily power the watermaker for 2 or 3 hours around midday.

We have emailed Jose and asked him for prices on the two brands we like, Spectra and the Village Marine Little Wonder. He's going to get a quote from a watermaker installation specialist as it's not a job that his team normally carries out. I'll let you know how that works out.

My stomach tells me it's close to lunchtime so I'm going to have a quick swim off the back end of A B Sea and get a sandwich together. Thanks for reading and take it easy.

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