“I think the anchorage lets you know when it’s time to leave,” Baz said as he gripped the galley top for support. “When it gets too rolly.”
“Yeah, I’ve been feeling like moving for a day or so,” I replied as I swayed back and forth. “I think you’re right. Nature’s giving us a gentle little reminder that there’s more to the Balearics than Formantera. I’ve been looking at Ibiza on the horizon, and I’d love to visit that island soon.”
After looking at the two apps: (Not) Windy and Predict (No) Wind, neither of which gave us a lot of hope for sailing weather over the next few days, Baz and I decided the first order of business was to fill up our diesel, and stock up on provisions (fresh fruit, bread, water, booze), empty out our rubbish and recycling and then choose the best day to leave for Ibiza. Thursday looked likely, but when I emerged from the Princess Suite early-ish on Wednesday morning, Barry showed me Windy’s up to the minute predictions and suggested we leave that morning straight after breakfast. The wind would be light, but we’d have enough in the morning to attempt sailing, so the decision was made.
But I’m a tad ahead of myself. Maybe you’d like to hear about our first attempt at getting diesel.
Refuelling in crazy busy La Savina Port!
Not only does La Savina Port in Formantera have a popular berthing area, it also contains the ferry terminal which sees 90 ferries from various companies coming in and out daily during peak season - and we were right in the middle of peak season!
The fuel dock is situated in between the ferry terminus and the marina area, a few boat lengths inside the port entrance. When we’ve visited the port from the main street on previous trips to the island, we’ve taken time to watch the traffic coming in and out of the marina. It is crazy busy! So even just approaching the dock in A B Sea seemed like a hair-brained idea for us newbs, never mind attempting to dock and refuel!
At first, I think the whole idea of refuelling there was hugely daunting to Baz, who even suggested topping up the yacht’s fuel tank with our jerry cans and then making a few visits on foot (via the dinghy) to the fuel dock to refill the jerry cans.
One trip hauling one cumbersome re-filled jerry can from the port back to A B Sea via the dinghy, across deeply grooved small paving stoned streets on a folding trolley with a temperamental wheel, hauling the filled jerry can back onto the yacht in slightly choppy conditions proved to be less than a thrilling experience. The fact that the first syphon we bought didn’t go into the fill hole of the jerry can, topped off the episode and pushed us to the decision to bite the bullet, put on more Big Girl and Big Boy Pants and actually take the yacht to the busy marina and refill there. After all, we were going to have to learn to do it sometime.
Baz carries the can
I say “we”, but the person who was really carrying the proverbial can here was Barry. He was the one who’d have to negotiate the ferries, dodge the smaller boats, decide where to queue, keep the boat from drifting, line up with the fuel dock, fill the tank and pay for the fuel.
All I had to do was get two docking lines ready, hand them to the guy and tie them off on the cleats. That’s all. My part was small, but I still felt nervous.
We were both tense as we approached the marina, a good half an hour before the fuel dock opened on Tuesday morning. We figured we’d get there before the boats all began lining up. That would at least give Baz an idea where to wait and more space to manoeuvre. When we arrived, the fuel dock was already in use and a smaller boat was getting filled up. Baz positioned himself inside the port entrance, leaving enough room either side for other craft to pass by if necessary. We were all ready to approach the fuel dock as the little boat left, when the fuel guy gestured at us and shouted something in Spanish. After we replied “Que?” and he repeated himself, we translated it to mean something like, “you’ll have to wait - somewhere else - a large yacht is already on its way in.”
Ferries were beginning to arrive, other boats were starting to move around the port, so Baz realised that he had to wait outside. As we sat – not drifting thanks to Barry’s good boat handling – we watched a massive grey, two masted yacht sail gracefully in and prepare to be refuelled.
We waited. It would take a while, as it obviously had big fuel tanks.
We waited. Very big tanks.
We waited. All the time, Baz had to keep an eye in all directions except for Up, to make sure we stayed clear of everything.
We waited. I had those two slip lines so neat, and ready to go, the only thing I could do was go back to the cockpit and wait with Baz.
We waited. “They could have let us in first – we’d have been in and out in 5 minutes,” we pretty much both said together.
We waited. Baz’s facial hair grew another millimetre and turned slightly greyer.
There was movement on the big yacht’s deck and after a few more long minutes, it finally reversed elegantly away from the dock and began making its way out of the port.
They’re trying to take our spot!
In the meantime, two other small motor boats decided they would be first in the queue. They obviously hadn’t noticed us hovering expectantly, untethered, waiting for our turn.
There was almost a hustle as all three of us pulled in towards the fuelling dock at the same time. The last one to arrive in our queue of three shouted at Baz, “Can we go before you? We’re a charter boat and we’ll be late if we don’t get our fuel first.” I looked at Baz, Baz raised his eyebrows and ignored him. Baz told me later that he’d thought “You need to learn to be organised – this’ll teach you to be better prepared”. The second boat edged towards the dock as we did. The skipper of that one asked us if we were getting fuel. We were so close to the fuel dock, it would have been fairly obvious that we were, but we smiled at him and slid closer.
Wondering if there’d be a standoff at the O.K. Fuel Corral, I was relieved to notice (from my position at the bow holding a docking line) that the fuel guy motioned for both of us to approach at the same time. There were two fuel pumps, the one at the other end was for petrol, and the little guy’s outboard was petrol driven.
Baz docked like an Old Pro (no comments from old DJ mates please) and the fuel guy ignored my slip line, but gave me one already attached to a bollard. All I had to do was o-x-o it off on our cleat. Baz was so organised, he handed the fuel guy the stern line himself.
A few minutes later and 217 Euros lighter, we were making our way out of the port and back to our anchorage for a night or two. It sounded quite expensive, but we had left Puerto Marina de las Salinas with 4/5 of a tank and motored a lot of the way north to Javea, as well as motoring all the way to Formentera. We’ll be keeping a log of fuel consumption in future though.
Once we’d re-anchored – looking like blooming professionals using walkie talkies – we hi-fived and cracked open a couple of cold beers. In a little debriefing session, Baz agreed that while the 1.5 hours wait was painful and added to the tight knot in his stomach, it was a good opportunity to get a feel for how the bow thrusters work, how the boat drifts, and how responsive she is in forward and reverse.
All in all it was a success!
Sailing to Ibiza
This was a very enjoyable trip. After getting the boat ready we were on our way from Formentera by 8.30am and the light winds on our beam meant we could sail for a good two thirds of the way to our destination.
Just before we rounded the island on the south west tip of Ibiza, the wind dropped to so little, I’ll swear we were nearly in reverse! We had to turn on the engine and furl in the sails. Baz had a little trouble with the bottom 30cm of the mainsail that wasn’t quite in the gap, so the sail wouldn’t furl, but he quickly dealt with it by me turning the boat with the wind just starboard of our bow, and then he tucked the sail back in. After that it was a simple inhaul. The lines are very stiff though, and the inhaul sheet is quite narrow, so it isn’t easy to winch, but Barry is developing his muscles and tough hands, which we’re both quite happy about!
By 2.30pm, we’d made our way to Cala Tarida, a beautiful natural bay on the south west side of Ibiza. It has a few beach front restaurants and bars, as well as a supermarket up the hill behind the bay. There are little caves and a tiny cove around the bay, as well as a tall rock formation that people love to jump into the water from. There are yellow markers delineating a large swim zone, but there is also a good sized marked zone for tenders to approach the beach and tie off on the side markers.
The water is crystal clear, in various shades of azure and aquamarine and there are a few species of fish that have found a spot to hang out under our boat. The Mantus anchor is, of course, dug in like a proverbial tick and despite not getting any good sandy anchorage sites in the already busy north and south parts of the bay, we have found a spot just toward the outside of the middle of the bay that is fine.
We have also managed to pick up a free Wi-Fi signal from one of the bars, and providing there isn’t any large motor yacht sitting between us and the beach, we have access to unlimited data! That translates to you receiving this blog and this week’s video on time!
Stealth mission to gain free WI-FI
The Wi-Fi signal didn’t come for free. Well, it did actually. But technically it shouldn’t have.
Let me explain.
There are quite a few bars/restaurants with free Wi-Fi for patrons at Cala Tarida and while we were on A B Sea our phones showed us which bars were giving us the strongest Wi-Fi reception. We made a list of the five strongest signals and decided to go find us some free Wi-Fi that we could use to upload pics to Instagram, videos to YouTube and posts to Facebook.
How would we do it? The plan was that we would rock up to one of the nice bars and have a beer or two, and while we were there we’d get their Wi-Fi password.
So on our second afternoon that’s exactly what we did!
I got dolled up. Well as dressed up as you can when you’re going to patronise a chic bar but arrive by dinghy. My top half looked pretty good, with makeup and my birthday present pendant from Baz; I wore a short aqua cotton dress that ties at the waist, and because we were getting out of the dinghy at the beach into 2 feet of salty water, I knew I couldn’t wear anything too fancy on my bottom half. So I took my little purple thongs (flip-flops to the English) that I’d put on once we got to the path at the back of the beach.
All went quite well. We tied up the tender at the beach, I only got half of my dress skirt wet getting out of the dinghy, and we proceeded across the sand. But I’d made an error in my plans. I hadn’t counted on the sand being furnace-hot! I had to put on my thongs before I got second degree burns on my feet!
And what happens when you walk along the sand in flip-flops with wet legs and a wet dress?
Yup! By the time we arrived at the very trendy beach bar, the backs of my legs and my dress were coated with a thick layer of wet sand. So were my hands, after I tried to wipe the sand off my legs!
We lined up at the entrance behind a group of young English women who were super dressed up – looking fit to enter any good night club – and while we waited I scanned the restaurant/bar. Very elegant. I wondered if me in my sand-gear and Baz in his dripping wet shorts and beach shoes would be allowed to get further than the welcome mat. Surprisingly we were welcomed in, and a nice girl armed with two drinks menus walked us through the restaurant to the sun terrace as we only wanted drinks. As we walked, I wondered how much sand I was depositing in my wake.
As we sat overlooking the beach, I got out my phone to upload a couple of pics to Instagram while we were there. Baz had already spied out the Wi-Fi password so within 2 minutes, we’d done what we came to do. Ten minutes later, my legs itching with salty, drying sand and still waiting for the waitress to return to take our order, I said: “Wow we could almost have done this without buying a drink!”
Baz said, “I’d prefer not to spend money on drinks if that’s at all possible.”
“Are you suggesting we do something really cheeky?” I questioned Baz with wide eyes and a grin.
Baz just grinned back, and before anyone could ask how two wet, sandy, salty sailors had made it past the front gate, Baz and I were exiting the restaurant with considerably less sea water and sand on us than when we arrived.
We returned to A B Sea feeling like triumphant pirates. After rinsing the salt water out of my nice little dress, then dipping into the sea off the back of the yacht to get rid of the last vestiges of sand from my legs, Baz and I sat down on deck with his laptop now connected to the beach bars Wi-Fi, a couple of beers in stubby-holders and caught up on back episodes of our favourite sailing channels.
Should I feel guilty about getting free Wi-Fi?
How far can you stretch the Wi-Fi friendship?
We definitely intended to buy drinks at the place when we arrived, but made a spur of the moment decision to leave after we waited a long time for service. The bar does pump out a very strong Wi-Fi signal that reaches all the way to our yacht. And we do plan to go there for an actual drink before we leave this bay, so technically we are customers.
I also reckon the bar must have an unlimited data package itself, as it provides this free for hundreds of seasonal customers, and it must be aware that its signal reaches far beyond its physical boundaries, at least to the beach.
So no, I don’t feel guilty for getting literally free Wi-Fi!
I’m curious though, what would you have done in our position?