We arrived at the picturesque bay of Cala Tarida on the south west corner of Ibiza about 3 hours after leaving Formantera. The bay filled with clear sparkling turquoise water and powdery white sand is surrounded by limestone and sedimentary rock cliffs dotted with white buildings, backed by pine tree covered hills. Compared to the low lying dry island of Formantera, Ibiza was a pictorial treat for the eyes and I couldn’t wait to get clicking pics!
With so many pretty spots around Cala Tarida, Barry had the opportunity to get some awesome Mavic drone shots. One morning we left the yacht early and walked up the hill on the north of the bay, which proved to be an excellent launch pad for the drone.
While Baz took footage of the bay and A B Sea I explored the top of the cliff and walked the natural stone paths through short and mid height pines, and what looked like wild juniper bushes (or something similar). The scent of these plants have a feint gin aroma and they have little dark berries, although the leaves are slightly different.
I walked close to some of the homes perched close to the cliff’s edge and wondered if any of the builders or owners had taken into consideration that these cliffs (from evidence of many large and small rockfalls below), have a tendency to split and splinter into the water beneath. Looking at the outside of one concave edge of the cliff that housed a villa complex, I noticed there was a deep 4 or 5 metre gash down the cliff face. Planted on the hill top over the crack, were a few bushes, different to the indigenous bushes I’d already seen. I also wondered if these had been planted to keep the ground stable (how long were their roots?), or to hide the crack. At any rate, I hope those who are brave enough to build so close to the edge of a crumbling rock face have long enjoyable lives in their homes, as the views are incredible.
Snorkelling in turquoise tranquillity
The foot of the cliffs, with so many large and small fallen rocks, provide great snorkelling spots. Another day, early while the water was silky and flat, Baz and I took the tender out for a spin, looking for a good spot to snorkel. Finding the best place to anchor the tender proved more difficult than we’d imagined. That’s because the water was very deep close up to most of the cliffs, and if we got near enough to anchor, the bed was either rocky, or we were too close and risked being pushed against the rocks if the swell increased.
After travelling a fair way south with no success, we turned and headed back into Cala Tarida bay. Towards the south side of the bay was a tiny cove that proved shallow enough for us to drop the small dingy anchor where it dug into the sand. We put on our snorkelling gear and Baz rolled backwards off the side of the tender into the water. Oh right, I have to do that too! Great, another first! Not giving myself time to think of what could go wrong, I mimicked Baz, held my mask to my face with one hand, rested my fins on the opposite dingy wall, took a deep breath and rolled backwards. Amazingly, I made a textbook entry and was soon swimming around under the surface!
We leisurely followed different fishes through the azure 3 metre deep water covering the sandy coloured rocks and white sand beneath. Light dappled through highlighting colours and shades, rippling wavy lines of golden light onto the submerged surfaces. The fish weren’t phased by us at all and it was a real joy swimming in and around them. I found the whole experience relaxing and refreshing.
Getting back onto the dingy a while later turned out to be fairly easy and the ladder that we’d installed a couple of days earlier made climbing over the high sided tender pretty simple. We’d had a laugh finding out the best way to attach the ladder, which hadn’t come with instructions. Maybe we overthought it, but it took a few attempts before we got it right! There will be a video of it coming soon.
Visiting Barry’s brother
We were planning on staying in Ibiza a while longer until we heard from Barry’s brother that he’d be in Javea on the mainland for a week. After checking the wind we reckoned we could make Javea in time to see Phil before he returned to the UK, so on Thursday we left Ibiza, determined to return there some day to explore more of this beautiful Balearic island of pines.
We had 10-15 knots of wind on our passage to mainland Spain and were able to sail all the way across. Because we were sailing and our speed was just under 5 knots for a lot of the way, it was a longer journey than when we’d motored over to Formantera. The journey itself took about 10 hours and it was about 6.30pm when we arrived in Javea’s bay.
During our journey, I couldn’t help shake the feeling something was going to happen. I even noticed myself trembling at times. I had no reason for this but when I checked my intuition, I just kept getting the sense that Javea was ‘unprotected’. Having no proof for this feeling, I said nothing to Baz. I don’t think it would have made any difference to our experience, who would have known that in less than 36 hours, we’d nearly lose our yacht?
Arriving at Javea
Because the northern side of the bay just outside the port wall had been rolly when we’d stayed there previously, and checking the forecasted wind, we decided to have a look at that spot but if we weren’t happy, we’d head over the large bay to the southern side and find a mooring ball there for the night. And that’s exactly what we did.
We tucked in as closely as we could on the southern side, but really, in Javea’s expansive bay, you’re pretty exposed to both wind and the long reach of waves, unless the wind is blowing from the west. And it was blowing more from the south east that night.
By the morning, after a fairly rough night, we looked at the state of the waves which were crashing wildly on the beach and realised we wouldn’t be able to drop the dingy at that mooring. But we were determined to see Phil. We picked up anchor and headed to the original mooring area just outside Javea Port marina wall on the north side of the bay. There was marginally less swell there, so we chose one of the new orange mooring balls and made our way to find Phil. (These mooring balls hadn’t been there 3 months previously, so we figured they’d be better than the original white ones that had tatty lines).
Getting to shore wasn’t as easy as it could have been because of the large swell and waves crashing against the beach, meaning we couldn’t access the dingy entrance near El Arenal. We got close, but aborted at the last minute fearing the dinghy would be overturned, and climbed a massive wall of water back out to the open bay. We had one option left. The marina which was only open to Club Nautico members, but we had no other option. We headed into the port and docked next to a few small boats on an unnumbered jetty. There were other small bollards available, so we figured it would be okay to leave the dinghy there for a few hours.
We nearly lost our yacht/home!
The rest of our experience in Javea, including how our yacht ended up crashing onto the marina wall in the dark of night was such a long scary ordeal, that don’t have the space to write it here. So I’ve explained it all in a separate blog, and you’ll be able to read about that horror story next week! Heads up though, despite thinking we’d lost our yacht which is also our home, we are thankfully safe (bruised and shaken but safe) and now settled in Calpe, slightly further south on mainland Spain, for a few days.
Running for shelter to Calpe
With a storm approaching the morning after the nightmare in Javea, Barry and I upped anchor and headed south to a calmer, more protected bay at Calpe. We’d checked A B Sea and she seemed to be seaworthy, and we couldn’t bear the thought of a stormy night after what we’d been through.
Calpe not only provided more protection, but it also allowed us to anchor in sand using our Mantus anchor. Anchoring is not allowed in Javea and many other parts of Spain’s coast due to sea grass which flourishes and is an important ecosystem that is government protected. In these areas, you must only use the provided mooring balls. After the new mooring ball had failed us in Javea, Baz and I are reluctant to use one again unless there is absolutely no other option, so dropping our Mantus anchor in Calpe suited us just fine.
As I write this, we’ve been here now for a few nights and while it is a fairly large bay, it does not have the swell that we’ve experienced in Javea or L’Albir and is providing protection from the wind in the direction it’s been blowing since we’ve been here.
I actually rather like Calpe. There’s a marina tucked in front of a 332m high limestone hill called Peñón de Ifach which is home to many native birds. Below this is the remains of the original medieval walled village. There are a few beaches with clear aqua rock pools, and there is also a Roman baths site with sea pools cut into the rock. So far, we’ve only explored the end of town close to Peñón de Ifach and had a tasty lunch in one of the restaurants overlooking the bay. This enabled us to keep an eye on A B Sea as we are still a little cautious about leaving her on her own since we nearly lost her. While we were eating, we watched a helicopter rescue of a climber from the top of the mountain (which you can see in the first pic below)!
The long bay is surrounded at a middle distance by partially tree-covered limestone mountains, some of which have white houses with orange roofs spilling down the hillsides and giving a beautiful Spanish feel to this seaside town. In the south, beyond the tip of Calpe’s bay is a large hillside promontory sporting a lighthouse. In the distance beyond that rise the hazy tall buildings of the metropolis holiday resort of Benidorm.
Calpe seems to be more of a family holiday destination – certainly the end close to where we’re anchored although we did hear loud disco music coming from a hotel or club on one of the beaches further along the bay a couple of nights ago. While there are many boats that anchor during the day for people to enjoy the sea and the sun, and the little nearby beach is dotted with colourful umbrellas side by side, Calpe doesn’t have that massively overly-packed feel of some Spanish resorts in the height of tourist season.
All in all, I’m glad to be staying here for a while. It’s a great place to recover from our ordeal, there are opportunities for exploring places of historical and natural interest, and there are enough bars and restaurants to keep us satisfied if we get bored of home cooking!
Returning to Las Salinas
We’re back at Puerto Marina de Las Salinas on the 21st of this month to have our new standing rigging re-tensioned, and possibly a water maker installed. If we are lifted out of the water onto the hard for the water maker installation, we’ll definitely be having A B Sea’s keel, hull, propeller and rudder thoroughly checked to ensure that there really isn’t any unnoticed significant damage after hitting the rocks in Javea.
Until then, all we have to do is eat, drink and relax. And of course, upload lots of video footage, stories and photos for you to enjoy on our YouTube videos, blog, Facebook and Instagram pages, dip in the sea and soak up some more of the Mediterranean sunshine.
So, till next time, may you enjoy what life brings you. And may you enjoy calm seas and fair winds.
Thank you so much for being with us on our journey.