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Highs and Lows

9th April - 12th April 2022 - Cartagena, Spain


There is something to be said for being tucked up in a marina and know you are going to be there for a few days. The constant weather forecast checking eases, and the anxiety of living on a platform held to the seabed with a hook and chain fades to the background. It is easier to get out and about and do some exploring too. We spent a lovely few days in Cartagena racking up some touristy stuff. We visited the Roman amphitheatre, right in the centre of the town. Having been built upon several times since 5BC it was only discovered in the 1980’s, and we were impressed with how much they had reclaimed from the urban sprawl surrounding it, and quite sympathetically done. We also visited the Casa de la Fortuna, an incredibly well preserved Roman house with colourful mosaics, hidden in the basement of an ordinary looking building, and the Augusteum, a Roman temple dedicated to Emperor Augustus. We stopped by the Naval museum nearby the marina to read how the evil British empire stole all the Spanish gold from galleon after galleon. Well, judging by the number of British tourists in Spain each year we are slowly giving it all back.

As we saw in Marbella, there were also quite a few processions in the run up to Easter. Every day we were there something was going on. It seemed like every marching band in the area had their turn to follow a hoisted up effigy of Christ. It really was a family affair with people of all ages getting involved, which was lovely to see.



12-13th April 2022 - Cartagena - Cala Talamanca, Ibiza (72.7 nautical miles)


We had been waiting for a weather window to head up the coast and then across to Ibiza. Carl’s daughter and family were arriving in Ibiza in four days time and we had a big blow coming in. We decided to do an overnighter to Ibiza straight from Cartagena while the weather was calm. We would then sit out the strong northerly winds in an anchorage close to Ibiza Town on the south of the island. On paper it looked well protected. Our initial option had been to head up the coast a bit further from Cartagena and then do a day-sail across. Either option was not brilliant in NNE winds so we opted for doing the overnighter. We motored pretty much the entire way as the light winds that were forecast did not really materialise.


We arrived on a grey day in Ibiza in the pouring rain. So much for the White Isle. We anchored in Cala Talamanca, the closest anchorage to Ibiza Town, in 2.8m depth trying to be as careful as possible to not anchor on the Posidonia. Sea grass is a big thing here. There was one other catamaran anchored in the bay and a smaller monohull much closer to the shore. There was a bit of a swell but the period was long so it was ok. We packed away the sails and had our obligatory ‘just arrived’ beer and then talked about taking the dinghy into town. I had badgered Carl to check us in to Spain as we had not managed to do that yet so we loaded up the bikes, batteries and a backpack and headed over to the shore. After some faff we ended up pulling the dinghy onto the beach and unfolded our bikes to head off. Wet feet and somewhat tetchy. First to the police headquarters; someone we met said it was easy, "just head to the police station and they will sort it". They had no idea what we were talking about and pointed us in the direction of the airport. We were pretty sure the airport staff would not have a clue what to do with someone who arrived by boat either. So, we headed back to the marinas to ask them. Luckily someone in the Marina Ibiza office had heard of port police and pointed us in the direction of their office. After going there we were told that we needed go to the Capitania Maritima but that was closed until the following day. Well at least we knew where to go now. We headed back to Cala Talamanca to check if our dinghy, which we had abandoned on a hotel beach, was still there. It was so we headed for a drink at the nearby hostel. After a few beers and a downpour we decided to head back to the boat. The swell was significant and we had to time our exit between breaking waves. We got back to the boat and I leapt up onto the sugar scoop (back of the boat where the swim ladder is). The swell was so bad that the line whipped out of my hand and Carl and the dinghy drifted off. I was sat on the sugar scoop nursing my hands when another swell came through and threw me into the water. Brilliant. The first swim off the back of our boat, ever, and it was me, falling in, arse over tit. Carl dragged me back into the dinghy, all the while trying to decide if it was too soon to laugh.

It was.

After drying off and hunkering down, we had what can only be described as a horrendous night.


14th April 2022 - Cala Talamanca to Marina Ibiza (2.07 nautical miles)


The wind was from the north as predicted but the swell in the bay was from the north east. It must have been wrapping around the point and into the bay. So we were side on to waves that were increasing in periodicity and size. After a sleepless night we awoke to 1.5m waves with the occasional 1.8m which threw us around. They were now hitting us on our starboard quarter which was not so bad but we had the discussion to sit it out. We didn’t want to pay another large marina fee if this would peter out soon enough. We had just come from four days in a marina and didn’t want to go straight back into one. Boy were we wrong. The first sign we should have paid attention to was that the other catamaran decided to up anchor and head off at 11am. We sat there for a little longer. Even got the Scrabble out to take our minds off things. The small monohull that was close in to the shore was thrashing about in the breaking waves. Clearly, nobody was onboard. At this point, both of us were thinking, we should be getting out of here, but neither of us said it to the other. The waves had, up to that point, been breaking about 30-40m away from us, between us and the beach. Then came an enormous 3m wave that slammed into the side of us and we came crashing back down. Scrabble letters everywhere. In the last few minutes the situation had deteriorated. We then spoke up. We should head to the marina. Carl gave them a call. No answer. Then came the most terrifying moment either of us have had on a boat - a breaking 3m wave side on to Rockhopper. The wave hit higher than our saloon windows. In that moment we really weren’t sure what was going to happen. The boat lurched up into the air and slammed back down again. That was it, we were getting out of here. Then another one hit. I flung on my lifejacket and made my way to the anchor locker. Carl started the engines. I had to get the bridle off the chain then raise the anchor. All the while Carl was trying to manoeuvre the boat so that we were not side on to waves. But we had to be, to get the anchor chain up. He watched as three massive waves crashed over the boat. Each time he checked to see if I had been washed over the side. I hadn’t. I held on to the windlass in the centre of the boat at the wave hit. It was the quickest anchor raise we had ever done. As soon as it was up Carl pointed us into the waves and we sped off. As we made it to deeper water we were out of the breaking waves and it calmed down a bit. I went into the saloon to pick up a rain coat and it looked like a bomb had gone off in there. The InstantPot had launched itself down the stairs, making a dent in the floorboard, everything that was on the table or on the surrounds was on the floor. Cushions were everywhere. The pestle from the pestle and mortar (why we have one onboard I do not know) had fallen through the stairs and landed on the glass escape hatch on the side of the hull. How bad would that have been if it had broken the glass. I do not want to even think about it!

We still hadn’t got through to a marina but had preferred doing doughnuts in the bay rather than staying put where we were. As we hovered inside the harbour we managed to get Marina Ibiza on the radio and they had space for us (Botafoch marina did not). Not cheap but we would have spent a great deal more.

So lessons from that day:

  1. If you’re both feeling uneasy SPEAK UP!

  2. Take the easy option, every time - we have the money, we should have come in earlier. Even if we didn’t have the money, we should have come in earlier.

One good lesson we learnt from that day: We can count on each other to get out of a situation. No cowering away, if it needs to be done, we are both in.

Cala Talamanca - never to be repeated…. Incidentally, the monohull yacht that was thrashing about in the waves ended up getting washed on to the beach when the anchor dragged.




On the plus side, Ibiza Town was beautiful. We had a lovely evening walking to the citadel and having a strong cocktail to try and wash away the memories of the past day.


16th April Marina Ibiza - The Family visit

[The rest of the post was written by Carl]

My daughter and her family came to stay with us for a few days in April 2022. We had already moved in to Marina Ibiza due to the bad experience in the anchorage of Talamanca the previous day. They arrived late afternoon on Saturday 16th April. They had previously spent 3 nights on board just after we got the boat in the Hamble, so they were familiar with her. When they arrived we had a few drinks on deck and enjoyed the view of Ibiza old town from the front of the boat in the sunshine. My daughter had brought a Red Cross parcel of Yorkshire Tea Bags and English Mustard!

In the evening we walked into the old town and had a nice meal of tapas and wine in one of the restaurants inside the walls of the citadel. It was great to see my daughter, her husband and their two daughters in this holiday environment which we had sailed our home to.


17th - 19th April Marina Ibiza - Platja de ses Illetes West, Formentera (9.59 nautical miles)


The next day we had originally planned to sail a few miles up the coast to Cala Llonga but as it was Easter weekend we thought it would be very busy with local boats in the small anchorage. We therefore decided to head to Formentera (another Island off the SW tip of Ibiza). This turned out to be a great decision. There wasn’t much wind so we motored the 9 miles from Ibiza Marina to a beautiful anchorage off the west side of Formentera. We anchored next to our friends Steve and Carol on Innamorata II. The water was crystal clear and a lovely blue colour. We anchored in 4.5m in a sandy patch. It didn’t take long to get the dinghy in the water to head for the beach. Tori and Elsie (the girls) were keen to get in the water! We went ashore and pulled the dinghy on to the beach. We inflated Florence the Flamingo and the girls had a play in the water, which was a little bit on the chilly side for the adults! However my daughter Charlotte advised us to “get our shoulders under” and we would be alright! We stayed at the beach for a few hours enjoying the sun and the water. This was the experience Jo and I had been waiting for since we left the UK in October last year!


That evening we had a barbecue on the boat with a few drinks and after dinner we played games with the girls sat around the cockpit table. It turns out the girls pick up new games really quickly! Not bad for a 5 year old and a 3 year old! We had a lovely peaceful night at anchor.

Next morning we got up, had breakfast and took the dinghy to a different beach and went for a walk. Again it was a beautiful sunny day with little wind. We walked along the shore and came upon a Pirate Restaurant so we had a drink and booked a table for later that day as the setting was very picturesque. We had planned on walking to Puerto de Sabina but hadn’t realised it was that far so we turned back. Jo, son-in-law Ben and I decided to take the dinghy instead as we needed to get a few things from the supermarket. We left Charlotte and the girls by the Fishermans huts playing in the sand while we headed to the port. After a 10 min dinghy ride we arrived and I stayed with the dinghy while Jo and Ben went ashore. However, after 20 minutes or so they came back empty handed. Apparently all the supermarkets were closed (not sure if this was because it was Easter Monday or just normal siesta time!). We headed back and met up with Charlotte and went back to the boat to get changed for dinner at the restaurant (we had booked it for 6pm). The restaurant was practically empty at that time as all the day trippers had left. There was just us and one other table. We had great service from our waiter who was originally from Spain but had grown up in Australia and had pretty much been everywhere else in between! The food was great, Paella (no shells, bones or skins!) and clam spaghetti. It was a little on the expensive side but well worth it. After dinner we headed back to the boat for more drinks and games (Dobble and Snap!).



19th April Platja de ses Illetes West, Formentera - Porroig (8.59 nautical miles)


Next day we weighed anchor and set sail for Porroig on Ibiza. We had a great sail across from Formentera (5kn in 11kn of wind). We arrived in Porroig around 2pm and dropped the hook in 7.5m, of water. We had to be sure we’d anchored in a sandy patch as there is a lot of Posidonia (sea grass) in Porroig. There were four other boats already anchored. We had lunch on the boat and then went ashore to a beachside restaurant for a few drinks to watch the sunset. Back on the boat it was time for another barbecue and, you guessed it, more games! Again we had a peaceful night on anchor and slept well.

There was a big blow forecast for Thursday so we decided to head back to Marina Ibiza so that we could have the last night ashore and be somewhere safe for Charlotte and family to get off the boat to head back to the airport.


20th April Porroig - Marina Ibiza (12.1 nautical miles)

We left Porroig at 10am and confirmed en-route that the marina had space for us. We arrived in the marina around 12.30 after motoring all the way as the wind was on the nose! As we arrived in the marina the wind picked up dramatically and caused us a few problems trying to come in to our berth.

It had been 10kn all the way there. The marineros told us to head down a narrow channel to our berth. As we turned the corner to head down the wind picked up to 30kn. The berth they were indicating for us to dock was between two small motorboats. As we tried to swing in they then changed their minds and told us to head back the way we came. There was no room for us to spin her round. Rockhopper doesn’t really like reversing in strong winds. The rudder tends to kick over but as I held on trying to keep her straight the increasing wind eventually pushed the boat sideways into the line of boats moored on the dock. We sustained a few dents to the gelcoat where the anchors from other boats had impacted. We were pinned there by the strong winds until the marinero eventually got into a dinghy and towed us off before we could move back into more space. In the strong winds we eventually managed to tie to the dock.

Safe to say we were glad when we were safely tied up. After a debrief we went for a walk in to the old town and walked to the top of the citadel to the square with the cathedral, where Jo and I had watched the Easter procession on Good Friday. The wind made the walk up the steep steps quite a challenge. We stopped in the square we'd been to on the first night they arrived and had a couple of drinks. We then found a nice restaurant to finish the holiday with a lovely meal. The walk back to the boat was very wet as the rain had started to fall quite heavily. We got back to the boat and the girls were shattered - no games that night!

Charlotte, Ben, Tori and Elsie got their taxi to the airport the next morning to return to the UK. We had a great few days with them and were already looking forward to their visit in Croatia later in the year.


OUR ROUTE:




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